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Representatives from 767 Illinois public school districts attended this year's Joint Annual Conference of the Illinois Association of School Boards, Illinois Association of School Administrators and the Illinois Association of School Business Officials, held Nov. 17-19, 2006, in Chicago.

Registration exceeded 10,000 for the second straight year, with 5,409 paid registrants and 4,611 guests. Including 1,561 exhibitors, total attendance exceeded 11,500 for the second year in a row, making it one of the largest state education conferences in the nation.

Paid registration figures included 3,532 board members and 1,744 administrators.

As in most years, a wide variety of subjects and activities were abundant for those who attended the three general sessions, five Chicago school tours, eight pre-conference workshops, 118 panels, and 220 exhibit booths of school products, services and vendors.

Panel sessions included topics in governance/leadership, student achievement, finance and funding, community relations, facilities/transportation/technology, current issues, school law, governmental relations, best practices, and special topics for newer board members. The three-day Conference drew 8,650 people to panel events, for an average attendance of 73 persons per panel.

The hot topic this year was governance and leadership, with 18 different panels showcasing a wide variety of subjects. Three of the panels – Good to Great Boards and Districts, Locally-Developed Superintendent Evaluations, and Data-Driven Way to Continually Improve School Performance – drew 520 of the 1,283 board members and administrators attending these topics.

School law was an equally popular topic, with 13 panels drawing a combined 1,086 visitors. The three largest panels – What's New in Student Discipline, Legal Update on Labor Laws, and Open Meetings Act: Crossing the Line – collectively welcomed 540 guests.

Another staple of the Conference panel tracks is school finance and funding. Two of this year's 17 panels – Bonds and Debt Limits and Understanding Financial Roles, Responsibilities and Liability – combined to attract 240 of the 1,186 people attending finance panels.

Ten Common Mistakes in Collective Bargaining drew 355 for the single largest panel attendance of the entire Conference.

The 2006 Conference also offered 16 panels on current issues, 14 panels on best practices, 13 panels on community relations, 10 panels on student achievement, six panels on facilities, transportation and technology, five panels on governmental relations, and four panels of interest to newer board members.

A total of 579 Conference-goers pre-registered for Friday's pre-conference workshops. Six 5-hour workshops focused on school board leadership (60 attended), board-superintendent relations (80), collective bargaining (109), the board's role in democracy (40), team building (44), and board presidency (45). Two other half-day workshops featured consultants who specialize in the board member's role (107) and the Targeting Student Learning program (94).

Returning from 2005 was the popular board secretary's training tracks. This event was expanded to eight events over two days and attendance grew by 18 percent to 177 registered guests, comprised largely of district employees, including many superintendents' secretaries. Organizers said the workshop was created to assist many new board secretaries with their increasing workload and responsibilities.

Four panels featuring 12 different presenters highlighted the 20th annual Seminar on School Law on Friday. There were 119 school attorneys who attended panels on board meetings and records, attendance qualifications, student conduct policies, and diversity.

Another pre-conference event on Friday drew 156 people who rode school buses to tour five Chicago Public Schools. Guests visited students and teachers at Alexander Graham Bell, John Spry Community, William Ray, Robert Lindblom Math and Science, and Robert Healy Schools.

In addition, the Conference hosted IASB's annual Delegate Assembly, where representatives from 406 districts voted on 13 resolutions to sharpen the voice of public education before the state legislature.

Delegates on Saturday resolved to demand stronger state support for school construction grants and to push for a constitutional amendment to make the state pay most of the cost of school funding.

One resolution that passed unanimously supported districts that have applied for and qualified for a school construction grant entitlement should not be penalized, passed over or have their grant canceled if or when a new grant program is launched. Another resolution urged passage of a Constitutional amendment mandating the state to fund education at least at a 50 percent level.

Board representatives also elected IASB officers, including Marie Slater, Wheaton Warrenville CUSD 200, for her second term as president, Mark C. Metzger, Indian Prairie CUSD 204, Naperville, as vice president, and Joseph Alesandrini, Pekin CHSD 303, as IASB treasurer.

Among the guest speakers at this year's Conference were E. Jane Gallucci, president of the National School Board Association, and general session speakers, Troy Evans, Erin Gruwell and Bob Ash.

Awards were presented for the state's outstanding school board president, superintendent of the year, school building designs, and workmen's compensation cost reduction efforts.

Other activities included the Conference bookstore and author book signings, the Carousel of Panels, Invitational Exhibition of Educational Environments, and School Public Relations Advice Center.

A new event in 2006 was the bingo game sponsored by 24 IASB Service Associates. There were 15 winners of the $75 prizes given away by visiting participating exhibitors. Awards were also presented for Superintendent and School Board President of the Year.

Another popular event was the IASB Comiskey Room, where Association benefits and services were explained and demonstrated. Guests there met with IASB officers, executives and staff, and the Illinois State Board of Education and State Superintendent Randy Dunn.

Coinciding with the Conference on Saturday, Nov. 18, was Chicago's annual Magnificent Mile Lights Festival, which kicked off the downtown holiday season with free stage performances, parade, fireworks and more.

Next year's Conference will be held Nov. 16-18, at the Hyatt Regency, Sheraton and Swissotel in downtown Chicago.

CLICK HERE for a copy of the 2006 Conference program (pdf).

Also, visit the Web sites of co-sponsoring organizations:


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