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Special Report of the 2006 Joint Annual Conference

Below is a list, by title, of the 18 panel reports that make up the Special Report of the 2006 Joint Annual Conference. Among the reporters who drafted these session summaries were conference "interns," education administration students from several Illinois universities. Each was assigned to cover a panel selected for its lasting value to school leaders.

The aim is to make some of the most vital information presented at the conference available to a wider audience of school board members and administrators. After all, with more than 100 panel sessions scheduled at the conference each year, no individual can hope to attend all of them. In navigating this document, you may click on any of the panel titles to read the contents of the report on that particular session or you can simply scroll down to read all of the reports.

The panels described here were presented as part of the Joint Annual Conference of the Illinois Association of School Boards, Illinois Association of School Administrators and Illinois Association of School Business Officials. The annual conference is the state's largest annual meeting of public school leaders. It features speakers, panel presentations, exhibits and informal discussions about a wide array of school leadership topics. The 2006 conference was held November 17-19, 2006, at the Hyatt Regency Chicago and attracted nearly 6,000 school leaders.

Dual Role: Board Member/Parent

Are you watching your cash?

Achieving Stakeholder Satisfaction

A Conversation About School Boards and Student Learning

HIV: An Issue at YOUR Schools?

Financial Indicators — How Does Your District Compare?

Evaluating Wellness Policies: How are YOU doing?

Issues in Growing School Districts

Introduction to School Finance - Local, State and Federal Revenues

How to Lower Operating Costs with Sustainable Building Practices

PBIS on a Shoestring

Minority Teacher Shortfall or Districts Falling Short?

Minimize Your Legal Risks

Locally Developed Superintendent Evaluation Process

PTELL District Referenda – Clearer or Muddier?

Performance-based evaluation of the superintendent

Utilizing Data Collection to Achieve and Track Results

The Ten Most Common Mistakes in Collective Bargaining

Dual Role: Board Member/Parent

Ben Anderson, Vice President, East Dubuque U.S.D. 119 Board of Education
Karen Carney, Vice President, School District U-46 Board of Education, Elgin
Dawn Miller, Field Service Director, IASB, Lombard

Denise Lumpkin, education administration intern, Chicago State University

The three moderators, all board members/parents, facilitated a roundtable discussion of the advantages and disadvantages of this dual role. It was strongly recommended that all new school board members receive some form of orientation and mentoring that will explain their role and responsibility as board members.

Often new members are unclear where to draw the line between being a board member and a parent, and the results can create tension between teachers and the board as well as other parents and children.

To be effective in both roles, individuals must know when to wear what hat. As a board member, parents must be careful not to address personal agendas and as a parent, they must be careful to avoid conversations and discussions more germane for board meetings. When parents become board members, they must bear in mind that their decisions must be based on what is best for all the children within the district, not just their child(ren). This can be particularly difficult when there is a conflict involving their child.

One of the major pitfalls of this dual role often results in the board member's child being held to a higher standard than other children. It must be conveyed to teachers and school administrators that having a board member as a parent has no bearing on setting realistic goals and expectations for a child. Parents must also convey to their children that their position as a board member does not entitle them to "perks" and they will be expected follow the rules and guidelines of the school.

Another pitfall to be avoided is a member overstepping bounds by using their position on the board to coerce or intimidate teachers/staff. With proper orientation, mentoring and self monitoring, the board should be able to identify and rectify these problems immediately.

Finally, panelists emphasized that board members themselves can learn to set clear parameters when wearing their various hats. While attending a child's soccer game, make it clear that your presence at the game is as a parent and tactfully refuse to discuss matters that deal with school policies and procedures. Conversely, at a school board meeting, avoid discussing your feelings as a parent regarding the amount of homework your child must do.

The bottom line is that the dual role of board member and parent can be a precarious balance. However, with self discipline, a clear idea of the rights and responsibility of each role, and the ability to effectively communicate with others, that balance can be achieved.

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Are you watching your cash?

R. Francis Schlemmer, Jr., Ph.D., Associate Professor of Pharmaco- dynamics University of Illinois at Chicago

Panelists: Mark Van Clay, Ed. D., Superintendent, LaGrange School District 102
Constantine M. Bitsas, Associate Vice President, SAFER Foundation
Perry Soldwedel, Director of Continuous Improvement, Consortium for Educational Change

Trina A. Hollingsworth, education administration intern, Chicago State University

The session focused on the introduction of a system able to combine data important to school boards and educators. Incorporation of this system makes the data available at a moment's notice. The two types of identified data, budget issues and student achievement were displayed together on a new instrument called a "Scorecard." According to Van Clay, "a board of education needs to have its own data-driven instrument to assist with leadership work."

A "board scorecard" helps school board members use data to analyze the aspects of a district's operation that the board values most. With a scorecard, the board can identify: where it wants to devote the majority of its time; the specific indicators it wants to measure; a single, baseline data expression for each indicator; a target for improvement for each indicator; and a "dipstick" measures for progress toward those targets.

The scorecard concept is borrowed from the health care industry. Panelist Perry Soldwedel brought the concept to District 102 last year and its use has made it easy to put a data driven approach in both the board room and the classroom as well. The scorecard of LaGrange gives this district's board specific ongoing feedback regarding efforts towards improvement.

The La Grange 102 scorecard is based on a strategic plan that has been in place for the past 13 years. The columns on the scorecard identify criteria deemed important to La Granges' efforts to improve. District operational criteria along with student achievement were displayed for the audience. In the first two columns, areas of strategic priority are identified and reference wording of the objectives…district operations important to the board. The next two columns define what are being measured (indicators) and the frequency by which those measures are taken. Linking indicators to the areas of focus is a priority in developing the scorecard. Once measured, the indicators need to give a valid view of the areas that are the board's focus. The next three columns on the scorecard reflect measurements. The "baseline" column shows where the district is currently and is derived from past data. The "Future" column represents the target for improvement. This is an additional priority to the scorecard because it represents what the desired improvement will look like. The "Future" column is a district target because the school board is responsible for the entire district, not just one or two schools. The "Current" column represents "dipstick" measures-defined by the previous "When" column that determines the frequency of each measure. Information on the scorecard depends on annual as well as more frequent measures.

The benefits of the scorecard include a direct measure and link of time spent on stated priorities. It gives a visual of where the district is and where the district plans to go along with current progress. It pinpoints organizational changes for measurements and focuses on true priorities to list a few. The scorecard places in front of the board, all stated priorities-with data attached.

Potential complications of this resourceful instrument include the time it takes to develop the scorecard, the need for a pilot before implementation, the need to change or adjust the scorecard and the efforts necessary to improve this tool to ensure it becomes a tool to make the organization function better. A detailed explanation of the scorecard is available in the September/October 2006 Illinois School Board Journal written by the district's superintendent, Mark Van Clay.

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Achieving Stakeholder Satisfaction

Peter Flynn, Superintendent, Freeport S.D. 145
Hank Gmitro, Superintendent, CCSD 93, Bloomingdale
Brad Hawk, Superintendent, Central CUSD 301, Burlington
Alida Graham, President, Decatur Education Association
Robert McKanna, Superintendent, Palatine CCSD 15

Rolf Sivertsen, education administration intern, Western Illinois University

Each participating school district in this panel has adopted the Lincoln Foundation for Performance Excellence "Framework for Organizational Excellence" in order to achieve stakeholder satisfaction. The following focuses on Central CUSD 301 in Burlington:

Community satisfaction
All panelists agreed that school districts must be able to meet the needs of students and their communities created by a change in demographics, specifically the school district's ability to listen to the values and priorities of the community. As a result, participants suggested that all school districts empanel community focus groups to provide feedback, develop goals, and create action plans to meet the needs of their community.

Objectives of the community focus group
During the first focus group session, specific objectives should be drafted to facilitate all future meetings. One objective might be to create a systematic process for two-way communication between the board of education and the community that would facilitate the exchange of a variety of viewpoints.

Focus group structure
In Burlington, 10 community members were invited to meet with one school board member and one administrator. Invitations were sent to community members who had complaints/concerns, children in school, no children in school, or pre-school children. Likewise, open invitations were advertised on the district Web site and newsletter. Any open invitation community member was asked to RSVP prior to the meeting. The first meeting was prefaced by a 20 minute overview of the district. Most importantly, during the meeting, district improvement goals were shared and discussed with participants. Supplemental materials were color-coded prior to distribution to participants. Consequently, breakout teams were divided and organized by the color-coded supplements. During the breakout meetings, participants were asked three questions:

  • What are you proud of and feel is a differentiator for the district?
  • What are you concerned about and feel could be a barrier for success of the district?
  • What recommendations or changes do you feel are needed?

Feedback report
After responses from the three questions were collected, administrators captured and tabulated comments from the focus group. Then the facilitator reviewed the comments to determine if any common themes emerged. As common themes were discovered, they were compared to the school improvement plan and additional improvement goals were established.

During the 2005-2006 school year, 155 community members participated in three focus group sessions. This year, one session has been conducted with 55 participants. As a result, seven district improvement goals have been implemented that emerged from the focus groups. Equally important, an external assessment of the processes the district was using to serve its students and community has been implemented. As a result, "opportunities for improvements and the feedback from focus groups reinforce areas that the district must address and improve for long term success."

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A Conversation About School Boards and Student Learning

Angie Peifer, Senior Director Board Development, Illinois Association of School Boards

Dana Isackson, education administration intern, Western Illinois University

Participants at this Sunday morning roundtable were asked to list the percentage of students in their district who were succeeding at current grade level and the percentage of students who should be expected to succeed at current grade level. Results varied related to percentages currently succeeding at grade level. Results were unanimous; however, regarding the percentage who should be expected to succeed at their current grade level – 100%. Information resources with various data shape the public's perceptions of student achievement. These perceptions are reality in the community and school boards need to be informed of data that accurately reports the status of student achievement in their district.

The school board has a responsibility to support educational structures that improve student achievement, which is why members need to ask themselves: "What's at stake if nothing changes?" and "Why should we be concerned about this?" There are many who feel school boards are not effective as policy makers and are ineffective in leading school reform.

Quoting from a former assistant secretary of education, Peifer noted: "School boards are an aberration, an anachronism, an educational sinkhole! Put this dysfunctional arrangement out of its misery!" "School boards are ripe for corruption, a springboard for aspiring politicians, and a venue for disgruntled former school employees to air dirty laundry."

That's why an effective school board needs to consider what is at stake for students. As noted in Every Child, Every School, Success for All, R. Slavin, N. Madden, L. Dolan, & B. Wasik: "Every child can learn. Every school can ensure the success of every child. If we truly believed that every child could learn under the proper circumstances, we would be relentless in the search of those circumstances."

School boards are partners in raising student achievement. Boards can make a difference in student learning by holding high expectations for all students, supporting successful teaching and learning, being accountable for student success, and linking with the school community. By making a difference, Peifer said, the board has created a culture in which student learning can happen.

She also cited research that showed evidence of higher student achievement in districts where school boards were actively involved in school improvement. The Iowa Association of School Boards conducted the Lighthouse Study, 1998-2000. This study was conducted in Georgia with districts that had school boards both active and inactive in school activities. Interview questions were designed to gather data from stakeholders inside and outside the school. Results indicated higher levels of achievement in districts where school boards were active in accepting beliefs and elevating beliefs. The attitudes in high achieving districts were that students of all abilities could achieve and excel.

Common characteristics in these high achieving districts included teaming, professional development, and a focus on what improves student learning. The school boards in these districts believed they had power to ask the right questions. The right questions supported and institutionalized school improvement. The administration and teaching staff partnered with the board to exert energy and direct resources deliberately toward research based strategies that targeted high expectations. Coupled with elevated beliefs, these boards believe every child will improve.

The consensus of participants in this session was that a school board actively involved in school improvement does make a difference in student learning.

Information about the Iowa Lighthouse Study is available at:

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HIV: An Issue at YOUR Schools?

Linda Dawson, Director of Editorial Services, IASB

André Rawls, HIV/AIDS Section Chief, Illinois Department of Public Health
Glenn Steinhausen, Principal Consultant, Illinois State Board of Education

Linda Dawson, director of editorial services, IASB, Springfield

In 2005, the Leadership Network for Healthy Students & Healthy Schools convened an organizational meeting in Portland, Oregon, to bring together representatives of school board associations and state boards of education, as well as healthy care and public health professionals, around the subject of HIV/AIDS awareness in schools. The three members of this panel represented Illinois.

Nationally, the goal of the Leadership Network was to foster collaborative efforts to formulate, adopt, implement and evaluate effective education strategies, policies and programs addressing HIV prevention, and other serious health issues affecting youth.

Goals Illinois representatives established at the meeting were: Increase awareness of HIV/AIDS among youth and educators; work with school principals around the Principal Notification Act; possible repeal of that act; and enlarge the Leadership Network in Illinois. The Principal Notification Act requires local or state health departments to notify a building principal when a student at that school has HIV/AIDS status. Then, at the discretion of the principal, others may be informed on a "need to know" basis.

While an initial push to educate principals to their responsibilities under the Principal Notification Act was undertaken when it was adopted in 1998, turnover in principalships since then may have led to a number of new principals who are not familiar with the Act.

Because HIV/AIDS numbers are increasing in Illinois and at a faster rate among minority populations, it is more important than ever for school districts to have policies that address the serious health issues raised by these infections. The Youth Risk Behavior Survey in 2003 reported 47 percent of high school students have had sexual intercourse but only 63 percent of that group reported using a condom, which points to the need for education and preventative programs that extend over multiple school years.

All school personnel are advised to follow safety precautions when dealing with blood or bodily fluids, treating all as if they were known to be infectious for HIV, HBV or other blood-borne pathogens. In addition, schools should observe the following rules:

  • Develop a written exposure control plan.
  • Provide annual in-service education programs for all employees.
  • Offer, at no charge, hepatitis B vaccine to employees who may be occupationally exposed.
  • Provide hand washing facilities.
  • Provide employees with protective clothing such as gloves, gowns, etc.
  • Provide for safe disposal of contaminated waste.
  • Provide for post-exposure evaluation and follow-up.
  • Keep records of staff training and immunizations, waste disposal, blood, exposures, etc.

If all school employees are following universal precautions for all incidents when they come into contact with body fluids, such as cuts on the playground or in the gymnasium, then the list of those on the principal's "need to know" list could be very short.

New regulations under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 would seem to preclude information from reaching a principal in the first place. However, under limited circumstances, the law allows previously accepted disclosure practices to continue. Among a list of permitted circumstances is "public health needs," which would cover the release of information to principals about HIV/AIDS status.

The 2003 revised edition of "Management of Chronic Infectious Diseases in Schoolchildren" offers practical, reasonable guidelines for school personnel to follow when working with children who have infectious diseases. While the document urges local school districts to develop their own policies and procedures related to infectious diseases, it also offers guidelines for how to respect the rights of individual privacy, individual assessment for risk of exposure, the student's right to an education, alternative education options, confidentiality and the student's right to due process.

School boards should initiate policy-level discussions based on these guidelines and consider how those new policies fit with the district's professional development plan for teachers and staff. Once districts develop policies, they need to be shared with the public, including talking about "why" the board feels the policies are necessary.

A CCSSO report, "What Education Leaders Should Know About Forming Partnerships to Prevent Sexual-Risk Behaviors in School-Aged Youth," states that collaboration among a number of parent and community groups "can help build broad-based support for school health programs, especially when they address topics that can be emotionally charged, such as HIV prevention."

The National School Boards Association also released a new publication in November 2006: "Living with HIV/AIDS: Students Tell Their Stories of Stigma, Courage and Resilience." A limited number of copies are available free from NSBA or the publication is available in pdf on NSBA's School Health Programs Web site at

Due to budget cuts, the Leadership Network for Healthy Students & Healthy Schools was abandoned by NSBA and CCSSO for 2006-07. However, that does not mean that better education for Illinois students around HIV/AIDS prevention is not important work for school districts.

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Financial Indicators — How Does Your District Compare?

Steve Larson, Ehlers & Associates, Inc., Lisle

John Kenward, Standard & Poor's, Chicago
Ted Damutz, Moody's Investors Service, Chicago

Paul Carlton, education administration intern, Eastern Illinois University

Bond rating and issuing companies use financial indicators to determine a school district's ability to borrow money or issue bonds. A favorable bond rating lowers the interest rate and broadens market access. Bonds are issued by schools for many different reasons; this session discussed factors involved in determining a bond rating.

Ted Damutz explained that a bond company relies on internal and external sources of information to decide a district's rating. External financial sources include the state report card, the district's financial profile, comparing a district's salaries and contracts to neighboring or peer districts, and rating agency reports from when a district has previously issued bonds.

The most important sources are in internal. Annual financial reports and audits are the main internal sources, but bond companies break that data down and look for trends in such areas as: revenues versus expenses; accumulated fund balances; and lowest and highest cash balance points. They also look at trends in enrollment, aggregate revenue, aggregate expense, taxable valuation, tax extensions and tax collections.

Several important educational indicators also have financial implications. A district's pupil-to-teacher ratio and support staff-to-pupil ratio are two that allow creditors to form a picture of a district, while another very important is spending per pupil. The average experience of teachers also is helpful as the more experienced a teaching staff is, the bigger the impact on the cost structure of a budget.

John Kenward continued by stating bond company ratings rely on both objective and subjective factors. Objective indicators such as the economy, finances and debt are data-driven. Financial factors come from several years worth of audits and would include trends in whether the district has had a balanced budget, projections for the current fiscal year, the amount of cash reserves, what the district's fund balance policy is, and whether tax caps are in place.

Key economic ratios include average annual EAV growth percentage and who the top 10 taxpayers are in the district. Financial ratios to be aware of are the general fund balance as a percentage of expenditures or revenues and the liquidity of a district. A district's debt ratio is also considered a factor. The dollars of debt per capita is key, plus if there is debt in any overlapping taxing districts such as the county, city, high school or elementary districts. The subjective factor can be summed up by attempting to analyze how the school is being managed, or the administration and board's abilities to run the district's finances.

According to Steve Larson, a bond rating has five key elements. A fund balance to revenue ratio makes up 35 percent of the rating and should be 10 percent as a minimum. An expenditures-to-revenue ratio also carries a 35 percent weighting and obviously balance is key. The third factor, the number of days cash on hand, is weighted at 10 percent. Larson indicated that 180 days would give the highest rating. Fourth is short term borrowing remaining and carries a 10% weighting. A 100 percent ratio is highest, but short term debt is not a bad thing as long as the district is in control of the budget. The last factor carries a 10 percent rating and is the percentage of long term borrowing, where 75 percent of debt margin remaining would be the benchmark.

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Evaluating Wellness Policies: How are YOU doing?

Linda Dawson, IASB director of editorial services

Kim Blum, program manager, Action for Healthy Kids
Deborah Rees, program supervisor, Illinois Nutrition Education and Training
Chandana Nandi, chief, Division of Chronic Disease Prevention & Control, Illinois Department of Public Health

Linda Dawson, director of editorial services, IASB, Springfield

The Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act of 2004 and the Illinois School Code as amended by Public Act 094-0199 mandated that each "local education agency" or school have a wellness policy in place before the beginning of the 2006-07 school year. While most districts put the policies in place by that deadline, implementation of those policies, including ways to evaluate that implementation, will be ongoing.

Action for Healthy Kids is a nationwide organization with more than 6,000 volunteers that was formed in 2002 in answer to then-Surgeon General David Satcher's call to action on the issue of childhood obesity. Kim Blum said a recent survey revealed 92 percent of the states reported that their districts developed their local wellness policies based on AFHK work/materials.

An AFHK analysis of local wellness policies, however, reveals that much work is still to be done. Of the 112 policies analyzed, 54 percent met just the minimum requirements; 40 percent did not specify who was responsible for implementation; at least 18 percent did not include goals for both physical activity and physical education; and 14 percent did not specify goals for nutrition education.

The school board's role, Blum said, is to provide leadership for accountability and results; ensure that monitoring and evaluation takes place; have someone in place to report back to the board and superintendent on implementation; and support the development of resources to help facilitate wellness policy implementation.

To help with implementation, she said AFHK offers a number of tools, including publications such as, "A Mission Becomes a Mandate;" "Tapping into the Power: Engaging Parents in the Fight Against Childhood Obesity;" "Helping Students Make Better Food Choices in School;" and "Wellness Policy Tool," as well as programs such as "Game On! The Ultimate Wellness Challenge" and "ReCharge!"

Deb Rees said the biggest secret to the success of wellness policies is to get buy-in from parents, students and administrators, and then to solicit support from business managers, teachers and food service supervisors. One way to get staff onboard is to implement a wellness plan for them as well. The national Centers for Disease Control & Prevention offers a publication — "Protecting Our Assets: A School Employee Wellness Guide" — that will help schools develop successful, comprehensive employee wellness programs.

To truly make a difference in children's health, Rees said, schools need to integrate sequential, age-appropriate nutrition education into their curriculum. Schools also must work at creating comprehensive physical education programs that really promote physical activity.

A report from AFHK, "Criteria for Evaluating School-Based Approaches to Increasing Good Nutrition and Physical Activity," can be used to help evaluate curriculum and can be downloaded from The CDC also has developed a "Physical Education Curriculum Analysis Tool" (PECAT) and is in the process of developing the same type of analysis tool for health education curriculum. Both tools can be ordered free from the CDC or are available on the CDC Web site at

Rees said a tool kit for Illinois schools' wellness policy development is available at, and includes a section on evaluation. The CDC's School Health Index has a self-evaluation tool that also can help a school evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of its program.

Evaluation of whatever policy and curriculum have been adopted allows a school or a district to make midcourse corrections and changes, helps determine if the program or policy has been effective, and provides information to improve and plan what will come next, according to Chandana Nandi.

Nandi said evaluation includes looking for qualitative data (information from interviews, diaries or printed materials) or quantitative data (surveys, surveillance or social indicators). Evaluation can also be done for process (by the end of next year, we will …); for impact (by three to five years …) or for outcome (by five to 10 years …).

The CDC has a five-step framework that will work for any type of evaluation. The steps are:

  1. Engage stakeholders
  2. Specify evaluation questions
  3. Specify data to be collected to answer the evaluation questions
  4. Specify the process to be used to analyze the data
  5. Use of evaluation data to improve or expand the program/policy

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Issues in Growing School Districts

James Russell
, director of publications, IASB, Springfield

Resource person:
Howard Crouse
, superintendent, Indian Prairie CUSD 204, Naperville

James Russell, director of publications, IASB, Springfield

One of the Sunday roundtables designed to discuss vital or urgent issues facing school districts addressed experiencing enrollment gains and affiliated population problems. This was the second year for this panel, which also asked participants to report on what they have learned or tried since the 2005 conference.

More than 25 public school districts were represented at the discussion.

Indian Prairie officials led the discussion, because they are the second fastest-growing district in the state. A variety of problems and options were discussed.

Building capacity, space constraints, and planning were part of this year's discussion:

  • "Every time you add onto a building, you add to the stress of the building. It's not just about size or space; it's also a matter of scheduling."
  • "At some point, it's necessary educationally to close older buildings; sometimes they just don't work anymore."
  • "Technology needs are different than class size needs; you have to address both."
  • "Start with CDB rules and regulations in determining building capacity. There are national and state standards regarding adequate square footage for school building use; thirty-five square feet per student for grade schools and 30 square feet per student for high schools is the average."
  • "Eighty-five percent (capacity) is a good time to start planning your next building."
  • "Temporary or portable classrooms should be visible to the public; it shows the taxpayers that we are using every nook and cranny available."

Discussion also focused on referenda tactics and obstacles:

  • "In growing communities, eventually the ‘no' votes on building bond issues are diluted by the new people moving into the community; that's who you need to concentrate on."
  • "Calls to the ‘yes' and ‘maybe' votes should be made the day before and the day of the election."
  • "If you want to reach the voters who will vote yes, turn to the ‘soccer moms'; they tell their husbands how to vote."
  • "It's easy to get a jaded view of voters; many don't read, listen to the news and aren't informed."
    "People have to feel the pain of increasing class sizes."
  • "The message to cities, villages and developers should be, ‘new growth has to pay for itself.'"

The roundtable also generated a variety of options or potential solutions for financing school district growth, including:

  • "To even out distribution, use open enrollment areas in specific neighborhoods. These parents can be given one, two or three school options. But do this by the end of May, so that the parents, students and teachers have time to meet and review the year ahead."
  • "Invite your chamber of commerce to tour your schools."
  • "We need to lobby for passage of legislation that would give schools the option of negotiating impact fees directly with developers."
  • "Impact fees should be reviewed regularly so that increases can be phased in. It's also very important to assess them at the time of the building permit issue and before the land is platted; otherwise, you the property may be grandfathered in."
  • "This is not an overnight process; it can take years to get all of your affected municipalities to agree on impact fees. It's up to the school district to set the tone for these discussions."
  • "If you don't ask, you won't get (impact fees, transition fees, lag fees)."
  • "Transition fees are ideally suited for increasing operating expenses; impact fees should be reserved for construction and land acquisition."
  • "Agreements with municipalities should include an indemnification clause so that they cannot be sued over impact fees."
  • "We need to look additional bills such as SB 857, which would raise the debt limit for schools."

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Introduction to School Finance - Local, State and Federal Revenues

David Lawson, Business Manager, Skokie/Morton Grove School District 69
Dr. Cheryl Crates, Chief Financial Officer, School District 300

Michael Curry, education administration intern, Eastern Illinois University

This panel session centered on revenues that are generated by or contributed to school districts. The panel focused on the big three entities that fund schools: local property taxes, state aid, and the federal government.

David Lawson discussed the local property tax cycle, corporate personal property taxes, PTELL, and the role of the courts in property tax disputes. Lawson also touched on specific types of fees that may be used to generate funds. Student fees and impact/transition fees are two resources that districts can tap in order to generate small amounts of revenue.

Crates explained the General State Aid formula and how Average Daily Attendance was to be recorded. The discussion of the G.S.A formulas and how they were created generated solid discussion between the panelists and the audience. Crates' presentation also included examples of state categorical grants. She focused on the mandated categorical grants of special education and transportation. There was also discussion of the non-funded categoricals, Gifted Education and School Construction. It was noted that the majority of federal dollars are dispersed for Title programs and school lunch programs.

This panel was very informative. The panel did an excellent job scratching the surface of school finances. The topics covered were handled in a way that those not trained in school finance could understand and benefit from.

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How to Lower Operating Costs with Sustainable Building Practices

David J. Henebry, AIA NCARB, LTZ Associates Inc/ Larson Darby Group
Joe Michuda, Executive Vice-President, Michuda Construction
Rebecca Franke, Sieben Energy Associates
Janice Spears, Superintendent, CUSD 3 Fulton County, Cuba, Illinois

Michael Curry, education administration intern, Eastern Illinois University

This presentation focused on building new schools that are environmentally friendly. The chief organization involved in setting standards for this type of architecture and construction is the United States Green Building Council. The USGBC encourages districts to use a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design process in the design of new construction projects LEED designs are those that conserve energy, limit emissions, and do little to disrupt the natural environment in the construction zone.

David Henebry detailed several aspects of "green" design including:

  • Sustainable site planning
  • Safeguarding water resources
  • Conservation
  • Use of renewable resources
  • Importance of indoor air quality
  • The point system used to assign LEED status

Joe Michuda added a contractor's perspective to the LEED building process. Michuda believes that because most subcontractors know very little about the LEED design process, it is vital to involve contractors as early as possible in the design.

Rebecca Franke discussed the costs and returns involved in LEED design. According to an October 2006 report, the average national cost of school construction is $150 per square foot. The average cost of building a LEED designed building is approximately 1.7 percent, or $3 per square foot, higher.

Janice Spears said she recently saw the completion of a new "green" building in her district. The new school includes several environmentally sound aspects:

  • Constantly monitored indoor air quality
  • Use of solar energy panels
  • Use of geothermal heating
  • Excellent use of natural lighting
  • Energy saving in the first year of $43,000.00

Brief discussion concerning the LEED design followed the panel's presentation. The presentation provided insight into the design and use of buildings that can be productive for students, staff and the environment.

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PBIS on a Shoestring

Jay Harnack, Superintendent, Blue Ridge CUSD 118, Farmer City

Susan Wilson, Principal, Schneider School, Blue Ridge CUSD 118, Farmer City

Linda Dawson, director of editorial services, IASB, Springfield

Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) is a proactive, research-based discipline system designed to maintain a safe learning environment, while ensuring students have the social/emotional skills they will need for success in school and beyond. Schneider School in Blue Ridge CUSD 118, Farmer City, adopted the PBIS system in 2000-01, and it has since been adopted by other schools in the district.

The first step, according to Superintendent Jay Harnack, is identifying and acknowledging that a school has discipline problems that are interfering with student learning, and then reaching agreement with staff on adoption of a program. Susan Wilson, Schneider principal, said there is 100 percent buy-in at her school for the program. The four necessary ingredients to make the program work at any school are:

  • A high degree on administration buy-in and agreement. Because the program takes resources, it can't just be a staff-led initiative.
  • Consistency. Because different staff members have different personalities, all must agree to be consistent with the system.
  • A willingness to try something different.
  • A recognition that this will take time and effort.

What PBIS does not take is lots of money, Wilson said. A data collection system cost the school about $250. Rewards, prizes and parties are mostly financed through donations. Wilson said she asks parents to donate unused toys or unopened toys from fast-food kid meals. Another reward is eating lunch with the principal instead of in the lunch room.

The Schneider system was originally set up on a traffic theme, which in six years now has morphed into a respect theme. However, students still are issued "tickets" as discipline referrals.

The tickets specify the student by name, where the behavior problem occurred, whether it was a major or minor infraction, the possible motivation behind the behavior problem, others who involved in the incident and a place for an "administrative decision." Infractions might include inappropriate language, fighting, overt defiance, disruptions, harassment or lying, and can be either major or minor incidents. A minor infraction, Wilson said, might be going down the slide backwards, which would draw a ticket to reinforce safety guidelines.

Possible motivations are seeking peer/adult attention, an item or activity, avoiding a peer, adult or task/activity, or unknown. One copy of the ticket is retained by the office/teacher. Another copy goes home with the student and must be signed by and parent and returned.

Each school year begins with two weeks where there are no tickets while teachers explain the rules. Kindergarten students are introduced to PBIS at their spring orientation. The school also has a Newcomers Club that introduces new students to the building and the rules. But PBIS is not just about discipline; it's about reinforcing good behavior. So in addition to tickets for wrong-doing, students also may get "Gotchas," as in "gotcha being good." Monthly parties also are scheduled for students who have not received any tickets.

"PBIS prevents problems before they occur," Wilson said, and it also helps teachers and staff be more specific about teaching children rules.

One thing Wilson likes about PBIS is that it is not a proscribed program. Schools are free to be inventive with their implementation. While teachers and staff are trained in PBIS implementation, but the ideas like the traffic light theme, monthly parties and other rewards can be unique.

The other thing she and the rest of the staff like is that it works. Discipline tickets at Schneider School have gone from 2,471 in 2000-01 to just 736 in 2005-06. And student achievement has risen steadily from 75 percent of students meeting or exceeding in all subjects on ISAT to 88 percent in 2006.

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Minority Teacher Shortfall or Districts Falling Short?

Dennis G. Kelly, Superintendent, Lyons THSD 204, and Recruit Illinois, Program Director

John L. Young, Principal (retired), Lyons Township High School District 204
Attila J. Weninger, Director of Human Resources, Recruit Illinois

Denise Lumpkin, education administration intern, Chicago State University

Currently, 90 percent of public school teachers are white; 40 percent of public school students are of color; and 40 percent of public schools have no teachers of color. Studies indicate minority teachers can increase student achievement for all students.

Students of all races benefit from teacher role models of all races; additionally, students deserve opportunities for enlarged cultural education. Teachers of color play a significant role in improving/increasing minority student achievement. Unfortunately, there are small numbers of minority teachers in schools, particularly suburban/rural schools and there is little or no focused effort by districts to recruit minority teachers.

Some of the common statements made about minority teacher recruitment include: "There are no minority teachers to hire;" "My school district is almost all white, therefore, we don't need minority teachers;" "We've had several minority teachers and they just didn't work out;" "We are more concerned with quality than color." Excuses are easier to produce than results and in the area of minority recruitment, excuses will abound.

By communicating with minority teachers, identify what brought them to your district, why they stay and what will cause them to leave. The board and administrators should take an honest look at their districts to determine if it is a preferred or non-preferred district for minority teachers.

Are teachers of color made to feel welcome and respected or is there a lack of confidence in them as people or as a professional? Is there a genuine interest in their professional growth, or is there no interest, opportunity or resources for professional growth? Were they selected for the job because of positive qualities (non-tokenism) or were they selected to fill some quota (tokenism)?

Minority recruitment is not just the responsibility of the human resources department; it is a district-wide effort. Recruitment should not be just a matter of placing an ad in the local paper; recruitment agents should contact colleges and universities, especially those with a high enrollment of minority education students. In addition, they can advertise in minority publications, post positions on the Internet and ask the community to assist in connecting with minority candidates.

Recruiters should bear in mind that candidates will want to know that they are not tokens. They will want to know the climate of the school/district; levels of parental involvement and the kind of students they will be teaching.

Candidates will want to know about the district's induction, mentoring and orientation programs and their own role in their professional development. On a personal level, they will want to know about the social life of the staff and where groups of minority teachers and community live.

The board and administrators must know the value of minority teachers and establish a clear and measurable goal for minority recruitment that includes a target number of minorities to be hired in a year, a timeline for achieving results, and who is ultimately responsible for meeting the goal.

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Minimize Your Legal Risks

Mark C. Metzger, Member, Indian Prairie C.U. District 204 Board of Education; Vice President, IASB

Michael J. Duggan, Attorney, Klein, Thorpe & Jenkins, Ltd., Chicago; Chairman, Illinois Council of School Attorneys Executive Committee
Merry C. Rhoades, Attorney, Tueth, Keeney, Cooper, Mohan & Jackstadt, P.C., Edwardsville; Second Vice Chairman, Illinois Council of School Attorneys Executive Committee; Member, Policy Reference Subscription Service (PRESS) Advisory Board
Peter K. Wilson, Jr., Attorney, Mickey, Wilson, Weiler, Renzi & Andersson, P.C., Aurora; Past Chairman and Member, Illinois Council of School Attorneys Executive Committee

Gary Adkins, director of editorial services, IASB, Springfield

The presenters, a group of school attorneys with considerable experience and background in their field, described how school board members can minimize their exposure to individual liability under law.

Attorney Wilson kicked off the session with a discussion of the Public Officers Prohibited Activities Act, which stipulates that board members generally cannot contract with the school district on whose board they serve. It is a violation of the law, for example, for a board member to sign a contract to plow snow from school parking lots in the member's school district. Wilson also discussed provisions of the state's new ethics act for state employees and officials, which he said contains broad proscriptions for school board members. In particular, the ethics act limits political activity under some circumstances, he said.

In response to questions from the audience, Duggan explained that board members may still express support for a school referendum, for example, but only if it is clearly done as an individual citizen using First Amendment freedom-of-speech rights. "You still have those rights, but the lines merge when you are introduced as a board member."

Wilson agreed, but added that in such circumstances, "if you are going to speak, say you are speaking as an individual. You might preface your remark by saying: ‘I may be a member of the school board, but as a citizen …,'" Wilson said.

Duggan then discussed the legal concept known as Qualified Liability, which concerns a defense against individual liability through what used to be called "good faith immunity," which provides that a person who acts in good faith in a belief that he or she is following the law is immune from liability. This protection has grown to give public officials immunity from liability when their conduct does not violate clearly established law. Officials are protected, Duggan said, if the law was clearly established at the time the disputed action took place, but only to the degree that the law was, in fact, clear. The U.S. Supreme Court has clarified this by explaining that the pertinent law can be found "clearly established" only if court cases on the books give "fair warning" of what constitutes a violation.

In describing a practical application of the Qualified Immunity concept, Duggan suggested that board members and school administrators should obtain legal advice in advance before going ahead to take action on touchy matters such as student searches, and student discipline.

Rhoades next provided information on the Abused and Neglected Child Reporting Act, which took effect June 20, 2006. It gives individual school board members new duties and risks under law. It stipulates that if "an allegation is raised to a school board member during the course of an open or closed school board meeting that a child who is enrolled in the school district ... is an abused child as defined in Section 3 of this Act, the member shall direct or cause the school board to direct the superintendent of the school district or other equivalent school administrator to comply with the requirements of this Act concerning the reporting of child abuse."

In such instances board members must direct their district superintendent to make a report of child abuse, according to Rhoades. "As a practical matter, you might also tell your board president that you have done that," she added, stressing that this duty falls on the individual board member, not on the board as a whole. But she said the new law does provide broad immunity against civil and criminal claims or lawsuits when a person acts in good faith.

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Locally Developed Superintendent Evaluation Process

Paul Baer, Board President, Lebanon CUSD 9
Harry Cavanaugh, Superintendent, Lebanon CUSD 9
Michelle Skinlo, Board President, Mattoon CUSD 2
Larry Lilly, Superintendent, Mattoon CUSD 2
Mary Ann Murphy, Board President, Milne-Kelvin Grove S.D. 91
Donna Gray, Superintendent, Milne-Kelvin Grove S.D. 91
Larry Dirks, Director, Field Services, IASB
Donna Johnson, Director, Field Services, IASB
Dave Love, Director, Field Services, IASB

Rolf Sivertsen, education administration intern, Western Illinois University

As elected officials, all school board members are bound by state statute to sit in trust to the entire community. The most important obligation for board members is to evaluate the district's chief executive officer and hold him/her responsible for district achievement and fiduciary responsibilities. The process of evaluation should entail a collaborative design between the school board and the superintendent. The following traits should be considered when implementing a superintendent evaluation process:

Develop a Focus on Performance
Prior to employment, the board of education and superintendent should develop a basis and benchmarks for the evaluation procedure. To facilitate the process, board members should be familiar with legal statutes and the Illinois School Code pertaining to the evaluation process. Most importantly, the entire process should focus on performance rather than skills and traits.

Review Existing Documents
The second step in the evaluation process involves reviewing the district's current evaluation procedures. For example, are the current superintendent's goals applicable to the newly employed superintendent's goals? Are there valid performance measures present that have been collaboratively implemented by the board and superintendent? Does the job description need to be revised? For example, have the needs of the district changed and does the superintendent's job description reflect those needs? Equally important, does the district policy manual address the evaluation procedure? Does the policy manual need to be revised pertaining to the superintendent evaluation process?

Agree on Expectations
The third step relates to board expectations. For example, prior to employment, the board and superintendent should reach a consensus concerning district expectations of the superintendent's performance. The superintendent should be held accountable only for reasonable expectations that both parties have agreed upon prior to employment. Likewise, the board should also communicate to the superintendent if they feel additional expectations are necessary relating to the superintendent's work with the board, management of the district or improvements in district performance.

Get it in Writing
The most important component of the superintendent evaluation process is the completion of a written document that specifically addresses any and all board expectations. The board should:

  • Consider rewriting the superintendent's job description to reflect the expectations of the board.
  • Draft goals and put them in writing. If the board expects academic or fiduciary improvement, then those expectations should be mirrored within the superintendent's employment contract.
  • Compile a single list of all expectations in one document.
  • Develop a schedule for benchmarks and annual evaluations. This schedule should be calendar-based and implemented every fiscal year.

Progress Reports
The superintendent should be required to submit quarterly reports indicating benchmark progress. In addition, the superintendent might want to include an example to verify progression.

Performance Evaluation
During the actual evaluation process, the board compares the superintendent's performance with the board's expectations. The superintendent should provide the board with a self-evaluation, complete with examples supporting the self-evaluation, and demonstrate progress towards goals. Accordingly, the board should discuss the evaluation, reach consensus and provide the superintendent with a written summary from the entire board.

Focus on the Future
Annually, the board of education should meet to review the superintendent's compensation and contract language. Also, the board should review the superintendent's goals on a yearly basis and make appropriate modifications. As a result, the goals and evaluation should make an impact on the extension or non-renewal of the superintendent.

The superintendent's employment contract and evaluation are probably the most important tasks that any board of education will complete. The absence of a strong instructional and financial leader will result in the failure of student achievement and demise of precious financial assets.
Special Report of the 2006 Joint Annual Conference
March, 2007
Below is a list, by title, of the 18 panel reports that make up the Special Report of the 2006 Joint Annual Conference. Among the reporters who drafted these session summaries were conference "interns," education administration students from several Illinois universities. Each was assigned to cover a panel selected for its lasting value to school leaders.
The aim is to make some of the most vital information presented at the conference available to a wider audience of school board members and administrators. After all, with more than 100 panel sessions scheduled at the conference each year, no individual can hope to attend all of them. In navigating this document, you may click on any of the panel titles to read the contents of the report on that particular session or you can simply scroll down to read all of the reports.
The panels described here were presented as part of the Joint Annual Conference of the Illinois Association of School Boards, Illinois Association of School Administrators and Illinois Association of School Business Officials. The annual conference is the state's largest annual meeting of public school leaders. It features speakers, panel presentations, exhibits and informal discussions about a wide array of school leadership topics. The 2006 conference was held November 17-19, 2006, at the Hyatt Regency Chicago and attracted nearly 6,000 school leaders.

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PTELL District Referenda – Clearer or Muddier?

Deanna Sullivan, Director of Governmental Relations, IASB, Springfield

Todd Drafall, Director of Administrative Services, Aurora West Unit School District 129
Lynda Given, Partner, Chapman & Cutler, LLP, Chicago
Honorable Don Harmon, Illinois State Senator, District 39, Oak Park
Honorable Michael Tryon, Illinois State Representative, District 64, Crystal Lake
Stuart Whitt, Attorney, Whitt Law, Aurora; Member, Illinois Council of School Attorneys

Gary Adkins, director of editorial services, IASB, Springfield

The panelists described changes to the so-called "tax caps" law contained in Senate Bill 1682. The two primary sponsors of the bill, Sen. Harmon, and Rep. Tryon, told the audience that the bill they guiding into law was aimed at improving the referendum process. But they admitted there is still some confusion about the meaning and impact of the new law, which makes significant changes to how referenda questions will appear on the ballot. Those changes are particularly noteworthy for the voters in counties where the Property Tax Extension Limitation Law (PTELL) is in effect.

Specifically, panelists explained that the bill:

  • Re-writes the tax rate increase ballot question for taxing districts to add a description of the "purposes of" the ballot question. It also adds that the supplemental information for the rate increase question must include a statement of purpose or reason for the proposed change in the tax rate, and the approximate amount of the new increase on a single family residence having a fair market value of $100,000.
  • Changes the definition of "limiting rate" for PTELL taxing districts.
  • Eliminates particular fund referendum approved tax rate ceilings.
  • Increases flexibility for tax levies.
  • Sets forth specific language that must be used on new ballot questions for PTELL counties, including:
    1. Propositions seeking referendum approval for a new tax;
    2. Propositions seeking referendum approval for an increase in a specific tax rate;
    3. Propositions seeking an increase in the limiting rate. Under this section the question on the ballot must specify the number of years (up to four) that the newly approved increase and limiting rate will be extended or phased in. Also, under this section the supplemental information must include an estimate of the cost of the proposition over the number of years it is to be phased in. This estimate will be based on an assessed value of residential property valued at $100,000 and adjusted for value increases for each year after 1 that is asked for in the question.
    4. Additional supplemental information including:
      • the rate of the specific tax or limiting rate that was most recently extended prior to the referendum;
      • both the approximate dollar amount that was extended prior to the referendum and the approximate dollar amount that will be extended implementing the new specific rate or limiting rate. This calculation will be computed using the last known EAV of taxable property in the taxing district; and
      • the approximate amount of the new increase on a single family residence having a fair market value of $100,000.
    5. This section also includes provisions giving direction to clerks for the extension of new tax rates and rate increases.
  • Provides a new referendum opportunity for taxing districts that would allow a specified percentage to be used in place of the lesser of 5 percent or the percentage increase in the CPI for a specified period of time. Also, under this question the supplemental information must include an estimate of the cost of the proposition over the number of years the new percentage is to be extended. This estimate will be based on an assessed value of residential property valued at $100,000 and adjusted for value increases for each year the increased percentage is to be extended.
  • Changes the Rate Increase Factor to be allowed only for rate increases first effective for the 2006 levy year, any preceding levy year (after referendum approval) and any referendum held prior to March 22, 2006.
  • Allows a taxing district that was subject to PTELL prior to 1995 and that approved a tax increase at a general election held after 2002 to be allowed to choose the number of years to implement the Rate Increase Factor.

Harmon and Tryon agreed that the tax cap law has never worked well in harmony with the tax code, and their bill was designed to correct this. The two began by identifying the basic cornerstones of PTELL, or tax cap law, as: money, the Consumer Price Index, and voter empowerment.

"We decided to fashion it around those three basic tenets of the tax cap law," explained Tryon.

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Performance-based evaluation of the superintendent

Marla Langenhorst, President, Germantown SD 60 Board of Education
Shelly Richter, School Improvement Plan Coordinator, Germantown SD 60
Larry E. Weber, Superintendent, Germantown SD 60

Paul Carlton, education administration intern, Eastern Illinois University

Germantown SD 60 is an elementary district with 300 students in PreK-8th grade. Germantown is a town of 1,200 people located about 48 miles east of St. Louis in Clinton County. The district has a $1.8 million balanced budget with 21 certified and 21 noncertified staff members. The board has a variety of service records ranging from one newly elected to one with 12 years of experience. The superintendent, Larry Weber, also acts as principal for the school and is in his second year in the district.

The superintendent's evaluation is part of the district's school improvement process. The district's goals are developed through the Internal Review Committee and eventually approved by the board of education. These district goals then form the basis of what the board will use to evaluate the superintendent's performance.

The district's Internal Review Committee is where the process begins. Shelly Richter, the School Improvement Plan coordinator, outlined the four-step process by which the IRC arrives at its recommendations for how to improve the district.

Step 1: The Internal Review Committee evaluates the results of the previous year by looking at programs offered, policies currently in effect, curriculum being offered, and student achievement on standardized tests. Next, the committee identifies gaps between goals and results and, from those gaps, targets 3-5 areas for improvement. The IRC surveys students, parents and staff to help formulate next year's goals.

Step 2: The IRC presents its recommendations to the teachers. A review of the surveys and student tests results allow for collaboration to fine tune the areas targeted for improvement.

Step 3: Goals and strategies are brought to the superintendent who drafts a statement for the board of education's approval.

Step 4: The board adopts the goals and strategies as part of its biannual strategic planning meeting. The board further fine tunes the superintendent's draft document and the final product reflects a true picture of where the district wants to go in the future.

The goals and strategies now form the first of three components in the superintendent's evaluation. The board and superintendent review the goals quarterly and make adjustments as needed. No goals are taken out and the superintendent reports on progress being attained towards the stated goals. The other two components are written evaluations aligned to the six ISLLC standards. The board fills out a 16-question document annually and the staff fills out a 13-question survey. The board president tabulates the results of these two surveys and provides a written summary during an executive session with the superintendent in February to go over the results.

This evaluation process allows the superintendent to know what is expected and prevents any surprises. The process has integrity and tracks the performance of the superintendent on elements that have been identified as being important to the entire Germantown district.

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Utilizing Data Collection to Achieve and Track Results

Paul Kuchuris,
President/CEO, The Lincoln Foundation For Performance Excellence

Alida Graham, President, Decatur School Association
Dr. Robert McKanna, Superintendent, Community Consolidated School District 15, Palatine

Trina A. Hollingsworth,
education administration intern, Chicago State University

CCSD 15, Palatine, has developed and implemented a process of utilizing data to drive the schools' efforts to perfect performance and achieve excellence. A district serving all or parts of seven municipalities with 20 schools, an enrollment of approximately 12,582 students encompassing diversity of both ethnicity and income levels, CCSD is the third largest elementary school district in Illinois with strong community involvement and a school budget for the current year of $148 million.

The Focus on Performance Excellence involves four overriding priorities:

  • Direction
  • Alignment
  • Deployment
  • Measurement/results

The first priority – direction – takes the form of identifying four criteria: symptoms, problems, causes and solutions. The second priority – alignment – focuses on organizational direction and targets are aligned across a network of interrelated groups. In this stage, the organizational chart is depicted with links showing how each group is connected to ensure communication from the top down, bottom up, and side to side ensure the right hand is aware of what the left hand is doing and is able to support the endeavors of one another universally.

During the third priority, deployment takes place. The district targets various departments, etc., and deploys additional aides to address weaknesses in the organization. One area identified, ITBS scores concentrated on second grade scores for three consecutive years. Targeting these students, remediation takes place in the form of quality tools to be utilized in the class to remediate the students' deficiencies. Quantitative data revealed a 77 percent achievement score in the year of 1999 with a decrease in 2000 of these students to 74 percent. However, in 2001 these students tested at 85 percent achieving the meet/exceed goal and a continuation of this pattern revealed a 97 percent meet/exceed goal in the year of 2005. The assistance of the Lincoln Foundation enables this school district to experience positive "lessons learned," by changing its thought patterns to specific data driven criteria.

In addition, the district also has initiated criteria for Principal Data Submissions. Each principal has expectations required for data use, inspections for achievement, and the responsibility to identify gaps in learning and address the same along with a required quarterly accomplishments report.

Another important aspect of the session highlighted the importance of students in the project. Instruments such as Student Data Folders, a Fast Feedback Form used by the students, a student originated graph entitled, "I Liked It-I Learned A Lot," demonstrated the input students have in the origination and collection of data to ensure accuracy and authentication of the data collected.

Addressing the four overriding priorities aids the district efforts to put into place interventions. This district has clear expectations aligned, in-process data, and interventions built to continue this culture of shared decision making.

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The Ten Most Common Mistakes in Collective Bargaining

Dr. Brad Colwell, Professor of Education Law, Southern Illinois University Carbondale;
Dr. Norm Durflinger, Assistant Professor, Illinois State University

Reporter: Dana Isackson, education administration intern, Western Illinois University

Dr. Colwell and Dr. Durflinger collectively have a wealth of experience in collective bargaining and have observed common mistakes made in collective bargaining. These mistakes have resulted in costly contracts for school boards who were not knowledgeable of the ‘dos and don'ts' in collective bargaining. Discussion of the top ten mistakes follows.

1. Forgetting the Ultimate Goal is to come to Settlement
The board must remain focused on the ultimate goal of negotiations: settlement. Reaching an agreement that serves the purposes of the board and the teachers is the product all hope to achieve. The initial meeting in collective bargaining should include meeting and greeting each other and swapping proposals. A ground rule should include an agreement that no new proposals may be introduced after the first or second meeting. The board needs the services of an attorney to craft language that is compliant with the law and language that both sides can agree on. The attorney can be the ‘bad guy' putting facts on the table that are critical to keep the district solvent and high functioning. Once the contract is signed, it is law.

2. Ignoring the Importance of Communication Within and Between Bargaining Teams
Communication between board members is NOT done at the table. Any type of communication at the table verbal or nonverbal can be deadly. Facial expressions or body language send messages to the other side that may influence a proposal being discussed. Anything that is said should serve a purpose in the negotiating process. This can be difficult for board members who at times experience anger. Team members should request a caucus if they need to discuss an issue or release frustration.

3. Ignoring the Importance of Communication with the Board and Other Stakeholders
One spokesperson should be appointed to talk at the table. A ground rule should be established that proposals being discussed will not be shared outside of sessions. This includes the media. No information should be shared with newspapers, television stations, friends, staff, etc. An appropriate response by the negotiators to the public/media is, "No comment." If there is breaking news outside of the sessions, board members should be contacted directly with an update.

4. Not Learning and Using Effective Table Strategies
Board members need to be educated on effective negotiating strategies. This includes meaning of common terms used at the table. Every proposal should be dated with the time. Tentative agreements should be dated with the time and signed off by the chief negotiators on both teams. When either side rejects a part of a proposal, they are rejecting the whole proposal. Either side should be ready with a counterproposal.

5. Failing to do Pre-Bargaining Homework
The Board must read and be knowledgeable of the teacher contract. The board should be knowledgeable of other districts' contracts and how they compare with the old and proposed contract. A plan needs to be developed and put in writing ahead of the first negotiation session. It must be determined how much each item will cost. The board should rank 1 to 10 offers they can live with, because nine times out of ten they will get their preferred language. Ground rules need to be discussed and noted prior to the first session. The attorney is a facilitator of the collective bargaining process, not a negotiator.

6. Letting Emotions Get the Best of You!
Board members need to bond and function as a team. Each person at the table plays a role. No one should come to the table with personal agendas. Emotions must remain calm. Expression of frustration, anger, and inflexibility leads to irrational thinking, violation of ground rules, and possible impact to the contract outcome. Damage control can last well beyond collective bargaining. Request a caucus if emotions are beginning to erupt. If the caucus is extremely long, end the session.

7. Thinking that "Language Items" Have No Cost
Everything costs something. Cost every item out before and during negotiations. Negotiate non-economic items first. It is better to have the teachers present their proposals first.

8. Not Listening To – and Not Protecting – Your Administrators
The administrators are at the front line daily. They can help the board understand the teachers' perspective and reason for proposals. The administrators can suggest what could work and what cannot. Putting language in the contract that sets administrators up to fail would be a mistake. Listen to the administrators and protect their leadership role in the schools.

9. Having No Clue about the Strategies for Resolving Disputes
There will be disputes in collective bargaining. The board needs to be educated on strategies that resolve disputes. The goal is to settle on a contract everyone can live with for the term of the contract. Understanding mediation, arbitration, and impact of a strike are key to knowing why resolving disputes at the table is in the best interest of the board. Side committees are used to research data to bring back to the table. Data and facts should be available to reference during a dispute.

10. Failing to Distinguish Between Human Relations and Labor Relations
Board members and teachers need to understand the differences between human relations and labor relations. Labor relations are business. It identifies the interests of each side in creating working conditions, benefits, and salary that meets needs and is affordable. Human relations are people-to-people relations that support the integrity of every person. During collective bargaining, it is important to maintain human relations while in the heat of labor relations.

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