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Conference Overview: Bigger and Better

The IASB/IASA/IASBO Joint Annual Conference – already considered the premiere school leadership event in Illinois – keeps getting bigger and better.

In fact, a new record for total attendance was set – again – as final figures showed that 12,261 people registered for the 2008 conference. That is 199 more than 2007, when registration topped 12,000 for the first time.

This was the 76th Joint Annual Conference of the Illinois Association of School Boards, Illinois Association of School Administrators and Illinois Association of School Business Officials.

The event was headquartered at the Hyatt Regency Chicago, Nov. 21-23, 2008, and drew 4,897 guests, 3,668 school board members, 1,655 exhibitors, 681 superintendents, 525 school administrators, 100 board secretaries, 57 regional superintendents and 26 university staff, as well as 19 attorneys, 12 past presidents, 10 state board officials, nine service associates and others.

Eight-nine percent, or 773 of the state's 869 public school districts, were represented.

Popularity of the Joint Annual Conference stems from the opportunity it provides for board members and administrators to gain information and share insights about the full range of issues in school governance and Illinois education. The conference included 295 exhibits, 120 panel sessions, 27 "carousel" panels, 13 pre-conference workshops, three general sessions, a bookstore, delegate assembly, and other various learning and networking opportunities.

Attendance at the panel sessions, which totaled 8,434 over the three-day period, saw a large interest in several critical school issues.

Two of the 16 school finance panels drew 495 people to attend "School Finance Revenue for the Novice" and "Ten Most Common Mistakes in Collective Bargaining."

Another 490 people attended two of the 21 panels on school governance and best practices, including "Involving Your Community in Major Decisions" and "What Would Lincoln Do."

Two of the 11 school law panels attracted 435 people to learn more about "Blog Now, Pay Later: Legal Issues Concerning Social Networking Sites" and "Electronic Misconduct: A Legal Update."

Also popular this year was the "Carousel of Panels" held on Saturday afternoon at the Sheraton Chicago Hotel and Towers. This event featured 27 panels rotating in three 30-minute sessions. More than 300 board members and administrators attended.

More than 360 school district representatives voted on 20 resolutions presented at Saturday's Delegate Assembly. In addition to voting on IASB's position statements, they also voted on officers, and heard reports from IASB President Mark C. Metzger and IASB Executive Director Michael D. Johnson.

Two days of professional development were also offered to board secretaries at the Swissotel Chicago. This year 382 elected officials and school employees attended nine training sessions, including time management, audits, elections, board packets, crisis management and other issues.

Attendance at the eight IASB pre-conference workshops held Friday topped 600. Two of the workshops – "Financial Oversight Essentials" and "Science, Math and Tech Education" topped 100 persons each.

The 2008 conference also featured five workshops for members of the Illinois Association of School Administrators and Illinois Association of School Business Officials, five tours of Chicago Public Schools, three general sessions and keynote speakers, a seminar for school attorneys, and various meetings of work-alike groups.

This year's keynoters were Alan Blankstein of the Hope Foundation, futurist David Zach, and Joe Martin of RealWorld University. Other featured guests included State Superintendent Christopher Koch, ISBE Chairman Jesse Ruiz, and NSBA President Barbara Bolas.

Nine schools and school architecture firms received awards in the 2008 Invitational Exhibition of Educational Environments program, sponsored by IASB Service Associates. Awards of Distinction, Merit and Honorable Mention were given and a total of 25 entries were on display throughout the conference.

Awards also went out for Risk Management, Outstanding School Board President, and Superintendent of the Year.

Two new IASB services were also introduced, including the electronic meeting and document management service BoardBook®, and the Association's new Members-Only website. Handouts from many of the panel sessions are already posted at that site.

Also for the first time, certified Illinois teachers who were either registered conference attendees (board members) or registered guests were able to receive Continuing Professional Development Units (CPDUs) for their participation in the 2008 Joint Annual Conference. More than 120 teachers took advantage of this offer.

Additional coverage of the entire conference can be found at the IASB website, A gallery of photos will be available at a secure third party site, Viewing is free and photos will be available for purchase. Email address, event code (iasb08) and password (chicago) are required for access. The gallery will be posted in mid-December.

The 77th Joint Annual Conference will be held Nov. 20-22, 2009, in Chicago.

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