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2011 Joint Annual Conference Overview

Across the Board Increases in Attendance, Participation

More than 85 percent of the state’s 866 school districts attended the 2011 Joint Annual Conference, Nov. Nov. 18-20, in Chicago. This was the 79th meeting of the Illinois Association of School Boards, Illinois Association of School Administrators and Illinois Association of School Business Officials.

Attendance topped 11,000, exceeding the 2010 conference registrations by more than 14 percent. There were 738 districts represented, or 68 more than the previous year.

The increase was attributed to several factors: improved district finances, delivery of overdue state payments, and local boards responding to the call for “accountability” and leadership development.  

This year’s conference drew 4,512 guests, 3,507 school board members, 1,618 exhibitors, 880 administrators, 628 superintendents, 163 board secretaries, 135 school attorneys, 31 regional superintendents and 22 university professors. Others included IASB Service Associates, state board officials, and special ed administrators.

Information and insights on a wide range of issues in school governance and public education were found at 220 exhibits, 110 panel sessions, 31 "carousel" panels, seven pre-conference workshops, three general sessions, bookstore, delegate assembly, and other various learning and networking opportunities.

This year's panel sessions drew 9,792 people, compared to the total attendance of 7,258 last year. Panel sessions, which are held in five time slots over three days, averaged 89 persons per panel, compared to 63 per panel in 2010.

Seven of the 110 panel sessions reached standing-room-only capacity.

Legislative, legal, collective bargaining, and finance issues were hot topics for 2011. The single largest panel – Pension Reform Update – attracted 490 people.

A total of 711 people attended five other legislative panels, including: Legislative Hot Topics, Legislative Issues Impacting School Districts, Federal Legislative Update, Where are you Sending My Children to School, and Implications of Pension Reform.

A legal panel that met new mandatory requirements on Open Meetings Act Training drew 350 people. Those who completed this training earned certification to satisfy the requirements.  

Nine other legal panels combined to draw 969 people: Navigating Through Education Reform, School Law 2011: 5 Things Boards Need to Know,Legal Issues in 2011, Are Your Teachers Fit for Duty, Schools and Social Media use, Social Networking Policy and Legal Implications , Superintendent Employment Contract, Legally Stumped, and Special Education Top 10 List.

The Illinois Council of School Attorneys on Friday also offered 135 attorneys the opportunity to earn 5.25 credits toward mandatory continuing legal education.

Collective bargaining was presented in six different panels this year. The panel drawing the most attendees (330) was Education Reform Act Changes Your Dealings with Teachers and Unions.

Another 542 went to panels on Common Mistakes in Collective Bargaining, Fundamentals of Collective Bargaining, Impact of Personalities in Collective Bargaining, Bargaining Implications of Evaluation, Tenure and Discipline; and Collaborative Bargaining as Reform Resource.

School finance was as relevant in 2011 as it is most years. To help new board members who were elected in April 2011, two panels were presented as School Finance for the Novice: Revenue and Expenditures, which combined to attract 346 conference attendees.

Eighteen other panels addressed school finance, including budgeting, referendum, health care costs, energy, facility and maintenance, and administrative contracts. Combined, these panels drew 911 participants.

Also popular again was the "Carousel of Panels" held on Saturday afternoon at the Sheraton Chicago Hotel and Towers. More than 320 board members and administrators attended the 31 panels that rotated in three 30-minute sessions.

Many of the handouts and Power Point presentations from this year’s conference are available online at the IASB Members-Only website.

School districts sent 342 representatives to debate seven 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 outgoing president Joseph Alesandrini, newly elected IASB President Carolyne Brooks and IASB Executive Director Emeritus Michael D. Johnson.

A separate strand of professional development for board secretaries was held at the Swissotel Chicago. This year elected officials and school employees could attend 12 training sessions on various topics, including a boot camp, school record maintenance and disposal, technology, agendas and minutes, retirement planning, policy procedures, implementing FOIA, school board elections, and various personnel issues.

Attendance at seven elective pre-conference workshops held at the Sheraton Towers on Friday exceeded 625 people. In fact, four of the workshops – The Basics of Governance, Basics of School District Finance, Visions, Values, Conflicts and Choices; and Introduction to Collective Bargaining – were sold out.

The 2011 conference also featured workshops for members of IASA and Illinois ASBO, tours of five Chicago Public Schools, three general sessions and keynote speakers, and various meetings of work-alike groups.

This year's keynoters were author Wes Moore , a performance by StandUp Change! , and Georgia legislator Brooks Coleman Jr . The general sessions’ featured guests included state school board officials, past presidents of IASB, and NSBA President Mary Broderick of Connecticut.

Six schools and school architecture firms received awards in the 2011 Invitational Exhibition of Educational Environments program, sponsored by IASB Service Associates. Awards of Distinction, Merit and Honorable Mention were given and a total of 26 entries were on display throughout the conference.

Awards also went out for Risk Management, Outstanding School Board President , Superintendent of the Year , School Business Official Distinguished Service , and Outstanding School Board Secretary .

Hundreds of members and guests also took advantage of IASB’s Information Room, where they could talk, meet Association officers and staff, meet state board of education officials, and heard about the features of IASB services, including BoardBook®, the Members-Only website, school board policies online hosting service, and the LeaderShop Online Learning Center.

The exhibit hall was also very popular and at times very crowded. A Bingo game was held and drew 156 entries for 20 winning gift cards .

This was the fifth year that 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 conference. More than 157 teachers took advantage of this offer.

Participants who want to help evaluate the 2011 Joint Annual Conference can go online to complete a survey about their experiences and activities. An online gallery of hundreds of photos taken at this year’s conference will also be made available.

The 80th Joint Annual Conference will be held Nov. 16-18, 2012, in Chicago.

A Call for Proposals has been posted online for local districts that want to make panel presentations. Information for exhibitors will posted in early February, while housing and registration forms will be available in early June 2012.


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