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2015 Conference Overview

More than 83 percent of the state’s 855 public school districts were represented at the 2015 Joint Annual Conference, held Nov. 20-22 in Chicago.

This was the 83rd meeting of the Illinois Association of School Boards, Illinois Association of School Administrators, and Illinois Association of School Business Officials. Total attendance was 9,855. Those registered included 3,670 guests, 3,144 board members, 1,494 administrators, 1,224 exhibitors, as well as board secretaries, school attorneys, regional and state education officials, and other representatives.

Professional development is the primary purpose of the Conference, offered through 276 exhibit booths, 99 panel sessions, 32 “Carousel” panels, eight Pre-Conference Workshops, four school tours, three general sessions, as well as the IASB Delegate Assembly, bookstore, and other learning and networking opportunities.

New features at this year’s Conference included 20 “Mini Clinics” and 11 “Learning Labs.” The clinics were hosted by IASB and featured short, 20-minute presentations on Association services. Topics included community engagement, superintendent evaluation, goal-setting, policy manual maintenance, recruiting school board members, and others. The learning labs were hosted by select vendors in the exhibit hall. The pilot program featured in-depth exhibitor presentations about products and services designed to assist districts looking for solutions. Topics included electric service, school safety, classroom technology, impact of tax caps, healthcare cost management, and others.

Panel sessions, delivered in 90-minute segments in five different time slots over the three-day event, are the staple of the Conference. This year’s panels drew 9,178 people. The topics and their attendance included the following: governance and leadership (22 panels; 1,379 attended); school law (8; 1,145); governmental relations (7; 1,060); current issues (17; 1,027); best practices (19; 1,015); student learning (10; 919); finance and funding (9; 613); facilities and technology (8; 548); community relations (10; 543); and newer board members (3; 287). The Carousel of Panels had a total attendance of 632.

The largest panels by title and attendance were: Effective Negotiation Strategies (277); Legislative Issues Impacting Schools (275); Legal Hot Topics (271); TED Talks (242); Separating Religion and Education (236); Pensions (230); and Administration’s Vision (200).

And many of the panel sessions provided online handouts and PowerPoint presentations, some of which are available from the IASB members-only website.

There were other training opportunities as well, including an all-day school law seminar for school attorneys and three Pre-Conference Workshops for Illinois ASBO members. Two days of specialized training were offered for school board secretaries that included diversity and inclusion, and 11 panel sessions. IASB also offered eight Pre-Conference Workshops in half-day or full-day options that drew 1,096 participants. Workshop topics included basics of governance, PDLT/PERA (mandatory board training), board presidents, superintendent evaluation, using data, closing gaps, social media, and school finance.

Licensed Illinois teachers attending as guests or as board members were also able to qualify for Professional Development Clock Hours and 251 participated.

This year, 371 districts sent representatives to the IASB Delegate Assembly to vote on four resolutions, to elect officers, and to hear reports from the Association.

The keynote speakers at the General Sessions were another Conference highlight. They included DeDe Murcer Moffett, Freeman Hrabowski, and Kevin Brown. The general sessions were also where awards were given out for school design, risk management, and individual awards for superintendent, school board president, school business official, and school board secretary. Special guests included the NSBA president, IASB past presidents and executive directors.

Social media was on prominent display during this year’s Conference, via the hashtag #ILjac15. Many individuals and organizations participated in this online sharing, retweeting and adding their own messages and photos.

Participants who want to help evaluate the 2015 Joint Annual Conference can go online to complete a survey about their experience and activities. An online gallery of photos taken at the IASB’s “Ready, Set…Lead!” photo booth has also been posted for participants to download and share.

The 84th Joint Annual Conference will be held Nov. 18-20, 2016. A Call for Proposals is now available for local school districts and related organizations that want to make panel presentations next year. Information for exhibitors will be posted in February, while housing and registration forms will be posted in early June 2016.


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