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IASB JOINT ANNUAL CONFERENCE


2016 JOINT ANNUAL CONFERENCE

Select Panel Reports

As it has for the past several years, IASB has posted selected reports that make up the Panel Reports of the Joint Annual Conference. 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.

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 will be able to 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.

Among the reporters who drafted these session summaries were conference "interns," comprised of education administration students from several Illinois university graduate programs. Each intern was assigned to cover a panel selected for its lasting value to school leaders.

The panels chosen were among those 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 2016 conference was held Nov. 18-20 at the Hyatt Regency Chicago, Sheraton Grand Chicago, and the Swissotel, and attracted nearly than 10,000 school board members, administrators, exhibitors, school attorneys, and guests.

Policy 101: Anatomy of a PRESS-Based Policy Manual

School Safety: Analysis of a School Safety Incident

Ed-Tech Student Success Stories in TED Talks

Board Presidents’ Roundtable

2016 Legal Update on Supporting Transgender Students

Partnering for Teacher Leadership Throughout Illinois

Collective Bargaining in Uncertain Times

“What if” Questions: Multi-Year Budgeting and Forecasting

Powering Professional Development with Ed Leaders Network

IASA’s Aspiring Superintendents Academy


Policy 101: Anatomy of a PRESS-Based Policy Manual

Panelists :
Angie Powell , Policy Services Consultant, IASB
Brian Zumpf, Policy Services Consultant, IASB

Reporter: Andrew Walsh, Principal, Olympia CUSD 6

The presentation started with a series of questions to gauge the audience’s knowledge of PRESS. This served as an overview of the ensuing presentation. The board policy manual is board work and the administrative procedures are staff work. These two should be kept separate as they have separate purposes. Updates from IASB come out 3-4 times per year. When updating the manual you should remove the footnotes when adopting new policies. It is always a good idea to utilize your community, board attorney, and local policies to develop board policy.

Brian Zumpf then went into an overview of how the policies are typically printed. They are set up in the following manner:

  1. Date
  2. Policy Number
  3. Heading
  4. Sub-headings
  5. Cross References
  6. Legal references
  7. Footnotes- these explain why things exist in the policy

The sections were then described. Section 1 sets out the legal status of the district as a corporate entity. Section 2 focuses on the responsibilities, organization, and operation of the school board as the district's governing body. Section 3 is brief and outlines the administrative hierarchy and the board directed responsibilities of district administrators. Section 4 describes the operational services of the district. Section 5 addresses personnel. It does not address job duties of employees however. Those are found outside of the board policy manual. Section 6 directs the development of the district's educational program. Section 7 describes student’s right's, responsibilities, restrictions, and includes the code of conduct. The final section (Section 8) provides information about community relations.

Materials are created by the general counsel. They then review how these are related to new laws that are passed and make sure that the policies are in line legally. A policy review committee then reviews the policies and determines how the final policy should look.

IASB's Foundational Principles of Effective Governance

  • The board identifies district purpose- the board should identify what the mission, vision, and values of the district are. School boards can and should personalize these for their district. The board should also identify goals, benefits, and desired results for the district. The allocation and distribution of resources to employees can be found in this section of board policy.
  • The board connects with the community- This section is a reflection of all of the community engagement processes that are developed by the board.
  • The board employs a Superintendent- The boards one employee is the Superintendent. All of the communication should go through the Superintendent and the Superintendent is responsible for carrying out board policy. Board policy should direct what the Superintendent does.
  • The board delegates authority- Policies do not include administrative procedures. This principle of policy however does direct the Superintendent to write policy.
  • The board monitors performance- This includes student achievement and performance of students.
  • The board takes responsibility for itself- The board needs to act as a unit when writing policy and determining direction of the district.

The presentation ended with some frequently asked questions about the manual.   Topics included how to access sample policies, how to address topics that are not addressed in its current manual, how to determine what is legally required and what is optional with policies, and methods to update policy manuals that are outdated.


School Safety: Analysis of a School Safety Incident

Moderator: Zach Messersmith, Assistant Director, Governmental Relations, IASB

Panelists:
Lori Bilbrey , Former Principal; Program Administrator, Safe Schools and Truancy Programs (Region 26)
Ryan Olson, Superintendent, LaHarpe Comm SD 347/Dallas ESD 327
Josh Smith, Deputy, Hancock County Sheriff's Department
Wes Woolson, Chief of Police, Warsaw

Reporter: Andrew Walsh, Principal, Olympia CUSD 6

Ryan Olson began the presentation by talking about a lockdown that his school went into because of a report of an intruder in the building. Dr. Olson shared out that they have had two incidents during his tenure. There is only one police officer that works in his town. All other law enforcement is at least 20 minutes away. Dallas City is a very small K-8 district.

The first incident happened in 2014. The dispatch called him and told him somebody called from within the school and said that they were going to hurt people. Law enforcement came immediately and found out that there were some things that could improve with their Crisis Plan. They then adopted ALICE after this incident.

The second incident occurred because a teacher mistakenly overheard a teacher talking about a possible incident and they made an announcement that there was an intruder in the building. The staff then went through the ALICE procedures and students were evacuated. It turns out that there really was not an intruder in the building.

Lori Bilbrey was the Principal at Dallas City when these incidents took place. She was also involved in a hard lockdown because a man had gone to a local business and started shooting. Her school at that time went into a hard lockdown and the students and staff all locked down in place. She really encouraged schools to find evacuation methods to get students out of the building. Mrs. Bilbrey encouraged all school employees to go through ALICE training so every adults knows what to do. Training is essential to students as well.

Chief Wes Woolson spoke about the process the law enforcement personnel have gone through to help students evacuate from buildings in the case of emergency. In his home county they train as a county to make sure everybody gets the same training. Once law enforcement had gone through the training, they then brought the training to the administrators and teachers.

After the first incident law enforcement realized that they needed to make some changes on how to be prepared for serious events in schools. The police officers were told that there was an active shooter at the school and they quickly pulled everybody together to get to the school as soon as possible.

Deputy Smith was invited to Keokuck, Iowa to observe an ALICE drill and knew immediately they needed to update their training. Deputy Smith and Chief Woolson quickly became ALICE certified trainers. They then began to implement these procedures in the schools. Auburn University is one of the leaders in ALICE and have produced several key videos to learn more about these procedures.

It is important to train the students on how to evacuate. It is also important to go to clear and concise language. Do not come up with acronyms or secret codes to announce emergencies. Work to determine if your school can quickly inform everybody in the case of an emergency.   Deputy Smith recommends the book I'm Not Scared I'm Prepared Because I Know All About ALICE by Julia Cook to show young students how to react in the case of an emergency.

When drilling with students differentiate the information that is provided to students based on how old the students are.   By the time the students are in high school, they disseminate the majority of the information to the students so they know what they are expected to do.

Learn what works, put procedures in place, practice the plan with all affected, and critique the practice. Then, go back and repeat that process. It is important to constantly evaluate your crisis plan and determine what steps you need to take to protect your students. It is always important to be proactive, over prepare for an emergency, and verify your school's readiness to handle an emergency situation.


Ed-Tech Student Success Stories in TED Talks

Moderator: Richard J. Voltz, Associate Director, Professional Development, IASA

Presenters:
Jenni Magiera, Chief Technology Officer, Des Plaines CCSD 62
Mike Belcaster, Teacher, Berwyn South SD 100
Greg Goins, Superintendent, West Frankfort CUSD 168

Reporter: Ben Derges, High School Principal, Tri-Valley CUSD 3

In this panel, three educators from different Illinois school districts told their unique, engaging stories of how technology is transforming education in their schools. Through their stories the panelists provided practical yet innovative ways in which students can be engaged through the use of new technology.

Jenni Magiera taught 4th and 5th graders for 10 years in Chicago Public Schools before her current position as chief technology office in Des Plaines CCSD 62. The focus on Magiera’s presentation was on why we need to be thinking about Educational Technology. Magiera stated that not a lot has changed about classrooms today. The concept of education has remained as the teacher serving as the bastion of knowledge that all learning comes. The problem is that this factory-style model of education, developed in the 19th century, does not prepare students for the world they will face in their adulthood. 65% of today’s students will be employed in jobs that do not exist yet, such as: drone pilot, bio-printing designer, self-driving car engineer, telesurgeon, and water harvester. Magiera stressed that we must lead the change in preparing our students for their future.   This requires a new mindset where we allow for our students to fail and then learn from their mistakes while also supporting them as they try because failing can be risky.

Magiera broke this new mindset down into three parts. The first part she labeled as creation over consumption. It is not about the information acquisition anymore; it is now about what you are doing with it. Teachers and students should be using technology in a transformative way, not just to do what is already been done. The second part to this new mindset is coding for all. Students and their parents want coding education, or computer programming, but not all schools are providing it. If we give students these skills there are limitless opportunities. A the third part to this new mindset is to not focus on teaching subjects, but instead focus on teaching children. Schools need not put so much weight on PARCC and MAP scores. According to Magiera, “Don’t value what we can measure. Measure what we value, like empathy and other soft skills.” Magiera concluded by challenging the guests, “What risks are you willing to take for your students?”

The second panelist to speak was Mike Belcaster, a PE teacher from South Berwyn. Mike described his “# BikeWitMike” program that he uses in his elementary physical education classroom. His story started with his school winning a million dollar grant from OfficeMax which allowed the school to purchase multiple treadmills, stationary bikes, and ellipticals. While trying to figure out how he could motivate his students to use this equipment, he saw a TV commercial for a treadmill that had a video screen that would allow the user to walk or run some of the most scenic locations in the world. Mike decided to use what they already had at the school to make a video of the neighborhood around the school for the students to watch as they exercise. He used the school’s GoPro camera and included students and staff in a series of videos that was then able to integrate technology into his classroom. After the bike ride is filmed, Mike includes time intervals and upbeat music to the video.   As students exercised while watching the videos, special guests and parts of the neighborhood are unveiled. Belcaster wants to spread the movement and offered some of his videos to the public for free on YouTube.

The third and final panelist to speak was Greg Goins who has served as superintendent of West Frankfort school district for 15 years. Goins discussed several measures that have been taken in West Frankfort schools to get technology in the hands of students. One of Goins’s talking points was to look at cell phones as a learning tool. Goins stated that on average schools spend $400 per year per student on technology. However, a lot of the devices school districts are purchasing, students already have. Goins suggested, “Kids can do some amazing things if the adults get out of the way. Don’t focus on what could go wrong, focus on what could go right.” Goins continued on by suggesting that schools should get technology into the students’ hands so they can learn through creating. Then when great things happen in the classroom, teachers and administrators should share them out with social media. Goins finished by stating that “Everything we do, we need to put kids first.” The kids deserve the opportunity to work with technology within schools every day.


Board Presidents’ Roundtable

Presenter: Barbara Toney, Director, Field Services, IASB

Reporter: Ben Derges, High School Principal, Tri-Valley CUSD 3

In this panel, school board presidents gathered to share experiences, questions, ideas, and frustrations. There are two separate sessions of this roundtable on Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning where Board Presidents are invited to attend either or both. Ms. Barbara Toney who was a board president for 16 years and currently serves as a field services director for IASB led this particular session. After a small introduction from Toney, the panel guests were asked what topics they would like to discuss. Some of the discussion points selected to be discussed by the attendees included:

  • Micromanagement by other board members
  • Closed sessions and information leaks
  • Problems with board members: not following policy, not accepting decisions, poor attendance
  • Over-reliance by the board on the Board President
  • Proper use of social media by board members

After the guests brought up discussion points as a whole group, the guests were broken into groups of five or six board presidents and were given the opportunity to discuss freely. The Board Presidents/guests were then able to bring their unique issues and problems to the group to discuss and look for solutions.

            As I moved around from group to group, it was clear the Board Presidents were considerate and genuine. Although there was a wide variety of backgrounds and types of districts in each group, every group was looking to have honest conversations and generate new ideas and solutions to existing problems. Here are some of the comments and discussions that were made during the small group discussions:

  • Part of being a Board President is when you need to say “not my job.”
  • Board Presidents who can be very controlling because of how the communication from the Superintendent all comes through the Board President.
  • Board members not living within the school district.
  • Rotation of the board president position each year.
  • Broadcasting board meetings on YouTube which encourage appropriate behavior by those present and allows for board members to refer community members to the video when they have questions.
  • How often board committees meet.
  • How to be a board member and a parent at the same time.
  • School district that has a monthly “union meeting” when the Board President and superintendent meets with union leadership.
  • Community expectations of Board Presidents; higher expectations while out in the community.

The guests of the Board Presidents’ Roundtable spoke very highly of this panel and many said they make sure to attend it every year. This panel is always different because each group will bring in different discussion points and thoughts.


2016 Legal Update on Supporting Transgender Students

Presenters:
Craig Anderson, Executive Director, Illinois High School Association
Owen Daniel-McCarter, Executive Director, Illinois Safe Schools Alliance
Jennifer A. Smith, Attorney, Franczek Radelet P.C., member of Illinois Council of School Attorneys

Reporter: Karen Ritter

Owen Daniel-McCarter of the Illinois Safe Schools Alliance, an alliance that organizes work and programming for young LGBTQ students, first presented vocabulary terms that are often confused. Sex is biological construct that refers to our physical attributes and our genetic make up. Physical attributes include internal and external anatomy (genitalia, internal reproductive organs) and genetic make up refers to hormones and sex chromosomes (XX or XY). Gender is a social construct, most often operating in a binary system that refers to roles, behaviors, activities, and attributes that a given society considers appropriate for boys/men or girls/women. This can include psychological, behavioral, social, and cultural aspects of being masculine or feminine.

Transgender is someone moving away from the anatomical sex. Sex does not equal gender. Sexual orientation is about whom one is attracted to romantically, emotionally, spiritually, physically, or sexually. Gender identity is about who you are and how you understand your own gender. Everyone has a gender identity. Transgender identity is inconsistent with the sex assigned at birth. Transgender is an umbrella term that may be used to describe people whose gender expression does not conform to cultural norms and/or whose gender identification is different from their sex assigned at birth. It is a self-identity, and some gender non-conforming people do not identify with this term. Cisgender/Cis people are those whose gender identification aligns with the sex they were assigned at birth and is a privileged identity. All people have gender identification; some are more consistent and some have changed. Sometimes words are used like “normal,” and cisgender is a term used to move away from this term.

A variety of gender pronouns may be used to identify oneself. Many transgender people prefer to use plural pronouns, such as they, them, theirs, and themselves, which is more common than the set of gender-neutral pronouns, namely ze/hir/zir, hirs/zirs, hirself/zirself.   Preferred gender pronoun usage may be one of the first asks that a student may request. Young people are changing the world. We as adults have to ask questions and seek to understand.

Gender-inclusive schools are the ultimate goal. Considerations include how we traditionally think about events such as homecoming, sports, PE, and health and the language/vocabulary we use. Furthermore and more recently, questions have come up about access to bathrooms and locker rooms. There are a lot of barriers to accessing these as a transgender student.

Jennifer Smith, attorney at Franczek Radelet, talked about the litigation that has an impact on Illinois schools, specifically locker rooms, bathrooms, and overnight accommodations. The litigation cases that impact Illinois schools all have to do with the word “sex” and what it means in the law. Title IX protects discrimination based on “sex.” The debate comes in the definition of sex, which some interpret as birth sex and some interpreting as including gender identification. It is unclear in the law. In 2013, the US Department of Education defined sex to include gender identity. The ramifications of this impact the use of pronouns, name changes, and facility access.The Department of Education received complaints from transgender students who said they were being denied access. Investigations occurred and school districts made settlements adhering to Title IX. However, there has been no formal guidance from the Department of Education.

A May 13, 2016 “Dear Colleague” letter was issued that said sex includes gender identification, and the Department of Education stated that they will remove federal funding if they found violation of this ruling. However, with the 2016 election, many speculate that the change in leadership can have huge ramifications on this ruling. The “Dear Colleague” letter can be changed easily with another “Dear Colleague” letter and a different enforcement perspective. There is currently a nationwide injunction with no enforcement of the DOE 2016 guidance while cases are being decided.

One case was G.G. v. Gloucester CSB (VA). The student sued the school, who denied access to a bathroom. Accommodations were made with a private single user bathroom. The student did not accept this accommodation, stating it violates Title IX. The student lost in district court, but won on appeal because the court looked at the vagueness of what “sex” means. The court deferred to the DOE’s definition of sex. As a result, if the administration changes, it could change the results of this case.    The student won because the definition was given deference to the DOE definition. The U.S. Supreme Court will decide the definition of “sex.” They may keep the 1970s definition of sex. It takes an act of Congress to change a law. Again, a different administration can change the results of this U.S. Supreme Court decision.

In Illinois recently, District 211 litigation included a transgender student’s request for accommodations, including preferred name and pronouns, change in student records, an accommodated schedule, sports participation, and use of bathroom of the identified gender. The accommodation request in question was the locker room access that was denied. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a complaint on behalf of student. This included a two-year Office of Civil Rights (OCR) investigation on the issue of restricted vs. unrestricted access. The OCR issued an enforcement letter and threatened loss of funds. A resolution agreement was made, but fifty families sued for giving locker room access to the transgender student. This created a hostile environment based on sex, claiming that birth sex females were subjected to hostile environment by having to share a locker room with a transgender student. However, an accommodation was made that included privacy stalls within the locker room for any student to use, stating they are reaching a middle ground in privacy and access for everyone. A magistrate judge recommended denial of the Plaintiffs’ request for injunction denying bathroom and locker room access, stating that the school district did not violate any rights. The district is allowed to continue to offer that access.

Craig Anderson from the IHSA stated that a transgender participation policy exists. Questions include fairness and competition and competitive advantages to transgender students participating in sports. Rulings are done on a case by case basis. When a school notifies IHSA of a situation, Mr. Anderson personally reviews it and medical experts to lean on to provide helpful information. He mentioned that information is kept private and it is limited to the IHSA, the school official, and the family. The information that the IHSA needs to make a decision includes whether the gender identity has been changed in school records, medical information, and consideration as to what the anticipated advantages may be in participation as a transgender student. Legally, IHSA has not had policy challenged to date. The legal team has reviewed their policy.

It is recommended that schools have a policy in place that supports the needs of the community, and that it will be different for everyone. When students feel safe, there is less risk for suicide and depression. 90% of transgender students have thought about suicide, and 50% of transgender students have attempted it.


Partnering for Teacher Leadership Throughout Illinois

Presenters :
Joe Fatheree, 2016 Global Teacher Prize Top Ten Finalist, 2007 Illinois State Teacher of the Year
Lynn Gaddis, NBCT, Past President, Illinois State Teachers of the Year (ILSTOY), 1995 Illinois State Teacher of the Year
Pam Reilly, President, ILSTOY, 2014 Illinois State Teacher of the Year, Illinois P-20 Teacher and Leader Effectiveness Committee Consultant, Teacher Leader Support, Palos Heights SD 12

Reporter: Karen Ritter

Teacher leadership is something that should be cultivated in schools that will ultimately lead to an increase in student learning. When teachers are leaders, teacher practice further develops, teacher learning increases, and the culture shifts to one which includes shared decision-making. Other impacts include an increase in teacher retention and stability in schools.

The partners for Illinois teacher leadership include the Illinois State Teachers of the Year (ILSTOY), made up of 120 members, and whose mission is to use their voice to engage the voice of all teachers. Teacher leadership is the top priority. Also included is the Illinois Teacher Leadership Network (ITLN), made up of 22 organizations whose mission is to make a commitment to build a culture of teacher leadership. Additionally, the Teacher Leader Endorsement Programs and P20 Teacher and Leader Effectiveness Committee are also involved.

There exists a Teacher Leader endorsement program in many education programs that help to increase the quality of leadership, as well as teaching and learning practices, and recognize the critical importance that leadership by teachers brings to the overall school improvement mission the school and its personnel.” Twenty Illinois universities and colleges have programs, differing in the number of hours, credits, and degree programs.

The P20 Council Teacher and Leader Effectiveness mission is to advise the governor on recommendations for the preparation, recruitment, certification selection, evaluation, support develop, and retention of highly effective and diverse teachers and leaders. Their accomplishments include teacher leadership surveys, reviewing the alignment of Illinois teacher leader endorsement programs to national and state standards for teacher leader, holding bimonthly meetings and webinars, organizing a visit to the Iowa DOE and Cedar Falls School District, and they are currently developing recommendations for ESSA Title II funding.

The Illinois Teacher Leaderships Network is focusing on building a sustainable culture of teacher leadership in Illinois through a network of several organizations working together with a focus on teacher leadership.   Their commitments include changing the culture so that everyone understands, recognizes, and promotes teachers as leaders. They also strive to promote best practices in the development and utilization of teacher leaders. In addition, they find resources to provide training and support to teacher leaders and administrators as they develop cultures of differentiated leadership. They also provide opportunities for teacher learners to become collaborative partners with multiple stakeholders in moving school communities forward. Finally, they work toward improving practices in teacher leadership through a culture of continuous improvement.

Teacher leadership is the process by which teachers, individually or collectively influence colleagues, principals, other members of the school community to improve teaching and learning practices with the aim of increasing student learning and achievement.” Many teachers do this but not all of this. They share information and best practices to increase the capacity in others. Teacher leaders want to reach out and pay it forward.

Priority actions for 2017 include designing a framework for teacher leadership, developing a communication plan to build awareness of teacher leadership, facilitating a Teach to Lead Summit in Illinois on April 24, 2017, and finally, identifying and showcasing Illinois districts with teacher leadership components in all areas of the state.

In order to build a sustainable system of teacher leadership, the following design features should be considered, according to the NNSTOY/Pearson Teacher Career Advancement Initiatives Study.

  • Teacher leader roles, eligibility criteria, and selection process
  • Compensation
  • Opportunities for collaboration/released time
  • Professional development of teachers and teacher leaders (teacher-led)
  • Peer coaching/peer evaluation
  • Teacher voice in school leadership

It should be job-embedded, just in time collaboration that is not waiting until the next Institute Day to deliver. Administrators and teachers should work together to achieve this.

There are seven Domains of Teacher Leader Model Standards. These include 1) fostering a collaborative culture to support educational development and student learning; 2) accessing and using research to improve practice and student outcomes; 3) promoting professional learning for continued improvement; 4) facilitating improvements in instruction and student learning; 5) using assessment and data for systemic improvement; 6) improving outreach and collaboration with families and community; and 7) advocating for student learning and the profession.


Collective Bargaining in Uncertain Times

Presenters:
Jason A. Guisinger, Attorney
Thomas M. Melody, Attorney, Illinois Council of School Attorneys Executive Committee member
Erin K. Walsh, Attorney, Illinois Council of School Attorneys member, Klein, Thorpe & Jenkins, Ltd.

Reporter: Matt Eriksen, Principal, Edgewood Middle School, North Shore School District 112

Collective Bargaining in Uncertain Times provided audience members with information on how to collectively bargain with impending financial crisis (change) in a school district.   The focus points of the panel included planning and preparation, setting realistic goals and cost savings tips, district considerations during bargaining, and how to handle crisis in the middle of a contract.   Ultimately, the panel reporters set the tone for collective bargaining and stressed having a justification for any proposal because that will make collective bargaining easier and more effective.

Planning and preparation for collective bargaining was the first point of emphasis during the panel report.   In this segment, the panelists shared the need to begin planning for collective bargaining by looking at the present and future uncertainties a school district faces.   The approach shared in the panel report focused on how school districts should consider cost savings, identify the anticipated potential crisis and preparing for the worst case scenario.   School districts should look at the following when considering all basic bargaining unit data, employee information, projections for annual wage costs, review compensation cost for overtime and shift differential for non-teachers, a thorough review of employee use of leave time, insurance benefits, pension benefits and post-employment benefits.

Given the level of detail needed in planning and preparing for collective bargining, the panelists compelled school districts heading into collective bargaining to set realistic goals and identifying cost saving tips. A major component at this stage is the ability to set priorities and develop proposals in order to strategize accordingly.   By being proactive, setting realistic goals, and considering all elements of economics, school districts can weigh the intangible costs of potential proposals.   Focal points for any goals to maximize cost savings include: school district comparability data, preparation for contributions for pension crisis, language that maintains management rights, and language that supports a school district’s ability to pay (CPI and cost of living increases).

During collective bargaining, the panel reported that school districts had several considerations, except managerial policies, when working toward an agreement.   It was stressed that school boards should be prepared to sacrifice other cost items before renegotiating wages or closing schools.   Considerations before wage negotiations and/or school closings included the following:

  • TRS contributions – Only state specific amounts if the Board of Education is going to pay.
  • Class size – Policy should require a minimum number of teachers be employed based on the number of students and language should ideally allow the Board of Education to determine class size.   Best case is there is NO contractual limitation on class size.
  • Retain ability to reduce or eliminate extracurricular duties and activities
  • Retain the ability to stop or limit education reimbursement (tuition reimbursement)
  • Work to increase employee contributions to health insurance – Reduce quality of health insurance benefits, increase co-pays and deductibles (reduces premiums), and modify prescription drug plans.
  • Eliminate or reduce retirement incentives
  • Work to have a short term contract
  • Work to agree on sustainable wages (examples - performance-based increases, step only increase, eliminate or re-doing salary schedule, wage freeze, temporary delay in step increase, reduce employee work year for non-teachers)

The panelists shared that the considerations above are difficult items to come to agreements on given the nature of their need for employees.   When these considerations are posing a significant impact on employees, it was shared that school districts should consider how much they are planning or implementing construction projects, how much the reserves in the district are growing, upgrades to technology, big equipment purchases, etc.   The critical point was that it is difficult to tell employees the district is purchasing or planning costly initiatives and unwilling to agree to a raise.   The planning and goal setting of collective bargaining is critical.

The last major topic of the panel report was handling wage proposals and handling crisis in the middle of a contract.   The panel shared that school districts should consider reopener language in contracts in the event there is a significant change.   Additionally, it was shared that it is critical to keep and maintain relationships with the union.   If a crisis does occur in the middle of a contract, operations will be dictated by current contract.   However, there should be a review of the contract with employees to determine what can be done according to the language in the contract will determine.

Collective bargaining in uncertain times is a difficult undertaking for any school district.   It is critical that school districts must bargain contracts to achieve the maximum possible flexibility to address current and potential financial crises. The flexibility should be defined by an open and honest relationship with the union, as that will go a long way to helping to address a financial crisis.


“What if” Questions: Multi-Year Budgeting and Forecasting

Presenters:
Allen Albus, Senior Analytics, Forecast5 Analytics
David Torres, Senior Product Manager, Forecast5 Analytics
Barry Bolek, Assistant Superintendent for Finance, THSD 113, Highland Park
Mary Kalou, Assistant Superintendent for Business, Maine THSD 207

Reporter: Matt Eriksen, Principal, Edgewood Middle School, North Shore School District 112

The “What if” Questions: Multi-Year Budgeting and Forecasting panel report provided audience members with an opportunity to learn about the strategic process and operational tool that allows school districts to align resources and priorities.   Transparency and accountability are essential in budgeting and forecasting as they provide for improved relationships, improve administrative decision making and board level governance, and attest to the long term financial benefits projections provide.   Throughout the panel report, the presenters focus the conversation on deeper analysis of school budgeting and forecasts through the lens of analysis, projection and scenario management.

Data mining and forecasting budgets allow school districts to look at historical performance and measure performance over the last 5 years.   This allows school districts to   maintain a high level of current accuracy (years 1 & 2) while providing an executable budget template where revenues and expenditures are known.   The forecasting of a school district budget should provide two additional stages: early warning (year 3) and directional modeling (years 4 & 5).   The early warning stage gives a point for change decisions so that a school district can evaluate the overall financial trend of the district.   Ultimately, the multi year projection should answer the following question: How will the math play out?

Beyond forecasting budgets, the panelists shared several important considerations that impact financial projections.   These considerations include national, state and local economic trends.   This was highlighted because of the fluctuation that each can have.   Examples could include legislative changes to funding and/or mandates.   At the district level, special attention should be given to the impact of collective bargaining agreements (salaries and benefits) and short / long term capital plans and needs.   With those considerations shared, the panelists also stressed situational considerations can have an adverse effect on current and future budgets.   These items included: extending current policies, relying on past performance, viability of future projections, and getting to an accurate assumption for sustainability.

In each phase, the panelists discussed the need to use budgets and forecasting as communication tools.   By doing so, schools can help communities understand the significance of bond rating which conveys the economic foundation of the community, condition of local government, expose debt factors on existing and proposed debt, and establish/support governance and financial planning of the school district.

The panelists concluded their presentation with practical strategies and thoughts when looking at multi-year budgeting and forecasting.   The highlight continued to be the need to use accountability and transparency in multi-year budgeting and forecasting. It is important to diminish the capacity for an organization to practice or harbor deception or deceit in all facets of school finance.   The final message the panel shared was that accountability and transparency are connected given they allow for school districts to explain budgets, due to public scrutiny, and protect the school district.


Powering Professional Development with Ed Leaders Network

Moderator:Arlin Peebles, Online Professional Development Director, Illinois Principals Association

Presenters :
Vicki DeWitt
, Professional Development Project Manager, Illinois Principals Association
Danielle A. Huff, District Science Content Specialist, East St. Louis SD 189

Reporter: Sinéad Chambers, Director of Student Services, Worth School District 127

Ed Leaders Network (ELN) have taken much of the stress off teachers to attain mandated professional development by simply providing it online.   The Superintendent simply uploads all his or her staff onto the ELN website, and can either assign teacher’s professional development or allow them to select their own.   This allows teachers to be able to complete professional development in their own time without taking time away from their classrooms, which also saves the district extra expenditures for conference fees and the cost of hiring a substitute teacher.

Superintendents will be happy to know that this service is free to all districts in Illinois. State Farm Insurance sponsors all costs.   Illinois State Board of Education and Illinois Principals Association partnered together to provide all educators with access to this on-demand professional development.   As stated earlier, Superintendents can assign professional development to staff and they can monitor when each teacher has completed his or her assigned professional development. Using Google docs. the district Superintendent can share with building principals and staff mandated professional development that needs to be completed by a certain date.    The Superintendent can also provide the task to principals of monitoring staff professional development by forwarding them an excel spreadsheet with a report of professional development completed.   This allows more time for discussions relating to curriculum and students during faculty meetings, that sometimes could be taken up discussing required professional development. One drawback to this system is that currently it is a slow process for administrators to upload all the staff onto an excel spreadsheet prior to uploading onto ELN.

ISBE’s current partnership with ELN is negotiated annually, and according to the panel of this session – they are confident ISBE will continue to provide free access to all school districts.

Professional development can be extremely costly for districts, especially for districts in financial stress.   This system could eliminate much stress for Superintendents and provide teachers with access to professional development that in the past may not have been an option due to the location of the conference or cost.   I am confident we, the school leaders, are going to see more and more companies collaborating with the state to provide such a convenient way for districts to provide their staff with professional development opportunities.  

This session was highly attended and the audience, the majority district superintendents, had many questions regarding how to register their district for this excellent free service.


IASA’s Aspiring Superintendents Academy

Moderator: Nicholas Henkle, Superintendent, Channahon SD 17

Presenters :
Michael Lubefield, Superintendent, Deerfield SD 109
Nick Polyak, Superintendent, Leyden CHSD 212

Reporter: Sinéad Chambers, Director of Student Services, Worth School District 127

Mike and Nick, the presenters, developed this workshop when they both realized much of their academic training, truly had not prepared them for real-life scenarios faced on a daily basis by a superintendent. Early in their careers they both realized superintendents are faced with many difficult situations on a daily basis.   They decided to offer a workshop to novice superintendents to help them with the daunting task of a new superintendent.

Dr. Julie Brua, a successful graduate of this academy, spoke to the audience and delivered a very positive testimonial about all she learned, especially regarding school finance.

Dr.Kim Suedbeck, also a graduate of the workshop, spoke about the collaboration she experienced during the academy.   Dr. Kim encouraged any person aspiring to be a superintendent to attend this academy. She learned so much about board relations, community engagement, and how the activities built into this academy truly helped her be more successful in her role as a district Superintendent.

The final graduate to present was Ms. Lynn Glickman, she testified how much she learned at the academy, especially regarding the difficult task of principal evaluation.   Ms. Glickman enjoyed conversing with the other superintendents attending the workshop, and remains in contact with many of them.

Five IASA professionals will present at the next Superintendent academy, each with expertise in areas of interest to an aspiring Superintendent.   The next workshop is scheduled to be in Springfield, from July 10-14 2017.   The cost for a person to attend is $1500 each, and that price includes attendance at the workshop each day, five nights stat at a hotel, lunch, dinner, three books, and unlimited collaboration with superintendents, lawyers, and board members.

Potential candidates can apply with a letter of recommendation from the applicant’s district Superintendent. Forty candidates were accepted to attend this academy last year, and it is anticipated that forty will be accepted next year.   This course is also offered for all level administrators who want to improve their leadership skills.

This academy truly sounds like a must for all leaders in education. The questions from the audience indicated that many perspective superintendents present were extremely interested in attending this workshop next summer.    This panel session was a great success, it was very wise of Mike and Nick to have graduates of the workshop present their feedback to the audience and personally recommend this workshop. All presenters made themselves available to attendees at the end of the workshop to answer any questions.


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