Articles in the Announcements category

Oklahoma school boards group seeks donations for tornado-ravaged schools

The Oklahoma State School Boards Association (OSSBA) is collecting donations of money and school supplies to help the school districts that were devastated by Monday’s Category 5 tornado in Moore, Okla.

To donate, go to OSSBA’s website to view a list of needed items or to make a contribution online.

The website notes, “When members of our OSSBA family are hurting, we are all hurting. We would like to offer an opportunity for those wishing to give to have an outlet to do so.”

At least 24 people, including 10 children and infants, were killed, according to the Washington Post. Seven of those children were inside an elementary school.

Joetta Sack-Min|May 22nd, 2013|Categories: Announcements, Crisis Management, State School Boards Associations|Tags: , , |

NSBA’s Delegate Assembly elects new officers, adopts beliefs and policies

Anne M. Bryne of New York’s Nanuet Union Free School District was named as president-elect of NSBA during Friday’s Delegate Assembly. John Tuttle of Kellyville, Okla., was elected secretary-treasurer.

Under NSBA’s constitution, current President-Elect David A. Pickler of Tennessee’s Shelby County Schools will become board president during Monday’s General Session. C. Ed Massey, the current president, becomes past president.

The Delegate Assembly also elected the following as regional directors: Tim Sivertson of Wisconsin (Central Region), JoDee Sundberg of Utah (Pacific Region), Robert F. Alvey Jr. of Tennessee (Southern Region), Neil G. Putnam of South Dakota (Western Region), and Kristin Malin of Maine (Northeast Region).

In other business, the Delegate Assembly adopted a series of beliefs and policies to help govern NSBA and guide the Board of Directors and association staff in the year ahead. Among them:

• NSBA supports the need for comprehensive strategies to significantly reduce poverty in the U.S. that undermines public education’s ability to educate and fully develop the potential of our student population. NSBA further recognizes and supports the importance of holding high expectations for all children.

• NSBA supports local school boards to consider (1) out-of-school suspensions as a last resort to address behavior issues in schools; and (2) increase the use of other proven strategies and interventions that maximize the opportunities for all students to have a safe and successful in-school experience.

• NSBA opposes any efforts to subsidize tuition or expenses at elementary and secondary private, religious, or home schools with public tax dollars. Specifically, NSBA opposes vouchers, tax credits, and tax subsidies for use at non-public K-12 schools.

The Delegate Assembly also passed a series of resolutions urging Congress:

• To authorize and fully fund Impact Aid.

• To fully fund Title I and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

• To maintain the federal tax exemption for interest on bonds issued by state and local governments, including school districts.

• To support the governance role of local school boards from unnecessary requirements and costs imposed by the U.S. Department of Education.

• To provide greater and sustained resources for locally determined programs that are critical to school safety such as school resource officers, school counseling, emergency preparedness, and response training, interagency coordination, and a comprehensive resource guide on available federal assistance.

• To complete the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

• To support research and implementation of local developed strategies to improve teacher and principal effectiveness.

• To strengthen the E-rate program to ensure its efficient operation, improve the quality and speed of connectivity in our nation’s schools, and address the technology gaps that remain.

Del Stover|April 12th, 2013|Categories: Announcements, Federal Programs, Federal Advocacy, NSBA Annual Conference 2013|

New executive team ushers in a “New NSBA”

The National School Boards Association’s 2013 Annual Conference is the debut for the association’s new leadership team — Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel and Chief Operating Officer Marie S. Bilik – that is overseeing plans to revamp the 73-year-old organization.

NSBA Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel and Chief Operating Officer Marie S. Bilik

Although Gentzel and Bilik boast new job titles, both are already intimately familiar with NSBA’s inner workings. Gentzel began his career at the Pennsylvania School Boards Association (PSBA) in 1980, serving as PSBA’s executive director since 2001. From 2007 to 2012, Bilik was the executive director of the New Jersey School Boards Association, an organization where she had worked since 1993. Both have served on the NSBA Liaison Committee, which advises NSBA’s work with its state association members.

The duo will guide NSBA into a new era focusing on its core missions: increased legislative, legal, and public advocacy, and strengthening services to state association members. Gentzel will speak about NSBA’s new “lean-forward approach” that will elevate the organization’s messages in Washington, in the courts, and with the public at Saturday’s First General Session. He will also unveil a new NSBA logo.

“NSBA will become more assertive in our advocacy for school board governance and public education, and we will play both offense and defense,” he said. “We will promote our own vision of public education, while challenging those who would, in effect, put a ‘For Sale’ sign on schools to advance their own pecuniary interests.”

NSBA President C. Ed Massey noted the pair is uniquely qualified to manage the 90-member staff at NSBA’s headquarters in Alexandria, Va. Gentzel was chosen through a national search that brought dozens of job candidates to the NSBA Board of Director’s search committee.

“We needed someone who was astutely aware of association work and NSBA’s needs as well as the historical significance of the organization,” Massey said. “Having served at PSBA, we felt Tom was the right fit at the right time to lead NSBA in its new endeavor, and we were delighted when he chose Marie to become Chief Operating Officer. The synergy between them is excellent.”

Gentzel and Bilik took the reins from former Executive Director Anne L. Bryant, who retired in September 2012 after 16 years of service, and Deputy Executive Director Joseph S. Villani, who retired in December 2012.

Gentzel has extensive experience with government relations, beginning his career as a lobbyist with PSBA in 1980 and then leading its Office of Governmental and Member Relations. He was appointed by Gov. Tom Ridge and reappointed twice by Gov. Edward Rendell to the State Advisory Panel on Special Education. In 2009, he was named by Rendell to the Pennsylvania Early Learning Council. He previously chaired the Pennsylvania Coalition for Public Education and was founder and coordinator of the Alliance for a School Aid Partnership.

Bilik had announced her retirement from NJSBA last year, but was drawn to working for the national association. “We realize what the success of NSBA means to its state associations and their members,” she said.

In New Jersey, Bilik led NJSBA during a tumultuous period where the governor and legislature dealt with issues that had huge implications for school boards: the economic crisis, the creation of a new state school-funding formula, the implementation of a 2-percent tax levy cap, a move to November school board elections, and changes in New Jersey’s teacher tenure and evaluation systems.  She guided NJSBA’s establishment of the Educational Leadership Foundation of New Jersey (ELFNJ), an independent non-profit that advances public education governance through training, research, and attaining grants to further professional development. She is a member of the ELFNJ board of directors.

Bilik also has firsthand experience as a local elected official: As a resident of Sussex County, N.J., she served as a school board member from 1981 to 1988, a municipal council member in Green Township from 1988 to 1993, and the town’s first female mayor in 1993.

To learn more about the “New NSBA” and new services that the association will offer, stop by the NSBA booth, No. 943, at the Exhibit Hall during the Exhibit Hall hours, 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Saturday and 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday. Bilik will be at the booth to meet attendees from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. on Saturday.

Joetta Sack-Min|April 12th, 2013|Categories: Announcements, Board governance, NSBA Annual Conference 2013|Tags: , , |

2013 Magna Award honors school districts for outstanding programs

Pennsylvania’s Derry Township School District, Virginia’s Albemarle County Public Schools, and California’s Fontana Unified School District have been named the grand prize winners in the 19th annual Magna Awards program sponsored by the National School Boards Association’s (NSBA) American School Board Journal (ASBJ).

The Magna Awards, supported by Sodexo, recognize districts across the country for outstanding programs that advance student learning and encourage community involvement in schools. This year’s three grand prize, 15 first place, and 15 honorable mention winners were selected from three enrollment categories: under 5,000 students, 5,000 to 20,000 students, and over 20,000 students. Each of the grand prize winning school districts will receive a $4,000 contribution from Sodexo on April 14, during Sunday’s General Session at NSBA’s 73rd Annual Conference in San Diego.

“The Magna Awards showcase the great work going on in local school districts across the country to increase student achievement and success,” said Thomas J. Gentzel, Executive Director of NSBA. “This year’s Magna Awards recipients are national models that school leaders can learn from. NSBA commends Sodexo for its continuing support of this program and its goal of highlighting outstanding public school achievements.”

“Just like the school districts recognized in the annual Magna Awards program, Sodexo supports student achievement,” said Steve Dunmore, President of Sodexo Education-Schools. “As a partner in education, Sodexo realizes that it is vitally important to call attention to and support school districts that go above and beyond to enrich the learning environment for its students.  Therefore, we are proud to sponsor the Magna Awards again this year.”

Here is information on the grand prize winners:

  • The Derry Township School District, in Hershey, Pa., earned the grand prize in the under 5,000 enrollment category for its COCOA Principles program which aims to prepare students to be global

    Derry Township School District

    citizens. COCOA Principles, which stands for Community Opportunity Citizenship Ownership Academics, has encouraged the entire community, not just students, to be more inclusive, respectful, and responsible citizens. Students seen reflecting the program’s principles are nominated for awards, and high school graduation projects must identify the COCOA principle the student is modeling.


  • Albemarle County Public Schools, in Charlottesville, Va., is being honored as the grand prize winner in the 5,000 to 20,000 enrollment category for M-Cubed: Math, Men and Mission, a program developed to improve the academic achievement of African-American male students and encourage them to enroll in higher level high school math classes. The program starts with a two-week summer academy for upper elementary and middle school students but extends year-round with mentoring and academic support from the 100 Black Men of Central Virginia, a community group.

    Albemarle County Public Schools


  • In the over 20,000 enrollment category, the Fontana Unified School District, in Fontana, Calif., is the grand prize winner. The Fontana Leadership Intervention Program (FLIP) focuses on keeping middle and high school students in school and out of the juvenile justice system. FLIP, which is run and funded by a non-profit corporation, offers students classes covering topics such as violence prevention, drug and alcohol resistance, and ethics. Students referred to the program also participate in community projects and their parents must take parenting classes. Since the program’s inception there has been a significant decline in behavior issues, including truancy and alcohol and drugs incidents, at a high school, and bullying incidents at a middle school.

    Fontana Unified School District

ASBJ initiated the Magna Awards in 1995 to recognize school boards for taking bold and innovative steps to improve their educational programs. An independent panel of school board members, administrators, and other educators selected the winners from nearly 300 submissions.

The 2013 winners are highlighted in a special section in the May issue of ASBJ and will be formally recognized on Saturday, April 13, at the Best Practices for School Leaders Luncheon, which is part of NSBA’s 73rd Annual Conference.

In addition to the ASBJ special section, the districts’ winning entries will be posted on the Magna Awards website and added to the program’s searchable best practices database. Both can be found at

2013 Magna Award Winners:

Grand prize winners:

Derry Township School District, Hershey, Pa. less than 5,000 students,

Albemarle County Public Schools, Charlottesville, Va. 5,000 to 20,000 students

Fontana Unified School District, Fontana, Calif. more than 20,000 students

First place winners – under 5,000 students

Bergenfield Public Schools, Bergenfield, N.J.

Eminence Independent Schools, Eminence, Ky.

Northwest Arctic Borough School District, Kotzebue, Alaska

Richmond Community Schools, Richmond, Ind.

Upper St. Clair School District, Upper St. Clair, Pa.

First place winners – 5,000 to 20,000 students

Granville County Schools, Oxford, N.C.

Kearney Public Schools, Kearney, Neb.

Livingston Public Schools, Livingston, N.J.

Roanoke City Public Schools, Roanoke, Va.

Tuscaloosa City Schools, Tuscaloosa, Ala.

First place winners – over 20,000 students

Alamance-Burlington School System, Burlington, N.C. – 2 programs

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, Charlotte, N.C.

Fulton County School System, Atlanta, Ga.

McAllen Independent School District, McAllen, Texas

Honorable mentions – under 5,000 students

Columbia Heights Public Schools, Columbia Heights, Minn.

Gilford School District, Gilford, N.H.

Jenkins Independent School District, Jenkins, Ky.

Monadnock Regional School District, Supervisory Administrative Unit 93, Swanzey, N.H.

Taylor County School District, Campbellsville, Ky.

Honorable mentions – 5,000 to 20,000 students

Cave Creek Unified School District #93, Cave Creek, Ariz.

Creighton School District #14, Phoenix, Ariz.

Hanover County Public Schools, Ashland, Va.

Kenton County School District, Fort Wright, Ky.

Township High School District 214, Arlington Heights, Ill.

Honorable mentions – over 20,000 students

Arlington Public Schools, Arlington, Va.

Brevard Public Schools, Viera, Fla.

Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District, Houston, Texas

Houston Independent School District, Houston, Texas

Richardson Independent School District, Richardson, Texas

Joetta Sack-Min|April 3rd, 2013|Categories: Announcements, American School Board Journal|Tags: , |

First Lady announces new Active Schools grants for school boards

First Lady Michelle Obama announced a new program to help school officials promote physical fitness in youth as part of her ongoing “Let’s Move” campaign.

The White House hosted a conference call with school board members and administrators on March 19 to introduce a new program, “Let’s Move: Active Schools,” funded by corporate sponsors, to guide local school districts to encourage physical activity. Up to 1,000 school districts will be awarded $1,000 grants to help kick-start their programs.

In addition to the grants, the program offers a free professional development program to show teachers how to integrate physical activities each day. It also gives technical assistance through calls and in-person visits, online resources such as curricula and toolkits, and communications tools. The National School Boards Association’s advocacy staff participated in on the call and noted that the program is voluntary for school boards.

“We know you are dealing with competing demands, and it feels like it is getting harder to find the time and money to keep kids active,” Obama said during the conference call. “This will give the tools and support to bring back physical activity in schools.”

Jill Wynns, a member of the San Francisco Unified Board of Education, spoke on the call about her school district’s investments in student wellness. The initiative began 10 years ago as a means to curb childhood obesity and began with a partnership with the city’s Board of Supervisors.  From there, the district pulled together a Food and Fitness Advisory Committee made up of community members and city employees who worked to pass an initiative to fund an array of programs that encouraged physical activity.

“We found that it is not enough to tell teachers to do more physical activity. They need curriculum, professional development aligned with the PE standards and integrated into their instructional calendar,” said Wynns. “These efforts represent our local, community-initiated commitment to insuring the health of our students as well as a model for coordinating the resources of the community.”

School board member Mark B. Miller of the Centennial school district in Pennsylvania asked the First Lady’s advisor, Sam Kass, how the program could help school districts overcome obstacles such as space limitation and contractual agreements with staff.

Kass suggested a school district create a small wellness team that could look for ways to implement the plan, using the Active Schools resources. One of the most important aspects of the program is to find a champion within the school district who can spearhead the program, he added.

For more information, visit the program’s website:



Joetta Sack-Min|March 21st, 2013|Categories: School Boards, Announcements, Obesity, Nutrition|Tags: , , |

CUBE honors former leader at Congressional luncheon

Katrina Kelley program

Katrina Kelley's memorial service program and Congressional Record listing

The Council of Urban Boards of Education (CUBE) honored its former director, Katrina Kelley, at its annual luncheon on Capitol Hill on Jan. 29. Kelley worked with CUBE and on urban school board issues for almost 20 years at the National School Boards Association (NSBA) before stepping down in March. She died on Oct. 9.

During the luncheon, several school board members and former colleagues spoke in honor of Kelley, who had worked on Capitol Hill before she joined NSBA. CUBE Steering Committee Chair Minnie Forte-Brown also read this tribute that was sponsored by Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) and published in the Congressional Record on Dec. 21:

United States of America Proceedings and Debates of the 112th Congress, Second Session

House of Representatives




December 21, 2012

Mr. Speaker, I rise today in honor of Katrina Ann Kelley, a dedicated public servant whose service to the House of Representatives and the National School Boards Association spanned 28 years.

Katrina Ann Kelley was born on September 29, 1960, to William and Joan Kelley, in Galesburg, Illinois where she was raised along with six beloved siblings. She graduated Galesburg Sr. High School in 1978 as member of the National Honor Society before heading to Marycrest College in Davenport, Iowa, for a Bachelor of Arts in social work.

Katrina joined the staff of Congressman Lane Evans in 1984 as a District Caseworker in his Illinois office; then made the move to Washington DC to become a Legislative Assistant. Later, Katrina served as a Legislative Assistant and a Legislative Director for Representative Charles A. Hayes of Chicago. Katrina loved her years “on the Hill” where she made many lifelong friends and brought her compassion for constituent service to every position. Katrina had immense respect for Congressman Evans and the late Representative Hayes and considered each of them personal mentors and lifelong friends.

Katrina took her comprehensive legislative knowledge and understanding of urban issues to the National School Boards Association, NSBA, where she served as the Director of Urban School District Advocacy, and later as the Director of the Council of Urban Boards of Education, CUBE, until her departure in 2012. Katrina helped to shape the CUBE program as a critical component of the National School Boards Association, touching over one hundred urban districts and millions of children in the United States and the Virgin Islands. Katrina’s work helped urban school leaders find solutions to challenges at the local level and to improve their policy-making effectiveness, leading to improved outcomes for children. Katrina deeply believed in increasing the opportunities for all students, particularly low income and minority students.

Katrina passed away with her sisters at her side on October 9, 2012. I stand here today to honor Katrina Ann Kelley for her legacy of service to the citizens and students of the United States.

Joetta Sack-Min|February 1st, 2013|Categories: Conferences and Events, Announcements, Urban Schools, CUBE, FRN Conference 2013|Tags: , , |

NSBA Honors Ohio School Board Association Leader with National Award

Richard Lewis, executive director of the Ohio School Boards Association (OSBA), received the 2013 Thomas A. Shannon Award for Excellence from the National School Boards Association (NSBA). Lewis was honored at NSBA’s Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C., on Saturday.

The award, established in 1997 in honor of former NSBA Executive Director Thomas A. Shannon, is given annually to recognize extraordinary efforts performed on behalf of NSBA, local school board constituencies, and school communities.

Lewis’ leadership at OSBA has helped thousands of Ohio school board members reach their goals and improve the services they provide their students and schools.

“Rick Lewis is the quintessential executive director,” said NSBA Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel. “Rick combines extraordinary ability, a broad base of knowledge and experience, and last but not least, a wonderful sense of humor. He has a disarming way of making a point and helping others to think in new ways. He is an effective leader because when he speaks, he actually has something important to say, and when he moves on an issue, he knows where he is going. His selection as recipient of the Shannon Award is very well deserved.”

Lewis joined OSBA in 1984 as a Labor Relations Specialist. He has also served as OSBA’s Deputy Executive Director, Director of Communication and Information Services, Director of Labor Relations and Management Services, Business and Marketing Manager, and Policy Specialist. He received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Business Administration from Ohio University.


Joetta Sack-Min|January 26th, 2013|Categories: Announcements, Leadership, School Board News, State School Boards Associations, Leadership Conference 2013|Tags: , , |

Annual Conference early registration discounts end Jan. 10–see you in San Diego!

January 10 is the last day to receive early registration discounts for NSBA’s 73rd Annual Conference, to be held April 13-15 in San Diego. Join thousands of school board members, school administrators, vendors and other school leaders at this premier event. The General Sessions boast three superstars who will discuss their work in education:

Academy Award-winning actress Geena Davis, founder of the non-profit Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, will speak at the opening General Session on April 13. The star of “A League of Their Own,” “Thelma and Louise,” and “The Accidental Tourist” now works with film and television creators to reduce gender stereotyping and increase the number of female characters in media targeted for young children. Davis will speak about the key role media plays in children’s development.

Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson is one of the world’s most engaging and passionate science advocates. From PBS to NASA to Presidential Commissions, organizations have depended on Tyson’s down-to-earth approach to astrophysics. Last year, Tyson notoriously persuaded director James Cameron to change a scene in the 3D version of his legendary film, Titanic. Turns out the night sky in the heartbreaking scene where the main characters meet their fates in the frigid sea had a totally wrong starfield. (Get a sneak peek of Tyson’s expertise and entertaining style in this YouTube video where he explains the mistake.

Researcher Diane Ravitch, one of the most passionate and knowledgeable advocates for public education, will share her expertise on past and present education issues. Her most recent book, The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education, makes the case that public education today is in peril and offers a clear prescription for improving public schools. Attendees who scored a seat to see Ravitch speak at NSBA’s 2010 Annual Conference were thrilled with her lecture.

In addition to the General Sessions, more than 200 topical sessions are scheduled on issues such as: Common Core State Standards, budgeting in tight economic times, new technologies, school climate and safety, and many others. Go to the annual conference website to view the full schedule of general session speakers, Focus on lectures, more than 200 topical sessions, and preconference workshops.

Joetta Sack-Min|January 10th, 2013|Categories: Conferences and Events, Announcements, Educational Technology, Technology Leadership Network, NSBA Annual Conference 2013|Tags: , , , |

NSBA Technology Innovation Showcase brings new solutions to school boards

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) recently announced its first Technology Innovation Showcase, which will help school board members realize the potential of new and innovative educational technology products for their schools.

The Technology Innovation Showcase is designed to show emerging companies that represent the diversity of new solutions in education, according to Ann Flynn, NSBA’s Director of Education Technology.

“The education market sector is experiencing rapid growth from investors and creative entrepreneurs, yet few of the nation’s 90,000 board members and their school districts are fully aware of the innovations enabled by technology that can transform old practices,” said Flynn. “NSBA wants to be a bridge between the entrepreneurial community and the nation’s decision-makers by encouraging districts to embrace a culture of innovation that is open to new approaches and looks to the Showcase examples as a way to ignite those conversations.”

The 2013 Technology Innovation Showcase includes the following companies:

  • BloomBoard – Helping educators grow by providing a free platform to manage the entire feedback cycle for improving educator effectiveness (e.g.: observations, coaching, and individualized learning plans, etc.), connected to recommendations from an open marketplace of professional development resources.
  • Guide K12 – Using the power of geovisual analytics, districts can look at student data in new ways for the purpose of forecasting, capacity planning, and boundary discussions and get immediate answers to “what if” questions.
  • Nearpod – An all-in-one solution for the synchronized use of iPads (and other mobile devices) in the classroom that is helping redefine the traditional classroom lecture through interactive presentations and real-time assessments.
  • TenMarks – An engaging web-based learning environment that super-charges math instruction by delivering contextual help, automatic interventions, real-time assessments, and a personalized curriculum for every student.
  • VizZle® — District Edition / Monarch Teaching Technologies – Committed to providing technology-enhanced solutions that offer districts more effective, yet cost-efficient data-driven tools that support children with autism and other special learning needs.
  • World Wide Workshop, Globaloria – A blended-learning platform with a results-proven curriculum and educator support system to teach youth to produce STEM games with industry-standard methods and tools to increase digital literacy and global citizenship skills, and promote engagement in STEM and Computing.

The 2013 class will be featured by NSBA in an exclusive Innovation Showcase Pavilion and Showcase session during the NSBA Annual Conference in San Diego, April 13-15, 2013. In addition, they will be featured in NSBA’s magazine for school leaders, American School Board Journal, and highlighted in a February 27th webinar hosted by NSBA’s Technology Leadership Network. Go to to register.

Submissions were solicited from start-up companies providing new approaches to challenges across the K-12 curriculum, administrative operations, and communication channels. Reviewers included educators from NSBA’s “20 to Watch”, a recognition program that honors emerging technology leaders.

TLN, launched in 1985 by NSBA and its state school boards associations, helps advance the wise use of technology in K-12 education to support learning, operations, and communications.


Joetta Sack-Min|January 4th, 2013|Categories: Announcements, STEM Education, Student Achievement, 21st Century Skills, Student Engagement, American School Board Journal, Technology Leadership Network|Tags: , |

Safety experts to advise school leaders in NSBA webinar

The school shootings in Newtown, Conn., have left school leaders searching for ways to make sure they are keeping their students, staff, and communities safe from harm.

When looking for advice, it’s best to seek out people who have experience – and Shamus O’Meara and Rick Kaufman certainly fit the bill. O’Meara, a partner with the Minneapolis law firm Johnson Condon, Attorneys at Law P.A., represented and advised the Red Lake and Rocori school districts in their school shooting incidents. Kaufman was the communications director for Colorado’s Jefferson County School District during the Columbine High School shootings 13 years ago.

Both men will be featured in a free webinar for school leaders, administrators, and school attorneys: “Planning For and Managing the School Crisis You Hope Never Comes.” The webinar, sponsored by NSBA’s Office of General Counsel and the Council of School Attorneys (COSA) will be held Friday from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. EST. Register at

“We hope that this webinar provides school leaders and attorneys with a solid foundation for review or development of school emergency plans and procedures,” says Sonja Trainor, director of COSA. “We are deeply thankful to Shamus O’Meara and Rick Kaufman, both national experts on school emergency planning and response, for giving their time and expertise for this webinar.”

O’Meara will discuss the importance of school safety plans as “living and breathing, not stuck in drawers,” he says. “School leaders, administrator, parents, and students — everyone involved with the school should take ownership of plan, so we are safely educating our students.”

In the decade since the Columbine High School shootings and 9/11, awareness about the need for security in public buildings, including schools, has been heightened, says O’Meara. And schools also have recognized that they are not alone in dealing with security and safety issues.

“A number of partners have to be involved, not just law enforcement,” he says. “Mental health, counseling services, and social services – they all need to be part of a dialog that is in turn part of school safety planning.”

One aspect of a good safety plan is how to communicate to parents, staff, students, and the community during and after a crisis. Kaufman, who is now director of community relations and emergency management for Minnesota’s Bloomington Public Schools, lived through the nightmare of Columbine.

The Columbine shootings changed the landscape of school security and raised questions of school climate. The biggest change that Kaufman has seen since the Colorado shootings has been the rise of social media use and the speed in which information travels. He encourages school districts to consider communications through many different ways.

“Districts must respond very quickly through different channels. If your district doesn’t use social media, you will be caught behind the eight ball in dealing with the crisis,” he says. “You can’t rely on just email or a rapid notification system.”

Through his work with the National School Public Relations Association, Kaufman helped in the development of rapid response teams of school communications professionals that are available to help districts that are dealing with a crisis.

O’Meara and Kaufman will offer strategies and resources for school leaders, and will be responding to questions during the webinar.


Kathleen Vail|December 19th, 2012|Categories: School Law, Announcements, School Security, School Climate, Board governance, School Buildings, American School Board Journal|Tags: |
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