Articles in the Crisis Management category

Schools as wireless Internet hubs for their communities

Cisco Systems is providing $40 million in cash, equipment, and services to rebuild hurricane-damaged schools along the Gulf Coast. The initiative will include wireless broadband “mesh networks” that extend school resources to entire towns, reports eWeek.com.

From Cisco’s news site: “The mesh network wirelessly extends the educational and accountability resources of the school system across the community enabling unprecedented levels of collaboration, cooperation and learning for students, teachers and parents.” eWeek.com provides the technical explanation: “In a wireless mesh, the network dynamically routes packets from node to node, so only one access point has to be connected directly to the wired network; the rest share a connection with one another over the air.”

Also part of the Cisco effort: Comprehensive e-learning programs that focus on Internet technology skills. Read more here.

And: Forty-three school buildings in Michigan’s Oakland County, a Detroit suburb, will soon have access to cheap high-speed wireless Internet, as part of a county-wide project.

Erin Walsh|November 1st, 2005|Categories: Crisis Management, Educational Technology, NSBA Opinions and Analysis|

Rising construction costs are latest storm for schools

The legacy of the hurricanes of ’05 will continue to slam school districts that are planning construction.

Kansas schools are expecting costs to rise 20 percent because of reconstruction efforts in the Gulf Coast areas. Schools in New York State are cutting back because of issues that are affecting the construction industry as a whole: “Rising oil prices, some officials said, affect construction costs in two ways: Prices for petroleum-based products, such as roof insulation, are rising; and contractors also are adding ‘fuel surcharges’ to their bids to account for high costs associated with transporting materials,” reports the Westchester Journal News.

Schools in Colorado are learning about shortages of concrete, steel, and other building materials. And: Where did all of the school construction money go in New Jersey? Read about it here.

Erin Walsh|November 1st, 2005|Categories: Crisis Management, NSBA Opinions and Analysis|

Wilma’s damage to schools: “Lucky no more”


Is Wilma as bad as Florence or Jeanne or Katrina? Florida schools are seeking to answer this odd-sounding but necessary question this week, as they assess the affect of the latest in a string of big storms to directly blast through that state. Many schools on both coasts are shut down. Collier County, on the Gulf Coast, experienced its most powerful direct hit since 1960, inspiring the “Lucky no more” headline in today’s Naples Daily News. Read more here.

Across the state, Atlantic coast schools were slammed as well. The area surrounding the Broward County schools administration building in Fort Lauderdale resembles “a war zone,” reports the Miami Herald. All the 14-story building’s windows are blown out, with “all manner of school district paperwork strewn around streets near the building.” That county’s public schools are closed the rest of the week, mainly due to power outtages, as damage is assessed. The school district was just getting around to gearing up its support for those affected by a previous hurricane.

As of this morning, six million Floridians are without power. Long term power outtages is a major reason for another debilitating and often very expensive condition impacting schools affected by hurricanes: mold. And now, schools in Northeastern Atlantic states are getting ready, such as this school district in Connecticut.

Erin Walsh|October 25th, 2005|Categories: Crisis Management, NSBA Opinions and Analysis|

Insistence on vouchers continues to stall hurricane relief

Two weeks after we wrote this, little has changed. The Senate has not moved on substantive relief legislation for schools impacted by the recent hurricanes, bogged down by the insistence of some that vouchers, or similar payments to private schools, be included in any package. NSBA has said for two months that we oppose turning needed relief aid into a vehicle for creating the largest, costliest voucher plan in U.S. history. Here is our statement and letter on the latest proposal, S. 1904, put forward by Senators Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), Michael Enzi (R-Wyo.) and Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.).

NSBA has suggested lawmakers follow existing federal law, specifically the equitable participation component of Title I that provides private schools with educational services (but not the thorny issue of federal dollars), in order to provide private schools with hurricane relief. “By taking such action the Senate could overcome the current stalemate that has delayed the help that school districts, especially those in the Gulf Coast, desperately need, would ensure that all students impacted by the hurricanes continue to have access to the quality education they deserve, and that taxpayers have the clear accountability they deserve for how their dollars are spent,” NSBA Executive Director Anne L. Bryant said.

In the House, the chair of the education committee, Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) has introduced H.R. 4097, which includes a private school voucher proposal tied to a hurricane relief package for public schools. Here is NSBA’s letter on that bill.

Erin Walsh|October 24th, 2005|Categories: Crisis Management, NSBA Opinions and Analysis|

These bus drivers come through

The school board at Louisiana‘s Ascension Parish Public Schools recognized 70 of its district’s bus drivers this week for their efforts evacuating residents of the New Orleans area after Hurricane Katrina. Drivers carried more than 1,000 residents to safer and drier areas, after overcoming logistical and security challenges. “One even had a gun pulled on her,” a school official told The Ascension Citizen. The school district’s superintendent details here other examples of the district’s reaching out to help. The Ascension Parish school district is also coming through in one other big way: About 1,500 students from hurricane-affected areas now attend Ascension schools.

Erin Walsh|October 13th, 2005|Categories: Crisis Management, NSBA Opinions and Analysis|

Hurricane relief legislation still pending

Relief legislation for schools and students impacted by Hurricane Katrina remains stalled. Though multiple bills have been introduced and proposals floated, nothing has moved very far, and Congress is on recess this week.

One reason for the delay appears to be the issue of private school vouchers. A bi-partisan bill put forward some time ago by Senators Mike Enzi (R-WY) and Ted Kennedy (D-MA) did not include vouchers. However, following the administration’s suggestion that taxpayer dollars be sent to private schools in a relief package, the bi-partisan Senate bill has stalled. A new bill that may include vouchers or a similar payment plan to private and religious schools could be introduced when Congress returns next week. Several relief measures that do not include vouchers also have been introduced in the House.

NSBA is on record opposing vouchers as part of any relief legislation. The need to provide assistance to public schools that are educating hundreds of thousands of displaced students should not be derailed by efforts to create the nation’s largest, costliest voucher program ever. Some have suggested that this would merely be a one-time aid program to private schools, but voucher advocates who began pushing the controversial approach shortly after the hurricane seem to have different motivations.

New efforts to divert potentially hundreds of millions in tax dollars to private schools is the wrong move, especially as recent Congressional action clearly points to a brewing battle over long-term funding cuts for public schools and programs for low-income students.

For more details on NSBA’s views on relief efforts and our own recommendations, first put forward Sept. 2, go here.

Erin Walsh|October 10th, 2005|Categories: Crisis Management, NSBA Opinions and Analysis|

State school boards associations jump into hurricane relief

State school boards associations in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama have established hurricane relief efforts in their states. Read all about them here. NSBA‘s NewsStand continues to collect articles on hurricane issues related to schools. A couple of examples: A school in Alabama is aiding the effort to re-establish schools in Pass Christian, Miss. Three of that city’s four schools, educating 2,000 students, were obliterated by Hurricane Katrina. And affects of the 2004 hurricanes together with a hot housing market in Florida are combining to increase the costs of building new schools there.

Also: Students are writing about their hurricane experiences and reactions. They need blogs! We recommend contacting her, him, or him. A very smart bunch who teach and use blogging in the classroom and out. “Out” meaning in such astonishing places as the principal’s office. (And this book sounds like a must read when it comes out next year.)

Erin Walsh|October 6th, 2005|Categories: Crisis Management, NSBA Opinions and Analysis|

Hurricane resources on the Web for schools

Good site here from the Centers for Disease Control about health-related hurricane information for schools. It says “Katrina” but the info is applicable to the hurricane of your choice. The site provides a link to immunization guidance for schools hosting displaced students. CDC’s site for disaster mental health resources has important info as well.

And here is the U.S. Department of Education Hurricane Help for Schools site, which includes a link to the What Schools Need page, with each school in the affected areas having its own page to list specific needs.

Browsing through the list of schools and school districts reveals many tales. Galveston Independent School District in Texas reports that as of September 15, it was hunting for supplies to assist 440 students recently enrolled who were displaced as a result of Hurricane Katrina. This, of course, is before that entire city was emptied in advance of Hurricane Rita. That district and others also list needs such as clothing and personal care items. Plenty of high-ticket items such as computers and printers are needed by schools in flood-zone areas. The site lists e-mail addresses, U.S. mail addresses, and phone numbers for each school. Now is a great time to adopt one. And philanthropists of the world: Now is your moment to step up for schools.

Erin Walsh|September 27th, 2005|Categories: Crisis Management, NSBA Opinions and Analysis|

HISD: Kids need to get back to school

“Every day kids are not in school is a lost academic opportunity,” Houston Independent School District spokesman Terry Abbott told the Houston Chronicle. “We’re hurting kids if they don’t get back to school.” The Texas Education Agency has set up a Web site to track hurricane-related school news such as school closings and openings. And Texas educators pitched in to evacuate affected communities. Read about it here.

And a sobering sentence in an AP article here on the tragic bus fire that resulted in the deaths of 23 who were fleeing Houston: “The company had contracts with schools to drive students to athletic events but made most of its money driving seniors to gambling spots such as Las Vegas … ” The piece details a bus company riding on the legal edge. School districts across America who hire charter transportation take note.

Erin Walsh|September 26th, 2005|Categories: Crisis Management, NSBA Opinions and Analysis|

’04 hurricanes: Checks are still in the mail

The checks are still in the mail for almost $4 million that the federal government and others owe South Florida’s Broward School District for expenses connected to last year’s hurricanes Frances and Jeanne, reports the Sun-Sentinel.

At least $2.3 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency has been bogged down in micromanaging, minutia-laden paperwork, rolls of red tape and confusion, school officials said, even though those storms only grazed the county, the paper reports.

Erin Walsh|September 23rd, 2005|Categories: Crisis Management, NSBA Opinions and Analysis|
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