Last week, we wrote about some of the complicated issues surrounding school board vendor contracts, and how it important it is for school boards to retain the ability to make these decisions. One school district has made a tough call recently, canceling one type of contract which will mean the loss of big dollars. “The Philadelphia School District plans to impose one of the nation’s toughest beverage policies later this year, banning sodas, iced teas, and other sweetened drinks from all vending machines and school cafeterias,” reports the Philadelphia Inquirer. “Paul Vallas, the school district’s chief executive, said yesterday that the stricter beverage policy would be followed by a review of snacks sold in the schools. He also wants schools to offer more nutrition education.” Cost to the district from lost sales: $500,000.
School Board News Today, an online publication of NSBA, provides timely and relevant stories and analysis from NSBA and other news outlets to school board members, administrators, and all others interested in K-12 education.
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Articles in the Governance category
Facing bare bones budgets, some school boards are resorting to collaborative ventures with businesses to sell advertising space, sign “pouring” contracts, and make other arrangements that provide their schools with additional revenue. This approach finds support in many communities wishing to avoid tax hikes or cuts to programs for their kids. “Many districts are engaged in this because of the dire straits they’re in,” Dan Fuller, NSBA’s Director of Federal Programs, told the Associated Press.
Recently, Coca-Cola issued voluntary “model guidelines” for school boards negotiating beverage contracts with vendors. As reported in School Board News, NSBA helped advise Coca-Cola in drafting the guidelines but did not endorse them. NSBA supports “school policies and programs that promote lifelong physical activity and healthy eating.” You can find a wealth of information about these and other health issues from NSBA’s School Health Programs. And check out the story on the childhood obesity epidemic in this month’s American School Board Journal.
NSBA will continue aggressively lobbying to preserve the right of local school boards to make their own determinations and decisions on these collaborative ventures. Congress’ continued unwillingness to fully fund important federal education programs makes it necessary for boards to have this flexibility.
January is school board recognition month for many states. Taking a bow should be the school board at Community Consolidated School District 15 in Palatine, Ill., which recently won the prestigious Baldrige National Quality Award. The award recognizes District 15’s pursuit of continuous improvement to become a top-quality organization. The district has implemented a wide array of programs and services leading to higher levels of student achievement. Winning a Baldrige award is a “tremendous honor,” District 15 School Board President Louis A. Sands told School Board News. “It’s an indication that we are moving in the right direction. The things we needed to do to apply for the award were things we needed to do anyway. The goal was not to win the award, but to achieve continuous quality improvement.” Words of support for school boards are being published around the country this month. Here is one example from the Franklin County Times in Alabama.
Although women make up about 75 percent of the public school workforce, only 13 percent of superintendents are women. Some have suggested that bias on the part of school boards plays a part in that gap. “Some school boards are in the dark ages and are not ready to move forward,” Margaret Grogan, chair of the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis at the University of Missouri-Columbia, told the Raleigh News & Observer. American School Board Journal covered this issue in depth, along with the challenges women superintendents face. In a related note, an extensive 2002 survey by NSBA found that 38.9 percent of school board members are female. Why are there so few women superintendents? Tell us what you think.
The U. S. Department of Education’s Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools issued a statement Thursday clarifying that prescription drugs are permitted at schools under NCLB’s Safe and Drug-Free Schools provisions. You can read the entirety of the “guidance” here.
The Senate returns in less than a week with a big vote on the omnibus federal spending bill that includes D.C. vouchers and too few dollars for America’s public schools. Public school advocates near and far are urging their senators to oppose the measure. The president of the Hawai’i State Parent, Teacher, Student Association penned a blunt letter in the Honolulu Advertiser (see the last item on that page), citing an NSBA poll on D.C. vouchers in the process. NSBA is urging a NO vote on the omnibus spending bill.
The No Child Left Behind Act requires states to ensure all public school teachers are “highly qualified.” NCLB calls for states to set a “high objective uniform state standard of evaluation,” or HOUSSE, a key component in the definition of a highly qualified teacher. The Education Commission of the States has created a state-by-state database of HOUSSE systems. Check out how your state is doing here.
The Palm Beach Post reports today that Florida’s number one distributor of tax-credit vouchers will no longer participate in the controversial program. FloridaChild, which granted nearly half of the state’s corporate tax-credit vouchers this school year, is under investigation by the state’s chief financial officer, whose recent audit blasted the group and the state’s three voucher programs. The group cited uncertainty in predicting how many vouchers are available from year to year as a reason for its decision to stop granting them. Under the program, groups like FloridaChild receive money from corporations that get a dollar-for-dollar tax break in return. Enrollment in the scandal-rocked program is down more than 30 percent in the past year, which prompted the state legislature to redirect money from vouchers to the state’s public schools, where enrollment increased this year.
Apparently unfazed by the voucher programs’ failings, FloridaChild announced it will lobby for vouchers for all students. The Post reports that many lawmakers are growing weary of the voucher programs’ problems and continue to call for more oversight and less expansion. “The announcement took Republican lawmakers and legislative staff by surprise, with some complaining privately that it was becoming difficult to defend a program that could undergo such radical changes with no one bothering to inform those who are asked to pay for it,” the paper reports. You can follow all voucher developments in Florida and elsewhere at NSBA’s Voucher Strategy Center.
As state legislatures reconvene and governors make state of the state speeches, state school boards associations are speaking out. New Jersey School Boards Association Executive Director Edwina Lee advocates moving the bulk of financial support for schools away from property taxes, in a story from the Associated Press about the New Jersey state of the state speech by Gov. James E. McGreevey. Check out this link at the NJSBA site for further response from Edwina Lee. The governor also pushed for giving working parents two paid days off to deal with sick children or attend parent-teacher conferences, and promised that New Jersey would become the first state to legally require such a benefit.
If you are an educator who recognizes the impact of technology in improving the learning experiences for all students, then you have a contribution to make to NSBA’s T+L2 Conference, Oct. 27-29, 2004. We will focus on empowering school district leaders with the tools and resources to improve and sustain student achievement and support models of continuous improvement. Click here to submit your proposal.
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