Articles in the School Buildings category

Oklahoma State School Boards Association helps tornado-torn district recover

Tornados are a fact of life in Oklahoma. That’s especially true in the central and western portions of the state, which belong to a region that includes parts of nine states and is dubbed “Tornado Alley.” Shaped, fittingly, like a cylinder, it stretches north from Texas to South Dakota and is the area of the country where tornados are among the most numerous and severe.

The town of Moore, south of Oklahoma City, is in the heart of Tornado Alley. Its residents are familiar with the storms and the damage they can cause. But nothing could prepare residents for two major tornados that hit the town in 14 years: the first in May of 1999; the second, this past Monday.

The May 3, 1999, tornado killed 36 people. In mid-afternoon on Monday, May 20, another tornado killed 24 people and destroyed 13,000 structures, including the district headquarters of the Moore Public Schools and two of its elementary school buildings. At Plaza Towers Elementary School, where teachers herded student into hallways and bathrooms, seven children died.

Right after the most recent storm, the Oklahoma State School Boards Association (OSSBA) began accepting gifts of school supplies at its Oklahoma City headquarters, as well as monetary gifts for the stricken district, said Jeff B. Mills, a former superintendent and OSSBA’s executive director. Mills spoke with ASBJ Senior Editor Lawrence Hardy on May 22, two days after the most recent storm hit.

How is OSSBA helping?

[We’re] just trying to be a resource for them. Many of their phone lines and cell phone services are down. They can’t get their e-mail, either. Just offering support, prayers — anything they need.

How is the district coping?

Their administration building was destroyed. Their records, fortunately, are off site; but when you’ve got your computer down, you feel helpless. But if you have your whole administration building down, it’s very difficult. It’s definitely a struggle. They’re trying to move on. They’re going to go ahead with their graduation this weekend. And they’ll deal with the losses that they have and start rebuilding.

What’s been the response to the drop off site for school supplies?

There’s been an unbelievable outpouring. We’ve got a truck coming from Nebraska tomorrow. We’ve got a couple of trailers that have been loaded up down around Florida coming this way, and just from all over the country. People just are hurting for Moore and wanting to do something, and we wanted to make sure we were able be an outlet for them.

We’re working with Feed the Children here in Oklahoma City to help distribute immediate needs like water and Gatorade bottles, diapers, hand sanitizers, gloves — those types of things we get in. But the school supplies we’ll store for the district and then hold back until they’re ready to receive them, because the last thing they need is us showing up with a truckload of pens and pencils right now. But they’ll need them in the fall.

Have you been to Moore since the tornado?

No. You can’t unless you’re a state official or a first responder — or actually live there.

As a former Oklahoma superintendent, have you ever dealt with anything like this?

No, I never did. Of course we had storm issues — we always do in Oklahoma. Nothing like this. When it hit [Moore] in ’99, the schools weren’t in session; they were already out for the day. It destroyed some schools, and they had to be rebuilt. Basically, [the most recent storm] traveled the same path. The big thing that’s happened in Moore since ’99 is just a huge growth spurt, not only in housing but in retail. The area that it came through, it followed that same path — there’s been a lot of lot of expansion in retail, highway frontage, building activity that is basically gone.

What are some of the challenges facing school board member in the coming months?

I think just the overwhelming idea that, “I’ve got to deal with all of this.” It’s not just one area, one issue. And then the things that will linger once the kids come back and classmates are gone or staff members are gone. They’ll be, I’m sure, a lot of counseling hours, and then just rebuilding. It’ll be a challenge, but they are a very strong board. The members are very dedicated and focused on what they need for the children.

How will the state respond in the long term?

We’ve faced things like this before in Oklahoma, just like other states deal with tragedy.  And we’ve always come out of it in a positive way. We’ll rebuild and start over. People are very resilient here, and they’re going to focus on what they can do for their kids. And we’re going to be there to support the schools and their board, and anything we can do to make that happen we’re going to do.

For information on how to contribute to OSSBA’s efforts for Moore, go here.

ASBJ has compiled an anthology of articles on disaster recovery for school districts, available in hard copy or as a downloadable PDF. Purchasing information is available here.

Lawrence Hardy|May 24th, 2013|Categories: American School Board Journal, Crisis Management, School Boards, School Buildings, State School Boards Associations|Tags: , , |

ASBJ bonus article on how a district turned renovation into motivation

There’s no such thing as a free lunch – you’ve heard that, surely. You’ve also heard that you can’t get something for nothing.

Those statements are true, most of the time. But for our online readers of ASBJ, we offer something for nothing in the form of bonus articles found only on our website. This week, the superintendent of Caroline County Public Schools in Bowling Green, Va., Gregory N. Killough details how one of his elementary schools made educational lemonade out of lemons in the form of renovation construction.

The Junior Foreman program involved second-graders, hard hats, blueprints, and forklifts. Read the article to find out how the program worked.

And while you’re on ASBJ.com, remember to take this month’s Adviser poll and check out our archive of other bonus articles designed to help school board members do their jobs.

Kathleen Vail|May 22nd, 2013|Categories: American School Board Journal, School Buildings|Tags: |

Supporting healthy learning environments

April 30, 2013 marks the 11th annual National Healthy Schools Day, a growing national movement that works to improve schools’ indoor air quality as it adversely impacts women and children. School environments play an important role in the health and academic success of children. Each school day, 55 million children and 7 million adults — 20 percent of the total U.S. population and 98 percent of all children—spend their days inside school buildings. The National School Boards Association (NSBA) was a sponsor of this year’s National Healthy Schools Day.

National Health School Day

April 30, 2013 is National Health School Day

“Schools play a critical role in addressing the physical, mental, social, and environmental factors related to health and well-being that can affect student learning,” said Thomas J. Gentzel, NSBA Executive Director. “NSBA and local school boards across the country are committed to developing effective policies and practices to create healthy learning environments to help position students for success in school and throughout their lifetimes. We commend the 11th annual National Healthy Schools Day as an important way to raise awareness about the need for healthy learning environments in America’s schools.”

This year, in recognition of the importance of a healthy school environment, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) awarded nearly $750,000 in “capacity building” grants to five states — Connecticut, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, and Wisconsin. These grants will be used to help states implement comprehensive K-12 school environmental health programs using the new Voluntary Guidelines for States: Development and Implementation of a School Environmental Health Program.

To learn more what your school district can do to create healthy learning environments in your schools, go to National Health Schools Day and EPA’s schools websites.

Alexis Rice|April 30th, 2013|Categories: School Boards, School Buildings, Student Achievement, Wellness|Tags: , |

NSBA’s Annual Conference Exhibit Hall offers one of the largest national showcases of education products and services

One of the most exciting places to be at the Annual Conference is the Exhibit Hall. This year, more than 290 exhibitors are waiting to show you their latest services and products, including more than 100 first-time exhibitors.

This year’s Exhibit Hall hours are Saturday, April 13 from 11:30 am to 4:30 pm, with exclusive hours from 11:30 am to 1:30 pm, and 2:45 to 3:45 pm. The Exhibit Hall will reopen Sunday from 11:30 am to 4 pm, with exclusive hours from 11:30 am to 1:30 pm.

“Even if you are a conference veteran, we’ve added some new features to the 2013 Exhibit Hall that you will not want to miss,” says Karen Miller, NSBA’s Exhibit Director. “Each year dozens of our conference attendees find new products and services from our exhibitors that save their school districts money and help streamline their operations, so we hope everyone will take advantage of the Exhibit Hall time.”

Be sure to take in a Learning Lounge session while you are here. Sponsored by OdysseyWare and Pearson, these informal 20-minute sessions give you a quick briefing on hot topics, from social media to legal issues and leadership skills. Check your conference schedule for a list of events and times.

The NSBA booth–No. 943–also has been expanded to show you the full range of NSBA services. You can meet some of the experts on NSBA’s staff, have your picture taken with a sign supporting school boards and public education for your social media account, and pick up some great deals on NSBA merchandise. Also, the booth is hosting book signings by authors Diane Ravitch, Neil deGrasse Tyson, and Stacey Bess.

Don’t miss the new Technology Showcase Pavilion at Booth No. 543. This exhibit showcases the six winners of NSBA’s first Technology Innovation Showcase.

The NSBA Health Fair is back, and will be featured once again in the Health and Wellness Pavilion (Aisle 1500) Demonstrations are scheduled for both days, from 12:30 to 3:30 pm, on topics such as Nutrition, exercise, tobacco use, and relaxation. You can also have your blood pressure checked and speak with health-care professionals.

The Green Zone (Aisle 500) will show you how to advance green initiatives in your schools and improve student achievement.

Music & Arts Main Street (Aisle 200) is one of the most popular features, with numerous exhibitors showing ways to strengthen your schools’ music and arts programs. Be sure to stop by and see a student performance at the designated times, below:

  • Saturday, noon: McMichael Phoenix Singers, Dalton L. McMichael High School, Mayodan N.C.
  • Saturday, 3 pm: “OPUS” – San Diego Youth Symphony, 4-5th grade String Ensemble, San Diego
  • Sunday, noon: McKay Chamber Orchestra, McKay High School, Salem, Ore.
  • Sunday, 1 pm: Mariachi Chula Vista, Chula Vista High School, San Diego

Look for the NSBA Exhibit Exam Challenge inside the Exhibit Hall Addendum/Pavilion Guide or at the NSBA Information booth. Visit the participating exhibitors, get the answers to questions about their companies, then drop your “exam” in the raffle bin in the Health and Wellness Pavilion (located in Aisle 1500) by 3 pm on Sunday for the chance to win exciting prizes!

The NSBA Marketplace is a special area in the rear of the hall where exhibitors are allowed to sell their products and services.

And when you need a break, stop by the upscale College Board Lounge, at Aisles 300-400. The lounge features comfy seating, refreshments and even a TV.

NSBA Booth Schedule (# 943)

Saturday

11:30 am -2 pm – Take your picture and stand up for public education!

2:30 – 3:30 pm – Kathryn Wege– Healthy students, healthy schools;

2:45-3:15 p.m.– Kathleen Branch, Reggie Felton, Deborah Rigsby – Legislative advocacy at the federal level;

3:30 – 4:30 – Marie Bilik and Debbie Finkel – Meet NSBA’s new Chief Operating Officer.

 

Sunday

11:30 am – noon – Patte Barth — Learn the latest findings from The Center for Public Education;

12:30 – 1:30 pm – Kathleen Vail and Glenn Cook – Meet with NSBA publications staff;

2 – 4 p.m.– Take your picture and stand up for public education!

3 – 3:30 pm – Kanisha Williams-Jones answers your questions about NSBA Caucuses and Leadership Services.

 

Joetta Sack-Min|April 12th, 2013|Categories: NSBA Annual Conference 2013, Nutrition, Online learning, School Boards, School Buildings, School Security, STEM Education, Student Achievement, Student Engagement, Teachers, Technology Leadership Network, Urban Schools|

Education Talk Radio previews NSBA’s 2013 Annual Conference

Kanisha Williams-Jones, Director of Leadership & Governance Services at the National School Boards Association (NSBA), was a guest today on Education Talk Radio providing a preview of NSBA’s 2013 Annual Conference. Thousands of school board members, administrators, and other educators will be coming to San Diego to take part in the April 13-15 event.

Listen to the broadcast:

Listen to internet radio with EduTalk on Blog Talk Radio

The conference will feature more than 200 sessions on timely education topics, including federal legislation and funding, managing schools with tight budgets, the legal implications of recent court cases, new research and best practices in school governance, and the Common Core State Standards. A series of sessions will focus on school safety and security.

Expanded education technology programming will include site visits to the University of San Diego and Qualcomm’s Mobile Learning Center to explore its research laboratory on mobile learning; Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography to examine the technology in science education and STEM; Encinitas Union School District to view its One-to-One Digital Learning Program; and the San Diego Zoo to learn about the cutting-edge learning tools used to teach at-risk students. U.S. Navy SEALs will show leadership and team building skills during another workshop.

The meeting also includes one of the largest K-12 educational expositions, with some 300 companies showcasing their innovative products and services for school districts.

General Session speakers include Academy Award winning speaker Geena Davis, who will be speaking about her work off-screen as founder of the non-profit Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media. Davis works with film and television creators to reduce gender stereotyping and increase the number of female characters in media targeted for children 11 and under. She will explain how media plays a key role in children’s development, and how her organization is making a difference.

Television star Neil deGrasse Tyson, one of the world’s most engaging and passionate science advocates, will headline Sunday’s General Session. From PBS to NASA to Presidential Commissions, organizations have depended on Tyson’s down-to-earth approach to astrophysics. He has been a frequent guest on “The Daily Show”, “The Colbert Report”, R”eal Time with Bill Maher”, and “Jeopardy!”. Tyson hopes to reach “all the people who never knew how much they’d love learning about space and science.”

Monday’s General Session features acclaimed researcher and author Diane Ravitch, who has become one of the most passionate voices for public schools. 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.

Learn more about the common core standards, new research on differentiated learning styles, and teaching “unteachable” children at the Focus On lecture series. Learn about new technologies for your classrooms as part of the Technology + Learning programs.

It’s not too late to register, visit the Annual Conference website for  more information.

Schools safer in the wake of Columbine shootings and 9/11, say educators and security experts

Ronald D. Stephens has worked in school security for nearly 28 years. As executive director of the National School Safety Center in California, he’s consulted with school officials in places linked forever with school shootings — places like Red Lake, Minn.; Paducah, Ky., Broward County, Fla.; and Littleton, Colo.

But, in one sense, Newtown, Conn., is different, Stephens said.

“I have never seen a school shooting that has been so vicious, so heartless, so callous” as the one that killed 20 young children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Stephens said.

The majority of the victims, as much of the world now knows, were 6- and 7-year-olds. Six adults were also shot and killed at the school, including the gunman, Adam Lanza, who took his own life and that of his mother, whom he shot in their home before driving to the school.

Given the horrific nature of the crime, the next point Stephens made might be hard for the public to grasp: Children are safer in school than outside of it. About 100 times safer, if you do the math — and Stephens has.

Since the shootings at Columbine High School in 1999, districts have done many things to make schools safer. They’ve installed security systems and initiated better screening of visitors. Many have hired school resource officer. And they’ve adopted school safety plans, which anticipate threats and specify what adults and children will do in the event of everything from earthquakes, floods, and hurricanes, to a gunman on campus.

“After Columbine, there was a lot more emphasis placed on safe school plans,” said Eric Sparks, assistant director of the American School Counselor Association.

No longer simply a vague plan “sitting on a shelf,” the safe schools plan became a working document that addressed specific threats, including the threat of violence. Schools also took training for students and staff more seriously. They had lockdown drills and practiced the routines they would need to follow in case of emergency.

It’s perhaps hard to imagine anything worse than what happened at Sandy Hook. Yet without the kind of training staff members received — and the extraordinary degree of courage and composure they displayed — the Dec. 14 shootings might have claimed even more lives.

“As horrific as the tragedy was in Newtown, it could have been much worse had the teachers, the staff, the principal, the administrators not followed the lockdown procedures they had been trained to follow, had they not actually taken the children and secluded them, really depriving the killer of further targets,” NSBA General Counsel Francisco M. Negrón said on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal. “So it was their training to basically ferret out the children — keeping them safe, keeping them calm — that made this a less horrific tragedy than it could have been, in terms of numbers.”

In the days after the shooting, Negrón also spoke on NPR’s “All Things Considered,” where he said that the recent shooting by an external gunman represented “a turning point” in the discussion of school safety. He said this should elicit discussions between district officials and law enforcement about how to deal with a shooter from outside the school community. In the wake of Columbine and other school shootings, schools focused on internal issues, such as school climate and bullying, and on identifying students with mental problems. This kind of effort, while essential, does not address a threat posed from outside.

Negrón told C-SPAN that moves to arm teachers and administrators, which have been suggested by Virginia Gov. Robert McDonnell and others, are not the answer because school staff members are not routinely trained in law enforcement.

“Teachers and administrators are hired to teach our children,” Negrón said. “That’s a very different skill set [from law enforcement].”

Sparks, of the American School Counselor Association, agreed.

“Having school staff with guns — that would be a challenging situation in terms of training and school safety,” Sparks said. “And it takes a whole different angle on the possibility of things going wrong.”

That could include gun accidents and other unintended consequences of adding firepower to some 120,000 places across the country that were designed for learning – what Stephens likened to creating “120,000 Fort Knoxes.” Is that the kind of climate we want for our children? he asked.

And even these actions would not ensure protection from a heavily armed intruder, unconcerned for his own life and bent on mass murder, Stephens said.

“I don’t know of a school district in America that is prepared to deal with assault-style attacks on their campuses.”

Lawrence Hardy|December 21st, 2012|Categories: American School Board Journal, Crisis Management, School Buildings, School Climate, School Security|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 https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/219019864.

“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: American School Board Journal, Announcements, Board governance, School Buildings, School Climate, School Law, School Security|Tags: |

School security articles available at American School Board Journal

In her 2006 article, “A Measured Approach,” which was written after several school shootings by individuals with no connection to the schools, American School Board Journal editor Naomi Dillon wrote: “From fostering a positive and inviting school climate, to teaching and modeling good behavior, to encouraging students and staff to be the eyes and ears of the building, schools can do a lot to make themselves unsuitable targets for unstable individuals.”

The horrific events in Newtown, Conn., have most of us looking for answers again. As school leaders, you are searching anew for information on security – disaster planning, safeguards, and the kind of prevention described in Dillon’s article. ASBJ can help provide that information for you: The magazine has published many articles on school safety for school leaders over the years. Usually only open to subscribers or available for purchase, the articles will be open to the public at our topical archive, Safe From Harm.

At the top of the list of articles is a look back at the Columbine shootings – interviews with the principal, counselor, superintendent, communications official, and others who experienced the events on that day in 1999.

Other articles include: “Communicating During a Crisis,” by school safety expert Ken Trump, who gives tips on how make sure your schools have well-developed and exercised safety and crisis plans and your staff is trained to implement them.

In “Safe From Harm,” ASBJ law columnist Ed Darden notes that a get-tough stance is tempting, but compassion and conversations are just as important.

Dillon writes of the importance of disaster planning in “Do You Have a Disaster Plan?”

Many other articles are available for reading and for download.  Please give us your feedback on what other kinds of security articles you’d find most useful.

 

 

Kathleen Vail|December 17th, 2012|Categories: American School Board Journal, Crisis Management, School Buildings, School Climate, School Law, School Security|Tags: , , , , , |

School security issues at the forefront of December ASBJ

Vandalism — destroying school property — remains a constant problem for many if not all school districts. Senior Editor Del Stover, in American School Board Journal’s December cover story, online now, looks at ways that districts combat the issue. Cameras, lighting, and extra personnel are all options. However, some districts are looking at how caring  relationships among adults and students can be the ultimate deterrent.

Also in the new issue: After a national report revealed that black and hispanic students are suspended at a higher rate than white students, many schools are backing off from rigid zero-tolerance policies. Senior Editor Lawrence Hardy chronicles how districts are working to decriminalize student discipline.

When you visit ASBJ online, take the Adviser Facebook poll on whether school security cameras work and check out our webinar offerings.

Kathleen Vail|December 4th, 2012|Categories: American School Board Journal, School Buildings, School Climate, School Law, School Security|

Learning by Design shows award-winning facilities in new issue

Learning By Design’s  Fall 2012 edition is focusing on projects committed to advancing educational design excellence and creating innovative, collaborative learning environments. The magazine, which is published twice each year by the National School Boards Association, American School Board Journal, and Stratton Publishing,  shows the nation’s best education design and construction projects, from pre-k-12 to college and university facilities.

The three 2012 Grand Award winners included: Trilogy Architecture • Urban Design • Research (Redding, Calif.) for Redding School of the Arts; NAC|Architecture (Seattle) for Riverview Elementary School; and Nagle Hartray Architecture (Chicago) for Latin School of Chicago.

A jury of architects reviewed and selected the projects that appear in the Fall 2012 edition and named this year’s honorees. The judges noted that although the three Grand Award-winning projects are vastly different in terms of function and context, all of the projects adopted an innovative design approach that prioritizes collaborative learning. The three Grand Award-winning educational facilities provide a variety of formal and informal learning spaces that foster growth and development.

For details and to access the magazine’s digital edition, visit www.learningbydesign.biz.

 

Joetta Sack-Min|October 19th, 2012|Categories: 21st Century Skills, Announcements, NSBA Publications, NSBA Recognition Programs, School Buildings|Tags: |
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