Articles in the Urban Schools category

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

HONORING KATRINA KELLEY FOR HER SERVICE TO THE RESIDENTS OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS AND TO SCHOOL BOARD MEMBERS AND CHILDREN OF URBAN DISTRICTS IN THE UNITED STATES AND THE VIRGIN ISLANDS

HON. KEITH ELLISON

OF MINNESOTA IN THE 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: Announcements, Conferences and Events, CUBE, FRN Conference 2013, Urban Schools|Tags: , , |

New federal nutrition rules caused a ‘buzz’

So many parents have complained that school meal portions are too meager—and that their children are hungry and tired by the end of the school day—that Congress is beginning to pay attention.

That’s one of several developments that are keeping policymakers busy more than two years after passage of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, said Lucy Gettman, NSBA’s director of federal programs.

Speaking at a Saturday briefing to NSBA’s Council of Urban Boards of Education (CUBE) in Washington, D.C., Gettman told urban education leaders that the new federal rules on school meals that went into effect this year caused “quite a buzz.”

Although some expected the biggest complaint would center on inadequate financial support for new and costly mandates, Gettman said the most notable criticism has focused on the size of federally reimbursable school meals as mandated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Designed as a tool to combat the nation’s childhood obesity problem, the strict calorie limits on meals has prompted tens of thousands of letters and phone calls to members of Congress.

“Parents, students, and other citizens were giving their members of Congress an earful,” Gettman said, noting that one online music video mocking the meal rules has gotten more than 1 million viewers.

The protests prompted the House Committee on Education and Workforce to send a letter asking the U.S. Government Accounting Office to look into the impact of the new law and the USDA rules.

In the letter were a “pretty thorough list of questions, and I think it will really be helpful to Congress once they get a report back,” Gettman said. “It can guide Congress on future policy.”

The public outcry already has prompted the USDA to grant schools some relief in meeting federal guidelines, she added, “but the relief is only temporary” as that the rules were waived only for the rest of this school year.

Another issue still unresolved is what federal standards will exist for “competitive foods”—food sold in vending machines or at concession stands at school athletic events, Gettman said. Those rules—which USDA has yet to release in draft form—could affect the revenue that schools use to support athletic, food-service, and other programs.

School policymakers also are waiting for draft rules concerning the training and certification of food-service personnel.

USDA has indicated it’s going to do “everything in its power so that these standards won’t be costly,” Gettman said. “But the proof is in the pudding.”

Del Stover|January 27th, 2013|Categories: CUBE, FRN Conference 2013, Leadership Conference 2013, Legislative advocacy, Nutrition, Obesity, Urban Schools|Tags: , , , |

New USDA regulations present challenges to urban districts

Some challenges confront urban school districts seeking to comply with the new, more healthy oriented regulations mandated for school meals by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

It turns out that some kids don’t like the healthier cafeteria fare—and won’t eat it. Parents complain that strict, new calorie portions are too stingy for high school students—and their children are going hungry during the day.

Finally, school food-service directors are warning that cooking healthier meals is more costly than the additional 6 cents that USDA has promised to help comply with its new mandates.

Yet school districts are finding ways to cope, a panel of school board members and school food-service experts told urban leaders attending a Saturday workshop for NSBA’s Council of Urban Boards of Education (CUBE).

The session was an Early Bird offering of NSBA’s Federal Relations Network (FRN) Annual Conference, which starts today in Washington, D.C.

Convincing students to eat the new daily portions of fruits and vegetables mandated for federally reimbursed school meals—as well as other healthier fare—requires a calculated redesign of school recipes and changes in food preparation, panelists said.

Virginia’s Hampton City Schools are working with local restaurant chefs to learn new preparation techniques and relying on student taste-testings to find recipes that will win over students, said school board member Monica Smith.

The district also is seeking to change student attitudes by educating them about nutrition, as well as revamping cafeterias with smaller serving lines and a more aesthetic, restaurant-oriented appearance that makes the school meal experience more appealing, she said.

Improving menus and cutting operational costs will require more professional development—and not just for managers and cooks, added Amy Virus, assistant food-services director for the Philadelphia Public Schools. Under new USDA regulations, school meals are not federally reimbursable if students don’t have the mandatory fruit and vegetable servings on their food trays—and the cafeteria staff has to stay atop of student choices.

“It’s a huge change for us,” she said. “For our cashiers, for our line staff … so we’ve really focused on training, talking about new meal patterns.”

The USDA is reconsidering the controversial calorie counts it imposed on school meals, but the cost issue remains a challenge to be overcome, panelists say. Some school districts are complaining the price of healthier foods is proving greater than the additional financial support provided by USDA.

A drop in participation can exacerbate the challenges created by rising costs, a phenomenon reported by some school lunch programs. But, in Hampton, Smith said, food-service personnel are looking for ways to cut costs—and have managed to increase in participation as cafeterias fine-tune their healthier fare to meet student tastes.

So healthier school meals aren’t necessarily a negative—simply a new challenge that requires new practices, panelists said. But school boards can make a big difference in whether these challenges ultimately are met.

Boards need to set the priority, put district wellness programs in place, and hold food-service personnel accountable, Smith said. But also “listen to the trained staff and give them the flexibility to do the job … let them be creative [while] we show our support.”

Del Stover|January 27th, 2013|Categories: CUBE, Food Service, FRN Conference 2013, Leadership Conference 2013, Legislative advocacy, Urban Schools|Tags: , , |

Two federal meetings feature leadership and legislative advocacy for school boards

Over the next four days, School Board News Today will be covering the top events and sessions at NSBA’s annual Leadership Conference and its Federal Relations Network (FRN) Conference, held in Washington, D.C.

The NSBA Leadership Conference, held Jan. 26 to 27, is a two-day networking and professional development event designed to explore issues and opportunities related to state school board association leadership and management. The conference brings about 200 people to Washington, D.C., including the NSBA Board of Directors and state school boards association officers as identified by the executive director.

The annual FRN Conference, which runs from Jan. 27 to 29, brings more than 600 school board members, selected by their state associations, and state association staff to Washington to learn about the most current federal policies and issues that will impact their schools. This year, U.S. Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) are scheduled to speak at the conference.

Participants will spend a day meeting with their representatives on Capitol Hill to further discuss federal issues and pending legislation and advocate for the needs of their school districts.

In addition, NSBA’s Council of Urban Boards of Education members will meet concurrently on important issues for urban schools.

Keep reading School Board News Today for highlights from these activities.

Kathleen Vail|January 26th, 2013|Categories: Board governance, CUBE, Federal Advocacy, Federal Programs, FRN Conference 2013, Governance, Leadership Conference 2013, Legislative advocacy, School Boards, State School Boards Associations, Urban Schools|Tags: , |

North Carolina school board leader to serve as chair of the Council of Urban Boards of Education

The National School Boards Association’s (NSBA) Council of Urban Boards of Education (CUBE) has selected Minnie Forte-Brown of Durham, N.C. to serve as Chair of CUBE’s Steering Committee, completing the term of Sandra Jensen of Omaha, Neb. who has retired. Forte-Brown previously served as Vice Chair of CUBE’s Steering Committee.

The selection of Forte-Brown for Chair was made by CUBE’s Steering Committee. Forte-Brown’s term as Chair will last through April 2013 when CUBE elections will take place. As Chair of CUBE, Forte-Brown will serve on the Board of Directors of NSBA.

CUBE is an organization guided by Steering Committee members who represent a diverse group of urban school board members dedicated to the needs of children in urban centers. CUBE represents more than 100 urban school districts in 35 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The districts that comprise CUBE educate nearly 7.5 million students in over 12,000 schools, with a collective budget of approximately $99 billion. CUBE helps urban school boards find solutions to challenges at the local level and helps them to strengthen their policymaking effectiveness.

“It is an honor to serve as Chair of the Council of Urban Boards of Education, as I am strongly passionate about equity and excellence and believe effective, focused, and committed governance can aid in making those tenets of justice a reality for all students,” said Forte-Brown.

Forte-Brown is currently the Vice Chair of Durham Public Schools (DPS) Board of Education and has served on the board since 2004 and was the Chair from 2006-2012. Under her leadership, the DPS Board of Education participated in Reform Governance in Action training, a two-year program of the Center for Reform of School Systems. Forte-Brown is committed to engaging students, parents and the community. Forte-Brown was appointed by Gov. Bev Perdue to the North Carolina Council of the Status of Women and the Gang Advisory Task Force. She is the co-founder of the East Durham Children’s Initiative and serves on the Board of Directors of the North Carolina School Boards Association and National School Boards Action Center.

“Minnie Forte-Brown is a strong leader who will help CUBE advance its work supporting urban school boards as they find solutions to critical policy issues in urban education that enhances student and academic achievement,” said CUBE’s Director Deborah Keys.

Alexis Rice|October 26th, 2012|Categories: Announcements, CUBE, Urban Schools|Tags: , |

Magna Awards featured on Education Talk Radio

If you’re planning to nominate one of your school district’s programs for American School Board Journal’s (ASBJ) Magna Awards, be sure to listen to Pittsburgh Public Schools Board Member Mark Brentley talk about his district’s experiences as a Magna Awards grand prize winner. He joined by ASBJ Publisher Glenn Cook and Sodexo’s National Wellness Director Roxanne Moore on Education Talk Radio.

Pittsburgh Public Schools, was a 2012 Magna Awards grand prize winner in the more than 20,000 enrollment category for their “Take a Father to School Day” outreach program aimed at increasing the participation of fathers and other male role models in their schools.

Listen to Education Talk Radio on Blog Talk Radio

The Magna Awards is a national recognition program co-sponsored by ASBJ,  National School Boards Association, and Sodexo School Services that honors school board best practices and innovative programs that advance student learning. Magna nominations are judged according to three enrollment categories (under 5,000 enrollment; 5,000-20,000 enrollment; and over 20,000 enrollment). One Grand Prize Winner in each category receives a $4,000 contribution from Sodexo School Services. There are five additional winners and five honorable mention winners within each enrollment category.

Learn more about the Magna Awards and nominate your program on ASBJ’s website. The deadline is Oct. 31, 2012 for nominations for the 2013 Magna Awards.

Alexis Rice|October 12th, 2012|Categories: American School Board Journal, Board governance, Urban Schools|Tags: , , , , , , |

NSBA mourns the loss of former CUBE director

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) is mourning the Oct. 9 passing of Katrina Kelley, who served as director of the Council of Urban Boards of Education (CUBE) until earlier this year.

“She had tremendous passion, knowledge, and a strong commitment to helping urban school leaders find solutions to challenges at the local level and improve student achievement in their schools,” said Lisa Bartusek, NSBA’s associate executive director for State Association and School Board Leadership Services. “Guided by the leadership and counsel of the many dedicated CUBE Steering Committee members over the years, Katrina helped to shape the CUBE program as a critical component of NSBA.”

Kelley spent nearly 20 years at NSBA working on urban education issues. A graduate of Marycrest College with a Bachelor of Arts in Social Work, she served as legislative director for former Representative Charles A. Hayes (D-IL) of Chicago prior to joining NSBA. She joined NSBA in October 1992 as director of Urban School District Advocacy.

Under Kelley’s leadership, CUBE has grown to represent more than 100 urban school districts in 35 states and the Virgin Islands.

 

 

Joetta Sack-Min|October 10th, 2012|Categories: Announcements, CUBE, Urban Schools|Tags: , |

CUBE panel: School-level policies help minority male students

To make a difference in the lives of young men of color, urban school boards need to review the policies and priorities directed at the needs of this population—but they also need to make certain that these policies and priorities are reality at the school level.

That was the advice offered by a panel of educators speaking at the 45th Council of Urban Boards of Education (CUBE) Annual Conference in Atlanta last weekend.

Discussing possible school board strategies to help these students, panelist Carl Harris, a one-time superintendent and former deputy assistant secretary in the U.S. Department of Education, suggested conference attendees begin by taking a closer look at what was happening in their schools.

“In too many settings, we have a beautiful mission, a beautiful vision of where we want to take our schools, but when we look at how we operate day to day as a school or district, there’s a disconnect,” he said.

An example of this disconnect might be the difference between a school board’s academic hopes for minority male students and the disproportionate number of these students assigned to special education. The panel’s facilitator, Kendall Lee, a board services consultant with the Ohio School Boards Association, asked panelists how to address the issue.

Look at the data—and ask tough questions about why the district’s outcomes aren’t aligned with the district’s goals, Harris said. “My experiences working with school boards across the country is that, in many case, the data is not put directly in front of school boards as much as it should be.”

The answer is no different when examining a district’s disciplinary policies, panelists said. Statistics show that young black males are suspended or expelled at far greater rates than other students, a practice that forces students out of the classroom and discourages their interest in school.

“It’s an American shame,” said panelist Van Henri White, a school board member in Rochester, N.Y., and a member of the CUBE Steering Committee. “Our leaders aren’t treating our people right.”

Inappropriately assigning students to special education classes or disciplining them excessively undermines students’ hopes and risks putting them into the school-to-prison pipeline, panelists said. These are messages that only heighten the negative and hope-deflating experiences, such as police harassment, that these students face on the streets.

Indeed, talking to jailed young men, White said, he’s seen “the frustration of young men of color who do not believe they have an honest shot at the American Dream. They believe the deck is stacked against them, and they do not have a chance to succeed in the classroom, the courtroom, or in the boardroom.”

That reality puts school boards in the “business of saving and rescuing” these students, said panelist Ron Walker, executive director of the Coalition of Schools Educating Boys of Color said. “It’s non-negotiable to stand up and save our sons.”

It would help if schools had more black and Latino male role models in the schools—to show young students that academic success is possible, suggested Lee, and the panel talked of the challenges of recruiting and retaining such hard-to-find teachers.

Yet, Walker noted that the demographics are not in school boards’ favor, and, ultimately, there was no guarantee that simply having male teachers will allow schools to reach out successfully to students.

“It’s not a forgone conclusion that if, you have black male teachers, that they’ll be culturally proficient,” he said. “Some of us, who look like me, are as close to culturally proficient as I am to the moon.”

What’s needed, Walker suggested, is better recruitment and professional development to ensure that more teachers understand the needs of young men of color.

“We’re not going to get the influx of black and brown teachers we’re going to need,” he said. “So everyone needs to be culturally proficient.”

 

Del Stover|October 9th, 2012|Categories: CUBE, Student Achievement, Student Engagement, Urban Schools|Tags: |

Savannah school board president honored with national urban education award

This year’s winner of the Benjamin Elijah Mays Lifetime Achievement Award is Joseph A. Buck, III, president of Georgia’s  Savannah-Chatham County Board of Education.

Buck, a school board member since 2006, received the award during the 45th Council of Urban Boards of Education (CUBE) Annual Conference in Atlanta. CUBE honored Buck for his efforts to improve student achievement and management in the school district as well as his efforts to increase community engagement in the district’s public schools.

The Benjamin Elijah Mays Lifetime Achievement Award is given to individuals who demonstrate a long-standing commitment to the educational needs of urban schoolchildren through school board service. Benjamin Elijah Mays, whom the award honors, was a teacher, minister, author, and civil rights activist who served as president of Morehouse College and the Atlanta school board from 1970 to 1981.

Buck spent nearly 40 years as an administrator at Armstrong Atlantic State University in Savannah, most recently as vice president of student affairs. During that time, he also built partnerships between the university, the school system, and key businesses. Two local programs that he has helped implement include Leadership Savannah and Leadership Georgia, which help local professionals gain leadership skills. Buck recruited many teachers and administrators to these programs and used his positions on the groups’ boards of trustees to build partnerships between schools and the business community.

When Buck became Savannah-Chatham’s school board president, the school district was on probation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and was facing declining enrollments and mistrust from the community. Working with a new superintendent, Buck helped expand a school choice system and bring back students to neighborhood public schools.

Buck has supported charter schools in his school district, and helped build a new charter facility using the education special purpose local option sales tax. He also is a member of Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal’s education advisory group, which meets quarterly to discuss issues facing schools in the state.

Del Stover|October 9th, 2012|Categories: Announcements, Charter Schools, CUBE, NSBA Recognition Programs, School Boards, Urban Schools|Tags: , , |

Nevada’s Washoe County Public Schools District receives national urban education excellence award

The Washoe County School District has been awarded the Council of Urban Boards of Education (CUBE) Annual Award for Urban School Board Excellence for 2012.

The Nevada school system, which serves Reno and surrounding communities, was recognized for its school board’s resolve to improve student academic performance, engage parents and the community, and ensure that all students leave high school ready for college and careers.

Washoe County Public Schools District leaders

Washoe County Public Schools District leaders show off their CUBE Annual Award for Urban School Board Excellence

“It’s a great honor, and a confirmation of the hard work of principals, teachers, and staff members,” said Washoe County Superintendent Pedro Martinez. “This award shows what is possible when board members work in partnership with the leadership team to implement reforms that change the lives of children every day.”

“We are honored to receive this recognition on behalf of the staff, parents, and students of the … school district,” said Ken Grein, president of the board of trustees. “Our board has joined with the district to listen to members of our community, learn about their concerns, and build upon their support to help more of our students succeed in school.”

The award was presented this past weekend during a luncheon at the CUBE Conference in Atlanta.

Maryland’s Baltimore City Public Schools and Prince George’s County Public Schools also were finalists for this year’s top honor.

Washoe County is a 63,000-student school system that, only a few years ago, outperformed others in its state but was receiving negative reviews from county residents. In 2009, the school board told the community it would make changes and began an exhaustive review, with community input, of the school system’s performance.

That effort led to the development of a five-point reform initiative, Envision WCSD 2015, Investing In Our Future, that aimed to institute performance management systems; engage parents and the community; develop effective teachers and instructional leaders; instill a caring and positive school climate; and ensure all students leave ready for college and careers.

This initiative helped the school system make noticeable progress. Graduation rates rose from 56 percent in 2008 to 70 percent in 2011; the achievement gap closed as third-grade math and reading scores for African-American and Hispanic students jumped double digits. District officials now use a variety of communications tools to market their schools and foster two-way communications with parents and community members.

“Washoe County has made tremendous gains in increasing its graduation rate, increasing the achievement of low-income and minority students, and placing highly qualified teachers in its schools with the greatest needs,” said Joseph S. Villani, NSBA’s Interim Executive Director. “Working closely with its superintendent, the school board set high expectations for all students and staff and engaged its community as partners.”

“Washoe County is an example of excellence for our state and for urban school districts across the country,” added Dotty Merrill, executive director of the Nevada Association of School Boards. “The school board, working with the superintendent, has done an exceptional job at developing a strategic plan with community involvement, and has focused on implementing that plan and continuously improving student achievement.”

The Washoe County school system was selected for the CUBE award by an independent judging panel based on materials submitted by the school district, independent follow-up research, and information provided by the district’s state school boards association.

The judges selected the winner based on the following four criteria: Excellence in school board governance; building civic capacity; closing the achievement gap-equity in education; and demonstrated success of academic excellence.

CUBE represents a total of more than 100 urban school districts in 35 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The districts that comprise CUBE educate nearly 7.5 million students in over 12,000 schools, with a collective budget of approximately $99 billion. CUBE helps urban school boards find solutions to challenges at the local level and helps them to strengthen their policy making effectiveness.

 

Del Stover|October 9th, 2012|Categories: Announcements, Board governance, Conferences and Events, CUBE, Governance, Leadership, Urban Schools|Tags: , |
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