Articles tagged with ASBJ

School districts in Louisiana, New York, and Washington earn grand prize honors in 2014 Magna Awards

2014 Magna Awards

2014 Magna Awards were announced on March 5, 2014

St. Charles Parish Public Schools in Luling, La., Orleans/Niagara Board of Cooperative Educational Services in Medina, N.Y., and Kent School District in Kent, Wash., have been named the grand prize winners in the 20th annual Magna Awards program sponsored by the National School Boards Association’s (NSBA) American School Board Journal (ASBJ). The Magna Awards recognize school boards for taking bold and innovative steps to advance public education.

The Magna Awards, supported by Sodexo, honors districts across the country for outstanding programs that advance student learning and encourage community involvement in schools. An independent panel of school board members, administrators, and other educators selected the winners from nearly 250 submissions.

“The Magna Awards showcase outstanding models for local school board leadership and school district success to advance student achievement,” said Thomas J. Gentzel, Executive Director of NSBA. “We commend Sodexo for their continuing support of the Magna Awards to highlight the great achievements happening in public education.”

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 $5,000 contribution from Sodexo during a special presentation at NSBA Annual Conference, to be held April 5-7 in New Orleans.

“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 and a company committed to improving the quality of life for students, 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.”

Details on the 2014 grand prizes winning programs:

• The Orleans/Niagara Board of Cooperative Educational Services, in Medina, N.Y., earned the grand prize in the under 5,000 enrollment category for its Literacy Zone/Men’s Cooking Class. The program helped the board meet its goal of being the premier provider of innovative solutions for its component school districts and their communities. At a monthly luncheon of the Men’s Cooking Class, the adult students—many of whom were military veterans—decided to help veterans through the class’s cooking and by raising community awareness of veterans’ needs. The class was part of the area’s Literacy Zone, which provides adult education and is run by the Orleans/Niagara Board of Cooperative Educational Services. The class’s culminating event for veterans may have taken place on one day—July 5, 2013—but their efforts continue to accrue benefits for all involved.

St. Charles Parish Public Schools in Luling, La., is being honored as the grand prize winner in the 5,000 to 20,000 enrollment category for its Arts Awareness Festival, which drew inspiration from the fabled New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. The one-day festival, now in its fifth year, showcases the district’s theater, music, dance, and visual arts. Like the Jazz Festival, it features multiple stages with performances going on simultaneously. Students in kindergarten through 12th grade participate in the festival. The event raises awareness and builds support among parents and community member for the district’s arts programs. The school board views it as a vital way to connect schools and community.

• In the over 20,000 enrollment category, the Kent School District in Kent, Wash., is the grand prize winner for its iGrad—Individualized Graduation and Degree Program. A partnership between Kent and Green River Community College, the program helps 16- to 21-year-olds earn high school diplomas, GEDs, college credits, or professional certification. Located in a shopping center, iGrad offers students a flexible schedule—students can attend in three-hour blocks in the morning, afternoon, or evening—and individualized learning plans. This program is the result of the school board’s goal of high achievement for all students. The Kent School District has also received Honorable Mention in this year’s Magna Awards for another of its programs, Kinder to College.

The 2014 winners are highlighted in a special section in the April issue of ASBJ and will be formally recognized on Saturday, April 5, at the Best Practices for School Leaders Luncheon, which is part of NSBA’s 74th 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

2014 Magna Award Winners:

Grand prize winners:
Orleans/Niagara Board of Cooperative Educational Services, Medina, N.Y. – less than 5,000 students
St. Charles Parish Public Schools, Luling, La. – 5,000 to 20,000 students
Kent School District, Kent, Wash. – more than 20,000 students

First place winners – under 5,000 students:
Indian Creek CUSD #425, Shabbona, Ill.
Leyden Community High School District #212, Franklin Park, Ill.
Maplewood Richmond Heights School District, Maplewood, Mo.
Murphy School District No. 21, Phoenix, Ariz.
White Pine County School District, Ely, Nev.

First place winners – 5,000 to 20,000 students:
Carmel Clay Schools, Carmel, Ind.
Kannapolis City Schools, Kannapolis, N.C.
Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools, Nashville, N.C.
Piscataway School District, Piscataway, N.J.
Topeka Public Schools, Topeka, Kan.

First place winners – over 20,000 students:
Lexington County School District One, Lexington, S.C.
St. Tammany Parish Public School System, Covington, La.
Vancouver Public Schools, Vancouver, Wash.
Virginia Beach City Public Schools, Virginia Beach, Va.
Yonkers Public Schools, Yonkers,, N.Y.

Honorable mentions – under 5,000 students:
East Irondequoit Central School District, Rochester, N.Y.
Elk Mound Area School District, Elk Mound, Wis.
Middlesex County Public Schools, Saluda, Va.
Phoenix-Talent Schools, Phoenix, Ore.
Seaman Unified School District #345, Topeka, Kan.

Honorable mentions – 5,000 to 20,000 students:
Caesar Rodney School District, Wyoming, Del.
Danville Public Schools, Danville, Va.
Frederick County Public Schools, Winchester, Va.
Harrisonburg City School, Harrisonburg, Va.
Michigan City Area Schools, Michigan City, Ind.

Honorable mentions – over 20,000 students:
Arlington Public Schools, Arlington, Va.
Horry County Schools, Conway, S.C.
Kent School District, Kent, Wash.
Newport News Public Schools, Newport News, Va.
Spotsylvania County Public Schools, Fredericksburg, Va.

Alexis Rice|March 5th, 2014|Categories: School Boards, Student Achievement, Student Engagement|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Is your district prepared for a natural disaster?

Hurricane Isaac left floods and power outages across the Gulf Coast this week, but officials at the National School Boards Association (NSBA) say damage to schools remains minimal.

“We’ve reached out to our colleagues in the states that were affected by Hurricane Isaac,” said NSBA Executive Director Anne L. Bryant. “Although many families and schools have been affected by the torrential rains and wind, at this point there have been no fatalities related to schools.”

Public school buildings are often used as safe havens during storms and other disasters, and schools canceled classes and activities in many parts of Louisiana, Mississippi, Florida and Alabama this week.

American School Board Journal has a compilation of stories with advice on handling natural disasters in its topical archives.

Joetta Sack-Min|August 31st, 2012|Categories: Environmental Issues, Crisis Management, American School Board Journal|Tags: , , |

Editorial discusses the importance of school boards

What does your community know about your school board and the work school board members do?

Two members of California’s Fresno Unified School District’s school board recently penned an editorial for the Fresno Bee detailing the importance of their jobs. Cal Johnson and Valerie Davis urged their community members to pay attention to the candidates running for the school board because it has such a crucial role in guiding the community’s education system.

“School boards set direction for the district; we advocate for public education as well as needed improvements; we are currently maintaining the financial stability of our districts under some of the worst economic conditions in modern history; and, most importantly, we keep a laser-like focus on improving student achievement,” the authors write.

Davis and Johnson discussed some of the challenges facing the Fresno Unified School District and others in the area, including extreme concentrations of poverty that impact students’ abilities to attend school and learn.

“Schools cannot solve these problems alone, so they seek the community’s help to alleviate the scars that poverty inflicts on so many of the children and families in our Valley,” they write. “Everything from land-use decisions to policy approaches to public safety, mental health, and recreation impact our challenge.”

Read the column at the Fresno Bee and learn more about ways to communicate with your community from American School Board Journal’s columnist Nora Carr in “Telling Your Story.”



Joetta Sack-Min|July 19th, 2012|Categories: Governance, School Boards, American School Board Journal, School Board News|Tags: , , , , |

July issue of ASBJ now online

The July issue of the American School Board Journal is a hot one. Esconced in the pages of this month’s magazine is an important tool that readers, especially new ones, will find especially helpful: The New Board Member and Administrative Guide.

As its name suggest, the special includes tips, strategies and advice on everything from utilizing data to make decisions, mentoring new members and developing leadership capacity.

Do yourself a favor and keep this issue handy during the long hot summer, to ensure you hit the ground running when the school year begins.

Naomi Dillon|July 5th, 2012|Categories: American School Board Journal|Tags: , |

Are you ready for Common Core? Answer this technology readiness survey to find out

If you haven’t done so already and you’re in one of the 45 states, plus the District of Columbia, that signed on to participate in the Common Core State Standards Initiative, take a moment before the end of the month to see if your school’s technology infrastructure is ready to handle the electronic assessments that are also part of the project.

The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) and the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, the two groups chosen to develop the online tests, have jointly created the Technology Readiness Tool– a detailed questionnaire that asks schools about the state of their IT program.

Along with hardware purchasing guidelines, the readiness tool helps districts see where they are and where they need to be, in terms of technology, when Common Core goes live in 2014-2015.

As a reminder, Common Core State Standards for reading and math were released in the summer of 2010. Internationally benchmarked and designed to be clearer and more rigorous than the patchwork of state standards, the standards are scheduled to be implemented, complete with new computerized assessment systems in two years.

Read ASBJ’s March 2011 issue for a great primer on the initiative and logon to take the technology readiness assessment by June 30. The consortia will use the answers supplied by districts to make decisions on how the implementation, such as how long to keep the testing window open.

Naomi Dillon|June 20th, 2012|Categories: American School Board Journal|Tags: , , , , , |

What would do you if …

The June issue of the American School Board Journal asks readers what would you in this situation?

A superintendent was grooming one of his assistants to take over his job when he retired. He hadn’t set a retirement date yet, but the board was aware he planned to retire in the next five years and most of them were happy he’d given them enough time to make a leadership transition.

However, some board members weren’t sure it was a good idea the superintendent had an heir apparent. They were concerned that it might look like favoritism. The superintendent believed it was the best way to ensure continuity of all the reforms he and the board had put into place over the past decade. What should the board do?

Vote and tell us what you think on our Facebook page.

Naomi Dillon|June 1st, 2012|Categories: American School Board Journal|Tags: , , |

January issue of ASBJ now online

Happy New Year! And to usher in 2012, a new edition of ASBJ …  whose cover package reflects the attention to wellness and health that often comes bundled in New Year’s resolutions. However, as these stories illustrate, schools’ promises to provide a healthy environment, including proper nutrition and exercise,  can’t be as short-lived as individuals— despite a dire economy and competing interests. So get inspired motivated and most importantly, get informed by reading the latest issue of ASBJ.

Naomi Dillon|January 4th, 2012|Categories: American School Board Journal|Tags: , |

December issue of ASBJ now online

With winter season still officially weeks away, it’s possible Mother Nature could have one more unwelcome surprise ready to round out 2011, which months ago the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration declared as one of the most weather-extreme on record. 

Tornados. Flash-floods. Wildfires. 2011 hasn’t been fun or easy for the countless school districts and communities struck by a natural or manmade disaster. December’s cover story profiles some of the district’s who were hit the hardest and looks at how they’re recovering.

As always, December’s issue includes a rich line-up of  features, including this month’s column from ASBJ contributing editor, Nora Carr, on the importance of telling your story, visually.

Naomi Dillon|December 5th, 2011|Categories: American School Board Journal|Tags: , , , , , |

October issue of ASBJ now online

While national attention and energy has rightfully focused on the phenomenon of peer-to-peer bullying, what’s been missing from the scrutiny is a hard look at the relationships and interaction among the adults in the school community.

Enter the October issue of American School Board Journal, which is now live and online. In the latest issue, you’ll find a collection of articles that examine the issue of school culture and climate, from a variety of perspectives and perpetrators.

It’s an important and timely read on a complicated issue that has real implications for school reform efforts.

Naomi Dillon|October 5th, 2011|Categories: School Climate, American School Board Journal|Tags: , , , , |

New on

The August edition of ASBJ, now online,  arrives at the same time many school athletic programs are gearing up. And while we wish every team a great season, our main concern and our cover package, is focused on keeping students safe. Toward this end, the cover story provides some insight on youth concussions, which despite growing attention and state legislation, remains a largely misunderstood injury.  A tandem article, written by Orange County Superintendent of Schools William Habermehl, provides a first-hand account of the risks and precautions that districts and schools need to take to protect their student athletes. Rounding out the series is an examination of another athletic safeguard of sorts— booster club funds, which increasingly subsidize athletic participation at schools. Read these and other great features from the August issue, now available online.

Naomi Dillon|August 2nd, 2011|Categories: Athletics, American School Board Journal|Tags: , , , , |
Page 1 of 212