Innovative solutions being sought by schools
by Mary Scott Nabers,
CEO of Strategic Partnerships, Inc.
During summer months, educators in the past used the time to implement new programs and improvements for students and teachers. But, in the last few years, with funding slashed, most educators across the country simply try to uphold standards in a cost-effective manner. A recent poll conducted by Phi Delta Kappa and Gallup found that the greatest challenge to education is funding.
It is interesting to see how school districts throughout the country are spending what funding they do receive. Some common trends include the following:
Educators have invested what funds they have in data-driven technology. On the federal, state and local levels, new data systems are being used for tracking student progress and teacher performance.
This is the primary way educators are trying to improve accountability and quality of teaching.
- The federal government program, Race to the Top, provides grants to states that implement statewide Longitudinal Data Systems. The program recently announced grants awarded to 24 states ranging from $2.6 million to $5 million. The funding is used to help states design and develop the systems that track student progress from kindergarten through college.
- Fourteen school districts in Michigan are participating in a large pilot program to test four different models of teacher evaluations. Following the one-year pilot program, the state will hire an outside consultant to analyze the data collected and report findings. The pilot system will cost $5 million and lawmakers will pick one of the models to implement statewide after the data is analyzed.
- Pickerington Local School District in Ohio recently launched a new student data system. It is responsible for transmitting letters to parents, providing student test scores, attendance records and the status of fees collected or owed.
In an attempt to attract much-needed funding, school districts are awarding naming rights to school facilities and allowing advertising on school assets.
- Fort Atkinson School District approved a 10-year agreement with PremierBank to sponsor the name of the high school’s gymnasium. The school district will receive $50,000 in exchange for calling the facility "PremierBank Arena."
- Arizona State University officials are considering selling naming rights to Sun Devil Stadium. University officials hope the plan, if approved, will fund improvements to the stadium.
- Hatboro-Horsham School District in Pennsylvania recently passed a policy allowing sponsorships and advertisements on school-owned property. The school board passed the initiative unanimously, citing the dire need for new revenue.
- Many school districts now use social media platforms to communicate to parents, students and employees. It dramatically cuts their costs and the results and acceptance have been positive.
Got a new or innovative solution for school officials to consider? Most likely, it won’t be hard to get them to listen.