Will Legislature return in special session?
The Legislature had announced plans to return on Friday, May 1 to adjourn the legislative session for good. However, as the week has gone on it seems that not all members are supportive of the plan, preferring to return to the business of passing bills. Either way, there is a possibility the Legislature will return in a special session to address budget issues due to decreased revenue when we have a better picture of the situation in a few months. We will update you as soon as we hear whether the Legislature plans to return to business or not.
We face this crisis head-on
Written by Linda Lyon, ASBA Past President
Albert Einstein, one of the most brilliant minds the world has ever seen, once said, “In the midst of every crisis, lies great opportunity.” I do not know about you, but I am thinking a global pandemic qualifies as a real crisis. I am proud of how our governing board and district staff are facing this crisis head-on. I also found myself thinking about what opportunities this crisis may present both now and, in the future, and offer a few thoughts below.
Video Conferencing. By now, most districts have probably taken advantage of this capability for one purpose or another. Our district had our first governing board meeting via video conferencing, and it worked great. I don’t see it ever totally replacing face-to-face meetings but imagine as more districts have experience using this tool, it will play a larger role in our interactions.
Distance Learning. I am proud of our superintendent, our teachers and the staff that is supporting them to ensure our students continue to learn. Let us not kid ourselves though. Many of our students will experience a “COVID slide.” Does this mean distance learning is of no value? Not at all. I believe we will see more utilization of a variety of out-of-classroom learning techniques and tools. To be clear, I do not see us ever supplanting the need for highly qualified teachers, the proven #1 in-school factor for student achievement. We should though, explore all options to increase capability.
Expanded Broadband. This is, (along with about 100,000 laptops), the linchpin to expanded capabilities of all kinds, to include that which narrows the achievement gap. The good news is, an effort has been underway for a couple of years, to expand broadband across the state and this crisis has increased the urgency of these efforts. Now Governor Ducey and Superintendent Hoffman are even urging businesses to donate hot spots for student use. At our last meeting, our governing board approved an Intergovernmental Agreement with the Pinal County Schools Office for improved internet services. We must all continue to push for this critical upgrade in all our communities.
Less Focus on Standardized Testing. On March 20, U.S. Education Secretary DeVos suspended the federal requirement for mass standardized testing of public-school students, saying, “Neither students nor teachers need to be focused on high-stakes tests during this difficult time.” Actually, we should take this opportunity to look at how we assess teacher effectiveness and student progress. Years of forcing teachers to teach to the test have narrowed the curriculum and proven counterproductive to student success. I advocate for returning the job of learning assessment to the classroom teachers, those who can make real-time adjustments to drive better results.
Ensuring Students Are Ready to Learn. Ideally, it would not be up to schools to ensure children have enough to eat, but students cannot learn when they are hungry, so our schools step up. I am proud of our district’s food service workers preparing the breakfasts and lunches and the bus drivers delivering them to bus stops, along with schoolwork packets. But this is only a stop-gap measure. We already know that the best indication of which students will achieve is the zip code in which they live. Poverty is insidious, creating roadblocks at every turn. Schools cannot overcome the roadblocks on their own, we need the government to deal with poverty. As governing board members and as voters, we need to hold our lawmakers accountable for creating more equitable availability of opportunity.
The Value of Community Public Schools. Television producer and writer Shonda Rimes spoke for many parents in the first week of the stay-at-home orders when she tweeted, “Been homeschooling a 6-year-old and 8-year-old for one hour and 11 minutes. Teachers deserve to make a billion dollars a year. Or a week.” I believe this sentiment will be a common refrain and most people will be even more grateful for their children’s teachers when school reopens. We should ride this wave of good feeling and turn it into a tsunami of positive press for the work our public schools are doing.
I’ve no doubt there are many more opportunities I have not yet thought of and am confident governing board members around the state will capitalize on them for their students. These are difficult times, but this too shall eventually pass. Stay vigilant, stay focused on our students, and above all, stay safe. Your students need you!
May 6 Webinar: Addressing trauma during emergency remote learning
Wed, May 6, 2020 3:30 PM – 4:30 PM MST
Grand Canyon University has partnered with the Arizona School Boards Association to offer this free, can’t-miss opportunity for anyone involved in K12 education. Participants will analyze what school trauma really means and dive deeper into how to deal with trauma in K12 schools.
This webinar will look at the issues facing students and teachers during remote learning. We will also examine what teachers, administrators and school board members can do during this time. Finally, we will investigate resources available to students and families.
Register now. Remember, you can view the webinar at your own leisure by registering to receive the recording directly to your email.
Four areas of focus for successful virtual learning
Written by K12itc, ASBA Year-Long VIP Partner
It goes without saying, COVID-19 has thrown a new challenge at schools, parents, and students. The big question on everyone’s mind is “Can we virtually educate in an effective, efficient, and secure manner?”
The answer is YES! However, there are four essential areas your district will need to consider:
- Remote IT Support –With all users going remote, the district must be able to handle an influx of remote IT issues. This new dynamic can overload the IT staff as they struggle to adapt quickly to troubleshooting, diagnosing, and repairing issues remotely. Managed Technology Services companies, such as K12itc, can help. K12itc provides remote IT Support to more than 80,000 users across the United States.
- Connections at Home – Secure connectivity at home is crucial for remote teaching and learning. K12itc offers several solutions to assist including, teleworker devices, VPN connectivity, and remote application hosting to ensure users are connected to the files and applications they need.
- Cybersecurity – With students and staff remote, there are now thousands of uncontrolled environments. School districts need to make sure that the proper web filtering, email security, and anti-virus are in place. It is important for your district to enlist a trusted partner, such as K12itc, to ensure a secure network at school and at home.
- Deploying Video Conferencing – Districts will need to tap into video conferencing to help staff and even students connect remotely. Cisco Webex, the leading enterprise solution for video conferencing, online meetings, and screen sharing, is offering free accounts during the COVID-19 pandemic. Contact K12itc to set up your district account.
Again, please know that we are here for you as a technology resource, whether you are a current k12itc customer or not. If you would like to discuss WebEx or any technology topics at all, please reach out to Allen Barton, Allen.Barton@menloinc.com at your convenience. We are here to help you!
Reminder: Political Agenda Submissions due May 29
ASBA board members, superintendents, and superintendent secretaries should have all received the political agenda submission packet via email last week. All submissions for the 2021 political agenda are due by Friday, May 29. Please reach out if you have any questions by emailing Leigh Jensen, Governmental Relations Associate at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Help celebrate educators and 2020 graduates in May
Participate in Statewide Days of Celebration!
While schools, colleges, individuals and families will undoubtedly find innovative ways to celebrate, we think it’s important to show educators and graduates that all of Arizona recognizes their efforts and accomplishments.
Tuesday, May 5, 2020 – Arizona Teacher Appreciation Day
Wednesday, May 20, 2020 – Arizona Graduate Recognition Day
View the full list Expect More Arizona has provided to recognize educators and 2020 graduates!
Results for Teacher and Administrator Salary and Benefits Survey released April 24
The ASBA FY2020 Teacher and Administrator Salary and Benefits Survey will be released to members on Friday, April 24. All member districts will receive the summary report via email. Districts that completed the survey also will receive the complete data set in an Excel spreadsheet. These districts also have access to responses to questions about maximum allowable life-of-employment accrual and payout at end of employment of paid time off and sick leave. All 223 Arizona school district members of the Arizona School Boards Association had the opportunity to complete the survey between March 9, 2020, and April 10, 2020.
The survey response rate was 46.6 percent. The completers, when viewed as a whole, are representative of Arizona school districts. The proportion of completers by district type, county, enrollment and geographic location is comparable to completers of the annual ASBA Superintendent Salary and Benefits Survey, which was released to members in February 2020.