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AASA News of the Nation

Hot TopicsLeadership Matters
Superintendents in the NewsAASA News

  Hot Topics 



Schools Lack Alarms to Warn of Deadly Carbon Monoxide
USA Today, Dec. 5
McLEAN, Va. — Carbon monoxide, ‘the silent killer,’ is a colorless, odorless and tasteless toxic gas. But most schools — like the Atlanta elementary school where at least 49 people were treated recently for carbon monoxide poisoning — are not equipped with alarms to detect the deadly gas. At least 3,000 students have been evacuated from schools in 19 such incidents since 2007, according to USA Today, but only Connecticut and Maryland require CO alarms in schools. The newspaper’s analysis of news media accounts shows at least 244 children and staff this year and last were hospitalized or treated for CO poisoning. ‘The safest solution is CO monitoring in every classroom or, minimally in the hallways and pool areas,’ says Lindell Weaver, a University of Utah professor of medicine.

The State of College Success

Today’s U.S. college completion rate exceeds 75% for full-time students, according to the new Signature Report from the National Student Clearinghouse. Get the facts and join other educators in the Twitter conversation at #futureofhighered. Follow the latest news and discussion on Twitter.

Fiscal Cliff: How Would Federal Spending Cuts Affect Your District?
Education Week, Dec. 4
BETHESDA, Md. — A new analysis by the AASA finds that a threatened ‘over-the-cliff’ slash in federal spending set for January would hammer some U.S. school districts harder than others. Federal spending on K-12 makes up a relatively small share of the budget in most districts, with Uncle Sam picking up the tab for an average of 10 percent of the cost. But in some districts, says AASA, the percentage of federal funding is higher. Federal money accounts for over 15 percent of the budget in more than half of the school districts in 15 states — Alaska, Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Mississippi, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Carolina and West Virginia. AASA: ‘Where federal revenues represent larger portions of overall operating budgets, the cuts of sequestration will be deeper and more damaging.’

A Warning Ed Policymakers Should Heed
Washington Post, Dec. 4
WASHINGTON, Dec. 4 — Carol Burris, the award-winning principal of South Side High School in Rockville Centre (NY), is praising a proposal by Tulane University’s Douglas Harris on how to fairly use ‘value added models’ for teacher assessment. Burris says in a Washington Post blog that she has spoken out against VAMs with other New York school officials, and ‘it was therefore with unmitigated ‘hooray he gets it’ joy that I read Doug Harris’ thoughtful piece about how to create a valid process for using teacher value-added measures.’ Harris said the requirement to lump value added or other growth models estimates concretely with other measures into teacher evaluations is a mistake. Conclusion: Student achievement is a useful measure, but final results of VAMs must be judged by individual supervisors who know teachers in context.

Indiana State GOP Senator, Pushes Creationism In Schools Via 'Truth In Education' Bill
Huffington Post, Dec. 5
NEW YORK — Indiana State Sen. Dennis Kruse, R-Auburn, says he will renew his push to teach creationism in that state’s public schools. He told Indiana Public Media he will introduce legislation in 2013 for ‘truth in education’ to spark discussion of theories from evolution to creationism. It will allow students to question teachers and bring new perspectives to the discussion, Kruse said. ‘The teacher would not be barred from saying ‘Let's look at both sides of the evidence and you guys can basically make a judgment,’ rather than just accepting passively or memorizing by rote these facts and stating back these arguments on a test … ,’ Josh Youngkin, an official of the Seattle-based group Discovery Center, told the AP. The group is helping draw up the legislation. Creationism legislation has been on the rise nationally in the last year.

Teens report lower rates of heavy drinking.
Alcohol use, including binge drinking, continues its long-term decline among teens, reaching historically low levels in 2011 in all grades surveyed (8th, 10th and 12th grades). This statistic fell to 22% in 2011 — a decline of nearly one half since 1981. Read more.

   Leadership Matters 


Blow Dealt to School Voucher Program
Wall Street Journal, Nov. 30
NEW YORK — A Louisiana judge has ruled that the state’s school-voucher program violates the Louisiana Constitution, dealing a blow to one of the nation's broadest efforts to let students go to private schools at taxpayer expense. State court Judge Tim Kelley, a Republican, said the program illegally diverts tax money intended for public schools to private and religious schools. The voucher program, championed by GOP Gov. Bobby Jindal, was funded by a block-grant plan which the judge said is restricted to funding only public schools. The state can legally fund vouchers, wrote Kelley, but the money ‘must come from some other portion of the general budget.’ Two teachers unions and dozens of school boards sued the state to block the program. The decision comes as voucher programs have gained ground nationally. But a similar program in Indiana also faces a legal challenge.

Are E-Schools an Innovative Option or an Education Bust?
Cincinnati Enquirer, Dec. 2
CINCINNATI, Ohio — E-schools in Ohio are under fire for lackluster academic performance. But enrollment for learning at home via computer is growing and the state has lifted the cap on the number of e-schools allowed to open, raising new accountability and other questions. By last year, 26 Ohio e-schools had enrolled nearly 35,000 students — more than are enrolled in the Cincinnati Public Schools district and more online students than any other state except Arizona. The debate isn’t isolated to Ohio. In October, Reuters reports that Maine, New Jersey and North Carolina are refusing to let new e-schools open over concern about academics, turnover and funding models. But some states are moving to embrace them. Read about the Hingsbergen family at

21 States’ Pension Systems Not Fiscally Sound
Governing, Nov. 29
WASHINGTON — A new investment study reports that an alarming number of state pension funds face a steep uphill climb to fully fund their plans after suffering a significant blow in the recent recession. The prominent investment research firm Morningstar said that 21 states’ aggregate funded ratios fell below 70 percent, which the firm considers the threshold for ‘fiscally sound’ systems. Illinois (43.4 percent), Kentucky (50.5 percent) and Connecticut (53.4 percent) registered the lowest funding levels of all examined. While declines have slowed in recent years, the figures dating back to 2007 still signal a downward slope for most systems’ funding levels. Illinois, said one Morningstar official, has ‘been chronically stressed with poor management decisions.’

Arapahoe School Shifts from Lowest Scores to Steepest Gains
Casper Star-Tribune, Dec. 8
CASPER, Wyo. — Arapahoe School in Fremont County has made dramatic assessment gains and met federal requirements in yearly progress for the first time, says the Wyoming Department of Education. The K-8 school previously had some of this state’s lowest scores. Jonathan Braack became Fremont superintendent last year. ‘I have never seen these gains in a single year for a school in Wyoming,’ said Kevin Lewis, head of research and special initiatives for the education department. The school is in the middle of a three-year, $1.2 million grant used to fund positions like a math coach and curriculum materials. District officials cite more consistent teaching strategies, family involvement, a new math program and better handling of behavior issues among reasons for the jump. The majority of Arapahoe students live in poverty, said Braack. Noting that people often cite poverty for students not achieving, he added, ‘they’re sure not showing that right now.’

   Superintendents in the News 


Des Moines School Board Balks at $300,000 Salary for Superintendent
Shreveport Times, Dec. 7
DES MOINES, Iowa — The Des Moines school board has backed away from a proposal to offer a $300,000 annual salary in its search for a new school superintendent. A day after a majority of members indicated they supported the higher figure, two changed their minds, and a range of $250,000 to $275,000 was agreed on. Opponents of the high figure said documents indicated that $300,000 would place the compensation in Des Moines above salary averages in other urban and capital city schools. The average projected 2013-14 superintendent salary is $264,944, according to an analysis of 15 comparable districts including Atlanta, Milwaukee and Washington, D.C. The board wants to have a new superintendent in place by July to succeed former Superintendent Nancy Sebring, who made $206,000 in the 2011-12 school year. She also received a $34,000 annuity and $6,000 car allowance.

OPS Names 3 Superintendent Finalists
Omaha World-Herald, Dec. 8
OMAHA, Neb. — Three applicants have been named finalists in the search for a new superintendent of Omaha Public Schools. They are Superintendent Stephen Murley of Iowa City, Iowa, Community Schools; Carey Wright, chief academic officer for District of Columbia Public Schools; and Superintendent Mark Evans of Andover Public Schools in suburban Wichita, Kan. The school board is seeking a successor to former Superintendent John Mackiel, who retired in August after 15 years in the top spot. Last spring, the board hired former Des Moines (IA) Superintendent Nancy Sebring, who later resigned after sexually explicit emails sent to and from her work account became public. The position drew 68 applicants this time around. The three finalists were good news to Omaha community leaders and business executives who sought an outside leader for OPS.

Survey Finds High Superintendent Turnover in Large California Districts
EdSource, Dec. 7
OAKLAND, Calif. — Between 2006 and 2009, 71 percent of superintendents in California’s largest school districts and 45 percent of all superintendents in the state left their jobs, according to a new survey of randomly selected districts. Fact: During a period of deepening money woes, many of California’s big districts faced leadership instability. The results are ‘pretty stark,’ said Jason Grissom, an assistant professor of public policy and education at Vanderbilt University. ‘Superintendents are hired to be fired,’ added Santiago Wood, who was a superintendent in four California districts during 32 years as an educator and administrator, which began in 1973 as an Oakland teacher. The honeymoon with a school board lasts from 12 to 18 months, he said, before ‘political interests and dysfunction show up.’

Arlington Signs New School Superintendent
Star-Telegram, Dec. 6
ARLINGTON, Tex. — Marcelo Cavazos, who has worked in this city’s school district since 1999, is now the superintendent with a three-year contract at $250,000 a year. Cavazos dropped the ‘interim’ from in front of his title when he signed the contract, which also provides for bonus increases, $1,000 a month in discretionary expenses, $800 monthly for transportation and technology, and premiums on his life, health and disability insurance. ‘I have the same mission as our other 8,000 employees: to be of service to our students,’ Cavazos said. He has been a lecturer in the University of Texas at Arlington's department of educational leadership and policy studies, and owns bachelor's and master's degrees from the UT-Pan American and a doctorate from the University of Texas at Austin.

  AASA News 

Urgent Need Mini-Grant Program: The Deadline has been extended
New Deadline: January 18, 2013
Disadvantaged students from every size school district continue to struggle against the odds. Their lives are shaped, as never before, by crushing social and economic hardships. School system leaders have no more control over these forces than children do. Developing a mini-grant program was seen as an opportunity by AASA to help superintendents address some of these needs born of hardship where no other resources appear available. AASA created the Urgent Need Mini-Grant program to help public school districts meet the urgent health, mental health, education and social service needs that impact children and their families. AASA strongly encourages those districts serving children affected by Hurricane Sandy to apply to the Urgent Need Mini-Grant Program. Please follow this link to download an application:
Call to Action: Use Local Data To Compel YOUR Congressmembers to Action
AASA's latest Economic Impact report (see story below) documents the unequal role of federal revenues in district operating budgets across the country. That means some districts — namely those that are poorer or serve higher concentrations of students in poverty, American Indian students or students from military families — will feel a much deeper cut. In conjunction with the latest report, AASA is pleased to release its Fiscal Cliff toolkit, which includes everything you need to calculate the impact of the sequester on your district and to communicate it to local media, your community and your Congressional delegation. AASA Fiscal Cliff Toolkit
New for 2013: Shirley Cooper and Walter Taylor Awards
The CAE has integrated the American Association of School Administrators (AASA) Shirley Cooper and Walter Taylor Awards into the CAE submission and jury process. Since 1949, AASA has given these two awards in recognition of the two projects judged most outstanding for educational environments. The Shirley Cooper Award is presented to the project that best meets the educational needs of its students. The Walter Taylor Award is presented to the project that best meets a difficult design challenge. If applicable, two CAE Design Award winners will be identified for these specific recognitions. This awards program is an opportunity to engage in critical evaluation and experimentation, not as an end in itself, but always in the context of our clients and their needs. Read more at
Your District and the Sequester
AASA today released a new report, detailing LOCAL, STATE and FEDERAL education revenues for every school district in the nation and exploring the dire impact for schools as the nation braces for the looming financial cliff and cuts of sequestration. Read the report.
Webinar: Asthma-Friendly Schools: Supporting healthier learning environments for students with asthma
There are 7.1 million children living with asthma in the United States. This means that in a classroom of 11 children, at least one child is likely to have asthma. When a student has poorly controlled asthma, it has a tremendous impact on their classroom attendance and can ultimately affect academic success. Please join the American Association of Schools Administrators and the American Lung Association for an informative and interactive webinar on creating asthma-friendly schools, Tuesday, Dec. 11, at 3 p.m ET. Read more.
School Administrator
In School Administrator’s December issue, AASA Executive Director Dan Domenech offers his take on a the economic realities of implementing the Common Core facing districts hard-hit by the recession. In President’s Corner, AASA President Benny Gooden encourages educators to stay out of irreconcilable Common Core debates and focus on the task at hand. In Legal Brief, attorney Wayne Young examines the difference between fitness and guilt when teacher misconduct turns up, while Scott McLeod calls out employee social media policies as superfluous. The Profile subject is AASA President-Elect Amy Sichel of Abington, Pa. The magazine is available online at The print edition will be delivered to AASA members in mid-December. Non-members must join AASA to receive the magazine starting in January.
Seven School Districts Receive Mini-Grants for Kids
Daniel Domenech, executive director of the American Association of School Administrators, announced the winners of the new Mini-Grants for Kids program co-sponsored by AASA and National Joint Powers Alliance (NJPA). The winning school districts were chosen, one from each of the seven AASA regions across the country, by a committee of AASA and NJPA representatives. The purpose of the cash grant is to provide schools with funds to meet immediate student needs not covered by other revenue streams. This year, grant requests ranged from boots, coats and non-perishable sundries to dental care and even temporary housing stipends. This is the first year the grants have been awarded. Read press release here.
NCE 2013: Plan to celebrate at the Opening Welcome Reception
Thursday, Feb. 21, 2013, 5:30-6:30 p.m.
Join your colleagues as we celebrate the opening of the 2013 National Conference on Education. Register now.


The latest in AASA's Courageous Leadership Conversation video series features an insightful conversation with Dr. Patricia Neudecker, Superintendent of Oconomowoc Area School District in Wisconsin and Past President of AASA. The conversation highlights the growing need to increase college-access and success for all students and the role of the school system leader in building a college-going culture in the schools and in the community. Watch Video [3:05].

Coming 2012 Events

February 21-23, 2013 - AASA National Conference on Education

Please forward this email to a colleague who may benefit from best practices and lessons learned at these events.

NEW: Beaufort County School Shares Its Success Story
In 2007, Beaufort County had 4 schools labeled Unsatisfactory and no schools labeled Excellent. In 2012, the state report cards indicated no Unsatisfactory rated schools and 8 Excellent schools. Learn what they did to turn their school around.

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