Ready for the next 150 Years

t’s been a little over a week since the conclusion of our National Conference on Education in San Diego. Based on positive news clips that keep coming in plus conversations about the conference through social media among our members, I’m pleased to see there is no sign of a let up in the positive momentum generated by AASA’s 150th anniversary celebration.

My time spent with superintendents during our meeting gave me perspective which supports our work as the premier organization for public school system leaders—enough to make our founding fathers proud.

For generations, AASA has been bringing together some of the sharpest minds in education at our conferences. And today, we’re working harder than ever on behalf of our superintendents in an effort to help them thrive on the job—and create enriching and robust programs that will lead to cutting-edge learning opportunities for the students they serve.

During our opening general session, it was an honor to congratulate Philip Lanoue, superintendent of Georgia’s Clarke County Schools, who was named AASA’s 2015 National Superintendent of the Year. It was equally gratifying to congratulate all of our State Superintendents of the Year. I look forward to our Superintendent of the Year Forum. This fall, these stellar educators will join us in Washington, D.C., to discuss the most critical issues in public education.

We were proud to present my friend, former U.S. Education Secretary Richard Riley, with our Champion for Children and Public Education Award. Throughout his illustrious career, Secretary Riley has demonstrated distinguished leadership, a passion for excellence in education and a commitment to our young people. I consider him to be one of public education’s best friends.

During our conference, we announced the launch of our Urban Superintendents Academy, a cross-institutional partnership with Howard University that will offer a dynamic new approach to urban superintendent preparation and certification. The uniqueness of this new program is that it will offer opportunities for educational leaders to become involved in a network of support, mentoring, and professional development related to the challenges and opportunities facing the 21st century urban leader. We thank Leslie Fenwick, Dean of Howard University’s School of Education, for her vision and support of this partnership.

We also recognized the first cohort of superintendents who graduated from our National Superintendent Certification program. Throughout our conference, we heard firsthand the tremendous enthusiasm that these individuals shared about taking this big step forward in their careers.

As I was sitting at the San Diego airport waiting for my flight home, two thoughts came to mind. First, San Diego was a beautiful place to celebrate such a significant organization milestone. Second, when we convene America’s superintendents and school leaders to address common challenges to strengthen public education, we help empower children across the country—and uphold our promise of a brighter future through a world-class education for all. Through a variety of programs administered by AASA and our partners, we are doing just that.

I commend the superintendents, other administrators and exhibitors who joined us in San Diego for the 2015 National Conference on Education and the celebration of our 150th anniversary. I can’t wait for our 2016 national conference. See you in Phoenix!

For more information about the AASA’s 2015 National Conference on Education, visit Conference Daily Online.

Community Eligibility: Highlights and Important Dates

Students poised for academic success fuel their minds and bodies with nutritious meals every day, not just on test days. The Community Eligibility Provision, created by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 and now available nationwide, enables high-poverty schools to offer all of their students a free and nutritious breakfast and lunch each school day. If you haven’t already, now is the time to see if your school district could benefit from this opportunity in the 2015-2016 school year.

More than 14,000 schools enrolling more than 6.5 million students are already seeing the educational and health benefits of community eligibility. Schools that implement community eligibility see an increase in participation in both breakfast and lunch, which means that more children have the energy they need to learn throughout the day, not to mention the increase in revenue from increased participation!

Community eligibility also benefits schools by reducing administrative burdens. School meal applications are not collected, which reduces administrative costs and frees up staff time. While school meal applications are used for other programs like Title I, state departments of education have released guidance for alternatives for calculating the poverty level so that Title I funds can still be distributed to schools. If you have concerns about this, check with your state department of education.

Additionally, increased meal participation allows schools to take advantage of economies of scale resulting in lower cost per meal. Offering meals free to all students also means that schools don’t have to try to collect unpaid fees or cover the cost of meals when families struggle to pay.

AASA is here to help. Our Children’s Programs team can connect you with other districts that have been successful in the implementation of CEP.

Keep these dates in mind:

  • Today: Start a conversation with your business official and food service director about whether or not community eligibility is the right choice for your district. For more information on the provision, check out the Food Research and Action Center’s Community Eligibility Resource Use the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities’ Community Eligibility Database to learn which schools and districts in your state implemented community eligibility during the 2014-15 school year. Use this model presentation to inform others.
  •  May 1, 2015: Each state agency will publish a list of schools and school districts that qualify for community eligibility. Review the list to see which local schools qualify.
  •    August 31, 2015: To implement the provision for school year 2015-2016, make sure your school district submits an application no later than August 31, 2015.