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Technology + Leadership + Collaboration It is no longer sufficient for only the Technology Director to be in the know. With the Next Generation of Teacher Evaluations coming down the line and 1:1 becoming more accessible through new devices such as Chromebooks — Every level of school district leadership needs to be in on the technology conversation.

Plan Now For Your Leadership Team to Attend TechCon: A Day Conference Devoted to School District Technology

October 18, 2013

Learn more about this year’s Conference

2 |ASBO Update| Magazine / Summer 2013 Illinois 108 Carroll Ave. | DeKalb, IL 60115 | 815.753.1276



Illinois Association of School Business Officials Update Magazine / Summer 2013 / v.20 / i.04








OPTIONS? Analyzing Delivery Methods

THE NEXT ISSUE: FACILITIES Long-range planning for sustainable facilities

Reach Your Potential: Achieving Excellence Through Goal Setting Excellence is contingent on having meaningful personal and professional goals. So how do we go about setting goals that allow us to perform our best? Cover Story by Craig A. Schilling

Surviving Leadership Change Changes in leadership and work environment are things that we will all deal with at some point. Stay ready for change so that your new leader can quickly adapt. By John A. Gibson


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FROM-THE-PODIUM Finding Ways to Enjoy the Journey: Living a happy, healthy life is essential to our success. 07

FROM-THE-OFFICE Leadership in Troubling Times: Promoting the value of school business leaders. 09

FROM-THE-FIELD A Vital Many and Trivial Few: Explore how you can shape the future of Illinois ASBO. 11

Professional AND Personal: Work-Life Balance for You and Your Staff Creating work-life balance for all staff is critical to ensure that all students are being served. By Dale E. Mitchell

PATH-TO-SUCCESS Are You Ready to Get Naked? Remove the "layers" to examine your personal leadership style. 14

16 Measuring Wellness

Does your district have a wellness program? Understanding key elements and how you will measure ROI can help you better answer this question. By Brian Hutchens and Ali Payne


SCHOOL BUSINESS 101 Promoting Wellness Within the District: Getting support and getting a response. 15

Workplace Wellness (On a Budget!)

Through the support of the District Superintendent, a $500 budget and the help of key staff, Glen Ellyn District 41 was able to grow a wellness program that boasts their highest ever level of participation. By Laurie Campbell


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Update Magazine / Summer 2013




Consumed with ZOOM

The pressure to be “connected” at all times via our laptops and cell phones can affect our mental, social and physical health. To be the best leader we can be, all these facets need to be healthy and in balance. By David H. Hill and Bradley L. Shortridge


The world is a better place because of technology… as long we control it and it doesn’t control us. By Jim Burgett


An opportunity and challenge: Learning to build trust in your personal and professional life has a far-reaching impact.

43 THE FINAL WORD Great Ideas from Great Illinois ASBO Members Lauri G. Calabrese Asst. Supt./Finance LaGrange Elem. SD 102 Like many business managers, Lauri’s career began in corporate America. Moving from that environment into a school district environment was a culture shock, but a good one, both personally and professionally.

Reach Your Potential: Break free from your devices, find balance and make the most of your resources.



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ASBO International’s 2013 Annual Meeting & Expo Boston  October 25 - 28

Go for the networking experience

Connect & Collaborate

“One thing I value most [about the AM&E] is the interaction with professionals from around the world. It is always nice to hear someone express interest or even frustration about an issue I felt was something only I was experiencing. I look forward to this conference each year with great expectations.” Dolores Cramer, Marysville, Ohio

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Register Now! Update Magazine / Summer 2013

PERSPECTIVE / Board President

FROM–THE–PODIUM Finding Ways to Enjoy The Journey A Zen master visiting Chicago goes up to a hot dog vendor and says, “Make me one with everything.” The vendor fixes a hot dog and hands it to the Zen master, who pays with a $20 bill. The hot dog vendor then puts the bill in the cash box and closes it. “Excuse me, but where’s my change?” asks the Zen master. The vendor responds, “Change must come from within.” This edition of UPDATE stresses the importance of introspection and provides steps we can take today to ensure we “enjoy the journey” as we move through our stress-riddled careers as school finance professionals. My favorite personal defense against work stress is to try to find the humor in almost every difficult circumstance. Henry Ward Beecher once said, “A person without a sense of humor is like a wagon without springs. It’s jolted by every pebble on the road.” I agree with this sage advice and believe a good laugh several times a day helps relieve the tremendous negative emotional energy that builds up in tense situations.



Having a healthy, happy and well-rounded life is essential to the long-term success that we all seek to achieve. My most stressful work experience came when our teachers were on strike in 2002. Our entire administrative team felt helpless as we searched for creative ways to bring the teachers back in, yet also stay within our revenue stream. The situation progressed to federal mediation with several all-night bargaining sessions. During one of those late nights, the band boosters set up a small symphony near the windows that played loud enough for the negotiating teams to hear them. I couldn’t help but make reference to how this situation, as bad as it was, was still not quite as serious as the sinking of the Titanic. I think that tiny bit of “comic relief” helped both teams start to drop their defenses and find a workable compromise.

Humor can help diffuse tense moments, but it cannot supplant the main pillars of a happy and well-rounded life. Those aspects only come from having positive core values that we recognize and nurture every day. Maintaining positive connections with family and others around us helps us remain empathetic and more sensitive to our co-workers and, accordingly, to be better business managers. When our personal and work lives are in proper balance, we perform better in all phases of our lives. Having a healthy, happy and well-rounded life is essential to the long-term success that we all seek to achieve. So, fellow “grasshoppers,” I hope you enjoy this great edition of UPDATE and that it helps you on your own personal journey.

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Introducing the VALUE OF THE PROFESSION Series

You understand the value of what you do and the importance of your ongoing professional development. Illinois ASBO wants to help you spread the word! We now offer practical resources to help you communicate your value as a school business official and help other stakeholders tap into what you have to offer. Learn more about this campaign and order copies of the latest Value of the Profession documents at:

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ILLINOIS ASSOCIATION OF SCHOOL BUSINESS OFFICIALS 108 Carroll Avenue | DeKalb, Illinois 60115 | 815.753.1276 |

Update Magazine / Summer 2013

PERSPECTIVE / Executive Director

FROM–THE–OFFICE Leadership in Troubling Times – What Your Association is Doing to Promote the Value of School Business Leaders For the past several years Illinois ASBO has been dialoguing with members regarding the status of the profession of school business management. This conversation started in response to two emerging conditions. First, with resources from all sources on a downward slope in nearly every school district, the Michael A. Jacoby EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR need for highly skilled business professionals has increased. The counterintuitive reduction ILLINOIS ASBO of school business staff has been a regrettable response in some school districts. Second, the pressure to make budgets balance with fewer dollars and higher expectations means that school leaders often face extreme public scrutiny over their recommendations. Many of our members likened their current employment to a “battleground” with attacks becoming a regular part of public board meetings. These two conditions have caused many school districts to become highly politicized environments where “shooting the messenger” is all too common. In response, Illinois ASBO has engaged in a campaign to support both the profession and its members who are in the trenches taking political fire every day. We call it, “The Value of the Profession Series.” We began this spring by reaching out to two critical audiences. The first was legislators. The number of new legislators was unprecedented as we started the 2013 session. We felt many of them would need to be exposed to Illinois ASBO and more importantly, school business professionals in their legislative districts. They received: • A copy of our Spring 2013 UPDATE, which focused on legislation and policy. • A flyer introducing them to the profession of school business management including what a School Business Official (SBO) is, typical resume, titles and the ROI they often bring to the table. • Information about our Regional Organizations that meet monthly throughout the state. The second campaign push was designed specifically for superintendents and boards of education to establish that a school business professional can make a huge impact on the district’s bottom line. Through operational and contractual efficiencies, an SBO returns a savings that in most cases exceeds their salary. In fact, when we surveyed members on the financial impact they had last year, the average savings reported exceeded $380,000!

This packet of materials also included important information about how to recruit, select and support an SBO. Job descriptions and interview questions were included to assist superintendents in taking the next steps. As transitions from district to district are common, these materials will provide assistance in the hiring process whether or not they currently have an SBO on their cabinet. We are aware that most suburban districts employ an SBO under varying titles. But there are likely 300 districts in central and southern Illinois that have yet to take that step. Many of these may be small and their superintendents are saddled with managing the full array of curricular/ instructional areas, as well as HR, finance and operations. In my letter I stressed that while it may seem counterintuitive to hire in a time of budget stress – most districts can’t afford not to bring the expertise of an SBO onto their leadership team. We believe that one role of a professional association is to promote that profession to those who need to know its value. We will likely continue this effort for several years, as the landscape looks like it will continue to be challenging for at least a few more budget cycles. We are always open to additional ideas on how to support our members – don’t be shy in making suggestions to us as we walk through these troubled times together!

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Check out or the latest Calendar of Events included in the UPDATE mailing for full seminar listings including location and PDC sponsorship and register for professional development today.

MAGA ZINE Illinois Association of School Business Officials Northern Illinois University, IA-103 108 Carroll Avenue DeKalb, IL 60115-2829 P: 815.753.1276 / F: 815.516.0184 /

Update Editorial Advisory Board PDC COORDINATOR MEMBERS Richard A. Lesniak, Ancillary Services Kristopher P. Monn, Educational Enterprise Grant L. Sabo, Facility Management

June 2013

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8:30 AM

School District Auditing


8:30 AM

School District Auditing - Webcast Available

8:00 AM

Learning to Lead by Applying the Five Levels of Leadership - AAC #1360

Downers Grove Downers Grove


Fairview Heights Springfield

8:30 AM

School District Auditing - Webcast Available


8:30 AM

School District Auditing

East Peoria


8:00 AM

The Value of Lasting Leadership - AAC #806

Carbondale Area


8:00 AM

Learning to Lead by Applying the Five Levels of Leadership - AAC #1360



9:00 AM Professional Development Committees Meeting

Location TBD


8:30 AM

Leadership Series: Factors That Influence Effective Teams

8:30 AM

ISDLAF+ School Finance Seminar: School Finance and Business Operations


8:30 AM

ISDLAF+ School Finance Seminar: School Finance and Business Operations

East Peoria


8:30 AM

ISDLAF+ School Finance Seminar: School Finance and Business Operations


8:30 AM

Advanced Excel for the Business Office



7:30 AM

Joint Educational Support Professionals Conference



8:00 AM

Delegate Advisory Assembly Meeting



7:30 AM

TechCon: 7th Annual Technology and Financial Issues for the 21st Century Conference



8:00 AM

6th Annual Midwest Facility Masters Conference


7:30 AM

Educational Professionals Support Conference


Ann C. Williams, Human Resource Management Robert J. Ciserella, Information Management Paul A. O'Malley, Sustainability

BOARD & EXTERNAL RELATIONS MEMBERS Mark E. Staehlin, President Aimee L. Briles, SAAC Chair

AT-LARGE MEMBERS Sandra Kwasa, Illinois Association of School Boards Phyllis A. Hanna, Glen Ellyn SD 41 John A. Gibson, Homewood SD 153

STAFF MEMBERS Michael Jacoby, Executive Director

815.753.9366, Susan P. Bertrand, Assistant Executive Director



Cathy L. Johnson, Financial Resource Management

815.753.9368, Angie Byers, Communications Coordinator 815.753.9371, Rebekah L. Weidner, Staff Writer/Editor 815.753.9270, Brett M. Olson, Designer 815.753.7654, Tammy A. Curry, Designer 815.753.9393,

Illinois ASBO Board of Directors Mark E. Staehlin, President Hillarie J. Siena, President-Elect Nelson W. Gray, Treasurer

Downers Grove

Richard A. Lesniak, Immediate Past President 2010–13 Board of Directors

Susan L. Harkin, Beth L. Millard, Curtis J. Saindon 2011–14 Board of Directors

David Bein, Jennifer J. Hermes, Glayn C. Worrell 2012–15 Board of Directors


David H. Hill, Luann T. Kolstad, Ann C. Williams

Illinois ASBO Board Liaisons Aimee L. Briles, Service Associate

Advisory Committee Chair Kurt Hintz, Service Associate Advisory Committee Vice Chair Terrie S. Simmons, ASBO International Liaison Debby I. Vespa, ISBE Board Liaison Laurel DiPrima, IASB Board Liaison

Privacy Policy

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Update Magazine / Summer 2013

Baraboo, WI Naperville

All materials contained within this publication are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, displayed or published without the prior written permission of the Illinois Association of School Business Officials. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content. References, authorship or information provided by parties other than that which is owned by the Illinois Association of School Business Officials are offered as a service to readers. The editorial staff of the Illinois Association of School Business Officials was not involved in their production and is not responsible for their content.


FROM–THE–FIELD A Vital Many and Trivial Few Most of us are familiar with “Pareto’s Principal,” more commonly known as the “80/20 rule.” The theory states that 20 percent of a group of people are responsible for 80 percent of the results: that the members of any organization encompass “vital few and trivial many.” Although I have witnessed the validation of this theory repeatedly during my life, I believe that Illinois ASBO proves exception to that rule. Attending my 11th Annual Conference last month, which challenged Illinois ASBO members with the question “What Are You Shaping?” I once again witnessed the overwhelming display of leadership that comes from within our membership. The Conference featured over 60 breakout sessions with close to 100 different speakers. After seeing those numbers, it goes without saying that Illinois ASBO is dedicated to shaping the education of our members through the leadership of many.



I encourage each of you to explore how your talents can best be used to shape the future of the Association. Although the Annual Conference showcases the most concentrated display of participation during the year, the leadership opportunities span far beyond the three days we gather together each spring. For anyone who sat in the packed ballroom at the Thursday morning PDC meeting, it is clear that many Illinois ASBO members are already part of one of the nineteen committees. For those members not yet active on a PDC, developing and participating in seminars throughout the year is an excellent way to provide leadership and give back to the Association. Share your individual knowledge and expertise through workshops and help other members stay current on issues affecting the school business profession.

UPDATE, actively participate in discussions on peer2peer or think about participating in the annual Legacy Project. Contemplate whether it is your time to step forward and apply for participation in the annual Leadership Institute or the SAAC or volunteer to mentor new members or first-time Conference attendees. As I complete my tenure as SAAC Chairperson, I want to take this opportunity to thank the Illinois ASBO Service Associate members for allowing me to represent your voice within the Association. It has been a truly rewarding experience and I am proud to be a part of an Association that proves over and over again that we have vital many and trivial few.

The leadership opportunities within the Association span far beyond PDC participation. I encourage each of you to explore how your talents can best be used to shape the future of the Association. Consider writing an article for

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Jim Burgett

Laurie Campbell

John A. Gibson

President The Burgett Group

Dir./Human Resources Glen Ellyn SD 41

Business Manager Homewood SD 153

Twice named Administrator of the Year in Illinois, Jim has served as superintendent, principal, teacher and was named Teacher of the Year. He is an author, professional development provider and passionate educator.

Has served as the Director of Human Resources since 2006. Prior to that, Laurie has worked as an elementary principal, middle school assistant principal, curriculum coordinator, classroom teacher and special education aide.

A former manufacturing accounting manager, John has now been a CSBO for 13 years and is a past Illinois ASBO Director. He completed his Doctorate in Educational Administration evaluating the relationship between white flight and funding for K-12 education.

David H. Hill

Brian Hutchens

Dale E. Mitchell

Asst. Supt. /Business Services Comm. Cons. Sch. Dist. 93

Account Executive Gallagher Benefit Services, Inc.

Superintendent Homewood SD 153

Earned his CSBO endorsement from NIU, Doctorate in Educational Leadership and Organizational Change and Master of Arts in Secondary Education from Roosevelt University. Dave currently sits on the Board of Directors for Illinois ASBO.

Responsible for client development within Gallagher’s Education Practice, Brian currently serves on the Budgeting and Finance PDC through Illinois ASBO and has presented on topics ranging from employee benefit trends to Healthcare Reform.

A graduate from Illinois State University in 1988, Dale has been in public education for 25 years. A former teacher and coach, he has served Homewood for 18 years as an assistant principal, principal and business manager with 10 years as Superintendent.

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Update Magazine / Summer 2013

Ali Payne

Beth A. Reich

Craig A. Schilling

Regional Wellness Practice Leader Gallagher Benefit Services, Inc.

Business Manager Grant CHSD 124

Associate Professor Concordia University Chicago

Responsible for developing, implementing, measuring and expanding wellness for clients, Ali holds a Master’s degree in Health Promotion and HR Management. Has been heavily involved with districts in the Midwest for the past 10 years.

Prior to her current position, Beth worked in the business office for 12 years in various roles. She holds a Bachelor’s in Education from University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and a Master’s Degree in School Business Management from NIU.

Teaches graduate level classes focusing on school finance, human resources, school law and the principles of school business management. Craig’s areas of expertise are school finance, law and human resources.

Would you like to be an UPDATE Contributor? Contributions to the UPDATE Magazine are solicited periodically to enhance the content of the Magazine. If you have an issue that you feel needs to be brought to the forefront, present your article ideas to Angie Byers at:

Bradley L. Shortridge Asst. Supt. /Finance & Op. Genoa-Kingston CUSD 424

Earned his CSBO endorsement and Ed.S from NIU and a Master’s in Educational Administration from Michigan State. Brad has 14 years experience teaching and coaching and nine years in administrative roles including athletic director and assistant principal.

Keep in mind that issues are themed so your contribution may not appear for some time, or we may choose to distribute it in some other format. The issue themes that we will be soliciting articles for next year include: • Facilities • Accounting • Human Resources • School District Operations We look forward to seeing new faces on this page as we continue to make the UPDATE an indispensable resource for school business management.

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PATH TO SUCCESS / Leadership Institute


ARE YOU READY TO GET NAKED? Not literally of course, but by removing layers of who you have become to carefully examine and build up your leadership style. This is what the Leadership Institute is about. My personal experience with the Leadership Institute gave me the management pieces that were lacking in my Master’s coursework; giving me the skills to lead a school district by communicating with and developing the employees around me. I graduated from the Northern Illinois University Master’s program in School Business Management in the summer of 2010, but felt something was missing. I was working in a support role in a business office, not sure I was ready to apply for the top job, when my mentors recommended the Leadership Institute. I applied, was accepted and am forever grateful.

If you recognize that your management and communication skills need brushing up or development, then “bare” yourself to personal reflection and analysis by applying for the Leadership Institute today! The Leadership Institute requires a time commitment of one weekend retreat and then two follow-up full/half day sessions, along with homework here and there. Before I arrived at the retreat, I had to ask for feedback from my co-workers, as well as complete a self-assessment survey. When I arrived at the retreat on Thursday evening, it began with a social gathering. This allowed me to build trust in the group I was going to be sharing a lot of information with on an individual, small group and large group basis. The next morning, I reported for class.

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Update Magazine Magazine // Summer Summer2013 2013

It’s during this time that I learned about the Leadership Practices Inventory (LPI), which determined my current abilities in the five leadership practices: Model, Inspire, Challenge, Enable and Encourage. Over the weekend, I also learned about Life Orientations Training, or LIFO for short. LIFO identifies your behavioral style and how a person acts under good conditions as well as bad/stressful conditions. Once I understood LIFO, I could begin to identify the behavioral style of those around me. The Leadership Institute gave me tools for working with my colleagues who are not the same behavioral style as me. This was an “ah ha” moment. Realizing that if I modify my communication style slightly because that is the best way my colleagues understand concepts, completely removed the block between us when we tried to work together. All this is achieved in one weekend. At the end of the weekend, I wrote some very specific goals that I was committed to working on over the year. As the year went on, we met several times where we learned additional concepts tied to leadership and updated our goals. The Leadership Institute completed a missing piece to my education as a manager. My Master’s coursework had laid the foundation of the basic skills needed to be a school business official, but the Leadership Institute taught me management and effective communication with others. If you recognize that your management and communication skills need brushing up or development, then “bare” yourself to personal reflection and analysis by applying for the Leadership Institute today!

Find out more about the Leadership Institute at:

PERSPECTIVE / On the Profession

SCHOOL BUSINESS 101 How do you promote wellness within your district? Hillarie J. Siena


Have a question or issue that needs to be addressed by School Business 101? Submit your ideas or questions to Rebekah Weidner at

A: We have an extremely extensive wellness program called Shape Your Life. It involves free annual biometric health screenings, onsite fitness classes, lunch-n-learn seminars (a benefits fair is one of these), two magazine publications, partnerships with outside organizations such as Weight Watchers and Lifetime Fitness and many other initiatives. Nancy J. Sporer


A: We conduct a wellness fair with a health screening and blood drive. There are three different dates that you can sign up for. If you go and are enrolled in the BCBS PPO program, you can earn a $50 reward credit that can be used to offset your out-of-pocket expenses. You can also earn a $25 reward credit for a physical, or enrolling in a diabetes, smoking cessation or weight management program. The wellness program is run through the HR department, together with our insurance provider. Lawrence R. Martinez


Want to add to the discussion? Add your response in the Hot Topics Group within the peer2peer Network. Then, watch for the next School Business 101 discussion for a chance to be featured in the UPDATE Magazine.

A: Our district has actually hired a wellness director who works full time. This is the first district I’ve seen do that. It is much harder when someone is doing it as a part of their regular job. We are also conducting “the biggest winner,” a ten-week program with each week having a specific focus. The program has had a great response and support from the very highest levels, which keeps wellness at the forefront. Tera A. Wagner


A: Employees have mobile and web access to program information through BCBSIL as part of the preventative care benefits offered. BCBSIL Blue Access offers an additional benefit that provides for members over 18 to secure membership at participating health clubs for 25 dollars a month.

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Professional A Work-Life Balance for

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Update Magazine / Summer 2013



AND Personal: You and Your Staff I

recently took the opportunity to ask several of my friends and colleagues how they balance their work and life schedules. The typical response was a chuckle, followed by “Are you kidding?” Based on my unscientific study, it seems that the majority of my friends don’t think they maintain an adequate balance between their personal and work lives. Some don’t believe that balance between their home life and work can even exist. Bosses are expecting their employees to work 60-70 hours per week, restrict vacation time and always be available. Leftover time is spent running kids from one activity to the next. You know it’s bad when even your own child says, “I don’t have much balance in my life.” It seems to me that children are hearing adults say this often enough that they are starting to parrot the comment — and usually with good reason. I think back to 25 years ago and I don’t remember anyone in my circle of friends worrying about their work-life balance. But I was only 22 then, working 50-60 hour weeks during school breaks for a painting contractor, taking college classes, hanging out with friends and dating my future wife. Life was easy; I had some money, limited responsibilities and all the time in the world to enjoy life. Flash forward to 2013 and things have changed a little. I have been married for 22 years, enjoy two beautiful daughters ages 9 and 13 and serve as a Superintendent. Finding this balance has been a little trickier than it was when I was 22 (and infinitely more important). Thanks to nearly 20 years at Homewood schools, with the past 10 as Superintendent, it is still achievable on most days.

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Nurturing a Balanced Professional Culture Creating work-life balance for all staff is one of the most critical things I can do as a superintendent to ensure that all students are learning and all students are being served. This culture can only be accomplished in a school district if the school board and superintendent believe in it and make decisions based on this philosophy.

It does not happen overnight, but making work-life balance a priority has moved us in the right direction. This culture has been an important driving force for the continued excellence achieved in Homewood schools and the great relationships we enjoy. Some may think it is cliché, but we consider ourselves part of a family and it’s important that we care for each other. This philosophy reduces stress, improves staff relations, reduces fatigue and thereby enhances the learning of all our students.

Ways to Facilitate Work-Life Balance For Your Staff Allow Time to Adjust New staff members, especially those from other districts, need some time to adjust to our culture of family, flexibility and the expectation of maintaining a work-life balance. Provide Flexibility In a time when state funding is being cut severely and the ability to provide staff with raises is very limited, providing staff with flexibility in other aspects of their job may help them balance work and life. Provide flexible work hours and job sharing opportunities while understanding family issues with use of sick, personal and FMLA leaves. What you can provide staff in some personal time is returned ten-fold in their work ethic, loyalty and care for student learning. To achieve this balance, you must have leadership that believes working less hours can mean more productivity in the long run and that taking vacation time periodically is necessary for an individual’s wellness and an organization’s health. There are some risks since a few people may try to take advantage of this philosophy, but the rewards are worth it. Build Trust Trust is critical to creating a work-life balance in an organization. You do not have time to “check-up” on everyone. Professionals in our schools do not need the oversight. As a leader, before you can begin changing the culture in your school district, you have to “walk the talk,” believe in it and trust your staff. Hire Quality Staff Hire the best, most dedicated staff you can find. This will give you a chance at some freedom and the ability to achieve a work-life balance. I have outstanding administrators, teachers and support staff.

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Update Magazine / Summer 2013

ARTICLE / Work-Life Balance for You and Your Staff

Achieving Personal Balance Having a balanced professional culture is a great start in the search for work-life balance, but this must also extend into your personal life. I have found that the following strategies are important for me to strike the balance. Take Care of Yourself I started jogging and biking a few years ago. The effects both physically and emotionally were so positive that the experience became important to achieving a work-life balance. I decided to take it a step further and train for the Chicago Marathon in 2011. I don’t think there is anything better than the hour or two of solitude on a trail or on the treadmill at the health club. Even though I may still be pondering issues at school while jogging, the solitude still feels good. I also seem to make better decisions and feel more energized when I am exercising consistently. When I get away from the training, I feel like my work-life balance is out of whack and I realize how important that piece is to be an effective superintendent. Spend Time With Family and Friends Plan regular date nights with your significant other and make plans with friends. A healthy, loving relationship with your spouse is vital. Never miss your kids’ activities – they are only young for a very short time. I get to spend hours at the pool watching my daughter swim. I spend a similar amount time at my other daughter’s tennis and gymnastic activities. Nothing is better than this as a dad. Use or Lose Vacation Days Plan vacations and do not take work with you. It’s called vacation for a reason and it’s not fair to your family or friends if you are constantly on your phone or laptop. It is rarely that important and if you have done your job well and have a quality staff back in the district, they can handle nearly any situation. I find that everything is still great in the school district when I return – and sometimes to my chagrin, even better.

My contract does not allow me to carry-over vacation days. I purposely require this in my contract to force me take my vacation days. I need this time to re-energize and spend time with my wife and two daughters. We always have something fun planned for the future that we look forward to. Obviously, with the use of technology, I am not ever completely away. However, we have taken trips to more remote locations like northern Michigan (with no bars on the iPhone). Volunteer and Get Involved Getting involved in community organizations or your kids’ activities is another way to meet new friends and take a break from the daily work life. I enjoy being a Homewood Rotarian and participating in some of their projects. I also take great joy out of being on my daughter’s swim club board, handling apparel and equipment needs. We have recently started attending a church in Orland Park and I was intrigued with their recent mission trip to Kenya. I’m not sure that I am ready for something like that, but it did look like a life-changing experience and would be a great way to re-examine your work-life balance. Use Technology: We Can’t Escape Anyway Technology allows me to be at my 13 year-old daughter’s USS swim meets even though they are 4–5 hours in length on the weekends. I rarely miss their activities, because I can still work on documents, respond to e-mails and phone calls and stay connected to the district.

What it Comes Down To I am able to maintain a relatively good balance due to an outstanding school board that understands the value of family time, expects a work-life balance and demonstrates it every day in the way they treat all staff in the Homewood 153 community. In turn, I think it is one of my responsibilities to help create a culture in the school district that achieves this balance for all employees. We have great leadership and experience at all levels of the school district and without this element I’m not sure I could enjoy the work or life I have today.

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Update Magazine / Summer 2013



I P Changes in leadership, work environment and work location are things that we will all deal with at some time in our careers as school business officials. Whether you are the one moving or a new leader is coming into your organization, what are some of the challenges that come along with these changes? And how do you move forward successfully?

At the start of my career as a school business official, I made several job changes in a span of only four years. These movements were in an upward direction (and by choice), but they each resulted in a change in my work environment and in who was my boss. With each change, I had to adjust to a new school board, a new boss, a new business office staff, a new educational philosophy, a new community and new financial systems and processes. In that fourth year, having finally made it to the “big chair,” I started work in the capacity of school business official with the expectation that my boss would be retiring after my

first year and that I would have a new superintendent in my second year there. This time, I would experience the arrival of a new boss instead of moving to one. Despite this advance knowledge of change, I had concerns about how things would be with another new boss, number four in as many years. Was this a good time to begin looking for another job? Should I stay and adapt? What affect would my decision have on my career as a school business official?


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THE CHALLENGES OF CHANGE Although my experiences may or may not be similar to yours, there are some challenges that every leader will face in the wake of a changing work environment. 1. RECOGNIZING AND BUILDING ON YOU R L E A D E R S H I P VA LU E “Many people associate strong leaders with the success of an organization, but regardless of its size or purpose, an organization succeeds through the efforts of many people rather than the reputation of any single person.”1 A school superintendent is designated as the leader of a school district – but what about the other administrators? Will you be known as one of the critical members of your school district leadership team? Your new boss needs to see you in that light. Part of recognizing your role as a leader in the school district is taking steps to improve your own managerial and leadership skills through training, mentoring and experience. Not only should your resume stay updated, but you should, too. There are so many new initiatives, rules and requirements in education that you must stay updated on your professional knowledge. The required Administrator Academy seminars are helpful but they are not enough. “Leadership is an improvisational art. You may be guided by an overarching vision, clear values and a strategic plan, but what you actually do from moment to moment cannot be scripted. You must respond as events unfold.”2 2 . K E E P I N G A B O V E T H E “ F R AY ” "Leadership shakeups" rarely occur when leaders are doing the right things and objectives are being met or exceeded. Shakeups invariably occur when a leader betrays a trust or stakeholders lose confidence in that person’s ability to lead, guide and influence others effectively. Leaders who break or betray a trust lose credibility, and with it, the ability to lead.1

Unfortunately, a breach of trust or a lost confidence can occur without notice and for trivial reasons. With a sevenmember school board, any number of school administrators and a school community, the situations that can change your favor within the school district are many. It is not always enough to “do your job.” To be a successful leader, you must be able to manage relationships and stay above the fray of politics, favoritism and other non-child centered activities. Remain knowledgeable and focused on the kids. 3 . M A NAG I N G C O M M U N I C AT I O N Typically, the school district superintendent reports directly to the school board and regularly updates the school board members on school news, educational happenings and school business matters. He or she will also communicate with the other administrators that report to the superintendent. However, if you are a school district administrator or principal, do you keep your staff and constituents regularly updated? What kind of relationship do you need to have with the school board, parent organizations and other outside entities? If you are an administrator and do not communicate with these groups, it is important to consider how they will perceive your work in the school district without having met or seen you. By communicating regularly with your district leaders, staff and constituents, you will be in a much better position as a leader where district leaders and staff trust your words and actions. Listening is also one of the most important components of communication and it can build an atmosphere of mutual respect and appreciation among your team.


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Update Magazine / Summer 2013

POINT OF VIEW / Surviving Leadership Change

F O U N DAT I O N S F O R S U RV I VA L Dr. Ray Benedetto identifies three “critical anchors” that can help your organization build a strong foundation for eventual leadership change. These anchors, which should be active within your organization, can also help you evaluate your current leadership or just manage any unexpected changes you encounter. “If these anchors are not in place, preparing for a new job with another employer might be in order.” ANCHOR #1: REEMPHASIZE ORGANIZATIONAL PURPOSE. Your core values, vision and mission, are the anchors that keep everyone steady and underpin the organization’s culture. Culture is the “social glue” that keeps everyone together. Reinforcing the values, vision and mission helps others see beyond themselves and any other person.

ANCHOR #2: REGAIN TRUST BY PURSUING MORAL AND ETHICAL "HIGH GROUND.” Re-examine practices based on core values to stabilize the organization after major leadership changes. Try to “stay above the fray” during a leadership change. The military services constantly emphasize compliance with core principles and values which helps align everyone — regardless of rank, position or responsibilities — on the vision and mission on a daily basis despite leadership changes.

ANCHOR #3: COMMUNICATE OPENLY AND REGULARLY WITH EMPLOYEES TO REGAIN TRUST. Employees at all levels need and want to know what is going on. They need to be respected for the value each person brings to the organization. Lack of regular communication gives rise to rumor, speculation and distrust, which work against the leaders who remain and continue to carry responsibilities for company performance.

Reference: Surviving a Leadership Shakeup. BusinessNewsDaily. January 29, 2013.

W H E N T H E I N E V I TA B L E H A P P E N S As a leader in your school district, it is your responsibility to tie the district’s core values, vision and mission to the work that you and your staff perform on behalf of children. Demonstrating this leadership will show value to a new boss who needs a strong and dedicated administrative team to be a successful leader. It will also help your staff to maintain their focus and remain dedicated to the school district’s goals. Stay ready for change, so that your new leader can quickly adapt to the new environment and your leadership style. Think about, “How do we move the district forward and help the new leader to lead?” Remember the analogy of the military, which continues to maintain its core principles and values despite leadership changes. As a school business official or administrator, you are also guided by moral and ethical principles which allow for a reexamination of how you operate when leadership changes occur. In the end, I decided that with one year in the school business manager’s chair, it wasn’t time for me to move on simply because I was getting a new boss. It took some counseling and good advice from a trusted colleague, but the best decision for me was to stay on the job, gain valuable experience and stay “above the fray.”

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REACH YOUR POTENTIAL Achieving Achieving Excellence Excellence Through Through Goal Goal Setting Setting

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Update Magazine / Summer 2013



The great author Charles Dickens said, “Whatever I have tried to do in my life, I have tried with all my heart to do well. What I have devoted myself to, I have devoted myself to completely.” A.W. Tozer provides a possible definition and a shot of inspiration in his comment to “Let your heart soar as high as it will. Refuse to be average.” Both Dickens and Tozer recognize the importance of excellence and setting lofty goals.

However excellence is defined, it is important to keep in mind that it is not a project, act or job description; excellence is a way of life. It includes going beyond the normal call of duty, stretching our perceived limits and holding ourselves responsible for being our best. Excellence comes from striving to maintain the highest standards, paying attention to little details and being willing to go the extra mile. It is not a result of luck but a matter of setting personal and professional goals.

PERSONAL AND PROFESSIONAL Goals usually relate to either our personal or professional lives. If you’ve ever watched the TV program Seinfeld, you might expand this concept to include “our worlds.” Our worlds would include what we do at work, at home, at church, with our friends, our families and/or in our hobbies. While these aren’t mutually exclusive, they tend to be described differently. While relationships tend to dominate how we describe our personal goals, most of us tend to think of professional goals in terms of things we have accomplished. The truth is that we should be addressing both – accomplishments and relationships – in our personal and professional lives.

Work Hobbies


YOUR WORLDS Social Groups

Home & Family

Illinois ASBO

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GUIDING PRINCIPLES OF GOAL SETTING Why strive for excellence? Why perform at our best? Why not just get though life doing as little as we can? While it is true that those who settle for mediocrity are always at their best, they are seldom satisfied with the personal and professional goals they have achieved. In other words, just doing the “minimum” is seldom meaningful. Excellence is contingent on having meaningful personal and professional goals. So how do we go about setting goals that allow us to perform our best? CONSIDER YOUR COMMITMENT. “The quality of a person’s life,” said Vince Lombardi, “is in direct proportion to their commitment to excellence, regardless of their chosen field of endeavor.” When you feel a compelling, constant, daily desire to do everything in your life as well as it can be done, you will touch the borders of excellence. EXCELLENCE IN ANY ENDEAVOR IS NOT AUTOMATIC. As Dr. Stephen Covey says, “Real excellence does not come cheaply. A certain price must be paid in terms of practice, patience and persistence - natural ability notwithstanding.” Review those three P’s again – each is necessary ingredient for paying the price. Think about changing a habit. It does not happen without a lot of effort. When we want to perform at our best, we need to practice doing so. SETTING MEANINGFUL GOALS IS A FUNCTION OF OUR VALUES. What motivates us? Is it self-worth, money, power, family or the success of others? Are we competitive? Are we people oriented? Are we outgoing? Are we introverted? Do we have a half-full or half-empty outlook on life? Are we driven by intrinsic or extrinsic rewards? Every one of these values can be looked at from two perspectives. For example, is making money just a means to an end or does it afford us the opportunity to help others? COMPOUND GOAL SETTING. Financial planners tell us when we’re young about the power of compounding interest – invest a little each year and you’ll be rich when you’re old. What they don’t tell us is about the value of compounding our goal setting. Compound goal setting is visioning what you want in life, seeing it as a series of opportunities, setting incremental goals and executing them. When viewed in such a manner the end result can be a lifetime of personal and professional accomplishment. 26 |

Update Magazine / Summer 2013

TAKE BABY STEPS. Obviously, if accomplishing our goals were as simple as just making a wish list, we’d all be doing it. Goal setting is more like a baby taking their first steps – first you crawl, then you walk. There is both failure and success. In fact, our ability to set goals improves more from our failures than our successes. When we fail we are more likely to ask ourselves what went wrong, set more realistic goals and, in many cases, actually increase our ability to achieve. When we are successful we tend to become complacent. OUR VISION AND PASSION GUIDES US. What is your passion with regard to your personal and professional life? Write down some far-reaching goals – where do you want to be in a year, ten years, 20 years, when you retire? Break it down. If we define personal goals as spiritual, financial, political, altruistic, hobbies, avocations, family, travel, recreation, health, etc., what do you want to accomplish? If we define professional goals as your careers, volunteer work, work in associations, education, professional development, etc., what do you want to accomplish? How would you define success? How we set and achieve our goals will also be dependent on how we view the world, our motivation and our own intellectual processes. Some of us will visualize our goals; others will articulate them. Some may have only a few goals; others may have many. We can all, however, benefit, by reflecting on our vision for life and the goals we want to achieve each year.

Compound goal setting is visioning what you want in life, seeing it as a series of opportunities, setting incremental goals and executing them.

COVER STORY / Reach Your Potential

PARAMETERS FOR GOAL SETTING These suggestions are by no means all the strategies by which individuals set goals but they are meant to prompt reflections on personal and professional goal setting. 1. TEACHING AND MENTORING. Whether setting

a personal or professional goal, we all draw on our experiences. None are more powerful than those of a teacher or mentor. When goal setting, think in terms of whom you can teach and mentor. When we teach and mentor we learn too, often at a higher level.

5. TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF. Work is not the only

satisfying thing in life. School business officials have stressful positions. Take a “timeout” and remember to set this "time out" on a periodic basis. Decompress and get away from work. Have a wellness goal whether it’s as simple as walking the dog everyday, eating healthy or doing an Ironman.


include ensuring the success of others then you will be rewarded over and over. Achieving through the success of others is a cornerstone of successful goal setting. Think about it. Who do grandparents talk about? Their grand kids. Who do parents talk about? Their kids. Why shouldn’t the same be true of our professional lives? 3. THE GIFT OF TIME. Whether at home or in the office,

the gift of time is important. When you set goals include quality time to train your peers, take a vacation, do a workout, develop a hobby or take a course. While we don’t realize it, activities, not things, are important. Our children, colleagues, etc. won’t remember a birthday gift, but they will remember that special vacation or project where you dedicated your time to help them. 4. COMMIT TO TRYING NEW THINGS. Create personal

and professional networks. Research has shown that there is a high correlation between individuals with lots of hobbies and creativity. Why is that? Creative individuals often have lots of areas/experiences, which they can tap to solve problems. Make trying new things part of your goal setting.


6. BE TRUE TO YOUR VISION. We all have a vision

whether we articulate it or not. Be true to your vision, your ethics and your values. Whatever is most important to you should dominate your goal setting whether it is family, profession or service. Just don’t make it mutually exclusive. We all need some balance in life. 7. ADD TO YOUR PERSONAL/PROFESSIONAL

NETWORKS. This is not a reference to “friends” on Facebook, although that could be the case in another ten years or so. What I’m talking about are the individuals in your personal and professional life you can count on when things are tough and who can count on you. 8. INCLUDE SERVANT LEADERSHIP. As a school

business official we sometimes forget we are a part of a greater endeavor – educating students. What goals can we set that support not only our own development, but also that of others as servant-leaders serving the children in our schools?




Be a boy/girl scout leader

Mentor a peer or subordinate


Help a child learn to read

Help a subordinate learn something you do


Spend time each week talking to your children

Spend time each week talking to your employees


Learn how to make wine

Learn how to use a new technology


Take a walk every morning

Reserve one day a month to go through everything in your office


Spend quality time with your family each night

Have a strategy to get work done at work


Develop a relationship with a Work with a colleague in another state to relative you don’t know very well develop a professional presentation


Read to first graders in an under Visit ten classrooms to see what teachers are privileged area doing

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ACCOMPLISHING YOUR GOALS Goal setting is a powerful process. It does not, however, have to be a complicated process. Success in attaining any personal or professional goal depends on being able to articulate key performance indicators or objectives. It also depends on periodically reviewing your personal and professional goals. Nothing is static. Your priorities in life will change. Update, drop and reassess your goals as needed. WHEN YOU REVIEW YOUR GOALS ASK YOURSELF THREE QUESTIONS: 1. Is it still aligned with my ‘big picture goals’? 2. Is it still something I’m motivated to complete? 3. What are the benefits of completing the goal? Once you have a list of goals, the next step is to set-up a process to accomplish them. The mnemonic SMART is often used to describe the process of setting and attaining goals. SMART stands for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound. Here is a brief description of major components of SMART:











What resources are required to complete the goal? This may include connections, skills, education and time. What outside factors will affect this goal being completed?

Does the goal align to your values and vision?

When will this goal realistically be accomplished?

What is the desired result? (This is the who, what, when, why and how).

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How will you determine progress? How will you determine success or completion?

Update Magazine / Summer 2013

COVER STORY / Reach Your Potential

MAKING SMART GOALS A simple example of a SMART goal would be "improving your health and fitness." Put into the SMART mnemonic: SPECIFIC: Your goal might be losing 10 pounds. MEASURABLE: Monitoring your progress would be straightforward: whether or not you are losing weight. ATTAINABLE: You would need to educate yourself about good nutrition, workout three days a week, get a physical or possibly utilize a personal trainer. The fact you have teenagers and have snack food around may affect your ability to meet this goal. You may have to rearrange your work schedule to make time to workout. RELEVANT: Aligns with your vision because good diet and health habits support success. You will be more energized to complete your other goals. TIME-BOUND: Reviewing research you determine losing one pound per week is realistic so the goal becomes ten weeks. Make sure you post your SMART goal in a visible place you see everyday. If you are having difficulty in meeting the goal, review and modify it. The only goal that is truly unattainable is the goal you give up on. Setting SMART personal and professional goals that are aligned with your life vision will allow you to achieve success more quickly. You will be able to identify the skills, tools, knowledge and connections you need to support your goals. Just think about how much easier life would be if your pursuits, goals and vision were all aligned. Take the next step. Write down two or three of your “big picture” goals and get started.

However excellence is defined, it is important to keep in mind that it is not a project, act or job description; EXCELLENCE IS A WAY OF LIFE.

For more information on SMART goals see: Meyer, Paul J (2003). “What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail? Creating S.M.A.R.T. Goals.” Attitude Is Everything: If You Want to Succeed Above and Beyond. The Meyer Resource Group, Incorporated. ISBN 978-0-89811-304-4.

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Measuring Wellness “Does your district have a wellness program?” If you’re like most administrators, you’ve likely answered “Yes” to that question. But what questions did you ask yourself before responding? Does a “wellness benefit” built into your program’s plan design count? Does an annual screening qualify as a wellness program? Did you drive participation rates in your wellness program to a meaningful level? Is your board’s contribution toward the program dependent on employee participation? Did you actually improve the overall health of your district and can you prove it? Understanding the key components of a successful program and how you will measure the ROI of your program can help you to make a strong case for wellness in your district. 30 |

Update Magazine / Summer 2013




Components of an Effective Wellness Program Why Wellness? Effective wellness programs have the ability to bend the medical cost curve. Studies have shown that in the longterm, ROI is $3.27 per $1.00 invested in the program.1 While school districts in Illinois possess many attributes of an organization poised to take advantage of this cost saving potential, very few have instituted a comprehensive wellness program. In addition to the cost saving potential as it relates to the health insurance program, organizations have seen measurable improvements in employee performance, a reduction in absenteeism to the tune of $2.73 for every $1.00 invested and improvements in organizational culture.1 When conducted correctly, wellness becomes more than just physical health management. Wellness incorporates emotional, financial, career and community health into an overall district wellbeing program. It has the potential to not only keep money in the classroom, but to improve the overall learning environment.

• Highlight the importance and share information on basic interventions, such as blood pressure screenings and diabetes testing. • Empower employees with information. Create a Supportive Environment A supportive environment is more than just an encouraging word for employees seeking to better their health. A supportive environment is an active and engaged community that provides employees with stepping stones toward better health. The supportive environment is often inclusive of other important school district issues, most notably school safety. Your goal for any initiative is to expand participation as much as possible across your population and remain active and consistent with activities throughout the year. Explore new ideas such as: • Accessing discounts at a local fitness center.

Before you start making new investments in your wellness program, you’ll want to take a close look at the ways in which your district is already invested. Look for resources in your community, through your insurance carrier, with your consultant or inside of your own district. Many districts have a wide variety of wellness related programs available and paid for, but very few have taken full advantage. Include Health Education and Communication Providing employees with access to information on living a healthy lifestyle can be a simple, yet effective starting point for developing a comprehensive wellness program. To get started, consider developing periodic newsletters for all employees. Newsletters provide an opportunity for the administration to share healthy and timely topics: • Use national health observance months as a reason to stay in touch. Look them up at: • Focus on health cost drivers and topics important to the district.

• Developing a walking program with a goal of “steps per day.” • Supporting healthy food options at school sponsored functions. • Supporting participation in charity functions that involve fitness. As wellness goals develop, survey current vendor partners and community based programs to ensure that the district is accessing all support, programs, resources, discounts and rewards available to you as a client and community member. Start with your broker/consultant and utilize wellness specialists within their organization. Identify the capabilities of your current health insurance carrier. Many times, even employees who are not enrolled are eligible to participate in the programs offered.

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Demonstrate the District’s Commitment This is critical to the long-term success of the program. The district should demonstrate this commitment in several ways: branding the program, developing district wide goals related to the program and celebrating the successes of the group as a whole. • District wide health goals should be set with a wellness committee’s input and support and tie into the resources now being utilized as part of the district’s supportive environment strategy. For example, if the district is supporting a walking program, a goal may be set of 10,000 steps per day, per participating employee. • Utilize a wellness committee to help validate the importance of the goals to the district as a whole and drive the district’s message through the employee population. • Administrative support and leadership in this effort will be crucial. • Encourage and expand participation as much as possible. • Celebrate the district’s successes when goals are met. • Continue to push new programs and ideas as part of an ongoing commitment to wellness. Access the Resources Available to You Take advantage of those resources already in place, but perhaps not utilized or promoted as effectively as possible. A vast majority of districts in Illinois have access to programs that they simply aren’t taking full advantage of. Incorporate Mental Health and Stress Management This is critical to rounding out a total well being approach. Often times, an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) will be a key component of a mental health wellness offering. If you have an EAP in place, gather program information. Then, share this information with employees! Employees can only take advantage of these resources if they know they exist. 32 |

Update Magazine / Summer 2013

Offer Preventative Screenings These have the ability to bring previously unidentified health issues to light for an employee. In several cases, screenings have saved an employee’s life. Additionally, annual health screenings conducted on a consistent group of employees provide an opportunity to measure improvement and ROI. For health screenings to be most effective, a significant majority of the employee population needs to participate. Few districts in Illinois currently meet this standard or can be classified as “high performing organizations.” High performing organizations often achieve annual participation greater than 90% and most do so with the use of incentives. Initially, incentives are used to drive participation in general. Over time, incentive systems at high performing organizations evolve to include an employee meeting individual health goals. Provide At-Risk Intervention Providing support and intervention for employees with identified health conditions needs to be conducted with a clear commitment to employee privacy. The focus of the district’s support should be on providing access to resources and individual support through qualified and proven vendors. To be clear, individual health data should remain out the district’s sight. Rather, aggregate data and the overall support structure should be the basis by which the district measures its performance.

For health screenings to be most effective, a significant majority of the employee population needs to participate.

ARTICLE / Measuring Wellness

Calculating the ROI of Your Wellness Program Because districts have a relatively low turnover rate, an improvement in the overall health of the employee population will have a direct impact on the long term costs associated with the employee benefit program. A correctly conducted actuarial ROI evaluation should include a control group of credible size, with similar demographics to the group participating in the comprehensive program. Comparing medical utilization between the control group and the wellness program group over the course of several years will determine the true ROI of the wellness program. Given the nature of Illinois school districts, a peer district with similar demographics will likely provide a credible control sample. Therefore, an ROI evaluation of your district’s wellness program can be conducted by comparing your district’s performance with that of peer districts not implementing a comprehensive wellness program. When conducting an ROI evaluation, unprecedented large claimants not connected to a chronic condition should be removed from experience.

This analysis should be conducted annually and findings should be used to drive the decision making process for future years. Large districts with the right partners in place have the ability to utilize advanced analytical software to measure claims experience and identify specific wellness opportunities. Instead of relying upon aggregated claim reports or carrier output, these districts can independently utilize raw data feeds provided directly by the carrier to conduct analysis, identify trends and discover anomalies. Because they have access to this level of detail, they can focus on areas of concern and measure their ROI not just based on claims information as a whole, but based on targeted programs and targeted claims data.

Take the Next Steps The next time you are asked whether your district has a wellness program, challenge your program and challenge yourself! Try instead to answer the question, “How does wellness fit into our benefit program strategy and how are we measuring success?” Instituting a comprehensive wellness program should be a priority for every forward thinking school district and the time to take action has arrived. FOOTNOTES: 1. KATHERINE BAICKER, DAVID CUTLER AND ZIRUI SONG. WORKPLACE WELLNESS PROGRAMS CAN GENERATE SAVINGS. HEALTH AFFAIRS. JANUARY 2010.

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Workplace Wellness

(On a Budget!) When Glen Ellyn District 41 participated in the School Health Index Survey in 2010, staff wellness emerged as one of the areas that still needed some attention. Through the support of the District Superintendent, a $500 budget and the help of key staff, we got organized and got going!

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Update Magazine / Summer 2013



Prior to 2010, District 41 made some attempts at wellness with varied success. We had begun to offer annual Health Risk Assessments, with the number of participants increasing yearly and had tried to offer free programming through Blue Cross, our insurance carrier. In addition, employees would sporadically receive forwarded newsletters and messages from various health partners about available programs and services. But using these resources alone wasn't bringing the program to its true potential. Fast forward to 2013, the District now boasts a new level of morale and buy-in amongst District staff, and as a result, new levels of participation. The most recently completed program had an unprecedented 270 participants out of a staff of 420! We discovered many important lessons along the way that can be imitated by other districts looking to grow their programs.

1. Wellness begins from within. Once wellness moved to the forefront, we knew that simply having the insurance team focus on and lead the wellness initiatives wasn’t going to cut it. Our first step was to gather internal staff who wanted to be involved through the formation of an Employee Wellness Task Force that would do the work of developing and administering the plan. The task force started with a small group of workers. In 2011, we developed a plan and expanded our team to include representatives from each site and a variety of work groups (i.e. teacher, clerical, custodial, etc.). The task force met in earnest over the 2011-2012 school year and then over the summer to prepare/finalize plans for the 2012-2013 school year. To form our Wellness Mission Statement, we looked within, to the larger mission of the District and the District’s Long Range Plan. From there we formed a vision and mission statement for the wellness program: District 41 Wellness Mission Statement: We believe our employees represent our most important resource: their health and well-being are crucial to maximizing students’ learning and the success of the organization.

District 41 Wellness Vision Statement: Promoting the positive mental and physical well-being of our staff.

2. You have the resources. You just don’t know it. Once a small group of champions was assembled, we looked around to see what resources the District already had that could be utilized. We devoted a whole school year (2010-2011) to this research phase before the larger launch of new wellness initiatives. This included exploring outside resources at our disposal: • Hours of free training we know we already had from our insurance provider. • Resources from our Employee Assistance Program (EAP) and our Worker’s Compensation carrier. • Partnerships with local health club facilities to provide group or discounted rates to D41 staff. • Assistance from our Gallagher Wellness Representative to generate ideas and strategy. It came down to making a lot of phone calls and asking the question “What can you do for us?”

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3. If you ask them what they want (and listen), they will come. Realizing that in the past, we had planned all sorts of events with a limited response (no one would come!), as part of the research phase we conducted a survey to find out what the staff was looking for in a wellness program. We asked what they were interested in doing and what would help them reach their health goals. We used these results to guide us in the planning process. 4. Determine your goals and how you will measure success. Based on the staff survey, we determined three wellness goals: Goal 1. Increased physical activity. Goal 2. Improved nutrition and promotion of healthy eating. Goal 3. Stress management. The following chart illustrates the programs we planned for the 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 school years based around our goals. Each summer, we outline the programs for the coming school year and form an Employee Wellness Action plan, identifying action steps that will be required for each goal/program, a timeline, person(s) responsible and available resources including outside entities. Goal




Walking Works – BlueCross BlueShield Program

Fall 2011

Overall participation in the program, miles walked


Walking Works

Winter/Spring 2012

Improvement from Fall program


Go For the Gold – Team based Olympicstyle exercise program

Fall 2012

Overall Participation


Fruit and Veggie Pentathlon – Nutrition Program

Winter 2013

Self report via pre/ post survey and Wellness Inc. Results


Taming Your Inner Beast! Stress Management Program

Spring 2013

Wellness Inc. Results, pre/post surveys

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Update Magazine / Summer 2013


5. Build up excitement to get the program rolling. In the 2011-2012 school year, our Employee Wellness Task Force sponsored two district-wide walking challenges using free resources from Blue Cross. Our teams were based on work locations and competed to see who could log the greatest average number of miles per walker. To kick things off, we announced and launched our wellness goals and plans at one of our opening Institute Days for the 2011-2012 school year. Over the summer, our Task Force created a video starring members of our staff, including our Superintendent. It was a huge hit – staff loved it and it created a positive “buzz” within the workplace. Additionally, members of our task force wore workout clothes which caught the attention of our staff. We produced a second video in 2012-2013 to launch this year's program. Throughout each program, we send out weekly updates and add new and interesting challenges and incentives to keep the momentum going. 6. Communicate consistently. As programs ramped up, communication became increasingly important. In January 2012 we began our Wellness Wednesday message, a weekly communication to all staff to disseminate information related to wellness. Along with updates and standings on wellness programs, we have promoted the Health Risk Assessments, flu shot clinics and shared newsletters from our EAP and other vendors. As opposed to previous method of sporadically forwarding these e-mails, messages are now expected on a weekly basis. To take it a step further, one of our art teachers created a logo and our team created a slogan for wellness. We now use this logo/slogan on all communication related to wellness in District 41. This way staff knows that the information presented is part of our wellness initiative. We even had t-shirts made with the logo for our team captains to wear to promote our initiatives.

ARTICLE / Workplace Wellness

7. It can’t all come from the central office. One key to success was using a committee structure that incorporated representatives from every building in the District. What really took hold was engagement of the school-based reps and their promotion of wellness within their own building. Communication from the central office lacked the personal touch that these reps were able to create. For the Walking Works challenges, team captains from the buildings sent encouraging e-mails every Friday reminding them to log their participation. 8. Small investments make a big difference. Although we had the support of our Superintendent, our initial budget was only $500. We’ve had to be very frugal in our promotion, incentives and prizes. Sometimes the prizes were as simple as an orange for each team member on the winning team. In our Go for the Gold challenge, we bought cheap “gold medals” for the winners. For another challenge, we ordered water bottles with the District logo. The winning teams for the fall and winter Walking Works challenges received a healthy lunch courtesy of District 41. Even though these are seemingly small prizes – they go a long way! 9. Evaluate each program and change it up often. After each event, our task force analyzes via a “what worked/didn’t work” session. From the feedback of the task force and by looking at participation (or lack there of), we continue to learn from our mistakes and “give the people what they want.” For example, in the 2011-2012 school year we offered a second Walking Works Challenge in the winter. We had good participation but not as strong as we had hoped. We took this opportunity to reflect and make suggestions for next year. Summer is a great time to re-evaluate our program and plan for the fall of the coming year. We work closely with consultants at that time to see what new resources are available and what programs we may be able to alter and make our own for the next year.

10. Morale is measurable – so is participation! Teaching staff to have fun with our programs and doing little things to encourage participation has really led to ownership of the wellness program throughout the District. Our task force members have had fun promoting our challenges in the buildings. At one school, task force members took team members' pictures and transposed them into photos of people working out. We encouraged teams to create goofy team names for the Olympic challenge. These are small touches that had a positive impact on the morale. All of these actions brought about a result we could measure – participation! In the past, we could not get ten staff to attend free wellness workshops provided on site by our insurance provider. In our kick-off Walking Works challenge, we had 205 staff members participate and walk over 30,000 miles! Our most recent Olympic challenge saw 270 out of 420 district staff participate. This enthusiasm for wellness even extended into our longer-running programs such as Health and Risk Assessments. Our Employee Wellness Task Force worked very hard to promote and encourage participation in the screenings this year. Their hard work paid off with an increase in participation of close to 80 percent! District Participation in Health and Risk Assessments Number of

Percent Increase


Over Previous Year

















We are pleased with our work so far and have created a culture that values wellness. Our task force has had two strong years and is looking forward to even better work in the future.

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o you ever feel the urge to pick up your phone or other technology devices and review e-mails, texts or the Internet, even though the device has given you no indication that new, must-have information has arrived? While participating in a meeting, have you thought about pummeling pigs with birds, which for some unknown reason are furious? Do you ever check your device while you are driving? Technology has certainly had a major impact on our lives. Many expect us to always be “connected” and that has translated into a belief that we must constantly check for updated information. However, some say that the influence of technology has become too powerful, perhaps even addictive. Today it is common for doctors to treat patients for Internet addiction. And the root concern has shifted from compulsive Internet surfing to the ubiquitous pressures to remain connected at all times via our laptops and cell phones. Kelly McGonigal, a Ph.D. in psychology, says “Forget cigarettes and candy. We’re becoming addicted to our devices.”1 The Dangers of Over-Stimulation The concern is that the lure of constant stimulation which manifests itself in the form of pings, rings, vibrations and even furious birds is creating an overwhelming thirst for updates, which can have negative consequences on work productivity and personal interactions. Fifteen or 20 years ago, a game like Tetris could become somewhat addictive. Today, we have access to multiple Tetris-like games in addition to multiple sources of news and information; people can go from one to the next and never break their connection with the Internet. One California blogger recently admitted that though being connected to people around the world is exciting, the tendency to go overboard and neglect in-person relationships with friends and family is real and overwhelming. 2 As a result of this growing psychological disorder, the medical community is very concerned and is seeing an increase in cases of patients who are unable to disengage from the Internet and their devices. These patients find it hard to remove themselves from the bouts of excitement that they feel are created from their reliance on up-to-date information. McGonigal, who frequently

lectures about the science of self-control at the Stanford School of Medicine, believes that interactive devices can create in the brain a persistent sense of emergency, leaving the user with constant feelings of stress, anxiety and feeling out of control.1 What used to be a quick and fun escape can become a miserable craving that can never be satisfied and can lead to depression or other impulse control disorders. Interestingly, in parts of Asia, internet addiction is accepted as a legitimate psychiatric affliction and dedicated treatment centers exist to help those who are plagued by this disorder. Kimberly Young, Director of the Center for Internet Addiction Recovery, contends that technology use can sincerely be termed addictive if it damages relationships by replacing traditional forms of contact with the people closest to the user .2 McGonigal supports Young’s assertion, adding that when technology use interferes with the quality of peoples’ lives and relationships, then that is an accurate definition of an addiction. She claims that people can just feel trapped. When the technology use negatively affects work performance that can further damage lives and relationships.

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Addicted to Technology or Addicted to Work? There are those who doubt the entire concept of technology addiction. These naysayers argue that increasing workplace demands are the real culprit. Employees in the United States are working longer hours at the office than ever before and then going home chained to mobile and other tech devices that are constantly pushing messages and information to them. Alexis Madrigal, writer for the Atlantic, maintains that, “…our compulsive connectedness…is a symptom of a greater problem, not the problem itself.”3 She goes on to pose this question to those who buy in to the technology addiction concept: “Are we addicted to gadgets or indentured to work? ” As school business officials we feel a sense of responsibility to those that work in our districts. As professionals and leaders in this fast paced world we are expected, at some levels, to be up-to-date with information. That updated information permits us to make decisions that influence our organization. We often read e-mail messages late at night after we hear the ping informing us of new mail. However, we must also consider our mental, social and physical health and how technology addiction can impact those aspects of our lives. To be the best leader we can be, all facets of our lives need to be healthy and in balance. It can become very difficult to be as effective and efficient as possible if one of the pillars (work, health, home or social) is not in balance.

Strategies to Overcome Addiction The medical community is just beginning to experience the effects of technology addiction and therefore has not had the time to develop research-proven strategies to reduce or eliminate technology addiction. However, Nora Volkow, Director of the National Institute of Drug Abuse, believes that technology is rewiring our brains. She and other researchers are comparing the lure of digital stimulations less to that of drugs and alcohol and more to food and sex, which are essential but counterproductive in excess.4 Many food addiction researchers and professionals suggest strategies to counteract food addiction. The following are some of those strategies adapted for technology addiction. 1. Understand Your Addiction Identify for yourself what the itch to check your phone or e-mail feels like and then seek to understand why you feel the need to look at your device every time you hear it ping. Why do you need to check the weather or news every hour? Why do you need to be constantly stimulated with digital content? 2. Change Your Habits to Lesson Your Dependency Leave your device in a different room when you get home and do something for yourself. Perhaps read a book, exercise, talk to a family member or work on a hobby. Many of our districts offer wellness programs with components like meditation and breathing exercises. This is another opportunity to unplug and allow your brain and body to reset. You may even need to consciously schedule time away from your devices. Put it on your calendar, say from 6:00 PM to 7:00 PM, to “Turn Off Technology.”

Ask yourself this question: “Do I pick up my phone every time it pings whether I am at home or at work?” If the answer to that question is yes, you may have an addiction to digital stimulation.

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ARTICLE / Are You Addicted to Your Devices?

Learn More About Technology Addiction: Find links to more information and resources on pg. 44. 3. Identify Needs vs. Cravings Work with your brain to find a balance between the information you need and the information you crave. We all believe that we need to know everything right now—but do we really? Work to limit your technology intake at home. Track (with pen and paper, not your device!) how often and how long you are accessing technology at home and try to reduce it.

The Good News Technology addiction can have a negative effect on us and we need to recognize that the constant digital stimulation to our brains is impacting, likely negatively, the way we process information and interact with others. The good news is, you have the power and now some ideas to help you to overcome it!

4. Set Some Rules for Yourself For example, that you will not access technology when you are at one of your children’s sporting events so you can focus on them. Or, while running on the treadmill. That rule will both reduce technology addiction and ensure safety.

The Benefits of Being “Disconnected” Richard Fernandez, an executive coach at Google and an advocate of allowing the mind to have some disconnected time each day, says the risks of being overly engaged with devices are acute. “It’s nothing less than everything,” he says, adding that if people can find time to occasionally disengage, “we can have more intimate and authentic relationships with ourselves and those we love.”3

Another good limitation could be to only check your email at set times, as constantly having your e-mail screen open can add to stressful feelings. How about checking e-mails only at 10:00 AM and 2:00 PM? 5. Pay Attention to Your Body and Breathing Think of the tech-check urge like a wave you are going to surf and breathe through it. Like a wave, it will crash and dissolve. Cravings sustain themselves when your brain and body believe you are going to give in. As soon as you make a commitment to yourself and your support network to resist those urges, it begins to change how the brain is processing the craving. This approach has been shown to help people conquer all kinds of cravings, from food to cigarettes.


6. Get Support from Others This may not be possible on our own. As with any addiction, a system of supports may be necessary. Perhaps put the device in airplane mode at home in the evening, or even recruit friends or family members to remind you that you made a commitment to not text during dinner or while driving.

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Consumed with ZOOM A few weeks ago I attended my ten-year old granddaughter’s basketball game. At one of the early time-outs, I asked my son-in-law to look around us at what each person was doing. One playing a Nintendo DSi, one an iPad Mini, another had a small laptop, about a dozen were looking at or talking on their phone and some little kiddos even had handheld electronic games. This includes my five-year old grandson who was playing a game from Playskool. No one except my son-in-law and I seemed to be communicating through a VC (Vocal Chord) device. When the game resumed, a few put their devices down and watched the game, but others did not. I thought, “What is wrong with these people?” But before the game was over, I too had answered a phone call, responded to two text messages, Googled the name of the Cub’s third basemen and read two tweets from my grandson’s History teacher who was in Washington D.C. with over 100 eighth graders on a field trip. I was as guilty as the others.

What is Zoom? Zoom is what I like to call the use of technology. I call it Zoom because it changes quickly all the time and grows exponentially. If you keep current, everything is upgraded but you. Zoom is everywhere – the checkout line, the gas station, on your belt, in your purse, in your ear, running your car or giving you directions. It tells you the cost of something and where you can buy it cheaper and provides an instant resource for information anywhere and all the time. But when is enough, enough? When does it switch from productivity and entertainment to an obsession? According to Dr. Dave Greenfield of The Center for Internet and Technology Addiction, about six percent of us suffer from compulsive Internet use. The Edudemic Web site reports that 38% of teenagers say they can’t go ten minutes without switching on some sort of electronic device. As early as 1995, New York psychiatrist Ivan Goldberg proposed that internet addiction may be considered a disease. Online gambling, cybersex, video game compulsion and Facebook (social networking) can be real and troubling issues. When our use of technology starts to cause physical 42 |

Update Magazine / Summer 2013

problems (muscle strain, anxiety, sleeping, exercise issues, etc.), relationship problems, work interruption or even financial concerns, then we need to ask if we are consuming technology or if technology is consuming us. Are we able to balance the use of technology with productivity, communication and healthy fun? To consider that question, let’s journey back to the basketball game. Eventually, my young grandson put down his game for some popcorn. The electronic scoreboard indicated a final score of 16 to 24 (in favor of the other team). The eighth graders on the field trip survived several days with limited time allowed on their phones. Yet, technology permitted us to keep track of them through tweets and PDA photos.

I believe the world is a better place because of Zoom… as long we control it and it doesn’t control us.

RESOURCES The Opportunity and Challenge of Trust Ever feel like your actions (with good intentions) are misinterpreted and your motives are questioned? That your decisions are second-guessed and politicized? These are symptoms of one of the biggest issues in our society – a lack of trust. Low trust is everywhere – just take a minute to read the headlines in the news. It is in government, business, healthcare and politics…even education. As Steven M.R. Covey asserts in The Speed of Trust: “Trust impacts us 24/7, 365 days a year. It… affects every relationship, every communication, every work project, every business venture, every effort in which we are engaged.”

Covey defines leadership as “getting results in a way that inspires trust” and identifies this kind of leadership as key in today’s economy. He argues that trust is almost always attainable and often quickly! The impact is measurable According to Covey, less trust inevitably leads to a higher cost and lower speed of doing business. Think about the airline industry and 9/11. A lessened trust in the safety of flying led to an increase in security measures, leading to a higher cost and longer airport wait for customers. Trust has a ripple effect Covey divides trust into five “waves,” each producing a “ripple effect” that multiplies as you move further outward. The first wave, self-trust, is all about credibility or becoming to others and ourselves someone who is worthy of trust. It has to do with our ability to set and achieve goals (see article, p. 26), keep commitments and “walk our walk.” The second wave, relationship trust, depends on consistent behaviors. Covey outlines 13 key behaviors such as confronting reality, righting wrongs and keeping commitments.

The truth is that establishing and extending trust can happen quite fast.

On My List The Speed of Trust: The One Thing That Changes Everything By Stephen M. R. Covey

Overview: The idea that trust is an intangible quality that as a leader you “either have it or you don’t” is a myth. Trust is a pragmatic, tangible asset you can actually create within your personal life and professional life. In The Speed of Trust, Covey dives deep into the principles and behaviors that can establish trust within any relationship, business, or government. Beginning with our personal credibility, we can learn to see, speak and behave differently… and achieve measurable results!

Trust can happen fast and it’s worth it! The idea that trust has to take a long time to build is a myth. The truth is that establishing and extending trust can happen quite fast! And it is well worth the effort: “Whether you approach the opportunity or challenge of trust in relation to your personal life, your professional life, or both… it will make an enormous difference in every dimension of your life.”

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Reach Your Potential:

Get the Most From Your Staff, Your Resources and Yourself

Break Free From Your Devices After reading this issue’s double take on Technology Addiction (see pg. 38 and pg. 42), visit the UPDATE Resources page on the peer2peer Network to find these additional resources:

Internet addiction even worries Silicon Valley: Experts warn of the addictive power of technology The Observer, July 28, 2012 See what technology leaders and psychologists are saying about compulsive use of technology and steps even they are taking to find balance in a digital age.

Technology You Can’t Resist Stanford Graduate School of Business, August 22, 2012 Learn from a lecturer in the Stanford school of medicine how to recognize the signs of technology addiction and some ways to start curing ourselves of it.

Attached to Technology and Paying a Price New York Times, June 6, 2010 Learn what scientists are saying about how “our brain on computers” is changing the way we think and behave and undermining our ability to focus.

Tech Addicts: Spending every moment with technology can change your life – and not for the better., October 3, 2010 See the signs of just when use of technology has turned into addiction. Understand this trend in America, where it came from and where it is heading.

Make Wellness a Priority Inspired by the articles in this issue (see pg. 30 and pg. 34) to take your district’s wellness program to the next level? Here are a few places to find inspiration!

The Wellness Council of America Look to “the nation’s premier resource for workplace wellness” for training and education, free articles and information and affordable resources for your staff including health and wellness brochures. Find it:

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Update Magazine / Summer 2013

National Health Observances National Health Observances (NHOs) are special days, weeks, or months dedicated to raising awareness about important health topics. Use the calendar and resources on this site as a springboard for what you can do in your district on a monthly basis! Find it:


Strike a Balance After reading Dale Mitchell’s article on pg. 16, look to these resources for more strategies to facilitate work-life balance for you and your staff.

Making It All Work: The Balancing Act School Business Affairs, January 2013 One school business official offers tips and strategies based on how she balances her own professional and personal life. Find it: On the peer2peer Network UPDATE Resources page

Work-life Balance: Tips to reclaim control Mayo Clinic, July 2012 Analyze your relationship to work and then apply specific strategies included in the article to help you find a healthier balance. Find it:

Make the Most of What You Have

Resource Management for School Administrators: Optimizing Fiscal, Facilities and Human Resources By Craig Schilling and Daniel R. Tomal Check out this comprehensive book covering all school resources – fiscal, facilities and human resources. Look deeper into national and state perspectives, future challenges to funding public education, resource allocation and more to help you district reach its true potential!

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THE FINAL WORD Speak ing Up About School Leadership Lauri G. Calabrese Asst. Supt./Finance LaGrange Elem. SD 102

What does it mean to you to be a school business leader? As a school business official, I am on a continuous journey to ensure efficient and clean learning environments, provide food service that is nutritious and appealing, transport kids to and from school in the most cost- and time-efficient manner and request a fair amount of property taxes from district taxpayers to help pay for it all. It is an honor to take on these challenges with the all-encompassing goal of flowing every available dollar to fund programs that benefit the “whole” child.

What challenges will most impact school dist rict leaders in the coming years? Finding the right balance for school districts to live within their means, while improving student achievement is the ongoing challenge. The two biggest challenges that will impact school district leadership over the next few years are the Common Core and Pension Reform. These two mandates will be required of school districts even though there will be no corresponding revenue stream. The cost of the Common Core initiative has been estimated to cost $2,000 per teacher and an additional $10 per student per year for professional development and to improve the school district’s technology infrastructure. As of this writing, several pension reform bills are circulating and it is clear that a fiscally sound solution will likely transfer some portion of the costs to local school districts.

What are the few interest ing insights about yourself and your leadership journey? Like many business managers, my career began in corporate America. Moving from that environment into a school district environment was a culture shock, but a good one, both personally and professionally. People say that a school district should be “run like a business” and while there are merits to this argument, it is just not that black and white. It is very important to lead by example. Developing relationships, actively listening, valuing input and building trust is necessary to a productive environment. To put it simply: people don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.


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Update Magazine / Summer 2013

Did you know... There are currently 80 members occupying formal leadership positions within Illinois ASBO.

Not to mention the hundreds more who volunteer their time as PDC members, seminar presenters and mentors.

Get involved and become a leader within Illinois ASBO. Learn more at

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DON’T MISS THESE EVENTS JOINT EDUCATIONAL SUPPORT PROFESSIONALS CONFERENCE September 24, 2013 University of Illinois Springfield, Springfield, IL TECHCON: 7TH ANNUAL TECHNOLOGY & FINANCIAL ISSUES FOR THE 21ST CENTURY October 18, 2013 NIU Naperville, Naperville IL IASB/IASA/ILLINOIS ASBO 81ST JOINT ANNUAL CONFERENCE November 22-24, 2013 Hyatt Regency Chicago, Chicago IL EDUCATIONAL SUPPORT PROFESSIONALS CONFERENCE December 6, 2013 NIU Naperville, Naperville IL TAKE NOTE OF FUTURE ILLINOIS ASBO CONFERENCE DATES! 63RD ANNUAL CONFERENCE April 30 – May 2, 2014 Renaissance Schaumburg Hotel and Convention Center Schaumburg, IL 64TH ANNUAL CONFERENCE April 29 – May 1, 2015 Renaissance Schaumburg Hotel and Convention Center Schaumburg, IL 65TH ANNUAL CONFERENCE May 4 – 6, 2016 Renaissance Schaumburg Hotel and Convention Center Schaumburg, IL 48 |

Update Magazine / Summer 2013


Illinois ASBO UPDATE Summer 2013  

Leadership and Wellness Issue

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