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December 2013 | Volume 68 Number 6 T H E O F F I C I A L P U B L I C AT I O N O F T H E W I S C O N S I N A S S O C I AT I O N O F S C H O O L B O A R D S, I N C.
John H. Ashley Executive Editor
Sheri Krause Director of Communications
Shelby Anderson Editor n REGIONAL OFFICES n 122 W. Washington Avenue Madison, WI 53703 Phone: 608-257-2622 Fax: 608-257-8386 132 W. Main Street Winneconne, WI 54986 Phone: 920-582-4443 Fax: 920-582-9951 n ADVERTISING n 608-556-9009 • email@example.com n WASB OFFICERS n
John H. Ashley Executive Director
STUDENTS & FACULTY AT STOUGHTON HIGH SCHOOL FIND THE FAB LAB POSSIBILITIES TO BE LIMITLESS, page 4
Green Bay, Region 3 1st Vice President
Genoa City J2/Lake Geneva, Region 13 Immediate Past President n WASB BOARD OF DIRECTORS n Stu Olson Shell Lake, Region 1
Steve Klessig Brillion, Region 8
Capt. Terry McCloskey Three Lakes, Region 2
Alice Marquardt Rio, Region 10
Bill Yingst, Sr. Durand, Region 4
Colin Butler Kettle Moraine, Region 11
Rick Eloranta Owen-Withee, Region 5
Terrence Falk Milwaukee, Region 14
Florence Hyatt Onalaska, Region 6
Jim Long Hamilton, Region 15
Mary Janssen Little Chute Area, Region 7 Wisconsin School News (USPS 688-560) is published 10 issues per year by the Wisconsin Association of School Boards Inc., 122 W. Washington Avenue, Madison, WI 53703. Contents © 2013 Wisconsin Association of School Boards Inc. Subscriptions are available to nonmembers for $40 per year. Periodicals postage is paid at Madison, Wis. The views expressed in Wisconsin School News are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent WASB policies or positions. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Wisconsin School News, 122 W. Washington Avenue, Madison, WI 53703.
A look at the inspirational story of Joplin, Missouri superintendent and convention speaker, C.J. Huff
Pat Greco, Ph.D.
Marketing Your School
Investing in Public Schools™ Scot Ecker Teaching school finance literacy & cultivating community engagement
Stacy Tapp In our current competitive climate, all public schools should be building their brand
D E P A R T M E N T S
Challenging What Seems Insurmountable Liz Griffin
Cranking It Up Quality improvement results in a system for learning
Wanda Owens Barneveld, Region 9 2nd Vice President
Shelby Anderson Stoughton High School joins digital fabrication revolution with its Fab Lab
Waterloo, Region 12 President
C O L U M N S
2 News Briefs 3 Viewpoint — Forward Together 22 WASB Insurance — Cyber-Criminals Can Wreak Havoc 23 Member Recognition — Congratulations to Our School Leaders 24 Association News — WASB Fall Events Recap 26 Legislative Update — Rural School Challenges and the Future of the Common Core
28 Service Associate Q&A — Barbara Johnson, Rowland Reading Foundation
29 Legal Comment — Student Clothing, Social Causes, and Free Speech 32 Calendar
Pewaukee School District Wins Baldrige Award
n November, it was announced that the Pewaukee School District won the 2013 Malcolm Baldrige Award for its “high performance and other internal successes,” according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Among other achievements, the district was recognized for its 97.4 percent graduation rate despite having one of the more rigorous public school graduation requirements (28 credits) in the state. Additionally, the percentage of Pewaukee students attending a two- or four-year college increased from 78.8 percent in 2006-07 to 91.9 percent in 2011-12. The district was also recognized for working with staff, parents and its community. The Pewaukee School
District regularly surveys its staff to evaluate leadership effectiveness and has been named one of Wisconsin’s Top 100 Workplaces by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel for the past three years. The Pewaukee School District was only the seventh public school district to ever win the Baldrige Award since its inception in 1988. The other 2013 Baldrige Award winners are Baylor Regional Medical Center in Plano Texas, and Sutter Davis Hospital in Davis, California. According to the district, it started
STATISTIC OF THE MONTH
79% Percent of Wisconsin students receiving vouchers this school year who did not attend a Wisconsin public school last year. Source: Department of Public Instruction
Record Number of International Students Attend U.S. Colleges
he Institute of International Education along with the U.S. State Department released numbers that show almost 820,000 international students attended a U.S. college during the 2012-13 academic year. Students from China, India, and South Korea make up 49 percent of international students in the U.S. China has the most college student in the U.S. with nearly 235,000 students. A report also found that international students contribute more than $24 billion to the U.S. economy. Additionally, the number of American students studying abroad has also increased. In 1991-92, 71,000 American students studied abroad. During the 2011-12 school year, 283,000 U.S. students earned academic credit outside the country. N
Wisconsin School News
using an improvement plan in 2007 based on Baldrige Award guidelines. The improvement plan drove the district “to formalize processes driven by data to improve results for staff members, students and schools.” n
Student Poverty Unfortunate Reality in Southern States
study from the Southern Education Foundation found that for the first time in almost 50 years, “a majority of public school children in 17 states … were low-income students” at the end of the 2011 school year. According to the Report, “A New Majority,” 13 of the 17 states with a majority of low-income students are southern states. The other four are located in the west — New Mexico, California, Oregon and Nevada. The state with the worst rate was Mississippi, with nearly 71 percent lowincome students. Only three states had rates below one-third — New Jersey, New Hampshire, and North Dakota. Wisconsin had a poverty rate of 39.2 percent, compared to 36.2 percent for Minnesota, 38.7 percent for Iowa, and 46.6 percent for Illinois. “With huge stubborn unchanging gaps in learning, schools in the south and across the nation face the real danger of becoming entrenched, inadequately funded educational systems that enlarge the division in America between the haves and the have-nots and endanger the entire nation’s prospects,” report author Steve Suitts said. •
Jo h n H . A s h l e y
Forward Together The WASB invites you to Stand Up for Public Education
hroughout the state, our public schools are providing innovative programs and world-class learning opportunities led by outstanding staff and school leaders. Often, this work goes unrecognized outside the immediate community. While we continue to face challenges and move forward with reforms, we need to ensure that a broader audience knows about the good work taking place in our public schools and how public schools benefit everyone. To help share those success stories and help school boards learn from each other, the WASB has initiated a Stand Up for Public Education website. Using a blog-style website and social media, the WASB intends to share as many stories as possible, and we’ll need your help. Check out the new website by visiting wasb.org and clicking on the “Stand Up for Public Education” button. So far, we’ve shared stories about successful farm-to-school programs, partnerships between school districts and higher learning institutions, and a host of other amazing projects taking place in our public schools. We look forward to sharing more. When we rolled out the Stand Up for Public Education website, we also unveiled the first phase of our redesigned website home page. While more work will be done in the coming months on the navigation
bars, the new home page is intended to help you find information of the most relevance to you on the WASB website as easily as possible. You can navigate to pages in the manner you are accustomed, or you can click on your position in the new “Information for You” section and the most popular sites will be brought to the forefront. We welcome your feedback and suggestions as we continue to improve our website. The WASB is committed to doing all we can to support and educate school board members, and to stand up for public education. However, I would be remiss in not pointing out that we have serious challenges facing public education in Wisconsin. The recent NAEP (the “Nation’s Report Card”) results reveal that while, overall, Wisconsin’s fourthand eighth-grade public school students are on par with or ahead of national averages, we have the worst achievement gap in the nation. There is work to be done — not just for specific groups of students — but across the board for all students. And unfortunately, revenue limitations and increasing poverty rates — nearly two in five Wisconsin children now live in poverty — make our work even harder. Only public education has the capacity to reach all students and to ensure that every child has access to a free, high-quality education. And
there are shining examples of success in public schools throughout the state. We need to tell our stories, challenge our assumptions, understand the changes, question our state and local policies, advocate for the appropriate resources, and learn from each other. We need to move forward together, steadily and consistently. To make this happen, I urge you to take advantage of the diverse programming and networking opportunities provided by the annual State Education Convention in January in Milwaukee. From the in-depth, pre-convention workshops on Tuesday, Jan. 21 to the closing general session on Friday, Jan. 24, local, state and national experts will be sharing strategies and ideas that can help your district and your students. They will be explaining the numerous reform efforts under way — educator effectiveness, the Common Core State Standards, Universal Design for Learning, and more — and how these reform efforts may impact student learning. These experts will be providing guidance and tips on how to use resources more effectively and efficiently, the latest changes in state law, and a whole lot more. I look forward to seeing you in Milwaukee and joining you in standing up for public education. n
There is work to be done — not just for specific groups of students — but across the board for all students.
Stoughton High School joins digital fabrication revolution with its Fab Lab | Shelby Anderson
n Massachusetts a father made a prosthetic hand for his son using a 3D printer, a student in France used a 3D printer to build a digital camera, and NASA has used the technology to build components for rocket engines. There is a revolution of sorts underway. It’s a revolution of “making things” and its taking place across the world and in Wisconsin at Stoughton High School. The high school is fitted with a “Fab Lab.” Short for Fabrication Laboratory, the Fab Lab is a phenomenon started by Neil Gerschenfeld, director of MIT’s Center for Bits and Atoms. There are now more than a hundred Fab Labs around the world, however, Stoughton High School’s is one of only five housed at a public school. The Fab Lab is a collection of high-tech tools: a 3D printer
produces plastic products; two laser cutters engrave or cut precise designs into wood, stone, plastic, or glass; a large milling machine, or ShopBot, cuts materials for large scale products such as furniture. There is also an electronics station where students can build and program microprocessors.
Unlike traditional shop classes where students create projects with handheld or power tools, these machines are controlled and operated through computer numerical control (CNC). Code is entered into a computer and then directions are sent to a machine, like a 3D printer or laser cutter, which produces the product or makes the cuts or incisions, based on the directions it receives from the computer. Gerschenfeld says Fab Labs are a response to the third digital revolution currently taking place. The first digital revolution was communication, the second was computation and now the third is fabrication. Soon, through the use of computers and engineering machines, people will be able to basically design and make whatever they want. “This is like the birth of the internet, but it’s literally an internet of things.” Gershenfeld said. “It’s an internet where data becomes things
While there are now more than a hundred Fab Labs around the world,
Stoughton High School’s is one of only five housed at a public school. December 2013
and things become data. And we’re seeing the births of entirely new businesses where you go to market by shipping data and you produce on-demand where you consume.” Students at Stoughton High School are being trained how to operate the equipment and are beginning to see that the possibilities to design and produce innovative products are endless. “They have the opportunity to create something that doesn’t exist, something that they’ve always wanted, and they can create it here,” said Brian Shimon, Stoughton High School associate principal. | Building Partnerships The Stoughton High School Fab Lab
Wisconsin School News
got its start when Mike Connor, a retired engineer and now a member of the grant committee at Cummins, a company that designs and manufactures power generation equipment and engines, visited a Minnesota high school that is fitted with a Fab Lab. Connor was impressed and brought the idea to the district. Shimon said the district thought about the idea and realized it fit perfectly with the district’s vision. That vision was created not only by the district but the entire community. In the fall of 2011, the school board hosted a two-day strategic planning conference, called Stoughton 21C, that included more than 95 individuals from the community including business leaders, teachers, parents, students and other community members. Liz Menzer,
school board president, said an outcome of the conference was an overwhelming amount of community stakeholders that wanted to help support the schools. “It was really just finding the right match,” Menzer said. With the help of Connor, Cummins stepped up and offered a $100,000 matching grant to build a Fab Lab at Stoughton High School. With the matching grant from Cummins, the district had to raise $100,000. The district was able to collect $106,000. The money is part of a three-year grant that allowed the district to purchase and set-up the equipment such as the 3D printer, laser cutters, and large router. The district still has money in its coffers to cover supplies and upkeep of the equipment.
Students at Stoughton High School are being trained how to operate the equipment and are beginning to see that the possibilities to design and produce innovative products are endless.
Learn More about the Fab Lab at Convention | Opening the Lab With the equipment in place, the district needed qualified staff to run the lab. Three teachers at Stoughton High School — Brad Seehafer, technology teacher, Chris Wiemer, calculus teacher, and Francis Kelley, science teacher — stepped forward and took a semester-long MIT course through live videoconferencing with other Fab Lab leaders from around the world. For the course, the teachers made a wood cabinet with a light inside that turns on when the cabinet doors are opened, a wooden box that only opens if buttons are pushed in the correct sequence, and a device that turns sound into light and back into sound. At the start of this school year, the first Stoughton students officially began classes in the Fab Lab —
learning how to use the equipment and getting familiarized with the philosophies and teaching styles. Wiemer said students working in the Fab Lab are not only learning how to use the high-tech equipment, they’re also learning how to apply concepts from math, science and technology classes to their projects. “We’re teaching the design process, which is useful in a lot of things,” Wiemer said. “If students create something and it doesn’t work, they don’t get docked for it, they just go back and work on it some more.” Education researchers such as Tony Wagner, emphasize that students should have opportunities to fail in school because it is simply a part of learning and improving. Another tenet of the Fab Lab philosophy is collaboration, not only amongst other students in the
Stoughton Area School District leaders will be presenting a session, “Developing SchoolCommunity Partnerships — and a Fab Lab” at the State Education Convention on Thursday, Jan. 23.
Stoughton Fab Lab but in Fab Labs across the world. Each Fab Lab in the world is connected to the other Labs via a web camera. Through this way, great ideas and projects are shared all over the world and may provide solutions for projects that other people are working on in their Fab Labs.
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Wisconsin School News
| Creating Innovators When asked why the district would want to take on a big project such as the building and development of a Fab Lab, Shimon said it all goes back to the students. Shimon recalled that Project Lead The Way, a hands-on, project-based national STEM curriculum, was created because the U.S. wasn’t developing enough quality engineers. “The Fab Lab is another way to get students excited about learning and to get them to take high-level math and science courses,” Shimon said. The good thing about the Fab Lab is that it is attracts all students — not just the students with strong math and science grades. “We want to make sure that we’re building access to all students,” Menzer said. “We have about 25 percent enrolled who would be considered non-traditional Fab Lab users. There is an opportunity to really excite and ignite kids in a field where they are eager to learn more.”
Additionally, projects in the Fab Lab use skills and disciplines from across the curriculum. Students are using science, art, math, and computer programming skills. “It’s been really exciting, even if science isn’t your thing,” Menzer said. “There is a lot of enthusiasm among students and it keeps growing into other areas. This is something that can be a game changer for a school district like Stoughton.” | Endless Possibilities The new Fab Lab at Stoughton wouldn’t have been possible without the help of Cummins and other community sponsors. Menzer says the Fab Lab project has encouraged and excited the school district about other partnerships. “It’s opened our eyes to more possibilities about how we can partner with other organizations and businesses in Stoughton and around our greater Dane county area to provide real world learning to our students,” she said. “The possibilities are really endless.” n Anderson is editor of Wisconsin School News.
Cranking It Up Quality improvement results in a system for learning | Pat Greco, Ph.D.
he stakes are high in education and the evidence is clear: Our school systems are expected to perform at higher levels to be globally competitive. Our state and nation are dependent on our ability as professionals (school leaders, board members and educators) to achieve dramatically improved performance with all children. Commitment to student learning is high in Wisconsin schools. Yet, resources remain tight. There are passionate, skilled educators, leaders and board members in every school district across our state. The skills we must develop in our leaders and teachers to actually lead and imple-
ment the process of continuous quality improvement will be the critical link. In the School District of Menomonee Falls, quality principles and Lean Six Sigma tools are underpinning the improvement process to change student engagement, the learning climate, the work environment, system efficiency, and student and system performance results. Lean Sigma Six is a managerial concept that aims to make organizations more efficient and productive. There are no silver bullets, but the early results have been significant. Within three years, school performance across the district is
at an all-time high for the system. Most dramatically, the high school went from the state designation of “in need of improvement” four years ago to “exceeding state expectations.” The School District of Menomonee Falls now performs in the top 5 percent of the 424 Wisconsin school districts. Building the capacity of the system leaders and staff in the use of quality tools and principles is the key. Our current staff members and leaders are directly responsible for the improvement results. All of our schools exceed state expectations. Discipline is down, and student performance results demonstrate
“The discussions among our teachers are the strongest I have ever seen. Teachers are using immediate student performance data, and working together on best practice.” — Lynn Grimm, principal, North Middle School
Wisconsin School News
“When they told me what Mr. Stein will be doing, using very specific data and our continuous improvement model to help my son, it was just so powerful and amazing that I had to share. I know this happens every day in our classrooms, and often goes unrecognized. But it is truly amazing work. All I can say is ‘WOW!’” — note from a third-grade parent at Ben Franklin Elementary School
both high achievement and high growth. The key has been focusing on improving the processes first, and committing deeply to developing the people in the use of quality principles and tools. The Carnegie Education Foundation, located on Stanford University Campus, selected our school district as a national case study because of the process we are using to improve performance and the use of improvement science. I, and Dr. Joe Weitzer, dean of Waukesha County Technical College
(WCTC) Center for Business Performance Solutions, formed a partnership focused on quality improvement and Lean Six Sigma. Lean principles target effectiveness and efficiency. Each school principal, central office leader, and their support staff members are being certified through WCTC in the application of the quality concepts. Most MBA programs include Six Sigma principles in their curricula. This partnership is providing the skills necessary for our team to think, problem solve and lead with
AT A GLANCE: School District of Menomonee Falls The School District of Menomonee Falls educates approximately 4,300 students, and serves more than 9,000 residents through community education and recreation. The Menomonee Falls schools are among the highest achieving in the state. The district consists of four elementary schools, one middle school, and one high school. Over 90 percent of Menomonee Falls students will further their education after high school; 60 percent attending four-year colleges, and 30 percent technical or specialty colleges. Approximately 5 percent enter military service, and 5 percent enter directly into the workforce. The student population represents 20 percent minority students, 20 percent students of poverty, and 12 percent students with special education needs.
“This process has created an intense drive to focus on what is most important. Now that I am aware of the quality tools and techniques, I recognize when I fall into the old habits. I am more aware of the data that exists throughout our system and rarely make decisions without gathering more information.” — Corey Golla, High School Principal
a focus on excellence and efficiency. We have trained every classroom teacher to use quality tools to improve the cycles of learning. The Continuous Classroom Improvement (CCI) (explained below) process has changed our ability to monitor student progress and adjust the plan for instruction based on student feedback and performance. CCI is the most efficient and effective way to
improve classroom learning results. | The Model The Continuous Classroom Improvement Process involves implementing eight steps within each classroom and posting each step in the room.
b Step 1: Clearly define the learning requirements for students in student friendly lan-
guage. The curricular standards are prioritized by grade level and “I Can” statements reflect the learning requirements in each room.
b Step 2: Publish and post the
learning goals for the class and content area that are specific, measurable, attainable, and aligned to the priority standards. These are monitored in 10-15 day cycles.
b Step 3: Chart and analyze the M E N O M O N E E FA L L S
MODEL FOR IMPROVEMENT
What are we trying to accomplish?
How will we know that a change is an improvement?
learning results for the class on common assessments.
b Step 4: Collaboratively write
and live a mission statement that defines how the class will work together to achieve their results and support one another.
b Step 5: Plan short-term learning What changes can result in improvement?
targets in 10-15 day cycles.
b Step 6: Do the plan to ensure
everyone learns the targets and is using the high-yield strategies for instruction.
b Step 7: Study the results of student performance.
Wisconsin School News
b Step 8: Act on the results and
create an immediate action plan for intervention and to adjust the next cycle of learning.
Teachers use this process to accelerate their response to student learning needs. Students clearly understand the learning expectations, where they are currently performing, and how to improve their own results. The process is working. | Moving Forward Our culture has shifted. Our staff and leaders have always been committed, talented professionals. The tools are providing the specific skills needed to meet the changing performance demands. We are supporting one another in the process. Fear has been high over the last few years in Wisconsin. Some districts are paralyzed, not knowing how to take the next step required to achieve the performance demands. Teachers in Menomonee Falls are reporting that they understand
The School District of Menomonee Falls will be presenting at the State Education Convention on Friday, Jan. 24, in Milwaukee. Their session, “High Results in a System Designed for Quality” will highlight the district’s school improvement process. In addition, they will be hosting a district visit during the second week of December and again in the spring. Contact Pat Greco at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Pat Greco, Ph.D. is superintendent of schools for the School District of Menomonee Falls.
Is your insurance provider a phone number or a partner?
Personal service. That’s the strength of our Community.
Learn More about the Improvement Process at Convention
student needs better than ever before, and how to shift instruction based on student input. We know strong process leads to powerful results. We know “blame” paralyzes the work team and will never create a culture focused on quality. Our students, staff, leaders and board members are committed to excellence. The investment and care taken to develop our people is changing the lives of our students forever. We will achieve the expectations set for students and staff, and we will do so in a supportive environment designed for quality. We are demonstrating each day that the Menomonee Falls Schools and District teams are “Best in Class.” We invite you to come and visit! n
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In our current competitive climate, all public schools should be building their brand
at a public charter school than at other public schools” and, in Wisconsin last year, more than one in four students chose to attend a school other than their home school. What is it that these private, charter, and other non-traditional schools are doing better than public schools? Marketing. These schools were never guaranteed their students, so they have been marketing their schools all along. They know how to sell their product and they have committed resources to SCHOOL doing it well. Public school districts on the other hand, are latecomers to the marketing game. Most public school districts have not yet committed resources to
t’s no secret. Many public school districts in Wisconsin are facing declining enrollment. Competition is fierce. Charter schools, private schools, voucher schools, virtual schools, STEM/ STEAM schools …you name it. There is a choice that appeals to everyone. According to the most recent Phi Delta Kappa poll (September 2013), 51 percent of Americans now believe “students receive a better education
should have a brand that is aligned with your district’s mission and vision.
Wisconsin School News
| Stacy Tapp hiring a professional to lead communication and marketing efforts, much less created a budget for advertising and marketing initiatives. According to a recent survey funded by the Wisconsin School Public Relations Association (WSPRA) in collaboration with the Wisconsin Association of School District Administrators (WASDA) and CESA 6, only 10 percent of Wisconsin school districts employ a communication professional. If your district does not, what can you do? Every school should have a brand that is aligned with your district’s mission and vision. And every school principal or leader as well as all school staff members should know how to market that brand. Though it may seem daunting and expensive, if approached strategically, marketing your school can be very manageable and cost little to nothing.
RESEARCH COST: Minimal to expensive, depending on approach
Always begin with research. Find out what your stakeholders (i.e., school families, community members, prospective school families) think about your school. Ask these questions:
b What is the community
perception of my school?
b What do stakeholders want from my school?
b What do stakeholders like/ dislike about my school?
b How do school families want to receive communication from my school?
Gathering this type of information will provide a baseline of understanding about what your school image or brand currently is and it will help you determine how you want to improve that brand. This information can be collected by conducting formal focus groups or surveys or simply by having conversations with stakeholders in school hallways, at meetings, during events or in the community. Your PTA is made up of school stakeholders. Don’t forget to tap them for their input. Also, consider asking parents or others to “secret shop” your school to identify your customer service strengths and weaknesses.
YOUR BRAND COST: Minimal
Developing three to five clear, concise key messages is essential for building your school brand and marketing your school. Start with the questions below and work with your entire school staff to build consensus around and ownership of your school key messages.
b What does my school offer that is unique or better than our competition?
b Who are we and what is our purpose?
b What benefits do we provide our students and their families?
Developing 3-5 clear, concise key messages is essential to building your school brand and marketing your school. Start with the questions above and work with your entire school staff to build consensus
around and ownership of your school’s key messages. Make sure your key messages are easy to understand (no education jargon), memorable, and meaningful to school families (“How does this impact my child?”). Every staff member, from the principal to the teachers to the cafeteria worker to the secretary and building engineers, should know your school’s key messages. They should believe in them and be comfortable sharing them with people in the community, friends, neighbors or anyone who wants to know about your school. Your key messages should help a family know why they should choose your school.
QUALITY SERVICE COST: Minimal
Approximately 90 percent of reputation is based on quality service. The way your staff interacts with families and community members who visit your school can make or break your school image. Additionally, positive word-ofmouth is one of the most valuable forms of marketing. And school employees rank first as the most influential source of impression about our schools. A dissatisfied customer will tell 16 people about his/her bad experience. A dissatisfied parent will tell neighbors, family members, church friends and anyone who will listen about his/ her experience with your school.
On the other hand, a positive customer service experience can lead a family to do some extremely valuable word-of-mouth marketing for you that costs absolutely nothing. So, involve staff in rolling out a customer service/school branding campaign that will lead to these thirdparty endorsements for your school. School leaders should ensure that all school staff, especially front line staff in the school office, does a superb job of customer service 100 percent of the time. Here are some basic tips:
b Develop customer service expectations for all school staff and hold them accountable.
b Reward staff who demonstrate great customer service.
b Lead by example; school leaders must be visible and provide great customer service too.
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Wisconsin School News
Learn More from WSPRA at Convention The Wisconsin School Public Relations Association (WSPRA) will be holding a session at the upcoming State Education Convention. On Thursday, Jan. 23, WSPRA will hold a session on community support, “Building Community support: Why Effective Communication Starts at the Top.” For more information, visit wasb.org/convention.
MARKETING COST: Little to a lot, depending on available resources
When people think about marketing, they typically think of advertising, which is very costly. Some schools and districts do advertise. However, there are also some very low-cost and effective ways to market our schools, including earned (“free”) media.
b Share your story. Make time to
reach out to local media outlets to share your positive stories. If you don’t tell your story, who will? And the only expense is a little bit of your time.
b Evaluate first impressions. What does your school office convey to visitors? Pretend you are a parent entering the building. Do a walk through and pay attention to what a parent would notice. Make sure the area is welcoming, neat and professional-looking.
b Utilize outdoor signage. Make
sure your school signs have current, positive messages about your school. Advertise pro-
grams, awards and recognitions in addition to school events.
b Revitalize your school news-
letter. Your school newsletter is more than a place to inform parents about rules and policies or announce upcoming fundraisers and events. It should market your school and build your brand. Share positive
stories about unique programs, student achievement and highquality teaching. Post your newsletter on your website. Prospective parents may read it and it’s a great way to keep current families engaged.
b Keep your website up-to-date.
Prospective parents are shopping online. Make sure the information on your website is up-to-date and incorporates your key messages. This is one of your most valuable marketing tools and most often
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the first chance to engage new families.
b Consider using social
media. (e.g., Facebook, Twitter) Don’t jump in unless you are ready to take full ownership (which means daily monitoring and posting) of your social media site. If you are ready, using social media is a great way to build relationships with school families and communicate about all the great things your school offers. Encourage your families to share positive testimonials on your Facebook page.
EVALUATE COST: Minimal to expensive, depending upon approach
Once you’ve made a concerted effort to market your school, take the time to evaluate your efforts.
Again, this can cost little to nothing if you choose to informally survey school families or community members or request that a parent “secret shop” your school. You can also survey families who enroll in or inquire about your school. How did they hear about or why did they choose your school? This will help guide your efforts and ensure you are using your limited resources most effectively. Social media and websites also have built-in measurement tools. How many new “likes” do you have on your Facebook page and what is the quality of interaction on your page? How many followers do you have on Twitter? You can use Google Analytics (free tool) to see how many people visit your website and gauge what visitors are most interested by noting which pages are visited most. | Need Support? School districts must recognize the need to jump into the marketing
Have you heard about
game and begin to build their brands in order to compete with all of the educational options available to families. Every district would benefit from hiring a professional communicator to strategically lead the charge. WSPRA is also a valuable school communications resource. Don’t hesitate to reach out and ask for assistance or advice. WSPRA members can provide a depth of experience and knowledge in school public relations, marketing, crisis management, media relations and more. Visit wspra.org for more information. n Tapp is chief of communications and community engagement for the Racine Unified School District and a WSPRA Board Member.
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Wisconsin School News
CONVENTION PREVIEW Catch C.J. Huff at Convention
Challenging What Seems Insurmountable Liz Griffin
hen C.J. Huff took over the superintendency in Joplin, a city of 50,000 in southwestern Missouri, he faced an apathetic community that showed piddling interest in the affairs of the school system. Of the 7,600 students, 60 percent were living in poverty, and the annual graduation rate hovered between 70 and 75 percent. That was five years ago. The face of the Joplin schools could not look any more different today, figuratively and literally. The district started a 1:1 laptop initiative, hired 13 teaching and learning coaches in a genuine commitment to 21st-century
THE C.J. HUFF FILE Currently: superintendent, Joplin, Mo. Previously: superintendent, Eldon R1 School District, Eldon, Mo. Greatest influence on career: Without question, my family. My wife and kids have encouraged and supported me during some very trying times. They keep me going. Best professional day: Aug. 17, 2011. That was the day we hit our goal of opening school on time following the May 22 tornado. Books at bedside: Influencer by Kerry Patterson et al.; Leading in a Culture of Change by Michael Fullan; and Love Works: Seven Timeless Principles of Effective Leadership by Joel Manby Biggest blooper: When the Missouri Legislature passed a bill requiring additional structured time for physical activity, we used one recess. We began referring to it as “structured recess” and that name stuck. Parents cried foul at the idea of structured playtime. We are much more careful now when we name initiatives.
Dr. C.J. Huff
learning, passed a controversial $62 million school bond issue and cut the dropout rate by an astounding 42 percent over that period. The district’s current state perhaps is best signaled by the name of its outreach program, Bright Futures. It’s a fitting appellation, as Huff has led the district’s resounding bounce back from a devastating category EF5 tornado in May 2011 that flattened nine of Joplin’s 19 schools. Yet Huff does not see his leadership tenure defined this way. He barely referenced the life-altering act of nature during his candidacy as one of four finalists for 2013 National Superintendent of the Year. Born to a family of farmers and educators in the southeastern Missouri town of McCune (population 500), Huff says growing up on a working farm was fitting preparation for public school leadership. Farming and adversity go hand in hand, he observes. When he arrived in Joplin, Huff says he discovered the community’s apathy stemmed partly from the public’s perception of the poor graduation rate “as a school problem, not a community problem.” He reached out to the public, creating Bright Futures, an umbrella covering 280 partnerships with local businesses, faith-based organizations and human service agencies to provide round-the-clock attention to the basic needs of poor children. In the tornado aftermath, Huff acted decisively to reopen school for the entire district just 87 days later. Among staff, the district motto informally became “Every child, every day, no matter what.” Although insurance money would cover basic rebuilding of Joplin High School, Huff saw an opportunity for something more — a state-of-the-art facility fit for 21st-century learning.
Hear how Dr. Huff and the Joplin community were able to use established community partnerships to reopen their school doors only a couple months after a catastrophic tornado swept through the community. Dr. Huff will be speaking at the WASB Breakfast program on Thursday, Jan. 23 at 7 am. For more information or to register, visit wasb.org/convention.
Some residents objected loudly to the expense of an upgraded facility. But Huff persisted, educating the community about why it was so important to the city’s and students’ future. “He was tireless,” says Carol Stark, editor of the Joplin Globe, calling Huff a man of “principles and morals” who solicits input widely and then “questions whether a decision is the right (one).” In the case of the contested school bond, the superintendent personally sought out the critics, Stark says. He would call individuals who had written critical letters to the editor in the Joplin Globe and often meet them over coffee. The bond proposal was approved by 46 votes. That it passed “is a testament to plain hard work on Dr. Huff’s and his team’s part, but also on the comprehensive nature of the plan to get people on board,” says Gary Pulsipher, president and CEO of Mercy Hospital in Joplin. An educator since 25, Huff says he finds joy in devising new initiatives to overcome major challenges. “I love my job,” he adds. “Even the week after the storm, I loved coming to work. I was put on this earth to help kids.” n Liz Griffin is managing editor of School Administrator. Reprinted with permission from the June 2013 issue of School Administrator magazine, published by AASA, The School Superintendents Association.
Teaching school finance literacy & cultivating community engagement
ritical thinking, curiosity, selfguided learning, and engaged students: when we see this in a classroom we know students are actively learning. If these are the best practices, then why aren’t we using these same methods when we attempt to engage our communities? I posed this question to the board of the Wisconsin Association of School Business Officials (WASBO) when they began early development of a statewide school finance learning tool. Eventually, I and eight other education professionals formed a core team to further explore a statewide school finance learning tool. This team, made up of representatives from WASBO, the Wisconsin Association of School Boards (WASB), the Wisconsin School Public Relations Association (WSPRA) and the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI), came together in the first such collaboration we know of in the nation to create Investing in Wisconsin’s Public Schools™ .
Investing in Wisconsin’s Public Schools™ was launched in March 2012 and has been rapidly adopted. In just over a year, more than 500 parents, community members, board members, teachers, and school administrators have participated. WASBO, WSPRA and WASB use the tool at state conferences and conventions. Thirty-nine school districts (nearly 10 percent of all districts in the state), several Cooperative Educational Service Agencies and some Wisconsin Education Association Council Uniserves use it for learning and community engagement. Several universities have added it to the curriculum in their graduate programs for school administration. In 2013, the Association of School Business Officials International (ASBOI) recognized Investing in Wisconsin’s Public Schools™ with the ASBOI Pinnacle of Excellence Award. This is the highest award given annually by ASBOI for contributions to the field.
| Scot Ecker The creation of Investing in Wisconsin’s Public Schools™ benefits school districts across the state in three primary ways:
b Availability. The tool was
designed so that any Wisconsin school district and their stakeholders could use it to engage their community.
b Accessibility and Affordability.
WASBO and WASB initially funded the development of the tool and deployed it statewide. It is available to all school districts at a price accessible for even the smallest district.
b Consistency. One teaching
methodology statewide for all stakeholders promotes consistent learning outcomes.
The main visual portion of the tool is a 3-foot by 5-foot poster. It sets the stage pictorially to learn easily about school finance, regardless of attendees’ level of knowledge. A trained facilitator engages the participants (in groups of eight to 10)
Investing in Wisconsin’s Public Schools™ has truly been a valuable investment for our school district and our community. — Dr. Claire Martin, superintendent, Chilton School District
Wisconsin School News
Try out the Investing in Wisconsin Public Schools™ Program at Convention A Pre-Convention Workshop about the Investing in Wisconsin Public Schools™ program will be presented Tuesday, Jan. 21, at the State Education Convention in Milwaukee. Participants will have the opportunity to be trained as table coaches. For more information, visit wasb.org/convention.
through dialogue designed to lead to self-discovery, experiential learning and insight into other stakeholders’ perspectives. A facilitator handbook guides the facilitator through the learning activity. We were purposeful in making the learning timeless and usable for all for many years to come. We made deliberate efforts to create a non-partisan learning experience in order to create collaborative and interactive learning and engagement conditions. WASBO, WASB and WSPRA have created multiple opportunities for school district leaders to become trained facilitators. Training sessions are facilitated by WASBO. Statewide, we now have more than 125 trained facilitators representing 81 school districts, reaching every part of our state. Facilitators’ time is volunteered. Districts are using Investing in Wisconsin’s Public Schools™ for three primary purposes: 1) Community engagement meetings with various community stakeholders exploring proposed outcomes where finances will be involved. Examples are
school goals as they relate to school budgets, specific projects, etc. 2) To provide an understanding of the relationships between local, state and federal governmental units. 3) Initial community engagements leading to school district strategic planning.
Those organizations and districts that have used the tool report that they have saved time and budget dollars by utilizing this at-the-ready resource available to all, minimizing the decades-old frustration of trying to convey the complex finance issues of school districts. Participating in the learning experience is transformative. Before a session, participants (who inevitably have varying degrees of knowledge about school finance) do a word association activity with the term “school budget.” Words most often heard are “complicated,” “taxes,” “confusing,” “overwhelming” and “ambiguous.” When the word association exercise is repeated at the end of sessions, recurring words are “community,”
“student,” “engaging,” “complex” and “interactive.” This tool not only helps community members develop a strong bond with their school district, it fosters a deeper understanding of the ways financial decision-making impact the quality of their children’s education. It encourages the kind of thoughtful dialogue that inspires change and action on the behalf of students’ needs. Chilton School District Superintendent Dr. Claire Martin shared her district’s successful experience using this tool. “Last school year, we used the Investing in Wisconsin’s Public Schools™ tabletop exercise with the board, administration and staff and it has been very well received,” Martin said. “In fact, it has been so successful that we are now hosting monthly community conversations using it, with community interest still growing. I recently sent invitations to our legislators and received responses that two will be attending our next exercise and two others are interested in attending in the future. I want to commend you and the others involved in developing this tool. It has truly been a valuable investment for our school district and our community.” n Ecker is associate vice president and controller at Carthage College.
M3 I n s u r a n c e
Be Prepared: Cyber-Criminals Can Wreak Havoc How simple modification to a school district’s crime policy saved them $100,000 NOTE: Since this article addresses an open case with local police and Secret Service, the school district will not be identified.
Wisconsin school district payroll clerk followed established security protocol in the procedures for bimonthly payroll processing. The file was created by the payroll system and downloaded to the district’s designated computer. The district payroll clerk retrieved the file, and then verified the data. With all data confirmed, the clerk transmitted the file electronically to the district’s bank for overnight processing. Early the next morning, a district employee called to ask if there was a delay in automatic deposits. There was more than a delay. The payroll batch file had been “cyberstolen” and replaced with new names and accounts all over the country for more than twice the amount authorized. The payroll money was gone.
| Discovery, Fear …
and then Relief The district business manager shared the story: “As soon as we got the phone call that something was wrong, we called our bank. They called the police and started to unravel what had happened. Our immediate priority was paying our employees. Working with the bank, we wrote physical checks for our employees and then our district team got into our cars and we rode all over the area, depositing that cash to our employees’ accounts. Our second call was to our account executive at M3. Here’s the
relief part of this story. A few months earlier, he had recommended additions to our crime policy based on the trends M3 tracks, like cyber-crime. I’m a ‘cheap’ business manager, but the low cost of these riders made it easy to say yes. That was the smartest decision of my career. We added coverage for Computer Fraud and Funds Transfer — a low deductible and a $250,000 limit. It cost less than we could have imagined, and it was the best money I have ever spent. We knew we were covered.” The investigation included the bank, the district, the local police, the Secret Service, the insurance company, M3 and their claim consultants, and even a forensic engineering company who specializes in fraud. The bank’s disaster plan across banking networks helped them recover almost $250,000. The new insurance has covered the rest. The forensic team has pinpointed when and how the breach occurred; the Secret Service is pursuing the perpetrators. | Is Your Data Protected? Data privacy is a hot topic for every individual and business. Consider the sheer volume of intensely private data maintained in government and education systems. Complex cyber-protection hardware, software and processes guard that data and the systems that manage it. But computer fraud perpetrators go well beyond “hacking”. Their goal is access to money, personally identifiable infor-
“Of course, we have protection in place — a system of firewalls, passwords and process checks. What we learned is that protection can fail. The hackers are one step ahead.” — School District Business Manager
Wisconsin School News
towards certainty in an uncertain world 1. Audit your internal processes for all financial/confidential data protection. What’s the backup plan for your backup plan? 2. Pay close attention to hardware as well as software. If your security system server goes down, what happens? That’s when you’re the most vulnerable. 3. Create an actual disaster plan with your partners such as your bank and your payroll system. Make sure you are all on the same page. 4. Train your employees. Email provides the easiest access into a protected network. Define what kinds of emails are dangerous to open. 5. Check your crime coverage. Work with your insurance company to ensure your crime coverage is up to date. Do you have an adequate limit? Will it cover your payroll?
mation, trade secrets or military information. These criminals “spearphish” with wide-ranging, emailbased fraud attempts. Individual emails seem to come from personally trusted sources. But when opened, the email triggers download of spyware that can enter protected systems and access secured data. As global networks grow larger and larger, we all have increased risk for data breaches. Here are just a few of the data breaches at Wisconsin educational and government institutions over the last five years.
b 2007: The Wisconsin Department of Veteran Affairs
b 2009: City of Madison b 2009: Wisconsin Department of Corrections
b 2010: University of Wisconsin at Madison
b 2011: University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee n
Congratulations to Our School Leaders Recognizing those school board members who reached Level 5 of the Member Recognition Program
he Wisconsin Association of School Boards Member Recognition Program encourages school board members to participate in activities that strengthen their skills as local educational leaders. Board members are awarded points for participating in WASB and NSBA (National School Boards Association) activities. Each August, the WASB sends out a Board Recognition Report, which reflects WASB programs 2013 WASB
James Beistle, Unity REGION 3
Michael Blecha, Green Bay Area Lee Kuntz, Marinette Dennis Piepkorn, Suring REGION 4
Gail Stark, Boyceville James Holte, Elk Mound Area REGION 5
Rita Kasten, DC Everest Deanna Heiman, Neillsville Krystal Ferg, Rosholt
attended for that year and the total accumulated points. Qualifying board members receive recognition pins and certificates. Below are members who achieved Level 5 of the Member Recognition Program 2012-13. This is the top level that a school board member can achieve and requires a tremendous commitment on behalf of the school board member.
David Amundson, Cashton REGION 8
Carol Lambert, Mishicot REGION 10
Peggy Hill-Breunig, Waunakee REGION 13
Susan Leibsle, Elkhorn Area Beatrice Dale, Lake Geneva J1
Fritz Wyttenbach, Sauk Prairie
John Druszczak, Lake GenevaGenoa City UHS
James Cesar, Tri-County
Thomas Steiner, Trevor-Wilmot
David Peterson, Wautoma Area
Linton Skewes, Union Grove J1
Frank Stanaszek, Cudahy Susan Schultz, North Lake
Susan Schultz, North Lake REGION 15
Michael Hyland, Hamilton
Below are photos of some of the school board members who were honored at their respective Regional Meetings for reaching Level 5 (the highest level possible) of the WASB Member Recognition Program.
WASB Executive Director John Ashley (right) congratulates Carol Lambert from the Mishicot School District.
Ashley (left) congratulates James Beistle from the Unity School District.
Gail Stark from the Boyceville Community School District was recognized at the Region 4 meeting.
From left: James Cesar (Tri-County), Rita Kasten (DC Everest), Deanna Heiman (Neillsville), and Krystal Ferg (Rosholt).
Peggy Hill-Breunig from the Waunakee Community School District.
Lee Kuntz (left) from the Marinette School District and Michael Blecha (right) from the Green Bay Area Public School District.
A S S O C I AT I O N N E W S
WASB Fall Events Recap Here is a look at the events the WASB held this fall. Full event recaps along with presentations can be found on the WASB website (wasb.org). Select “Event Recaps” under “Meetings and Events.”
WSAA/WASB Employment and School Law Seminar
he WASB along with the Wisconsin School Attorneys Association held an Employment and School Law Seminar Oct. 10-11 in Wausau and Oct. 31 - Nov. 1 in Madison. The event featured 16 sessions presented by WASB staff and school law attorneys from across the state. Barry Forbes (pictured), WASB associate executive director and staff counsel, and Tony Renning of Davis & Kuelthau, s.c. presented a session on handling public complaints. “We need to have a way of processing complaints without interrupting our primary duties of educating students,” Forbes said. Forbes added that school board members should respond to complaints brought to them by referring them to the district’s complaint
“Don’t be afraid to stand your ground on these things,” Nelson said. “You have a duty to your students and taxpayers to make sure your district is protected.” n
Executive Coaching Program Workshop: Session Two
ession Two of the WASB Executive Coaching Program, which took place Oct. 25 in Neenah, focused on the role of the district administrator and the relationship between the board and superintendent. WASB consultants Roger Foegen, Dennis Richards, and Mary DeYoung presented a session on “Politics of Leadership,” which covered school board election details, formal and informal politics, building board relationships, and the importance of good communication efforts. Barry Forbes, WASB associate executive director and staff counsel, covered job descriptions for district administrators. To draft a job description, Forbes said that several areas need to be included: essential function
policies and rules, and identify the appropriate staff person to receive the complaint. Forbes added that board members should not investigate complaints themselves because, among other issues, individual board members do not have the power to resolve complaints, and because of possible board member bias. Attorneys Steve Nelson, Donald Schoenfeld, and Kyle Gulya of von Briesen & Roper, s.c. led a session on performance contracting. Amongst other advice, the trio of attorneys advised school leaders to make sure performance contracts include clauses that hold the contractors responsible for any consequential damages. Schoenfeld said contractors will offer to cover direct damage but not always consequential damage.
Wisconsin School News
of the job, statement of the purpose of the position, required qualifications, essential job duties, and environment. Attendees also heard a session on problem-solving skills for school leaders. WASB Consultants Louis Birchbauer and David Carlson presented this session and, among other topics, discussed critical strategies to use when approaching district-wide problems involving key influence groups within the school system. When addressing school district problems, you need to think about a string art picture – each movement creates a corresponding reactive movement someplace else in the string art, which is what happens when dealing with problems in a school system,” Birchbauer said.
Session Three of the Executive Coaching Workshop series will take place Jan. 21 in Milwaukee. The focus will be on developing a strong policy development process and utilizing leadership styles for maximum effect. The workshop will take place at the Hyatt Regency in Milwaukee. For more information about this workshop, visit wasb.org. n
Legislative Advocacy Conference
ith statewide voucher expansion and an income tax deduction for private school tuition both a reality, the success of public school leaders’ legislative advocacy efforts will depend on engaging our communities and gaining the support of the public. With that theme in mind, the 2013 Legislative Advocacy Conference, which took place Nov. 9 in Stevens Point, examined the changing environment for public education, with a focus on increasing competition for students and funding, and the need to use new strategies to engage parents, community members and legislators. Mike Ford, professor of governmental affairs at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, discussed vouchers and regional independent charter schools. Looking back at the 23 years of vouchers in the Milwaukee Public Schools, Ford said the Milwaukee voucher experience raises serious doubts about the ability of school vouchers to raise academic achievement levels in an urban area. School leaders from Green Bay and Beloit shared strategies on how
Fall Regional Meetings
he WASB would like to thank the many school board members and administrators who attended their Fall Regional Meeting this year. The meetings give the WASB and school leaders from around the state an opportunity to connect with leaders in their region and celebrate the accomplishments of their colleagues. This year, each Fall Regional Meeting included presentations featuring innovative work from districts and relevant information for that specific WASB region. Presentations covered a wide range of topics. In Region 12, school leaders from the Stoughton School District gave a presentation on their high school’s new Fabrication Laboratory or Fab Lab. In Region 5, presentations
they engaged their communities when they were targeted for voucher expansion by the governor’s initial budget proposal. School leaders from Green Bay shared examples of outreach materials, including the “Fact of the Day” posts they uploaded regularly to their website to combat misinformation on graduation rates and student performance. Leaders from Beloit shared how they built a community coalition for public schools to help pass a $70 million facilities improvement referendum, and how they used those partnerships and the positive momentum of the referendum success to continue in a positive direction. Another session brought in key legislators (pictured) — Sen. Luther Olsen (R-Ripon), chair of the Senate Education Committee; and Rep. Steve Kestell (R-Elkhart Lake) chair of the Assembly Education Committee. The two covered a host of issues including voucher expansion, accountability legislation the two authored to bring private voucher schools into an accountability framework for the first time, and the
impact of student poverty on achievement. Noting that schools with high numbers of English language learners and students from poverty backgrounds often score poorly on current state school report cards, Kestell cautioned that we should not expect our public schools to be able to solve every problem. “You just can’t dump on public schools for (societal) problems so insurmountable,” he said. Olsen also offered conference attendees his opinion on the Common Core State Standards, which have come under attack by some groups. “Just stay the course,” Olsen advised. “The Common Core is good stuff.” n
covered expeditionary learning at Marathon Venture Academy in the Marathon School District and international learning efforts in the Pittsville Public School District. At each Regional Meeting, representatives from the WASB Insurance Plan Endorsed Insurance Agencies presented on using wellness programs to increase student achievement and, among other presentations, the WASB addressed teacher compensation systems and what works and doesn’t work in public school districts. The Fall Regional Meetings also give the WASB an opportunity to recognize school board members for their hard work. Dozens of board members were recognized at the Regional Meetings through the WASB Member Recognition
Program. Board members who had attended professional development opportunities such as WASB conferences and events or who had participated in other leadership capacities such as the WASB Policy and Resolutions Committee were recognized for their hard work. You can view a list of names of school board members who reached Level 5 of the Member Recognition Program on page 23. n
L E G I S L AT I V E U P D AT E
Rural School Challenges and the Future of the Common Core Rural Schools Task Force Shines a Light on Problems of Small, Rural School Districts
isconsin school districts play a critical role in their communities and face similar challenges across the state. However, small, rural school districts are often confronted by a common set of challenges, which, when combined, can make their jobs even harder. They often lack economies of scale and scope, have fewer students per square mile, lack adequate technology infrastructure, and have greater difficulty attracting and retaining quality teachers and administrators. In addition, rural economies are often challenged by a relative lack of job opportunities, lower wages and older average populations compared to urban or suburban areas. Meanwhile, a substantial portion of our state’s population and its politicians live in the state’s most populous, growing and generally prosperous counties. All too often they have been largely unaware of the challenges to rural schools. An effort is underway to better understand and, hopefully, address the problems and challenges. A 12-member Speaker’s Task Force on Rural Schools, appointed by Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Burlington) and chaired by state Rep. Rob Swearingen (R-Rhinelander), was formed in early October. The Task Force is charged to study: creating partnerships among school districts; exploring new avenues to share innovations, efficiencies and best-practices; addressing future transportation needs; mapping strategies for long-
term financial stability; developing tactics for handling declining enrollment; and maximizing opportunities to incorporate advanced technology. The Task Force held two hearings this fall in Rhinelander and Elroy. The Task Force heard excellent testimony with many specific examples of the great things happening in rural schools and the value of rural schools to their communities. It also heard examples of the serious financial issues facing many rural schools, including testimony that the “tools” in Act 10 are insufficient to prevent the loss of programs and staff in many rural schools, especially those facing severe enrollment declines. Included among the suggestions offered to the Task Force thus far are:
b Expand sparsity aid to more
districts by lifting the enrollment cap on eligibility for this aid;
b Increase transportation aid for
rural schools to prevent pupil transportation costs from draining resources from student programs and instruction;
b Invest more in the technology
infrastructure of rural schools, and address broadband access and Internet speed in rural schools and students’ homes to take full advantage of what technologies can offer;
b Increase utilization of virtual
education through state supported options for rural schools;
b Consider modifications to the
rolling average used in revenue limit calculations (e.g., use the
highest enrollment in the past five years, allow carryover of a percentage of the declining enrollment exemption);
b Provide incentive grants,
including special transportation aid, to support specialized collaborative programs among districts;
b Increase state support for special education, especially high-cost special education;
b Fully fund the SAGE program
and consider allowing SAGE funds to be targeted for uses other than class size reduction known to boost learning (e.g., reading coaches);
b Assist rural schools to recruit
and retain high-quality educators by addressing the compensation gap between rural and urban/suburban schools; and
b Create incentives (e.g., loan
forgiveness) to attract educators to rural areas. At least two more hearings are planned. A third hearing will be held on Jan. 8, 2014, in a location still to be announced, while a fourth (and possibly a fifth) hearing will be held in January/February 2014. The Task Force is expected to make its recommendations in the spring of 2014. The WASB will be putting together a set of recommendations for the Task Force to consider and we are seeking WASB members’ and rural school leaders’ input. We welcome your suggestions. Please send them to email@example.com. n
An effort is underway to better understand the challenges faced by rural schools in our state. 26
Wisconsin School News
Future of Common Core State Standards Likely to be Decided by the Holidays
he cloud of uncertainty surrounding the adoption of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in Wisconsin may be lifting somewhat. The Assembly Select Committee on Common Core State Standards, along with an identical Senate committee held four hearings around the state. The Assembly committee also met in the Capitol on Nov. 19 to discuss recommendations for a final report. Most committee members seemed more inclined to tweak the CCSS than to scrap them. Committee members, who took turns voicing their concerns, generally acknowledged that the CCSS, which were adopted by the State Superintendent in 2010 to cover math and English language arts, are an improvement over the state Model Academic Standards they replaced. Members noted the new standards specify what students should know and be able to do at every grade level, whereas prior standards set learning targets only in grades 4, 8 and 12. School districts across the state have already spent an estimated $25 million implementing CCSS, making any significant change in direction difficult and potentially expensive. Committee members largely agreed that too much time and money have gone into the standards to completely undo them, but also said they
could be improved. “We should take care to remember these standards are a floor, not a ceiling,” said Rep. Dean Knudson (R-Hudson). Rep. Knudson also suggested the clearest consensus is that committee members want any future reviews or changes made to state standards to be more transparent. Committee chair, Rep. Jeremy Thiesfeldt (R-Fond du Lac), acknowledged concerns about federal intrusion in education voiced by many during the hearings. Thiesfeldt said the state should reject “federal interference and coercion” in setting education standards, adding that national standards do not mean improvement. While Thiesfeldt said there was nothing evil about the Common Core State Standards themselves, he noted that decades of increased federal involvement in education, most often justified on the twin grounds of raising student achievement and closing achievement gaps, had not achieved better results. While he acknowledged the CCSS were developed outside the federal government, he said they would provide “a unified launching pad through which it will be easier to indoctrinate students.” “It would be best for Wisconsin to have Wisconsin standards,” Thiesfeldt said, citing a need for
students also to be “STEM-ready.” Republicans, who outnumber Democrats on the Assembly committee six to two (one Democrat resigned from the committee in protest), expressed strong concerns about student privacy and local control under the CCSS, including that student data and curriculum decisions should stay at the local school district level. And while there is no evidence schools are collecting students’ biometric data, some members urged laws against this. Concerns were also voiced about the amount of standardized testing of students. Republican members also criticized the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) over the process of adopting the standards. They said DPI hadn’t appropriately involved lawmakers or the public, and instead approved the new standards amid the promise of federal dollars and a waiver from the federal No Child Left Behind law. The legislators called for establishing a periodic review process for evaluating any standards adopted by the state, including public hearings throughout the state, to “make sure standards aren’t placed on a fast track” for adoption. Rep. Thiesfeldt said he will work with the committee’s Legislative Council attorney to draft a report on the committee’s activities, and a final report will outline the committee’s recommendations. Each recommendation will be voted on as a separate item. Rep. Thiesfeldt hopes to have the committee’s work wrapped up before the holidays. As of this writing, the Senate Select Committee had not yet scheduled a public meeting to discuss its findings or recommendations. n
School districts across the state have already spent an estimated $25 million implementing CCSS.
A S S O C I AT I O N N E W S
Service Associate Q&A Featuring Barbara Johnson, Rowland Reading Foundation
Each issue, we pose questions to a WASB Service Associate to share the good work that these businesses are doing with Wisconsin public schools.
What services does Rowland Reading Foundation offer to school districts?
Rowland Reading Foundation is a Madison-based nonprofit organization dedicated to ensuring that all children become fluent readers and writers by the end of second grade. We publish Superkids, a K–2 core reading and language arts program that has proven to be highly effective with children from diverse backgrounds. The Foundation also provides teachers in schools that use the program with free in-service training and one-on-one coaching.
Q. Can you give a recent example of how the Foundation has helped a district?
A. Parkway Elementary is a school with a diverse student population in the Glendale-River Hills School District near Milwaukee. Parkway piloted Superkids in two kindergarten classes in 2010, then implemented Superkids in all of its K–2 classrooms in 2011. Teachers there say that as a direct result of adopting the program, Parkway’s students’ reading has improved dramatically, as have their test scores. Students are more motivated and successful than they’ve ever been. The teachers also tell us that Superkids has restored the joy of teaching for them. Q. How is your organization different than other providers?
A. We’re unique in two important ways. First, we are a nonprofit publisher. The proceeds from the sale of our reading materials are reinvested in teacher training and research. Second, we are the publisher in the education market today whose sole focus is K–2 reading. We are the experts in K–2 reading. It’s all we do. Our founding premise is that children must be fluent, grade-level readers by the end of second grade or, research shows, they will struggle in school and in life thereafter.
Barbara Johnson is president of Rowland Reading Foundation.
Q. What is an important issue in
tional Progress (NAEP) results, and the percentage is the same among Wisconsin fourth-graders. Wisconsin’s students ranked third nationally in 1994. They rank 31st today. We know our students can do better — much better — with effective reading instruction. Fortunately, there is now a solid consensus among researchers regarding how to teach children to read. We want to work with Wisconsin teachers and administrators who want a better outcome for our children. We are eager and willing to work with any school or district in Wisconsin that wants to improve its students’ reading skills. For information, call 855-871-5404. n
A. Two-thirds of American children do not read proficiently at grade level in fourth grade, according to the most recent National Assessment of Educa-
The WASB Service Associates Program includes more than 20 businesses and organizations that have been recognized by the WASB Board of Directors as reputable businesses and partners of public education in Wisconsin. For more information, visit wasb.org and select “Service Associates.”
Q. How does your curriculum align with the new Common Core State Standards?
A. Superkids is fully aligned to the Common Core State Standards. In fact, it teaches the Common Core’s foundational skills in reading more thoroughly than other programs. The program incorporates the major areas of instruction that are critical to teaching children how to read—phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. And it provides rich informational and complex text at each grade level. your field that school leaders should be aware of?
We know our students can do better — much better — with effective reading instruction.
Wisconsin School News
B oa r d m a n & C l a r k LL P
Student Clothing, Social Causes, and Free Speech
chool district officials often have to consider the proper response to students wearing clothing (including accessories, such as bracelets) that contain provocative statements. In some cases, the clothing may contain a statement that is clearly obscene or profane in nature, and, in those cases, there is likely no question that school district officials can prohibit a student from wearing such clothing. However, in other cases, the clothing may contain a provocative statement that, although it may be offensive, is intended to raise awareness to a certain cause, and school officials may question whether they can restrict such clothing. In this respect, several courts have had differing opinions concerning the appropriate response to bracelets worn by students with the slogan “I Love Boobies” and “I Boobies! (Keep a Breast),” which are intended to raise awareness to breast cancer. These cases demonstrate that school district officials must be aware of the First Amendment implications related to restrictions applicable to such clothing to avoid litigation arising out of such restrictions. This Legal Comment will examine two seminal cases related to clothing in schools, recent cases involving breast cancer awareness bracelets, and considerations for school district officials in addressing these issues.1
| First Amendment and
Supreme Court Cases Disputes involving restrictions on clothing in school have been a frequent issue in school law. In many instances, such restrictions are simply a general matter of school regulation that do not raise any issue related to constitutional law. In other instances, however, these restrictions may prohibit certain clothing that may have some elements of expression, which may trigger concerns under the First Amendment. The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution provides that “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech.” Although this language only restrains acts of Congress, through interpretation of the Fourteenth Amendment, these restrictions also apply to actions by school districts. The United States Supreme Court has recognized that students do not “shed their constitutional rights at the schoolhouse gates.”2 However, these rights for students in the school setting are not the same as such rights outside of the school setting. Within the school setting, courts will balance the individual rights of a student with the educational interests of the school district. This balance was recognized in Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District,3 which is a seminal case involving student speech and clothing. In that case, the
students were protesting the war in Vietnam by wearing black armbands. The principals became aware of the plan to wear armbands and, in response, adopted a policy that any student wearing an armband to school would be asked to remove it. When students arrived at school wearing the armbands, they were sent home and suspended from school until they came back without their armbands. The Supreme Court held that the students had a First Amendment right to display the armbands at school. However, if there were circumstances that would warrant a reasonable fear on the part of the school officials that the armbands would disrupt the school, the school officials could prohibit the armbands. Thus, based on this case, school officials can restrict students’ speech rights if they have a reason to believe that the expression will substantially interfere with or disrupt the educational environment. The core principles of Tinker have been further defined by subsequent relevant cases, including Bethel School District No. 403 v. Fraser.4 In Fraser, a high school student was disciplined following his speech to a school assembly at which he nominated a fellow student for a student elective office. The speech contained graphic sexual innuendo. The Court held that the student’s speech was not protected under the First Amendment because it was lewd and indecent. The Court found that a school need not tolerate such
Certain slogans may be more objectionable in an elementary school and less objectionable in a high school setting.
student speech because it is inconsistent with its educational mission. This case shows that officials can restrict students’ speech rights if they have a reason to believe that the expression is lewd, offensive, or vulgar. Thus, although students may have First Amendment rights in a school setting, Tinker and Fraser stand for the proposition that these rights may be limited in certain instances. Courts will typically look at whether there is any basis to limit any such speech, such as whether the student’s speech will cause (or is likely to cause) a substantial disruption of the school activities, or whether the speech is lewd, offensive, or vulgar. Of course, these standards may be easily stated, but their application is often a challenge for school district officials. | First Amendment and
Bracelets Several courts have recently reviewed cases involving whether the First Amendment prohibits a school from restricting bracelets reading “I Love Boobies” and “I Boobies! (Keep a Breast).” The Keep a Breast Foundation is a nonprofit organization that promotes detection, prevention, and treatment of breast cancer and that distributes bracelets with these slogans to raise awareness of breast cancer. As discussed below, courts have reached differing results in these cases; however, the decisions provide some guidance to school officials who are faced with students wearing such bracelets. Bracelet Ban Rejected (Pennsylvania/Third Circuit). In B.H. v. Easton Area School District,5 a federal district court in Pennsylvania ruled that a school district could not enforce a ban on middle school students wearing “I Boobies! (Keep a Breast)” bracelets. The bracelets were banned by middle school officials on the ground that the term “boobies” was vulgar and inappropriate in a school setting. Two students received one day in-school suspensions because offi-
Wisconsin School News
cials concluded that they violated the school’s disciplinary code by continuing to wear the bracelets in school. There was no evidence that the bracelets caused any disruption in the school. The district court first examined how much deference it should grant to the school officials’ decision that it was vulgar under Fraser and concluded that any such decision would be permitted as long as it was an objectively reasonable application of the law. Applying this standard, the court then held that the ban of the bracelet was not objectively reasonable. The court rejected the assertion that the word “boobies” was vulgar in any context, noting that the word and its variations have a variety of meanings with no sexual connotation. Further, the court found that the phrase “I love boobies” in the context designed to raise breast cancer awareness cannot be reasonably viewed as vulgar. The phrase was intended to enhance the effectiveness of the communication to the target audience, and the phrase carried no inherent sexual association. The court also ruled that the district had offered no evidence that the bracelets caused a substantial disruption. The court then issued a preliminary injunction against the district. The Easton Area School District appealed the district court decision to a full panel of judges in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. By a split vote, the appellate court affirmed the decision of the district court.6 Like the district court, the appellate court concluded that the slogan on the bracelet was not lewd and did not bear any resemblance to Fraser’s pervasive sexual innuendo. In reaching its conclusion, the appellate court also relied on an opinion issued by Justice Alito in Morse v. Frederick7 and concluded that school districts could also not limit student speech that could be interpreted as political or social commentary. In effect, the appellate court held that school officials could only ban such speech
when it is plainly lewd and does not contain any political or social message. Further, considering there were no significant disruptions, the ban was also not justified under Tinker. The Easton Area School District has stated that it intends to seek review of this decision by the U.S. Supreme Court. Bracelet Ban Upheld (Wisconsin/ Indiana). In contrast to B.H., two federal district courts (including one in Wisconsin) reached the opposite conclusion and determined that school officials can ban the bracelets, without violating the constitution. In K.J. v. Sauk Prairie School District,8 a federal district court in Wisconsin denied a student’s request to prevent a ban on wearing the bracelets. In that case, K.J., along with other students at the middle school, wore a bracelet at school bearing the message “I Boobies! (Keep a Breast)” during the first semester of the 2010-2011 school year. However, during the second semester, the principal banned students from wearing the bracelets at school unless students turned them inside out so that the slogan was not visible. The principal believed that the bracelet’s message constituted sexual innuendo which violated the school’s dress code. In reviewing the ban on bracelets, the court first considered the scope of the exception under Fraser and concluded that the exception extends to allow schools to prohibit vulgar or offensive speech that is related to, but falls short of, being profane, obscene, or indecent speech. The court opined that the phrase “I Boobies!” is sexual innuendo that is vulgar, at least in the context of middle school. The bracelet used this vulgar and sexually provocative statement to draw attention to a worthy social cause; however, the promotion of a social cause did not make the statement innocuous, particularly in the middle school atmosphere. The court also reviewed the level of deference afforded to any decision by school officials to restrict speech that is lewd or vulgar. According to the court,
there is deference for these decisions, and school officials only violate the First Amendment when their determination is unreasonable. Giving deference to the officials’ decision, the court held that it was reasonable for the officials to conclude that the phrase is vulgar and inconsistent with their goal of fostering respectful discourse. Similar to the ruling in K.J., a federal court in Indiana also ruled that school administrators can prohibit the bracelets as lewd and vulgar student speech. In J.A. v. Fort Wayne Community Schools,9 the Fort Wayne School District barred the bracelets after a male high school student who was wearing one harassed a female student by repeating the phrase “I love boobies” in her presence. District officials had also confiscated a bracelet that said “Save the boobs” and concluded that such messages were offensive to women and inappropriate for school regardless of their breast cancer awareness theme. The federal district court gave deference to the school district’s decision, concluding that school officials know the age, maturity, and other characteristics of their students better than federal judges. According to the court, the school could reasonably conclude that the bracelet contained sexual innuendo that was vulgar within the context of the high school. The court noted that high school is not a magical place where students leave behind a sexually charged middle school environment and automatically become mature adults. Instead, the evidence revealed a low maturity level at the school, including a number of instances where students at the high school were repeating the words on the bracelet for reasons related to sexual attraction to breasts. Thus, the decision to prohibit the bracelets was reasonable and consistent with other decisions where courts have sided with the school’s decision to ban
other ambiguously vulgar slogans.10 The district court also noted that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit (which includes, among other states, Indiana and Wisconsin) has rejected the previously mentioned opinion by Justice Alito in Morse as controlling. As a result, the district court stated that the bracelet’s commentary on social or political issues did not provide it with additional protection under the First Amendment. The bracelet was not analyzed under Tinker because there was no argument by the parties that the bracelet caused a substantial disruption. | Implications for School
Districts The above cases highlight how courts may respond differently, even when presented with very similar facts, to the regulation of provocative clothing. Based on these rulings, however, schools officials in Wisconsin may be able to reach a number of conclusions concerning the regulation of such clothing. First, the decisions indicate that courts attempt to grant deference to the decisions of school officials concerning their decisions regarding whether a particular statement or slogan on clothing is vulgar or lewd. As a result, school officials should keep in mind that, as long as their decision is reasonable in light of the circumstances, their decision will likely be upheld. Second, any analysis of the issue of whether a particular statement or slogan is vulgar or lewd will be based on the totality of the circumstances, including the level of maturity of the students involved. Certain slogans may be more objectionable in an elementary school and less objectionable in a high school setting. Third, courts may be persuaded to uphold any regulation if the facts show that the students interpreted the slogan in a vulgar or lewd manner, especially if there were state-
ments of sexual innuendo by students based on the slogan under scrutiny. School officials should act consistently in their approach toward regulating such slogans. Officials should also consider whether the bracelets are subject to regulation under Tinker’s substantial disruption standard, which may provide further support for any ban based on Fraser. Finally, it is important to note that the conclusion in B.H. v. Easton Area Sch. Dist. is based in part on Justice Alito’s opinion in Morse. Because the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit has not viewed Justice Alito’s opinion as controlling, school officials in Wisconsin will not need to follow it. Regardless, because of the various interpretations by the courts, officials should confer with legal counsel with questions regarding any ban. | ENDNOTES 1. For additional information related to this topic, see Wisconsin School News, “Student Free Speech Rights” (May 2011), “Limiting Student Speech That Promotes Illegal Drug Use” (September 2007), and “District Regulation of Student Speech” (September 2002), and WASB Legal Notes “Student Dress Codes” (Fall 2003). 2. Tinker v. Des Moines Indep. Cmty. Sch. Dist., 393 U.S. 503 (1969). 3. Id. 4. 478 U.S. 675 (1986). 5. 827 F. Supp. 2d 392 (E.D. Penn. 2011). 6. B.H. v. Easton Area Sch. Dist., 725 F.3d 213 (3d Cir. 2013). 7. 551 U.S. 393 (2007). Justice Alito’s opinion was not the majority opinion, but instead it was a nonbinding concurring opinion. 8. Case No. 11-CV-622 BBC (W.D. Wis. Feb. 6, 2012). 9. Case No. 1:12-CV-155 JVB (N.D. Ind. Aug. 20, 2013). 10. See Pyle ex rel. Pyle v. S. Hadley Sch. Comm., 861 F. Supp. 157 (D. Mass. 1994); Broussard v. School Bd. of Norfolk, 801 F. Supp. 1526 (E.D. Va. 1992). This Legal Comment was written by Michael J. Julka and Richard F. Verstegen of Boardman & Clark LLP, WASB Legal Counsel.
Legal Comment is designed to provide authoritative general information, with commentary, as a service to WASB members. It should not be relied upon as legal advice. If required, legal advice regarding this topic should be obtained from district legal counsel.
DECEMBER 1 Nomination Papers. Earliest date for circulation of nomination papers, if required. [s. 8.10(2)(a)].
27 Incumbent Notice of Non-Candidacy. No later than 5:00 p.m., an incumbent may file written notification with the school district clerk if the incumbent is not a candidate for reelection to his/her office. Failure to notify will extend nomination paper deadline 72 hours for that office. [s. 8.10(2)].
average of the number of pupils enrolled on the preceding third Friday of September and the second Friday of January is used in computing state aid for the next school year [ss. 121.05(1) (a) and 121.07(1)(a)].
15 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Special observance day [s. 118.02(1)]. Note: the federal holiday is Jan. 20, 2014.
17 Deadline for Mailing January Continuing Report Forms. Not earlier than Jan. 10 and not later than Jan. 17, the school district clerk must mail January continuing report forms to any registrants that are required to file such campaign finance reports. [ss. 11.20(4) and 11.22(3)].
Deadline for School Board Candidates to File for Ballot Access. No later than 5:00 p.m., candidates (including incumbents) must file their Declaration of Candidacy, Campaign Registration Statement, and, if applicable, nomination papers. (Unless this deadline has been extended pursuant to s. 120.06(6)(b)3. [s. 120.06(6)(b)2].
Deadline for Filing Petition to Change Number, Apportionment, or Election of School Board Members in Unified School Districts. [ss. 120.02 and 120.41(2)].
Determining Membership Count. The
Education Convention. Wisconsin Center, Milwaukee. For more information, visit wasb.org/convention.
27 Deadline for Mailing Pre-Primary Election Reports. Not earlier than Jan. 20 and not later than Jan. 27, the school district clerk must mail pre-primary election report forms to registrants unless they have registered under the $1,000, s. 11.19(2), exemption or have been granted a suspension under s. 11.19(2) [ss. 11.20(2) and 11.22(3)]. Providing Municipal Clerk with Ballots. Where paper ballots are used at a spring primary or election, the school district clerk shall provide the municipal clerk with an adequate supply of ballots for the spring primary or election at least 22 days before the primary or election [s. 120.06(8)(d)].
31 Deadline for Registrants to File a January Continuing Campaign Finance Report for the Period Ending December 31. [ss. 11.20(4) and 11.20(8)(b)].
Stand Up for Public Education New Website Shares Public Education Success Stories The WASB Stand Up for Public Education campaign helps local school districts spread the word about their students’ successes and how they benefit their communities. Join us in sharing your stories and learning about the great things that are happening in public schools across Wisconsin. For more information on how you can share your success story, visit wasb.org and click on the button “Stand Up for Public Education.” We look forward to hearing from your district!
Visit the new website at wasb.org (click on button “Stand Up for Public Education”) 32
Wisconsin School News
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EMC INSURANCE COMPANIES 16455 W. Bluemound Rd. PO Box 327 Brookfield, WI 53008 Phone 262-786-1800 www.emcins.com Property and Casualty Insurance
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Pre-Convention Workshops Take an In-Depth Look at Important K-12 Issues Tuesday, January 21, 2-5pm Public Involvement in Wisconsin School Finance
Teaching Wired Learners: What School Board Members Need to Know
Experience the award-winning Investing in Wisconsin Public SchoolsTM — an interactive tool to bring school district stakeholders together in a discussion about shared community values and school finance.
International speaker Kevin Honeycutt shares his unique insights on what school board members need to know about technology to effectively support their districts.
Practicing School Administrators, WASBO members, WSPRA members and WASB staff
Innovations in Cheddar Land — Charters in the Change Process Interested in starting a charter school and creating an innovative educational option? Attend this session to learn from experts who will share success stories and cover many important topics. Participants will receive a $50 certificate for use at the Convention Bookstore. Wisconsin Innovative Schools Network
JANUARY 22-24, 2014 Wisconsin Center – MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN
KevinHoneycutt,TechnologyIntegrationSpecialist,SchoolBoard Member, Inman School Board (Kansas).
Community Relations: Legal and Policy Considerations Learn about the different ways a school board can engage the community and establish partnerships through proven best practices. WASB: Bob Butler and Barry Forbes, Associate Executive Directors and Staff Counsels
Visit wasb.org/convention for complete details.