Lighthouse Academies Opens First College Preparatory Academies

Framingham, MA, August 4, 2009 – Lighthouse Academies, Inc. opens their first two high schools this month: Gary Lighthouse Charter School College Prep Academy in Gary, IN, and Indianapolis Lighthouse Charter School College Prep Academy in Indianapolis, IN. Each CPA will open with approximately 50 ninth grade students, most of which have been part of the Lighthouse school already and will continue their preparation for college at the CPA as part of the class of 2013. Their ninth grade year started with a Gateway week prior to the start of school where students learned about the school culture and graduation requirements, got to know one another and their teachers and completed community service. The rigorous, standards-based instructional program is unique as it is arts-infused and includes personalized learning and internships and community service. Students will receive more time on instruction, laptops that will become their own upon their first college acceptance letter, and college application support through a full-time transition counselor. 

Both the Gary Lighthouse Charter School and the Indianapolis Lighthouse Charter School opened in 2005 for grades K-5. One grade has been added each year. Today the Lower Academy includes grades K-4 (Indianapolis also includes PreK), the Upper Academy grades 5-8, and the CPA grade 9. One grade will be added each year to the CPA until the school is complete through grade 12. The focus on lifelong learning and preparation for college begins in Kindergarten. The CPA program will continue this focus while providing the tools and platform for students to succeed.
Lighthouse Academies, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that develops and supports the operations of public charter schools in underserved communities throughout the United States. Our mission is to prepare our students for college through a rigorous arts-infused program. Our vision is that all students will be taught by an outstanding teacher in a nurturing environment and will achieve at high levels. Each student will develop the knowledge, skills and values necessary for responsible citizenship and lifelong learning. The impact of our collective efforts will fundamentally change public education. The Lighthouse Academies network includes 11 schools and over 4,100 students. For more information, please visit our website at or call 800.901.6943. 

Native Data Warehouse Application Eliminates Integration Hassles for Customers

Native Data Warehouse Application Eliminates Integration Hassles for Customers


Skyward’s Data Warehouse module provides customers a quicker implementation
timeframe with a solution specifically designed for the Skyward School Management System™.
STEVENS POINT, WI – Skyward, the industry leading K-12 administrative software provider, announced today the upcoming release of their web-based Data Warehouse application that eliminates any extract, transform, and load (ETL) hassles by being designed natively for Skyward’s School Management System.
The Data Warehouse module provides an interactive dashboard that is customizable for everyone from the superintendent to the teacher that displays dynamic information tailored to each user’s perspective. Along with the dashboard, a series of pre-defined reports are included with the ability for districts to create their own unique reports.
The choice to design a native data warehouse solution instead of interfacing with existing third-party solutions boiled down to customer needs. “Our customer feedback for a data analysis toolkit always returned to the struggles with data mapping and ongoing costs, especially when capitalizing on ARRA funds,” states Jon Oliver, Skyward Executive Vice President of Corporate Operations. “By developing our solution internally, we eliminate the ETL hassles while meeting our customers’ expectations in product and long-term cost feasibility.”
The Data Warehouse application is pre-configured to seamlessly accept data elements from the Skyward School Management System reducing the implementation timeframe from months to days; saving districts significant money. Additionally, the Data Warehouse application offers extensive flexibility for summative and longitudinal analysis that improves decision making and allows administrators to quantify the effectiveness of educational programs within the district.
Skyward’s Data Warehouse application will be available this fall and will be showcased at upcoming Skyward user group conferences all across the country. Districts can also take advantage of an early adopter discount through the end of 2009.
Since 1980, Skyward has been serving the K-12 administrative software needs of school districts. Today, Skyward’s School Management Systems™ are found in more than 1,300 school districts throughout the United States and internationally. Skyward’s School Management System™ represents an integrated student and financial management software system designed to keep administrators, educators, and families connected.


U.S. strategy on swine flu under revision

The Obama administration is finalizing guidelines that would scale back when the federal government recommends closing schools in response to the swine flu pandemic, reports the Washington Post. More targeted guidance would mark a change in the government’s approach from this spring, when health officials suggested that schools shut down at the first sign of the H1N1 virus. They later relaxed that advice. This fall, federal authorities would recommend closures only under "extenuating circumstances," such as if a campus has many children with underlying medical conditions, a senior U.S. health official involved in the talks said. The official added that discussions are continuing and that no decision has been made. Schools also might be advised to close if many students or staff members are already sick or otherwise absent, officials said. "The framework is to try to keep schools open to the extent possible," the senior health official said. School closings this past spring raised questions about whether they slow the spread of H1N1 and are worth the educational and economic cost. The federal government’s decision could have a far-reaching effect on tens of millions of Americans, the economy, and other countries wrestling with similar choices…

Click here for the full story


What’s The Best Blogging Software ForYou And Your Business?



With blogs seemingly showing up all over the internet, many people want to jump on board as fast as they can. You may be one of those people. You may just want a way to polish your writing skills, or perhaps you even have thoughts of some day putting a little extra walking around money in your pocket. No matter what your reason, you likely want to know where it is you should start in your blogging. Well, first of all you are going to need some sort of blogging platform or software to create your blog in the first place. There are hundreds of options out there, so what you need to do is choose the blogging software that is best for you. Here are some tips on what to look for to get the best blogging software for you.


First of all you have to make a decision on what the reason for your blogging is. Are you doing it to try and earn some extra money, to record your own daily reflections, to polish your writing style, or for some other reason? The reason you are doing it will have a lot to do with what you want to accomplish with the site. For instance, if you are doing it only for personal reasons, then you may just want to seek out the first free blog hosting website you can find that you like. On the other hand, if you are doing it to earn money you may be much pickier about what you want in terms of blogging software. You might want the blog on your own site, or on a site where they help you promote it. No matter what the reason ends up being, it is that which will most affect your choice of blogging software and which one is best for you.


Secondly, once you know why you are blogging, you need to figure out exactly which features are going to be most important to you on your blog. Are you going to want to be able to post pictures? Or are you just going to be typing text as your content? You may also want to look at what tools are available like the ability to link, or to archive your posts. Once you know why you are blogging and what type of blogging you want to do you are that much closer to knowing what you need in blogging software. Keep in mind, though, that the more features that you are getting with your blogging software the more you will likely pay for that software. So, you must decide early on what you need and don’t need.


Third, once you know why you want to blog and with what features you want to blog, it is time to start seeking out software. It is available all over the internet and even in computer stores now. You may first want to do a search because often times you can find web hosting and domain name registration software that will include blogging software applications with it. If you want to blog just to blog, then you may want to look at some of the free applications that allow you to just create a free account and then immediately begin blogging. On the other hand, if you want something on a website you have already established, and then look at software that may exist directly on your computer or through your hosting company. Much of it goes back to the first tip: know why you want to blog.

Blogging is so popular now that many people feel like they are on the outside looking in if they don’t have their own blog. The problem is that you may not know how to get started in the world of blogging. Obviously you cannot have a good blog until you have figured out the blogging software you want to use. There are a few types out there including blogging platforms at websites, purchased packages, and some that even come with website hosting and allow you to include a blog on your website. No matter what type you use, you need to make some decisions to help you figure out which blogging software is for you. If you decide why you want to blog, what blogging features you want, and how much you want to spend on it, this will help in the decision making. Once you have done all of that it is just a matter of sifting through the various blogging software packages out there and deciding which fits your needs the most. The search for blogging software that is best for you will become obvious.



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Program opens high-tech world to deaf students

In a University of Washington (UW) animation classroom, with colorful, cutout Pixar heroes flexing their muscles on the walls, a group of students with their own animated expressions compete to offer ideas. Most use American Sign Language (ASL) and jump to their feet to sign, so their hands can be seen above the computer monitors around the room.

This summer academy–thought to be the only one of its kind in the United States–introduces deaf and hard-of-hearing students to careers in computer sciences. For many of the participants, it’s their first glimpse inside the high-tech world. For some, it is the first time as students that they have been able to spontaneously talk to their classmates.

“It’s inspiring,” said 17-year-old Johanna Lucht, of Anchorage, through an interpreter. “It’s opening a whole new world for me.”

Funded through the National Science Foundation, the UW Summer Academy for Advancing Deaf and Hard of Hearing in Computing seeks to diversify the computer-science work force and to encourage deaf and hard-of-hearing students to pursue advanced degrees and high-tech careers.

The nine-week intensive program recruits 10 outstanding math and science students ages 16 to 22 from around the U.S. This summer’s class includes deaf students from Texas, Virginia, Maine, New York, Arizona, and Indiana, as well as two from Washington.

The students live on campus, take a college-level computer-programming course, and earn a certificate in computer animation. They go on field trips to Microsoft, Google, Adobe, and Valve, a Bellevue, Wash.-based computer-game company. They meet deaf professionals at those firms and learn strategies for negotiating a hearing workplace.

And in their down time, they tour Seattle–all at no cost to the students.

Rob Roth, who coordinates the program and is himself deaf, said deaf students are more likely to be guided toward careers repairing computers than writing the software or designing new applications.

“They can do so much more,” he said.

The summer academy was the idea of Richard Ladner, a UW computer-science professor whose parents were both deaf. His father earned a degree at the University of California, Berkeley, at a time when colleges made no accommodations for students with disabilities. Both of Ladner’s parents also taught at a K-12 school for the deaf.

But Ladner said there were almost no deaf people earning doctorates in computer sciences and few academics in the field. He wanted to create a program that would not only encourage deaf students but also build their capacity for college-level work.

After three years, he said, “The students are better; the program is better. And word is getting out that we’re here.”


Digital library saves vital web documents

Web pages have an average lifespan of 77 days, meaning documentation of historical events can vanish with a single click. Critically important documents are moving exclusively to the internet, and the California Digital Library is working closely with academics to preserve web-based information before updates erase current events.

A $2.4 million grant issued by the Library of Congress, aimed at saving and archiving federal and local government online information, also helped the California Digital Library (CDL) to launch, which stores sites documenting events such as the developing of the Guantanamo Bay detention center or the 2003 California gubernatorial recall election.

"There’s an inherent vulnerability of web information," said Tracy Seneca, the digital library’s web archiving service manager, adding that historians and professors should not rely on "accidental preservation" of web sites that sit dormant for years.

Read the full story at eCampus News


First Student Offers Tips for a Safe, Enjoyable Bus Ride

With a new school year just around the corner, 25 million students are preparing to board the most iconic of back to school symbols – the school bus. First Student, Inc., the nation’s leader in student transportation, offers eight tips to ensure a safe and enjoyable ride each day.

School Bus Safety Tips for Children
  1. Remain alert at all times; don’t listen to your MP3 players, text, talk on your cell phone or play handheld video games because you won’t be aware of what’s happening around you. Also be careful when wearing your hood up; it makes it difficult to see around you.
  2. Be extra careful when crossing in front of the bus.
  3. Don’t wear clothes with toggles or dangling key chains; they can get caught in the bus doors or on the handrail.
Tips for an Enjoyable School Bus Ride
  1. Know your driver’s name and your bus number to be sure you are boarding the right bus.
  2. Be courteous and respectful to your driver. Safely getting children to and from school is a tremendous responsibility that drivers take very seriously.
  3. Choose a bus “buddy” ahead of time so when you get on the bus you recognize a familiar face.
  4. Have fun with your friends, but don’t be loud or get out of your seat; it distracts the driver.
  5. Be courteous to fellow riders. If a student repeatedly bothers you, tell your bus driver; drivers are there to help.
Understanding what to expect can help ensure a positive school bus experience. “The bus ride can be a wonderful opportunity for socialization,” says Robin Gurwitch, Ph.D., child psychologist at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center in Cincinnati. “Parents can role play with their child to practice meeting new kids and interacting with them on the school bus.”
Besides being the safest mode of school transportation, riding on the bus can also be a treasured, memorable experience. In a 2009 survey conducted for First Student, nearly half of adults surveyed readily recalled personal school bus memories and 39 percent still remember the name of their school bus driver.
“Knowledgeable, professional drivers are an integral part of ensuring a safe, happy school bus ride,” said Gary Catapano, senior vice president of safety at First Student. “Our drivers complete an in-depth training program which includes more than 50 hours of classroom and behind-the-wheel instruction, along with special techniques for student behavior management.”
About First Student
First Student, Inc., a part of Cincinnati-based FirstGroup America, is the leader in safe, reliable, sustainable transportation and is the largest provider of student transportation services in North America. FirstGroup America was recently awarded the National Safety Council’s 2009 Green Cross for Safety Medal in recognition of its commitment to safety and outstanding safety record. First Student safely transports more than 4 million students with a fleet of 60,000 yellow school buses in North America. For more information, please visit

Study Island Covered by Archipelago Learning, LLC Umbrella


Dallas, TX – Study Island, LLC, one of the leading and fastest growing Web-based educational companies, has announced the formation of the new umbrella brand Archipelago Learning, LLC.

Archipelago Learning, LLC was developed to be the parent company of Study Island, TeacherWeb©, and Northstar Learning.  Archipelago Learning, LLC will cover each business’ existing products while retaining the strong product recognition of each individual brands.

“We are so excited to announce the Archipelago Learning brand,” stated Tim McEwen, CEO of Archipelago Learning.  “This development supports our commitment to K-12 education, K-12 educators, and adult learners.  We look forward to a bright future while continuing to provide stellar programs at affordable prices.”

Archipelago Learning’s company headquarters will remain in Dallas, TX, and individual sales forces and customer relations associates will remain for each brand.  Cross-over functions for all three brands include engineering, accounting, marketing, and human resources.

Study Island is a leading provider of online, standards-based assessment, instruction, practice, and test preparation programs for the U.S. K-12 educational market. Founded in 2000, Study Island products are built from each state’s standards for deep customization, which has enabled Study Island to quickly gain market share via word-of-mouth teacher endorsements and build a loyal following.

Northstar Learning consists of a series of affordable, engaging, Web-based educational programs designed for adult learners.  The first programs released from Northstar Learning are GED Preparation, Allied Health, Developmental Math, and Developmental Reading and Writing.

Founded in 1997, TeacherWeb is an innovative company providing a patented, ASP model of websites for teachers, schools, and districts. These easy-to-use, affordable templates and tools allow educators to create customized classroom, school, and district websites to improve communication with students and parents.

For more information about Archipelago Learning, visit    



Going green saves green

42384824green_globeSchool districts consume huge amounts of energy.  But as much as we wanted to turn green talk into action, it was difficult to do with our aging buildings, large installed infrastructure, and rapidly growing student population. The perfect opportunity came with a bond measure in 2006 that gave us a chance to remake our technology program with a new green vision. We built architecture around virtual desktops–and that has resulted in huge cost savings and considerable energy reductions.

We recently completed a two-year rollout of new technology that could be a model for any district that is struggling to upgrade, improve, and expand technology, while at the same time trying to hold down or cut costs. At Judson Independent School District, we saved $2 million on the cost of traditional computing equipment, quadrupled the number of student computing seats, and cut energy costs by 73 percent. This was made possible by implementing virtual desktops.

Remaking our technology program was an opportunity as vast as the problem we set out to address for our 21,000-student school district on the outskirts of San Antonio, Texas. In 2006, voters approved a sizeable bond measure for Judson ISD that earmarked more than $8 million for technology. This came none too soon, as almost every computer in the district at that time was at least six years old and needed replacing. The student ranks were swelling as well, with growth exceeding 5 percent in each of the two prior years and showing no signs of stopping, meaning we also had to add to our computing capacity.

But the solution wasn’t as simple as just buying new–and more–computers. We didn’t have enough electrical capacity  to power them. Classrooms in many of Judson ISD’s older school buildings couldn’t support more than a couple of computers each and rewiring to boost capacity was simply too expensive. Adding computers would also increase the heat load, translating into additional air conditioning costs–a potentially massive expense in southern Texas.

More computers also meant the likelihood of more support and maintenance problems. Adding to our IT staff wasn’t an option as the bond measure wasn’t an ongoing budgetary increase, and extended warranties for computers were too costly. In addition, the classrooms and libraries where we wanted to install new equipment had limited network capacity. Expanding the infrastructure at that level with additional cabling and network switches was simply too costly a proposition as well.

These limitations led us to consider a variety of options, including thin clients, laptops, and Linux. Moving to open source Linux software on both new and existing computers would save on some software, but not all of it would have been free. And that route wouldn’t solve the problem of access to electricity and the need for expanding the network infrastructure. It would also create more service and support issues, particularly as teachers and staff learned the new software.

Laptops come with a prohibitively high total cost of ownership. They are more expensive than low-priced desktops and also require electricity as well as support and maintenance. In addition, they are theft prone, more likely to be manhandled, and repairs take longer.

Thin clients are also too expensive. The hardware doesn’t cost significantly less than a low-cost desktop and the server needs are also too great for our district. We can’t afford to build server rooms, which require tremendous amounts of electricity and air conditioning, and we don’t have the space for them. Plus, greater server power also represented long-term support needs and the staffing issue wasn’t something we could work around.

We chose to replace our existing PCs with new HP, EPEAT Gold rated energy-efficient models but extended the reach of each one to providing computing to three additional students with the NComputing X-series virtual desktop. NComputing’s technology lets multiple students to share one PC simultaneously, as if each student had their own computer. Personal computers today have become so powerful that the average student, or consumer for that matter, uses just a small fraction of the capacity.


West, Texas School District Invests in Energy Efficiency


The West Independent School District in the town of West, Texas, is implementing $535,812 in facility enhancements designed to improve operations, comfort and efficiency at four campuses encompassing 332,211 square feet. TAC by Schneider Electric, the building management and energy services business of Schneider Electric, will complete the work as a performance contract with the district. TAC guarantees that West ISD will reduce its utility costs by $52,554 annually when the project is completed in November 2009.
Located in central Texas, 120 miles north of the state capital of Austin, West ISD serves more than 1,500 students in grades K through 12. TAC had already completed performance contracting project for the district when officials decided to add more functionality to the current control system and replace outdated heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) equipment that used an environmentally harmful refrigerant.
“When we wanted to add individual overrides instead of zone overrides to our energy management system (EMS), we turned to TAC,” said Dr. Marty Crawford, superintendent of West ISD. “TAC has been a great energy partner for the district through the first performance contract. Because of our own commitment to energy efficiency, the district has saved even more than what the performance contract guaranteed. This is providing us with enough additional money to fund further projects and to save more energy.”
Performance contracting offers many long-term benefits for school districts, such as improved facility efficiency, occupant comfort, financial management and environmental protection. Typically, new, more efficient equipment and upgraded facility automation systems maximize energy efficiency and generate utility savings. TAC guarantees the amount of savings performance contracting projects will achieve and agrees to pay the difference if that amount is not realized.
For its second performance contract for the West ISD, TAC will upgrade the EMS to provide the consistent control of all facilities the district desires, including individual room control instead of zone control, and will replace 20 air conditioning units, some of which use now banned R22 refrigerant.
When completed, the environmental impact of both performance contract projects will be to avoid the release of 1.7 million tons of CO2, which is comparable to planting 21,000 trees or avoiding driving 1.7 million miles.
“Students and faculty at these West ISD schools will enjoy a better learning and working environment as a result of these facility updates,” said Shon Anderson, vice president of sales, TAC Energy Solutions. “The district will also have taken a major step toward being greener and set an example for the rest of the community of the importance of everyone doing his part to conserve energy.”
About TAC
TAC, the building management and energy services business of Schneider Electric, is a leading provider of solutions that deliver measurable business results to customers by enabling them to do more with less energy. With over 120 years of experience in the HVAC, energy and security arenas, TAC employs more than 8,000 people worldwide, with partners in 80 countries. TAC’s parent company, Schneider Electric, is the global specialist in energy management with operations in more than 100 countries, offering integrated solutions across multiple market segments, including leadership positions in energy and infrastructure, industrial processes, building automation, and data centers/networks. Focused on making energy safe, reliable, and efficient, the company’s 114,000 employees achieved sales of more than 18.3 billion euros in 2008. For more information, visit and