mindSpark Learning Launches ENGAGE Leadership Series to Help U.S. School and District Leaders Better Engage and Retain Staff

Educator retention is one of the biggest internal challenges school leaders face. Districts across the country spend $2.2+ billion on teacher turnover each year. This drains school budgets and institutional knowledge about students, the curriculum and school programs. mindSpark Learning® (MindSpark™), a nonprofit that creates and facilitates transformative professional learning experiences for educators and professionals globally, is committed to helping school districts retain their talent and today announced the launch of its ENGAGE Leadership Series for school and district leaders.

The ENGAGE Leadership Series is a seven-week virtual series, beginning March 23, 2021. The cohort will meet every Tuesday from 7 pm-8:30 pm EST (with March 30 off for Spring Break). Participants will develop greater leadership resiliency, empathy and relationship-building skills through a combination of industry engagements and immersive experiences. Additionally, the cohort will address individual problems of practice through structured protocols and in collaboration with their peers.

“Educator engagement and retention has a drastic effect on schools and students,” said mindSpark Learning CEO Kellie Lauth. “Knowing that 44% of new teachers in public and private schools leave the profession within their first five years, we designed the ENGAGE Leadership Series to help school and district leaders overcome common hurdles to retention while addressing their specific pain points.”…Read More

Why, and how, warranties should guide edtech purchasing

School technology leaders are faced with the buying decisions of products for an entire school or district. These types of edtech purchases are a sizeable investment and, unfortunately, funding can be wasted on products that are overpriced and underperform–diverting school budgets that could be better used to benefit students in other ways.

The first and most obvious factor in the search for the right technology is to decide which product will be most cost-effective. Durability of the technology is the next major influencer.

When evaluating a district’s edtech needs there are several factors to consider, including product warranties and life cycle of the product. Consumer brands typically do not offer warranties for school use, and this is where differentiation between consumer and commercial devices comes into play.…Read More

Top 4 ways district leaders deal with funding obstacles

Annual survey reveals top 3 challenges facing district IT leadership

district-ITSchool budgets show a marked increase from a year ago, with one in three districts reporting budget increases this year, according to the second annual K-12 IT Leadership Survey from the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN).

Released on the first day of CoSN’s annual conference, the survey reveals that although more districts are seeing their financial restrictions ease a bit, nearly half of participants said they still lack the funding to support enhanced ed-tech and implement new classroom technologies.

“While the feedback from district leaders offers optimism, it’s overwhelmingly apparent: Districts still lack the necessary resources to provide transformative learning environments,” said Keith Krueger, CEO of CoSN. “Moving forward, the survey should inform the decisions school system leaders, as well as policy makers, make in establishing learning environments powered through technology.”…Read More

1st post-recession budget offered for schools

The State Board of Education recommended its first post-recession budget for public schools Thursday and set a goal of hiring back one-third of the teachers cut when the state’s tax revenue plunged, the Associated Press reports. The proposed budget for the next school year also seeks to restore textbook spending and school operational funds that were cut. After four years of having to reduce spending, the school board got excited about planning a school budget where there will be more to spend. “This is a tremendous piece of work,” said board member Charles Elliott of Decatur. The board proposed that K-12 spending increase from $3.7 billion this year to $4.1 billion next year, a rise of $416 million…

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Schools anticipate continued budget cuts

An end to emergency federal funding and the threat of mid-year cuts could disrupt economic recovery.

School districts, already operating in their fourth consecutive year of budget cuts, do not anticipate returning to pre-recession funding levels for several years. In a new survey from the American Association of School Administrators (AASA), school leaders report continued erosion of fiscal resources as the worst recession in recent history continues to impact state and local budgets.

The study, “Weathering the Storm: How the Economic Recession Continues to Impact Schools,” is the twelfth in a series of AASA studies examining the impact of the economic recession on schools. The study is based on a survey of 528 school administrators from 48 states in February 2012.

Respondents project new budget cuts in the 2013-14 school year, though the projected cuts might not be as deep as in the earlier years of the recession. Twenty-nine states are projecting budget shortfalls of $44 billion for FY 2013.…Read More

Survey reveals educators’ must-have technologies

Laptops remain the most valuable mobile technology, according to teachers.

Interactive whiteboards are the classroom technology that teachers say they most value, and though tablet-style eReader devices such as Apple’s iPad haven’t been around for long, they’re already considered the second most useful mobile classroom technology behind laptops, according to a national survey of teachers’ digital media use.

Educators are incorporating more internet-dependent technologies into their instruction, the survey also reveals—but shrinking school budgets are prompting many educators to look for free resources.

Deepening Commitment: Teachers Increasingly Rely on Media and Technology,”  a national research report on teacher’s media usage from PBS and Grunwald Associates LLC, found that more than half of K-12 teachers surveyed reported continued cuts to school media budgets, which has led to increased reliance on free instructional content.…Read More

Gates urges school budget overhauls

Bill Gates, the founder and former chairman of Microsoft, has made education-related philanthropy a major focus since stepping down from his day-to-day role in the company in 2008. His new area of interest: helping solve schools’ money problems, reports the New York Times. In a speech prepared for delivery Friday, Mr. Gates–who is gaining considerable clout in education circles–plans to urge the 50 state superintendents of education to take difficult steps to restructure the nation’s public education budgets, which have come under severe pressure in the economic downturn. He suggests they end teacher pay increases based on seniority and on master’s degrees, which he says are unrelated to teachers’ ability to raise student achievement. He also urges an end to efforts to reduce class sizes. Instead, he suggests rewarding the most effective teachers with higher pay for taking on larger classes or teaching in needy schools…

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Duncan: Ed tech can help cut costs


Ed tech is an investment that can help reduce school budgets over the long term, Education Secretary Arne Duncan said.


Education Secretary Arne Duncan told school officials Nov. 17 to look at saving money in their districts by increasing productivity. Duncan spoke at an American Enterprise Institute event called “Bang for the Buck in Schooling,” and he warned that schools will “have to face the challenge of doing more with less.”…Read More

Think outside the box: Doing more with less, Part 2

Dollar Sign on Green BackgroundIn my last blog, I wrote about the massive budget deficits facing most school districts, making it vital that everyone learn to do more with less. Yet, at the same time, we can’t overlook the security needs of our campuses. A few thefts or acts of vandalism can cost more than…

In my last blog, I wrote about the massive budget deficits facing most school districts, making it vital that everyone learn to do more with less. Yet, at the same time, we can’t overlook the security needs of our campuses. A few thefts or acts of vandalism can cost more than the security that may have helped prevent the crimes.

It begins with a security risk assessment. The goal is to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the district’s security program. Often times, the weaknesses can be remedied with simple, inexpensive solutions such as landscaping, fencing, or lighting.…Read More

Think outside the box: Find ways to do more with less

money-saving1Is it possible to maintain a strong security posture while spending no more or even less on security equipment and services? It is possible. But it will take careful planning and working with…

Times are tough all around. States across the country have passed budgets for 2010 that are 5.4 percent less than a year earlier. Even with the cuts, deficits are expected to reach nearly $15 billion. Deficits of this size result in cuts in personnel, classes and extra-curricular activities, and the closing of some school properties.

The next round of budgeting will continue to be a major test for local school boards, as they plan to maintain children’s educational opportunities and standards with less money. Finding ways to do more became the motto starting in 2009 and may become even more vital this year.…Read More