Kentucky School Advocate
By Madelynn Coldiron
Please leave your capes at home. Displays of superpowers are optional.
Otherwise, school board members and other education leaders should be prepared for learning and inspiration as they gather for the 81st KSBA Annual Conference under the theme of “Be a Superhero for Public Education!”
“People seem to love the theme – it’s really resonating with people,” noted Kerri Schelling, who spearheads the conference as KSBA’s director of Board Team Development. “Several of the workshops have incorporated the theme in their title.”
The Feb. 24–26 event at Louisville’s Galt House features some new clinic offerings, more school district involvement, a few tweaks to the traditional and a trio of diverse general session speakers.
New clinic offerings this year will include fresh takes on the state-mandated training areas of finance, superintendent evaluation and ethics.
In addition to a retooled basic session on superintendent evaluation, there will be a new one for veteran board members designed around real-life scenarios (the actual players will remain anonymous). “They will talk about things that actually happened in districts, with details changed, and talk about what as a board they would do, how they would handle that, and then hear what actually came out of the situation,” Schelling said.
The newer finance offerings focus on the annual financial audit, the finances of energy and going beyond the monthly financial report. The basic ethics class has been revamped and new advanced ethics training deals with legal and ethical considerations for board members. The pre-conference session called All Together Now, which combines each mandated training area in its three-hour block, also is being retooled, with one strand geared to new board members with three years’ experience or less, and the other to more experienced members.
“We’re trying to better accommodate members’ levels of preparation and experience,” Schelling explained.
Those won’t be the only new offerings.
“We’re excited that this year’s lineup has workshop topics not addressed before or not addressed as fully,” she said. One of those topics is diversity and equity, “and how a board can use its policy-making authority in an informed, thoughtful manner in partnership with their communities and district staff.”
Other sessions will bring school board members up to date on how the new state school accountability system is coming together, and on early childhood efforts. And, in perfect timing halfway through the 2017 legislative session, there will be a clinic updating attendees on how that is progressing.
There will also be a larger than average number of districts showcasing their programs, projects or progress in clinics, Schelling noted.
In a new scheduling twist, the annual business meeting will be held during the Saturday luncheon, instead of as a separate block of time at the end. The idea is to streamline the proceedings, Schelling said. And with the installation of a new president this year – David Webster of Simpson County – the President’s Reception will again be held following the last clinic session on Saturday.
Back by popular demand
Some changes implemented last year proved to be a big hit and will return for the 2017 conference. The mandatory training topics were offered for the first time following the Sunday brunch session and were so well-attended that they are being brought back.
For the folks who don’t have time to grab lunch between Friday’s pre-conference sessions and the opening general session, the grab-and-go box lunches that were offered last year will again be on hand. Look for them on the registration form.
The use of the KSBA Events App, unveiled at last year’s annual conference, continues to be available, giving members access to the schedule, clinic locations, vendors, updates and more. Students from Jefferson County schools again will function as a roving app team to help members use the technology on their devices.
Speaking of which ...
Variety is the byword when it comes to this year’s annual conference speakers. It’s virtually certain that the lineup has never – at least not in the same year – included a mountain climber whose survival story has been featured on an Animal Planet show, a psychologist-slash-humorist, and a scholar turned author, speaker and television host.