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KSBA Annual Conference: Unpacked

Kentucky School Advocate
June 2021

By Laura Cole
KSBA Board Team Development Director

Fresh off KSBA’s 2021 Annual Conference last month, here are some answers to attendees’ frequently asked questions. This year’s event was held in a beautiful new location, rescheduled for a later date and was hosted quite differently due to COVID-19. KSBA is grateful to attendees for their patience, flexibility and trust shown to our staff as we provided the association’s first in-person event in more than a year.

It felt so good to finally come together in person, but the conference was very spread out and there was a lot of walking.

While the mask requirement was lifted just hours before the start of Annual Conference, COVID-19 restrictions at the time of our event limited the use of conference space to 25 percent capacity and required social distancing whenever possible. To adhere to these enforced restrictions of the Kentucky International Convention Center (KICC), a state-owned facility, we spread out into almost every inch of usable meeting space to accommodate all attendees.

KSBA was fortunate to secure KICC for our conference this year because no other facility in the state could host our conference under those guidelines. We otherwise would have been required to cap conference attendance to fewer than 400 people – less than half of our typical attendance.

Tip for 2022: Reserve your hotel rooms early, particularly if you are unable to walk longer distances. By making hotel accommodations early at one of the participating conference hotels (available to board members at special reduced rates), you can help ensure you will be walking less each day. The closer hotels – located next door and connected to KICC via pedways – sell out first. Some attendees who waited to make hotel reservations were farther away.

The 2022 Annual Conference will also be at KICC next year. Will it be the same as this year?

KSBA will return to KICC for our 2022 Annual Conference, but our use of the space will be quite different. We will use a smaller area of the convention center since COVID-19 restrictions will be lifted. The general sessions and exhibitor tradeshow will both be held in the first-floor ballrooms while breakout sessions will take place in smaller meeting rooms near the registration desk. This will considerably reduce the amount of walking for conference attendees while still allowing us to benefit from the state-of-the-art facilities only available to us at KICC.

Tip for 2022: While you likely will not be walking nearly as far, plan for comfort. Wear supportive shoes and come dressed comfortably in business casual attire. Pack light, leaving the non-essentials in your hotel room. Also, KSBA recommends studying the convention center map prior to arrival so you have a better understanding of where you will need to go for each session – limiting your wrong turns and extra steps.

Why weren’t beverage breaks available Friday morning and why were there not more beverages available all weekend?

Part of the limitations this year were due to COVID-19 restrictions on food and beverage service. That is why each attendee was provided a refillable water bottle upon arrival at conference. In a typical year, beverages are offered during designated breaks on Friday afternoon, Saturday morning and Saturday afternoon of conference. Beverages provided by the conference venue are cost prohibitive. A 12-ounce can of soda can cost between $5-$7 dollars, while a gallon of coffee can cost upwards of $100. Capping beverage breaks and discouraging attendees from taking more than one beverage at a time actually helps KSBA keep our events reasonably priced. To increase food and beverage options throughout conference would result in KSBA having to raise registration costs – something we try to avoid whenever possible to be mindful of costs for districts.  

Tip for 2022: 
Research the breakfast/food service options at your hotel. Most of the participating conference hotels offer light breakfast items (in some cases complementary with your reservation) and have small convenience shops in the lobbies that sell beverages and snacks. Plan accordingly to make use of these amenities before making your way to the convention center, ensuring you have what you need to get you through a full day of training.

Have a question for KSBA? Email [email protected].

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