Get Connected – The Schedule

A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned how excited I am to have the opportunity to explore a new way to share information through a regular segment on The Alabama Way, called “Get Connected”, airing on Tuesday mornings (and repeating on Thursday mornings) from 5:00 to 6:00 a.m. on WPXH-44 in Birmingham. The interview with Disability […]

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The FY16 Rolling Reserve Cap and Other Calculations

Time to talk FY16 budgets. Yep, FY15 just began on October 1, 2014, but good budget planning begins years ahead, right? One of the political footballs that gets tossed around every year is what’s known as the Rolling Reserve Cap. State education officials are always eager to know the amount of the Cap so they can look […]

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The Alabama Accountability Act: Who Is Eligible for Scholarships?

The Alabama Accountability Act (AAA) of 2013 provides eligible students needing money to change schools the opportunity to apply for and receive scholarship money through Scholarship Granting Organizations (SGOs). Many questions have arisen about these scholarships, particularly after the Alabama Department of Revenue (ADOR) released the required public report showing SGOs had awarded only nine scholarships […]

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Amendment 4 – Protection for Local School Boards Against Unfunded Mandates

Amendment 4 will be on your ballot on Tuesday, November 4. Proponents claim it will protect local school boards against unfunded mandates from the state legislature. An unfunded mandate refers to an action that is mandated by a state (or federal) legislative body that requires expenditures of funds by another government entity but doesn’t actually provide […]

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Student Incident Data for Alabama’s Schools

How many incidents of harassment were there in your school district during the 2012-2013 school year? How many fights were there? Bomb threats? Keep reading to find out. The Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE) collects this data from all of Alabama’s school districts every year. Aggregated data at the state level has been published in […]

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Imagine Being Sued for Advocating for Your Child in School….

Imagine being sued because you wrote a letter to your school district’s superintendent expressing concerns about your child’s education and the grownups managing that education. This actually happened in Bibb County. A mother of a child with special needs was sued by her child’s former special education case manager, referred to simply as a teacher in […]

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Get Connected: A New Endeavor for the Alabama School Connection

A little more than a month ago, the opportunity arose for the Alabama School Connection to become a regular part of a local public affairs program, The Alabama Way. I had been a guest on the program a couple of times, and the station manager, Debra Perry, offered me the opportunity to share information about public […]

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Alabama and the United States: Who Is Paying for Public Education?

Ever wonder who is footing the bill for our children’s K-12 public education? Where does the money come from? Specifically…where does the revenue come from? Has that changed through the years? We hear general statistics like state revenue accounts for about half of all revenue used for K-12 public education, with the feds contributing about 10% […]

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What Do Check Registers Reveal About School Spending?

With news of  Alabama’s abysmal ranking in yet another study about K-12 school funding coupled with hints at possible changes to the formula used to distribute Alabama’s tax dollars to school districts, one of the questions that needs to be asked is how exactly school officials are spending our tax dollars. Many school districts have asked […]

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What Do You Realllly Think of the Alabama College and Career Ready Standards? Input, Please

Loaded question, right? Wellll….the Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE) is giving everyone…and I mean everyone….the opportunity to state whether they agree or disagree with any of Alabama’s English Language Arts (ELA) or math standards. This is your chance, folks. Speak now. Make. The. Time. Are you with me? Beginning on October 6, the ALSDE began […]

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Going to Jail Because of Your Child’s Chronic Health Problem

Right now, in two different school systems in Alabama, two sets of parents have been ordered to spend time in jail because their child missed too many days of school. In each case of these two cases, the child is suffering from chronic health issues that have been well-documented by physicians. In each case, school officials challenged […]

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Are Board Meetings a Good Place to Seek Solutions?

In the past few weeks, we have heard many stories of the public’s frustration with their board of education erupting into tension-filled boardrooms. Typically that happens during the “public comments” or “public participation” section of the meeting. This one was in Hoover, where parents are frustrated with what school officials admit is an attempt to engineer racial […]

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Student Privacy and Education Technology – What You Need to Know (Or Should At Least Be Asking)

What kind of information is your child sharing through the education technology used in your child’s school or classroom? What procedure did your child’s teacher, school, or district go through to ensure that the chosen education technology is using your child’s information only for education purposes? What board policies govern the choice of that education technology? Have you […]

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ACT Aspire Results – What to Do with Them

Word on the street is that the ACT Aspire results have been released to schools and districts…and will be heading home to students’ families in the near future. The ACT Aspire reading and math tests were administered to students in the 3rd through 8th grades in the spring of 2014. The idea behind using the […]

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How Much Is Too Much to Keep in the District’s General Fund?

    Public school funding trends seem to be taking a positive turn, though Alabama’s schools aren’t receiving anywhere near the amount of money they did in FY08. Here’s a quick visual, depicting nominal and real (deflated) dollars, which takes into account the time value of money, of state funding for public schools from FY01 to […]

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The Role of Schools in Eliminating Bullying and Cyber-Bullying – Thursday, September 18 Forum

Here are all resources handed out and discussed at the Forum Would you like to know what your school officials are doing to positively impact bullying and harassment in our schools? Or what role school officials can play when students are cyber-bullied? Join me on Thursday, September 18, at Samford University in Birmingham from 6:00 to […]

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Local School Tax Millage and the 10-Mill Local Match Chargeback Thing – Explained

Alabama has had a flurry of city school districts break off from county districts in recent years. Many more are waiting in the wings. Most cities seeking to form their own school systems cite the reason for wanting to break off is to have local control over how funds are spent. County districts serve large areas, […]

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What Do Your Public School Officials’ (Including Your Board!) Statements of Economic Interests Reveal?

With this being budget season and all, it is good to know that if you have any questions about what kinds of economic interests any of your public school officials have, you might find the answers in this handy-dandy online database. The Alabama Ethics Commission maintains an online database of all public school officials’ Statements of […]

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State-Mandated Testing for This School Year

The 2014-2015 state-mandated testing schedule has arrived.  Two new things for this year: (1) the Alabama Science Assessment (ASA), given in grades 5 and 7, is being replaced by the ACT Aspire Science exam in spring 2015. The decision to use the exam was made back in 2013 when the State Board of Education adopted the […]

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What Are Your Board’s Budget Priorities?

Board of education members have three reallllly big tasks: (1) Hire the Superintendent (unless they serve in one of the 37 counties where the superintendent is elected), (2) Hire the Chief School Financial Officer (CSFO), and (3) Approve the School Budget. Arguably, all three of those are extremely important tasks. But since it’s now school budget-approval […]

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Budget Hearing Dates….Uh, Kinda.

The idea of crowdsourcing budget hearing dates wasn’t as fruitful as I had hoped. My sincere appreciation to the five folks who took the time to find the dates and times of their district’s budget hearings. So, I began the arduous task of searching for budget hearing announcements in a familiar place: Google. “Alabama school […]

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The Future of Public Education Tour – Make Plans to Attend

Here is your chance to engage with the state superintendent of education. Alabama’s State Superintendent Dr. Tommy Bice kicks off a 12-stop tour across the state to share information about public education initiatives on Tuesday, August 26, at 6 p.m. at Lee High School in Huntsville. In the weeks that follow, Bice will crisscross the […]

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Is Using Test Results a Good Way to Compare Schools?

In this age of accountability, test results, and cool comparison tools, it is all too easy to reduce schools to test scores. But is this really a good way to compare schools? After all, that test score is only the result of one test on one day. We intuitively know that schools are made up of more than […]

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Budget Hearing Dates: Help Wanted!

It’s that time again. Budget Hearing Season. FY15 budgets are due to the Alabama State Department of Education by September 16, 2014. Your help in gathering the dates and times of your school district’s budget hearings is appreciated. Fill out the Google form below to share those dates and times. No contact information is required. Be […]

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How Much Do Alabama’s Superintendents Get Paid?

While some folks are pretty upset about State Superintendent Dr. Tommy Bice being offered a 26%, or $52,000, pay raise at Wednesday’s State Board of Education meeting, I thought it might be helpful for us to see how much the superintendents in our own districts earn. This map contains data on superintendent salaries across the state published […]

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