ISFLC Conference Tracks


Track Title Description
Track 1 Fundamentals of School Finance This session will provide a fundamental understanding of the Iowa School Finance System and the necessary basic vocabulary to communicate both with staff and the public. Participants will leave the session knowing the role of the general fund versus other school district funds, miscellaneous income, the cash reserve levy, the Aid and Levy Worksheet, and the budget process; as well as the relationship between the unspent balance to the cash balance and the undesignated/unreserved balance.
Track 2 Financial Health Analysis In this session you will discover the key role the financial solvency ratio, unspent balance, cash balance, enrollment, assets, liabilities, restricted, committed, assigned and unassigned fund balance, total revenues, assessed valuation, state foundation aid, and supplemental levies have in determining your school district's financial position. This session will share the impact of a change in one of these key elements and will teach you how to effectively use these key numbers to build financial trend information for monitoring your school districts financial position. You will discover how to use the audit report and other district financial documents to trace an historical trend analysis and how documents lead to creation of a five-year finance plan.
Phase 2 Financial Health Analysis (Forecasting) Participants will view and select a model for forecasting financial health. Superintendents will use historical trend analysis to predict school financial factors that impact the district. This will then lead to the necessary steps to change a poor financial prediction.
Track 3 Preparation & Presentation of Your Budget Building your budget and presenting it to the board and your school district community in a clear and understandable manner can make a difference in the support you receive as a superintendent and business official from both your board and your community. Track III is designed to prepare your budget from beginning to end, with plenty of time for explanation, questions, and answers. In this session experienced budget preparers and public speakers will work with you to develop your budget presentation using your budget figures and PowerPoint. Participants will also examine district fiscal indicators to help address future financial issues that will assist in justifying proposed budget.
Track 4

Fundamentals of Finance for Special Populations

Participants will receive practical information to manage and coordinate local district special education finance and special population finance tasks throughout the school year. At the end of the session the participants will have necessary information to: incorporate categorical funding streams (special education, at risk, and English Language Learners) into district budget development, estimate special education revenues and expenditures, review allowable uses of categorical dollars, complete special education reporting requirements including the Special Education Supplement and manage monthly special education and special population operations at the district level.
Track 5 Emerging Technology: All Things Google This track will focus on basic to intermediate understanding and applications of technology, with an emphasis on Google tools for school administrators and school business officials. These can be used individually or collaboratively to create and share documents, spreadsheets, presentations, websites, and various forms. It will also include organizational features of Google Drive storage, and more advanced features you may not be aware of to enhance the way you can use Gmail, Google search, Calendar, and the Chrome browser. We will also discuss various applications of blogging and social media that can be used to communicate with staff and the public.
Track 6 Student Management Crisis Prevention As technology and society change rapidly, the opportunities for new kinds of crisis and crisis planning are not far behind. This track covers the need for crisis planning and prevention opportunities. Examine your district's crisis management plan, consider new threats and evaluate if your district is prepared to deal with them. This course anticipates internal and external threats, Internet issues, cell phones and phone pictures, text messaging, ADA, computer labs, security, adult access to buildings and students, and other electronic issues. Learn how to prepare staff for the unexpected and plan your district's communications to parents and the press well in advance of the most challenging moment any district leader has to face.
Track 7 Preparation for Professional Negotiations & Arbitration This session will assist you in preparing to lead the professional negotiation process in your school district. The learning will be focused into the following areas: 1) Background information needed for negotiations. 2) Preparation for negotiations. 3) Negotiation Process. Specific items within these areas will include Chapter 20, bargaining options, resources and data available for preparation, economic impact of contract language, how to prepare and establish protocol for your board, initial proposals, impasse procedures, mediation, and arbitration. Participants will be engaged in activities throughout the process that will lead to your preparation for the negotiation process in your districts.
Track 8 Collecting, Interpreting, Using, & Reporting Data on Student Achievement Iowa's school improvement and accountability law (HF 2272, 1998) requires school districts and nonpublic schools to provide an annual progress report to their communities by September 15 each year. In this session, learn how the annual progress report is a powerful way to keep the community informed and involved in your district's efforts to improve student achievement. The quality of your progress will be dependent upon your district's ability to collect and interpret measures of student achievement data. Learn about various measures used by Iowa school districts to meet accountability requirements. Discover and practice data analysis, learning to identify student needs in your district through data interpretation. Identify questions to ask about student achievement data that may present faulty conclusions. Take home helpful hints about communicating student achievement information to your public. This session will also prepare you and your district for the inevitable comparisons likely to be made public by your local media. Participation in this session will empower you to confidently talk with your local board and your community about student achievement data and what it means.
Track 9 Development of a Working Line-Item Budget & Monthly Financial Reporting

Participants will utilize district data to develop a working line-item budget. Categorical and general education funds will be identified and discussed, and participants will gain confidence in tracking receipts and expenditures throughout the year. They will learn how to access their district's financial information and practical strategies for managing their district budget. Program budgeting, site-based budgeting, coding of expenditures and revenues will guide instruction and learning. Participants will also review several examples of financial reports that provide meaning and understanding for internal staff, community audiences, and the board of education. They will leave with a variety of financial reports that can be used to inform your board and community about the district’s financial position.

Track 10 Leading Teacher Compensation Participants will discover how to position their districts to ensure optimal benefits from Senate File 476, Student Achievement and Teacher Quality Programs, specifically in preparing: a) mentoring and induction programs that support beginning teachers; b) career paths with compensation levels that strengthen Iowa districts in their ability to attract and retain the best teachers; c) professional development that supports research and best practice in teaching and learning; and d) variable pay plans that ensure additional compensation for teaching teams as student achievement increases. Additionally, learn how to build teacher support, involve the community, incorporate teacher compensation dimensions in your Comprehensive School Improvement Plan, project future expenditures, and pilot performance pay. Attention will be given to developing teacher evaluation criteria in your district based upon the eight Iowa teaching standards.
Track 11 Planning and Communicating Budget Reductions Learn from instructors who have gone through the process of navigating the procedures and politics of substantial budget reductions. Consider several audiences, including internal communications, with the board, with the staff and external audiences with media and the community. What processes and questions need to be considered to determine the magnitude of reductions needed, look at a decision-making framework to learn how to prioritize and implement budget reductions. Look at what tools are available to evaluate and communicate budget reductions. Consider the process for determining various scenarios and structures to obtain internal and external input and feedback.
Track 12 Risk Management

This Track will address those issues where school districts face the biggest risk for loss of assets due to lack of planning and unforeseen results. Topics will include contractual issues (did you know only the board president has the authority to sign school district contracts?), special education, worker's compensation including OSHA requirements, school safety, open meetings and public records, property/casualty losses, and financial options available to pay fo risk management issues.

Track 13 Leadership This session is built around the Iowa Standards for School Leaders (ISSL). Advance your understanding of how to promote the success of all students by: a) developing, articulating, and implementing a shared vision of learning; b) advocating, nurturing, and sustaining a school culture and instructional program; c) collaborating with members of the school community and mobilizing community resources; d) acting with integrity, fairness, and ethics; and e) understanding, responding to, and influencing the larger political environment. Because leadership is essential for systemic change, the conditions and leadership skills essential for change will be addressed. There will be a visit to the Capital to meet with legislators and advocate for education in Iowa.
Track 14 Planning for Educational Sharing and Consolidation Iowa school districts have opportunities to share students, teachers, administrators, multiple grade levels, and regional academies, all of which may lead to school consolidation. Participants will learn how to structure 28E Agreements; analyze data, and plan for sharing arrangements; determine one-way sharing tuition rates; orchestrate two-way sharing plans; calculate the financial impact of sharing; and forge county, city, and school shared services plans. School consolidation experts will review financial incentives available to districts that have passed resolutions to study school consolidation and they will guide participants in understanding the legal requirements of consolidation and the ramifications of consolidation on school levies, the tax base, and tax rates.
Track 15 Alignment for Continuous Improvement Aligning the many facets of the school organization is essential to continuous improvement. A clear vision for the future, a budget that reflects the district's core values, solid data and information that can inform decision making, shared leadership, a challenging curriculum, professional development that will raise achievement, and policies that guide best practice are all critical elements for success. Participants will learn how to connect and align all of these critical elements with the comprehensive school improvement plan for clearer direction, consistency of purpose, and continuous improvement.
Track 16 Legal Implications for Leaders We have become a very litigious society and perhaps this is as evident in our schools as in any other facet of American life. Church and state issues, school attendance, the instructional program, student rights, rights of disabled, torts, defamation, student records, contracts, teacher rights and freedoms, due process rights, discrimination issues, collective bargaining, finance, and property all pose legal challenges for school leaders. Participants will expand their knowledge of the "hot issues" in school law and how they prepare for and proactively deal with the issues.
Track 17

Advanced Applications of Spreadsheets

This session will improve participants' ability to quickly analyze and disseminate school district data. While it focuses on financial data, the concepts contained can be transferred to other types of data including student achievement data. Participants will develop their analysis and presentation skills.
Track 18 Communication: Educating Your Publics on School Finance Teachers, district patrons, and legislators are more likely to support fiscal decisions when they understand school finance. In this session you will develop strategies for communicating the realities of school funding and budgets to all your district's publics. Learn how to educate people on how tax rates are impacted by the tax base and assessment practices, the difference between residential and ag land valuations, how to calculate the effect of the state rollback on property tax assessment, the distinction between unspent balance and cash balance, levies available to districts as well as the uniform levy, foundation level, the difference between the school house and the general fund, and state foundation aid. Discover understandable approaches to communicating fiscal terms including undesignated, unreserved fund balance; solvency ratio; cash reserve; income surtax; and bonding capacity. Please bring the following materials: 1) Copy of district audit (management discussion and analysis); 2) an example of communication challenge and a clipping that demonstrates the nature of coverage of local paper (clipping, story, or conversation with a legislator, etc.); 3) calculator. 
Track 19 Operating Expense Analysis Analyze and communicate the efficiency of your district's energy, transportation, and academics program operations, how to make these operations more cost effective, and plan for the future to ensure effectiveness and efficiency of operation. You will develop documents for your district in the areas of transportation cost allocation, student transportation costs, Fuels to Schools, and district vs. contractor costs. You will learn to analyze your energy resource management systems, understand cost analysis, and determine systems payback. A key segment of this session will be to analyze the cost effectiveness of academic initiatives and how to evaluate effectiveness. Are your taxpayers getting the desired "bang for their buck?"
Track 20 Human Resource Function Development By far the greatest percentage of any school district's resources is invested in people, thus successful school leaders continually seek ways to maximize their return on this vast investment. This session will look carefully at strategies and processes in areas of developing criteria for vacancies, posting openings, recruitment, selection, induction and mentoring, retention and professional development of staff, and work design that seeks to maximize individual and group contributions to the district's mission. Performance evaluation and termination procedures will also be examined. Participants will also learn how to create a high performance culture using performance-based recruitment and selection strategies, and designing and leading staff development. You will leave Track 20 with a clearly defined hiring process for your district.
Track 21 District Financial and Educational Viability  This track will involve investigation and planning for a district’s future, including finance, curriculum, budget guarantee, enrollment trends, with a specific look at both high school and middle school offerings. Participants will learn about long range planning and leadership issues, options available such as sharing, partnering with other educational entities, pre and post reorganization or consolidation expectations and building a common culture out of a changed or new district.
Track 22 Facility Construction: Planning to Finish This track will guide participants through the entire process of facility construction once funding has been authorized. From planning to implementation, developing a construction timeline, selecting architects and signing contracts, working with a bonding attorney, oversight of the construction process, keeping the community involved and updated, planning to ensure the facility meets instructional needs for students and staff.
Track 23 Intense Content Track

Recent State-level across-the-board cuts have created serious challenges for school districts throughout Iowa. This intense content track provides superintendents with opportunities to discuss budget reduction ideas in like-sized schools. Participants will also have opportunities as a group to explore ideas for monitoring line-item budgets and using financial tools to communicate the school district’s financial story to the board and community.

Track 24 Intense Content Track
  1. Designing your Professional Development Plan around the ISSL: in this session, participants will review the Iowa Standards for School Leaders, which form the basis of the superintendent evaluation process required in Iowa law. The law expects professional development to help superintendents learn about the standards and improve their skills in targeted goal areas. You will leave this session with ideas to help you craft your individual professional development plan to take to your board and demonstrate your commitment to quality leadership.
  2. Planning Parameters and Priorities in Collective Bargaining: at both the local level and in state policy, collective bargaining and negotiations are becoming critical time consuming processes. In this session, you will review the collective bargaining process related to your negotiated contract, find out where to get information to help with exhibits and comparability, hear from others about what successful parameters may help to smooth the planning process, and identify what priorities you can reasonably expect to accomplish through a successful collective bargaining conversation.
  3. Leading Collaborative Goal Setting: successful efforts to improve student achievement continually come back to a consistent theme – collective leadership around shared goals. Learn how to engage your board and important stakeholders in an effective goal setting process, define areas of improvement you wish to accomplish, learn how to identify and communicate the “non-negotiables”, and discover what it takes to stick to the tough task of change around improved instruction. 
Track 25 Professional Development The impact of effective professional development on student achievement is becoming clearer but communicating the return on dollars spent on professional development to our publics can be difficult. In this session you will receive what a quality professional development program includes, and learn what processes to create and questions to ask to insure that what teachers learn about professional development is being implemented in classrooms. This session will help you consider how to make the case to staff, parents, and the community about the critical investment in training to improve instruction. Learn how to begin doing a cost benefit analysis of your district's professional development program, assess the impact, develop a continuous learning professional development calendar, and justify to your public the return on your investment of time and money. You will also have the opportunity to assess your professional development program in light of the research on effective professional development.
Track 26 Preparation for Accreditation Site Visit Knowing what will happen during an accreditation site visit and the subsequent visit will ensure that the district is fully prepared and the site visit has long-term benefits. Expand your understanding of essential preparatory steps: How do you get ready? Who do you involve? How do you engage school and community groups? What materials, documents and resources are needed? Once the visit is complete, discover how to infuse the site visit recommendations into your district's Comprehensive School Improvement Plan (CSIP) and support district leaders, stakeholders and staff to pull together to improve student achievement. Participants will also explore ways to report findings of the accreditation visit to the community.
Track 27 Shared Leadership: What Does it Look Like?  Shared leadership begins with the board/superintendent team focusing on student learning through shared clear vision, high expectations and dynamic leadership at all levels. Participants will expand their thinking on how to build a leadership team, share leadership throughout the district and build leadership capacity. Participants will take away processes that can be implemented to develop shared leadership consistent with that found in high achieving districts.
Track 28

Allocating Resources Strategically

“The links between the resource side of education reform and school improvement have become one of the most critical issues for our schools. Without a more effective use of the education dollar, current fiscal constraints and funding cuts could lead to battles over money, ineffective across-the-board cuts, and a lower quality education system.” Allan Odden, Improving Student Learning When Budgets Are Tight, 2012. Participants in Strategic Resource Allocation will be provided research based practical information and tools for aligning resources to dramatically improve student performance. Specific strategies and tools will be organized around key questions:

  • How do districts link budget development and resource allocation with specific strategies to enhance student learning?
  • What are the resource needs and costs of research-based strategies for turning around low performing schools and enhancing high performance schools?
  • How can categorical dollars (e.g., Title I and special education) and other revenue sources (ISL, PPEL, SAVE) be leveraged to support improved instructional practice?
  • How can “sacred cows” such as class size and staffing patterns be re-configured to maximize learning results?
  • How can budget cuts be made while retaining a powerful instructional improvement program and where can new dollars be invested in strategic ways?

Participants will walk away with a staffing template based on district specific resources and research-based ratios for deploying staff. Participants will receive frameworks for district and building schedules that support teacher collaboration and professional learning time. Participants will have the opportunity to interact with current practitioners around the numerous issues related to effective resource use including gaining board support, addressing negotiated contractual barriers, “pulling the initiative weeds” not providing a return on investment, and other practical matters. 

Track 29 Maximizing Spending Authority Gain a thorough understanding of the importance of and various sources of spending authority. Learn about different approaches to requesting modified allowable growth from the School Budget Review Committee (SBRC) including preparation, application, and understanding SBRC criteria of decisions. Evaluate best practices around drop out prevention and at-risk programming, special education, instructional support, on-time funding and budget guarantee spending authority decisions. Learn the opportunities to maximize general fund spending authority by fully utilizing non-general fund revenue sources. Evaluate all the options to fund spending authority. Discuss various ways to clarify board expectations including the possibility of setting board policy around parameters of district spending authority goals. Walk away with strategies to maximize your district’s spending authority.
Track 30 Understanding and Managing Special Revenue Funds

Learn the distinct funding streams and associated reporting requirements for districts’ Special Revenue Funds. Improve your ability to predict and manage these revenue sources as part of your district’s comprehensive budget. Identify: 1) the programs impacted by these funds, 2) how these funds are generated, and 3) the extent to which these funds impact your district’s tax rate. Predict and compute dollars generated. Topics to be covered include general fund categoricals, the nutrition fund and the activity fund. Participants will improve their ability to: 1) Identify and track special revenue sources and associated expenditures, 2) Identify programs directly impacted by these funding streams, and 3) Predict and compute how changes in future revenue sources will impact their programs.

Track 31 Understanding and Administering Employment Law

Participants will leave the session with a basic understanding of the employment system and process from hiring (advertising, job descriptions, interview processes, etc.), to duration of employment (wage and hour, leaves, work rules, etc.) to separation (good cause, at-will employees v. teacher tenure, etc.) Current collective bargaining issues and processes will be addressed in detail. Learning Outcomes:

  • Basic understanding of the course of employment related issues from hiring through separation of employment.
  • Identify the legal issues that arise throughout the course of employment process and know when it’s appropriate to contact district legal counsel.
  • Gain familiarity with their board policy and master contract(s).
  • Recognize the importance of documentation throughout the process. 
Track 32 Navigating the Insurance Maze

This session will provide a comprehensive overview of insurance needs in your school district, navigating from health insurance to property and casualty needs. Specific topics will include partial and full self-funding for health insurance, strategies for avoiding workers’ compensation problems, challenges following a disaster, and federal law impact on health insurance.

Track 33 Contemporary Issues in School Finance Participants will gain knowledge in all aspects of insurance, strategies to maximize supplemental weighting, and how to create a dashboard of monthly financial planning when communicating with your board, that will fit your district’s needs. Additionally, participants will expand their knowledge and skills in preparing a case for the school budget review process, creating a capital asset plan, and deepen their understanding of finance law. Financial projections will be covered as well as processes for budget reductions.
Track 34 Mining Useful Information and Incorporating Emerging Technologies to Track Financial and Educational Impact on Future Planning We are in a sea of information that seems to be changing with lightening speed. Participants will discover which information is most useful on the state, regional, and federal level, and how to access it. Participants will use websites to determine how your district compares to others, allowing you to evaluate your current reality and strategically plan for the future, and support will be offered on interpreting the data. Use EdInsight, the state Educational Data Warehouse, to report financial data joined with enrollment and proficiency data. Provide input on future analyses to be delivered through EdInsight. Participants will leave with the skills to navigate and utilize various state government websites, NCES Build a Table site, association websites and how to integrate Google Docs.
Track 35 Ensuring District Transparency

Participants will develop a working definition of transparency and apply it to various types of internal and external communication, methods of communication, media relations, website development and analysis, and collecting feedback from the community. Additionally, participants will develop a comprehensive understanding of Sunshine Laws including Code of Iowa, Chapter 21, Open Meetings; and Code of Iowa, Chapter 22, Open Records and how proper utilization can improve transparency. Participants will take home resources and checklists to determine if their district is as transparent as possible or if it is too transparent. Each participant will leave with an outline of what needs to be changed in his or her district to insure appropriate transparency. With ever increasing concerns about governmental bodies and transparency, and the establishment of a new state agency, the Iowa Public Information Board (IPIB), that has jurisdiction over open meetings and public records, it's even more vital administrators understand the two laws and the implications for their boards and districts. One of the outside speakers is a member of IPIB and will talk about the board and its role. The other outside speaker is a member of the media and will talk about how best to work with the media to ensure your message is being heard.

Track 36

Improving Internal Controls and Deterring Fraud

Participants will develop and learn how to document processes and procedures for improving internal controls. Their knowledge base and skills will be expanded and developed in the areas of cross training personnel, segregation of duties, personnel configurations, reconciliation, necessary skills and qualifications of personnel, review of board policies and financial procedures, office manual review and development, internal auditing, hiring an auditor, analyzing the Audit Report and State Auditor’s Report. Additionally, participants will learn how to assign and reassign duties to improve internal control and deter fraud, and how to report suspicion of fraud. This track will use real life examples of good, as well as bad internal control situations. Participants will leave with proven processes and procedures for improving internal controls that they can apply in their district.
Track 37 Superintendent/Business Manager/Board Secretary Relationship Building

Building strong teams is essential to highly effective fiscal leadership. Participants will address and clarify the roles and responsibilities of the superintendent, business manager and/or board secretary with special emphasis on merging and coordinating roles into exemplary leadership models. Participants will expand their understanding and appreciate for everyone’s roles and how together they make a high performing team. Performance expectations using standards and criteria that support the effectiveness of the finance team will be detailed. You will walk away with a plan and tools for strengthening superintendent/business manager/board secretary relations.

Track 38

Cultivating Leadership and Advocacy Capacity

Leadership is required to cultivate relationships among groups to advocate for education both locally and globally. Track 38 identifies decision-makers and those who effectively influence their decisions. Participants will advance their learning and expand their knowledge base in the areas of legislative advocacy; building central office, leadership, and superintendent/board teams; leading and advocating for change; developing and nurturing leadership capacity; and strengthening advocacy among parents and business and community groups. You will be energized with ideas and approaches for building your own leadership and advocacy capacity and the leadership and advocacy capacity is others.

Track 39 Teacher Leadership Compensation: Financial and Leadership Implications This track explores the many intricacies of the implementation of the teacher leadership compensation work currently being undertaken in the state. Through presentation, conversation and discussion practicing superintendents and leadership professionals lead the group in the exploration of resources and strategies to implement the TLC work and bring about positive outcomes for students. All levels of implementation and planning will be discussed.
Track 40

Intense Content: Sharing Agreements, Working with Support Staff, and Communicating Difficult Decisions

This intense content course will provide an overview, examples, and strategies of sharing agreements, working with support staff and communicating difficult decisions. The sharing agreements will cover whole grade sharing, reorganization, operational sharing, and other forms of sharing among local partners. In working with support staff the following areas will be covered including hiring of quality candidates, importance of training, job descriptions/work agreements/evaluation, negotiations, potential of contracting services, and how these positions impact your educational organization. In communicating during difficult situations the following areas will be covered developing a communication plan, communication during a crisis situation, budget reductions, how to work with today’s media, and understand the different stakeholders in a communication plan.

Track 41

Successful Referendums and Community Votes

Gaining community support for bond referendums, PPEL renewal and other community votes is essential for district financial health. This track will engage participants in conversation and the examination of strategies to educate district patrons, communicate key concepts and promote successful outcomes.
Track 42 School Safety Planning and Mental Health Supports This track is focused on helping leaders take a proactive and responsive approach in the areas of school safety and providing mental health supports for students.  The track is co-taught by instructors with extensive training and experience in both school safety protocols and the development of mental health support systems in a school setting.  The Track content will assist school leaders in their efforts to comply with Senate File 2364, which requires public and non-public schools to develop secret school safety plans for each classroom building no later than June 30, 2019.