In just a few short weeks, it will be time for one of my favorite NJSBA events of the year: Workshop. I have attended Workshop every year since I was first elected to the Maple Shade Board of Education in 1999, so this will be my 21st conference.

I have found Workshop to be immensely valuable to my development as an effective board of education member. My entire board usually attends, and we make it a point to attend different sessions, so that we can later compare notes and bring back ideas to the district. I always write up a report on what I heard and saw at the conference and provide a copy to my superintendent and business administrator. Typically, at the first meeting of the board after Workshop, each member discusses what he or she learned in the training sessions.

Some of the most valuable information at Workshop comes directly from talking with board members throughout the state, when we meet informally over coffee in the County Café, or in the hallways. Comparing notes on how other boards handled a challenge or problem has often provided me with real-world wisdom.
I also have gathered some great ideas by talking with vendors on the Exhibit Floor. One year, I talked with a vendor about a restroom cleaning system that reduced the work for a maintenance crew and still maintained the same high degree of cleanliness; my district tried it and everyone was very satisfied with the results—especially our facilities staff. Another year, I learned about a gym floor treatment that made the floor finish last longer. We actually went from needing to resurface the floor every two years to doing so every four years.

This is the type of savings that adds up, allowing us to direct more resources to the classroom. I always urge people to walk around the Exhibit Floor, and learn about products and processes available. Many won’t be right for your district, but you never know when one will be!

Workshop 2019 will be held from Monday, Oct. 21 through Thursday Oct. 24, and will provide more than 250 training opportunities—everything from the Labor Relations Mini-Workshop to sessions on school finance, superintendent search, curriculum, shared services, school safety, leadership, board governance, technology and much more. Workshop also gives board members a convenient chance to fulfill their mandated training requirements. On Monday, Oct. 21, New Board Member Orientation will be held, while on Thursday, Oct. 24, Gov. II: Finance; Gov. III: Student Achievement; and Gov. IV: Legal Update will all be conducted.

If you haven’t registered yet, I urge you to do so. Go to the Workshop website and make plans to attend the state’s premier conference for educational leaders. I’ll see you there!