January 21, 2020
Welcome to the New AESA Executive Council Members!
Dr. Kristen Benson
Executive Director
Fremont County BOCES (WY)

Dr. Kristen Benson was a teacher, administrator, author, college instructor and is currently the executive director at Fremont County BOCES (Board of Cooperative Education Services).  She was a math/science teacher for 10 years and a middle school administrator for 3 years before relocating to beautiful Wyoming. She was teaching at Central Wyoming College when she was recruited by Fremont County BOCES to run their career and technical program at the time. She received her bachelors of education at Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP) in 1995. She then attended the University of Virginia where she received her Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction in 2002 and doctorate in Education Leadership in 2008. Dr. Benson serves on many boards. She is the chairman for the Suicide Prevention Taskforce, Fremont County Prevention Coalition, and the Northwest BOCES. She is the clerk for Fremont County School District #6 and Secretary for Help for Health Hospice.  
Dr. Thomas Danehy
Executive Director

Dr. Thomas Danehy has been the executive director of ACES since 2014. ACES is Connecticut’s New Haven County Regional Education Service Center and is a fee-for-service, not-for-profit agency designed to meet area districts’ needs. ACES provides support services ranging from behavioral, occupational, physical, assistive technology, and other services to professional development; and from direct service to students through its six schools for students with special needs to the management of three magnet schools. Tom has been an educator for 33 years serving in different capacities as a teacher, assistant principal, principal, director of human resources, superintendent, and executive director. Dr. Danehy holds degrees in business and communications from Fairfield University; in education from SCSU, Fordham, and the University of Hartford; and in law from Quinnipiac University School of Law. Before coming to ACES in 2014, Tom worked in urban and suburban settings in New Haven, New York, Hartford, Portland, East Hartford, CREC, Stamford, and Winchester. Dr. Danehy is also a member of the Connecticut bar. 
Patrick J. Wnek, Ed.D.
Executive Director
North East Florida Educational Consortium (FL)

Patrick Wnek is the Executive Director of the North East Florida Educational Consortium (NEFEC). NEFEC serves 13 rural school districts, as well as PK Yonge Developmental Research School at the University of Florida, and the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind. He works closely with member districts on initiatives to improve data analysis, curriculum and instruction, college and career readiness, human capital management, and district and school leadership. He also serves on the executive committee of the North Florida Economic Development Partnership and the Advisory Board for the Florida Organization of Instructional Leaders. He graduated from the University of Florida with an Ed.D. degree in Educational Leadership. He enjoys working with diverse educational and business partners to provide educational opportunities for all students.

Check Out the AESA Community to make connections with ESA employees just like you!

Calling All Volunteers!
AESA is looking for volunteers to serve on the Perspectives Editorial Board! Perspectives is a journal of research and practice of ESAs.   Manuscripts are submitted electronically to our editor who reviews it and then forwards it to the editorial board for further review and recommendation for publishing. The editor returns the manuscript to the author with recommendations for changes to enhance the manuscript for the benefit of our readers. For more information, go to the AESA Perspectives webpage .

The editor and the board will actively work to secure articles connected to the annual theme established by the AESA Executive Council. The council adopted "Equity and Opportunity for All Learners" as the organization's overarching theme. Other submissions that are relevant and important for ESAs, but not directly tied to the overall theme (e.g. innovative practices, public-private partnerships, etc.) will also be considered for publication.

Members of the editorial board are recommended by the editor and the executive director with final approval by the AESA Executive Council. Editorial board members are appointed to a four-year term. 
Please feel free to contact editor, Scott Menzel at smenzel@washtenawisd.org , or Joan Wade at jwade@aesa.us with any questions or to express your interest in serving.  
Federal Advocacy
New Application Process For Small Rural School Achievement Program
submitted by Chris Rogers, Policy & Advocacy for AASA
Last week, the Department of Education's Office of Elementary and Secondary Education announced a new application process for school districts applying for the Small Rural School Achievement (SRSA) Program. The impetus for this change stems from a review of the SRSA application, which determined that the applicant burden could be significantly reduced while maintaining appropriate accountability guardrails for the grantmaking process. As a result of these actions, a much simpler application will be open to districts on February 3, 2020.

Listed below are some noticeable highlights from the new 2020 SRSA application:

  • The new quick and easy process relies on a single platform – OMB Max Survey – to gather school district information. The previous process required school districts to navigate three sites and it took three hours to complete an application. The new application process is estimated to take no more than 30 minutes to complete.

  • Eligible school districts will access the application through a unique link that the Department will send via email invitation to school district contacts, which will be provided to the Department by state educational agencies. The Department will also provide the approximately 2,500 school districts that are eligible for both the SRSA and Rural Low-Income School (RLIS) program enhanced guidance on how to choose between SRSA and RLIS, including award estimates for both RLIS and SRSA in the email invitation. This will help ensure that school districts are more informed when they choose between SRSA and RLIS.

  • In order to complete the SRSA application, the school district contact will need to confirm or provide the following:

  1. School district name and contact information;
  2. Authorized representative contact information;
  3. Secondary contact information;
  4. Dun and Bradstreet (DUNS) number;
  5. General Education Provisions Act (GEPA) statement information; and,
  6. Assurances.

  • After an application has been submitted, each school district will receive a confirmation email that includes the PR/award number and a summary of the school district’s SRSA application responses to keep for its records. Additionally, the school district contact will be directed to the System for Award Management (SAM) at SAM.gov to update its DUNS status.

  • The Department will conduct webinars on February 4, March 19, and April 2, 2020 to determine the new quick and easy process for submitting the SRSA application (webinar invitations are forthcoming). The application process will also be demonstrated at the National ESEA Conference on February 6, 2020 in Atlanta, Georgia (for additional details see "Quick and Simple: The New Small, Rural School Achievement Grant Application Process").
Celebrate Public Schools Week 2020
The Learning First Alliance and AESA are excited to announce that Public Schools Week 2020 will be held Feb. 24-28. This annual event brings together educators, parents, policymakers, businesses and community members to show the success of our public education system and help them see its potential with greater support. We want your ESA to invite your employees, schools, community members, lawmakers, parents and others to visit and see firsthand the wide array of programs and high-quality opportunities offered, students' accomplishments and the joys and challenges of teaching and learning in public schools.

As part of this year's celebration, we are asking members of the public to sign the Pledge for Public Schools at www.publicschoolproud.org and vow to support public schools, students and staff. AESA Executive Director Joan Wade signed the pledge and encourages you to sign it too!
We also hope that your ESA will hold a celebratory event during Public Schools Week 2020 — go to www.publicschoolsweek2020.org to register and share on social media using hashtags #PublicSchoolProud, #PSW20 and #PublicSchoolsWeek2020.  
Principles of AI for ESAs
Is your ESA interested in Artificial Intelligence (AI)? If so you won’t want to miss this exclusive one-day workshop, PRINCIPLES OF AI FOR ESAs This workshop is hosted by Dr. Susan Leddick, PKR Inc., and led by MIT professor Dr. Duncan Simester. The workshop will be held at the Hilton Boston Logan Airport on April 2, 2020. 

Dr. Simester has presented at AESA events in the past and also conducts an annual workshop on the Business Strategy Framework sponsored by PKR. Now he is urging ESAs to educate themselves on the principles of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML). To that end, he will conduct the special one-time April 2 workshop for ESA individual leaders and agency leadership teams. Dr. Simester is an excellent teacher, and his daily experience with AI and ML applications in the business world will combine with his 7-year experience with ESAs to produce an extraordinary learning experience.

Principles of AI for ESAs   complements the two articles published by Tom Collins and Susan Leddick in the October and November 2019 issues of AESA’s Perspectives Journal . Both are available for download at  https://www.aesa.us/blog/ . They provide good background for the workshop along with suggestions for how AI and ML are likely to affect ESAs in particular and, to a lesser extent, education in general. PKR’s intent is to encourage a national conversation about this important issue among ESAs. The Simester workshop will accelerate that process and imbue it with important information that might otherwise take months to assemble at the agency level. 

REGISTER by sending your contact information (name, agency, mailing address, phone number, email), the number of registrants, and the name of the event (AI for ESAs) to registration@pkrnet.com The email goes to Dr. Leddick for confirmation and invoicing. Act now: registration space is limited and the hotel cutoff date is March 11. 

This workshop is not sponsored in any way by AESA; however, we do endorse the work. Executive Director Dr. Joan Wade will be in attendance at the event and looks forward to seeing you there!
Save the Dates: Upcoming AESA Events
Summer Leadership Conference
July 20-23, 2020
Hilton Nashville Downtown
Registration Opens March 1
Educators' Call to Action Conference
September 28-30 2020
Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill
AESA Annual Conference
December 2-5, 2020
Hilton Orlando, Florida