Get to the point! More cybersecurity funding and accelerated summers

In this new series, District Administration covers what you need to know for the coming school week: There's a new pilot program to protect schools from cyberattacks and ideas for closing the digital divide and accelerating summer schools.

Despite their best cybersecurity efforts, schools have been under siege from hackers, ransomware and other online threats. But there’s good news: the FCC, which helped speed up internet connections during the pandemic, is putting $200 million into fortifying cybersecurity in schools and libraries.

The pilot program will provide Universal Service Funds to districts and libraries to upgrade software and hardware and will also gather data on the most effective ways of bolstering cybersecurity. It can take a district months to recover from a cyberattack, disrupting learning and incurring unwelcome expenses, FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said in a statement.

“The vulnerabilities in the networks we have in our nation’s schools and libraries are real—and growing,” Rosenworcel noted.

Superintendent turnover : 3 big districts make important changes

The digital divide is another tech challenge that many districts are working to solve. “I still see kids in the middle of Brooklyn doing their homework in a Taco Bell parking lot so they can get access to WiFi,” InnovateEDU CEO and edtech expert Erin Mote says in the latest episode of District Administration’s Talking Out of School podcast.

In the interview, Mote shares ideas for closing the divide and guides superintendents, principals and their teams on getting comfortable using AI.

Direct from DA

Speaking of K12 leaders, this week’s spotlight shines on Superintendent Jim Nielsen, Principal Joshua Smith and Orchard View Public Schools in Michigan. The district’s “Middle Vision” program brings CTE into the sixth grade to give students hands-on career experiences that get them thinking more concretely about life after high school graduation.

“We’re helping these kids figure out their passions … and school makes much more sense when they can say, ‘Oh, now I know I want to be in food service,’” Smith told DA. “They’re more invested and more excited about school.”

DA also provides year-round solutions through the Future of Education Technology Conference. In our latest post from FETC, 2025 featured speaker and renowned thought leader Eric Sheninger and Nicki Slaugh, junior high principal at Quest Academy, cover the eight steps necessary to unlock the power of personalized learning. 

“Embracing personalized learning is a transformative journey that requires vision, commitment and collaboration,” they write. “School leaders can create a learning environment where every student can thrive by creating a supportive culture, empowering teachers, leveraging technology and involving all stakeholders.”

If you’re looking for ways to transform summer school, a new study of about 450 schools in eight big-city districts offers more evidence that “intensive, daily in-person instruction” gets impressive results. Students in the Summer Boost program, initially launched in New York City, participated in at least 20 days of classes, with 90 minutes each of English language arts and math each day, and a maximum student-to-teacher ratio of 25:1.

Students gained an average of four to five weeks of math learning and three to four weeks of ELA learning compared to non-participants. These gains were seen across demographic groups and grade levels.

Who’s accepting AI?

No weekly education roundup would be complete without a mention of AI. We’re sure you’ve asked yourself: Who’s more excited about AI—administrators or teachers?

A new survey shows superintendents and other administrators are, compared to teachers, a little more comfortable with artificial intelligence. Just over half of educators told the edtech firm Carnegie Learning that they “always,” “often” or “sometimes” use AI. This number includes 67% of administrators but just 53% of teachers.

Along with establishing policies and offering more training, the survey recommends that district leaders continue to talk to teachers and hold community forums about the best use of AI in school.

Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick is the managing editor of District Administration and a life-long journalist. Prior to writing for District Administration he worked in daily news all over the country, from the NYC suburbs to the Rocky Mountains, Silicon Valley and the U.S. Virgin Islands. He's also in a band.

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