Conference Aims to Help Cash-Strapped Schools

Conference Aims to Help Cash-Strapped Schools


Area school administrators struggling with budget cuts will discuss ideas for developing talented and dedicated teachers with fewer resources during the 2011 Francis J. Cheney Educational Issues Conference, to be held on the SUNY Cortland campus next month.

Three panels of educational leaders will address the issue at this year’s conference, titled “It’s Time to Lead: Now More than Ever.” The event will run from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 11, in Sperry Center.              

The free conference is geared for area school administrators and students enrolled in SUNY Cortland’s Educational Leadership Department. It is sponsored by the Francis J. Cheney Conference Fund and the Cortland College Foundation. To register for the event, which includes lunch and refreshments, or to get more information, contact the Educational Leadership Department by calling (607) 753-2444 or by emailing

Kevin Mack, who chairs the Educational Leadership Department, works with an 11-member advisory board composed of regional school administrators to organize the annual, one-day summer conference. He views it as an opportunity for school principals and other leaders to develop the capability to creatively do more with less.

“Maintaining high levels of morale will be instrumental to providing our students with a positive learning environment,” Mack said. “As educational leaders, understanding and embracing the emotional state of our colleagues and ourselves is essential for effective leadership. Financial strains have hit home, new state level mandates are being required, and all educators are being asked to do more with less. Job security is uncertain.

“How do we remain positive, stay true to our core values, and still enact change? It is time to lead as we have never led before. This conference will help provide you with the tools to do this and more.”

The day will feature a series of learning sessions with three different participant groups — educators at elementary schools, middle schools and high schools — meeting concurrently during each session. The arrangement is designed to encourage the free exchange of ideas in a small group setting.

One session will address the topic of “Leading on a Shoestring Budget.” A second will focus on “Building Resilience in Others and Ourselves.” A third will explore the topic of “Tapping Local Talent: Growing Quality Professional Development from Within.”

Named after Francis J. Cheney, who served as Cortland Normal School principal from 1891 until his death in 1912, the educational conference was created and funded by Cheney’s granddaughter, Louise M. Conley of Princeton, N.J.

The conference’s mission is to create a learning community for educational leaders that enhances and supports the success of all students through ongoing professional development, refinement of leadership skills and networking, Mack said.