The Pinnacle Awards celebrate the work of outstanding individuals whose original solutions maximize resources and enhance student achievement.
Congratulations to the 2023 Pinnacle Award recipients—innovators in school business management!
Pinnacle of Excellence Award Recipient
Jeremy Larson, EdD
Paris Union School District 95
Paris Union School District 95 launched an innovative program called the Tiger Health Center. Developed in collaboration with a local hospital, this comprehensive healthcare clinic is designed to improve the physical and mental health of students by bringing healthcare services to students, eliminating the barriers that at-risk families often encounter when seeking physical and mental health services through referral systems, and overcoming the expense of obtaining such services.
Since the health center’s opening, student and staff attendance has increased, reducing costs associated with absences and employee healthcare and underscoring the program's value to the district. Most importantly, the increased attendance correlates with an uptick in overall student academic performance and a notable decrease in disciplinary incidents and crisis calls, highlighting the importance of the mental health support provided by the center.
Pinnacle of Achievement Award Recipients
Deputy Superintendent/Chief Financial and Operations Officer
Worcester Public Schools
Faced with significantly increasing transportation costs, limited competition for bids, and a noticeable decline in customer service over the past several years, Worcester Public Schools decided to move student transportation from primary contracted services to fully district-operated transportation for the 2022-2023 school year. As a result, the district realized savings totaling $3.5 million last year, added 46 teacher positions, improved transportation customer service, and improved the level of transportation options available to the district.
The cost savings resulting from the move to in-district student transportation also allowed the district to increase opportunities for student to participate in field trips, afterschool activities, and athletics. The district also partnered with the state’s career reemployment agency and the district’s adult education program to recruit and retain bus drivers.
Bayard Public Schools
Many rural communities like Bayard, Nebraska, have few options for childcare close to home. Not only was lack of childcare a challenge for the overall community, it was affecting the district’s teacher recruitment and retention efforts.
The district approached the city about partnering to increase childcare capacity. The result is a private, community-owned childcare center located in the elementary This partnership approach allowed the Childcare Center and District to share a teacher as a Childcare Director/ Preschool teacher for three-year-olds. The District was also able to expand its current preschool program to offer a full-day program for four-year-olds.
Not only does the childcare center help the community’s parents, it provides Bayard’s children with a consistent curriculum from birth through age five in a safe, caring environment.
Panther Valley School District
Panther Valley’s parking lots were in disrepair due to traffic volume, but because the district had been financially challenged for more than a decade, it had scaled back maintenance staff and tabled many projects, such a parking lot repaving. Recognizing that local municipalities require these services as well, the district reached out to the municipalities within the district’s footprint regarding a partnership that ultimately would save the taxpayers money.
A shared municipal services agreement allowed the municipalities to perform site work at material cost, in exchange for the district allowing the municipalities to utilize their equipment and facilities when needed. The agreement also allows the district to utilize the municipalities’ equipment, which continues to keep costs down for services and rentals.