The Pinnacle Awards celebrate the work of outstanding individuals whose original solutions maximize resources and enhance student achievement.

Congratulations to the 2020 Pinnacle Award recipients—innovators in school business management!

Pinnacle of Excellence Award Recipient

Jimmy Hay
Director of Finance
Paola Unified School District 368
Paola, Kansas

On the third Saturday in July, Paola USD 368 has held a back-to-school community event in the elementary school gym to help students in need prepare for a successful school year.

Serving Our Schools is open to all students who are in need of resources and support such as backpacks and school supplies, shoe and clothing assistance, books, hygiene kits, haircuts, nutrition information, hearing and vision screenings, dental screenings, and school and sports physicals.

Community organizations, religious organizations, healthcare providers, and others provide materials, funding, and volunteers for the event. The school district provides financial support and obtains grant funding through a charitable trust foundation.

Since 2017, the event has provided more than $60,000 in goods and services to those in need in the community—more than $100,000 has been raised to support the initiative.

Pinnacle of Achievement Award Recipients

Jim Anderson
Chief Financial Officer
Anchorage School District
Anchorage, Alaska

When Alaska’s Lower Yukon School District (LYSD) was experiencing dwindling quality of accessible teachers and higher operational costs, Anchorage School District partnered with the rural district to help increase educational opportunities for LYSD students.

LYSD purchased and renovated a vacant hotel in Anchorage to provide housing for rural high school students to attend nine-week sessions. The LYSD students take online courses in the morning and career and technical education (CTE) classes at King Tech High School in the afternoon.

The CTE program provides instruction in such areas as welding construction, electrical, metals, small engines, cosmetology, medical/health sciences, hospitality/tourism, technology, aviation, and business. The program helps provide equity for students in rural districts, boosts the number of rural district students who complete a CTE industry certification, and increases overall graduation rate.

The project, which launched in November 2019, involved extensive collaboration by the superintendents and staffs of both districts, as well as the support of the school boards support.

Kevin Hegarty
Chief Financial Officer
Laveen Elementary School District
Laveen, Arizona

Finding itself with a parcel of land that was purchased by the state to be used as a school site but that was no longer viable, Laveen Elementary School District entered into agreements with the city, the state, and a homebuilder to secure more suitable land for a much-needed school.

The district developed an agreement with the city that allowed the district to acquire a parcel of land sent aside for a park, forged an agreement with the state to swap the unsuitable parcel for the parcel in the new development, and acquired a new parcel by way of a three-way trade with a homebuilder and a commercial developer who wanted to obtain the district’s unsuitable parcel.

A land swap involving state purchased land for a school district had never been done before. The entire process took almost five years to complete. At the end of the project, the district ended up with an equivalent value of more than $5 million.

Ryan Pendleton
Chief Financial Officer/Treasurer
Akron Public Schools
Akron, Ohio

Faced with rising healthcare costs, Akron Public Schools implemented a direct primary healthcare model that generates cost savings, improves employee health, and funnels more resources into classrooms.

The model allows the district to partner with a primary care healthcare provider to address employee health and wellness through chronic condition management, reduction in claims costs, and improved health outcomes. There is no copay for employees, so they may realize significant savings when using the direct primary healthcare provider who delivers a broad scope of healthcare services, including primary and preventative care, chronic condition management and urgent care. The healthcare provider is located in an area convenient to the employees and, as there is little to no wait time to see the doctor, employees are able to return to their daily routines quickly.

Since implementing the direct primary healthcare model in 2018, more than 65% of the employees reported improved health and 73% said their opinion of the school district improved due to the model. In addition, because this program does not follow the traditional fee for service model, savings due to claims cost reductions can be funneled directly to the classroom, enhancing student achievement.

Pinnacle Project Summaries