2021 School Leadership Conference moving to all-virtual program on new dates
PSBA has received many inquiries over the past several weeks regarding the upcoming PASA-PSBA Conference scheduled for September 27-29 at Kalahari Resort. We appreciate the concerns being expressed by our members – concerns that range from a desire to finally be able to meet again in person to concerns about the increase in COVID delta cases across the state. Please be assured that we take all the opinions and concerns very seriously and are working hard to make sure we are addressing them.
Unfortunately, fewer members have been willing to commit to attend the 2021 conference in person. Our registrations have been significantly below past conferences and arriving at a much slower rate than pre-COVID. Our commitment to our membership is to conduct a conference that includes both meaningful educational sessions and quality interactions with their fellow directors and sponsors. We are concerned that with many school directors opting to remain in their local districts and numerous sponsors being prohibited from traveling to the conference, the planned conference would not meet your expectations or our high standards, thus eroding the value received for the substantial financial investment districts make for their leaders to attend. Additionally, low attendance would trigger the need for PSBA to pay additional fees to the hotel to meet our contractual obligations. We pride ourselves on being excellent stewards of association funds and want to avoid these sorts of payments.
The Governing Board has reluctantly concluded that it is prudent to convert the scheduled conference to a series of virtual offerings in late October that will feature our keynote speakers and many of the breakout sessions. The entire program will be spread out over multiple days to help members avoid “Zoom fatigue.” The sessions and keynotes will be offered free-of-charge to all members, thanks to the generous support of the PSBA Insurance Company. More details will be forthcoming. Refunds will be made to all registered attendees in the next several weeks.
We are also moving the scheduled preconference sessions to the October dates: Our annual Equity Summit will be held on October 25, the Start Strong training on October 26, and the School Law Workshop for solicitors on October 27. These sessions will be held at the PSBA offices in Mechanicsburg. Space will be limited to the first 75 registrants. More details, registration links and hotel information will be sent out next week.
We recognize that this decision will be a disappointment to many of our members – it is for us. The Governing Board and staff were excited for the return to our fall in-person conference. We were unable to hold our conference last year during our 125th anniversary and were looking forward to a belated celebration with you this year! However, it is clear that a significant portion of our members are not yet ready to return to in-person gatherings. We respect this choice and are already hard at work to plan for the return to an in-person 2022 conference.
The annual conference has always been an opportunity for learning, renewing friendships, discussing common challenges and celebrating the importance of local educational leadership. Now, more than ever, the work you do at your local district is essential in navigating the challenging year that lies ahead. Thank you for your tireless work on behalf of Pennsylvania public education.