PSRI School bus Logo- Shortened
Advancing the discipline of risk management in public education.
In This Issue
Six Fundamentals
Event Previews
Featured Contributors
Spotlight on Newsletter
School & Pool Leaders
Federal Watch
Market Watch
Training Table
Policies and Principles
Working Together
Quick Links
SchoolRisk News 
Join Our Mailing List
Corporate Partners 
 School Risk Groups
Florida School Boards Insurance Trust
Minnesota School Boards Insurance Trust
New York Schools Insurance Reciprocal
Schools of Ohio Risk Sharing Authority
Pennsylvania School Boards Association Insurance Trust

 School Districts

City of Atlanta, GA
City of Chicago, IL
Clark County, NV

City of Cleveland, OH 

Dekalb County, GA
Fairfax County, VA

 Francis Howell, MO
Fulton County, GA
Miami-Dade, FL
Rockdale County,GA
San Francisco USD, CA

Wake County, NC 

Other districts that are direct or associate members now number more than 1,300 .

To find out how to join, click here!

School leaders who are members can search the directory and find districts with similar risk management interests

f you are a member of PSRI,
remember to use the Institute's

 Fast Answer

 for access to top risk management professionals. Reports are compiled, distributed and archived to save time and money.

 Begin 2010    January 5, 2010                                         Issue 12                      

Risk management is... a vital business process.
Fundamentals of Sound Risk Management Programs

There are six fundamental things a school district should do, according to one of the leading risk management educators and Director Emeritus of the American Institute for Chartered Property & Casualty Underwriters.    In his newly published white paper titled, "Risk Management Why and How, " Dr. George Head outlines the fundamentals and illustrates what a sound risk management program can do for a school district.  The white paper is distributed for reproduction without charge by the International Risk Management Institute and can be downloaded hereHere are some of  Dr. Head's key points for each fundamental: 


#1 Welcome Change as A Starting Place

 "The most essential place to start is to recognize risk-the possibility of surprising change.  Risk management should work with change, in principle seizing unexpected opportunities for gain where possible-but more importantly, thwarting threats of accidental loss wherever they emerge. A good risk management program begins with an appreciation, almost a welcoming, of change."


#2 Follow a Definite Process

"The exact number of steps in the process does not matter. What does matter is that the steps encompass the whole risk management process, from the recognition of a threat to reliable, complete, cost-effective, and equitable financing of recovery from loss. In this sense, managing risk is like eating an orange: the number of sections into which you slice it does not matter, as long as you get it all."


#3 Get Everyone on the Risk Management Team

"To underscore that everyone is on the "risk management team," it is good to assign general risk management duties to each employee.  It also matters that everyone, all an organization's personnel, "gets it." Each employee must understand the essence-not necessarily the more complex details-of risk management."


#4 Devote Equal Attention to Controlling and Financing Losses

"Risk control to reduce the probability, size, or unpredictability of losses from a given exposure is never enough. Simply paying for losses without trying to prevent them, make them smaller, or make them more predictable wastes money that even the most elementary risk control could have saved. Properly managing any loss exposure requires combining, pairing, and devoting equal attention (although not necessarily equal resources) to risk control and risk financing for that exposure."


#5 Practice the Golden Rule of Risk

"Because risk closely or remotely links us all, we should act ethically toward one another in managing risk for our shared well-being. More specifically, in managing risk, we at least ought to provide and expect total honesty in our dealings, consider the risk-related rights and duties of all those in our local and global communities, and apply the Golden Rule of Risk. This is the Golden Rule of Risk: Manage your own risks as well as you would like others to manage theirs."


So, what is the 6th fundamental?  Dr. Head encourages, "linking risk management to your mission" and he offers some specific ways to do this in the white paper.      


Even though the paper is written for a wide audience, it contains many practical suggestions and an easy-to-follow, basic framework for school leaders.  

Preview of Some Upcoming Events

School finance directors, risk managers and other school leaders in North Carolina aremeeting January 29 to discuss ways to promote innovation, research and exchange of information concerning risk management in their state.  Curtis Grogan, Wake, Ron Allen, Durham and Kevin Earp, Charlotte-Mecklenburg are the meeting organizers.


The Public Agency Risk Managers Association is holding its annual conference February 16 -18 in Sacramento, CA. This is billed as the second largest conference for public agency risk managers in the United States.  36 sessions are scheduled for the three-day event.  David Pinnecker, Apple Valley USD, CA is a member of the PARMA Board.


The Institute held it first summit last June in Dallas and a second one in September during the Annual Conference of the University Risk Management & Insurance Association. These summits provide opportunities for personal connection for those who are able to travel. Preparations are being made for a series of four regional summits, based on time zones, during February, April, May and June. The Institute is seeking support for broadcasting from each site to wider audiences. 

Professionals Call Attention to Educator Sexual Misconduct and Other Key Issues
Short articles from a cross section of contributors began appearing in November at the newly launched web platform known as Risk Central.  Leading the way were Bill Clayton who wrote about safe driving, Dave George urged care on field trips, Dorothy Gjerdrum explained enterprise risk management, plus the importance of the ISO 31000 standard, and Bruce Kaechle delivered a two part series on risk management technology.  Kharla Ray provided the first in a three part series on educator sexual misconduct.  Chuck Origer  also talked about this important topic. Kevin Supple shared insights on risk management as a CFO, Joe Goncalves wrote about building security, and Glenn Backus offered thoughts on dedicated claims management services.

The upcoming lineup includes Don McPherson, Paul Binsfield, Jill Eaton, Christine Lueders, Dennis Chandler and Herb Appenzeller. Bios and photos are included for each contributor and all past articles are easy to access.  Recommendations and requests to join the featured contributors can be sent to the Executive Director. 
Institute Service in the Spotlight
Newsletters Past Present and Future 

The monthly Institute newsletter is undergoing some changes in format and scheduling in order to continue to provide timely, useful information. All issues are archived for public viewing on the Institute website.   To view these, please go to homepage Resources, then Helpful Links and open SchoolRisk News.


This newsletter was published ten times in 2009.  The special topics/article headings were:

Risk Priorities 

Downsizing Risk Management Needs Careful Study

Insurance Market

Legal Lines

What Are School Risk Managers Reading

Traits of Effective Risk Managers

Teach What You Expect

Science and Safety

Safety and Health Grants

Medicare Mandatory Claims Reporting

Toxic Schools

Pushback Encourages Risk Reduction


ASBO School Insurance Handbook


A special edition Risk Control & Safety Digest was published that included information about:

      Swine Flu - H1N1

      Sports Safety

      Cyber Safety Legislation

      Bus Stop Safety

      School Violence Prevention


The 2009 newsletters also featured coverage of major events and organizations of special interest in school risk management, including the following:

Florida Education Risk Management Association

Public Risk Management Association

California Association of Joint Powers Authorities

Association of Governmental Risk Pools

Schools Excess Liability Fund

People & Achievements

Two public school risk management leaders Jan DeGracia, CPCU, and Shaw Bubb, CPA, were among the ten distinguished guest experts in the second session of the Essentials In Pool Management course offered this past fall by the Insurance Educational Association with support from the Association of Governmental Risk Pools, National League of Cities Risk Information Sharing Consortium and California Association of Joint Powers Authorities.  DeGracia is the Executive Director of North Bay Schools Insurance Authority and her topic was The Role of the Pool Manager.   Bubb serves as Director of Insurance for the Montana School Boards Association and his topic was Financial Stability of a Pool.


James Huckaby, risk manager, Mesquite ISD, TX has produced another of his trademark Annual Risk Management Reports, this one highlighting the accomplishments for the year ending June 30, 2009.   The report documents both short-term savings and consistent value over a multi-year period.  The district received 76 safety awards in March 2009 from the National Safety Council, developed new safety audit tools, in addition to holding 830 monthly safety meetings.  


Federal Watch

Employee Safety,  Healthcare Reform and Food Safety Among Federal Concerns


HR 2067 is pending in Congress to make school districts in 26 states subject to Federal Occupational Safety & Health Act requirements. Currently, districts in 24 states are subject to approved State Plan OSHA requirements.   On December 7, the U.S. Department of Labor released video remarks by Secretary Hilda L. Solis outlining the department's regulatory agenda. Click here to view.


The immediate and long-term impact of the national healthcare reform legislation approved on December 24 is still uncertain.


Food Safety was in the spotlight again as USA Today published a story on December 30 titled, "Schools could learn lessons of food safety."    The article notes, "It has been a decade since the U.S. Department of Agriculture decided that the ground beef it buys for school lunches must meet higher standards than ground beef sold to the general public.  But those rules, which required that school lunch meat be rejected if it contains certain pathogens, such as salmonella, have fallen behind the standards that fast-food chains and other businesses are adopting on their own."  The report also stated that Dept of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack "has embraced a different measure for food safety - one that goes beyond pathogen tests and looks at the true toll: how many people get sick." 


The Institute can provide additional information on request about these and other   concerns pending before Congress or the Federal Courts.  The Fast Answer Network can be used to obtain insights and opinions from across the country.    

Market Watch
Some Insights from Market Watchers and Insurance Experts

"An independent analysis of whether the insurance industry has been setting aside enough money to pay its claims estimates that the American International Group has a shortfall of $11.9 billion in its property and liability operations." From New York Times December 1 article. 


 "The world has changed dramatically in the past decade - it's a dangerous place full of new and complex risks. Here's the big question: What have we learned?  Are we doing anything differently today?  I don't think so. Whether it's severe weather or pandemics or cyber security, the simple truth is that the risks of the 21st century are big, and real, and must be faced openly and transparently. As business leaders, we must look at all the risks we face and address them head on. And we have to be honest and open about what we see and what we're doing about it. That is the only way to make our customers and the public believe in us again." From published remarks on December 8 by the Chairman & CEO of Willis Group. 

"The global recession has caused companies to rethink their business models, strategies, and operations-including the role of risk management. Many risk practitioners are responding by increasing the efficiency within their departments and attempting to forge closer ties to the C-suite. Yet the majority of risk managers and their C-suite counterparts continue to be stalled when it comes to a professed desire to take on a more strategic approach to risk management."  - From Risk Management Excellence, a 2009 survey report prepared by Marsh and the Risk & Insurance Management Society.


"Dispiriting, isn't it?  On the bright side, we've already made a lot of progress.  All we need now is the civic courage to keep doing the right things.   Congress roughed up some rating-agency executives at hearings and may yet require more disclosures here, too.   But the basic conflict persists.  Genuine reform fizzled. We'll regret it when the next crisis hits." Contrasting views of Peter Coy and Paul Bennett, in the December 28 edition of Business Week.

Training Table
Course and Program Resource Inventory Project Underway

An ambitious project is being undertaken by the Institute with the objectives of inventorying online training courses offered by vendors and training program resources offered by school risk groups.  The initial table lists 93 course titles within five main categories.  The table shows eight leading vendors and has a column for "others."  Initially, the scope of the research on risk group resources will focus on 16 organizations from different parts of the country and various size operations. 


In future editions of this newsletter, the Institute will offer insights on specific courses and look closer at the various resources for training on vital topics and concerns.

Inspiring Ideas
Board Policies Matter

"Policies that aren't being followed are a lurking danger, " warns Melanie Herman of the Nonprofit Risk Management Center. She recently advised her newsletter readers to prevent "passive disobedience" by avoiding (a) "voluminous compilation of detailed instructions and requirements that busy staff won't have time to read, nor follow with care and (b)  "policies written without engaging the people who must follow them," She added,  "adopting someone else's risk management policies without knowing whether you can fully implement the policies may increase, rather than mitigate risk.  Zeal to commit all of its policies and practices to writing may have unintended consequences that can be avoided."   


The Institute can provide assistance with a comprehensive policy on risk management that improves upon the myriad board policies on safety and different types of insurance.


Effective Safety Programs Flow from Research 

"Safety should be internally - not externally driven" is the first of 50 principles explained by Scott Geller, Ph.D., in The Psychology of Safety.  He adds, "It makes sense to talk about corporate safety as a mission owned and achieved by the very people it benefits." Dr. Geller is an acclaimed Virginia Tech educator and is affiliated with Coastal Training, Virginia Beach, VA.

More Good News
Round up and Look Ahead  

Headlines and events of the past decade were captured in a seven-minute video produced by Newsweek. This video is a neatly packaged compilation.   Click here and hang on for a dizzying retrospective ride.    


"2010: Year of Innovation - Promoting Risk Management in Texas Schools"

In its December newsletter, the Texas Association of School Boards Risk Management Fund announced the 7th round of innovation grants in risk management.  Up to ten districts will be selected to receive $1,000 grants based on applications submitted by January 22, 2010. 

Foundation in Place for Working Together

The 12 months of 2009 were a time of mixed growth,  opportunity, confusion, doubt and some dismay.   Budgets shrunk, staffs were reduced.    Most of us endured some kind of unexpected loss or adversity.  Risk managers and everyone connected with school districts had to maintain an extraordinary high level of readiness. 

We often read the headlines about the small number of things that went wrong and forget the thousand things that went right.    


For the Institute, 2009  started with a fearless group of founders, five hundred or so district and associate members and a half-dozen corporate partners, The year ended with nearly three times as many district and associates members, plus twenty three companies making up the corporate partner council.  


More than 80 ideas and possible projects were identified, distilled and entered into a planning process in the first part of last year. Then 12 national priorities were chosen in April.  A game plan was developed and refined over the summer. It incorporates four closely aligned initiatives labeled, Risk Management Technology, Commonwealth, Blueprints and Education.  Within the four initiatives are roughly 30 top services and programs already introduced or planned for the benefit of members.


Eighteen months ago, nine board members agreed to serve as the stewards of a vision for linking school districts and school risk groups across the country. From that very humble beginning several milestones have been passed. Two new board members were added last summer and a plan for staggering the terms of office was adopted. Board members serve voluntarily and their commitment and contributions have been outstanding.


A resurgence of activity occurred this past fall.  In November,  Risk Central added a new dimension of technology for interactivity.  As December was coming to an end, progress was made to bring forth the continuous improvement model for school risk management. The fourteen process categories and 120 action elements were arranged into four sections - core activities, risk improvement, insights & analytics, and support & recovery. Together, the four sections create a workable, comprehensive risk management operating system that can be scaled to the needs of any sized district. 


The Institute seeks to build on the foundation that was put in place in 2009.   Some themes that school risk management leaders could explore together in  2010 include:


  • Smart Risk Finance: Competency in Controlling the Cost of Risk and Increasing Risk Management ROI
  • Risk Mapping and Strategic Risk Success: Getting to the Blue Ocean and Protecting the Blindside
  • Effective Injury & Illness Prevention: Research and Re-imagination
  • Total Risk Management: It Can Be Done


Collaboration is widely viewed as the key to innovation and a better future.  This is a great time to increase commitment to each other.

Safety is Our #1 Priority and An Enduring Valu
There are countless efforts being made across the country to make school safety both a top priority and an enduring value.   The Public School Risk Institute salutes everyone who is engaged in school safety, health and wellness.    
Please call or send us a note with your comments and suggestions about this newsletter and any projects you would like to see us undertake. We also want to receive school contact names, contacts with organizations you believe may want to be involved, and material for the new website resources. We hope you find the Institute's newly updated website useful.  Please visit regularly and let us know how we can support your efforts to advance risk management.  Your input and feedback is greatly desired and appreciated.

Lee Gaby, Executive Director 
Public School Risk Institute
NEW Phone  (706) 715-3381 Ext. 701