This article highlights the stories of five school leaders who faced financial, academic and other crises but managed positive school changes by building upon small initial successes and including critics in the decision-making process. For instance, Lori L. Ward, superintendent of Dayton County Schools in Ohio, relied upon business experience as well as relationships she had developed over 15 years as an educator to help determine which programs were not working for students when tasked with reducing the district's budget by $9 million.

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