Fremont County School District #6, Pavillion, Wyoming; Liberty Public Schools Liberty, Missouri; and Moreno Valley Unified School District, Moreno Valley, California, are the grand-prize winners in the 26th annual Magna Awards program sponsored by the National School Boards Association’s flagship magazine, American School Board Journal (ASBJ). This is the third year that the Magna Awards recognize school districts and their leaders for their efforts to bring educational equity to their students.

The Magna Awards, supported by Sodexo, a leader in delivering sustainable, integrated facilities management and food service operations, honor districts across the country for programs that break down barriers for underserved students. An independent panel of school board members, administrators, and other educators selected the winners from more than 100 submissions.

“Focusing on equity requires school leaders to think differently and creatively,” said Thomas J. Gentzel, National School Boards Association executive director and CEO. “The 2020 Magna Award-winning districts showcase the amazing and innovative work going on in public schools to ensure students are supported and provided with the tools and opportunities needed to succeed.”

This year’s three grand prize winners and 15 first place winners were selected from three enrollment categories: under 5,000 students, 5,000 to 20,000 students, and over 20,000 students.

The grand prize-winning programs:

  • Under 5,000 enrollment: Fremont County School District #6, in rural Pavillion, Wyoming, created a mobile preschool program to serve young children in isolated areas of the district’s 1,300 square miles. The Purple Bus was the first step in the formation of the Community District program. Onsite childcare for district staff and teachers has helped with teacher retention. The newest component, the Cougar Community Health Center, is now a federally qualified health center, and allows families to get medical care without having to drive 60 miles roundtrip to see a doctor.
  • 5,000 to 20,000 enrollment: Liberty Academy is the alternative high school for Liberty Public Schools in Liberty, Missouri. Liberty Academy has no classrooms or teachers—at least not in the usual sense. And the school, housed in an office park, doesn’t look like a school at all. It’s different by design: Its students haven’t done well in traditional school settings. Teachers are advisors, and students work on projects based on personal interests.
  • Over 20,000 enrollment: Moreno Valley Unified School District, Moreno Valley, California, opened the Community Wellness Center in 2016 to help serve the district’s large homeless and financially fragile population. It has expanded to four large classrooms in a portable building converted to an office and resource center, a food pantry, a clothes and shoes room, a mindfulness and yoga studio that includes social-emotional learning training by a certified coach, and a living “space” that houses a bathroom, shower, couch, washing machine and dryer, extended folding table, microwave, and refrigerator. The center has helped 12,000 families since its inception.

All winners are highlighted in the April issue of ASBJ. Read about the programs at

2020 Magna Award First Place Winners

Under 5,000 students:
Bergenfield Public Schools, Bergenfield, New Jersey
CodeRVA Regional High School, Richmond, Virginia
Manassas Park City Schools, Manassas, Virginia
Shawnee Public Schools, Shawnee, Oklahoma
Upper St. Clair School District, Upper St. Clair, Pennsylvania

5,000 to 20,000 students:
Cajon Valley Union School District, El Cajon, California
Meriden Public Schools Meriden, Connecticut
Roseville Area Schools Roseville, Minnesota
San Luis Coastal Unified School District, San Luis Obispo, California
Vail Unified School District Vail, Arizona

Over 20,000 students:
Compton Unified School District, Compton, California
Guilford County Schools, Greensboro, North Carolina
Hurst-Euless-Bedford Independent School District, Bedford, Texas
Montgomery County Public Schools, Rockville, Maryland
Virginia Beach City Public Schools, Virginia Beach, Virginia

Around NSBA

Six students conduct a science experiment with potatoes and electrodes.

2024 Magna Awards: Silver Award Winners

The 2024 Magna Awards program recognizes 15 exemplary district programs in three enrollment categories as Silver Award winners.