Board members attend 2018 Legislative Action Day
Board members descend on Capitol to advocate for key issues including pursuing Full and Fair Funding, raising the LCFF base grant targets, releasing facilities bond money, providing natural disaster relief, increasing local control over 11th-grade assessments and implementing measures to address the teacher shortage.
A stormy day on Tuesday, March 13, didn’t stop CSBA members from across the state from convening at the Capitol for Legislative Action Day. More than 200 school board members held 103 meetings with Senators and Assemblymembers to advocate for the Full and Fair Funding of California’s public schools, urge the expedited release of Proposition 51 school facilities bonds, discuss the pension crisis and inform their legislators about CSBA’s sponsored bills.

Districts large and small cited the full and fair funding of public schools as the number one issue on their docket. “Our top priority today is to speak with our legislators about the effects of the budget and the issues it creates for our children,” said Ann Phillips, a trustee from the Lawndale Elementary School District. “The lack of funding is a huge issue. We are fighting for every nickel we can get.”

Valerie Davis from the Fresno Unified School District board of trustees noted that while her district is one of the largest in the state, its need for more funding is not unique. “We are the fourth largest district in the state, but there were also small school districts in the meeting with me — and their need of money is no less.”

High-priority issues were individually covered in briefings by CSBA staff prior to the legislative meetings. For instance, CSBA Legislative Advocate Nancy Chaires Espinoza spoke about Proposition 51, which was approved by voters in 2016 and authorized $7 billion in bond sales to be used for K-12 public school facilities. She explained Gov. Jerry Brown’s intransigence on the issue of releasing bond funds and the slow pace of bond sales, which lags far behind demand. In fact, at the current rate of bond sales, it would take 10 years to get access to the full amount approved by voters. So far, just $600 million has been funded, and the current backlog of facilities projects is equal to $3.2 billion.

Board members in the Central Valley, including Turlock and Manteca, spoke with their legislators about their concerns regarding facilities funding for renovations and school expansion, and the need for the Governor to expedite the release of Proposition 51 bond funding.

Napa Valley Unified School District board member Icela Martin — whose district is still feeling the effects of the earthquake which hit the Napa area in 2014 — pointed to the severe needs in her district. “Right now our district is going through a lot of seismic re-planning. Within my area, I have three schools that have to either be pushed back from a fault line or completely torn down and reconstructed,” she explained.

Board members from a variety of districts reported that the legislators in their meetings were very receptive to, and supportive of, information they provided about CSBA’s four sponsored bills: Assembly Bill 2228 (Wood, D-Healdsburg), AB 2808 (Muratsuchi, D-Torrance), AB 1951 (O’Donnell, D-Long Beach) and AB 3149 (Limón, D-Santa Barbara). To learn more about these bills, see page 5.

The day also included award ceremonies for Senators Richard Roth (D-Riverside) and Steve Glazer (D-Orinda), both of whom were honored with CSBA’s 2017 Legislative Awards. CSBA staff were present outside the Capitol to share information about the day’s advocacy message.

Riverside County Office of Education Trustee and California County Boards of Education President Bruce Dennis summed up the day succinctly: “We’re here to make sure children have a voice and that education remains a top priority for our elected officials.”