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August 2022 Vol. 28, 8


CSBA’s Legal Services prompts statewide benefits
Members are receiving more than just immediate legal advice

The 2021–22 school year was full of ups and downs, with many challenges confronting CSBA members. One bright spot in the year was the launch of CSBA’s District and County Office of Education Legal Services program at CSBA’s Annual Education Conference in December.

California school districts and county offices of education have long relied on CSBA’s guidance on legislation, policy and general legal matters. However, they have never been able to receive direct legal advice and counsel protected by the attorney-client privilege from the association. When questions came in calling for legal advice and counsel beyond general legal guidance, CSBA members were told to contact their legal counsel — a response that was neither satisfying for the inquirer nor the CSBA attorneys eager to serve our members. Under the direction of CSBA CEO & Executive Director Vernon M. Billy, staff began to research what other state associations offer and Billy proposed the new Legal Services Department to the association’s Board of Directors, who approved the new initiative as a way to provide important and direct services to members. With the arrival of Legal Services, CSBA members can now receive even more benefits from our legal team than ever before.

children wearing back packs run towards a school entrance
children wearing back packs run towards a school entrance

Phase two of CSBA’s multimedia advertising campaign, School Boards in Action, showcases to the public a more personal side of school board members as well as steps they’ve taken to support students and improve outcomes during a tumultuous period for public schools. The expanded campaign is an ambitious effort to increase understanding of the critical role played by school trustees.

What to expect in the final weeks of this legislative session
Major bills were left behind while CSBA-sponsored bills forge ahead
Miniature school desk and chair atop a sound block, next to a gavel
After a long budget season, the Legislature has returned to Sacramento for the final month of the 2021–22 legislative session. The Senate and Assembly have reconvened with just a few weeks left to conclude their business. Several major education bills have unexpectedly been left behind, while CSBA-sponsored bills will continue to move forward in the weeks ahead.
Major education bills wind up collateral damage
In the final days before the June 30 deadline to conclude all policy committees, a number of major education bills found themselves caught in the crossfire of a series of contentious education committee hearings. At its June 29 hearing, the Assembly Education Committee, chaired by Assemblymember Patrick O’Donnell (D-Long Beach), opted not to bring two major bills authored by Sen. Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada Flintridge) to a vote.
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Chief Information Officer:
Troy Flint |

Editorial Director:
Kimberly Sellery |

Marketing Director:

Andy Rolleri |

Staff Writers and Contributors:
Alisha Kirby |
Heather Kemp |
Teresa Machado |
Kristin Lindgren |
Barbara Laifman |

Graphic Design & Branding Director:
Kerry Macklin |

Senior Graphic Designer:
Amanda Moen |

Dr. Susan Heredia | Natomas USD

Susan Markarian | Pacific Union ESD

Vice President:
Albert Gonzalez | Santa Clara USD

Immediate Past President:
Xilonin Cruz-Gonzalez | Azusa USD

CEO & Executive Director:
Vernon M. Billy

The California School Boards Association is the essential voice for public education. We inspire our members to be knowledgeable leaders, extraordinary governance practitioners and ardent advocates for all students.

California School News (ISSN 1091-1715) is published 11 times per year by the California School Boards Association, Inc., 3251 Beacon Blvd., West Sacramento, CA 95691. 916-371-4691. $4 of CSBA annual membership dues is for the subscription to California School News. The subscription rate for each CSBA nonmember is $35. Periodicals postage paid at West Sacramento, CA and at additional mailing office. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to California School News, 3251 Beacon Blvd., West Sacramento, CA 95691.

News and feature items submitted for publication are edited for style and space as necessary.

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President’s Message: Dr. Susan Heredia
Leading the way from chaos to opportunity
CSBA’s 2022 Leadership Institute provided a chance to address pressing issues in an intimate setting
As education leaders, it’s important that we demonstrate the same commitment to lifelong learning that we expect of our students and staff. This is especially true at a moment where American leadership is in question across so many arenas, be it government, business or civic life. Public education has certainly not escaped the scrutiny and criticism that is pervasive in modern society, but we can’t let that deter us from our mission. If anything, we should take it as a challenge to redouble our commitment to public school governance, because the stakes are higher than ever before.

That’s why it was so invigorating to convene with hundreds of school board members, superintendents and school staff at the 2022 Leadership Institute in Los Angeles. One of the biggest impacts of the pandemic was the isolation that it imposed on so many of us, creating a void that technology could only partially fill. The chance to be in communion with so many dedicated education leaders, first at the 2021 Annual Education Conference and then this July at Leadership Institute, was truly restorative for me and for many others.

New report analyzes the legacy of Prop 13 on education funding and more
Research offers a historical look and recommendations moving forward
Miniature paper mache house next to stacks of coins
In the more than 40 years since voters approved Proposition 13 in response to rising property taxes, the 1978 initiative has contributed to inadequate funding for public schools, as well as a widening wealth gap and acute housing shortage, according to a new report.

Unjust Legacy, released in June by The Opportunity Institute and Pivot Learning, found that California fell from fifth in per-student funding to 47th in the nation in the two decades following the passage of Prop 13. The analysis found that making certain changes to the way the state taxes its residential properties could result in an increase in funding of at least $1,200 per student.

Maria Echaveste, president and CEO of The Opportunity Institute, noted during a June 22 webinar analyzing the findings of the report that “as the eldest of seven children born into a poor Mexican farmworker family, California’s investments in education gave us — all of us — the opportunity to achieve the American dream. When California was among the top five states in per-student education funding, my siblings and I received a high-quality education, even in a little rural district in Fresno County. The California that passed Proposition 13 is not the California of today. We can revisit decisions of the past and better align our policies with the California we want for our children.”

New CSBA report shows LEAs are spending COVID relief funds
Despite red tape and economic challenges, LEAs have overwhelmingly applied funds to support student needs
More than two years since the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in school closures in March 2020, the federal government has provided billions in relief funding to aid local educational agencies in the U.S. to continue educating students through distance learning, implement virus-mitigation measures to aid in safe school reopenings, address learning recovery, and support students’ mental and social-emotional health. Whenever the government distributes large sums of money to agencies or individuals, questions follow about whether that funding was used for its intended purpose. For those who are less familiar with the complexity of school operations, it can be difficult to grasp the variables and considerations that impact school spending decisions.

That is why CSBA embarked on an intensive research project examining how districts and county offices of education are using COVID relief funding to support the health and safety, instructional and social-emotional needs of students and staff. Using a combination of focus group, survey and state-level expenditure reports, CSBA has developed a three-part series that broadly describes the ways California’s school districts and county office of education have used state and federal COVID-19 relief funding. This research also includes the perspectives of superintendents and chief business officials on spending priorities and related implementation issues.

CSBA’s Leadership Institute focuses on governing in turbulent times
The intimate event brought together education leaders to share and learn from each other
Dr. Victor Rios, associate dean of Social Sciences at UCSB, spoke about the importance of equity in policy and practice.
Dr. Victor Rios, associate dean of Social Sciences at UCSB, spoke about the importance of equity in policy and practice.
Preparedness and the ability to lead through challenges was a major theme among keynote and breakout sessions at CSBA’s 2022 Leadership Institute.

Local educational agency leaders from across the state converged in Los Angeles July 22–23 to connect on topics including mental health, crisis communications, community engagement, effective board meeting management and financing an equitable education.

CSBA launches next phase of School Boards in Action
Trustees statewide demonstrate their commitment to supporting students through turbulent times
CSBA’s School Boards in Action campaign is kicking off its second phase this month — focusing more than ever on highlighting the critical work that school district and county board members do to serve California’s nearly 6 million public school students.

Phase one, which took place last year, generated greater recognition of the complex nature of responding to an everchanging pandemic as well as the variety of innovative programming offerings districts developed to support students, staff and families in unprecedented times. It gave an in-depth look at how board members and local educational agencies dedicated themselves to providing online learning, returning students to in-person instruction, jumpstarting learning recovery efforts and addressing social-emotional needs.

As board meetings became a hotbed for contentious conversations around COVID-19 mitigation strategies and other topics, countless trustees faced historic rates of harassment.

Governance corner
Practical tips from our MIG faculty
How equity walks can be leveraged by boards to further success for all students
As governance teams work toward equity through continuous improvement to close equity gaps, it is critical they become data savvy through a process of embracing and monitoring both quantitative (test scores, grades, etc.) and qualitative (equity walks, surveys, etc.) data to inform, adjust and monitor policies and practices across school sites and the district.

Equity walks provide a space for governance teams to develop their lens and understanding of what equitable practices look like in classrooms and on the school campus. They also serve as opportunities for board members, district leaders and site administrators to take a deeper dive into the collection of qualitative as well as quantitative data to inform, adjust and monitor policies and practices across school sites and the district. The equity walk tool guides the professional learning space for educational leaders and can be used to assess the overall progress towards equity goals. Equity walks support the ongoing monitoring of implementation of equity impact action plans but require additional data points to obtain conclusive findings and measuring the impact of equitable practices (i.e. surveys, interviews, etc.).

Supreme Court education-related rulings
Recent decisions blur the lines between religious expression, public schools and speech rights
full front view of the US Supreme Court building
In its most recent term, the United States Supreme Court ruled on two cases related to education: Carson v. Makin and Kennedy v. Bremerton School District. Both cases relate to the interaction of religion and public schools and consider what is constitutional when allowing for the free exercise of an individual’s religious beliefs and speech rights.

The Court held in Carson v. Makin that limiting Maine’s tuition assistance program to “nonsectarian” only schools violated the Free Exercise Clause of the Constitution. In Maine, because less than half of the school districts offer secondary education, the state created a tuition assistance program for students to enroll in private secondary schools. To receive the tuition directly from the state, schools had to be “nonsectarian.” Here, the Court agreed with the students and parents who chose to enroll in a private religious school by finding that Maine could not provide “tuition” to private schools that are not religious without also providing such assistance to private religious schools. By doing so, the Court held this constituted “discrimination against religion.”

State Board lays the groundwork to finetune accountability indicators
Adoption of the new math framework delayed until 2023
Class being taught trigonometry
The California State Board of Education’s July 13–14 meeting included board approval of another delay in the state’s mathematics framework timeline and action on an updated accountability reporting template.

The state’s accountability system “really looks at providing the data needed for decisions to be made at the local level,” said board Vice President Cynthia Glover-Woods. “We’ve navigated away from the name-and-shame game … to a system that I’ll admit is complex. It’s more than a single number — it is really looking at all these different areas that help our school systems to know how our students are doing.”

During an update on the indicators, history and implementation of the state school accountability system, several public commenters expressed that the state’s school accountability tool, the California School Dashboard, sets too low the expectations for how many English learners should be progressing in proficiency each year. It also lumps students still learning English together with those who have achieved fluency in determining performance, many advocates said. A student is reclassified from English learner status to Fluent English Proficient (RFEP) status upon the student meeting all the criteria found here.

Improving your board policy review process now pays big dividends later
CSBA’s GAMUT Policy Plus service is here to help
A person sits outside at a table while typing on their laptop and holding a coffee mug

Family reunions, picnics and barbeques in the park, and reading at the beach are all well-worn summer rituals. Something that’s probably not on board members’ summer to-do list — but should be — is stepping back to evaluate the effectiveness of their district or county office of education’s process for reviewing board policy.

The time spent now reviewing procedures for keeping the district or county office board policy manual current sets a solid foundation for the board’s policy review and maintenance once preparation for the new school year begins. CSBA has a wide range of supports to help boards get their policy manual looking just as good as their summer photo albums.

Summer break is an ideal time to take a step back and reflect on how well current processes are working. Some boards have a subcommittee that reviews policy to become intimately knowledgeable about specific policy before the board as a whole reviews and adopts it. Others authorize the superintendent and staff to give recommendations for the board to consider when reviewing and adopting policy. Some superintendents delegate proposed policy updates to applicable departments.

County offices of education are succeeding in expanding access to environmental learning
Report highlights how the Orange and San Mateo county offices provide best practices
A teacher demonstrates an exercise of small scale sized model trees toward two students nearby
As the impacts of climate change continue to affect school communities, the physical health of children and their quality of life, it is critical that county offices of education take steps to promote education in environmental literacy, resiliency and sustainability, according to a report from the California Environmental Literacy Initiative.

“Environmental Literacy County Office of Education Leadership Case Studies,” released March 31, illustrates how two COEs in Orange and San Mateo counties “broke new ground in environmental literacy and sustainability leadership in ways that are already improving the lives of the students and other residents of their communities.”

Andra Yehogian, environmental literacy coordinator at the San Mateo COE, said in a companion webinar to the report that COEs play an important role within California’s massive K-12 system, and would be the easiest to invest in if the state wants the biggest bang for its buck in kickstarting environmental programming.

UpcomingEvents info: 800-266-3382
Attention: For more information about events, visit
Virtual Events

Aug. 11 & 25
MIG Alumni Association Summer Book Club Series

Aug. 23–24
MIG Course 1: Foundations of Effective Governance/Setting Direction
Aug. 24
Student Board Member Summer Training Session
Aug. 27, Sept. 10, Oct. 8 & 22
Governance with an Equity Lens
Sept. 20–21
MIG Course 2: Student Learning & Achievement/Policy & Judicial Review
In-person events

Sept. 9–11
2022 CCBE Annual Conference | Monterey

Sept. 12–13
Executive Assistants Certification Program | Santa Clara
Sept. 23–24
MIG 3: School Finance Part 1 & 2 & MIG 4: Human Resources/Collective Bargaining | Rancho Cucamonga
Sept. 24
MIG COE COURSE 1: Foundations of Effective Governance/Setting Direction | San Jose
Oct. 17–18 & Nov. 7
Executive Assistants Certification Program | Santa Cruz
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Thanks for reading our August 2022 newsletter!