Dec. 2018 – Jan. 2019 Vol. 24, 12
Peering into the crystal ball: The top issues in 2019
The stage is set: A new Governor, legislative supermajority and State Superintendent of Public Instruction will bring about both opportunities and challenges for governing boards.
The Third General Session, as is tradition, focused on addressing the “State of the State” to close out CBSA’s Annual Education Conference in San Francisco. Members of the expert panel, moderated by CSBA CEO and Executive Director Vernon M. Billy, shared their views on critical K-12 education issues such as Proposition 98 funding, charter school accountability, financial forecasts and other pressing subjects.
  • Visit for links to digital versions of current and past issues of California School News.
A look at new laws impacting California schools
The new year brings with it an assortment of important education laws for school boards to review.
To help understand 2018 legislation signed by Gov. Jerry Brown, the California School Boards Association launched a weekly blog highlighting the laws and their significance. An overview of three new laws is provided below. Read the full blog posts and the examination of additional new laws at The full What’s New for 2019 report on all new laws affecting K-12 education is also available at
Senior Director of Communications:
Troy Flint |

Managing Editor:
Kimberly Sellery |

Marketing Director:

Serina Pruitt |

Staff Writers and Contributors:
Hugh Biggar |
Aaron Davis |
Mike Ambrose |
Andrew Cummins |

Graphic Design Manager:
Kerry Macklin |

Senior Graphic Designer:

Carmen Rodriguez |

Emma Turner | La Mesa-Spring Valley SD

Xilonin Cruz-Gonzalez | Azusa USD

Vice President:
Tamara Otero | Cajon Valley Union USD

Immediate Past President:
Mike Walsh | Butte COE

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.

President’s Message: Emma Turner
Justice for all students is imperative
It is one of the great honors of my life to serve as President of the California School Boards Association and advocate for the needs of students — all students — at the highest levels. I reflected on this during the Annual Education Conference when the Delegate Assembly rose as one to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. Hands on our hearts, we concluded with the phrase, “with liberty and justice for all.” Those words provide the guiding principle for the United States of America. As a nation, we often fall short of that lofty goal, but we must always strive to bring the country closer to this ideal.

The concept of justice formed the bedrock of my career as a member of the Judge Advocate General’s Corps, commonly known as the JAG Corps, in the United States Navy. Justice will also be the north star of my tenure as CSBA president. And let me be clear — there is no justice until we succeed in closing the funding, opportunity, access and achievement gaps that prevent too many of our students from accessing a high-quality education.

AEC speakers: Cultivating minds and mindful habits provides the key to success
In front of a full house in San Francisco, 2018 Annual Education Conference and Trade Show General Session keynote speakers Charles Duhigg and Ruha Benjamin spoke to the importance of innovation, creativity, and cultivating social and personal awareness as key steps for overcoming long-standing barriers to educational attainment.
“Learn to think more deeply … make more conscious, deliberate choices,” Duhigg said in his Nov. 29 talk. “Pick and choose what matters most.”

Duhigg — an award-winning journalist and author of the bestselling book The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business — illustrated his point by telling the story of a Qantas Airways pilot whose passenger plane suddenly went haywire in midair.

State Board meeting gets down to details on System of Support at November meeting
California’s new System of Support, its practical implications and a promising implementation in Sacramento-area school district were at the center of the State Board of Education’s Nov. 8-9 meeting. One of the central components of California’s accountability and continuous improvement system, the system aims to help local educational agencies and their schools meet the needs of every student.

“We’re really in the assistance business, not the punishment business,” SBE President Michael Kirst said in introducing a presentation highlighting the System of Support’s “no wrong door approach” for LEAs. As districts and county offices of education transition into the system centered on local control, decision making and cooperation, a Sacramento-area school district’s leaders provided an example of the system in action.

San Juan Unified School District Superintendent Kent Kern, board of trustees President Pam Costa and San Juan Teachers Association Executive Director Shannan Brown discussed their collaborative efforts to improve three areas in which the district was identified for differentiated assistance: Student achievement, engagement and school climate.

“I think we’ve come a long way as a district and a state,” said Costa, looking back on her career as a teacher, principal and now a board president. She said the advent of the Local Control and Accountability Plan has allowed unprecedented cooperation across many levels, including labor partners, school site teams, district leaders, the county office of education and the state. Prior to the LCAP, Kern agreed, there was often a lack of a unified approach, which led to fragmented results.

Additionally, Kern said, a move away from punitive intervention triggered by poor district performance allows leaders to focus on assisting students and root causes, rather than simply trying to improve numbers and data. “I don’t want to fix the numbers, I want to fix the issues,” he said in discussing the district’s effort to address high suspension rates for African-American students and foster youth.

Tom Armelino, executive director of the California Collaborative for Educational Excellence — an important System of Support resource, also spoke at the meeting. Armelino, (who explained the role of his relatively young agency in the fall issue of California Schools magazine) said the framework of the CCEE is first to support and prepare county offices of education to assist in-need districts and schools. The goal, he said, is not for the CCEE to fix every school in the state, but to provide resources illustrating best practices.

“This can become a very powerful system,” said SBE member Sue Burr, who also serves as chair of the CCEE board.

Including family engagement in LCAP development
California set the bar higher than any other state in the nation when it established parent involvement as one of the state priorities that school districts, county offices of education and charter schools must address in their Local Control and Accountability Plan.
Family involvement is one of the state priorities that school districts, county offices of education and charter schools must address in their Local Control and Accountability Plan. While this emphasis is crucial, the path to creating authentic and meaningful partnerships is not always clear.

“Our interaction with board members indicates that boards are eager to embrace family engagement, not just as a compliance issue but as a critical lever to strengthen schools and improve student achievement. For this reason, helping boards encourage authentic family and community engagement in the LCAP process has been an important focus of CSBA’s work since the inception of LCFF,” said CSBA Director of Policy & Programs Julie Maxwell-Jolly. “We understand that a key board member role is to represent and communicate with the parents and families in their communities, so our briefs often include questions that help board members understand and include the perspectives of parents and families in their decisions about a whole range of topics we address.”

Masters in Governance graduates: Oct. 13, 2018
CSBA is proud to recognize our Masters in Governance graduates and salute their exceptional commitment to professional development in the service of students. MIG completion signifies mastery of the roles and responsibilities of school boards and a strong understanding of the knowledge and skills needed to build and support an effective governance structure that helps produce better outcomes for students. MIG is just one part of CSBA’s commitment to our strategic initiative to support professional development by providing accessible, high-quality training.
October 2018 Graduates
Back Row, L-R
Bryan DeBlonk, Political Director, CSBA;
Roger Ruvalcaba, Assistant Superintendent, Imperial USD;
John Shook, Board Member, Savanna ESD;
Veronica Peña, Board Member, Rosemead School District;
Anne Silavs, Superintendent, Cypress ESD;
Irma Sanchez, Executive Assistant, Ontario-Montclair SD;
Sarah Galvez, Board Member, Ontario-Montclair SD;
Carlos Fierros, Board Member, Patterson Joint USD
Front Row, L-R
Kelly Kent, Board Member Culver City USD;
Summer McBride, Board Member, Culver City USD;
Carol Cole, Chief Business Officer, Romoland ESD;
Pam Thompson, Board Member, Santa Paula USD;
Pamela Jacobsen, Delegate, Region 12B, Standard ESD;
Betsy Hamilton, Superintendent, Lawndale ESD;
Carolyn Bauer, Board President, Oak Grove ESD;
Sarah Bradshaw, PACER, CSBA;
Elvia Rivas, Board President, Ontario-Montclair SD;
Ernesto Pinedo, Board President, Meadows Union ESD;
John Palacio, Delegate, Region 15, Santa Ana USD

Not pictured but completed the program in Anaheim:

Armond Aghakhanian, Board Member, Burbank USD;
Todd Evangelist, Board Member, Central Union HSD;
Alfonso Hernandez, Board President, Palo Verde USD;
James O’Neill, Board President, Redlands USD;
Maribel Mattox, Assistant Superintendent, Moreno Valley USD;
Ron Zufall, Board President, Shasta Union HSD

January honors work of school board members
“A free public education is the foundation of our great democracy,” CSBA President Emma Turner said at the 2018 Annual Education Conference and Trade Show in San Francisco in November. And crucial to the success of that public education are school board trustees who provide a critical link between the school system and local constituents, ensure accountability and are on the front lines of education advocacy. With this invaluable contribution in mind, CSBA salutes school board members across the state as part of January’s School Board Recognition Month.

At present, there are more than 5,000 school board trustees in California, serving at both the district and county office of education level. They represent the largest group of elected officials in California, hold a pivotal role in the state’s success and shape its future by aiding in the establishment of education standards and benchmarks, and by providing important oversight at the local level.

In addition to overseeing educational quality at school districts and county boards of education, trustees also take on leadership responsibilities away from the classroom. This includes decision-making and direction on budgets, responding to natural disasters, staffing, facilities upkeep and development, food services for kindergarteners through high schoolers, sports programs and other issues. Such concerns are discussed at board meetings that often run late into the night, with intense feedback from the community and scrutiny from the media. Meanwhile, many trustees — 41 percent, according to a recent California School Boards Associations survey — have an additional full-time job. Serving as a school board member is not a relaxing hobby or an easy pastime, it’s a labor of love for those who see schools as the cornerstone of our society’s future.

Recognizing the importance of this work and the need to advocate more effectively for public schools, a group of trustees established the California School Trustees Association in 1931 to “secure equal educational opportunities for the pupils in all school districts in the state.” In 1940, the Association’s founding member, Florence Porter, was instrumental in forming the National Council of State School Boards Association (later the National School Boards Association).

In 1953, California School Trustees Association rebranded as the California School Boards Association, an organization dedicated to strengthening and promoting school board governance and driving the public education policy agenda through advocacy, training and member services. This advocacy extends to the national level as well, with CSBA member and Past President Frank Pugh — a long-time trustee with Santa Rosa City Schools — now serving as the president of the National School Boards Association.

CSBA is committed to the idea that strong local boards of education are needed to provide a high-quality education for each student in each community. Since the organization’s founding, CSBA has supported boards in this work by fighting to preserve the crucial principle of local control and to secure Full and Fair Funding for California’s public schools.

In appreciation of the important role school board members play in shaping the education landscape of California, here’s to the hard-working trustees during January’s School Board Recognition Month.

California School Dashboard arrives with fresh look and new indicators
The fall 2018 version of the California School Dashboard introduces a new indicator measuring chronic absenteeism in grades K-8 for schools, districts and county offices of education. 
Due to the changes, 374 districts qualify this year for differentiated assistance through the System of Support, compared to 228 districts in 2017. Ninety-three districts that qualified for differentiated assistance last year are no longer eligible for it, the California Department of Education announced Dec. 5.

The Dashboard, first released in spring 2017 as the successor to the much-maligned Academic Performance Index, aims to assess students by going beyond test scores, providing parents with a fuller picture of student performance across the state by including measures such as graduation rates, suspension rates, attendance rates and college/career readiness benchmarks.

CCEE outlines structure, timeline for Community Engagement Initiative networks
After announcing lead partners and launching the program in November, the California Collaborative for Educational Excellence outlined the next steps for its Community Engagement Initiative at its Dec. 6 board meeting. The effort will include a series of multi-year professional learning networks that build district and community collaboration, with a focus on student outcomes.

Josh Daniels, CCEE director heading the initiative, said in his presentation that the timeline calls for an initial professional learning network to begin its work in late April or early May 2019 after a March nomination process. An additional five networks would launch in 2020-21.

Daniels said the key focuses for the CCEE during the process will be learning best practices and determining how to scale those to a statewide level, and finding effective methods to measure community engagement through the professional learning networks. “It’s more than just attendance at meeting,” he said.

The learning networks will be comprised of staff and leadership from the district, from school sites within districts and from the county office of education that oversees the district; as well as students, families and community members.

CCEE board Vice-Chair Tim Sbranti applauded staff for including school site personnel in the networks, as he said efforts sometimes focus on higher administrative levels but leave out principals, other administrators and teachers working with students day in and day out. Similarly, board Chair Sue Burr said her time as a member of the State Board of Education has proven how valuable the student perspective can be.

Representatives from the three lead partner agencies — the San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools office, the California Association for Bilingual Education and Families In Schools — also attended the meeting and outlined their work in engaging community members, particularly those who have historically not been connected with their schools, district or county office of education.

Bolstering your district’s LCAP stakeholder engagement might not involve the term ‘LCAP’
A California Collaborative for Educational Excellence-hosted webinar offered tips on communicating to engage rather than to simply inform during the Local Control and Accountability Plan process.
‘Defining what authentic means’
Before even conducting meetings, other interactions or sending surveys to community stakeholders about the LCAP, district leaders should understand a groundwork of their system and culture, said guest speaker Daniel Thigpen, communication and community engagement director for Folsom-Cordova Unified School District, which is just east of Sacramento, serves 21,000 students, operates 33 schools and uses its LCAP as its strategic vision. The governance team of administrators and board members must consider its attitudes on transparency, dealing with healthy tension and brokering trust and awareness with its stakeholders, Thigpen said.
‘Public Charge’ proposal would change legal immigration, impacting students and families
Earlier this year, the federal administration proposed a new regulation that would overhaul how the federal government evaluates whether an immigrant is likely to be a ‘public charge.’
What does it mean to be a ‘public charge’?
‘Public charge’ is a term used by United States immigration officials for a person who is considered primarily dependent on the government for subsistence. Currently, an immigrant may be considered a public charge only if they receive public cash benefits for income maintenance (Supplemental Security Income, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or state and local cash assistance programs) or institutionalization for long-term nursing home or mental health institution care at the government’s expense. An immigrant who is found to be likely to become a public charge may be denied admission to the U.S. or lawful permanent resident status (a green card).
county boards
County Perspective
A message from CCBE President Dana Dean
I am so honored to reach out to all of you today as the President of California County Boards of Education for 2019. Let me start with a big “thank you” to the 2018 CCBE and CSBA leadership teams, especially CCBE 2018 President Bruce Dennis, and CSBA 2018 President Mike Walsh, as well as CSBA CEO and Executive Director Vernon M. Billy, for their hard work in strengthening the framework for a powerful partnership between our organizations. The entire CCBE leadership team and I are really looking forward to working with and within CSBA as we move forward. I am thrilled to take the reins at time when we have great tools in place for all of us, working together, to advance our shared goals — most especially when it comes to bringing voice to the needs of the 6.2 million students we all serve.
UpcomingEvents info: 800-266-3382
Register for any of these events at
January 3-4, 2019 | Mather (Sacramento)
2019 Institute for New and First-Term Board Members
January 11-12, 2019 | Redding
MIG Courses 1 and 2
January 25-26, 2019 | San Diego
2019 Institute for New and First-Term Board Members
February 1, 2019 | Rancho Cucamonga
Board Presidents Workshop
February 8-9, 2019 | Redding
Masters in Governance Courses 3 and 4
February 8-9, 2019 | Eureka
Masters in Governance Courses 1 and 2
March 8-9, 2019 | Sacramento
CCBE County Board Governance Workshop
March 8-9, 2019 | Rancho Cucamonga
Masters in Governance Courses 1 and 2
March 12, 2019 | Sacramento
Legislative Action Day
March 22-23, 2019 | Eureka
Masters in Governance Courses 3 and 4
March 29, 2019 | Redding
Masters in Governance Course 5
Thanks for reading our December 2018 – January 2019 newsletter!