PACER update
CSBA is continuing to implement and expand its grassroots program outreach through the work of its Public Affairs and Community Engagement Representatives. Known as PACERs, these experienced organizers facilitate networks of school district and county board members, community and business leaders, and local, state and federal elected officials. PACERs help train and engage trustees to increase their own spheres of influence through effective advocacy that strengthens local schools, increases the collective power of school boards throughout the state and advances CSBA’s political and legislative agenda. Below are brief updates from the CSBA PACERs.
Los Angeles
The inaugural Education Summit of Neighborhood Councils in Los Angeles kicked off in Los Angeles in October. CSBA Director Kelly Gonez (Region 21) and her team spearheaded the event, working with the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment.

The Education Summit aimed to direct more resources to local schools in members’ neighborhood council districts. Each of the 98 Neighborhood Councils represent approximately 20,000 constituents, has a budget of $42,000 and about 20 locally elected members. There is a staff of roughly 20 people supporting their efforts.

Following presentations by city and school district department heads, a breakout session allowed for Neighborhood Council members to make note of the work happening within the city and within their councils. This list will be compiled and shared across Los Angeles, creating a best practices portfolio.

Participants left with a commitment to create a citywide Education Alliance of Neighborhood Councils to further support education efforts in their local district — whether they have elementary, middle or high schools, or a mix.

East Bay
The East Bay Region hosted its first Grassroots Breakfast this fall to engage trustees in the fight for Full and Fair Funding. Trustees started the work of identifying potential allies to support CSBA’s advocacy and campaign. East Bay trustees were joined by CSBA Assistant Executive Director of Governmental Relations Dennis Meyers, who provided a legislative update and led a discussion on some of the top CSBA priorities heading into 2019. In addition, trustees shared their experiences on dealing with a host of local issues and asked for more opportunities to network and share best practices. Some of the issues touched on at the meeting included special education, homelessness, mental health, equity and facilities. It was determined that CSBA will host future roundtables on these critical issues — the next scheduled one will be on special education in late winter.
Capital Region
The first PACER-led political action committee event was held in Sacramento during the Coalition of Adequate School Housing Conference in October. The committee raised thousands of dollars and attendees included: former State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg, State Sen. Ben Allen and Assemblymembers Frank Bigelow and Rocky Chavez. A second Capital Division fundraiser is scheduled in Sacramento on Feb. 25.

Most other 2018 efforts were advocacy-focused, with 46 school districts passing Full and Fair Funding resolutions and school trustees attending seven district lobby meetings. Additionally, dozens of calls and letters were sent regarding the school late start-time bill (Senate Bill 328), Assembly Bill 195 and school facilities funding issues.

Los Angeles County, East Division
The Los Angeles County–East Division held its first CSBA Friends of Public Education PAC fundraiser last fall. The event generated several thousand dollars in first-time donations and sponsorships. With more than 60 school board members, superintendents and elected officials (including State Sen. Connie Leyva and Assemblymember Blanca Rubio) on hand, the event built the profile of the PAC within the region and set the stage for future fundraisers.
Los Angeles County, Southeast
A significant number of school board members in the Southeast L.A. County area worked closely with CSBA to advocate against SB 328 — the late start-time bill. The board members shared CSBA social media posts on their personal Facebook and Twitter accounts, organized the delivery of letters from their board and superintendent to their legislators and the Governor, and made calls at every step of the way.

CSBA also recently hosted a roundtable event for school board members, school safety personnel and superintendents to discuss school safety. Special guest Assemblymember and Education Committee Chair Patrick O’Donnell shared updates about what the Legislature was doing to address the issue and listened to feedback from attendees about the reality of the issue at a district level.

San Bernardino County and Inyo County
San Bernardino County and Inyo County held its first Regional Meet and Greet in September, which was attended by more than 25 school board members, three superintendents and two elected city officials. CSBA provided workshops on building career pathways through community partnerships and equity through empathy. Also, many board members rallied behind CSBA and the fight against SB 328. Moreover, the area’s members have been engaging their legislators in support of CSBA’s Full and Fair Funding efforts.
San Diego
Following a highly successful PAC event in September, San Diego County school board members and delegates met with legislators and their staff this fall to reinforce CSBA’s advocacy in Sacramento. Members shared examples of how the state budget affects their school districts, as well as the impact that rising CalSTRS and CalPERS costs have on their district’s general funds.  

In January, student school board members in the San Diego area gathered at the first-ever student board member Summit to discuss and develop an advocacy plan. Youth in California and around the nation are yearning to be more involved, and CSBA will be using that energy to push for the Full and Fair Funding of schools.