January 2020 Vol. 26, 1
Xilonin Cruz-Gonzalez CSBA President at AEC 2019.
Xilonin Cruz-Gonzalez CSBA President at AEC 2019.
CSBA’s 2020 Officers
On Dec. 7, 2019, at the close of CSBA’s Annual Education Conference and Trade Show, Azusa Unified School District Trustee Xilonin Cruz-Gonzalez took the reins as CSBA President. Cruz-Gonzalez is joined by Pleasant Valley School District Trustee Suzanne Kitchens as President-elect, Natomas Unified School District Trustee Dr. Susan Heredia as Vice President and La Mesa-Spring Valley School District Trustee Dr. Emma Turner as Immediate Past President. This group of esteemed leaders marks just the second time in CSBA’s history that its officers are all women — and the first time that the organization’s elected leadership is represented by four women of color.

A native Californian, fifth-generation Azusa resident and daughter of a Mexican immigrant, Cruz-Gonzalez brings nearly two decades of education leadership experience to her new position. She has dedicated her career to improving outcomes for all students, with a focus on increased support for English learners. Now in her 18th year as a school board trustee, Cruz-Gonzalez has been an active member of CSBA, most recently holding the office of President-elect and previously serving on the CSBA Board of Directors by representing the greater San Gabriel Valley. As an advocate for the state’s public education system and a committed lifelong learner, Cruz-Gonzalez has also served on CSBA’s Legislative Committee and the Council of Presidents. She completed CSBA’s Masters in Governance training program in May 2015.

New laws affecting California’s school districts
The 2019 legislative session resulted in numerous bills impacting K-12 education, including the two bills described below that took effect on Jan. 1, 2020.
cannabis versus prescription medications
Classified staff probationary periods
Assembly Bill 1353 (Wicks, D-Oakland) changes the probationary period for many classified employees, shortening the maximum probationary period for classified school district employees from the previous maximum period of one year to a period not exceeding six months, or 130 days of paid service, whichever is longer. The bill will impact many school districts throughout the state.

Senior Director of Communications:
Troy Flint | tflint@csba.org

Managing Editor:
Kimberly Sellery | ksellery@csba.org

Marketing Director:

Serina Pruitt | spruitt@csba.org

Staff Writers and Contributors:
Andrew Cummins | acummins@csba.org
Alisha Kirby | akirby@csba.org
Aaron Davis | adavis@csba.org
Barbara Laifman | blaifman@csba.org
Mike Ambrose | mambrose@csba.org

Graphic Design Manager:
Kerry Macklin | kmacklin@csba.org

Senior Graphic Designer:
Mauricio Miranda | mmiranda@csba.org

Xilonin Cruz-Gonzalez | Azusa USD

Suzanne Kitchens | Pleasant Valley SD

Vice President:
Susan Heredia | Natomas USD

Immediate Past President:
Emma Turner | La Mesa-Spring Valley SD

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: Xilonin Cruz-Gonzalez
Xilonin Cruz-Gonzalez headshot
Investing in student success with transparency and accountability

January is School Board Recognition Month, a time to appreciate district and county office trustees and the special obligation we have as stewards of America’s greatest public trust — its public school system. As we reflect on our unique role, we would do well to remember what hangs in the balance. More than six million California students are counting on us to provide each and every one of them with a high-quality education.

This may seem like a daunting task at a time when an education funding crisis forces us to do more with less. Those constraints, however, don’t excuse us from our duty to use good governance and sound policy to facilitate student success. As CSBA’s mission statement notes, “strong local boards of education are essential to ensure a high-quality education for every student in every community.”

Currently, our willingness and capacity to uphold this responsibility are under question in some quarters. We should take this as a challenge to reaffirm our commitment to all students, to embrace reasonable transparency measures and to prove we are good stewards of public monies who can be entrusted with Full and Fair FundingSM.

Gov. Newsom’s 2020-21 budget proposal provides additional money for special education, teacher preparation, early childhood

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s second budget proposal — a $222.2 billion spending package released on Jan. 10 that also solidifies $21 billion in total statewide reserves — makes bold investments in addressing key statewide issues such as climate change, health care costs and the homelessness crisis. While not fundamentally addressing California’s education funding crisis, the budget adds $3.4 billion in new revenue to public schools and substantially focuses on special education, teacher preparation and early education.

Overall, the proposed Proposition 98 guarantee for K-14 education is $84 billion, an increase of $2.9 billion over the enacted 2019–20 guarantee. A $1.2 billion Local Control Funding Formula investment reflects a cost-of-living adjustment of 2.29 percent. That number is markedly lower than the enacted 2019–20 COLA of 3.26 percent but higher than the statutory 1.79 percent COLA forecast by the Legislative Analyst in November.

CSBA celebrates California’s district and county board members this January
CSBA salutes the more than 5,000 school district and county office of education trustees that serve California’s 6.2 million students during January’s School Board Recognition Month.
Saluting the more than 5,000 school district and county office of education trustees

Citizen oversight of local government is the cornerstone of democracy in the United States. School board members are the epitome of this tenet in their roles as locally elected public officials entrusted with governing public schools in their communities.


GovernanceCorner Practical tips from our MIG faculty

The importance of strong school climates and safe environments

As governing boards continue to recognize the correlation between safe school environments and higher student achievement, the board plays a critical role in providing safe environments for students. Emphasis on a positive school climate, including school safety, through the adoption of board policies helps enable students to learn, grow and thrive.

Board members can take action to enhance school climate by regularly discussing school safety in meetings and asking these questions:

  • What does research show about the relationship between school safety and student achievement?
  • How does school safety integrate with the emotional health and well-being of our students and their ability to learn?
  • What statements related to school safety are included in our district’s/county office of education’s visions and goals?
  • What does our data tell us about how students, teachers and staff experience safety in our schools?
Masters in Governance graduates
October 26, 2019: San Diego, California
CSBA Masters in Governance graduates and salute their exceptional commitment to professional development in the service of students.
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.

Front Row: Left to Right
Megan Epperson, Rebecca McRae, Charda Fontenot, La Mesa-Spring Valley SD; Cheryl Quinones, South Bay Union SD; Ammie Hines, Christina Bentz, Adelanto ESD; Katalina Penland, El Centro ESD; Lola Skelton, Melanie Dohn, Lori Slaven, Hughes-Elizabeth Lakes Union SD

New LCAP template adopted, host of other topics discussed at State Board meeting

The streamlined new Local Control and Accountability Plan template should be easier both for local educational agencies to complete and use and for stakeholders to understand, California Department of Education and State Board of Education officials said upon the adoption of the new document at the Jan. 8–9 board meeting in Sacramento.

The year-in-the-making document is the fourth template revision in six years and will be in use for the 2020–21 through 2022–23 LCAP cycles. Most of the changes stem from Assembly Bill 1840, which called for the LCAP to “make the information included more accessible for parents and other local stakeholders” while providing technical instructions for LEAs in a separate section. An introduction of expenditure tables should also reduce the length of most LCAPs by about half, CDE staff said.

aec recap
Perspectives on politics, education take center stage at Third General Session
More than 4,500 school board members, superintendents, executive assistants and others attended CSBA’s 2019 Annual Education Conference and Trade Show in San Diego from Dec 5–7. CSBA’s premier continuing education program and the largest education conference in the state delivered practical solutions to help governance teams from districts and county offices of education improve student learning and achievement.

The 2019 AEC closed out with an insider’s look at the politics central to California public schools. The Third General Session, moderated by CSBA CEO & Executive Director Vernon M. Billy, featured media influencers with unique perspectives on how the politics and policy of education issues unfold.

On stage with Billy were longtime Capitol affairs journalist Dan Walters of CalMatters, Politico state education reporter Mackenzie Mays, local education journalist Kristen Taketa of the San Diego Union-Tribune and Capitol Advisors Group President Kevin Gordon.

aec recap
Turning passion into pathways in school and life
At AEC’s Second General Session, Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter and author Ron Suskind shared a personal story about his son Owen’s autism diagnosis, the bleak outlook for his future and the family’s discovery of “passion as the pathway” to learning that enabled Owen to outperform all expectations.
As an up-and-coming reporter for the Wall Street Journal covering President Bill Clinton’s White House, Suskind and his young family moved to Washington, D.C., full of hope and excitement. Three months after the move, Suskind and his wife, Cornelia, noticed that their youngest son, 3-year-old Owen, was losing speech and no longer making eye contact. Soon thereafter, a specialist diagnosed Owen with autism. “We knew we had left the planet normal,” Suskind said. The prognosis was bleak — the doctor told them Owen may never speak again, deeming him uneducable and most likely headed for an institution.

As Owen withdrew further into himself, the family noticed the only thing that captured his attention were animated Disney movies. After years of therapy and minimal progress, Owen began communicating again by relating happenings in his own world to similar situations in Disney movies. “He’s using them to decode the world!” Suskind said on stage at AEC.

aec recap
Training today’s students for tomorrow’s careers
Dr. Michio Kaku is one of the most renowned figures in science in the world today. Not only is he an internationally recognized authority on Einstein’s unified field theory, which he is attempting to complete, he has also built an extensive following by predicting trends affecting business, medicine, finance, education and our way of life, based on the latest research in science.

As the First General Session speaker at CSBA’s 2019 AEC, Dr. Kaku made several bold predictions about what the future of the workforce will look like, and how classrooms and teachers will shape the ways in which students learn.

His advice to governance teams was simple: don’t be afraid to embrace change.

aec recap
Student performances at AEC impress audience
The First and Second General Sessions at AEC opened with incredible student performances featuring the dance team from El Camino High School (Oceanside USD) and the Valley Center High School jazz band (Pauma USD).
Student performances at AEC 2019
Student performances at AEC impress audience 2019
summer learning
Plan your district’s summer learning programs with CSBA’s board study sessions
Though few may be thinking about it as they slip on their heaviest coat and step out into California’s coldest months of the year, now is the time for school board members to re-examine their summer learning programs to ensure all students have access to enrichment experiences that not only prevent summer learning loss, but boost overall achievement.

Research has long shown that low-income youth, English learners and students of color stand to benefit most from high-quality summer education programs. Summer learning programs not only support students who need extra time to catch up and master skills they’ll need in the upcoming school year, but can also provide a safe place where students can access healthy meals and a chance to more deeply explore their interests in topics such as science, technology or the arts.

Governance brief focuses on the need for boards to support equity-based decisions

The new year presents a good opportunity for governing boards to reflect on recent achievements as well as unfinished work that districts and county offices of education have ahead of them to ensure that all students have access to an education that prepares them for college, career and life success. To support board members in this journey, CSBA has produced a new governance brief, “Educational Equity: The Need for Boards to Support Equity-Based Decisions.”

The brief, authored by CSBA Equity Network consultant Nicole Anderson, focuses on the urgent need for equity in both the state’s and nation’s education systems and the important role that board members have in addressing persistent opportunity gaps. Governance teams can also use the resource to support actions that can remove persistent barriers to opportunity. The brief, available at bit.ly/2EvObwn, also offers additional key questions for board members to ask, along with recommendations for next steps, such as developing an equity definition.

Integrating student board members into the governance team
Having a high school student serve as a member of his or her district school board offers benefits to both the governance team and the student. Student board members bring unique perspectives and insights to the board.
At the same time, students who serve on the board learn about the importance of civic involvement and democracy, as well as gain important leadership and communication skills. To maximize student participation, the board must provide a welcoming environment that supports full integration, to the extent allowed by law, of the student board member in the district’s governance.

Boards may establish one or more student board member position(s) at their own discretion, reflecting the board’s desire for student participation in governance of the district. Alternatively, students can petition the board requesting the appointment of at least one student board member. When student board representation is established by petition, California law requires that student board members be chosen by students enrolled in district high schools. A same or similar process may be used for positions established at the board’s discretion. Student board members serve a one-year term, commencing July 1.

county boards
CCBE’s new officers
A message from CCBE President Janet Wohlgemuth:

Welcome to 2020! I am honored to be the President of the California County Boards of Education for 2020. I would first like to thank 2019 President Dana Dean for her leadership and guidance this past year and making sure that CCBE and CSBA voices were heard in Sacramento. Also, everyone on the Executive Board and Board of Directors, through your hard work, we have set high standards and goals for this coming year.

This year, I look forward to working with the CCBE leadership team and all of you as we continue to strengthen our partnership with CSBA and elected officials in Sacramento. We will continue to be the voice of the 6.2 million students that we all serve.

UpcomingEvents info: 800-266-3382
Register for any of these events at www.csba.org/TrainingAndEvents.
Jan. 31 | Santa Rosa
Institute for New and First-Term Board Members
Feb. 1 | Rancho Cucamonga
Board Presidents Workshop
Feb. 7–8 | Oakland
Masters in Governance Courses 1 & 2
Feb. 19 | Madera
The Brown Act
Feb. 20 | Madera
Institute for New and First-Term Board Members
Feb. 24 | West Sacramento
Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP) Training
Feb. 28–29 | Santa Rosa
Masters in Governance Courses 3 & 4
March 6–7 | Oakland
Masters in Governance Courses 3 & 4
Thanks for reading our January 2020 newsletter!