New trustees
New to school governance?
Tips and resources for new board members
Established trustees and superintendents should help onboard new members to form a successful governance team.
CSBA is excited to welcome new trustees to the association and to board governance! These candidates were elected as individuals but will serve as part of a governance team — and, as with building a solid foundation for any team, a key first step is to get to know one another and make new board members feel welcome, according to CSBA Governance Consultants Luan Rivera and Daryl Camp. “Intentionality is the key,” said Camp. “What will the board do to make sure the new member is respected, accepted and included? And to make sure they feel secure in their new role?”
“Know and live by the mission and vision of your LEA”
Luan Rivera, CSBA Governance Consultant
Rivera suggested one-on-one conversations are a good way to get acquainted with new trustees to get to know them as people and build understanding, relationships and rapport. The governance team should also plan to have group conversations during open session, special board meetings designed to integrate the new member(s) into the governance team and help them learn about their new role. Boards can continue to grow and learn through attending conferences and workshops together, such as CSBA’s Annual Education Conference or Masters in Governance program.
Share information about the district
Once board members are properly acquainted, it is important to share information about how the district is organized to conduct business. Established board members and superintendents should ensure new trustees understand the district’s history, current and historical issues, budget cycles and how different systems in the district relate to one another. Once the basic information is received, the board should discuss the district’s vision, mission, priorities, goals and finances, to name a few.

“Know and live by the mission and vision of your LEA,” said Rivera. “Priorities are critical; there are so many things you can do in a district, but given the resources, you cannot do everything. When you say everything is a priority, then nothing is a priority. If you are clear in your priorities, your superintendent and staff will know how to implement them.”

Another important area to cover is how the board interacts with different groups connected to the school such as PTAs, community groups, English Learner Parent Advisory Committees as well as any other committees formed to provide input to the board.

The four pillars of a successful board
1. Identify unity of purpose. Questions to answer to get at your board’s unity of purpose include:

  • Who are we?
  • What is our common ground?
  • What is our purpose?
  • What do we want to accomplish?
  • To whom are we responsible?
  • What legacy do we want to leave?
Understanding Roles
2. Understand roles & responsibilities. The board sets direction; the superintendent and staff make it happen. The progress of goals can be monitored with regular board meeting check-ins and presentations. Consult Board Bylaws 9000 and 9200 for clarification on the roles and responsibilities of board members. Talk with your team about the role of board officers and make sure everyone understands the Brown Act open meeting law.
3. Build a positive culture. How does your board want to be seen by your community? What are the behaviors that characterize the board? How do you model good government in action? Be mindful of your governance role and carry out your duties with professionalism. Remember that district decisions are made as a team, not as an individual, and support majority decisions even if you did not vote for them.

4. Follow governance protocols. The board should discuss and agree upon structures and processes to carry out board responsibilities.

Number 8 in a blue circletraits of an effective trustee
  1. Mindful of their governance role
  2. Carries out duties in a professional manner
  3. Focused on student achievement and district goals
  4. Comes to board meetings well prepared, knowing the topics and issues
  5. Systems thinker
  6. Deep learner who knows the topics and issues well
  7. Committed to their work
  8. Understand which subjects are confidential (i.e., subjects of closed session meetings)
CSBA trainings to help build a strong governance team
Institute for New & First-Term Board Members: This two-day seminar is one of the best opportunities for newly elected and first-term trustees to learn about their unique role and responsibilities. Multiple trainings are available in February. Sign up at

The Brown Act: Explore the intricacies of the complex act and learn how to apply the law. Learn more at

Masters in Governance: Through five targeted courses, CSBA’s signature training program equips board members and superintendents with the knowledge and skills to build and support an effective governance structure. Learn more at

In their own words
CSBA PACERs (Public Affairs and Community Outreach Representatives) reached out to new board members in their regions to ask why they ran for school board. Below are a few of their responses.
Brad Beach
ABC Unified School District
“I chose to run for school board because my two daughters attend ABC schools and I care about their future and all kids in the district. While serving as PTA President and in various committees, I learned so much about the district. I knew we would be spending Measure BB monies and face potential budget deficits. I wanted to be on the board to help make these critical decisions.”
Pamela Braunstein
Capistrano Unified School District
“I ran with the goal of helping to improve communication and cooperation among the board, the district office, teachers, and staff and parents.”
Kendra Dwelley Guimaraes
Fortuna School District
“As I watched our local school board face difficult decisions regarding COVID and learning, I decided to run for an open position on the board because I felt I could offer respectful listening for administration, teachers, staff and community members and then take compassionate action. In my first few months, I hope to cultivate a culture of empathy and respect and to address (in)equity on campus. Currently, I’m in touch with local tribal leaders to craft a land acknowledgement statement as one of the steps towards more fully recognizing and meeting the needs of indigenous students and their families in our district.”
Dr. Susan Pritchard
La Habra City School District
“Education is my life-long passion; being an educator is my life-long joy. Spreading the joy and supporting the passion of our educators to best inspire our students, our future, is why I stepped forward to serve as a trustee of our school board. I believe the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., ‘Intelligence plus character — that is the goal of true education.’ I also hold dear to those words of Margaret Mead, ‘Children must be taught how to think, NOT what to think!’ If I can help teachers help students achieve, no matter in my first months of tenure or over a longer period of time, I will then have begun to reach some of my goals!”
Francesca Segrè
Menlo Park City School District
“I believe that schools are the best place to invest from both a moral and practical perspective — education is the foundation of a strong community. I’ve always wanted to help build our future through the schools. With the challenges of 2020 threatening this treasured resource, I felt an even stronger calling to serve our children and community. 2021 will be all about creating safe school environments and robust learning experiences and tending to the mental wellness of our community.”
Angie Rumsey
Orange Unified School District
“I chose to run for school board to have an impact on my community. I have had a passion for education all my life and believed that I could use that passion on the school board. I hope to support decisions that will have positive impacts on the students of my district. I will always put students’ success and achievement first. I will support parental rights and believe that education begins in the family and that the district is there to support the family.”
Gina Daly
San Rafael City Schools
“I decided to run for school board because we are living in an unprecedented time. The pandemic laid bare the inequities that already existed in our public education system and exacerbated the digital divide and opportunity gap. In the first few months of my tenure, I will work to ensure that our students, teachers and staff who are in-school are safe and that we are providing the highest-quality education possible for students who are learning remotely. In addition, I will focus on our most vulnerable students and ensure that they have the resources they need to thrive during this difficult time.”
Anne Ching
Sonoma Valley Unified School District
“I ran expressly to prioritize and address the chronic underperformance of students and to bring fiscal discipline and accountability, which are so greatly needed in our district.”
Allyson Damikolas
Tustin Unified School District
“My decision to run for school board in Tustin was inspired by what I’ve learned as a mother, a community volunteer and a Parent-Teacher Organization President, and the gratitude I feel about the impact educators and education had in my life. My own childhood mirrors that of many of our students who come from immigrant communities and economically challenged backgrounds. Without great teachers and administrators who cared about my future, I would never have become an engineer. Every child has potential, and I believe the job of our school districts is to do all we can to help them reach it.”
Carolina Jauregu
Whittier City School District
“I chose to run for school board because I want to ensure that every student, regardless of where they live in the district, has increased learning opportunities, a higher chance of attending and graduating college, and is supported both inside and outside of the classroom. I grew up in this community and I want to give back to the community that raised me. I want to champion the efforts that increase social and emotional support for students and families during my tenure.”