Governance corner
Practical tips from our MIG faculty
Community engagement — a year-round activity
staff members smiling and holding up speech bubbles in different colors

As school board members, one of our primary responsibilities is to ensure that the voices and perspectives of our community are heard and valued. Authentic community engagement is essential in creating a vibrant, inclusive and successful educational environment. However, the commitment to community involvement doesn’t take a break during the winter, spring or summer vacations. To foster meaningful engagement year-round, school boards should adopt strategies that keep the lines of communication open, even during these breaks.

  • Outreach and surveys: Sending out periodic surveys and questionnaires is a simple yet effective way to gather input and feedback from the community. These surveys can focus on various topics, from curriculum and extracurricular activities to administrative decisions. The results can guide the board’s actions and decisions.
  • Collaborate with local organizations: Engaging with local organizations, such as parent-teacher associations, nonprofits and local government, can help school district and county boards stay connected to the community. Collaborative efforts can include joint events, resource sharing and leveraging their networks to reach a wider audience.
  • Volunteer opportunities: Promote volunteer opportunities for community members to participate in school-related activities during breaks. This can include mentoring programs, assistance in school maintenance or involvement in community service projects. Encouraging involvement in this way reinforces the community’s connection to the schools.
  • Support and training: Provide training and resources to board members and school administrators on effective community engagement. This includes cultural sensitivity training and methods for ensuring that all voices, including those of underrepresented groups, are heard and considered.
  • Celebrate achievements: Acknowledge and celebrate the successes and achievements of students, teachers and the community throughout the year. Recognizing these accomplishments reinforces the idea that community members are essential partners in the educational process. Celebrating these successes with the community also ensures the community knows their trustees.

Authentic community engagement is an ongoing journey that requires dedication and a long-term commitment. When California’s 5,000 trustees commit to year-round community engagement, students thrive and futures are bright. By implementing these strategies, boards of education can build trust, foster collaboration and create an educational system that truly reflects the values and aspirations of the community. The work we do to engage our communities is fundamental to the success of our schools, and it is a continuous effort that knows no breaks.

CSBA offers training in community relations and advocacy in Module 5 of the Masters in Governance® program. This course helps members deepen their understanding of community leadership by applying theory to everyday situations. It explores the role and responsibilities of the board, effective communication, working with the media, managing crisis, and building community support by informing and engaging while being responsive to community concerns and interests.