Delegate Assembly meeting focuses on a successful 2021–22 school year
This year’s virtual May Delegate Assembly meeting served as a place for local educational agency representatives from across the state to meet and share invaluable information and ideas with one another regarding how to use newfound funding to address reopening challenges. Delegates received updates from various CSBA committees and departments and exchanged concerns and ideas about the fall semester in breakout rooms. Recently appointed CSBA President Dr. Susan Heredia opened the meeting with an acknowledgement of the dedication and inspiration provided by Suzanne Kitchens, who passed away last month just two weeks after stepping down from the position.

“I am humbled to be in this position,” Heredia said during the two-day event, which took place May 15–16. “I have known Suzanne for a very long time, as many of you have, and she was an inspiration for me. We both share a passion for education and for kids.”

People don’t often understand the complexity of serving on a school board or working as an educator because there are so many moving parts, Heredia said. Collectively, through organizations like CSBA, however, those interested can make a difference.

“I think that’s why many of us have stayed with this organization the number of years we have. It’s because we see the difference … We see that in our districts when we work well through our board and have good board governance and training. We see that manifested when we come together as Delegates and Board of Directors or when lobbying members of our Legislature,” Heredia said. “I look forward to working with you and standing with you side-by-side as we now embark on trying to bring our kids back to school and bring them back in a way that meets their needs more now than ever before.”

A restorative restart in schools
Students, families and educators have all experienced some disruption since the onset of the pandemic. Heather Hough, executive director of Policy Analysis for California Education, presented ways in which LEAs can use state and federal funding to move forward and address both pre-existing and new issues related to mental health, academic and other needs among children and families.

“We really need to use this opportunity to meet student needs and envision something different,” Hough said, adding that the money can be used for both current, critical needs and the lay the groundwork for longer-term transformation.

Hough suggested a need for a restorative restart leading into the new academic year. “It is so important to ground us in this vision of what school will look like in the fall because we are really in a place where so, so much about our relationships and orientation of public education needs to be restored,” she said.

Two students collaborating together in a classroom with masks on
Schools will need to be nimble because some of what families say they need might look very different from what schools were responsible for providing in the past”
Heather Hough, PACE executive director
During the first six weeks of school, Hough recommended focusing on making sure students and educators feel safe, known and supported, and are fully engaged in learning. Making time to connect with and understand what families have gone through and collaborate on approaches to help children, conducting regular student wellness screenings and prioritizing play, creativity and exploration will be important.

“Schools will need to be nimble because some of what families say they need might look very different from what schools were responsible for providing in the past,” Hough noted. “If you’re asking what people need, you need to be prepared to figure out ways to get it to them.”

Once restorative practices have been implemented, leaders need to sustain them and take steps toward changing schools and systems to make them more equitable permanently.

Five key equity actions Hough said to prioritize include centering relationships, addressing whole child needs, strengthening staffing and partnerships, making teaching and learning relevant and rigorous, and empowering teams to reimagine and rebuild systems.

Implementing restorative discipline practices, engaging with communities and addressing issues of power, trust, racial bias and/or lack of cultural competency and having tiered re-engagement supports will all be beneficial.

LEAs can use the “four Ts” (time, talent, training and technology) to invest in a restorative restart, Hough said. Time must be dedicated for transformation, talented staff must be recruited and hired, training needs to be available for educators and staff, and the purchase of technology and other materials can be planned and executed.

For more information, view Hough’s slideshow:
Full and Fair Funding update
Dennis Meyers, CSBA Assistant Executive Director of Governmental Relations, said the momentum toward Full and Fair FundingSM has stalled while the state grapples with how to spend the significant and unexpected influx of funds.

“We feel we have taken this as an initiative proposal as far as we can until and unless someone starts coming up with millions of dollars to move it forward. Right now, that money just isn’t there,” Meyers said.

Meyers said that new polling conducted in the first quarter of the year found that voters were now most interested in economic issues, homelessness and housing and that people were generally happy with how things were going in schools.

With pandemic recovery, a recall and regular election, and more issues that will require attention in the coming months and years, the interest from groups who could provide money to move the initiative forward has dwindled and there simply isn’t cash to move Full and Fair Funding forward at this time, Meyers concluded.