President’s Message: Albert Gonzalez

58 COEs, 940 school districts, one united association
Advocating at the state and federal level to improve California public education
As a longtime school board member and lifelong learner, I relish the opportunity to receive training, share my perspective and engage with colleagues on governance issues. It’s one of the reasons I became so involved with and remain a huge advocate of CSBA. On March 8 and 9, I was fortunate to join county office of education trustees from across California for the inaugural CSBA County Board Governance Workshop, hosted in Sacramento.

It was wonderful to see faces old and new who are dedicated to the critical work county boards perform. As a Santa Clara Unified School District trustee, I see firsthand the assistance county offices of education provide to local school districts as well as the essential services they offer to students, particularly high-need students, a population disproportionately affected by inequitable education as well as the lingering effects of the pandemic.

If we hope to achieve our goal of providing a high-quality education for all students, we must be intentional about including county boards in that conversation and continuing to develop and refine tools that facilitate the work they do for some of California’s most vulnerable students, and the targeted academic and social-emotional programs they support for all students in a county.

President's Albert Gonzalez's headshot, wearing a dark blue suit jacket and a button up shirt and tie
“Now, more than ever, county boards play a critical role.”
Albert Gonzalez, CSBA President
It was reaffirming to take part in a County Board Governance Workshop that reinforced the value of county-specific programming and underscored the important contributions of the state’s 58 county offices of education. The event extends the strong tradition of information, guidance, resources, collaboration and fellowship that characterizes CSBA’s many offerings, including the new County Board Member Services. To ensure we continue to meet the needs of our county members and grow our offerings, CSBA has convened the County Board Transitional Working Group, a panel of county board members established to make recommendations to CSBA’s Board of Directors about services and programs that would most benefit county board members.

The vitality that is such a hallmark of our county trustees was fully on display during sessions covering the role of the county board member, pathways to student success in juvenile court and community schools, charter renewals, county budget guidance, Special Education Local Plan Areas (SELPAs), expulsion policy and case law, the art of having difficult conversations in the boardroom, and the road toward expanded county services within CSBA.

The County Board Governance Workshop increased my understanding of the opportunities and challenges faced by my counterparts on the county board as well as my ability to partner with them. It also helped inform my leadership perspective at CSBA as we continue the integration of the California County Boards of Education into CSBA County Board Member Services. We will continue to grow and refine our offerings to reflect the experiences of county boards.

Our mission at CSBA is to strengthen and promote school district and county board governance and to define and drive the public education agenda through advocacy, training and member services. County boards are essential to this mission and our collective work to address learning recovery, equitable education, student mental health, staffing shortages, budget concerns, unfunded mandates and myriad other issues before us. Now, more than ever, county boards play a critical role, not only in serving high-need students, but in maintaining stability and advancing progress in all our public schools.