Strategic Growth
Laying the foundation for a more nimble, more responsive and more effective CSBA
By CSBA CEO & Executive Director Vernon M. Billy

ast year, we embarked on one of the boldest ventures in our organization’s long and productive history. In response to a set of priorities identified by the Board of Directors, we began the process of transforming CSBA to meet the demands of a new era in public education. Those changes are now taking shape and CSBA is better positioned than ever to:

  • Drive the education policy agenda to ensure high-quality education for every student by addressing adequacy and opportunity gaps
  • Support local governing boards of education by increasing participation in CSBA board training programs
  • Establish a robust grassroots system that can mobilize our members and maximize our political capital
Our Board established those priorities to help CSBA adapt to an education landscape punctuated by greater student need, rising costs, higher standards, new mandates, mounting competition and increasing challenges to the authority of local governing boards. In response, staff developed three initiatives that have already begun to bear fruit.
The Adequacy and Opportunity Initiative
The association has expanded its role as the leading voice for public schools with a Full and Fair Funding campaign that has gathered support from hundreds of school districts and county offices of education across the state and captured the attention of lawmakers in Sacramento.

CSBA is co-sponsoring AB 2808, legislation which seeks to move California toward the national average of $12,256 per-pupil for K-12 education funding. This bill raises the Local Control Funding Formula base grant targets so that, barring recession, public school funding would approach the national average in approximately five to five to seven years, with the ultimate goal of funding at the average of the top 10 states.

We thrust the issue of skyrocketing pension costs — and their impact on public schools — into the limelight. Our 2017 pension report revealed that 58 percent of surveyed school districts had either dipped into reserves or cut programs, staff and services in order to pay for rising employer contributions. A host of mainstream media outlets picked up on this issue and we will continue to push for pension relief in 2018 and beyond.

The Board Development and Training Initiative
We expanded access to training and board development offerings by establishing more regional workshops throughout the state and increasing the number of webcasts for those unable to travel to in-person sessions. In all, we conducted 55 training sessions, including: Orientation for New Trustees, Legal Symposium, Board Presidents Workshop, Institute for New and First-Term Board Members, Training for Executive Assistants and Masters in Governance.

CSBA made tremendous progress toward the launch of its first, comprehensive online learning portal that will allow members to acquire additional skills, knowledge and certifications related to board governance without leaving their home or office. The portal will debut in the coming months.

Our Member Services Department is updating the Board Self-Evaluation Tool with a streamlined version that better reflects governance responsibilities in the LCFF/Local Control and Accountability Plan/California School Dashboard era and also includes enhanced reporting features. This update will be complemented by the introduction of CSBA’s first Superintendent Evaluation Tool.

The Grassroots Advocacy Initiative
We laid the foundation for our grassroots network with the hiring of five Public Affairs and Community Engagement Representatives, or PACERs, to help build local coalitions and advocate for regional issues on a state level. The PACERs have already paid dividends by improving the quality and quantity of information CSBA receives on local concerns and supporting initiatives like the effort to pass Full and Fair Funding Resolutions in local educational agencies throughout the state.

Big money is at play in K-12 education like never before. In order to maintain influence on statewide measures and other education issues, we accelerated publicity and fundraising efforts for CSBA’s Friends of Public Education Political Action Committee. To that end, CSBA has hosted PAC fundraisers in the Bay Area (San Mateo), Sacramento, Long Beach (Lakewood) and San Diego, with more to come in the second half of the year.

Governance Review
In March, we launched the Governance Review committee, which was convened to address the fourth Board Priority. Less heralded, but no less important than the other three initiatives, Governance Review is focused on a complete evaluation of CSBA’s governance structure with an eye toward best practices that can be adopted to enhance our organizational effectiveness. The committee will present a report of its findings to the Board at its November 2018 meeting in San Francisco.

These distinct, but complementary initiatives helped drive our success in 2017, a year in which the Legislature passed CSBA-sponsored legislation to fix the reserve cap, we stopped a host of bills and budget proposals that would have cost members more than $2 billion and CSBA lobbying efforts stalled a bill that would have undermined local control by mandating earlier school start times statewide.

More success awaits as we continue to build the advocacy, training and grassroots infrastructure needed to realize our ambitions for public schools and their students. In partnership with our members, we are building a more engaged, more accessible, more active and more effective CSBA that will strengthen California public schools and improve outcomes for their 6.2 million students.