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May 2023 Vol. 29, 5

CSBA-sponsored bill package advances
Includes increased funding for cybersecurity, student health and addressing the teacher shortage

Policy committees in both the Senate and the Assembly are working their way through the thousands of new bills introduced since the session began in December. Among the measures is a substantial package of CSBA-sponsored legislation that together will help increase support for districts facing cyberattacks, provide greater ability for school districts to address the teacher shortage, help boards appoint student members, and increase funding for student health.

Boosting support for school cybersecurity
As schools face a rising tide of ransomware attacks, Assembly Bill 1023 (Papan, D-San Mateo) will increase support for school districts to strengthen their cybersecurity. While Gov. Gavin Newsom has proposed funding in this year’s budget to enhance the California Cybersecurity Integration Center (Cal-CSIC), this support is not specific to schools. More is needed to help local educational agencies prepare for the threats they are facing.
five children smile while huddled together at desks
Strategic Priorities

At CSBA, we are inspired every day by our members who continue to answer the call to service despite the ever-shifting terrain. In an effort to support the membership and advance the work of the association, CSBA’s Board of Directors developed and approved the 2023 Strategic Priorities Plan.


bright yellow megaphone iconCalifornia’s education leaders travel to D.C. for the second annual Coast2Coast Federal Advocacy Trip



Greener schoolyards support student health and well-being
Nonprofit launches California Schoolyard Forest System partnership with state agencies
five elementary aged children wearing backpacks smile at each other while standing against a chain link fence

The September 2022 heatwave in California was the worst on record, with temperatures hitting up to 116 degrees in Sacramento, and multiple other cities experiencing temperatures of 110 degrees and above. This excessive heat has schools on high alert, with many installing and upgrading HVAC systems in areas like Oxnard, which previously relied on cooler coastal temperatures to keep students comfortable and learning.

An area of particular danger that should not be overlooked is asphalt schoolyards. Environmental city planner and author of Asphalt to Ecosystems: Design Ideas for Schoolyard Transformation Sharon Danks found that on an 81-degree day on a California elementary school yard, grassy areas measured 83 degrees, rubber surfaces under a play structure came in at 135 degrees and unshaded asphalt was 107 degrees. Asphalt shaded by trees was more than 30 degrees cooler.

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Chief Information Officer:
Troy Flint |

Editorial Director:
Kimberly Sellery |

Marketing Director:

Andy Rolleri |

Staff Writers and Contributors:
Alisha Kirby |
Heather Kemp |
Teresa Machado |
Meghan Russell |
Kristin Lindgren |

Director of Graphic Design & Branding:
Kerry Macklin |

Senior Graphic Designer:
Amanda Moen |

Susan Markarian | Pacific Union ESD

Albert Gonzalez | Santa Clara USD

Vice President:
Bettye Lusk | Monterey Peninsula USD

Immediate Past President:
Dr. Susan Heredia | Natomas USD

CEO & Executive Director:
Vernon M. Billy

The California School Boards Association is the essential voice for public education. We inspire our members to be knowledgeable leaders, extraordinary governance practitioners and ardent advocates for all students.

California School News (ISSN 1091-1715) is published 11 times per year by the California School Boards Association, Inc., 3251 Beacon Blvd., West Sacramento, CA 95691. 916-371-4691. $4 of CSBA annual membership dues is for the subscription to California School News. The subscription rate for each CSBA nonmember is $35. Periodicals postage paid at West Sacramento, CA and at additional mailing office. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to California School News, 3251 Beacon Blvd., West Sacramento, CA 95691.

News and feature items submitted for publication are edited for style and space as necessary.

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President’s Message: Susan Markarian
The lost art of compromise
Supporting student success is the tie that binds us

Phyllis McGinley, a Pulitzer Prize-winning essayist and poet said, “Compromise, if not the spice of life, is its solidity.” Constitutional law expert Alexander Bickel opined that, “No society, certainly not a large and heterogeneous one, can fail in time to explode if it is deprived of the arts of compromise, if it knows no way of muddling through.” And noted philosopher Mick Jagger told us that, “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, well you might find, you get what you need.”

Despite these reminders, it seems our society has forgotten the importance of compromise. Weighing different viewpoints and arriving at a solution that was perfect for no one — but acceptable to almost everyone — was once a hallmark of the American public. Now, we struggle to find common ground on event the most pedestrian topics.

five children smile while huddled together at desks

Strategic Priorities

Engage, Educate, Empower

Strengthening CSBA on behalf of board members

By CSBA President Susan Markarian and CEO & Executive Director Vernon M. Billy


eing a governing board member can oftentimes be a complex, tough and thankless position, but the reward for good governance for our students and communities is immeasurable.

CSBA recognizes the importance and foundational support board members represent for our democracy. CSBA members are asked to ensure the college and career readiness of 5.8 million public school students and are expected to understand the complexity of myriad issues, including, but not limited to, mental health, education policy, state and federal funding, cybersecurity, and facilities construction and financing.

At CSBA, we are inspired every day by our members who continue to answer the call to service despite the ever-shifting terrain. In an effort to support the membership and advance the work of the association, CSBA’s Board of Directors developed and approved the 2023 Strategic Priorities Plan for the coming years. These priorities embrace the core work of CSBA and are designed to strengthen our role as the premier education organization in the state.

California’s education leaders travel to D.C. for the second annual Coast2Coast Federal Advocacy Trip

More than 250 trustees and superintendents advocated for additional student supports

Passionate advocacy, congressional meetings, insider access, rousing speeches, skills-building workshops, issues analyses and a reception in the Capitol highlighted the second annual CSBA-ACSA Coast2Coast Federal Advocacy Trip to Washington, D.C. From April 23–26, district and county board members and superintendents met with California’s representatives in D.C., rubbed shoulders with national legislative leaders, and heard directly from cabinet members, top pollsters, political consultants and journalists. This brief item just made the deadline for the print version of the newsletter — stay tuned for more coverage of Coast2Coast in the June issue.

U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra shaking hands with CSBA CEO & Exec. Dir. Vernon M. Billy on the Coast2Coast event stage
U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra, seen here with CSBA CEO & Exec. Dir. Vernon M. Billy, praised California’s capacity for innovation and emphasized the need for greater investment in school-based mental health services.
Fresno Unified commits to helping preserve Hmong language, culture
AAPI Heritage Month spotlight
a young girl of AAPI heritage sits in grass looking at flowers
Students in Fresno Unified School District’s Hmong Dual Language Immersion (DLI) program spend time each day learning in English and in Hmong. Two elementary schools currently participate, serving 338 students.

“We have already prepared our pathway for expansion into middle school to welcome our Hmong DLI students to Sequoia Middle School in the 2024–25 school year,” said Sandra Toscano, instructional superintendent. “As we grow our middle school and high school Hmong DLI pathway, we will continue to explore the possibilities of adding additional schools.”

Launched in 2018, the program was created in response to feedback received during the 2015 Master Plan process. Community members were concerned that young people were losing the ability to speak Hmong. Pew Research Center, Fresno is the metropolitan area with the second-largest Hmong population in the U.S., as of 2019.

Supreme Court rules in favor of plaintiff in lawsuit over special education services
Allows plaintiff to sue for monetary damages under ADA
The U.S. Supreme Court on March 21, 2023, issued a unanimous opinion holding that special education students who file suit under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) seeking monetary compensation do not first have to exhaust administrative procedures under the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (IDEA). (Perez v. Sturgis Public Schools (2023) 598 U.S. ___, 143 S.Ct. 859.) The Court’s decision addresses a split in the circuit courts of appeal on this issue and sets a new precedent nationwide and for California local educational agencies that could have significant impact on school districts and county offices of education.

Specifically, the Ninth Circuit, the federal court of appeals with jurisdiction over California, has in previous cases held that the administrative complaint procedures under IDEA must be exhausted before a claimant may file suit for damages under the ADA or other federal law, where the damages sought were intended to address an LEA’s failure to provide a free appropriate public education (FAPE) to the claimant. (See, Paul G. v. Monterey Peninsula Unified School District (9th Cir. 2019) 933 F.3d 1096 and D.D. v. Los Angeles Unified School District (9th Cir. 2021) 18 F.4th 1043.) The holding in Perez v. Sturgis Public Schools represents a change to the legal landscape in California because it overturns that Ninth Circuit precedent. This article seeks to address some of the legal and practical issues triggered by the decision.

Experts share safety tips for schools at CSBA webinar
Consider both physical safety and student well-being when assessing plans
cartoon arm holding up yellow caution sign with a dark blue background

CSBA’s April 18 webinar, “Safety First: Expert tips for supporting effective school safety plans and student mental health,” offered advice on comprehensive school safety plans, district-level strategies to keep students and staff safe, and the impact that threats have on mental health.

School Safety Plans

A school safety plan shouldn’t be in a binder collecting dust.

Tom Herman, administrator of the California Department of Education’s School Health and Safety Office, explained the fundamental components of comprehensive school safety plan, which education code defines as a document and a strategy meant to respond to and prevent threats to school safety.

CSBA Governance Consulting Services provides customized board trainings
Find out what GCS can do for your governance team
Building a strong and effective governance team does not happen on its own. It takes time, intentionality and good communication. Board presidents and superintendents should evaluate their governance team and determine if it could be stronger.

Strong boards institute sound practices such as having a governance handbook, an agreement on unity of purpose, and a clear understanding of roles and responsibilities, along with policies and protocols that guide the work of the governance team. Annual board self-evaluations are required under Board Bylaw 9400 – Board Self-Evaluation.

Governance team members (board members and the superintendent) are tasked with ensuring the best possible learning environment for their students. This is established by setting a clear vision and direction for their district, which begs the question of how to come to agreement. How do governance team members work together to set the direction for their districts when individuals are appointed or elected individually and at different times? Board members arrive at the dais with different views, perspectives, core values and beliefs, and often with little understanding of what governance entails. Moreover, they are expected to work peacefully, professionally and collaboratively to fulfill their roles and responsibilities.

Board meetings via teleconference: An explainer
Board members benefit from additional flexibility
view over a woman's shoulder of a laptop screen holding a conference call
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the only way for governing boards to conduct meetings remotely was to comply with the requirements for “Traditional Teleconferencing” which included, among other requirements, that: (1) the agenda be posted at all teleconference locations, (2) all teleconference locations be identified in the notice and agenda, (3) all teleconference locations be open to the public, and (4) public comment be allowed at all teleconference locations.

While the option to participate by way of traditional teleconferencing still exists, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. Gavin Newsom issued several executive orders that allowed boards to conduct meetings remotely with less onerous requirements. The pandemic and technological advances demonstrated that board meetings could successfully be held remotely, and in some circumstances increased public access and participation, while allowing board members more flexibility. The executive orders have since been rescinded, but many of the changes to teleconferencing rules live on through legislative changes to the Brown Act.


Nominations open for 2024 CSBA officers
President-elect and Vice President nominations accepted through June 1
minimalist digital illustration of a nomination box

The CSBA Candidate Review Committee encourages CSBA members to participate in this year’s election process for the offices of CSBA Vice President and President-elect.

The criteria used to evaluate potential officer candidates is as follows:

A CSBA leader:

  • Communicates effectively on behalf of public education and, as the face of CSBA, advocates CSBA’s vision, mission, policy platform and governance structure.
  • Demonstrates advocacy for and knowledge of the diverse educational, economic, social and emotional needs of all students throughout the state through the lens of equity.
  • Exemplifies strong leadership skills, ethics and integrity, including the ability to collaborate, motivate and inspire.


School Boards in Action:
5 Questions with Taylor Sims, Pittsburg USD
Taylor Sims, board president, Pittsburg Unified School District in Contra Costa County
Taylor Sims, second from the right, stands smiling in a group photo with a girls volleyball team
With the school year well underway, what are some promising practices taking place in your district?
This school year we have re-established a committee that is committed to the recruitment and retention of a diverse staff. Since we have such a diverse community, we want to make sure there is a teacher on every campus. Within this committee we are also focusing on how we can create a welcoming and nurturing environment for scholars and staff.
What are your district’s plans for learning recovery and academic acceleration this summer?
Our district understands COVID has affected so much for our scholars, families and staff. Our scholars experienced a learning loss that most districts will spend years addressing. We are trying our very best with offering summer school sessions for all of our scholars. Our elementary early-back program is an intervention program designed to give our students an additional opportunity for targeted support in reading foundations and review of essential math concepts, and has shown promising results of catching these young scholars up to grade-level proficiency. For our PK-TK, we focus on developmentally appropriate thematic instruction. For K-3, we focus on reading foundations and math. For fourth grade, we focus on reading comprehension through science and i-Ready Math.
Santa Clara COE leading schools in wellness initiative
Provided support in opening 19 student wellness centers in county districts
In 2019, Santa Clara County Superintendent Mary Ann Dewan convened district superintendents throughout the county to discuss the concerning rise in students’ mental health diagnoses of depression and anxiety and increasing numbers of death by suicide, as well as increases in substance abuse, self-harm and death by overdose. School leaders agreed they were seeing greater unaddressed mental health needs than ever before and it was significantly impacting student engagement and behavior, especially among middle and high school students. Leaders wanted to take action, but most districts lacked the funding, staff and capacity to take on the issue alone.

The need is not unique to Santa Clara County — between 2007 and 2014, the national suicide rate of children ages 10 to 14 more than doubled, and by 2020 suicide had become the second-leading cause of death among youth, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

UpcomingEvents info: 800-266-3382
Attention: For more information about events, visit
Virtual Events
May 23–24
MIG Course 4: Human Resources/Collective Bargaining

June 6–7
MIG Course 5: Community Relations & Advocacy/Governance Integration

June 14–15
MIG Course 3: School Finance Part 1 & 2

June 16–17
MIG Course 4: Human Resources/Collective Bargaining

June 28
MIG Course 5: Community Relations & Advocacy/Governance Integration

In-person events

May 20–21
2023 May Delegate Assembly Meeting | Sacramento

June 7
CSBA Roadshow – Sacramento County | McClellan Park

June 23
CSBA Roadshow – Humboldt County | Eureka

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Thanks for reading our May 2023 newsletter!