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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.

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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.

These priorities include the following:

  1. Provide member boards with quality education research, robust policy tools and support to equip them to create the equitable conditions for every student to succeed.
  2. Develop pertinent and interactive training that creates knowledgeable, engaged and competent local board members.
  3. Increase the number of governing board members CSBA mobilizes to leverage our collective voice and to advocate for public education at the local, state and federal levels.
  4. Pursue excellence in association leadership as the Board of Directors strives to achieve the guiding principles found in CSBA’s Vision, Mission and Equity statements.

Together, these priorities will better engage governing teams where they are, expand our capacity to educate stakeholders on the latest trends and research across an ever-widening range of topics, and empower CSBA to amplify the experience of its membership to become the essential voice for public education in California, and the nation at large. To bring these priorities to life, staff developed a three- to four-year Strategic Priorities Implementation Plan that we are excited to share with you today.

digital illustration of the top view of four different colored hands holding different colored puzzle pieces together
Priority #1:

Providing quality research, policy tools, and support

Our first priority is expanding CSBA’s Research and Education Policy Development (REPD) Department to be a premier source of evidence-based research, policy tools and supports for stakeholders, policymakers and thought leaders. Last year, we announced the elevation of REPD from a division to a separate department and that Naomi Eason would lead this new department as the Chief of REPD. This expansion will increase the impact of CSBA’s research and policy analysis, help us better respond to member needs, and expand high-priority resources that are timely, pertinent and reflect the work being done at the local level.

Members will see REPD research efforts integrated across the full suite of CSBA services, both in terms of gathering and disseminating information. Planned activities include creating advisory groups based on different local educational agency types, survey deployment, developing policy adoption and evaluation frameworks that may include equity impacts, and establishing a biennial policy summit.

Priority #2:
Developing pertinent and interactive training
Our next priority focuses on creating engaged, educated and empowered board members by ensuring all training is both pertinent and interactive. This involves both a continuation of our ongoing commitment to ensure members have the most up-to-date training available and an expansion of that commitment to all individuals involved in school governance.
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The work begins with creating clear and concise learning pathways for every role connected to the work of a governing team. Board members know better than most that high-functioning governance is a group effort, so CSBA is expanding the scope, format and availability of its training to support trustees, superintendents, student board members and executive assistants. In addition, these learning pathways will be designed to meet members where they are in their journey, whether a newly elected trustee in a rural community or a seasoned executive assistant in a large urban setting.

CSBA is accelerating the evolution of its training library to ensure content is relevant, timely and accessible wherever and however members choose to access it. This includes modernizing our training development and evaluation processes to ensure ongoing feedback for improvements, embrace advances in technology and stay ahead of changes in the educational landscape.

Priority #3:

Increasing the number of board members mobilized for advocacy

The 2023 Strategic Priorities Plan aims to elevate CSBA’s legislative and policy influence by transforming our members’ relationships and local expertise into important policy lifelines for state and federal policymakers.

Our strategy builds upon the REPD expansion in Priority 1 and the learning pathways-training approach in Priority 2 to educate members on the latest research and effective advocacy approaches given their role and level of experience. This growing and diverse network of advocates combined with our current advocacy efforts and REPD’s research will strengthen CSBA’s ability to quickly respond to emerging issues and identify the right members to advocate on any issue, at any time.

In addition to our members becoming lifelines for policymakers, federal representatives in Washington, D.C., will see the increased presence of CSBA on the ground through enhanced federal advocacy efforts. Together with the new REPD department, our Governmental Relations team will be on the ground working with D.C.-based consultant advocates to strengthen our federal relationships on behalf of our members. The impact of these activities will only grow as Coast2Coast continues its rapid ascent to becoming a must-attend event on the calendar of federal lawmakers, policy influencers and staff.

Priority #4:
Pursuing excellence in association leadership
For our final priority, CSBA’s Board of Directors seeks to ensure excellence in its pursuit of the association’s Vision, Mission and Equity statements. Efforts will focus on implementing and regularly evaluating the board’s work based on promising practices, with a strong emphasis on consistency as the makeup of the board changes from year to year. Additionally, the board is revising the Equity Statement with a goal of better describing how the values in the original statement should be used to further CSBA’s mission and vision.
In closing, the Strategic Priorities Implementation Plan is well underway, and through it we are eager to help you all understand and embrace the great burden of responsibility that society places on our district and county board members. It is our belief that this responsibility is a common ground that gives us great power, and through that power our members’ collective voices can echo from coast to coast and empower future generations of governing board members.