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May 2024 Vol. 30, 5

CSBA pursues sponsored bill package
Proposed legislation would analyze bureaucratic paperwork, assist small districts with facilities funding acquisition and clarify the charter-authorizing process

The 2024 legislative session is in full swing as policy committees in both the Senate and the Assembly work their way through the thousands of new bills introduced since January.

Among the measures under consideration is a package of CSBA-sponsored legislation that together will reduce administrative workloads associated with the substantial number of reports required of local educational agencies, ensure that the state provides much-needed support to small school districts in the acquisition of state bond funds, and help improve and clarify the school district and county office of education charter authorizing processes.

distant quarter view of the U.S. Capitol
The 2024 ACSA-CSBA Coast2Coast Federal Advocacy Trip to Washington, D.C. was a resounding success thanks to the dedication of trustees and superintendents — around 240 of whom traveled to advocate in the halls of Congress on behalf of California students.
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President’s Message


New federal grant initiative announced to fund facilities upgrades
Funding available for energy-efficient and clean energy infrastructure improvements at school districts
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The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) opened applications on March 20 for the 2024 Renew America’s Schools Prize, which will award $180 million to districts across the country engaging in strategic partnerships to build capacity and implement energy upgrades at K-12 schools that lower energy use and costs, improve indoor air quality and foster healthier learning environments.

Eligible projects include new heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, building envelope (all exterior-facing components) and lighting projects, alternative fuel vehicles such as electric vehicles, infrastructure and renewable energy technologies and more. Submissions are due on June 13 by 5 p.m. EST.

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Chief Communications Officer:
Troy Flint |

Editorial Director:
Kimberly Sellery |

Staff Writers and Contributors:
Alisha Kirby |
Heather Kemp |
Bode Owoyele |
Dustin Bindreiff |
Jeremy Anderson |

Director of Graphic Design & Branding:
Kerry Macklin |

Senior Graphic Designer:
Amanda Moen |

Albert Gonzalez | Santa Clara USD

Bettye Lusk | Monterey Peninsula USD

Vice President:
Debra Schade | Solana Beach SD

Immediate Past President:
Susan Markarian | Pacific Union ESD

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: Albert Gonzalez

Living by the code:
Protecting Proposition 98
Advocating at the state and federal level to improve California public education

“The Wire,” one of the most critically acclaimed television series of all time, depicts the uneasy intersection of government, law and street life in modern America. Fans of the program will remember one of its recurring themes, a lesson that applies far beyond the gritty streets of Baltimore where the show takes place. One of the show’s central messages was that, no matter his walk of life, “a man got to have a code.” This is true of all men, women and organizations that hope to conduct them themselves with purpose and integrity, and it certainly applies to CSBA.

At CSBA, our code is that we fight to the last inch to protect Proposition 98 and to preserve local control because these principles are essential to strengthen public schools and secure the conditions needed to provide every student with a high-quality education. Unfortunately, Gov. Gavin Newsom’s 2024–25 May Revise contains an existential threat to Prop 98 that demands strong action to uphold our code and protect education funding.

CSBA releases budget template to help governance teams communicate school finances

With both declining state revenue and enrollment, LEAs are facing a tough financial forecast

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California’s local educational agencies face an uncertain and complex financial landscape as they plan their 2024–25 budgets. Significant state, federal and local budgetary factors are converging at the same time to potentially cause major budgetary problems for many LEAs.

To help address this looming storm, CSBA’s Research and Education Policy Development department created a budget template, “The Forecast is for Storms – Considerations for LEA budgeting in an uncertain fiscal climate,” to help governance teams communicate these intricate factors to their communities. These dynamics include ever-increasing state budget deficit projections, the end of federal pandemic relief aid and persistent declining statewide enrollment. Governance teams can build a shared understanding of the district’s fiscal landscape by being open and transparent with communities on the complexity of the situation.

Coast2Coast attendees brought California public school advocacy back East
Trustees and superintendents met with their representatives to share important perspectives
The 2024 ACSA-CSBA Coast2Coast Federal Advocacy Trip to Washington, D.C. was a resounding success thanks to the dedication of trustees and superintendents — around 240 of whom traveled to advocate in the halls of Congress on behalf of California students. Attendees met with Senators Laphonza Butler and Alex Padilla, Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi, Representatives Zoe Lofgren, Pete Aguilar and many more as they explained the needs and challenges students and schools are facing.

General session speakers included White House Domestic Policy Advisor Neera Tanden and U.S. Deputy Education Secretary and former San Diego Unified School District Superintendent Cindy Marten on federal education policy updates from the Biden Administration; U.S. Department of Agriculture Acting Under Secretary Kumar Chandran on school meals; Education Week Assistant Editor Alyson Klein on artificial intelligence (AI) in education; Lake Research Partners Founder Celinda Lake; and K12Counsel, LLC Founder Francisco M. Negron Jr. The sessions provided governing board members with an opportunity to engage directly with key federal policymakers and experts, highlighting issues specific to California public schools.

Governance corner
Practical tips from our MIG faculty

Attracting and retaining skilled teachers: A strategic approach for school boards

woman in a white blouse grinning with people chatting in the background
Few tasks in educational governance are as crucial, yet challenging, as addressing the recruitment and retention of talented teachers. For California school board members, navigating this terrain requires a delicate balance between providing guidance and avoiding micromanagement. The key lies in offering administrators clear direction, enthusiastic support and adequate resources, fostering an environment conducive to attracting and retaining skilled educators.

Board support is a key component in creating a nurturing environment for teachers, according to James Sargent, former superintendent at Caruthers Unified School District and Yosemite USD and current administrator at Madera County Superintendent of Schools. Acknowledging the emotional challenges inherent in teaching, Sargent underscores the role of board members in empowering administrators to cultivate a sense of safety and empowerment among staff. Moreover, he stresses the importance of board conduct, as conflicts at the governance level can reverberate throughout the school community.

One district’s effort to uplift the diversity of AAPI cultures
Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage month shines a light on this diverse student group
Sylvia Leong, Cupertino Union School District trustee and CSBA Director-at-Large, Asian Pacific Islander, is one of many leaders in education working to build confidence among Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) students in California to become leaders themselves.

“There are so many things that go into good leadership, like being collaborative, having courage, being able to try new things and not have a fear of failure, and trying to problem solve and think critically,” Leong said, noting that this issue of developing a generation of leaders isn’t unique to the AAPI community. “Any minority group or any historically oppressed group is going to want to develop those leadership skills because there’s been a lack of leadership models in the public square, and when you don’t have those kinds of leaders to look up to, then it’s hard to imagine it for yourself as a young person.”

What public officials must know about social media use following Supreme Court decision
Court creates new test to determine whether speech is private
cropped view of hands using a smartphone with digital social icons floating above the screen
On March 15, 2024, in a rare occurrence, the United States Supreme Court in Lindke v. Freed issued a unanimous decision creating a newly designed approach for determining when a public official’s action in using their personal social media account could be seen as “state action,” subject to the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. This is a key issue because an individual acting in a private capacity cannot violate another individual’s First Amendment rights. Based on the new approach, the Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Lindke, as well as the judgment of the Ninth Circuit court in O’Connor-Ratcliff v. Garnier, and remanded the cases for further proceeding based on the new test.

The two cases were decided at the appellate level based on different reasonings. In Lindke, the Supreme Court spelled out a new approach, distinct from the Ninth and Sixth Circuits’ approaches, and held that a public official’s action would constitute state action only if the public official possesses actual authority related to the action and if, when taking the action, the public official purports to possess the authority. This was a significant victory for public officials because it creates a higher bar for members of the public to allege a violation of the First Amendment by such officials when regulating comments on their private social media pages.

Recognizing student success with awards for achievement
CSBA has updated its sample board policy to reflect changes related to state seals
closeup of a foil embossed stamp with blue ribbons placed on the corner of a paper

One of the most enjoyable rewards of being a board member is the opportunity to recognize the great work students do. Highlighting the journey of a newcomer student to academic excellence, the engagement of a student in a civic project that improves access for students with disabilities, or the efforts of a student to learn another culture and language are worthy of recognition. Highlighting student successes can serve as important drivers in encouraging more students to engage in public service. Additionally, appreciating and embracing accomplishments encourages students to strive for success, provides students with greater confidence and opens doors for additional opportunities. Supporting and rewarding the positive contributions and achievements of students is a critical component of effective school climates.

Commission on Teacher Credentialing reviews teacher supply in California
New credentials are down and permits are up 79 percent
During the April 18-19 meeting of the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing, commissioners were presented with two key annual reports related to the teacher supply in California and received an update on the work staff is undertaking in the early childhood education field. In addition, the commission considered a rare complaint regarding program approval related to reading instruction.

Teacher-related reports

A teacher supply report is required by California Education Code to be presented to the commission each April detailing the number of teachers who received credentials, certificates, permits and waivers to teach and serve in the state’s local educational agencies as well as information on current teacher candidates. The following are key findings from Teacher Supply in California, 2022–23: A Report to the Legislature:

Survey shows adults support public education
Divided on current issues facing the field
closeup of a hand holding pen next to a laptop with a hologram checklist floating above the keyboard
The results of a survey conducted between September and October 2023 by University of Southern California’s Center for Applied Research in Education on current issues including what educators teach, what books are available and assigned to students, and parental control are covered in the report Searching for Common Ground: Widespread Support for Public Schools but Substantial Partisan Divides About Teaching Contested Topics.

A nationally representative group of 3,905 adults responded to the survey and about 50 percent said they reside in the same household as a K-12 student. Among all respondents, 40 percent said they were Democrat/Democrat-leaning, 34 percent were Republican/Republican-leaning and 27 percent were independent or belong to another party.

Student board members attending AEC can participate in special leadership program
Student trustees will experience the magic of Disney leadership training
CSBA AEC student board member logo
CSBA is excited to announce the Student Board Member Two-Day Program on Dec. 4-5, an initiative designed to empower student representatives on governance teams. Aligned with the Annual Education Conference and Trade Show (AEC), this program is dedicated to nurturing the essential role of student board members in amplifying student voices within the governance framework.

AEC 2024 will take place in Anaheim from Dec. 5-7, providing student board members with a unique opportunity for collaboration with esteemed organizations like Disney, enriching the offerings and experiences for participating students.

Stanislaus COE knows that Every Day Counts
A countywide attendance campaign pays for itself
group of kids pose together on a school bus
The research is clear — students who attend school regularly have been shown to achieve academically at higher levels than students who do not have regular attendance. Equally important, chronic absence is associated with lower levels of educational engagement, social-emotional development and executive functioning, according to a recent CSBA brief on the topic of chronic absenteeism. California and the nation, however, have a serious chronic absenteeism problem (defined as missing 10 percent or more of school days).

At the state level, 2022–23 data showed 24.3 percent of students chronically absent, an improvement from 30 percent in 2021–22, but still an alarming figure that needs to be reduced. Local educational agencies around the state are implementing attendance campaigns and supports to address the problem and bring students back to school. In Stanislaus County, the county office of education spearheaded a messaging campaign that is improving attendance throughout its 25 school districts.

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