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September 2023 Vol. 29, 9


Best practices for building relationships with your legislators
Winter recess offers an opportunity to connect in person with your representatives
With the 2023 legislative year coming to a close, state Senators and Assemblymembers as well as California Congressional representatives will be in their districts for the long winter recess. This time offers a valuable opportunity for local education leaders to connect with their representatives and build relationships that will strengthen their advocacy year-round.
Getting started
School board members are critical spokespersons for public education, offering a vital connection to how state and federal policies play out in the real world. Board members are the best spokespeople for their district and county programs and can provide context and information that is specific to their communities — a perspective elected leaders might not otherwise hear. And most importantly, if trustees don’t advocate for solutions, other voices will step in to provide solutions, oftentimes not reflective of the important perspective board members can provide. Being proactive and making your voice heard is an effective way to fight for policies that work best for your local educational agency’s schools and students.
a father hugs his smiling elementary aged son with a school bus and children out of focus in the background
Each year, local educational agencies observe National Hispanic Heritage Month by celebrating the histories, cultures and contributions of those whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America. In California, about 56 percent of students are Hispanic and/or Latino.
a young boy wears VR goggles while white holographic cubes float around him


CSBA convenes first meeting of Small School District Advisory Group
New workgroup will ensure CSBA receives direct input from representative small and rural districts
CSBA is excited to launch a new Small School District Advisory Workgroup to provide the small-district perspective to the governance, policy and advocacy issues that CSBA is engaged in. The first virtual meeting was held on Aug. 16, comprising 13 small and rural districts from throughout California.

The goal of the first meeting was to collect the perspective of small districts on the implementation of Senate Bill 328 — known as the late start bill — and what effects it has had for districts, students and families. In an effort to address sleep deprivation among students, the bill also created significant challenges for districts related to transportation, staffing, bell schedules, extracurriculars and more.

While some participants expressed that, for the most part, their district had not been impacted, that wasn’t a common refrain among those in attendance.

California School News logo
Chief Information Officer:
Troy Flint |

Editorial Director:
Kimberly Sellery |

Staff Writers and Contributors:
Alisha Kirby |
Heather Kemp |
Teresa Machado |
Dana Scott |
Sally Mandujan |

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.

CSBA & NSPRA logos
President’s Message: Susan Markarian
A short-term solution for a long-term problem
SB 765 is one tool to alleviate the teacher shortage before long-term measures take effect
Much of what influences my work as CSBA President is my connection to the small, rural farming community where I grew up. My home today is just five miles away from where I lived as a child. My father was a mechanic and my mother was a kindergarten teacher for 40 years. I spent a lot of time in her classroom helping out, doing projects at home for her kindergarten kids. And I determined very early on I did not want to be a teacher. It was a very stressful job that took tons of patience that as a young child I didn’t feel I would have. So, I have the utmost respect for teachers and the extremely important job they do.

At an Aug. 14 press conference hosted by the California Department of Education, CSBA joined the Association of California School Administrators, California Teachers Association and California Federation of Teachers to shed light on the teacher shortage crisis and advocate for solutions. As a 38-year school board member in the Pacific Union Elementary School District, I’ve seen firsthand the difference teachers make and how challenging it can be to recruit and retain effective teachers, especially in areas likes mine in rural Fresno County. The teacher shortage is typically illustrated through media stories focusing on large urban and suburban districts, but it’s even more profound in many of our small, rural school districts and more remote county offices of education. This is the type of equity issue that too often goes unseen and unheard, but it has profound impact on academic achievement and life outcomes for the youth in rural communities and elsewhere.

Spark student civic engagement during September High School Voter Education Weeks
Encouraging early civic engagement can increase lifelong participation
smiling student holding up a sign that reads "VOTE"
Per California Education Code, the last two weeks of September are designated as High School Voter Education Weeks, a time for teens to learn about and prepare to engage in the democratic process.

Schools are encouraged to partner with local county elections officials “to promote civic education and participation on campus and foster an environment that cultivates lifelong voters and active citizens,” according to the Secretary of State’s website.

As high schoolers return from summer break and refocus on academics and planning for life post-graduation, the department has a Back-to-School Pre-Registration Toolkit ( available to encourage eligible 16- and 17-year-olds to pre-register online to vote, with their registration becoming active upon turning 18. It is a task that can easily be added to their back-to-school checklist.

Governance corner
Practical tips from our MIG faculty
The board’s role in approving the School Plan for Student Achievement

Board of education trustees occasionally comment — sometimes in frustration, sometimes with humor — about the ever-present “alphabet soup” that governance teams must acquaint themselves with. Education acronyms are regularly used to identify programs impacting the approximately 6 million students that California local educational agencies serve.

Some acronyms are well known, such as LCAP (Local Control and Accountability Plan), CDE (California Department of Education), LEA (local educational agency) and ADA (average daily attendance).

Expert tips on how to better engage non-English-speaking families
Meaningful engagement promotes a host of positive student outcomes
A man holding his son in front of a school bus
Each year from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, local educational agencies observe National Hispanic Heritage Month by celebrating the histories, cultures and contributions of those whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America. In California, about 56 percent of students are Hispanic and/or Latino.

Schools play a critical role in preparing these students for success in college, career and civic life. Often, a great place to start addressing student needs is by first bolstering family engagement, according to Andrew Ferson, director of Policy for the Parent Institute for Quality Education (PIQE).

Research has long shown that strong family engagement practices can boost graduation and establish a college going culture, improve grades and achievement in both English and math, increase rates of completion of the courses required for university admission and more.

School Boards in Action:
5 Questions with Peter Noymer, Los Gatos Union SD
Peter Noymer, board president, Los Gatos Union School District in Santa Clara County
Peter Noymer pictured on a hike with his wife
What are some promising practices taking place in your district?
The Los Gatos Union School District is fortunate to have several newer initiatives. We have been able to bring our student–counselor ratio closer to the national average thanks to a recurring grant from a local hospital and bump in our parcel tax — mental health is an especially important focus area coming out of the pandemic. We have pivoted pretty quickly on literacy since the “Sold a Story” podcast came out, and it’s been great to see the rapid buy-in for planning and implementation.

We’re also in the early days of using a data management system that is showing promise in its ability to clearly highlight successes and provide early warnings where interventions are needed. Wrapping around all that, we have been holding regular board study sessions, roughly three to four per year, to dive into these topics with the district leadership team to make sure that new programs are designed to meet the needs of our community. In addition, our district put in place a three-year salary agreement with our teacher’s union, when one-year agreements had been the norm, and that has helped set a solid foundation for success in all of our efforts. Our goal with the agreement was to better align salaries with comparable school districts, and having a multi-year agreement helps with teacher morale and supports our staff’s significant efforts in literacy, STEAM and project-based learning.

Revisions to charter school authorization legislation reflect ELA arguments
Courts ruled in favor of CSBA’s Education Legal Alliance and Napa Valley USD in charter authorization case
gavel in a court room

On July 10, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the Education Omnibus Trailer Bill, Senate Bill 114, which revised the language of Education Code section 47605 regarding appeals to the State Board of Education (SBE) of charter school petitions denied by school districts and county boards of education.

Specifically, the bill contains revisions that clarify the standard for SBE’s consideration of appeals of denied charter school petitions. The revisions mirror arguments CSBA’s Education Legal Alliance (ELA) made in the litigation it initiated against SBE regarding its grant of an appeal to the Mayacamas Charter School in the Napa Valley Unified School District. (The district also filed a legal action against the SBE.) As discussed in a July 3 CSBA blog post (, the ELA filed a writ of mandate in January, seeking to invalidate the SBE’s decision on the Mayacamas Charter School’s petition appeal, and argued that SBE used the incorrect standard of review and substituted its own judgment for that of the local boards, rather than the “abuse of discretion” standard as required by law.

A focus on root causes and providing supports can improve attendance
Resources available to support student health, attendance this school year
a woman watches over a young girl sitting at a desk doing book work
It’s widely recognized that students are more likely to show up to school when they feel safe, connected and supported, but how can educators make those conditions a reality?

A variety of resources and strategies available to assist local educational agencies in their attempts to curb chronic absenteeism were discussed during the Aug. 9 webinar, “A Healthy Return to School: Ensuring Showing Up,” hosted by Attendance Works and the Institute for Educational Leadership.

Just ahead of Attendance Awareness Month in September, presenters detailed the attendance crisis plaguing K-12 classrooms across America. Prior to the pandemic, roughly one out of every six students was considered chronically absent — having missed 10 percent or more of school days regardless of whether the absence was excused, unexcused or due to a suspension. At the conclusion of the 2021–22 academic year, more than one in four students was affected in multiple states, with low-income, Native American, Black and Pacific Islander students disproportionately impacted.

Preparing for ethnic studies implementation
All local educational agencies must offer an ethnic studies course by 2025–26
The California Department of Education held a webinar, “Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum Train the Trainer Certification,” on Aug. 2 to review the Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum (ESMC), district implementation guidance, instructional guidance, sample lessons and topics, and resources developed by local educational agencies.

Assembly Bill 101 requires that all LEAs begin offering an ethnic studies course by the 2025–26 school year and establishes its place as a graduation requirement beginning in 2029–30.

The ESMC focuses on the four traditional pillars of ethnic studies — African American, Latino/Chicano, Native American and Asian American/Pacific Islander studies — and CDE staff emphasized there is also intersection with many other identities in the model curriculum.

Exploring AI as an educational tool
Generative artificial intelligence has the potential to enhance student learning
a young boy wears VR goggles while white holographic cubes float around him

Each school year presents a unique set of challenges to prepare students for future success. This year, machine learning, or artificial intelligence (AI) as it is more commonly known, has become a prioritized area of focus for educators at every level of the school system — and for good reason. In a world where nearly every aspect of communal life is driven by data and technology, educators are recognizing the transformative potential of AI to address many longstanding challenges within education systems.

One such enthusiastic educator is Sal Khan, founder and CEO of Khan Academy, an online tutoring platform that has been widely used and promoted in classrooms around the world for nearly two decades. In a recent TED Talk, Khan explained why the nonprofit made the choice to use generative AI technology to enhance the user experience for both teachers and students.

How one district is improving outcomes for foster youth
Study finds promising practices in Sweetwater Union High School District
close cropped view of a teens hands gesturing in conversation as an adult woman's hand hold a notepad and pen

Family disruptions, trauma, out-of-home placements and school changes are common experiences among children in foster care, and often result in higher rates of disciplinary problems, grade repetition, special education placement and dropping out of high school, as well as lower academic achievement, and increased barriers to postsecondary education.

However, for the more than 52,000 youth in California’s foster care system, school stability, positive relationships with peers, positive school experiences and strong connections with adult mentors have all been linked to improved educational outcomes among students with foster care experience (FCE).

To implement strategies known to benefit students in foster care, local educational agencies can look to Sweetwater Union High School District’s (SUHSD) practices, programs and policies that promote the academic well-being of students with FCE as an example of what can happen when students receive the support they need to succeed, according to a new brief.

The Local Control Funding Formula turns 10
Event features panel on how goals have been met thus far
“Funding Education in California,” an event hosted by the Public Policy Institute of California on Aug. 9, featured a panel discussion on the Local Control Funding Formula and if it has met its goals to improve student outcomes and increase equity by providing more resources to districts with larger populations of high-needs youth.

LCFF was implemented 10 years ago and brought a fundamental shift to the way California schools are funded. It increased funding for high-need students (low-income, English learner and foster youth) with a weighted formula. PPIC Research Fellow Julien Lafortune explained that each district gets roughly $10,000 per student. For each additional high-need student, a supplemental grant provides 20 percent more per pupil and if a district has 55 percent or more high-need students, concentration grant funding kicks in with an additional 50 percent of the base rate per student for each student above threshold. It is important to note that this is an unduplicated pupil count, meaning that each student is counted only once, even if they fall into multiple high-need categories.

“Prior to LCFF, when we count total spending — which includes the funding formula, revenues and also funding from federal and other sources —it was about $14,00 per student in 2012–13 and most recently it’s close to $23,000 per student,” Lafortune said, while acknowledging that some of that funding is one-time COVID relief aid.

Grant funding brings more behavioral support services to Orange County students
Schools play a pivotal role in suicide prevention
illstration of a young female figure sitting with her arms wrapped around her legs, from the right corner a large hand reaches out for her
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in August that overall suicide rates in the United States increased by 2.6 percent from 2021 to 2022 — reaching an all-time high of 49,449 people — but decreased in youth ages 10-24 years old by 8.4 percent. While that news is encouraging, Johns Hopkins University researchers found gun suicide rates are rising and, for the first time, that the gun suicide rate among Black teenagers surpassed the rate among white teens. September is National Suicide Prevention Month and a good reminder to review what supports and resources local educational agencies are providing to their students.

Schools can play an integral role in suicide prevention, and can equip students with the coping skills, support and resources that stay with them even after graduation. The Orange County Department of Education — which leads the statewide implementation of California’s Multi-Tiered System of Support framework — has partnered with the Orange County Health Care Agency, Children’s Hospital of Orange County (CHOC), Western Youth Services and CalOptima Health to develop a plan to increase services and support for student mental health in all of Orange County’s 28 school districts.

UpcomingEvents info: 800-266-3382
Attention: For more information about events, visit
Virtual Events
Sept. 27
The Brown Act
Sept. 16–Jan. 13, 2024 (4 sessions)
Equity Network Training

Oct. 2–30 (4 sessions)
MIG Course 1: Foundations of Effective Governance/Setting Direction

In-person events
CSBA Roadshow
Sept. 27 | North Bay
Oct. 2 | East Bay
Oct. 4 | Calaveras County
Oct. 4 | Lake County
Oct. 11 | Santa Cruz County
Oct. 17 | Fresno County
Oct. 23 | Kern County/Bakersfield
Oct. 23 | San Mateo County
Oct. 25 | Shasta/Siskiyou counties
Sept. 23
MIG Course 3: School Finance Parts 1 & 2 | San Marcos
Sept. 23
MIG Course 2: Student Learning & Achievement/Policy & Judicial Review | Sunnyvale
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Thanks for reading our September 2023 newsletter!