Masters in Governance: course three

Masters in Governance: course three

Yesterday was Course Three of CSBA’s Masters in Governance (MIG) training. It covered only one topic, but it was a hefty one: School Finance. If you’re thinking to yourself “Hey, what happened Course Two? Don’t worry, you’re not losing your mind. I was scheduled to participate in Course Two on March 21 but woke up too ill to attend. I will reschedule to make sure I don’t miss out on the Student Learning and Achievement/Policy and Judicial Review trainings. UPDATE (July 15, 2015): Peggy was kind enough to re-schedule me for Course Two on Saturday, September 26, 2015. As I was saying, today was a difficult session to fully digest—even for a self-proclaimed “number junkie” like myself. There is just too much that goes into a school district’s budget that it becomes impossible to learn it all in one sitting. That isn’t to say the session lacked value, though. It was actually a great introduction into what will surely be a long-time study of the inner workings of school finance. A couple quick-yet-important takeaways: California, as a state, does not spend nearly enough on public education (unfortunately this may not come as a shock to many of you). Intentional deficit spending is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, investing extra funds strategically to high-need areas can be a great way to target weaknesses in a...
Masters in Governance: course one

Masters in Governance: course one

As part of their Governance U program, the California School Boards Association (CSBA) has created a five-course professional development series aimed at “equip[ping] board members and superintendents with the knowledge and skills to build and support an effective governance structure.” Yesterday was Course One for me, and it featured two presentations entitled Foundations of Effective Governance and Setting Direction. Here are my key takeaways from each session: Foundations of Effective Governance: A good portion of the morning session was a repeat from my primer at last December’s Annual Education Conference. However, three quotes stood out as particularly powerful: The first dealt with a topic very near and dear to all Americans, the concept of Government of the people. It’s a quote attributed to Henry M. Brickell and Regina H. Paul, from their book Time for Curriculum: How School Board Members Should Think About Curriculum, What School Board Members Should Do About Curriculum (which of course, I had to order). It states: The most remarkable thing about our country is this: ordinary citizens control almost every major institution, public and private…Does this make sense? What it makes is a democracy. We, the people, govern ourselves. The second quote came from Lillian Katz, an international leader in early childhood education: Each of us must come to care about everyone else’s children…The good life for our own children can be secured only if a good life is also secured for all other people’s children. The third quote is by Margaret Mead, a famed American cultural anthropologist who has become famous for these words: Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is...
CSBA conference, day three

CSBA conference, day three

Day Three provided more great opportunities for personal growth as a new board member. Once again, I had a smorgasbord of breakout sessions to choose from in the morning, and CSBA had another incredible speaker in store for us at our afternoon general session. My first breakout session of the day was titled Governing for Student Achievement and was was incredibly informational. If you’re not afraid of some heavy reading, you may want to check out two of the publications referenced in the session: Governing to Achieve and Defining Governance: Engaging the Community. In short, the session outlined the three primary roles of all board members: Representative: We represent our constituents, listening to them and bringing their voices to the table. Instrumental: We are elected and have legal responsibilities to keep the district legally compliant to ed code and state law Fiduciary: We are chosen by the community to protect the district and treat its assets better than we treat our own Some of my takeaways from this morning’s session about interest-based bargaining include: Everyone takes ownership over the issues trying to be solved. Key principles of the approach: Mutual respect and professionalism Strong and straightforward communication Honesty and integrity Collaborative problem solving My second morning session was titled Best Practices for LCFF Community Engagement. If you’ve never heard of the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) or Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP), the California State PTA has a good primer that can be found here. In essence, the gist of the session was this: There is no such thing as too much community involvement. Parents and community members are a valued and integral piece in the LCAP process, and...
CSBA conference, day two

CSBA conference, day two

Day Two proved to be another excellent primer in board governance. I had the ability to choose from a handful of excellent breakout sessions in the morning, and settled on the two that I felt would be the most beneficial in my own education as a new trustee. Our afternoon general session was must-see TV. My first session was titled Enhancing Employee/Employer Relationships Through an Interest-Based Approach and was presented by Tustin USD; the speakers included a current board member, a former teachers association president, and the district’s Chief Personnel Officer. I found it very fitting that the three different levels of district leadership were able to speak together about interest-based bargaining—a feat which, alone, speaks volumes for the merits of the approach. Some of my takeaways from this morning’s session about interest-based bargaining include: Everyone takes ownership over the issues trying to be solved. Key principles of the approach: Mutual respect and professionalism Strong and straightforward communication Honesty and integrity Collaborative problem solving   My second morning session was titled Best Practices for LCFF Community Engagement. If you’ve never heard of the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) or Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP), California State PTA has a site that helps spell out the basics of this incredibly important new school funding law. This session highlighted the importance of including parents, students, and community members in the decision-making process. Some of the highlights of my second session include: Students, parents, and community members should be heard, valued, and reflected in school budget decisions Heard – Really listened to Valued – Their input should actually be used in decision-making Reflected – Feedback loop is...
CSBA conference, day one

CSBA conference, day one

First stop on my San Francisco tour was the California School Boards Association (CSBA) Orientation for New Trustees. Today’s orientation was titled Preparation for the First 100 Days, and covered a variety of key topics essential for new board members like myself. There were introductions to CSBA’s executive team, and then presentations that ranged from effective governance to financial and legal responsibilities, the Brown Act, and collective bargaining. Takeaways from Day One include: The five responsibilities of school boards: Set the direction Establish the structure Create a supportive environment Ensure accountability Demonstrate community leadership throughout Legal responsibilities and limitations (presented by representatives from the Kronick Moskovitz Tiedemann & Girard law firm) The only power as a governing board member is to act as part of the board as a whole, no individual power to act on behalf of district. Board members do not supervise a district’s employees, just the superintendent. Confidential information cannot be leaked. Board members may not engage in political activities at schools or at board meetings. There is a limitation on gifts, and they must be reported. If a board member moves outside the jurisdiction of their district then they are immediately removed from the board by law. A board member’s spouse cannot be hired by the district while the board member is serving. The Brown Act This is the law that requires all meetings of public bodies to be “open and public.” It also protects the public from collusion or secret meetings. This is a very important law for board members, and it’s worthy of further explanation. I will be writing more about the scope of the Brown Act...
An early opportunity for growth

An early opportunity for growth

I will be attending the Annual Education Conference held by the California School Boards Association (CSBA) in San Francisco from December 13 through December 16. This will be a great opportunity for me to learn some of the finer points of school board governance—and I always look forward to hearing California success stories and leading research into what drives student success. I’ll try to summarize the highlights from my hotel when the time comes. Can’t...

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