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 closed and parents/students/community members are shown how their input was use
- Stakeholders need to be involved in the plan early, not just presented the plan at the end
- Engagement means discussions, not surveys or quick meetings
- 5 best practices
- Equity – highest-need students receiving supplemental LCFF funds
- Impact – What really works? Invest in things that are effective (e.g. behavior prevention measures as opposed to policing measures)
- Diversity – Building cultural competencies (e.g. don’t just talk to ASB students, get feedback from all)
- Accessibility – Offer translation and use plain language (i.e. no acronyms)
- Accountability – Making sure that the input received through LCAP process is incorporated. What actions/services will be a result of the input received?
All in all, my biggest takeaway was that, if a whole community owns the plan, it’s more likely to sustain it beyond changes in leadership (i.e. the district’s plan will still be fulfilled despite changes at superintendent, board, or association positions)
The keynote speaker of our first general session was Freeman Hrabowski. His speech was incredibly powerful and I highly recommend watching it for yourself if you have the time: