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January two-day training in Sacramento

January 4, 2019

Event: Institute for New and First-Term Board Members, held at Sacramento County Office of Education, Jan 3 and 4, 2019

Drove down; began at 8:30am, a roomful (more than 100 people – sold out, the website said) of mostly new board members, with some administrators from all over Northern California.

First session, 8:30am-12pm: “Effective Governance,” presented by Luan Burman Rivera, former board member and consultant with CSBA. Topics: Introductions, Facts About Education, Why Think About Governance, Effective Trustees: Six Essential Characteristics, I to We, Effective Boards: Four Essential Conditions, Summary.

What stuck out for me: Several of the diagram models caught my attention; one was an diagram of all the agencies that have a hand in school governance, through the board, down to the recipients. Another was of trifocal glasses, for sometimes seeing through the “vision lens,” sometimes the “issue lens” and sometimes the “governance lens.” Another showed axes of board members (“value driven”) versus administrators (“skill driven.”)

A quote that caught my eye: “The role of the board is to ensure the values, beliefs and priorities of the community are transformed into documents that serve as a driving force to focus and align all district efforts.”

I decided to re-read the handouts again in the future, to re-interpret, remember and reinforce the ideas.

Second session, 1-4pm: “School Finance,” presented by Sheila Vickers and Debbie Fry of School Services of California. Topics: History/timeline of school finance change points in California since Serrano v. Priest in 1971; LCFF, goals and target funding factors; budgets, LCFF calculations and ADA; areas of flexibility in school budgets; comparative budgets between similar districts; budget development process; reserves and long-range projections; “12 Key Points to Remember to Maintain Fiscal Solvency”; bargaining considerations; and the current state of school finance.

I was overwhelmed by most of this, but am determined to re-study and at least grasp the fundamentals of school budgets. (I also brought my copy of our district’s budget on Friday.) I was visiting with some board members from another district, and in my mind prioritized board member responsibilities: solvency above nearly all else; students safety; and academic achievement next. (Of course they all go together.) I look forward to tomorrow, day 2. A distinct pleasure was visiting with Executive Director of Administrative Services and Community Engagement Tim Goree, who also attended – we drove together. I also enjoyed visiting with CSBA staff members Michael Anadon, Deanna Fernandes and Myel Jenkins.


Third Session, 8:30am-12pm: “Human Resources,” presented by Luan Burman Rivera (again). Topics: Building relationships; developing a positive climate for HR; the hiring process (superintendent, other staff); evaluation (superintendent, other staff, self-evaluation); collective bargaining.

Many in the larger group had questions about relationships with superintendents, and much of the morning was spent on details and examples of that. Little stands out in my memory; some of this was covered at the new board member workshop last month at the annual education conference of CSBA.

Fourth Session, 12:30-4pm: “Student Learning,” presented by Pam Costa, former board member and CSBA governance consultant. Topics: Curriculum, instruction and assessment; stages of team development; state priority areas in LCAP; state dashboard; common core; CAASPP (California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress); community leadership and advocacy; protocols.

Memorable bits:

Enjoyed visiting with board members from other districts again; board pres from Amador County gave me some websites to look at, grateful. Also spent time studying our board handbook, and as with yesterday, much enjoyed visiting with Tim Goree on the way and back.

Overall: Found the training very stimulating (and challenging); looking forward to developing this knowledge by applying it, and then later (next year?) taking the advanced training classes for experienced board members.

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