At CSBA, we have tried to match the urgency and creativity we see exhibited by school district and county boards of education throughout the state. In 2022, we flexed our muscles through legislative and legal advocacy, enhanced our member training and business services offerings, raised our profile in the media and public arenas and expanded our research on critical state and federal policy issues, including the publication of two reports on COVID relief funding. Through this research, CSBA illustrated how local educational agencies have used state and federal COVID relief funds to invest in before- and after-school programs, summer learning, expanded instructional days, high-dose tutoring, academic support, mental health interventions and other critical services.
Our increased emphasis on federal support for California schools extended beyond research reports and culminated in the inaugural CSBA and Association of California School Administrators (ACSA) Coast2Coast Federal Advocacy Trip. This three-day event brought school trustees and superintendents from across California to Washington, D.C., to communicate directly with their representatives in the nation’s capital, learn from some of the country’s top federal policymakers and engage with well-known political experts and pundits.
Back home in California, CSBA recorded a host of legislative achievements highlighted by a historic agreement to increase home-to-school transportation funding. Because of CSBA’s persistent pressure on this issue, the state will — after 40 years of substandard funding — pay 60 percent of home-to-school transportation costs for all LEAs. That’s double the current average of 30 percent and equal to $637 million dollars in 2022–23, with an annual cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) in years to come.
School busing was just one of the marquee items on a long list of 2022 triumphs. The final budget recognized CSBA’s push for additional ongoing revenue to implement the universal school meals mandate with a $612 million allocation. It also included a CSBA-ACSA proposal to help schools grapple with declining enrollment and lower attendance. The COVID-ADA relief plan lets LEAs count attendance data from 2019–20, the last pre-pandemic year, when calculating the three-year average for state funding — saving schools $2.8 billion and creating a softer landing after the pandemic.
Although 2022–23 school funding set new records, CSBA’s support for boards extended well beyond the budget process. In October, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a pair of CSBA-sponsored bills, Assembly Bill 2584 authored by Assemblymember Marc Berman, and Senate Bill 1061 written by Senator John Laird. The bills increase transparency and accuracy in special elections, ensure that recalls better reflect the will of the public and preserve money for the classroom and student services that would otherwise be diverted toward redundant special elections.
While elections were a closely watched topic in 2022, school staffing shortages and the housing crisis also generated plenty of headlines and angst for CSBA members. In response, CSBA collaborated with cityLAB at the University of California, Los Angeles; the Center for Cities + Schools at UC Berkeley; the Terner Center for Housing Innovation at UC Berkeley; and the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative on Education Workforce Housing in California: Developing the 21st-Century Campus, the definitive report on education workforce housing in the state. We also co-sponsored AB 2295, a bill that addresses two crucial issues — affordable housing and teacher recruitment and retention. Authored by Assemblymember Richard Bloom, AB 2295 allows LEAs to develop affordable housing for staff more quickly and efficiently.
In 2022, CSBA achieved concrete victories that will support LEAs in the areas of academic achievement, student conditions, funding and finance, and good governance. Yet, even after a successful season of advocacy, we can’t afford to rest on our laurels, and neither can the state. In 2023, CSBA will urge the Legislature and Governor to augment ongoing resources that aid in learning recovery, provide increased mental health supports, address staffing shortages, strengthen cybersecurity and internet infrastructure, pay down employer pension contributions and allocate the resources needed to effectively implement transitional kindergarten.
We accomplished so much together in 2022 and more victories await in 2023 if we continue to exhibit the capacity for resilience, resourcefulness and reinvention that served us so well in 2022.