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Editor's note: Math and money: 'Never stop learning' 

Fall 2013

“Give me a place to stand and I shall move the Earth,” the Greek mathematician Archimedes said. I guess that was before money became what makes the world go round.

I was never much good at math or money. School board members have to be very good at both. For the past few years, subtraction was the most important mathematical operation to master. You know: Subtract this many dollars from what you used to have, or need to have, or wish you had, and somehow make it pencil out in balanced budgets and student achievement.

That finally began to change in 2012, when California’s voters sensibly approved Proposition 30 to protect schoolchildren from yet another round of devastating cuts. Gov. Jerry Brown and the state Legislature followed up this year with an overhaul of California’s school finance through the Local Control Funding Formula. Building on base grants that go to all local educational agencies, LCFF adds supplemental grants to meet the special educational needs of English learners, students from low-income families and foster youth,* and concentration grants for high proportions of those subgroups.

Some details were still being hammered out in the legislators’ rush to recess as this magazine went to press, and more details await action by the State Board of Education next year. But CSBA has been out front early and often on this issue, first working to shape the legislation and now deploying a comprehensive outreach and education program to help our members understand the opportunities and responsibilities coming their way under LCFF. Legislative Advocate Andrea Ball, who’s been in on the action from the start, nicely summarizes those efforts and what’s still to come in our CSBA at Issue department on page 12.

The Local Control and Accountability Plans required under LCFF loom large in every school board’s future. The State Board won’t determine the form those plans must take until next March, but public outreach will be a crucial component, so we asked school public information expert Trinette Marquis-Hobbs to author some advice on how to engage the local community. Read the result, “Democracy in Action,” on page 40.

We borrowed that title from Monika Moulin, a board member in the Yosemite Unified School District who’s also an instructor for CSBA’s Masters in Governance training program. CSBA’s premier leadership program is changing with the times, as staff writer Carol Brydolf explains in “Mighty MIG” on page 14. And change will continue as part of the association’s commitment to continuous improvement, according to CSBA Assistant Executive Director of Member Services Martin Gonzalez, who oversees the program.

“We are never going to be satisfied with good enough, we will treat every completed module as an opportunity to learn and improve. In that vein, it’s never going to be perfect and it’s never going to be finished,” Martin told Carol. “Our goal is to never stop learning.”

The voters will never be satisfied with good enough either. The people who, in their wisdom, passed Prop 30 last year also passed Proposition 39. The California Clean Energy Jobs Act (not to be confused with the old Prop 39, as explained on page 30) could yield as much as $2.75 billion in energy efficiency projects for schools over five years. Like LCFF, important details on this new program remain to be determined, but frequent California Schools contributor Scott LaFee offers a useful overview of the prospects in “A Bright Idea.” Check it out on page 26, and thanks for reading!

Brian Taylor ( is the managing editor of California Schools.