Saturday, December 8, 2018
[Monterey County] Monterey County educational leaders complete training course
Blog note: this article references a grand jury report.
MONTEREY COUNTY — A group of local school board members and superintendents took part in a professional development training course that took at least a year to complete. But, Wendy Root Askew said completing the program just goes with the territory of running for elected office.
Root Askew, who is the Monterey Peninsula Unified School District trustee for Area 1, was one of 21 participants to complete the California School Boards Association Masters in Governance program.
“I think it’s just a part of performing my job at the highest level that I can,” Root Askew said. “People put their trust in me to ask the good questions, to make difficult decisions and to put the needs of our students above all else.”
Root Askew said board members have a shared responsibility to continue learning and growing with professional development. Others that completed the training course were Salinas Union High School District Superintendent Dan Burns and board member Evamarie Martinez. Monterey County Office of Education board member Judy Pennycook and regional county delegate Janet Wohlgemuth also got a certificate.
Troy Flint, communications director for California School Boards Association, said the statewide organization represents almost every school district and county office of education in the state. He said the cornerstone of the training program is the Masters in Governance certificate.
“The purpose is to provide ongoing learning for board trustees so that they can become better governance practitioners and more skilled in developing policy. And creating an environment where students can thrive.” Flint said.
The program is set up for board members to master the roles and responsibilities along with understanding the need to build and support an effective governance structure that helps produce better outcomes for students.
In order to receive the Masters in Governance certificate, candidates must complete 35 hours of intensive training broken up into five components: the foundation of effective governance, policy and judicial review, emphasizing school finances, human resources and community relations, and advocacy.
Since its inception in 1998, more than 3,000 board members and superintendents have participated in the certification program.
Flint said the program is also good for veteran board members who need to catch up with new policies or something like the Local Control and Accountability Plan. He said the training program keeps the same five components but the material within them is constantly being refined.
“That whole element of a board member’s responsibility is different than when they joined,” Flint said. “Even for people who are veterans, there’s a lot to learn.”
Kari Yeater, superintendent at North Monterey County Unified School District, said she was recommended to take the Masters in Governance training course. Yeater and three board members, Adrian Ayala, Lillian Mulvey and Martha Chavarria, all committed to taking the courses and completing them.
Yeater said it was a great opportunity to not only have her own board members complete and participate in the course and activities, but they got to network with other local board members and superintendents too.
“Who quite frankly have some of the same challenges and we had a lot of great opportunities to share,” Yeater said.
Monterey Peninsula Unified is the second largest school district in the county and Root Askew said there’s research showing high performing school boards can have an impact on student success.
“The value of this training, the value of ongoing professional development, I would hope that voters see that as something that they value in determining who they bring in to lead their school districts and organizations,” Root Askew said.
According to latest Monterey County civil grand jury final report, “the state sets education law and policy, while county Offices of Education provide support and financial oversight of school districts. It is local school boards, however, who govern their school districts and are ultimately responsible for student achievement and district performance.”
The report states effective local school board leadership is the result of training, good governance practices and an informed electorate. It also states all school board members should receive regular training updates on school board governance, school budgets and financial management, state law, education policy and current educational practices.
Root Askew said the responsibility of managing a district that serves 10,000 students across five cities with an annual operating budget of $120 million is significant. She said the Masters in Governance program provides a solid foundation to serve effectively as a trustee, while always remaining focused to prepare students for success beyond the classroom.
“I don’t take any of that lightly. I take that very seriously and I just want to the best that I can be and serve my community the best that I can,” Root Askew said. “This is just another tool in my toolbox that allows me to do that.”
Root Askew added it’s really important for school board members to take advantage of opportunities to continue learning and learn how to perform their job at the highest level.
Flint said the training truly helps the districts, especially if there are multiple school board members who are engaged.
“But even if you only have one or two members, if they bring some of that learning back and you use it to kind of shape the direction of the board, there’s a real benefit,” Flint said.
December 7, 2018
Monterey County Herald
By Juan Reyes