More Information About The County Board Of Education To Guide Your Vote

Shasta County’s Board of Education does not have authority over individual school districts including what curriculums districts use, teacher training, or how learning losses will be addressed.

We wanted to know more about how the Shasta County Office of Education fits within the larger educational ecosystem. We also had questions about how the role of the Shasta County Board of Education differs from that of other local school district boards. To learn more we interviewed Shasta County Superintendent of Schools Judy Flores, who won reelection during the June primaries. Here’s what she had to say.

Tell us about how the Shasta County Office of Education (SCOE) fits within California’s educational ecosystem? 

At the state level, California sets regulations, determines funding and develops foundational educational policies. California’s legislation determines the rules and funding for schools. And the State Board of Education decides educational policies for schools and districts across the state. 

At the county level, there are two foundational pieces, to support schools and districts with navigating implementation of new policies California’s Board of Education passes, and to serve as a liaison between the county and the state. 

I’ve spoken a lot and written many letters to the state about rural realities in education. Our small districts don’t have the size and scope of the larger districts and sometimes, and as in the case of COVID vaccines, we have different perspectives in this county that could impact our staffing levels. It’s my job to communicate that to the state. 

What does the state require of SCOE?

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We have to monitor and provide oversight for local school district finances. Local school districts have to provide us with budgets three times a year and show those budgets going three years out. This is to ensure fiscal solvency so that school districts do not go bankrupt. We also have to approve the Local Control Accountability Plans of school districts, which are designated to make sure that those most impacted by education have a voice in it. And we have to monitor and provide oversight of students’ academic environments, which means we go in and provide support if schools are struggling in two or more areas with one of their student groups. That’s all that’s actually required; the rest of what we do develops over time within the county, based on the needs of our community. 

Where does funding for SCOE come from?

Most of our funding comes from the state via a formula that’s based on the number of students in the county and the number of school districts we serve. We’ve also actively worked to find grant funding that aligns with our mission. Smaller amounts of money come from specific agency contracts, or from assisting districts with special projects. 

What does the Board of Education do?

Most of what the board does relates to budgets and policies. The board approves County Office of Education policies, except those related to employees. They also set my salary and approve the budget for the County Office of Education as well as the Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP) for the small number of students our office supervises directly. And the board considers approval of charter schools in certain circumstances, as well as hearing inter-district transfer and expulsion appeals that come in from school districts. 

It’s very important to remember that the Board of Education has no authority over individual school districts and only sets policy for the approximately 150 kids under our direct supervision at the county level, which include those in the juvenile rehabilitation center, those in a special program for emotionally disturbed kids and a program for students who are behind in credits.

How does that differ from what local school district boards do? 

The local school boards are the ones taking a look at what happens every day for students. They’re approving the budgets for the schools and the policies for their students and they have the ability to select which curriculum or textbooks they will choose, as long as they are aligned with the state standards. 

We’ve heard candidates speak about certain concerns including “CRT”, sex ed, school safety, ACES, and learning losses, can you provide a response? 

There is a lot of misinformation out there on these topics.  

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Critical Race Theory (CRT): The way this is being discussed in some people’s campaigns is not accurate. CRT is a way to analyze policies and practices to determine if a group is being disadvantaged by the structure of those policies and practices. For example, in small high schools like some of ours, students have fewer options for AP classes, which makes it harder for them to get into good universities, creating a disadvantage. Regardless, SCOE has no authority over any curriculum or textbook decisions for school districts and no authority to implement CRT. 

Sex Ed: First, when it comes to sexual education and diversity teaching, it’s important to remember that the Shasta County Board of Education has no authority over what curriculums or textbooks for sexual education are allowed within public schools. The state standards are determined at the state level and the curriculum that meets those standards is chosen by individual districts, selected from the approved list at the state level. The State Board of Education has passed a Health Framework that mandates Sexual Health instruction to be taught in public schools in grades 5, 7, 8 and 9–12. Any change to that framework would have to come through the State Board of Education. Local school district boards review curriculum used for sex education to ensure it meets state frameworks and also sets policy for how parents will be notified and given an opportunity to opt out of sex ed as required by state law. The California Healthy Youth Act (CHYA) requires that California schools provide inclusive comprehensive sex education and HIV prevention education to students in grades 7–12. A new state bill would be required to overturn this law. 

School Safety: As far as concealed carry and school safety, the California Gun-Free School Zone Act doesn’t allow firearms within 1000 feet of public and private school grounds. It’s not the Shasta County Board of Education’s decision as to whether teachers will be allowed to carry guns at school and it’s not the local district’s choice either, because state law forbids it. We’d have to have new legislation passed by both houses of the legislature and signed by the governor to have a penal code change to allow that. A local school board could ask the superintendent to conduct a threat assessment and seek to understand what risks exist in order and set funding aside to address the areas of concern. Importantly, our local law enforcement partners have also said they’d rather not have concealed weapons on campus because it complicates their job when they respond to threats of violence.

ACES: When it comes to ACES (Adverse Childhood Experiences), we certainly want local teachers to know about trauma and to have resources on how to support students, but the Shasta County Board of Education has no authority over what district or charter schools provide as far as training and professional development for their teachers. The goal at local school district levels is to support students and families with the permission of the parents.

Learning Losses: Just as with areas of curriculum, the Shasta County Board of Education has no authority over school districts or charter schools when it comes to how they will address any learning loss that has taken place. It is up to the local school board, superintendent, and staff to determine how to address needs within the funding and staffing that they have available.

What makes someone a valuable Board of Education member?

One of the things that sometimes gets lost about boards is that they’re made up of individuals. Our board is made up of seven distinct people and they have to come to consensus before any change is made. Our current board includes people with classroom teaching experience, experience as school administrators, experience in early childhood education and counseling and special education as parents. They all come in with their different perspectives, they have a conversation together, and they need to leave with one voice. That to me is the real power of a board, bringing together people with differing perspectives who all want to see the county office be able to support our schools and districts with as diverse and as helpful a set of resources as we can. 

You can learn more about the candidates for the county’s Board of Education here. We’ve provided more information about Shasta County elections here. Do you have a correction to this story? Submit it here.

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