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Keeping the Main Thing the Main Thing: Lessons About Effective School Board Governance From Napa Valley and San José Unified School Districts

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The many pressures facing school districts – academic and social-emotional recovery from the pandemic, educator shortages, fragmented funding streams and programs, and more – can easily overwhelm educators and distract from the core work of instruction and student learning. Locally elected school boards, the governing bodies responsible for setting district policy, can play an instrumental role in establishing and maintaining focus in a school district’s work. As a counterpoint to the increasingly common media reports on school boards that highlight dysfunction and disruption, this report Keeping the Main Thing the Main Thing: Lessons About Effective School Board Governance From Napa Valley and San José Unified School Districts profiles two California school districts that have collaborative and productive approaches to governance. The practices and lessons learned from NVUSD and SJUSD can help governance teams across the country work together to establish and maintain focus on their highest priorities. 

A companion piece, Keeping the Main Thing the Main Thing: Reflections from the Field, features insights from four California Collaborative members about the report and the lessons it identifies. These leaders in K-12 education lend their perspectives from careers in research, practice, and advocacy to help situate lessons from the report in the context of their work. 

Full Report

Executive Summary

Reflections from the Field 

Register for a webinar featuring members of the governing teams in NVUSD and SJUSD on Thursday, March 7, 2024.