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CCSESA NewsletterMay 2019

Leadership LinkVolume 17 / Issue 5

Dr. Steven D. Herrington Sonoma County Office of Education

  • What led you to become County Superintendent?

    I had served as a district superintendent in three school districts (rural, suburban, and urban) for 28 years and felt a need for a new challenge.

    What inspired you to enter the field of education?

    I had some exceptional teachers in high school who were very inspirational. They really sparked my interest in history and government. I wanted to be able to inspire other people to appreciate the values of our country and its history in the same way they had done for me. I always enjoyed teaching history and government, using reenactments and creative projects to bring the content to life. I have enjoyed every day that I have worked in education. I enjoy being around the kids and it just brings me energy to be in a school setting.

    Do you have a particular goal that drives you?

    I am energized by finding creative solutions to the challenges we face. Recently, facing the teacher shortage, I tried to look at that in a creative way. The result was the creation of the North Coast School of Education, where we are growing our own teachers. Coming into the county office, I also felt that the method of teaching in the 21st century needed to change. I saw that we were still practicing the same strategies that had been done 25 years earlier. I felt that we needed to move education forward, which is why SCOE now has its own maker lab and a maker educator certificate program that was recognized by the White House. I enjoy being county superintendent because I have the resources to make change and create an environment that’s positive for kids.

  • What objectives do you hope to achieve?

    In this term, my team is working on creative solutions to teacher housing. We are pursuing a school employee housing project on four acres of land that we own. Also, we are working to create an employer-based childcare center in the business center where this county office exists, in order to help address the child care shortage in our community.

    What are your interests?

    My work. I really enjoy my work. My family is very important to me as well.

    Who are the special people in your life?

    My family is a very big thing for me—particularly my son and daughter. I come from an Italian and Irish family background. Everything we do has been built around family and my kids have always had a strong family network. We have large family reunions on each side of the family each year.

From The Desk Of

Peter Birdsall Executive Director

As the legislative process moves towards approval of a final state budget for 2019-20, recurrent themes are that we are not just talking about LCFF anymore and county offices of education are viewed as key agencies in addressing a range of important issues. At the June General Membership meeting, we will be able to report how these issues were resolved. As the discussions continue in late May, key topics include:

  • Teacher Assignment monitoring— California will be moving to annually monitoring of teacher assignments in all school districts and charter schools. The Governor’s January proposal would have removed county offices from that system, but all three versions of the budget (Governor, Senate and Assembly) now rely on county offices, with the Assembly version extending county office monitoring to all charter schools.
  • Special education interagency coordination–CCSESA has led a coalition of groups in building a more collaborative relationship with the California Department of Health Care Services, but there is room for more progress. All versions of the budget include language and funding for a workgroup on interagency collaboration to expand access to federal Medi-Cal funds.
  • Educator Workforce Investment Grants– would appropriate non-Proposition 98 funding to support teacher training, with preference given to applications that partner with a county office of education or consortium of county offices.

Best Practices in Alternative Education on Display at 50th Annual JCCASAC Conference

“Coming to this conference is like coming home to a very familiar place” remarked a county office court school administrator attending the 50th Annual Juvenile Court, Community, and Alternative Schools (JCCASAC) Conference.

The theme “Discovering Possibilities, Creating Opportunities & Changing Students’ Lives” resonated throughout the three-day conference as over 200 county staff from 33 county offices of education (COEs) participated.

With over 25 breakout sessions led by county office colleagues, participants remarked that the networking is always the best part of a JCCASAC Conference.

Keynotes were also led by former students, and there wasn’t a dry eye in the room as former student Jose Morales related how JCCASAC’s teacher of the year, Fresno County’s Greg Barragan taught Morales how to weld and arranged his first job interview. After showcasing his welding skills, the company offered Morales a job on the spot and this offer letter secured Morales’ early release from court school. Pride glowed on his face as Morales announced that three and a half years later, he is still working for that same company and providing for his family. Morales said that school staff set him on the path to success and it meant the world to him that “people took the time to know me.”

In addition to hosting the annual Conference, JCCASAC also produces an annual Journal on best practices for juvenile court, community, and alternative schools. Access the latest Journal and past issues here.

View photos of the event here.

Introducing the California Partnership for Math and Science Education

The California Partnership for Math and Science Education (the Partnership) is the new name for the Statewide Math/Science Standards Implementation Project (Communities of Practice).

Comprised of teachers, administrators, county office specialists and partners from higher education, research agencies, professional learning organizations, advocacy groups, and private foundations across the state, the Partnership leverages the communities of practice model to build educators’ capacity to provide meaningful mathematics and science teaching and learning statewide. At the forefront of this effort is our vision of equity and excellence for every California student.

A prime example of this vision in action is the Partnership’s Fostering Standards Implementation Program. This 2018 grant program leveraged partnerships between COEs, districts, science-rich educational institutions and professional learning programs to develop content-rich materials to support math and science learning for all students.

Guided by the state’s Standards Implementation Steering Committee comprised of CCSESA, CDE, CCEE, CISC and SBE members and staff, the Partnership provides the support system and infrastructure to bring together content leaders with diverse backgrounds and perspectives at the state and local levels. The Partnership identifies, builds and promotes a coherent set of understandings, strategies, resources and tools aligned to math and science standards and instructional frameworks for educators to share, review and use throughout the state.

For more information, please visit


Alameda County Superintendent of Schools L. Karen Monroe Appointed to CCEE Governing Board

The California State Senate Rules Committee selected Ms. Monroe to join the CCEE Governing Board which also includes State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond and State Board of Education member Sue Burr.  Ms. Monroe replaces Santa Cruz Superintendent of Schools Michael Watkins on the Governing Board, a five-member panel that oversees the statewide agency’s policies, operations, and finances. “County offices of education play such an important role in supporting districts to close equity and achievement gaps,” Superintendent Monroe said. “I hope my voice and my experience representing the work of county offices will be valuable to the Board as they seek to create opportunities for collaboration and partnership.”

Read the press release here.

New PACE Report and Event—The Challenges of Health Benefit Costs for California Districts

When: Tuesday, June 11, 2019 – 10:00am to 11:00am

Where: Tsakopoulos Library Galleria | 828 I St, Sacramento, CA 95814

PACE has released a new report highlighting a financial challenge facing many California districts – the cost of employee and retiree health and welfare. PACE will hold a briefing on this report in Sacramento on June 11, 2019 from 10:00-11:00am. Report author, Paul Bruno of the University of Southern California, will present his PACE report on the challenges of employee and retiree health benefit costs for California districts. Superintendent Jorge Aguilar will discuss the issue of health care costs for Sacramento City Unified School District, and Michael Fine, CEO of Fiscal Crisis and Management Assistance Team (FCMAT), will provide a broader perspective on districts across the state and what some possible approaches are to solving the financial pressures facing school districts as a result of escalating health care costs. Register for the event here.

New CDE Podcast Episode—News Update

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond hosts bi-weekly media check-ins to provide an overview of what the CDE is focused on and updates from his office. Listen to it on iTunes or Android Podcasts by searching for ‘CDE Ed Talks.’ Or listen to it from your web browser on the CDE website here.


California Considers Overhauling Test of Reading Instruction for Teachers in Training

California is considering overhauling a test intended to measure whether prospective teachers are prepared to be effective reading instructors. To read more, click here.


Classified School Employee Week: May 19-25

California’s Legislature named the third full week of May “Classified School Employee Week” to honor the contributions classified employees make in the daily life of students.  From the time students board a school bus to the time they head home at the end of the day, every aspect of their educational experience is impacted by a classified school employee. State Superintendent Tony Thurmond will honor the 2019 Classified School Employees of the Year at a luncheon on the 23rd of May. The annual program honors six outstanding classified school employees from the following categories: Child Nutrition; Maintenance, Operations, and Facilities; Office and Technical Support; Para-Educator and Instructional Assistance; Support Services and Security; and Transportation. This year’s recipients were chosen from more than 100 nominations statewide.

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