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Supporting Rural Schools and Districts

ACSA Region 7 Delegates meeting with Assemblyman Heath Flora’s staffer (left to right):
Josh O’Geen, Michael Shroyer, Ashley Skeen, Jared Hungerford, Jeremy Brooks, and Debbie Strand.

Sacramento – This past week, local education leaders advocated at the state capital on behalf of rural school districts at Legislative Action Days (LAD). Each year the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA) organizes the LAD event, where approximately 400 education leaders throughout the state of California bring their regional teams to meet with legislators and lawmakers and to hear from guest speakers. Featured guest speakers included State Senator Josh Newman and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond. Three speaker series covered the Assembly, Senate, and Governor’s Administration Panels.

ACSA’s Region 7 includes Calaveras, Tuolumne, Amador, Stanislaus, and San Joaquin counties.  At LAD April 17-18, our local education leaders from each of these districts attended scheduled meetings with Assemblymembers, Senators and/or their staffers to discuss legislation that directly relates to education.

Topics discussed ranged from robust and stable school funding to safe and modern schools. Rural school districts face unique challenges that also needed to be discussed; notably legislation AB 579 that would require all newly purchased or contracted school buses be zero-emission vehicles by 2035. The current electric bus technology fails to meet the needs of rural/mountainous bus routes. Additional concerns were voiced regarding the struggle to recruit qualified staff, especially bus drivers and instructional aides.

ACSA Region 7 LAD Delegates with California State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurman (left to right):
Debbie Strand, Jeremy Brooks, Michael Shroyer, Tony Thurman, Josh O’Geen, Jared Hungerford and Diana Harford.

Lawmakers appreciate hearing about local concerns and needs. Solutions that may suffice for larger school districts often fall short of meeting the needs of smaller school districts, which make up the majority of school districts in California. Region 7 leaders advocated for streamlining accountability; staff recruitment and retention; and preserving the arts, music, and instructional materials block grant.

The Region 7 delegate group consisted of Calaveras County Office of Education’s (CCOE) Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services Jared Hungerford and ACSA’s Region 7 Vice President for Legislative Action (VPLA); Deputy Superintendent of Educational Services with Tuolumne County Superintendent of Schools Diana Harford, Albert Michelson Elementary School Principal Josh O’Geen; CCOE’s Communication Coordinator Debbie Strand; Jeremy Brooks, Assistant Principle of Mossdale Elementary School in Lathrop; and Michael Shroyer, Principal of Grace M. Davis High School in Modesto.

Jared Hungerford explained, “Our legislative meetings are all about giving our lawmakers an insider’s view of what our students need in our local setting and calling on them to make decisions in Sacramento that prioritize our children, now and into the future.”

Written by Debbie Strand Calaveras County Office of Education Coordinator of Communications and Student Events