The New School Board in Town

By Maddon Hoh-Choi

The Campbell Union High School District Board of Trustees is a five-member board responsible for overseeing the education of approximately 8,500 high school students in the Campbell area of California. There are also two student board members including Sophia Tian (from Prospect), and Westmont’s very own Amelie Arango.

After the teacher protests from last year, the 2022 elections led to two incumbents being ousted and replaced with new trustees. The new members of the Board of Trustees say they are dedicated to providing quality education for its students, and this year they have set out several goals and priorities to achieve this mission.

I spoke to Trustee Elisabeth Halliday, and though she made clear that she can’t speak for the entire board, she believes that “We are united in our goals to focus on student mental health, seeing to the needs of all students and staff, and providing excellent and equitable learning opportunities at all of our schools. She pointed to the recently finished “equity reports” for schools, which examined inequalities and achievement gaps in the CUHSD schools. They also recently finished the planning for a “Blueprint for Equity Action” which was recommended by CUHSD staff, students, and community members. 

In addition to these priorities, the Board of Trustees is committed to addressing several other issues that affect the quality of education in the district. Trustee, and former Campbell Mayor, Jason Baker stated that he and most of the board was also focused on dealing with the “effects of COVID on learning and connection to schools”, building board relations with teachers and staff, and continuing to focus on “student mental health and wellness.” 

Last year, contract negotiations between the Campbell High School Teachers Association and the board of trustees became especially contentious when the teachers accused the board of cutting their pay. A temporary agreement was reached that deferred the issue to this year. Negotiations between the board and the union are still ongoing, but it is expected that the newly elected board majority (who were endorsed by the union) will be more sympathetic. Trustee James Kim acknowledged that the process can be lengthy, as there are three unions in the district that the board needs to negotiate separate contracts. However, Kim expressed a willingness to move away from the acrimonious clashes that occurred during last year’s negotiations and pointed to the California labor-management initiative, where board members, staff, teachers, and principals attend a conference together, as a model for creating a stronger foundation for public education. When pressed for a date when he expects the negotiations to come to a close, Kim responded that “This is the type of thing that goes on….there’s no end date per se, it’s a process where we demonstrate commitment on.” 

Overall, the Campbell Union High School District Board of Trustees have made clear their desire to provide high-quality education for all students in the district. Halliday stated that she was “certain that all 5 of us are passionate about serving the students in our district and seeing every one of them succeed at their educational goals.” The last few years have been a challenging period for public education, but by focusing on student achievement, improving communication with stakeholders, and addressing key issues affecting the district, the Board hopes to make a difference. As students of CUHSD, we can only hope they do.