Suzan Solomon, Donna Rose and Ernesto Smith, trustees of the Newhall School District, and Superintendent Jeff Pelzel have demonstrated exceptional commitment to professional development in the service of students through their recent completion of the California School Boards Association (CSBA) Masters in Governance program. This accomplishment signifies mastery of the roles and responsibilities of school boards, and a strong understanding of the knowledge and skills needed to build and support an effective governance structure that helps produce better outcomes for students.
Elected in 2018, Donna Rose brings years of experience as a school business leader to the board and District. A retired Assistant Superintendent of Business Services (Santa Paula Unified School District) she ran for office to use her knowledge of school business for the good of the students, staff and community of the Newhall School District. She has lived in Santa Clarita since 1986 with her husband Hugh, and their two children attended Old Orchard Elementary School and Wiley Canyon Elementary School. She served as a volunteer in classrooms, and as the PTA Treasurer for Old Orchard Elementary PTA, in addition to volunteering in other local organizations. From 2003 to 2011 she worked for the Newhall School District in the Business department.
“The Masters in Governance training provides a clear understanding of the roles and responsibilities of being an effective board member. The training helps develop a strong focus on collaboration with the Superintendent, fellow board members, stakeholders and community to achieve the vision and mission of the organization,” said Rose.
Ernesto Smith has a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science, with a minor in Mathematics from California State University Northridge (CSUN). He holds a Master of Business Administration degree from Woodbury University. He works in local government as an Information Technology Manager. He is dedicated to the service to his community and the education of children. He volunteers in his children’s classes regularly, serves as his school’s site council chair, a former District Safety Committee member, a former Measure E Citizen Oversight Committee member, a volunteer youth basketball coach, a volunteer youth soccer coach and a volunteer youth soccer referee.
“The MIG program was excellent. I would definitely recommend it to all new or existing board members. The program allows you to dive into relevant topics that are essential to your success as a board member. The program also allows for collaboration and networking with fellow board members and superintendents of other districts,” said Smith.
Suzan Solomon was first elected to the Newhall School Board in 1999. She was re-elected in 2003, 2007, 2011, 2015 and 2020 to serve her sixth term in office. Her children attended Old Orchard Elementary School where Mrs. Solomon became involved in the PTA, site council and local school district committee work, thus providing a strong foundation to pursue the next level of leadership – school board trustee.
“This is the second time in 17 years I have taken the Masters in Governance program. It remains relevant, and provides training that gives school board members an equitable foundation from which to make informed, transparent, and just decisions,” said Solomon.
“Those who earn the Masters in Governance certificate come away better equipped to serve and strengthen their public schools and their community because of the skills and knowledge gained that are integral to educate governance and leadership in the 21st century,” said CSBA President Xilonin Cruz-Gonzalez, a 2015 program graduate. “I applaud the 2020 graduates not only for completing this important program, but also for demonstrating each day their commitment to personal growth and ensuring equitable opportunities and outcomes for all students.”
“As a newer Superintendent, the opportunity to learn and grow with my Board Members was so rewarding. It really reinforces how we are all a team and the importance of taking a stance around equity. I see this as a course Superintendents and Board Members should participate in on a regular basis,” said Superintendent Jeff Pelzel.
Since its inception in 1998, more than 3,000 board members and superintendents have participated in the highly acclaimed certificate program. To receive the Masters in Governance certificate, candidates must complete 35 hours of intensive training on the role of the governance team and setting the direction of the district, student learning and achievement, school finance, human resources, policy and judicial review, collective bargaining, and community relations and advocacy.
For more information about CSBA’s Masters in Governance program, please contact Senior Director of Communications Troy Flint at (916) 371-4691 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
CSBA is a nonprofit education association representing nearly 1,000 K-12 school districts and county offices of education throughout California.