Newhall School District officials earn governance certificate

Press release

Suzan Solomon, Donna Rose and Ernesto Smith, trustees of the Newhall School District, and Superintendent Jeff Pelzel recently completed the California School Boards Association 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. 

“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 Pelzel.

Since its inception in 1998, more than 3,000 board members and superintendents have participated in the certificate program. To receive the 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.

Elected in 2018, Rose brings years of experience as a school business leader to the board and District. She retired as assistant superintendent of business services from Santa Paula Unified School District then ran for office to apply her knowledge of school business to the Newhall School District. She has lived in Santa Clarita since 1986. 

“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. 

Smith has a bachelor of science degree in computer science, with a minor in mathematics from California State University, Northridge. He holds a master of business administration degree from Woodbury University. He works in local government as an information technology manager. 

“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. 

Solomon was first elected to the Newhall School Board in 1999. Her children attended Old Orchard Elementary School where she became involved in the PTA, site council and local school district committee work.

“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.”

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