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Students join statewide education leadership conference looking for school solutions

The California School Boards Association is hosting 4,000 leaders from across the state at its annual education conference in San Francisco, this week.

Why it matters

AEC 2023 is the largest education leadership conference on the West Coast.

School trustees, superintendents, policy experts, and students are meeting to collaborate on major problems facing public schools. There is a delegation from San Diego representing several districts in the county.


Workshops and discussions include finding solutions to gun violence, mental health issues, and learning loss created by the COVID-19 shutdown.

By the numbers

There are approximately 1,000 school districts and county offices of education that are governed by more than 5,000 school board members in California.

California has the largest public school system in the country serving more than 6 million students in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade.

Student school board members at the AEC, this week, come from 55 districts.

Closer look

Sabrina Bazzo is president of San Diego Unified School District’s board of trustees. She said another topic of conversation at the conference is the political divisiveness that has ripped through just about every school board in the state.


“All the time that it’s taking to focus on those issues for my colleagues is taking them away for them to spend on student issues and focusing on student success which is what our primary job should be," Bazzo said.

Matthew Quitoriano is the senior student school board trustee from San Diego Unified.

“Students are the most honest group you will ever listen to. We’re the ones in those dusty classrooms, we’re the ones in those spaces, and we’re forced to be honest with what’s happening," Quitoriano said.

At the moment, student trustees in California have a voice on school boards, but no voting rights.

Debra Schade is the Board President of the Solana Beach School District. She was also just elected incoming vice president of the California School Board Association for the 2024-25 school year.

“Everything we’re doing is really to prepare California for the future. It’s really to get these kids into what I call the lift of public education. Allowing these kids to have an opportunity and trajectory where they will thrive and contribute back to our society," Schade said.