Board Governance Handbook

The Board of Education is entrusted by the community to uphold the Constitutions of California and the United States, to protect the public interest in schools, and to ensure that a high-quality education is provided to each student.

This Handbook reflects the work of the Governance Team to create a framework for effective governance. Included herein are the Mission, Description of Effective Governance, Unity of Purpose, Commitment to Equity, Roles and Responsibilities, Guidelines for Working Together, Principles, and Protocols. Agreements have been reached to create the structures that enable the Governance Team to perform its responsibilities in a way that best benefits all children.



The Mission of the Santa Barbara Unified School District is to prepare students for a world that is yet to be created.


There are three dimensions to the effective governance of any organization:

  • The actions of an individual
  • A group coming together to govern
  • The performance of governance responsibilities by the group

In a school district, the Board and Superintendent work together as a governance team. For a governance team to work together effectively, members need to (1) Maintain a Unity of Purpose, (2) Agree on and govern within appropriate roles, (3) Create and sustain a positive governance culture, and (4) Create a supportive structure for effective governance. Effective governance tenets encompass the basic characteristics and behaviors that enable governance team members to effectively create a climate for excellence in a school district and maintain the focus on improved student learning and achievement.


Board members are the representatives of the people, elected to govern the school district and entrusted to ensure the district schools educate the students in consideration of the interests of the local community.

The Superintendent is hired by the School Board to provide the professional expertise in the day-to-day operations of the district and to:

  • Work with the School Board to develop an effective governance leadership team.
  • Serve as the chief administrative officer for the school district.


The Governance Team recognizes that educational excellence requires a commitment to equity. Students bring a wide range of assets, abilities, backgrounds, and needs to their educational experience, and the school district has an obligation to provide all students with the access and opportunities necessary for college, career, and life success. This requires the Governance Team to address practices, policies and barriers that perpetuate inequities which lead to opportunity and achievement gaps. The School Board is equity-driven, making intentional governance decisions that combat institutional discrimination and bias (both explicit and implicit) and eliminate disparities in educational outcomes based on socioeconomic status, gender, gender identity, gender expression, race, religion, national origin, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability, or family background.