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About Schools As a Type of Local Agency

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In California, school districts are responsible for educating children from kindergarten through high school. Some school districts provide pre-school services. Unlike some other states, in California public schools and cities/counties have separately elected governing bodies. For example, in New York City, the mayor is responsible for the schools. This is not the case in California.

California’s public education system also includes community college districts, the California State University system and the University of California system.

This is perhaps the most important thing to understand about California’s public education system—it is indeed a multi-leveled, complex system. There are many state laws that determine how schools operate. The availability of funding for schools is also largely determined by the state, through the budget process. Locally elected school boards are a part of this system, as are county offices of education.

School board members have formed an organization for joint action and learning called the California School Boards Association, which is a helpful source of additional information about schools and current issues of interest to school board officials.  In particular, the organization publishes School Board Leadership: The Role and Function of California’s School Boards. In addition, the California Department of Education has useful information about the structure and history of school district administration.

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