School Boards in Action: 5 questions with Maimona Afzal Berta, Franklin-McKinley School District

CSBA knows the challenges school communities continue to face and the hard work school boards across the state are putting in to ensure students receive the academic and social-emotional supports they need. District and county offices of education have implemented innovative solutions to address a host of challenges. CSBA is proud of the work of California’s district and county board trustees and is continuing to highlight the ways districts have addressed recent challenges as well as plans for the future through the School Boards in Action initiative.

Maimona Afzal Berta, board member, Franklin-McKinley School District

What did your district do to foster learning recovery and educational advancements during the 2021–22 school year? What do you have planned for the 2022–23 school year to continue this progress?

Coming back to school in person after more than a year of Zoom school presented many unique challenges that we had never been faced with before. Our district’s work prior to the pandemic developing Multi-Tiered Systems of Support and a framework for social-emotional learning helped ease the transition. We invested in staffing to support each school with a social worker on site ready to address the evolving needs of students. For next year, we hope to continue to build upon increased access to personalized learning opportunities by hiring additional teachers to provide specific targeted interventions.

What summer extended learning opportunity programs is your district offering?

We are proud to offer a variety of summer learning opportunities that help students stay engaged over the extended break. One program that we are thrilled to offer again this summer is a unique partnership with the San Jose Giants and our Family Resource Centers. The Junior Giants program is being expanded to host 230 kids this summer, including three more children’s age groups. The baseball camp is being offered free for our youth and provides a fun way for students to spend their summer learning teamwork and practicing baseball skills.

What types of professional development priorities or supports do you have planned for teachers and staff?

While our nation dealt with the impacts of a global pandemic, we also experienced a reckoning with the plague of systemic racism in this country. Safety and well-being have always been top priorities in our district. Extending these efforts to engage in anti-racism work beyond this pandemic means we start with better understanding ourselves. By the end of this academic year, every staff member from custodian to paraprofessional to administrator will have participated in implicit bias training. This professional learning experience will set the foundation for the continued work we hope to accomplish when it comes to fostering a learning environment that is safe, welcoming and inclusive of each and every student.

What are some ways the district is sharing positive news and/or support with families and the community?

One of the most significant ways our district provides wraparound support is through the Franklin-McKinley Children’s Initiative — the program that houses our four Family Resource Centers. Witnessing the ways that our community received direct assistance and engagement throughout the last two years with the collaboration of over 25 partner organizations and specifically Catholic Charities is inspiring. During the pandemic, over 13,000 families accessed our food pantry distributions, and 7,668 boxes of diapers and 2,025 boxes of formula reached families in need. Our incredible staff hosted virtual bingo nights, Lunar New Year celebrations, drive-through volunteer recognition events, and family friend and neighbor training to name a few programs. It is truly an honor to be a part of this work.

Share a little about the pet/s you have at home.

Our 3-year-old foxhound named Cooper is very special to us, and the story of how we became his fur-ever family is quite the tale. I was at a Local Control and Accountability Plan event at one of our school sites and our superintendent mentioned this dog that was staying at the district office. He showed me a picture of Cooper and immediately I thought of my partner’s childhood dog Millie, who had recently passed away. Cooper looked just like Millie as a pup. I showed the picture to my partner and by the next day we were meeting him at the district office and welcoming him to his new home. Needless to say, he is the unofficial Franklin-McKinley Board of Education dog.

CSBA is looking for members to participate in the 5 Questions series, which gives trustees a chance to share the accomplishments of their local educational agencies and their experiences in their own words. If you would like to share your LEA’s story, please email