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Archive for June, 2010

State takeover of school districts explained

By Theresa Harrington
Mt. Diablo school district Superintendent Steven Lawrence recently sent a memo to parents informing them the state could take over control of their schools if unions do not agree to furloughs and benefits cuts.
I called the state Department of Education to get clarification about this process and received an article written in 2009 by Joel Montero, who heads up the Fiscal Crisis and Management Assistance Team that works with struggling districts.
I am posting it below, with permission from School Services of California, Inc., which originally published the article Oct. 30, 2009.

“What State Receivership Means and Why It’s Best to Avoid It
[School Services of California, Inc. Editor’s Note: It is probably just coincidence, but we have had quite a number of inquiries recently about the consequences of just turning over the keys to the district to the state if the state doesn’t stop cutting education. Since the Fiscal Crisis and Management Assistance Team (FCMAT) has responsibility for assisting districts in their efforts to avoid or deal with financial problems, we asked Joel Montero, FCMAT’s Deputy Executive Officer, to author this article.]
Last spring (of 2009), California had the highest number of districts ever with qualified or negative certifications on their Second Interim budgets, reflecting the growing number of districts in fiscal distress. (Blog note: The number rose in 2010).
When a district gets to the point where it no longer has the cash to pay its bills, it must apply for a state loan, which means state receivership. Unfortunately, as a sign of the times, we have received many questions from districts about what state receivership looks like. What follows is some information on current law and, for a practical matter, what we have seen most recently in the districts that have required a state loan.
Budget Reserves vs. Cash Reserves
A school district receives a qualified or negative certification generally because of its inability to maintain the state-required level of reserves in all three years of its multiyear projections. Running out of reserves by itself, however, does not cause a school district to require a state loan; running out of cash does.
The distinction between reserve levels and cash levels becomes clearer when looking at your General Fund balance sheet. Reserves are the (hopefully positive) difference between assets and liabilities, some of which are cash and some of which are not. On the assets side, there are several cash accounts that are obviously cash—Cash in County Treasury, Cash in Bank, Cash with Fiscal Agent, etc. Not all cash is accessible to pay bills—for example, Cash with Fiscal Agent is set aside for a specific purpose and the district may not have the legal authority to draw on that cash to pay for operations. Other assets are not cash—for example, Stores Inventory and Prepaid Expenses. Most liabilities are not cash, but one notable exception is Deferred Revenues, since this represents cash that has been received by the district. It is set up as a liability because it cannot be recognized as revenue until it has been spent on the specific purpose of the grantor agency.
It has generally held true that low reserve levels are an indicator of low cash levels and vice versa. However, with the recent state cash deferrals, this has become less true. School districts with prudent reserves are still having to manage their cash actively and borrow to get through the negative cash months. And districts with inadequate reserves are having an even tougher time ensuring that the cash is there to meet the obligations when due.
Cash Borrowing Options
There are several options available to a school district to borrow cash locally—from its other funds, using tax and revenue anticipation notes (TRANs), from the county office of education, or from the county treasurer (Education Code Sections [E.C.] 42621, 42620). However, all of these options are temporary, short-term borrowing—they generally require that the district pay back the borrowing within a year or less. For each of these types of borrowing, the district is required to prepare a cash flow projection that indicates that the borrowing can be paid back from the district’s future revenues in the time frame required.
If the cash flow projection, however, shows that the district will be unable to pay back the local borrowing, it means that the cash balance is trending downward with no end in sight—that the future revenues are not enough to keep up with operational obligations plus pay back the borrowing. If the district is unable to borrow locally, then the only other option is to request a loan from the state.
State Loan
A loan (technically referred to in the Education Code as an emergency appropriation) from the state requires that one of the district’s local representatives to the State Legislature sponsor a bill through the legislative process. This is typically an urgency bill, meaning that it requires at least a two-thirds vote of each house of the Legislature so that it can become effective upon the Governor’s signature. The legislative process takes many months, so a state loan should be initiated early enough to ensure that the cash is there when the district needs it, and the timing needs to work within the legislative calendar. Typically, the bill has to be introduced in January in order to work its way through all of the legislative committees and the floors of both houses by the summer or early fall.
A loan from the state results in the state taking control of the school district. The degree of state control is determined by the size of the loan relative to the district’s budget. Specifically, per E.C. 41326(a), if the loan is less than twice the size of the district’s required reserve level, a State Trustee is assigned and assumes authority over the financial aspects of the school district’s activities. If the size of the loan exceeds twice the size of the district’s required reserve level, the following takes place:
• The school Board loses its powers and becomes advisory only [E.C. 41326(c)(1)]
• The Superintendent is no longer employed by the district [E.C. 41326(c)(2)]
• A State Administrator is assigned and assumes the powers of the Board and Superintendent [E.C. 41326(b)]
State loans are typically set up for repayment over 20 years. In both situations above, state control remains over the school district until the loan is fully repaid. The State Trustee or State Administrator reports directly to the Superintendent of Public Instruction—the state of California—not the local school Board or community.
The state loan is sized to accommodate the anticipated shortfall in cash that the district will need during the life of the loan in order to meet its obligations. In addition, all of the costs of ensuring a fiscal recovery are the responsibility of the district (E.C. 41328) and are added to the amount of the state loan. The cost of recovery when a State Administrator is assigned includes:
The cost of the compensation package for the State Administrator (E.C. 41326[(b)][(8)]
The cost of additional staffing as determined by the State Administrator to be necessary for ensuring fiscal recovery (E.C. 41326[(b)][(9)]
The cost of management reviews and developing a recovery plan, including the cost of the initial comprehensive review and follow-up reviews every six months encompassing these five areas of the district (E.C. 41327.1):
Community relations and governance
Pupil achievement
Financial management
Personnel management
Facilities management
Any other expenditures deemed necessary by the State Administrator to help ensure fiscal recovery
On the natural, a state loan will be much larger than what the district would otherwise need to borrow locally if it had been able to solve its own fiscal crisis. Therefore, a district that receives a state loan needs to make more expenditure cuts and/or take longer to pay the loan back.
The comprehensive review and six-month follow-up studies measure the district’s progress in meeting the standards established. In the areas where the district has progressed enough in meeting the standards, the Board receives its powers back and a Superintendent is hired to administer those areas. It normally takes several years before the Board regains any of its powers. State control remains, either in the form of a State Administrator or State Trustee, with stay or rescind power over certain Board actions until the state loan is paid off.
The State Administrator’s mission is to restore fiscal solvency as soon as possible so that the loan can be paid back to the state. This will be done by reducing expenditures to a level that is lower than revenues so that the reserves can be rebuilt over time while the state loan is being paid back. This means that all possible avenues for balancing the budget are pursued. The State Administrator cannot set aside any contractual obligations that the district has already entered into, including vendor contracts and bargaining unit contracts, without renegotiating them. If modifying provisions of these contracts is critical to gaining fiscal solvency, the State Administrator has the power to invoke the timelines available in the contracts or by law, including the ability to use the impasse/factfinding process to unilaterally impose changes in collective bargaining agreements.
A district in financial trouble will regain fiscal solvency. If the district and the Board, while it has the power, do not take the necessary actions locally to restore fiscal solvency, the same actions and more will be imposed by the state. The typical state loan is established to be a 20-year payback. The district remains under some level of state control until that payback is complete. Generally, recovery costs more and takes longer if a state loan is required.
In the long term, taking the necessary actions locally and avoiding a state loan will result in greater local control, less outside intervention, and better long-term outcomes for students, employees, and the community.
—Joel Montero
posted 10/20/2009”

I hope this answers some questions that have arisen in response to Lawrence’s memo.
Now, the Contra Costa County Office is reviewing the Mt. Diablo school district’s budget, said spokeswoman Peggy Marshburn.
“The county Office of Education has been monitoring the district’s financial condition for the past two years,” she said. “Based on careful consideration of their budget and subsequent interim reports, a decision will be made regarding the level of county Office of Education or possible state intervention.”
In a phone interview today, Lawrence said the district anticipates approving its first interim report by December.
“We created a budget that we just adopted,” he said. “But, it’s all based on the (governor’s) May revise, which is fiction, until the state adopts the budget.”
Meanwhile, the district is at impasse with two unions representing noncredentialed employees such as campus supervisors and maintenance workers. Deb Cooksey, lead negotiator for the district, told me the Clerical, Secretarial and Technical unit of Local 1 has contested its declaration of impasse and has filed an unfair practice action against the district.
The Personnel Employee Relations Board declared an impasse with the Maintenance and Operations (M&O) unit of Local 1, she said. A mediator has been assigned and she anticipates meeting soon.
“M&O Local 1 has said they don’t think the district is really at impasse and they’re still wanting to talk,” she said. “So, this will be our opportunity to talk with a mediator and hopefully resolve the difference.”
Mark York, executive director of the Mt. Diablo Education Association teachers’ union, told me the district has filed an unfair labor practices complaint against his bargaining unit.
“They claim that we persistently refused to bargain,” he said. “But, we told them that the authorization we have is to do a rollover (of our previous contract).”
The union surveyed its members regarding the district’s proposals and plans to come to the table in September.
The Mt. Diablo school district projects a small surplus in 2010-11, but it must make at least $12.2 million in ongoing cuts in its 2011-12 budget of $261.3 million to maintain fiscal solvency, according to its chief financial officer. Its required reserve is 2 percent.
Are you worried about a state takeover?

Posted on Wednesday, June 30th, 2010
Under: California, Education, Mt. Diablo school district, Theresa Harrington | 11 Comments »

Mt. Diablo school board to appoint more administrators, vote on sports banners

By Theresa Harrington
At a special board meeting Thursday, the Mt. Diablo school board expects to appoint more site administrators and to approve a banner policy that would help raise money for after-school sports.
In addition, Superintendent Steven Lawrence is seeking authorization to make administrative appointments during the summer, when the board is on its break. These appointments would be officially approved by trustees in August.
It is impossible to know which administrators will be appointed by looking at the board agenda. It merely states that “interviews have been conducted and candidates have been selected to fill school site administrator positions.”
At the June 22 meeting, the board made the following school site administrator appointments:
Ayers Elementary, Concord: Spoogmai Habibi (former curriculum specialist)
Hidden Valley Elementary, Martinez: Sandy Bruketta (former curriculum specialist)
Mt. Diablo High School, Concord: Kate McClatchy (former administrator at Olympic High in Concord)
Riverview Middle School, Bay Point: Christine Huajardo (promoted from vice principal of Riverview MS)
Valle Verde Elementary, Walnut Creek: Rhys Miller (former program specialist in curriculum and instruction)
Wren Avenue Elementary, Concord: Cynthia Goin (former Strandwood Elem. principal, returning from leave)
Meadow Homes Elementary program specialist, Concord: Diane Sargent (former curriculum specialist)
Mt. Diablo High School vice principal, Concord: Lianne Cisnowski (former Olympic HS teacher)
Northgate High School vice principal, Walnut Creek: Linda Hayes (promoted from student services coord.)
Olympic Continuation High School administrator, Concord: Cheryl LeBoef (former Mt. Diablo HS principal)
Olympic/Alliance high school vice principal, Concord: Katie Gaines (former Alternative Education director)
Riverview Middle School vice principal, Concord: Ean Ainsworth (already vice principal at Riverview)
Although the agenda attachment listed 25 positions to be voted on, the board didn’t vote on these two principal positions, which Superintendent Steven Lawrence announced during his June 15 report:
Bel Air Elementary, Bay Point: Nancy Klinkner (former principal at Highlands Elementary in Concord)
Delta View Elementary, Bay Point: Nancy Baum (former principal at Ayers Elementary in Concord)
The board also didn’t vote June 22 on the administrative positions listed below, even though they were in the agenda attachment. The board approved these appointments May 11 and June 15:
Assistant superintendent of personnel services: Julie Braun Martin (former personnel director)
Director of Personnel: Melinda Hall (former director of Curriculum and Instruction)
Assistant Superintendent, Student Achievement, Support: Rose Lock (former assist. supt. for elem. education)
Director, Elementary Support: Susan Petersen (former principal of Delta View Elementary)
Director, Seconday Support: Denise Rugani (former principal of Riverview Elementary)
Assistant Director of Categoricals and School Support: Jennifer Sachs (former assist. dir. of Curriculum & Instruction)
Principal Coach and school support: Patt Hoellwarth (former principal of Monte Gardens Elementary)
Principal Coach and school support: Lorie O’Brien (former principal of Hidden Valley Elementary)
Principal Coach and school support: Hellena Postrk (former principal of Sequoia Middle School)
Principal Coach and school support: Susan Hukkanen (former Curriculum and Instruction administrator)
Administrator, English learners, Student Support: Carmen Graces (former Curriculum and Instruction administrator)
Lawrence said June 22 that he anticipated the need for special board meetings to fill other positions. But at the July 1 meeting, he will ask to make these appointments without calling special board meetings.
“In order to assure there is adequate staffing for the opening of school, the superintendent requests authority to appoint candidates to positions, including administrative positions, during the summer months when there are no board meetings,” the staff report states. “Any such appointments will be brought to the board in August.”
Based on moves or announcements that have already been made, here are other openings I anticipate:
Highlands Elementary Principal, Concord:
Monte Gardens Elementary Principal, Concord:
Mt. Diablo Elementary, Clayton:
Northgate High School student services coordinator, Walnut Creek:
Riverview Middle School vice principal, Bay Point:
Sequioa Middle School Principal, Pleasant Hill:
Shore Acres Elementary Principal, Bay Point:
Two Mt. Diablo High School teachers voiced concerns June 22 about the administrative shuffle taking place during the summer, saying their staff was given no notice of the changes. Do you think trustees should allow Lawrence to make appointments during the summer, without notifying the public until August?

Posted on Sunday, June 27th, 2010
Under: Concord, Education, Martinez, Mt. Diablo school district, Theresa Harrington, Walnut Creek | 36 Comments »

Plentiful principal replacements in Mt. Diablo district

By Theresa Harrington
All administrators in the Mt. Diablo school district were given pink slips this year, which means they could be replaced or reassigned at will.
Even though the school year has already ended and many principals have made plans with their staffs for the fall, some are being promoted or reassigned. It’s possible some could lose their jobs, although that won’t be clear until all the decisions for replacements have been finalized.
A few resigned, leaving holes the district had to fill. The board expects to vote on the appointment of 25 administrators Tuesday, including the promotion of five principals to district office administrators, the appointment of eight principals and a continuation high school administrator, and the appointment of four vice principals.
Last Tuesday, the board approved a district office restructuring that includes the principal promotions. Here’s a rundown of those:
Delta View Principal Susan Petersen will become Director of Elementary Support.
Riverview Middle School Principal Denise Rugani will become Director of Secondary Support.
Monte Gardens Elementary Principal Patt Hoellwarth, Hidden Valley Elementary Principal Lorie O’Brien and Sequoia Middle School Principal Hellena Postrk are being promoted to administrative positions as coaches who will support local principals.
In addition, the board appointed Bill Morones as principal of Ygnacio Valley High, replacing retiring Carolyn Plath. Morones is a Danville resident with three children who has worked as principal of Florin High in Sacramento for seven months.
But many other principal moves are in the works.
During the June 15 board meeting, Superintendent Steven Lawrence reported that Highlands Elementary Principal Nancy Klinkner has agreed to move to Bel Air, replacing Tom Carman, who retired. He also said Ayers Elementary Principal Nancy Baum has agreed to take Petersen’s former position at Delta View Elementary in Bay Point. Finally, Lawrence said Cynthia Goin, former principal at Strandwood Elementary, is coming back from a leave to become principal at Wren Avenue Elementary, replacing a retiring administrator.
The board will vote on these and other assignments Tuesday, including the appointment of some other district office administrators. Lawrence has already announced that he plans to move Julie Braun Martin, the current director of personnel, to the assistant superintendent position, replacing Gail Isserman, who is retiring. Lawrence has said he plans to move Melinda Hall, the current director of Curriculum and Instruction, into the personnel director position.
The restructuring also calls for Rose Lock, the current assistant superintendent for elementary education, to become the assistant superintendent of a new Student Achievement and School Support Division. Jennifer Sachs, the current assistant director of Curriculum and Instruction, will become assistant director of the new division, since the Curriculum and Instruction division is being eliminated. Carmen Garces, who is currently an administrator who serves socio-economically disadvantaged students and English language learners in the Curriculum and Instruction department will assume a similar position in the new division.
Here’s the list of appointments to be made, with names filled in, if they’ve already been announced:
Ayers Elementary, Concord:
Bel Air Elementary, Bay Point: Nancy Klinkner
Delta View Elementary, Bay Point: Nancy Baum
Hidden Valley Elementary, Martinez:
Mt. Diablo High School, Concord:
Riverview Middle School, Bay Point:
Valle Verde Elementary, Walnut Creek:
Wren Avenue Elementary, Concord: Cynthia Goin
Meadow Homes Elementary program specialist, Concord:
Mt. Diablo High School vice principal, Concord:
Northgate High School vice principal, Walnut Creek:
Olympic Continuation High School administrator, Concord:
Olympic/Alliance high school vice principal, Concord:
Riverview Middle School vice principal, Concord:
Assistant superintendent of personnel services: Julie Braun Martin
Director of Personnel: Melinda Hall
Assistant Superintendent, Student Achievement, Support: Rose Lock
Director, Elementary Support: Susan Petersen
Director, Seconday Support: Denise Rugani
Assistant Director of Categoricals and School Support: Jennifer Sachs
Principal Coach and school support: Patt Hoellwarth
Principal Coach and school support: Lorie O’Brien
Principal Coach and school support: Hellena Postrk
Principal Coach and school support: Susan Hukkanen
Administrator, English learners, Student Support: Carmen Graces
The district office reorganization eliminated the position of director of alternative education, currently held by Katie Gaines. It also eliminated five other administrative positions and replaced them with the new Student Achievement positions detailed above.
But there are more vacant principal positions that have not yet been filled. Shore Acres Elementary Principal Kari Rees told me she will be replaced as part of that school’s reform efforts, based on its status as one of the district’s six lowest-achieving schools. The principals who are being promoted to positions as district administrators are also leaving behind vacancies.
In addition, I’ve heard that some other principals may not be returning to their campuses next year.
“In an attempt to find the best match for each school, district staff has gathered input from site staff members and parents,” the district’s staff report for administrative assignments states. “For those positions that we feel we have a match, we will announce the person filling the position; otherwise, we will continue to search for qualified candidates.”
Lawrence told parents at Bancroft Elementary in Walnut Creek last week that he had conducted extensive interviews with staff and parents at Valle Verde Elementary regarding the kind of principal they would like, after Principal Carolyn Kreuscher announced she planned to retire. But Bancroft parents did not understand why he did not ask them if they were willing to give up their principal before he decided to transfer Linda Schuler to Valle Verde.
Lawrence pointed out that the principal would leave sometime, most likely by retiring or transferring to another school. In reconsidering his decision, he said he would evaluate whether the time was right for Schuler to leave now.
In the end, Lawrence reversed his decision, based on the meetings with Bancroft staff and parents. But he said Valle Verde was a larger school with a significant population of special education students and that his goal with all transfers was to create a “win-win” situation for the principal and the school, offering a new opportunity to the administrator.
Lawrence explained that the district had a pool of about nine to 12 candidates that he looked at for Bancroft. One parent suggested that Lawrence place the person he had in mind for Bancroft at Valle Verde instead.
“You considered the needs of Valle Verde,” the parent said. “It’s inexcusable that we were not involved in this process from the beginning. There’s no reason to take this principal to another high-performing school in this district. If (the candidate) is good enough for us, she should be good enough for Valle Verde.”
Parents also wanted to know if Schuler wanted to move or if Lawrence told her to move.
“I more asked her to go, based on my request, than asked her (if she wanted to),” Lawrence said. “We had a talk. If you want to define that as being told, then, yes, (she was told).”
Here are the other vacancies I know about, based on moves or announcements that have already been made:
Highlands Elementary Principal, Concord:
Monte Gardens Elementary Principal, Concord:
Sequioa Middle School, Pleasant Hill:
Shore Acres Elementary Principal, Bay Point:
If your child attends one of these schools, have you been asked what kind of principal you and your children would like? How do you feel about getting a new principal in the fall?

Posted on Monday, June 21st, 2010
Under: Bay Point, Concord, Education, Martinez, Mt. Diablo school district, Pleasant Hill, Theresa Harrington, Walnut Creek | 19 Comments »

Students’ voices can be powerfully persuasive

By Theresa Harrington
I was very happy today to see an Op Ed piece in the Times written by Valley View Middle School students in Pleasant Hill. In case you missed it, here’s what they had to say:

“Your Turn: Middle schoolers offer suggestions
Submitted by Christine Gerchow
For the past two weeks, we the seventh graders in Valley View Middle School’s communication class have been working on a public speaking and advocacy unit. We have learned about homelessness, harassment, drugs and alcohol and about the effects of budget cuts and the loss of after-school programming.
We talked about how many kids are bored after school and in need of challenging and exciting programs to keep them occupied.
We talked about how depression affects many of our peers because they feel lost and without guidance. We heard stories of our peers whose parents lost their jobs.
We are writing to tell you that middle-school students not only think of the challenges in our communities, but that we also have ideas of how to address them.
We believe that as thinking and feeling students we deserve to be listened to and acknowledged.
So here are some of our ideas: let’s set up the joint-use agreements first lady Michelle Obama talks about so the baseball and softball fields that sit unoccupied too many days of the week can be used.
Let’s ensure that students play a major role in designing the curriculum of after-school programming. Let’s also invite students to speak at school board meetings more often. Let’s imitate Florida and create community school cleanup days where painters, plumbers and contractors come and touch-up our schools. Other volunteers can pick up trash, design murals and plant flowers.
Finally, let’s tap into the knowledge of retirees so they can visit our classrooms and assist our teachers. It would be great if every classroom had one or two smart adult-volunteers to help our teachers for a few hours each day.
We hope that our ideas inspire community members and school district leaders to act. We can’t keep waiting for legislation to pass or Race to the Top funds to arrive. We are in school now and we are expected to learn now.
Thank you for printing our letter and acknowledging our voices.
This article was signed by seventh grade students at Valley View Middle School in Pleasant Hill. Those students are: Drew Anderson, Paul Andreini, Miguel Bahena, Isadora Barragan, Amanda Broyles, Deniro Arnold, Devin Davis, Josh deHaydu, Summerlin Dyckes, Julien Estrada Julia Fregoso, Jesse Guerra, Julia Hair, Rachel Henry, Lucas Hurley, Richard Kong, Michael Matthewson, Alan Munguia, Dillon Nordstrom, Trevor Nourie, Alex Stephenson, Rebecca Valdivia and Judy Wang.”

Kudos to these students for speaking up about issues that affect them.
The letter to the editor was a first step. But there’s more they can do to be heard.
No one prevents students from speaking at school board meetings. These students can take their suggestions directly to the Mt. Diablo school board at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday and speak for three minutes each, if they wish, during the Public Comment portion of the meeting.
Trustees plan to vote on contracts for after-school programs, a new homework policy , student safety plans and athletic fees, which might interest the students.
I have seen students persuade trustees in the past with their impassioned arguments. Trustee Gary Eberhart said one student’s e-mail prompted him to change a vote regarding reducing the hours of a high school treasurer.
A former high school senior persuaded the district to allow students to apply for membership on the School Closure committee.
And at last Tuesday’s meeting, a Northgate High student told trustees that he wanted his school to get stadium lights so it could enjoy Friday night football games, like other schools. Trustees approved the lights.
Sometimes, trustees are unable to give students what they want. Many athletes were unhappy when the board cut funding for after-school sports and student musicians have argued against cuts to elementary music programs.
But the board does listen. And when students speak, their messages often elicit thunderous applause from the audience, because everyone knows the whole reason the district exists is to serve them.
Students at board meetings have the ability not only to persuade trustees, but to get their messages out to the community that watches meetings on-line or listens on the radio.
Sometimes, news reporters also quote them in stories or newscasts about the meetings.
Former students who have graduated from district schools also have compelling stories to tell. At last Tuesday’s meeting, one graduate pleaded with the board not to cut special education resources, saying they helped him to graduate from high school and pass a written firefighter’s proficiency test and to obtain an EMT certification.
“This was given to me because I was nurtured,” Adam Davis said. “If you are truly about the kids, show me and show everybody.”
He received heartfelt applause, as a district success story. Yet, trustees voted to cut many special education positions anyway, saying they had no choice because of state budget reductions.
Trustee Dick Allen said he voted for the cuts “with a heavy heart.”
“I just hate to do this,” he said. “But it has to be done…we do have to have a balanced budget.”
It’s difficult to make cuts, while analyzing staff recommendation on a piece of paper. But it’s even more difficult to make such decisions while looking into the faces of the students who are being affected.
When JROTC was on the chopping block, dozens of uniformed students marched into the meetings and told heart-wrenching stories about how those programs helped turn their lives around. In the end, their programs were saved.
Students also spoke up during a Bancroft Elementary meeting last Tuesday about Superintendent Steven Lawrence’s decision to transfer the principal. When Lawrence reiterated the messages he heard that day, he included the students’ strong statements that they wanted their principal to stay.
And a few months ago, two courageous Ygnacio Valley High students spoke up about money their prom planner took, without following through on her contract. This led many people in the community to step forward and try to help the students, while exposing the prom planner’s history of not not meeting obligations.
As I continue covering education in this community, I look forward to hearing from more students about how budget cuts and other district decisions are affecting them.
Students: is your school meeting your needs? What suggestions do you have for improving your educational environment?

Posted on Saturday, June 19th, 2010
Under: Education, Mt. Diablo school district, Pleasant Hill, Theresa Harrington, Uncategorized | No Comments »

Mt. Diablo district posts layoff press release day after contentious board meeting

Mt. Diablo district employees picket before board meeting.

Mt. Diablo district employees picket before board meeting.

By Theresa Harrington
Some Mt. Diablo school district union members are just today learning about a press release dated June 15 (Tuesday), which details the district’s stance regarding layoffs, budget cuts and negotiations. Employees from two unions protested about these issues before the Tuesday school board meeting.
Although I am on the district’s mailing list for press releases, it was never emailed or faxed to me. Instead, Deb Cooksey, the district’s lead negotiator, handed it to me after the board meeting when I introduced myself to her.
She said in a voicemail message today that she had also placed it on the counter in the district office lobby. After she learned the meeting would take place at Monte Gardens Elementary next door, Cooksey said she “put it out there for the public to take, but I understand no one took it.”
Many people who were at the meeting say they never saw the press release. Cooksey said it wasn’t posted on the district’s website until Wednesday — the day after the meeting.
“We just put it on the website on the 16th,” she said in her voicemail message, “because we wanted to make sure we had a chance to get it out before we posted it on the website.”
El Dorado Middle School teacher Becka Machado said the district would have had a better chance of getting the press release out to the public if it was posted Tuesday. She attended the meeting and said she saw agendas on a table, but didn’t see the press release.
“Where else would the public see it other than online?” Machado said. “It just seems so strange. It was disturbing that the information wasn’t reaching the people who it was affecting.”
Annie Nolen, vice president of the California Employees Association, or CSEA, said she didn’t see the press release until today. It is now prominently displayed on the district’s website.
Here’s what it says:

“June 15, 2010 Press Release
June 15, 2010
Tonight the Board of the Mt. Diablo Unified School District will vote on whether to reduce hours and/or eliminate positions of CSEA unit members. In a time of unprecedented budget deficits throughout the state, our district like many others, is forced into the untenable position of making drastic reductions in staff and services. Because the District must present a balanced budget to the County Office of Education by June 30th and has been unable to reach an agreement with unions on over $11.9 M in cuts, tonight the Superintendent will also recommend additional reductions to Local One CST and M&O positions. The Board will vote on the Local One reductions or eliminations at the June 22nd meeting.
The District’s deficit is projected to average nearly $13 million per year for the next three years. The current deficit for 2009/10 is approximately $24.8 million. As our deficit increases, our revenues continue to decline. For instance, while the budget for 2009/10 is $279.5 million, for 2010/11 it is only projected to be $264.4 million—a difference of $15.1 million.
We have already responded to the budget deficit by implementing staff reductions and non-personnel cuts and making one-time sweeps and transfers of $15.88 million. We also sought to negotiate the following items with all bargaining units:
· Reduce the current and the next three school years through furlough days ($7.9M)
· Limit the District’s contribution to health, vision, and dental costs to current rates for active employees and future retirees ($8.9M over 3 years)
· Prorate health benefits for part-time employees ($7.3M over 3 years)
· Eliminate vacation buyouts ($2.1M over 3 years)
The cost of health, dental, and vision benefits is the largest single cost item contributing to the deficit. The current cost of health benefits for all active employees is $21,999,748. Our projected health benefits cost for 2010/11 if we cannot negotiate a cap on health benefits will be $23,027,792 and will escalate to $27,224,287 over the next three years.[1]
Currently, we fully fund (at a rate equal to each tier of the Kaiser coverage) medical benefits for all employees who work at least 20 hours per week. We also fund 100% of the cost of vision, and dental benefits for all employees who work at least 20 hours per week. For classified retirees, we cover the cost of benefits at the Kaiser single rate if the employee retires at 55 or older up until the age of 65. For teachers, managers, and psychologists, the District reimburses the cost of medical benefits for the employee plus one eligible dependent for a maximum of 10 years or until the retiree reaches age 65, which ever comes first.
After months of negotiations with our classified bargaining units, we are now at impasse. Additional bargaining sessions would not be productive without the intervention of an outside mediator because neither party side is willing to change its position. The major points of contention center on the District’s proposal of: (a) a hard cap at current rates on benefits for active employees and retirees; (b) proration of benefits for employees and their dependents; and (c) furlough days for the 2009/10 school year and future years. It is important to note that our proposed cap on health care is not to “cut” health benefits but rather to “freeze” the District’s contribution at the current rate.
Classified unions initially agreed to a limited number of furlough days during the current school year on the express condition that other employees, including teachers and administrators, agree to an equivalent number of days. If all unions had agreed to 3-4 furlough days for 2009/10, the costs savings would have totaled $2.6M. District administrators have been voluntarily taking furlough days since March 2010, which has resulted in $292,859 in savings for the 2009/10 school year. The teachers union would not bargain this fiscal year over furlough days for 2009/10 or a new contract to replace the one that expires on June 30, 2010.
Our position at all bargaining tables has remained consistent: we must reduce the deficit in an amount equivalent to savings to be realized from furlough days, and hard capping and pro-rating benefits. Anything less, will result in an unbalanced budget in 2010/11 and beyond and a possible state takeover. If there is a takeover and appointment of a State Administrator, your elected representatives (the Board) and by extension you, will have no say in running the District. We informed the unions’ bargaining teams that failure to reach agreement on furlough days for next year could result in the cuts to Local One positions that are now being proposed. Those reductions will result in some employees being ineligible for health benefits. The District’s proposal on furlough days would not have negatively impact health benefits.
Our employees are understandably distressed over the proposed furlough days, medical cap, and prorated benefits. The Board and District leadership are disturbed at having to demand such steep concessions. However, we are no different from other districts, many of which have already negotiated a reduced work year in some form or another. According to a School Services of California survey, 57 school districts throughout the state have negotiated work year reductions this year and 99 districts have negotiated work year reductions for next year. Many districts, including those in the surrounding area already cap medical benefits. For instance:
School Districts
2009 – 2010
2010 – 2011
Hard Cap on Benefits
Acalanes – 5 days – 2010/11
Antioch – Tiered Monthly Caps: $ 795 Single; $950 Two-party; $1,000 Family
Brentwood – 2 days Kaiser rate (Employee only)
Byron – 5 days – Tiered Monthly Caps: $444 Single; $888 Two-party; $1,154 Family
LAUSD – 4 days – 2009-10
Pleasanton – 3 days 2009-10; 5 days 2010-11
Alameda – 5 days 2010-11
Livermore – 3-5 days 2009-10
Lodi – 5 days 2009-10; 7.5 days 2010-11
Oakley – 3 days 2009-10; 3 days 2010-11; $637 or $547 per month, depending on bargaining unit
Piedmont – 5 days 2010-11
San Leandro – 3 days 2010-11
San Lorenzo – 3-4 days 2009-10
West Contra Costa – 5 days 2010-11; Hard cap at each tier
Our classified unions have accused the District of being inflexible because we have not changed our position on benefits and furlough days even though the union has made concessions. We have not artificially inflated our proposal or the deficit and we have proposed only those concessions we need to eliminate the deficit. It is true that we could have engaged in the traditional bargaining tactic of making an extreme initial demand (such as insisting on a hard cap at the Kaiser single rate and freezing step increases), in order to have something to concede at the bargaining table. We decided against that tactic because it would: (a) cause even greater upset if we let employees believe their families would lose coverage; (b) be disingenuous; and (c) be a waste of valuable bargaining time.
This is a precarious and unprecedented fiscal environment and we appreciate that everyone is anxious about the future. We will maintain our practice of transparency during the bargaining process by continuing to provide the unions and the public with information on the state budget, the District’s budget, and health benefits costs as it becomes available.
[1] This amount does not include vision and dental costs or retiree health benefits. Between 2002 and 2010, medical premiums fluctuated from as much as 17% to as little as 4%. Disregarding the extremes of 17% and 4%, the average rate increase is 10%. Therefore the District estimates a 10% annual increase in the cost of medical benefits.”

Nolen takes issue with several items in the press release. She said her union is willing to take furlough days, but can’t unless the teachers’ union does also. This is because CSEA employees only work on school days and Nolen said they can’t take a day off when school is in session, because they’re needed.
They could only take furlough days, however, if teachers agree to take furlough days and shorten the school year. But, teachers don’t intend to come to the negotiating table until September, union president Michael Langley has told me.
Nolen also wants to clarify that CSEA has “left money on the table” in the past to help pay for benefits. So, she disputes the district’s claim that it fully funds medical benefits.
The union didn’t take its full Cost Of Living (or COLA) increases in salary because it wanted that extra money to be used to fund benefits, she said.
“For years and years and years, we have left money on the table for our benefits, for our longevity,” she said.
She’s also bothered by the press release’s assertion that the district has bargained for “months.”
“We bargained 10 hours,” Nolen said.
Although Nolen is on the bargaining team, she said she doesn’t remember any discussions regarding a hard benefits cap for active employees and retirees.
“We’re part-time, so it’s a cut for us,” she said. “Our people work six hours (a day) or less.”
Nolen said she doesn’t think it’s fair to compare the Mt. Diablo district to other districts on the “for instance” list in the press release, because some are much smaller and others are much larger than Mt. Diablo.
“Mt. Diablo is one of the largest in the state and you’re going to compare us to Byron?” she said.
Although Nolen conceded that CSEA has agreed to jointly file a declaration of impasse, she said the union didn’t initially agree to that at the table. Union reps wanted to continue bargaining.
But after the district stated that it would declare impasse, the union consulted with its attorney and reluctantly agreed to the joint declaration, Nolen said.
Nolen said she’s surprised the district didn’t provide the press release to her before the meeting.
“With something like this, I would have thought they would,” she said. “Maybe they just didn’t want us to talk about this.”
Union members had plenty to say that day. Here are three videos of protesters before the meeting:, and
During the meeting, union representatives expressed their concerns about the budget cuts. Here’s a portion of a CSEA rep’s comments:
Cooksey also spoke at the meeting. I didn’t get video of her, since I wasn’t aware she’d speak during the superintendent’s report.
She said the district asked only for what it needed at the bargaining table.
“We didn’t start at an artificially high offering in order just to back down to get to something else at the bargaining table,” she said.
She admitted the district only bargained for 10 hours with CSEA and said the district bargained with the Clerical, Secretarial and Technical (or CST) unit of Local 1 for approximately 60 hours, reaching several tentative agreements.
The district bargained with the Maintenance and Operations (or M&O) unit for more than 90 hours, she said.
“We are definitely at impasse,” Cooksey said. “They have a position that they cannot change. We have a position that we cannot change. The only way that’s going to get resolved is for a third party to come in.”
The next day, Cooksey told me the CST and M&O units bargain salaries and benefits as a coaliton.
“That’s when the talks broke down,” she said.
The district filed its declaration of impasse for Local 1 last week and is waiting to hear back from the Public Employment Relations Board (or PERB) to find out if it will certify and impasse and appoint a mediator, Cooksey said.
Since CSEA has agreed to file a joint declaration of impasse, the district doesn’t need to get PERB to certify it, she added.
“They assign you a mediator,” she said. “With Local 1, they make a dermination. Then, they assign a mediator.”
How do you think the district and unions should resolve their differences? Do you think the district should have posted the press release on its website and distributed it to the press and to union leaders before the Tuesday meeting?
JUNE 18 UPDATE: Local 1 Maintenance and Operations union President Ron Hansen and CST President Judy Armstrong told me today that they and other members of their unions first became aware of the press release yesterday (Thursday, June 17). Armstrong said union members plan to rally again outside the Tuesday, June 22 board meeting.
“This is not going good,” Armstrong said.
Cooksey told me today she didn’t know she was supposed to e-mail or fax the press release to the media. She said she thought union members would see it when they marched through the district office.
“I’m new and I don’t necessarily know the system,” said Cooksey, who was appointed associate general counsel Jan. 26. “When protesters were coming into the building, I left it on the counter and I left it in the board room…I’m learning.”
I also asked Gail Isserman, assistant superintendent for personnel services, why there was no mention of the “updated” attachment to the agenda regarding classified layoffs.
“We had the docket and the resolution on Friday (when the agenda was posted), but we needed to go through the positions and identify the people, so that was added Monday,” she said. “I’m not sure why we didn’t state that it was revised, but it was on the website. I’m sorry that didn’t happen.”

Posted on Thursday, June 17th, 2010
Under: Concord, Education, Mt. Diablo school district, Theresa Harrington | No Comments »

Transfer of Walnut Creek principal causes outrage

By Theresa Harrington
The decision to transfer Bancroft Elementary Principal Linda Schuler to Valle Verde Elementary in the fall has some staff members and parents at Bancroft outraged.
Parent Kim Friedman told me teachers were planning to meet with Mt. Diablo district Superintendent Steven Lawrence at 3 p.m. today, followed by a parent meeting with Lawrence at 4 p.m.
Many plan to protest the move to the school board tonight at 7:30 p.m.
“Because of the way it was handled, that’s most of the reason why we are very upset,” Friedman told me today. “We have very little trust in this district as it is.”
I couldn’t reach Schuler, Lawrence or Rose Lock, assistant superintendent of elementary instruction, this afternoon. But I spoke to Valle Verde Principal Carolyn Kreuscher, who confirmed that Schuler will be taking the over leadership of the school in the fall.
“I’m absolutely thrilled,” Kreuscher said. “She’s going to be an incredible person to take over the helm. I’ve known her as a colleague for years and years. And I’ve known her as a friend. So, I feel like my community is blessed to have her coming aboard.”
Kreuscher said she notified her staff about their new leader Monday after school ended. She also sent an email to parents letting them know who would greet them in September.
Lock called Kreuscher over the weekend to tell her Schuler would be her replacement. Kreuscher’s last day is June 29.
She said she had no say in deciding who would replace her. And although some in the community are calling Schuler’s new assignment an “involuntary transfer,” Kreuscher said there is no such thing for principals.
“I don’t think that is true, because I don’t think that kind of language applies to us as principals,” Kreuscher said. “We’re hired as part of our district. What I know and what I’ve understood is that we go where we’re going to best service our communities.”
Kreuscher said she was transferred to Valle Verde 13 years ago, after working as principal at Holbrook Elementary in Concord. Schuler was transferred to Bancroft after working as principal of Mt. Diablo Elementary in Clayton.
Some Bancroft parents said they found out about Schuler’s departure from friends who received Kreuscher’s email. Kreuscher said Lock didn’t ask her to keep the news under wraps and told her she could inform her staff.
“I know that once I inform my staff, my community knows within five seconds of that,” Kreuscher said. “I know that Linda Schuler told her staff prior to me telling my staff.”
Still, Kreuscher said she could sympathize with concerns of the Bancroft community.
“That’s to be understood,” she said. “It’s very difficult, I think, for people to let go of good leadership.”
Kreuscher also said she would have expected the district to inform her school ahead of time, if she were being transferred (instead of retiring).
“Absolutely,” she said. “That’s the difficult piece.”
When asked if the Bancroft community uproar could have been prevented, Kreuscher said she couldn’t speak to that.
“To be honest,” she said, “I feel like my boss (Lock) and superintendent are working as hard as they can to do things that are right for kids and I dont think this is easy times. I think they’re trying to be responsive with so much to be responsive to.”
Do you think the district handled the transfer appropriately?

Posted on Tuesday, June 15th, 2010
Under: Education, Mt. Diablo school district, Theresa Harrington, Walnut Creek | 15 Comments »

Some unions say MDUSD proposals would devastate them

By Theresa Harrington
Budget cuts are causing union negotiations to go sour quickly in the Mt. Diablo school district, according to some employee representatives.
Members of the Calfornia School Employees Association and Local One say they plan to rally before the board meeting tomorrow to express their frustrations over proposals they find unacceptable.
“The district is looking to make permanent concessions, which would be devastating to our membership,” said James Jones, who represents members of Local One. “They just want to tear out of the collective bargaining agreement all the things we’ve worked for and basically not even try to work together. We think the community needs to know that.”
Jones said the union is willing to make temporary concessions for three years or less to help the district get through the current state budget crisis. Members plan an “informational picket” at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday outside the district office, he said.
Annie Nolen, who represents members of the Calfornia School Employees Association, said negotiations came to an impasse quickly, when the district refused to increase benefits workers rely on.
“What is getting ready to happen is going to be so bad,” she said. “We figure some of the members may not bring home a paycheck.”
This is because most members of the union, which includes campus supervisors and other non-teaching positions, work six hours a day or less. Nolen estimates most of their paychecks would be eaten up by benefits contributions under the district’s proposal.
Nolen said the statewide union president plans to attend the Mt. Diablo rally.
“We’ve been planning this for quite a while,” she said. “They’re getting ready to layoff and reduce hours, which will hurt my people even more. Most of them are poverty level anyway, especially my single women. They’re already working more than one job.”
Fiscal services director Bryan Richards said the board has to cut somewhere. It could try to push through cuts to employee salaries and benefits.
“Absent getting those, we’re going to have to be able to make cuts to make up the difference,” Richards said. “I anticipate that we are going to have to have a plan. We should have direction on how that plan’s going to take shape after tomorrow night’s board meeting.”
A list of possible budget reductions was not included in the agenda. But the board expects to discuss union negotiations during closed session and may report its decisions during the public portion of the meeting, which starts at 7:30 p.m. at the district office.
Meanwhile, the teachers’ union doesn’t anticipate coming to the negotiating table until September, said president-elect Michael Langley. Union members are voting today on a new vice president to fill Langley’s previous position.
Former union president Mike Noce will return to teaching at Foothill Middle School. Three members seeking the vice presidency were narrowed to two after the first vote was taken.
Today, members are choosing between Northgate teacher Guy Moore and librarian Jo Carlson. Moore received 237 votes in the first election and Carlston received 347.
El Monte Elementary teacher Linda Ortega received 116 votes and didn’t qualify for the runoff.
The new union officer would be part of the executive board, which doesn’t plan to meet again until August, due to summer vacation, Langley said.
Do you think the district should agree to temporary concessions, instead of permanent ones? Do you think the district should make other cuts to prevent employees from taking deep reductions?

Posted on Monday, June 14th, 2010
Under: Concord, Education, Mt. Diablo school district, Walnut Creek | 4 Comments »

Layoffs hit schools hard

Jessica Beerbaum, fifth-grade teacher at Silverwood Elementary.

Jessica Beerbaum, fifth-grade teacher at Silverwood Elementary.

By Theresa Harrington
When I visited Silverwood Elementary in Concord to write a story about teachers being laid-off, I was impressed by the dedication of educators I interviewed and touched by the relationships they have built with their students.
I interviewed fifth-grade teacher Jessica Beerbaum and special education teacher Robin Evans. Both of them also spoke on camera about how they feel to be leaving the school, after receiving pink slips.
Here is Beerbaum, talking about her time at the school.
And here is Evans explaining why she loves to teach special education students.
Across the Mt. Diablo school district, students and teachers are facing the difficult reality that campuses are losing some valued staff members. Northgate High School Sentinel reporter Antonio Lau wrote about how layoffs are affecting his Walnut Creek school in this story.
Here’s an excerpt:
“One of the teachers who received a pink slip was chemistry teacher and swim coach Kevin Taylor. Taylor, who has only been at Northgate for a couple of years, is a well liked teacher among his students. One of his students even made a Facebook group dedicated to asking people to help save Taylor’s job.
“I am very happy to have students who care about my well being. I hope they can show the same care for the whole system and work to make their voices heard in a productive manner,” Taylor said.
With the budget cuts, schools are losing more than just their teachers. All 5th grade music in the Mount Diablo Unified School District will be cut as well causing students to lose a crucial year in music.
“It’s really bad that they would cut music class in 5th grade. It causes all the students to be a year behind which is going to affect them in the long run,” said sophmore Fabien Vaucheret, a member of orchestra at Northgate.
Northgate’s own music teacher Mr. Brown also received a pink slip by the district, which had many students worried. Thankfully during the Northgate Jazz Band’s performance at Yoshi’s, Brown proudly announced that he was not going to be fired.
With this country at its current economic state, it is only safe to assume that the California budget crisis is going to continue getting worse. However firing well-liked teachers and cutting good classes is not going to help with our education. It will only turn good schools into mediocre schools and deprive students of knowledge they will need in the future.”
Do you believe that budget cuts and layoffs are making good schools mediocre and depriving students of important knowledge?

Posted on Wednesday, June 9th, 2010
Under: Concord, Education, Mt. Diablo school district, Theresa Harrington, Walnut Creek | No Comments »

Nine school measures in Contra Costa, Santa Clara counties


School bond mailer
School bond mailer

By Theresa Harrington
Two Contra Costa County school districts and seven in Santa Clara County are hoping voters will approve bond or parcel tax measures today.
In Contra Costa County, the West Contra Costa Unified School District’s Measure D is seeking a $380 million bond for facilities upgrades that would increase property taxes an estimated $48 per $100,000 of assessed value. The Mt. Diablo Unifed School district is asking voters to approve Measure C, which would provide $348 million in bonds to fund solar projects and other upgrades.
The Mt. Diablo measure would extend the $60 per $100,000 of assessed value tax rate approved when voters passed the district’s 2002 Measure C, extending payment for the 2010 measure 42 years at an estimated cost of up to $1.8 billion.
Both bond measures require 55 percent voter approval to pass.
Here’s what the San Jose Mercury News says about the South Bay measures:
In Santa Clara County, there are three measures for construction bonds at Mountain View-Los Altos Union High School District, Los Gatos Union School District and Campbell Union Elementary School District that would pay to expand facilities, fix roofs and wiring, and modernize libraries. They require 55 percent.
Four other districts are seeking to increase parcel taxes: Alum Rock Union Elementary School District; Milpitas Unified School District; Oak Grove School District; and the Mount Pleasant Elementary School District. The measures, which require two-thirds majority to pass, range from $68 to $160 a year, and would fund music, science, art, counseling, libraries, and other services.
You can get election results throughout the night at or on the Contra Costa County elections office website at
How did you vote?

Posted on Tuesday, June 8th, 2010
Under: California, Contra Costa County, Education, Mt. Diablo school district, West Contra Costa school district | No Comments »

Who donated to Measure C campaign?

CUES campaign disclosure form through May 22, 2010.

CUES campaign disclosure form through May 22, 2010.

By Theresa Harrington
The Mt. Diablo school district’s Measure C campaign reported receiving $204,500 through May 26, 2010, according to documents filed with the Contra Costa County elections department.
The money helped pay for numerous mailers, campaign consultants and pollsters, whose survey results have not been released to the public.
Big supporters included contractors, unions, lawyers, architects and bond underwriters, who could arguably benefit from construction contracts if the measure passes. The campaign received smaller contributions from educators and school parent groups.
The campaign reportedly received $142,237 by May 22. It pulled in another $62,500 on May 25.
Here’s a rundown of some of the biggest contributors:
$25,000: Seward L. Schreder Construction, Redding
$25,000: Northern CA Carpenters, Regional Council Issues PAC
$25,000: IBEW 302: Community Issues PAC
$25,000: Stone and Youngberg, San Francisco, bond underwriters
$15,000: George K. Baum and Co., Denver, bond underwriters
$15,000: Sheet Metal Workers International, Local Union No. 04
$15,000: Brandis Tallman LLC, San Francisco, bond underwriters
$10,000: Diablo Education Association Political Account
$ 7,500: Haight, Brown & Bonesteel, LLP, Los Angeles
$ 5,000: Law Offices of Peter Bonis
$ 5,000: Bret and Valerie Taber, Taber Construction Inc., Martinez
$ 5,000: Matthew P. Juhl-Darlington, bond disclosure counsel
$ 5,000: Vanir/3DI, a Joint Venture, Sacramento
$ 5,000: Verde Design, Inc., Santa Clara
$ 4,500: Taber Construction, Inc., Martinez
$ 2,500: Trico Pipe, Martinez
$ 2,500: Capital Engineering Consultants, Inc., Rancho Cordova
$ 1,500: Corlett, Skaer and Devoto Architects, San Francisco
$ 1,000: Nacht and Lewis Architects, Sacramento
$ 500: College Park PTSA, Pleasant Hill
$ 500: Clayton Valley High School Parent Faculty Club, Concord
$ 500: Government Financial Strategies, Sacramento
$ 250: Teamsters Local Union No. 315 PAC, Martinez
The campaign received 11 contributions of $100 each from individuals and organizations including former Interim Superintendent Dick Nicoll, trustee Linda Mayo, assistant superintendent Mildred Browne and the Mt. Diablo Council of Parent Teacher Associations.
Here are some of the large payments made with the money:
$85,176: TBWB Strategies, San Francisco, campaign consultants
$20,415: EMC Research, Oakland, research and polling
$ 8,427: Paul Higgins, San Jose, salary and field office expenses
Many nonunion contractors are opposing the measure because they fear the district would impose a Project Labor Agreement, which would exclude them from bidding on contracts.
The school board approved a bond counsel contract with Matt Juhl-Darlington on April 13. Trustees approved a master investment banking agreement on May 11 with the bond underwriting team of Stone & Youngberg, George K. Baum & Co., and Brandis Tallman LLC.
TBWB Strategies consultant Jared Boigon informed me the campaign committee decided not to release poll results from EMC Research to the public. A Public Records Act request from me to the district for the poll results is pending, based on the fact that trustees relied on the poll when they voted March 9 to put Measure C on the June 8 ballot.
Are you surprised by the list of donors? Do you think the public has the right to see the polling results?

Posted on Monday, June 7th, 2010
Under: Concord, Education, Mt. Diablo school district, Theresa Harrington | 18 Comments »