By Theresa Harrington
Now that the public has seen the recommendations forwarded by a Mt. Diablo school closure advisory committee, some are questioning the rationale used to come up with them.
Although the process has been touted as being “open and transparent,” committee ratings of schools according to seven criteria have been kept secret from the public. In addition, committee members voted anonymously and did not openly discuss the reasons for their votes at Monday’s meeting.
Rose Lock, assistant superintendent for Student Achievment and School Support, prevented members of the public from sitting at a table close to the committee, saying she wanted to protect the committee’s privacy. She also asked members of the public not to photograph the results of the votes and said she had been instructed not to rank the recommendations.
Still, it was obvious that the third recommendation (which includes Sequoia Elementary, Sequoia Middle School and Monte Gardens Elementary), received far less support than the top two.
Committee members were given four votes each to spread among nine different scenarios that included three to six schools each. They were also given four votes to spread among 45 schools (30 of which didn’t appear in the scenarios).
Here are the scenarios that the committee recommended, along with the votes they received:
Scenario 1a: Glenbrook Middle School, Silverwood Elementary and and Wren Avenue Elementary, all in Concord: 39 votes
Scenario 1b: Glenbrook Middle School, Silverwood Elementary and Holbrook Elementary, all in Concord: 16 votes
Scenario 4b: Sequoia Middle School and Sequoia Elementary in Pleasant Hill; and Monte Gardens Elementary in Concord: 13 votes
(14 voted to move forward with this recommendation and 10 voted against forwarding this recommendation)
Here are the scenarios not recommended, in order of votes:
Scenario 2: El Monte, Gregory Gardens, Holbrook and Silverwood elementary schools: 7 votes
Scenario 7: Bancroft, Gregory Gardens, Wren Avenue, Holbrook, Rio Vista and Strandwood elementary schools: 6 votes
Scenario 3: Gregory Gardens, Shore Acres, Silverwood and Wren Avenue elementary schools: 5 votes
Scenario 4a: Sequoia MS, Sequoia Elem. and Wren Ave. Elem.: 3 votes
Scenario 5: Oak Grove MS, Fair Oaks Elem., Shore Acres Elem.: 1 vote
Scenario 6: Fair Oaks, Ayers, Monte Gardens and Sequoia elementary schools: 1 vote
The votes for individual schools match the first two recommendations, with Glenbrook Middle and Silverwood, Wren and Holbrook elementary schools at the top of the list.
But support for the third scenario appears much weaker, with Monte Gardens and Sequoia Elementary and Sequoia Middle schools attracting fewer votes than some campuses that were not recommended.
Here are the school results, from most to least votes:
Silverwood Elementary, Concord: 19 votes (Included in scenarios 1a and 1b — RECOMMENDED)
Wren Avenue Elementary, Concord: 17 votes (Included in scenario 1a — RECOMMENDED)
Glenbrook Middle, Concord: 10 votes (Included in scenarios 1a and 1b — RECOMMENDED)
Holbrook Elementary, Concord: 10 votes (Included in scenario 1b — RECOMMENDED)
Gregory Gardens Elementary, Pleasant Hill: 7 votes (Included in scenarios 2, 3, and 7— not recommended)
El Monte Elementary, Concord: 5 votes (Included in scenario 2 — not recommended)
Oak Grove Middle, Concord: 4 votes (Included in scenario 5 — not recommended)
Sequoia Elementary, Pleasant Hill: 4 votes (Included in scenarios 4a and 4b — RECOMMENDED)
Northgate High, Walnut Creek: 4 votes (Not included in any proposed scenario)
Ayers Elementary, Concord: 3 votes (Included in scenario 6 — not recommended)
Sequoia Middle, Pleasant Hill: 3 votes (Included in scenarios 4a and 4b — RECOMMENDED)
Bancroft Elementary, Walnut Creek: 2 votes (Included in scenario 7 — not recommended)
Monte Gardens Elementary, Concord: 1 vote (Included in scenario 4b — RECOMMENDED)
Strandwood Elementary, Pleasant Hill: 1 vote (Not in any scenario)
Ygnacio Valley Elementary, Concord: 1 vote (Not in any scenario)
Ygnacio Valley High, Concord: 1 vote (Not in any scenario)
It is unclear why some committee members voted for schools not included in any proposed scenarios. The release of school ratings according to criteria might shed light on this.
These are the criteria the committee was supposed to use to make its decision: facility condition, capacity, operations and maintenance costs, available capacity at nearby sites, academic performance, geographic equity within the district, the possibility of moving students to better facilities and the cost of closure.
Data related to many of these criteria is at http://www.mdusd.org/Community/Pages/scac.aspx.
Here’s how the schools that received votes stack up according to academic performance index scores (800 is the state target); listed in order of votes received:
Silverwood Elementary, 828
Wren Avenue Elementary, 765
Glenbrook Middle, 660 (one of lowest-performing schools in state)
Holbrook Elementary, 777
Gregory Gardens Elementary, 818
El Monte Elementary, 754
Oak Grove Middle, 646 (one of lowest-performing schools in state; lowest-performing middle school in district)
Sequoia Elementary, 921
Northgate High, 864 (top performing high school in district)
Ayers Elementary, 834
Sequoia Middle, 867
Bancroft Elementary, 892
Monte Gardens Elementary, 918
Strandwood Elementary, 917
Ygnacio Valley Elementary, 753
Ygnacio Valley High, 666
Monte Gardens, Sequoia and Silverwood elementary schools all exceed the state’s academic performance target. Holbrook and Wren Avenue, on the other hand, are struggling to meet it.
Glenbrook and Oak Grove Middle schools are both among the district’s six lowest-performing schools in the state. Glenbrook has received a three-year $1.7 million School Improvement Grant to help turn the school around, but Oak Grove opted not to seek such a grant.
Based on the information the school closure committee has made public, do you agree with its recommendations?