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School Board Relations: 101

By Theresa Harrington
Monday, February 14th, 2011 at 7:15 pm in Education, Mt. Diablo school district, Theresa Harrington.

Silverwood Elementary supporter holds sign at Feb. 8 Mt. Diablo school board meeting.

Silverwood Elementary supporter holds sign at Feb. 8 Mt. Diablo school board meeting.

By Theresa Harrington

It was a bit like a marriage and family counseling session for school board trustees.

“How does this work?” Trustee Lynne Dennler asked, during a Mt. Diablo school board retreat Sunday. “I’m a ‘Let’s all get along person.’ When you disagree, do you get up and scream, or do you privately tell the person? When you think someone is nuts, you can only tell one (other person)?”

Dennler, a retired teacher, is one of two new trustees on the five-member Mt. Diablo school board. Trustee Cheryl Hansen is the other newbie, although she has had experience working with boards as a school and County Office of Education administrator.

The board and Superintendent Steven Lawrence met at the district office with Kirk Berger, an operational performance consultant, to discuss norms, procedures and strategic planning. Their goal was to help the board work together more effectively.

“How you communicate with each other sends a message,” Kirk told trustees.

He laid out the following formula: PO + RUA + AD = Board Behavior

PO stands for “personal orientations,” he said. “Some of you are bottom-liners, some of you are relationship people. This is all about blending.”

RUA stands for Role Understanding and Acceptance. AD is the ability to Adapt and be flexible, he said.

Berger suggested trustees should agree to norms of behavior that would foster trust, open communication and a supportive culture within the board. He said protocols are more tangible than norms, because they involve procedures that could also be regulated through bylaws.

Board President Gary Eberhart said the public seems to be picking up on an undercurrent of negativity on the board, especially related to the school closure process.

“I want to get to know how we as a board and the superintendent are going to proceed through the meetings without blaming each other, without blaming the past, without trashing the district and its past practices,” he said. “How are we as a board going to move forward in a positive way and advocate for decisions based on the merits and really do what’s best for students?”

Eberhart proposed the following norm:

“We argue on the merits, ” he said. “We don’t attack the board. We don’t attack the school district, because we are the school district. That requires a truce.”

Yet, Eberhart admitted that he has not always followed what he preached.

“I’ve been on both sides of that,” he said. “I’m not an innocent one in that kind of an argument. But, as I look back at all of those arguments, I don’t know that anything was ever gained by arguing about personalities and arguing about the past.”

Berger said trustees should create a culture that allows them to question each other when they don’t think they’re living up to the spirit of their bylaws, norms or protocols. They should feel comfortable pointing that out responsibly, he added. If it’s not done in an accusing way, he said, trustees being singled out shouldn’t feel defensive.

“As long as we understand what our expectations are, it shouldn’t be a problem,” Berger said. “Half of our problems are we don’t know what to expect of each other.”

Some boards check in with each other at the end of their meetings to review how well they stuck to their principles, he said. But Trustee Sherry Whitmarsh said she’d prefer to address lapses in behavior right when they happen.

“I’d actually rather call another board member out on it when they’re doing it,” she said.

Hansen said she wanted to focus on expectations, standards and practices. She said the board should spend more time discussing issues and that each trustee should explain why he or she is voting a certain way. Hansen also stressed the importance of strategic planning, saying the district should become proactive instead of reactively “putting out fires.”

“It’s not about our egos,” she said. “It’s not about our agenda. It’s about our common purpose around student learning.”

Trustee Linda Mayo said she wanted “no surprises” and that she would like to prohibit board members from communicating with others electronically during meetings.

“Are people who are not attending a board meeting having more influence on particular board members than the public who is there?” she asked. “The way it’s discovered is that someone on the receiving end of a communication from a board member forwards it to someone else.”

Lawrence said he only recently found out that people can comment online during board meetings on the mdusdblog where meetings are webcast.

“You’re asking that people don’t participate in that interactive community?” he asked.

“Yes,” Mayo said. “My feeling is we are a team as a board in the middle of a meeting first, working with staff and working with the public that’s chosen to come to a meeting.”

Berger said it’s important for trustees to be focused on the meeting and that electronic communications can cause board members to pay less attention. He suggested trustees could look at the California School Boards Association’s (CSBA) new electronic communications bylaw as a guide.

“The issue of the public communicating with you during the meeting to me fails the transparency test,” he said. “I think that breaks down the integrity of this kind of sacred thing we have here.”

Trustees agreed to look at the CSBA bylaw when they continue discussions about norms, protocols and bylaws from 7-9 p.m. March 3.

Mayo also suggested that the entire board should receive a Brown Act presentation, so all trustees are on the same page regarding what is and isn’t allowed. Dennler was surprised she couldn’t send an e-mail to all other board members if she had a new idea she wanted to bounce off of them.

Comparing school boards to city councils, Berger said trustees should not shy away from meeting late into the night to discuss important issues, such as student achievement. Trustees should delegate less important issues to the superintendent, he added.

“You can hold your staff accountable,” Berger said. “But, you can’t go out there and solve all the problems.”

He also addressed trustees’ concerns about how to move on after split votes.

“You don’t have to be a 5-0 board to be a good board,” Berger said. “I think it’s very helpful to explain before you vote why you’re going to vote that way because it suggests good process and it’s transparent. People respect people who stand up for their beliefs. When you’re voting against the majority, that’s what you’re doing. But if it’s the same one or two people who are voting against everything, that’s a governance problem. I would expect it to rotate naturally, just based on the issues.”

Lawrence said negative comments hurt the process.

“If it becomes personal and moves beyond a conversation around the ideas,” he said, “I think it then becomes more difficult to work together in a positive way.”

Berger said trustees have four options after losing in a split vote: advocate the outcome, honor the outcome, remain silent or fight it. He said advocating it is the highest and best choice, honoring it is good, remaining silent is “unfortunate” and fighting it defeats the whole purpose of a democracy.

“There are board members who are on the wrong side of split votes who go out against them and it makes you look bad,” he said, “because our democracy is built on honoring the majority.”

Trustees will meet about school closures at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the Glenbrook Middle School gym, discussing Eberhart’s idea of closing Westwood Elementary and sending Glenbrook students to El Dorado Middle School and the former Westwood site.

Berger said Lawrence could have alerted trustees to Eberhart’s idea individually before the Feb. 8 meeting so they wouldn’t have been surprised, even though Eberhart himself could only speak to one other board member, due to the Brown Act. He also suggested the board could hold “work session” meetings, where they could brainstorm about new ideas without making decisions.

Berger said the board should inform the public about how trustees are making their school closure decisions, taking on their roles with humility.

“You have to look at collective interests, not self-interest,” Berger said. “You have to rise to the occasion and let the public understand what’s going on and understand the process. Answer all their questions, even when they’re angry. You don’t have to take personal abuse, but do a good job of mediating this whole thing of ‘who’s in charge.’”

Ultimately, he said, the public is in charge. The best time for public comment, he added, is after the staff presentation and initial discussion by the board.

This way, he said, the public understands what trustees are considering and can comment on the direction trustees appear to be heading in.

Trustees have agreed to close Glenbrook and Holbrook Elementary in Concord. They have also agreed to eliminate the recommendation to close Monte Gardens Elementary in Concord and Sequoia Elementary and Sequioa Middle School in Pleasant Hill.

They have not voted to remove Silverwood or Wren Avenue elementary schools in Concord from the recommendations.

Here’s what Silverwood parent John Pamer wrote to me in an e-maill today about the school closure process so far:

“The Silverwood community has been in a state of uncertainty for some time about our future. It’s been frustrating at times to watch a process unfold over which we have limited influence that will affect our children’s education and social life, as well as the quality and livability of our neighborhoods and our home values.

Most organizations looking at cutbacks would start by eliminating who and what is not performing well. There are schools in the district that have low capacity utilization and are not meeting their academic performance targets. Silverwood isn’t one of them. Silverwood should be held out as a success story in the MDUSD — a neighborhood-based student body that is ethnically and economically diverse coming together to create a sound level of achievement. Instead, we have been targeted for closure under the guise of saving money.

At the January 19 Board Study session, Board President Eberhart directed Superintendant Lawrence to see if there was a way to combine some programs and repurpose closed campuses to save enough money to perhaps save one school. On January 25 I was encouraged to see that Dr. Lawrence presented a proposal that did not require the closure of Silverwood.

On February 8, I was surprised as everyone else to hear the proposal by Chairman Eberhart to send Glenbrook to El Dorado as a unit, and in turn to send Westwood as a unit to Mountain View. I was disappointed to hear that Silverwood was still under consideration for closure.

While I am encouraged that this latest proposal would spare Silverwood, I am not happy that it would come at the expense of another school. That being said, I think it makes more economic sense than simply closing Silverwood. The biggest difference between Westwood and Silverwood is that the Westwood student body would move to a new site intact, while Silverwood would be split three ways, destroying the synergy we’ve built. Mr. Eberhart’s proposal would also preserve Glenbrook’s grant funding, which is paramount given the budget crisis MDUSD is facing.

John Pamer”

Linda Loza, a Walnut Creek parent who attended the board retreat, said she agreed with Berger’s suggestion that the board should focus on student achievement and allow the superintendent to oversee day-to-day district operations.

She was also encouraged by the board’s willingness to address the way it is perceived by the public.

“I believe that this board has an incredible problem with a lack of public trust and confidence and that anything they can do to repair that has to be a priority,” she said. “And the fact that they are willing to do some meetings that are like ‘work-study’ meetings — I think that will go a long way toward making people feel more comfortable about the decisions they’re making. I thought that was a great idea.”

Do you think the board should hold more “work-study” meetings, where trustees can brainstorm about new ideas?

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  • 4Students

    The board is the foundation for the district, and that foundation has been too shaky for years. This “101″ session gave them a way to strengthen their foundation. For the sake of the district, we hope each board member was listening and processing and the district will see the improvement.

    Work sessions are a great idea, and besides the urgent issues of school closures and employee negotiations, the board should focus on student achievement. The board might choose topics to discuss like low-performing schools, special ed programs, closing the achievement gap, ELL programs, technology in classrooms, articulation, and student truancy to understand completely before making a final decision. The meeting scheduled to discuss discipline issues, school culture and classroom management is a good starting point.

    This “101″ session also was important for the superintendent. His role is bigger than it seems, some jobs should be delegated to him by the trustees, jobs such as engaging the community. The superintendent mentioned that Long Beach School District, one of Time magazine’s best urban school districts in the nation, is a model for him. Well, Long Beach’s web page shows “Linked Learning leads to college” and both a Strategic Plan and Superintendent’s Goals, and a School Building Plan, Technology Master Plan and more. This is despite budget problems – facing $27M budget cuts, 621 layoffs, 2 school closures and increased class sizes.

    Most importantly, the superintendent was told to work with each board member 1-on-1. He needs to be proactive, because he is pivotal to help the trustees reach the best and informed decisions.

  • Anon

    I find this whole exercise ironic. Eberhart is concerned about the District losing trust because the Board is bickering. What trust?

    1.) Eberhart was often a lone voice on the Board prior to Mr. Strange’s appointment. And he believed his dissenting vote was important.

    2.) The amount of negative rhetoric about the District was at an all time high during the ousting of McHenry. The MDUSD blog had a policy of “you can say anything about someone (even parents) provided it was not dangerous.” Now when the tables have turned the blog is moderated.

    3.) Did Eberhart and Strange think that the way they treated Treece and McHenry was respectful and built trust?

    It just seems that all of a sudden trust has become important… I guess I should be happy that they have come around to understanding that. I only hope it will spill over into all of their actions not just their justification for silencing the frustrated opinion of a colleague.

  • Theresa Harrington

    4Students: As you point out, Berger also said board members could raise ideas for new topics and ask that they be placed on future agendas. This would allow trustees to vote on whether to place an item on a future agenda and would prevent “surprises.”
    Eberhart said he would like to talk about “school climate,” including discipline and enforcement. The other trustees didn’t say whether they wanted to put that on a future agenda or not. It is my hope that if the board adopts this process, written staff reports providing background information and any potential recommendation could also be made available with the agenda. This would also prevent surprises. Although the Feb. 8 agenda stated that “new ideas” might be raised, there was no staff report outlining what the new ideas would be.
    I also thought Berger’s comments about the superintendent’s role were interesting, especially in light of Lawrence’s apparent inability to say what the “next steps” were after the Jan. 25 meeting. All he said was, “I don’t know because I’m waiting to receive direction from the board president and vice president.”
    Berger clearly told Lawrence that he can actively reach out to board members to ask them what direction they want to head in, instead of passively sitting around waiting for them to give him direction. Also, Berger stressed that no one board member has more authority than any other board member to give direction, meaning the president and vice president are not the only ones Lawrence needs to listen to.
    I asked Berger if the board president can give direction to the superintendent outside of a public meeting. Berger said this is a matter of protocol. Some boards, such as Mt. Diablo, allow the president and vice president to give direction as part of “agenda-setting.”
    But, Berger said trustees should also give clear direction during board meetings. That didn’t happen Jan. 25, which left the public (as well as the superintendent and some trustees, it appears), in the dark about what would happen next.

  • Theresa Harrington

    FYI, Board President Gary Eberhart has posted an outline of what he expects to discuss tonight on his blog at http://mdusd.blogspot.com/.
    He also is changing his anonymous comments policy. Here’s what he wrote:
    “I have decided to modify the blog’s comment policy. From this point forward, those who comment will have to sign in and leave their name. The issues that we face as a community are too important for me to, in effect, condone comments that are anonymous and unproductive. We need your ideas and thoughts around the work that we are trying to accomplish. We need your constructive criticism. This will no doubt limit the number of comments, but I am more interested in quality over quantity. If you have ideas and thoughts that you don’t want to place your name by, then e-mail me or call me. I am always willing to have confidential discussions with those who contact me.”

  • 4Students

    Anonymous bloggers will go to another site, such as MDUSD Parents which is run by an anonymous blogger. We’re thankful to MDUSD Parents for keeping it positive.

    Superintendents of other successful local school districts have provided guidance to their boards. One example is they proactively suggest relevant topics for work sessions (e.g. closing the achievement gap for special education students). The MDUSD superintendent might bring ideas from meetings of PAC and other parent groups. The board hired the superintendent for his experience and insight as well as his management skills. The board and superintendent need to re-balance their workloads, and it would be best for the trustees to step back some and the superintendent to step up more.

  • Doctor J

    I have been positively energized by the Berger “counseling”. I just hope that ALL board members can take it to heart, and change their ways to make this Board a unfied and productive Board. it is clear that now more than ever, we need a Strategic Plan and it will help unify this Board and the community.

  • Theresa Harrington

    Berger also told trustees they should not be individually asking for information from the superintendent. Eberhart said it wouldn’t work for the superintendent to tell a trustee, “No, I’m not going to give you that information.”
    But Berger said it would be perfectly reasonable for the superintendent to tell a trustee that he needed to check with the rest of the board before providing certain information.
    Under Gary McHenry, when trustees were requesting information for budget cuts, all trustees were given the same information (so if one trustee requested something, they all got it). This gave them all a level playing field.
    Berger said some trustees try to turn the superintendent into their “handmaiden” and that secret requests for information could serve to further individual agendas, without the rest of the board’s knowledge.

  • Doctor J

    @4Students. Excellent comments, but you have to remember that this Supt has openly been hostile to a Strategic Plan — he and the Board need to unify on this issue ASAP. I am concerned that the Board President and Vice-president perceive their positions as giving them greater influence and power over the other board members. So far Gary appears open to change some of his ways — only time will tell. With his experience, and a change in his ways to follow the Berger recommendations, he could end up being a highly successful Board member. For the last 15 years, dipolomacy has not been his strong suit. Lets see if he can change his stripes.

  • Doctor J

    @Theresa. I like the concept that if one asks, all get the answer. Secrecy is the breeding ground for corruption. That was what Buttercupgate was all about. Unfortunately, I think Gary will have a very hard time not micromanaging the Supt. But I will give him a chance to prove himself.

  • Theresa Harrington

    Due to scheduling conflicts, the board won’t meet regarding strategic planning until April 26, when trustees expect to discuss what strategic planning means.
    As you may recall, the board already had such a study session Oct. 5. Here’s a link to my detailed blog post about that discussion: http://www.ibabuzz.com/onassignment/2010/10/10/mt-diablo-school-district-paves-way-for-strategic-planning/. Since Trustees Lynne Dennler and Cheryl Hansen were not on the board at that time, it looks like the board is planning to rehash the same material before moving forward. At that time, then-President Paul Strange said he had appointed Eberhart and Whitmarsh to an ad hoc committee to further explore strategic planning with Lawrence. However, neither Eberhart, Whitmarsh nor Lawrence mentioned on Sunday whether they had discussed strategic planning since October.
    Also, related to protocols, it will be interesting to see if the board addresses transparency in agendas and how trustees should recuse themselves from items on which they have personal conflicts. As I have previously mentioned, the name of Schreder and Associates has been omitted from two agendas where trustees voted on consultant contracts with the firm. Yet, general counsel Greg Rolen told me the names of consultants should routinely appear in agendas.
    Also, Eberhart has abstained from voting on Schreder and Associates contracts three times. Once, he clearly stated that he would abstain and said why. The second time, he participated in the discussion and suggested an amendment to the motion, then abstained during the electronic vote without explanation. The third time, he did not participate in the discussion, but he didn’t announce ahead of time that he would abstain. When the vote appeared electronicially, he gave no explanation for his abstention.
    Berger’s suggestion that transparency builds community trust might prompt the board to develop protocols around such situations.

  • 4Students

    Berger said the Strategic Plan is one of only 2 jobs for the board. The board’s relationship with the superintendent is based on creating Strategy for the district. The superintendent cited Long Beach district as a model, which has a strategic plan. It is inconceivable that they would not be working on this, actively and urgently.

  • Theresa Harrington

    Berger said every board decision should be checked against the district’s strategic goals and objectives, to be sure they’re aligned. He also said goals and objectives for the board, superintendent, principals, teachers and other staff should all be aligned with a strategic plan.
    In addition, Berger pointed out that although the board should make decisions based on what is best for students, trustees should also consider what is best for staff, since staff drives student achievement. He said the board should try to ensure that staff is given the support it needs to “be the best it can be” and that teachers should be given the opportunity to become “teacher leaders.”

  • Doctor J

    @4Students — I agree with you but the Supt has been openly hostile to a Strategic Plan saying he doesn’t believe in one, but only “Goals and Objectives”. I just can’t see him openly embracing a Strategic Plan. He might ‘wink and nod” at one, but “embrace it”, I haven’t seen that kind of humility from the Supt.

  • Doctor J

    @Theresa. I like what Berger is saying. I hope we will hear more from him. He could be a huge influence in guiding both the Board and the Supt and help them get out of the hole they have dug for themselves. But to do that, the individual board members and the Supt will have to be humble enough to accept real change.

  • Theresa Harrington

    When Lawrence brought up Long Beach, Berger said that district has had very little superintendent turnover, compared to most districts. He also said Long Beach has had some excellent superintendents.
    Berger smiled, looked at Lawrence, and said, “The superintendent is setting a very high bar for himself.”

  • Doctor J

    I am all for the Supt setting a high bar. But he has to start flying the airplane instead of being a flight attendant.

  • Wait a Minute

    All I can say is good luck. Lawrence is famous for bullying his subordinates and generally having anger and control issues.

    Honestly, if there is any newfound humility from these people it is only because they have been openly exposed and publicly castigaged for their ethical lapses and generally poor leadership and decisions.

    Now that really hard decisions (with serious consequences) have to be made, they suddenly want to embrace the opposite style that they have been using?

    I doubt its for real, its more likely a Grand Jury inquiry or some other external pressure is being brought to bear.

    Only time will tell.

  • Doctor J

    Tonight will be the first test of whether any of Berger’s teachings took hold with the Board. Will the Board try and micromanage the closures, or if not satisfied with the SCAC and staff recommendations, send the issue back to the Supt, staff and committee with their concerns for more work. This is no time for a hasty decision. And the Board had better reflect on Beger’s comments. He is right. Get moving on a Strategic Plan ASAP.

  • Theresa Harrington

    Wait a Minute: When Trustee Lynne Dennler was trying to understand how board members keep track of talking to only one other person about issues, one board member said maybe she could keep a log of who she talks to about what.
    Eberhart said: “That could be subpoenaed. You don’t want to do that.”

  • Doctor J

    @Theresa: Cell phone records, server records of emails, etc are all subject to subpoena. Remember a violation takes two people Its really not hard to get someone to flip. You get both in separate inteview rooms, and tell them both that the first to flip gets leniency and the other gets full term. The first one to sing like a canary, get off light. Works every time except with career criminals.

  • Theresa Harrington

    I thought it was interesting advice, since Dennler seemed to want to keep track so she could avoid violating the Brown Act.
    Since only two board members are allowed to talk to each other about an issue, Mayo said this can sometimes lead to one board member being left out of conversations (if the same other two sets of trustees choose to talk to each other all the time).
    “You feel like you’re a social pariah because no one wants to talk to you,” Mayo said. “I felt like that two years in a row. I was the odd man out and that was a difficult place to be.”

  • Doctor J

    Sounds like last night’s meeting was back to SNAFU — Situation Normal All F#@%$&* Up. Cheryl Hansen is correct — MDUSD is just guessing — not making decisions on facts. STOP ! Lets get a Strategic Plan.

  • Theresa Harrington

    The district appears to be attempting to invent a fifth school reform option: consolidation. It hopes to persuade the state and federal government to let it keep the SIG money by asserting that the El Dorado/Glenbrook consolidation is still Glenbrook. It plans to do this by keeping the same school accounting code.
    Yet, El Dorado’s school population is different from Glenbrook’s and El Dorado is not one of the state’s lowest-achieving schools. It will be interesting to see if the state and federal government agree to the district’s proposal.

  • Colleen

    At the beginning of the process of school closures, why were schools who receive grant/additional funding not identified? If they had been, and guidance given on whether or not the district was willing to give up the funding to save $$, we would not be in the situation we are today – moving a whole school to another school is absurd and costly. The savings is now smoke and mirrors.

    A strategy for the school closures should have been a minimum requirement before moving forward with a committee to make recommendations.

  • Doctor J

    @Theresa. Another shell game. Book ‘em Dano.

  • Theresa Harrington

    Dr. J: It would be surprising if the state and federal government agreed that a consolidated school was the same as Glenbrook simply because it had the same school code.
    Colleen: Certainly district staff knew which schools had grants. However, it’s unclear how much information was given to the school closure committee regarding the grants. Grant funding is not included in the criteria and wasn’t included in the consultants’ analyses, as far as I can tell.

  • Theresa Harrington

    The SIG application states:
    “The applicant hereby expresses its full understanding that not meeting all SIG requirements will result in the termination of SIG funding.”
    Also:
    “The applicant agrees that the SEA (state education agency) has the right to intervene, renegotiate the sub-grant, and/or cancel the sub-grant is the sub-grant recipient fails to comply with the sub-grant requirements.”
    Perhaps the district is hoping to renegotiate is grant based on its plan to close Glenbrook.

  • Doctor J

    I think the problem that Lawrence has is that the SIG grant money for this year was already delivered to MDUSD and they SPENT the cash on “cash flow” [read that salaries] and so if they had to send it back, they don’t have the cash to do it. I can’t emphasize how short sighted the Board was last year in not beginning the school closure study then instead of now. Shoot from the hip — Gary’s brand of leadership. Now they are in a real deep pile of manure. Gary has to control the debate to keep this secret. Lawrence is starting to distance himself from Gary as the ship is taking on seawater. I think Cheryl has figured it out, but Lynne is still in la la land.

  • Theresa Harrington

    I was very surprised last night when I asked Rose Lock about the SIG funding. She said, “It’s very hard to find the right person to talk to who knows the answer.”
    She also told me: “They’re talking to different people.”
    When I asked what she meant, she said Gary Eberhart and Steven Lawrence were talking to different people than she was talking to.
    It appears the superintendent, Eberhart and Lock aren’t sharing information, yet Lock is the one in charge of implementing the grant.

  • Doctor J

    There goes Gary again playing the role of Supt. instead of letting Lawrence do his job. Gary just can’t stop micromanaging. No one in the Calif Dept of Education is going to go on record to approve a modification in advance — these are federal grants with federal requirements. Lawrence allowed each school to make up their own applications [only 4 of 6 did] and he made up the district’s to fund his new SASS department. No plan. No purpose. The Board approved it. What are they complaining about ? This was just a few months ago — not like they didn’t know this was coming. Lets see, we pay Lawrence $250k a year, and the Asst Supts about $175k a year — and they can’t figure this out ? Ask Sherry — how long would that last at Chevron ?

  • Theresa Harrington

    According to the federal requirements, there are only four reform options:

    1: School Closure: Close a school and enroll students in other schools that are higher-achieving. The other schools should be within reasonable proximity. (This is what moving Glenbrook students to El Dorado would be doing.)

    2: Transformation (What Glenbrook’s grant is for): Implement a series of required school improvement strategies, including replacing the principal who led the school prior to implementation of the transformation model and increasing instructional time.

    3: Turnaround: replace principal and no more than half the staff, adopt new governance, implement research-based instructional program that is aligned from one grade to the next, as well as aligned with state standards.

    4: Restart: Close and reopen as a charter school or under an educational management organization.

    “LEA’s (Local Education Agencies) and school districts are responsible for ensuring that one of the four school intervention models is implemented at each school identified as persistently lowest achieving,” according to the California State Department of Education.

    There is no mention of starting one reform, then switching to another that includes a large student population in a school that is not identified as persistently lowest achieving.

  • Doctor J

    Its a 3 ring circus: Eberhart, Lawrence and Locke all trying to talk to different people at the Calif Dept of Ed to get the answer they want on how to get around the Federal requirements. Lets take a deep breath. Weren’t these SIG applications filed in September 2010 ? Is Gary, Steven or Rose going to say they didn’t know in September they would be closing schools ? Ah, “school closure” is option no. one. If this didn’t severely impact our school communities and children, it actually would be comical. I guess giving the money back is not an option since they already spent it. This is better than watching reruns of the “Three Stooges”. Which one is Moe ?

  • Theresa Harrington

    Actually, the final application was submitted Nov. 10.
    It states: “The applicant will repay any funds which have been determined through a federal or state audit resolution process to have been misspent, misapplied, or otherwise not properly accounted for, and further agrees to pay any collection fees that may subsequently be imposed by the federal and/or state government.”
    Shortly, I’ll post the Glenbrook SIG budget so you can see exactly what the district committed to.

  • Doctor J

    Just 3 months ago !!! Pure incompentence by staff. Right in the middle of the school closure meetings. What were Lawrence, Locke and Rolen thinking ? Oh, “thinking” perhaps that is too much to expect.

  • Doctor J

    Let’s add SIGGATE to Lawrence’s list of accomplishments.

  • wait a minute

    So Eberhart is now giving legal advice to fellow board members? That’s scary!
    He must be hearing footsteps.
    What you have here is a classic case of the blind leading the blind.
    The shame of it all is there are plenty of good people in the MDUSD who if the narcissists would only listen to, could help lead these people out of the corner that they have painted themselves into.
    Its more likely though that these narcissists will lead the MDUSD off a cliff just like lemmings.
    I knew the good people of this district were in big trouble the moment they hired Lawrence. My only surprise is that he has lasted this long.

    Unfortunately, by the time he and his buddies are done the MDUSD will be out a lot of (squandered) money.

  • wait a minute

    On the subject of all these consultants being hired by the MDUSD, forgot to mention that Lawrence started his tenure at his last district by trying to hire his mommy as a consultant!

  • ANON1

    Wait a minute

    His mommy? Another interesting story?

  • Hell freezing over

    A district board president who doesn’t listen to anyone else who has differing ideas or opinions and has no concern about the communities and businesses his poorly thought out last minute proposal will impact.

    A city manager who doesn’t live in the city and drive the streets thinks traffic issues can be mitigated if the mega-middle school happens. No real answer regarding how that mitigation will happen when the city itself has budget and staffing issues of it’s own (sorry, we’re closed today – city furlough). Good luck getting past that crosswalk at the 4 way stop while the teens take their own sweet time crossing while holding up their sagging pants.

    A new police chief who just started in this city thinks all concerns about gangs if this mega-middle school happens can be addressed by meeting with two principals. No mention of
    private and public property concerns with the addition of 400+ more cars and teens in the neighborhoods affected. Oh wait – we don’t have the funds to pay for school site resource officers, let alone officers to direct traffic and give out tickets to the parents who let their kids out of the car in the middle of the street in front of the school or block the driveways and city bus stops while their kid takes their time getting out of the car.

    Terrific.