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School closure transition in the Mt. Diablo district

By Theresa Harrington
Wednesday, February 16th, 2011 at 11:14 am in Education, Mt. Diablo school district, Theresa Harrington.

The Mt. Diablo school district has posted the following Q&A regarding school closures on its website:

“Questions and Answers About School Closure
February 14, 2011
(Information will be updated if needed)

STUDENTS:

How will the students going to the receiving sites be identified?

Using the new boundary maps, students and parents will be notified as to what their new home school is. Rose Lock and Julie Braun Martin will work with Dr. Browne’s Student Services staff and the site principals to confirm the enrollment at each site and determine the number of staff required at each site.

There will be a thirty day window for parents who submitted transfer requests or wish to submit transfer requests once all the chosen sites to be closed have been announced.

How will schools work together to welcome and integrate the new students and their families to the receiving school so students feel safe and wanted?

Principals and staff at the affected schools will collaborate with receiving site staffs to share their knowledge of the students, programs and traditions of all the sites involved. The receiving schools will highlight the instructional opportunities and community activities at their sites which will be held for incoming students and families. Information regarding school rules, procedures, and policies will be provided to the families in advance.

Will there be transportation for students?

No, when new boundary lines were considered, the walking distance to the receiving school and the accessibility to public transportation were considered.

What about After School programs?

Our after school program staff is currently researching different options such as expansion at receiving sites.

How can I get into leadership if students will be chosen in the spring?

Your current principal and teachers will work with the receiving school to ensure that displaced students will have the same opportunity to be chosen.

PARENTS/COMMUNITIES

What will the transition look like for the students?

Once schools are identified for closure, administrators of impacted schools will collaborate on transition activities which will occur before the end of this school year to prepare the community for the change.

Will students of affected schools be given any priority in the intra-district transfer process?

No. They will have 30 days to apply for an intradistrict transfer.

Will siblings be assigned to the same school?

The intent is to keep families together whenever possible.

How can we provide emotional support to families? What do we say?

The District Office staff will work closely with your school and the receiving schools to support a smooth transition for students, staff, and community members.

Can parents request that their students remain in the current feeder pattern?

If the new school is in a different feeder pattern, parents can apply for a transfer during the 30-day period to a school in the previous feeder pattern.

What happens to any leftover PTA funds?

PTAs are 501(c)3 organizations and as such the membership may, by vote at a properly noticed association meeting, donate funds and/or equipment to another nonprofit organization. The PTA must first notify the Mt. Diablo Council PTA and Thirty-Second District PTA regarding the process required and assistance to dissolve the association due to school closure. The financial records should be audited, and a final federal IRS 990, California Form 199, and Charitable Trust forms must be filed.

If the PFC is a 501(c)3 organization, the process is similar, but the leadership should consult with the IRS, the State of California, and the Attorney General’s office regarding requirements.

What happens to items purchased by the PTA or the PFC?

Items purchased by the PTA or PFC for a school become the property of the school and district. They will be distributed to the schools receiving the students.

What will happen to the school site?

The District will determine how the vacant site will be used. Other district programs may be consolidated there.

How will the district prevent loitering and maintain security on the campus?

As long as the District owns the property it will be responsible for maintaining it. As always, we rely on neighbors to report any suspicious activities to the police.

What will the district do for students with IEPs?

By law, the district must meet all the requirements of any student’s IEP. Services will be provided at the receiving site.

Staff

Certificated Staff

What is the process for placing MDEA members, the classroom teachers, at a receiving school from a site that is selected for school closure?

Please review Article 5 Transfer, the section on School Closure. That portion of the contract reads as follows:

· (5.16.1) Unit members will be notified within 15 working days of the Board decision.

· (5.16.1.1) Insofar as possible, the same proportion of unit members as students will be transferred to those schools receiving transferred students.

· (5.16.1.2) After voluntary transfers, should the need still exist for involuntary transfers, the least senior person at the site will be involuntarily transferred

· (5.16.1.3) Unit member subject to involuntary transfer due to school closure, boundary changes or grade level reorganization between more than one site shall be so notified in writing no later than March 15.

· (5.16.1.4) No unit member at the school receiving transferred students will be transferred to accommodate unit members from the school being closed or losing students.

· (5.16.1.5) All positions made available by the reorganization of a school/site will be posted in the school/site affected for no less than ten (10) work days.

The District and the Mt. Diablo Teachers Association are collaborating to ensure a smooth transition.

Does seniority play a role in the placement of the teachers?

During the transfer window teachers who are considered involuntary transfers are allowed to select a new position in order of seniority. The most senior teacher has the right to select a position first from the list of available vacancies. See Article 5 Transfer.

Can a teacher from a closing site bump out staff at the receiving site?

No, the contract states that the teachers at the receiving site cannot be bumped out. The teachers from the closing site can take vacant positions created by the additional students being sent to the receiving sites.

How would teachers’ instructional materials get moved?

When teachers are involuntarily transferred, they can use up to two days to pack and unpack their materials from the old site to the new assignment. Teachers would be provided with boxes and labels to organize their items. Any item of personal or sentimental value should be moved by the teachers themselves. A schedule will be worked out with the maintenance crew to pick up the boxes and move them to the new assignment.

Classified

CST and Maintenance and Operations Members

What is the procedure for the office staff, the office manager and clerical employees as well as the custodial staff? Do they have the right to bump other employees?

The procedures outlined in the Transfer Article and the Layoff Article of the respective contracts would be followed. First, there would be an effort to see if vacancies in each classification exist at the receiving sites or other sites in the district. It may be possible to place people in vacant positions, as retirements and attrition occur at some sites.

If there are no vacancies in which to place individuals, then it would be necessary to give classified employees a forty-five day notice indicating there was a need to conduct a layoff. Classified employees do have seniority rights within each classification that they have held. A more senior classified member could exercise the right to take a position of a less senior individual in the same classification or another classification that the employee served in. (This process is sometime referred to as the bumping process.)

How will the CSEA paraprofessionals be assigned?

Again the guidelines in the contract regarding transfer and layoff would guide the process.

The first step would be to identify the vacant positions in the district and work with employees to place them in those positions. If there are no vacancies in which to place individuals, then it would be necessary to give classified employees a forty-five day notice indicating there was a need to conduct a layoff. If there is a lack of positions, then the least senior CSEA members would receive notice that budget reductions would require a layoff of their position. If a student has a one on one assistant and moves to a receiving site, the assistant could move with the student. However, the special education department staff must confirm the location of all special needs classes, as well as determine the requests for special education one on one assistants assigned to a particular student. CSEA members do have seniority rights. A more senior classified member could exercise the right to take a position of a less senior individual in the same classification or another classification that the employee served in. (This process is sometime referred to as the bumping process.)

SCHOOL/PROGRAM

Will efforts be made to ensure teachers transferring have all of the same technology and tools as teachers at the receiving site?

TIS staff will assist principals involved to align types and models of hardware when distributing them to receiving sites. However, this must be done according to the requirement of funding sources such as Title I, PTA/PFC, etc.

Will the special education continuum be kept together?

Every effort will be made to identify a site that has capacity to accommodate and keep the continuum intact.

How will books and materials be divided?

Books and materials will be distributed to schools receiving the students. All students will have adequate books and materials in all schools.”

[END DISTRICT Q & A]

As noted above, union staff will be laid-off and/or reassigned according to seniority. This means the district’s school closure salary savings estimates may not be accurate, since staff ultimately laid-off may not be the same staff that currently works at schools that will be closed.

Also, the above practices may not apply to Glenbrook, since the district plans to try to convince the state that its new El Dorado/Glenbrook consolidation is still Glenbrook. It plans to do this by keeping the same school accounting code. However, it may choose to also keep school materials and PFC funds intact to make it appear that the consolidated school is really Glenbrook.

Since a large portion of the School Improvement Grant is focused on staff development, it might make sense to transfer all of Glenbrook’s staff to the new El Dorado consolidated school. This way, the staff that has already received staff development through the grant could continue to work with Glenbrook’s low-performing students.

The school board has the authority to give priority for transfers to students from closed schools. Based on the information above, it appears the district has opted not to do that. Trustees have not discussed this, to my knowledge.

Also, I have heard that many students who now live in the Glenbrook attendance area attend Sequoia Middle School in Pleasant Hill on transfers based on the fact that Glenbrook is low-achieving. I’ve heard that some of those students are bused to Sequoia.

If Glenbrook is truly closed, those students would no longer get that priority. However, if the state agrees to recognize the El Dorado/Glenbrook consolidated school as low-achieving, El Dorado students may also be able to receive priority transfers to Sequoia or other higher-achieving middle schools.

FYI, County Connection has a new “trip planner” on its website that allows you to see how long it will take to get from one place to another by bus. If your school is closing, click here to see what your student’s options are.

Do you have other questions you’d like answered by the district?

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