Part of the Bay Area News Group

Mt. Diablo Trustee Cheryl Hansen jumpstarts school closure transition plans

By Theresa Harrington
Sunday, March 6th, 2011 at 1:49 am in Education, Mt. Diablo school district.

On Friday morning, I received an e-mail from Mt. Diablo Trustee Cheryl Hansen telling me that she had submitted a proposal to the district regarding school closures for discussion by the board on March 8.

Here is her proposal:

“March 1, 2011

Action Item for March 8, 2011 Board Meeting

Submitted by Cheryl Hansen

SCHOOL CLOSURE PLANS

We need to develop two school closure plans, one to address the immediate needs of the two schools slated for closure and one long-term plan to address the enrollment trends:

PLAN #1 – Glenbrook and Holbrook School Closure Plan

• Develop an immediate plan to address the closure issues around the closing of Glenbrook and Holbrook. There is an urgent need to identify the new schools of attendance for these students, which would include a redrawing of attendance boundaries, among other issues (see list below).

PLAN #2 – Development of a Long-Term Plan for School Closure

• Establish a new School Closure Committee to conduct a comprehensive evaluation of MDUSD schools and facilities to develop a long-term (3-year minimum), comprehensive plan to identify and address potential school/facilities closures and openings.

• Here are just some of the key components to be researched, evaluated, and addressed in the plan:

1. An analysis of continuing growth and/or declining enrollment trends

• The School Closure Committee’s report still needs in-depth analysis and reflection.

2. Redrawing attendance boundaries to establish balanced feeder patterns

3. Transportation issues (e.g., availability)

4. Traffic and safety issues

5. Relocation or redistribution of special education/after school/support programs at schools to be closed

6. Transition and support plan for students at schools to be closed

7. Staffing impact and needs

8. Redistribution of revenue/funding sources at the closing schools

9. Use of Measure C facilities monies

10. Maintenance and security of closed facilities and/or possible use of closed facilities

11. Explicit accounting of actual money saved from school closures, not just a best guess.

In addition, use the CDE’s ‘Closing a School Best Practices Guide’ as a resource.”

[END PROPOSAL]

I tried calling Superintendent Steven Lawrence to discuss Hansen’s proposal, but didn’t hear back from him. I also left a message with Rose Lock, Assistant Superintendent for Student Achievement and School Support, asking about the status of school closure plans. I did not get a response.

The principals of the two schools said they had been told by the district that students would find out where they were being assigned next year by March 15. Based on this information, I wrote a story about Hansen’s proposals.

When the agenda for the March 8 meeting was posted, it didn’t mention Hansen’s proposals. Instead, it included item 7.4 “Boundary Options for Holbrook Elementary School and Glenbrook Middle School” and item 7.5  ”Development of a Long Term Plan for School Closure.”

The boundary plans state that Glenbrook students who are currently on No Child Left Behind transfers to other schools (such as Sequoia Middle School) would no longer be able to continue to receive those transfers if they are assigned to El Dorado or Valley View Middle Schools. Berta Shatswell, office manager at Glenbrook, told me she believed the transfers were supposed to be good for three years, however.

The staff report states that students who are currently on No Child Left Behind transfers could remain at their current schools, but would no longer receive district busing. This could come as a surprise to those families and may place a financial hardship on them, since they will be required to transport their children to faraway schools.

Glenbrook students assigned to Oak Grove Middle School would be able to receive No Child Left Behind transfers with busing, since that school is one of the lowest-performing in the state.

The 30-day window for applying to transfer to other schools for both Holbrook and Glenbrook students would begin March 8, if the board approves the boundaries, according to Lawrence’s staff report.

In addition, the district would hold meetings at the schools to inform families about the transition.

Lawrence states that the district would be able to provide the following information after the 30-transfer period:

“1. Reallocation of staffing.
2. Reallocation of Title I – III and EIA/LEP funds.
3. Reallocation of resources such as instructional materials, library materials, furniture, technology equipment, etc.
4. We will continue to work with Concord City personnel and Police personnel to work on traffic and safety issues.
5. Transportation — At the February 22 Board meeting, information was shared that it would cost $21,500 to create a bus run from Glenbrook to either El Dorado or Valley View. The regional transportation staff is analyzing new bus routes based on the attached boundaries being adopted. Currently, there is no funding to start new bus routes; however, we will continue to work with them to analyze transportation needs throughout the district.
6. At the February 22 Board meeting it was indicated that School Improvement Grant funds would be lost for Glenbrook. We are still waiting for the California Department of Education to provide directions around transferring the after school program funding.

We are currently analyzing the best uses for the Glenbrook and Holbrook facilities. At this time, we do not recommend forming a 7-11 committee to consider selling either property.”

Agenda item 7.5, which calls for a “long-term school closure plan,” doesn’t mention Hansen. Yet, it appears to be Hansen’s proposal:

“• Establish a new School Closure Committee to conduct a comprehensive evaluation of MDUSD schools and facilities to develop a long-term (3-year minimum), comprehensive plan to identify and address potential school/facilities closures and openings.
• Here are just some of the key components to be researched, evaluated, and addressed in the plan:

1. An analysis of continuing growth and/or declining enrollment trends
• The School Closure Committee’s report still needs in-depth analysis and reflection.
2. Redrawing attendance boundaries to establish balanced feeder patterns
3. Transportation issues (e.g., availability)
4. Traffic and safety issues
5. Relocation or redistribution of special education/after school/support programs at schools to be closed
6. Transition and support plan for students at schools to be closed
7. Staffing impact and needs
8. Redistribution of revenue/funding sources at the closing schools
9. Use of Measure C facilities monies
10. Maintenance and security of closed facilities and/or possible use of closed facilities
11. Explicit accounting of actual money saved from school closures, not just a best guess.

In addition, use the CDE’s ‘Closing a School Best Practices Guide’ as a resource.
Funding.”

Lawrence doesn’t include the “explicit accounting of actual money saved” in his school boundary staff report. Yet, Hansen told me she wants to know exactly how much is being saved from closing Glenbrook and Holbrook and wants to know whether the district will achieve its goal of $1.5 million in savings with the other cost-cutting measures recommended by Lawrence Feb. 22.

When Trustee Gary Eberhart proposed an idea related to school closures in February, he did not provide any written report to the district or to the public. Hansen said she wanted to let the district and the public know what she was thinking ahead of time, so they would not be surprised on Tuesday.

Are you satisfied with Lawrence’s short-term recommendations related to school closure? Do you agree with Hansen’s recommendation for a long-term plan?

[You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.]

  • 4Students

    I was so impressed by Agenda Item 7.5 “Developing Long-Term Plan for School Closure” which shows forward-thinking, and that finally the district was planning ahead for the needs of our community! Now it makes sense to learn it came from Cheryl Hansen, the most experienced, logical and caring person in the room. The Superintendent should have included the suggestion for “explicit accounting” to bring to the table for discussion.

    For Item 7.4 my previous comment said: Did they consider moving Glenbrook Areas 4 and 5 to Valley View? Then could they redirect the Title I funds, instead of busing students to Oak Grove, and spend those funds in classrooms?

    As part of Item 7.4, the Trustees should look at the Measure C priority list, and why are Glenbrook and Holbrook on the list of schools that will have solar installed this year? The priority should be schools that are not empty. Solar is for electricity cost savings, and there will be no electricity savings in buildings that are empty.

    The Trustees should take every opportunity to discuss the relationship between student achievement, school closures, and Measure C bond funds. It’s logical there must be school closures, but viewed positively closures may provide an opportunity to improve student achievement in every district classroom. I’ll admit I’m impressed with Sup Lawrence’s suggestion for a district-wide high school plan and hope that will improve every high school, and then will trickle down through feeder patterns to improve every middle and elementary school.

  • Doctor J

    It should be embarrassing to both Lawrence and Lock that they were caught unprepared on both these issues since they have known for over a year that schools needed to be closed. Frankly, the Board should not have voted on closure without having a plan as to where the students would attend next year. The whole district should be grateful to Cheryl Hansen for her leadership on these issues. It points out the need for a Strategic Plan. If Lawrence and Lock can’t get on board for a Strategic Plan, they ought to get off the train.

  • Doctor J

    A subtle but significant agenda item is the discussion of the Board policy on how matters are placed on the Agenda. An obvious attempt to freeze out Cheryl Hansen’s attempt to have matters placed on the agenda.

  • another mdusd momof3

    Geesh, why not that it is on the agenda for Board discussion, that is a good thing. Doctor J, do you always look as things as the glass half empty?

  • Doctor J

    @Another Momof3: A little hard to understand your message — ? se habla espanol ? It is on the agenda. Every board member should have the absolute right to place items uncensored on the agenda. The Board President and Board Secretary [the Supt] should not have the right to censor items from Board members to be placed on the agenda.

  • Doctor J

    As the Board was instructed by Kirk Berger at the their retreat, every Board member is equal and the Board president has no powers of censorship.

  • Poseidon

    Great!!! Another school closure committee. Great idea Hansen. If that’s not enough to get the community worked up, let’s also re-boundary the whole district, do away with the choice area in Pleasant Hill and send all of those kids to Ygnacio Valley High. That should make parents very happy, but it’s not about servicing people’s needs, it’s about closing school after school until all schools are at 100% capacity. Then we can sell off land until there is no surplus, but hey, at least the district can pay bills for the next few years. Ta Hell with the future.

    PS: I’m not paul.

  • Doctor J

    @Poseidon II, if there had been a Strategic Plan, and if the school closure committee had been given the year or maybe two it requires to study all the issues, and if the committee had a competent staff advisor, there probably wouldn’t be the need for Cheryl’s proposal. And you are right — you are not Paul nor are you the other person who posted as Poseidon.

  • 4Students

    Poseidon II,
    Do not complain that MDUSD might follow the CDE “best practice guide”. This is waaaay overdue.
    Or the Superintendent and staff could give recommendations to the board and not waste time on a committee, but that’s not the CDE best practice. To improve, MDUSD needs to look for best practices from CDE, CSBA and other school districts that are successful. Many districts redraw boundaries every year.
    Look at the map. West of 680 attends PHE and PHMS, and should be assigned to CPHS. Create articulated K-12 feeder patterns and then redraw boundaries.

  • Poseidon

    dr j,

    Are you a district employee?

    What do you think about eberhardts suggestions for budget reductions tonight? I think your assessments of the board are off base and seem to relate to some personal problem with certain members. Is it your position that you do not have a personal problem with any member of the board?

    Poseidon, the one and only. There is only one, not two.

  • Doctor J

    @Poseidon Paul, Gary’s demand for an immediate out of town travel ban despite the source of funds is particularly overdue. Gary’s joining with Cheryl in demanding a detailed cost accounting of SASS and the total costs of implementation of its programs is significant in light of Lawrence’s promise on May 11 that it would be smaller and less costly than C&I and his announcement in August that it had “saved over $50,000″ — instead the Supt has grown the dept and allowed unfettered spending on testing, bubbling and substitute teachers for data analysis and training. The Supt and SASS never made the Supt’s deadline of January for an interim report to the Board on its progress. Gary was headed to a banner night when suddenly he became condacending in refusing to support Cheryl’s reasonable request for the Supt to prepare a detailed closing plan for Glenbrook and Holbrook addressing ten important issues since there has been nothing forthcoming from the Supt in the last 30 days after the closure decision. The failure to address these important issues soon after the closing decision has been traumatizing to students and parents. I would grade Gary last night with a C+, which is up from a D. If he had supported Cheryl’s request, he would have got a B+ or maybe even an A- if he had addressed a few more issues on my list of 11 items. We’ll see if he keeps it up or if he was just grandstanding last night. I did think the Supt seemed caught off guard on the travel ban and SASS evaluation, so I am cautiously optimistic that Gary is trying to turn a new leaf. Afterall, SASS was Lawrence’s idea to “turn around” the “persistently underachieving schools”. Modifying Cheryl’s agenda request was so transparent and paternalistic. Interstingly Lawrence didn’t take credit for it, so perhaps Gary was involved with it since he didn’t deny it during the meeting. I hope it will not happen again.

  • Doctor J

    Poseidon, I was also impressed that Cheryl took to task Julie Braun Martin who had been requested to provide a list of employees who are “double dipping” by collecting retirement and being re-employed — no such list was provided. Instead Lawrence tried to appease Cheryl by a verbal list “to his knowledge” with no response from Julie. Cheryl reinterated: “I want it in writing”. It was clear this board is tired of evasive and incomplete answers from the administration.

  • Doctor J

    Lets not forget Cheryl’s request for a complete list of consultants employed by the district and their compensation.

  • Parent

    Doctor J,

    You are incorrect about the list of retired employees. Whitmarsh stated that the board already was given the list during a previous closed session. Obviously grand standing by Hansen.

    Mayo also took Hansen took task for not working with staff to get answers prior to the board meeting.

    Can Hanson every speak for less than 5 minutes. She loves to hear herself say the same thing over and over.

  • changepls

    I was very disappointed in Eberhart and Whitmarsh. Their body language was so disrespectful when Cheryl Hanson was speaking. Facial expressions are 80% of communication. The trustees should be open to all suggestions, agree to disagree but stop throwing your body back in your chair and giving ugly faces back and forth, you are elected adults.

    Traveling ban will apply to Board members too. Can not wait for the written report on SASS budget savings and the consultants’ compensation.

  • 4Students

    Doctor J,
    Wish this was Facebook and I could “like” your comments!
    Also I “like” the speaker who complained that the meeting should have been in a larger room! Most of us won’t go because we know it will be jammed! Gary gets credit for putting it online and thanks to whoever removed the crying baby so those online finally could hear the board members. Even then we couldn’t hear Julie Braun Martin who spoke too quietly.
    Also I “like” Theresa and hope Times gives her space to cover all the issues raised.

  • Doctor J

    What does it take to develop a Strategic Plan ? Here is what one Northern California district did to get their Strategic Plan — there is no reason that MDUSD cannot begin this process immediately:
    By a unanimous vote, the ****** Unified School District Board of Education adopted a five-year results-based strategic plan at a special meeting June 23 that also celebrated the six months, 12,000 combined hours, and dedication of more than 300 volunteers that went into developing the plan.
    “If you don’t know where you’re headed you won’t know how you’re going to get there,” said parent *******. “The collaborative thinking between staff, students, parents, and community was a huge benefit. The strategic plan is what San Juan Unified needs to align the efforts going on in our schools each day to ensure that each student can and will learn.”

    The strategic planning process began in January of 2009 when the 30-person Planning Team, composed of members representing the diverse stakeholder groups in the District, met for the first time. Using a consensus model of decision making, the group was able to reach 100 percent agreement on a list of core shared beliefs, a new mission representing the community’s loftiest aspirations for the District, objectives, strategic parameters that will guide implementation of the plan, and seven unique strategies designed to achieve the objectives and mission.

    More than 280 volunteers then took over and met on Monday nights between February and May to design operational action plans for each of the seven strategies identified by the Planning Team. Participation on Action Teams was open to anyone who stepped forward and attracted students, parents, community members, teachers, staff, and administrators to be part of the groups. The Action Teams also used a consensus model of decision making that required everyone in the room agree before an item would become a part of the plan.

    “At a time when much of public education is trapped in fiscal crisis, ******** Unified’s Board of Education and community have chosen to focus on improving teaching and learning and creating better futures for our students,” said *************** Unified Superintendent Dr. **********. “Our strategic plan will enable us to focus our limited resources and truly educate and inspire our students to succeed and contribute to the world around them.”

    A similar planning process will be instituted at each of the District’s 70 schools in the next four years to create site-based plans that align to the District’s new strategic plan.

  • Theresa Harrington

    Parent: Hansen wanted the list of post-retirement contracts to show the public. Superintendent Lawrence apologized for not providing it in the agenda materials. If the trustees get the information in closed session, the public remains in the dark.
    Similarly, Mayo said the board was given detailed boundary maps for the closed schools that included street names. It is unclear why the district isn’t providing the public with the same level of information, which is not protected under closed session disclosure laws.
    Finally, the bylaws the board reviewed specifically stated that “Any documents prepared by the district or the board and distributed during a public meeting shall be made available for public inspection at the meeting.”
    Willie Mims was correct that the district should provide a complete copy of the agenda packet for public inspection at the meetings. It used to do that routinely, before it switched to the Electronic School Board system. Also, the school closure plan distributed to the board by Rose Lock should have been made available to the public.

  • Doctor J

    @Theresa And once a new document is distributed to the Board, public comment on that document should be reopened once it is made available for distribution. Otherwise, its another ‘shoot from the hip’ last minute document hidden from the public.

  • Theresa Harrington

    When the board looks at the SASS costs, it may also want to evaluate the effectiveness of the new dept.
    As has been pointed out, the department has not met its own goals stated in the “Annual Cycle of Inquiry” to provide a midterm report to the board in January.
    There has also been no report about progress toward an updated list of goals and objectives for next year, which the Cycle of Inquiry anticipated would come to the board in March: http://esb.mdusd.k12.ca.us/attachments/0107ee84-be6d-4cb8-b939-58f7e85eec6c.pdf

  • Doctor J

    I should not neglect to also credit Gary with an emphatic emphasis that site administrators are NOT to be at Principal meetings and other off-site administration meetings during school hours as has been occuring up to 3 or 4 times a month. While this will burden site administrators with longer days, it does put the safety of the children first.

  • Theresa Harrington

    I would like to clarify that Rose Lock did return my call on Friday, March 4 at about 6:30 p.m. Unfortunately, I had left for the day and I wrote this blog post remotely, so I was unaware that she had called.
    My only reason for noting that I couldn’t reach Lock and Lawrence was to explain why my story didn’t include the district’s response to Hansen’s proposals.

  • http://goo.gl/VK5T9 Esperanza Townsend

    Thx for the brill blog.