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Mt. Diablo district school closure plans revealed

By Theresa Harrington
Thursday, March 10th, 2011 at 10:21 pm in Education, Mt. Diablo school district.

At Tuesday’s Mt. Diablo school board meeting, Trustee Cheryl Hansen proposed that the district develop a short-term plan for closing Holbrook Elementary and Glenbrook Middle School in Concord, as well as a long-term plan for school closures.

She expressed frustration that the proposal she submitted to Superintendent Steven Lawrence was not the same as item 7.4 on the agenda. The long-term plan outlined in agenda item 7.5, however, was her exact submission.

Here’s what she sent to Lawrence:

“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]

Instead, a more narrowly-focused item appeared on the agenda, focused on redrawing boundaries for Glenbook and Holbrook.

 Here’s what it said:

“Attached is a Power Point with attendance boundary changes that were shared at the January 25th Board meeting. The Board will establish the new attendance boundaries for students currently at Holbrook and Glenbrook.

If the Board adopts the attached boundaries students currently in the Glenbrook attendance areas 2 and 3 would attend El Dorado, and areas 1 and 4 would attend Valley View. Neither El Dorado or Valley View is in Program Improvement; therefore, students could not request a transfer under No Child Left Behind (NCLB). This includes students living in the Glenbrook attendance areas that are currently on NCLB school of choice transfers. It is recommended that we allow these students to remain at their current middle schools; however, the District will no longer provide transportation. Currently, we provide three buses: one goes to Pleasant Hill, one goes to Pine Hollow and Diablo View, and one goes to Valley View and Sequoia. The students in the new El Dorado and Valley View attendance areas would be provided a 30 day window to submit a new Intradistrict Transfer Application (attached) to attend another middle school. Again, students currently on school of choice would not need to reapply. Students in attendance area 5 who will attend Oak Grove can apply for a transfer under the No Child Left Behind school of choice process and we would provide transportation through Title I funds.

Holbrook students currently living in areas 1 and 4 would attend Sun Terrace and students living in areas 2 and 3 would attend Wren. If students wish to attend a different elementary school families will be provided the same 30 day Intradistrict Transfer Application window as mentioned above. Transition meetings with Holbrook and Glenbrook families and representatives from their newly assigned schools will be scheduled once the Board approves new boundaries. When the 30 day transfer window closes and we assign students to schools, we will have the data necessary to determine the following:

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.”

[END AGENDA ITEM]

Hansen said she was not asking for attendance boundaries.

“I think it’s larger than that,” she said. “I think a lot of these issues (in her proposal) go along with it. One of the elements I would want is the inclusion of community and school staff. I cannot believe the number of amazingly good questions and suggestions I’ve received from parents and staff that are creative and insightful. I would hope we would have the courtesy and respect to meet with them in their neighborhoods. That was what item 7.4 was supposed to be. We have to have enough respect and care that we can list those, talk about the people responsible, and show some accountability around that.”

Glenbrook office manager Berta Shatswell said delays in making decisions have been detrimental to the students and staff. After the board voted Feb. 8 to close the school, Board President Gary Eberhart suggested another idea to try to save the School Improvement Grant, she said.

Eberhart suggested closing Westwood Elementary and making it a sixth-grade only campus with students from Glenbrook and El Dorado Middle School and calling it “Glenbrook Middle School.” Glenbrook’s seventh- and eighth-graders would attend El Dorado Middle School, under the proposal. The improvement grant would have served students at the “relocated” Glenbrook site. The state Department of Education rejected this proposal, after first indicating that it might be possible.

“Now, there is yet another idea of how to reconfigure Glenbrook,” she said. ”How will our students get to school? Transportation and safety is still the main concern because there is not geographic equity. Most of our students cannot afford public transportion.”

She also worried about the loss of counseling services for 160 Glenbrook students that is now being funded with the grant.  

“How much money is actually being saved and why are the neediest being hurt?,” she said. ”The board and superintendent should protect the neediest students and communities.”

In 18 years working at Glenbrook, she said she had never seen Eberhart visit the campus (except for the board meeting regarding school closure).  

Willie Mims, a NAACP representative from Pittsburg, said the board should look at all options before settling on one plan.

“One of the things that concerned me is that there was no funding for busing of the students that you’re planning to move from one campus to another,” he said. ”It’s an issue of environmental justice. If these communities are students that are minority and low-ioncome and they are suffering the greatest impact, then you are dealing with some serious issues of environmental justice.”

Earlier in the meeting, about 30 parents, students, teachers and community members asked the board to reconsider its decision to close Holbrook Elementary. Many of them also said this decision lacked districtwide equity, since the two schools are in the same neighborhood, about 1 mile apart.

“Next year, it will be hard for my mom to get me to another school,” said Ricardo Cuellar. “Please don’t close Holbrook. If you close it, I will be sad.”

No trustee suggested rescinding their decision.

Trustee Lynne Dennler, however, suggested an idea that would allow the district to pay for busing all Glenbrook students to their new schools: assign them all to Oak Grove Middle School, which is one of the state’s “persistently lowest-achieving schools.”  Because of this, students could request transfers under No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and the district would be legally obligated to bus them.

Trustee Sherry Whitmarsh said she would be concerned about assigning more students to Oak Grove than the campus could accommodate (in case they didn’t all opt to transfer to other sites).

Hansen complained that the maps Lawrence provided didn’t include street names, making it difficult for parents to figure out where their children were supposed to go.

Lawrence said the students in Area 1 on the map would be assigned to Oak Grove and could request NCLB transfers. Since Oak Grove is working to get off the NCLB list, the district might not fund busing in the future, he said.

Lawrence said it might be challenging to have community meetings before March 15, but said it might be possible by March 29.

“Part of this to me is to relieve the stress,” Hansen said. “I think parents need more specificity around the rationale.”

Eberhart opposed Hansen’s plan, in part because she didn’t consult district staff about it.

“I agree that we definitely need a plan, but my concern is that this plan has been put together in a vaccuum that doesn’t include staff at all,” he said. “My concern is that this now lays out a plan for the Board of Education that determines” ‘What are our critical path items?’ I think developing a plan without staff input at this point is haphazardous and is going to create a situation where things are going to get missed and timelines are going to get blown.”

Lawrence said Rose Lock, assistant superintendent for Student Achievement and School Support, had drafted a plan “ensuring that we do create a timeline.”

“I think some of the issues that Ms. Hansen has brought up have been addressed in here,” he said.

He then distributed Lock’s draft plan (which was not included in the agenda packet).

Here is Lock’s plan:
 

SCHOOL CLOSURE TRANSITION PLAN – DISTRICT

Date/s Activity Person Responsible
ASAP Letter to MDEA members Julie Braun Martin
3/11 Meet with Union Presidents Julie Braun Martin
3/11 Schedule weekly meetings with principals involved Rose Lock
Julie Braun Martin
3/14 Letter to families on school assignment & transfer info Rose Lock / TIS
3/14 Student rosters to receiving & closing schools TIS
3/16 – 4/15 Transfer window Felicia Stuckey-Smith
3/17 Letter to families already on transfer status Felicia Stuckey-Smith
3/17 – 4/30
3/17 – 4/30
3/17 – 4/30
Classified transfer process (confer with Union Presidents first)

  • Food Service
  • Custodial
  • CST
  • CSEA
Julie Braun Martin
Week of 3/21 Meet with Glenbrook, Holbrook & Meadow Homes communities (include info in letter) Council
4/16 – 4/30 Process transfer requests
Keep track as they come in
Identify available spaces at receiving schools
Felicia Stuckey-Smith
May Provide schools format/forms for inventory

  • Who will do it?
  • When?

Work with sites to distribute inventory

Jen Sachs
Joe Estrada
Jeff McDaniel
5/1 – 5/15 Develop moving plan (2 days for teachers) Jeff McDaniel
5/2 – 5/6 Certificated Involuntary Transfer process for school closure Julie Braun Martin
5/20 Determine additional administrative support Council
6/30 Identify location of spec ed programs

  • Holbrook (SDC)
  • Glenbrook (SDC)

Re-assign RS

Mildred Browne
  Transfer process for Classified & Certificated Julie Braun Martin
  After School Programs? Stephanie Roberts
  Distribution of cums (Fred involved) Mildred Browne

SCHOOL CLOSURE TRANSITION PLAN – SITE

Date/s Activity Person Responsible
  Transition meetings Between principals
Between parent clubs
  Transition activities for students & families  
  Inventory materials, textbooks, library materials, equipment, instruments, furniture, etc.  
  Impact on master schedules  
  Develop housing plan
Review & adjust tentative assignments
Receiving schools
  Training new staff  
  Closing activities Closing schools
     
     
     
     
     
     
     

“The plan the superintendent just passed out seems to be pretty inclusive,” Eberhart said. “It includes the tasks, who will be responsible, as well as a pretty explicit timeline. To send them in a different direction doesn’t make a ton of sense.”

Hansen said she had never seen Lock’s plan. Eberhart stressed the need to work with staff.

“I’m not prepared to support this this evening,” he said. “I think the staff is well on their way to bring a plan forward. I still would request that staff continue to move forward with their plan, because I think they’re in a position to understand the critical needs at those sites to make things happen there for our services.”

Whitmarsh agreed.

“I’m thinking this is moot,” she said, “because staff’s already doing it.”

Lawrence then reversed his earlier comment and said staff would meet Monday, March 14 with parents at Glenbrook, Holbrook and Meadow Homes Elementary schools.

“We’ll blow up the map and we’ll have streets on there with the current recommendations so we can share their responses with the board on Tuesday (March 15),” he said. “And the board can consider adopting boundaries for those sites Tuesday.”

Hansen was pleased with the pushed-up timeline.

“And that’s how fast the movement can occur toward accomplishing this,” she said.

The board then voted down her proposed plan 1-3-1: Hansen was the lone vote in favor; Mayo abstained because she was participating via phone and didn’t have Lock’s plan.

Trustees then voted 4-1 to table Lawrence’s boundary recommendation until Tuesday. Mayo voted against this, saying she believed it was restrictive.

Discussion regarding the long-term plan was much shorter.

Hansen moved to adopt it and no one seconded the motion.

Shatswell has informed me that Glenbrook’s school closure plan meeting will take place at 7 p.m. Monday in the school’s multiuse room.

Are you satisfied with the district’s plan?

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  • 4Students

    16 years on the board and Gary hasn’t been seen at Glenbrook? Kirk Berger told the board that teachers want to see them visiting schools. Supt McHenry wanted to visit classrooms but found there were too many. MDUSD is too big!

  • Exhausted Parent

    Linda Mayo manages to visit school sites every year. Except for photo ops and the occasional “showing my face” stop, no other board member does what Linda does.

    I don’t want to hear about how the others have jobs. They get paid by the district, they get benefits from the district, they need to get out and see what’s really happening on the campuses.

  • Anon

    Thanks to Cheryl Hansen for pushing to get the rest of the board moving on school closure plans now and for the future. Unlike others who superficially address planning she will present well thought out proposals and ideas to do things right.