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Mt. Diablo school closures prompt continued questions

By Theresa Harrington
Wednesday, March 16th, 2011 at 7:03 pm in Education, Mt. Diablo school district.

Some Holbrook Elementary parents and teachers who attended Tuesday’s Mt. Diablo school board meeting are frustrated that trustees didn’t respond to their proposal to convert the K-5 school to a K-6 campus instead of closing it.

Today, parent Kelly Van Boekhout sent trustees the following invitation:

“Subject: An Invitation

Hello Board,
I attended the Board meeting last night.
I stood up at Public Comment and extended an invitation to you. No one responded to me.
So I would like to extend the invitation again.

I would like to ask you to come to Holbrook Elementary to hold an open forum with our parents, staff and community to address our questions and concerns over your decision to close our school.

We have presented questions to you at Board meetings that have gone unanswered. They are not rhetorical questions. They are things we would like to know the answers to and things we would like to understand. If you fail to respond to us directly, how do you expect us to understand your decision?

It is not a matter of whether or not we will ‘go along’ with your decision. We have no choice. It’s a matter of whether or not we will move into the next school year understanding that our Board is making decisions to the best of their abilities in serving as many students as possible. It is a matter of whether or not we will have faith and trust in our Board.

I do not claim to be capable of doing a ‘better’ job than any of you at balancing what is now a completely upside down budget. And I understand that there is no way to give any student money that you simply don’t have.
Please understand that I extend this invitation to you with the utmost respect.

We would simply like answers from the people who know the ‘how and why’ the decision was made.

Please come to Holbrook.”

During the meeting, Van Boekhout addressed the board twice: once during general public comment and once before trustees voted to change boundaries for students who currently attend Holbrook and Glenbrook Middle School.

First, she spoke about the meeting held Monday night at Holbrook with Rose Lock, assistant superintendent for Student Achievement and School Support. Here’s what Van Boekhout said:

“Last night, you sent Rose Lock to our school to discuss our new boundaries. She had no answers for our questions and could only make notations of our concerns with the intent of returning them to you.

You have made a decision that greatly affects our entire community, and I feel that we deserve at least a minimal amount of respect .

At this point, all the questions we have asked, answers we have proposed and concerns we have stated have fallen on deaf ears and have been blatantly ignored.

I would like to ask you to come to Holbrook and hold an open forum with the parents, staff and community where you, the people WITH the answers can address our questions and concerns.”

Later, Van Boekhout talked about her daughter, who attends Holbrook, before the board voted to send Holbrook students to Sun Terrace and Wren Avenue elementary schools. These were her comments:

“Last year my daughter STAR tested for the first time. She scored advanced both in English and Mathematics. She did not win her intelligence from the bottom of a Cracker Jack box. She received it from me, her father, her teachers, her SCHOOL.

I would like to make it clear that I have no issue with either Wren or Sun Terrace…I ask that you either rescind your decision to close Holbrook Elementary or that you provide concrete evidence and numbers to prove to this community that it was the best decision possible.”

Parent Adam Delanoy questioned the “geographic equity” of the decision to close both Holbrook Elementary and Glenbrook Middle School, which are in the same neighborhood.

“What I fail to understand and no one has answered,” he said, “is why a district of 150-square miles closed two schools within a mile of each other. This deserves an answer. Many families have students in both schools. Some families will be forced to transport students two miles in one direction and four miles in another direction in busy areas, if they even have transportation. We also deserve an item-by-item cost accounting……if MDUSD is a district where kids come first, then you need to show us.”

John Ferrante, who served on the previous Measure C oversight committee, said the district should redraw boundary lines for all schools because the district is spending money on new classrooms and denying transfers based on overcrowding.

“Even the federal government has enough brains to redraw lines every 10 years,” he said. “We could save taxpayers money.”

Willie Mims, who represents the NAACP in East County, said the district should provide transportation to the displace students.

“When you make a decision that’s going to impact students and communities, there should be some mitigation by the district to alleviate part of their pain,” he said. “Suppose you have families that cannot afford to pay for the bus ride? Then what?”

Superintendent Steven Lawrence said the cost for students to take County Connection buses would be about $720, but the district could provide a bus for $400 per family that would make a round trip to Sun Terrace, Wren Avenue and Holbrook elementary schools; as well as El Dorado or Valley View middle schools.

Although Trustee Lynne Dennler seconded Trustee Linda Mayo’s motion to adopt the proposed boundaries, she ended up voting against it, saying she wasn’t comfortable asking families to pay for the buses.

“I have a very hard time asking any family to add $40 to their monthly budget….,” she said. “These were their schools. We’re closing them.”

Trustee Cheryl Hansen abstained after reiterating her call for an explicit accounting of how much the district is saving by closing Holbrook and Glenbrook as well as how much it is spending on the transition (ie. for vice principals at schools the students will go to). In addition, she repeated her previous request for the district to plan what it will do with the closed campuses.

Mayo said the district can no longer afford to provide busing and it can only do so if families pool together to reimburse the district.

“Of course, it’s not perfect and we do regret that expense for our families,” she said. “We just do not have the funds to support that at this time.”

Sherry Whitmarsh clarified that students’ high school attendance boundaries wouldn’t change.

Board President Gary Eberhart, who participated in the meeting via speakerphone, said the decision to close the schools had been made and the board needed to move forward. He agreed that long-term, the district should look at new boundaries, but said the board didn’t need to add that to staff’s list of duties right away.

Eberhart also asked that Lawrence bring back the district’s School Closure Transition Plan to future meetings so the board could continue to provide direction. He attempted to make a motion to this effect, but General Counsel Greg Rolen said it would need to be placed on an agenda as a separate item, since it was merely an attachment to the school boundaries item. (Also, it wasn’t added 72 hours before the meeting.)

Hansen asked staff to develop new boundary maps for all of the schools that will be receiving students from the closed schools, incorporating the expanded attendance areas.

Do you think the district should look at redrawing boundaries for all schools?

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

  • Holbrook Dad

    I would love for the “Trustees” to show up at Holbrook so I could really give them a piece of my mind. I could fill wayyyy more than the 45 to 180 seconds that are sooo graciously bestowed to people attending the board meetings.

    Unfortunately they know they only have to answer to us every 4 years. The rest of the time they know they are not accountable to anyone. They hide behind the Superintendent and force people like Rose Lock to come out to schools and do their dirty work.

    This does not mean we are going to give up. We will keep asking questions and if we never get any answers, hopefully at the very least the questions we raised will stop this from happening to another area of Concord.

    Down with Ebermarsh in 2012!

  • Billy Bob

    I will second the call to vote out Eberhart and Whitmarsh in 2012. they have single handedly destroyed this district.

  • 4Students

    Absolutely redraw boundaries for all schools!

    MDUSD does not have coherent K-12 feeder patterns, shown by MDUSD’s convoluted “Matriculation Channels of Enrollment” document. Sue Berg pointed out the educational advantage of K-12 feeder patterns in another blog comment: “Over the past decade the amount of school-to-school interaction has increased, especially among K-12 schools in the same feeder patterns, where staff and parents can look at their students’ needs along a continuum rather than at a specific school or grade level.”

    This is because MDUSD always clings to the status quo until it’s too late, and they believe old developer agreements are more important than whether the students can travel safely to elementary school and then stay in the same K-12 feeder pattern.

    And MDUSD is heading for a big iceberg but keeping it hush-hush. Concord Naval Weapons Station is planning many NEW schools that will be in MDUSD. Gary is planning to use Measure C funds to build a NEW school (Bay Point High) while they’re closing schools. Taxpayers end up paying for new schools that may not be necessary! These potential NEW schools should be part of every school closure discussion!

    They need to meet with all stakeholders including city representatives to coordinate traffic, student safety, and future population growth and development. This district needs a PLAN! Cheryl Hansen proposed a PLAN! Why was she outvoted 4-1?

  • another mdusd momof3

    Billy Bob, You know that 2 can not single handedly destroy a district. Your comment is just plain spewing hatred with no facts to support it. First off, look at what our State has done with funding, education has been hit hard, much harder than the prisons! Our State has its priorities pretty screwed up, we all know it is now a welfare State. I say cut welfare, 5 years max and must pass drug testing, the same with Section 8 housing and food stamps. Go back to where these programs are temporary to help a family get back on their feet. Stop rewarding single moms when they have more children, you have children, you raise and support them. And oh yah, what about those fathers out there?

    What I see is wrong with MDUSD is the mis-information, lack of adults and parents really getting in there to help and then the great parent blame game.

    I am happy we are out of public school after this year not because of our schools but because I am just really tired of parents and adults with their blame game and finger pointing. I think many of you could learn from the Japanese.

    We have had a great 19 years in the MDUSD and our children are heading in the right direction with education and their careers. Thank you MDUSD! and Yes I have been a regular volunteer at all our school sites and district meetings and I have loved it. Very educational and really opened up my narrow eyes.

  • 4Students

    @Another MMO3,
    2 can make a difference. If 2 had voted with Cheryl Hansen, then we’d have a PLAN!

  • Another MDUSD Mom

    Another Mom of 3,
    I am so frustrated and I get so tired of the implication that those who complain don’t get in and help. That just isn’t true. Perhaps we have been in the trenches and that is why we can see so clearly what is wrong.

    I am glad you had 19 good years in this District. I am glad you think your kids got a good education. I might suggest that if you have been here 19 years you may not have a perspective on how it could be different. Sure our State is to blame for not funding education but that does not excuse our local School Board and Superintendent. It is clear that decisions are outside of a greater vision, so mistakes are being made that cost money and affect our kids.

    Tell me how do you justify in your mind the fact that Gary Eberhart asks for an accounting of what can be saved if SASS was eliminated and the next week votes to add another administrator to the program? Was he serious about potentially cutting the program? Or was he just trying to show up Cheryl Hansen?

    How do justify the pursuit of a bond measure over a parcel tax when what we really need is money to suppliment the general fund? You do realize that had this District done the hard work needed to pass a parcel tax, and we were successful, we would be coming up this summer to our second $7.5 million dollars for our general fund budget? Instead we have a Board approving the first of what appears to be three multi-million dollar change orders for a solar project. Tell me how much will solar bring to the district next year? Will all 51 sites have solar up? Is the cost of Pete Pederson’s team included in the solar analysis? Is extra security and insurance included? Are our tax dollars being spent wisely or was this another “shoot from the hip” decision that in the end will have wasted valuable time, resources, and the communities trust?

    How many substitute teachers did your high school student have this week… mine had several? Just as they do most weeks. How many movies did your student watch this week? How many labs did your student do in Biology last year or Honors Chem this year… mine did three last year and a few more than that this year.
    Is that okay with you?

    Is your student offered enough choices in school in order to explore interests before college? How about career training for those not going to college? Not only do I see a lack of elective choices, I see a lack of class sections to accommodate choice. What are our administrators doing to address this issue? Are they champions of online courses? I don’t think so. Are they championing private/public partnerships?

    Lets talk about technology. During Measure C there was a lot of discussion about technology because that polled well with parents. Do you know that much of the discussion focused around infrastructure and specifically the addition of high speed lines? At this point the District has earmarked $11mil of the $348mil for technology. If I was you I would be concerned about where they intend to spend that money because if it is for high speed lines they will be wasting your money. We have entire cities talking about going wireless. Our District technology plan is a joke. Have you read it?

    So forgive me if I am not ready to jump on the bandwagon of “it is all the State’s fault and our leadership does the best they can.” In addition, every vote does count and Gary holds the power on the Board. Do you think the Superintendent feels his job could be threatened by Gary’s disapproval in his work? Do you believe the Superintendent feels his job could be threatened by Lynne’s disapproval of his work? Gary holds the power and influence right now to make a difference. He can continue the victim mantra and continually blame this on the State or he can lead his Board to do great things despite the budget crisis.

  • anonamom

    Mayo has been around for a long time, why is she so ‘weak’ at standing for a cause; or against an idea that she knows down deep is just so very wrong. Dennler is new, doesn’t seem to have a clue that she (like Hansen) was voted in to put fresh blood and brains in there; not to be just another “yessir” vote!

    The reason to close any school was to save money, period, right? Not one person from County or District level can show that one red cent will be gained by either of these two closures. They can show the amount of money for Glenbrook they are losing (spelled- throwing away); but can they even guess at what it costs to move around a thousand kids, staff, supplies. They don’t have the foggiest!

    In addition to NO $aving$, does this Board intend to make the entire City of Concord pay for “safety” upgrades that will be MANDATORY along the paths of migrating students? From Port Chicago to Willow Pass, along 6th st, they will cross no fewer than 15 unmarked intersections, with only one Stop sign.

    I defy Gary and Lawrence to take any 5-10 yr old kid and walk from Birch and East Streets to Wren School! Defy!!! Defy!!! Defy!!! Try it from Claudia and Olivera! Be sure and do it in the rain in January!

    While you’re down at Birch and East, ask someone if they have the money for a bus ride for three kids, twice a day for a couple hundred days, for 5 years.

    STUPID STUBBORNNESS!

  • Theresa Harrington

    To justify hiring the new SASS administrator, Eberhart said it was included in the district’s School Improvement Grant application.
    “Once we submitted those applications and once we accepted that $14 million,” he said, “we entered into an agreement to implement the plans that we submitted and we don’t have a choice as a board not to follow through on the implementation of those plans.”
    If that’s true, then how did the board justify abandoning its plan for Glenbrook by closing the school and forfeiting the $1.2 million in funding it could have received for two more years?
    “If we didn’t have those $14 million,” Eberhart said, “we’d be making more cuts right now. We’d be in a much, much more dire position.”
    In fact, the district received about $14.8 million for three years. The board’s decision to give up $1.2 million of that leaves the district with $13.6 million. Is the loss of the $1.2 million causing more cuts than would have been necessary if the district had held onto the Glenbrook grant and kept the school open?
    At the end of his comments, Eberhart again reiterated: “At this point, the board doesn’t have as an option not to follow through with the plan.”
    If it had the option not to follow through with the Glenbrook plan, then doesn’t it have the option not to follow through with other portions of the plan?

  • Another MDUSD Mom

    You would think.

  • Parent

    Everyone needs to get behind Cheryl Hansen and demand the explicit accounting of the money actually saved.

    They won’t provide it because they can’t. I have been involved and they cannot produce a simple Income/Expense report on a specific area.

    This is why cuts are made blindly and they are known as the Black Hole. If they could produce actual numbers for dollars spent, and had a Strategic Plan, our kids really would come first.

    I am tired of seeing cuts that directly impact students. Where are the cuts at the District level? Travel is not even cut yet? Sell Willow Creek. All should have been cut 2-3 years ago. Instead they close a school, but not really close it, reuse it? What money does that save? Or is it so they can have somewhere to charge inflated maintenance and janitorial services, everyone knows that’s a fact in MDUSD.

    If there are no students, they have no district. Perhaps it’s time to hold kids out of school (don’t call them in sick) demanding accountability from this District. Apparently, Money Talks to this Board & District.

  • another mdusd momof3

    Questions Another MDUSD Mom:

    1. Have you spoken to your sites teachers and Principal on the concern of too many substitutes and movies? This is not acceptable and that is where you need to start. If no response, then move onto the Superintendent. At our high school our Principal is addressing this issue and let us parents know this at our last PTSA meeting.

    2. We as a community did not pass the Parcel tax and I worked on the campaign too, had signs in front of my home and spoke to everyone I could. Many parents of MDUSD students did not even bother to vote, if they had and voted yes then most likely the Parcel tax could have passed. The Bond Measure made sense and solar makes sense too, many school districts and businesses are doing this. Did you apply to be part of the Bond Measure Oversight Committee?

    3. Yes at our high school my students have had plenty of options regarding classes and electives. Yes we have also seen subjects collapsed because not enough students enrolled. We have Academies which are great. Does your high school have Academies? If not, then ask your administration why. What about concurrent enrollment if a class your student wants is not available? I know students who are doing this with their high school and DVC.

    4. I have not looked at the Technology plan but I know that department has also suffered layoffs due to budget cuts. Hard to move ahead if you do not have the personnel to do the work. Like when the Dent Center eliminated Admin positions, one of those being communications. Then people were mad because the website was not up to date right away. This is what happens with drastic budget cuts. What would you suggest be done regarding communication?

    5. They do need volunteers for the Budget Advisory Council that meets quarterly.

    6. Yes I know that many I speak too that have opinions and blame also do not regularly attend PAC meetings, PTA meetings or other district meetings. Everyone is very busy but choose 1 or 2 nights a month and get involved. I also know others that are very involved and that is how I became involved, I wanted to learn.

    7. Have you spoken to Gary Eberhard regarding your concerns?

  • Wait a Minute

    Excellent point Theresa@8

    More “doublespeak” by Eberhart.

    Just to prove how broke we are we will use the SIG grant to justify hiring another administrator whilst simultaneously asking lower workers to sacrifice and throwing away 1.2 MILLION dollars to close 2 successful schools that both just happen to be in the same low socioeconomic area!

    I’ll tell you Holbrook Dad and BillyBob. If you want to be rid of Eberhart and Marsh then please go to the About The Grand Jury page on the Contra Costa County courts website:
    Countyhttp://www.cc-courts.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=page.viewpage&pageid=4186
    and download 2 Bringing Matters to the Attention of the Grand Jury form.

    Fill out a conflict of interest complaint against Eberhart for the fact that he:
    #1 Had a UC Berkley extension training for solar power paid for by the MDUSD which he did not susequently reimburse.
    #2 Used this training to gain employment with the family of Jack Schreder who happens to have contracts with the MDUSD.

    Fill out another conflict of interest complaint against Sherry Whitmarsh for the fact that she:
    #1 Works for Chevron
    #2 Fact that she oversees as a Board Member of the MDUSD Superintendent Steven Lawrence at the same time he was meeting at his house, over drinks and food at Oliveto Restaurant in Oakland and on the golf course at Lake Tahoe (all given free to him) with representatives of Chevron seeking a No-Bid contract for 70 MILLION dollars for the MDUSD solar construction!

    If you do this I’m sure that Eberhart and Whitmarsh will be off the board as soon as the Grand Jury issues its report.

    You can also file a complaint with the Federal Office of Civil Rights that the MDUSD is trying to close low socioeconomic schoolsserving the same area and send those students to other schools with Lower Test Scores!

    You and other supporters of these proposed closed schools can also work to convert them to charter schools so they stay open and continue to ably serve your community.

    Take your destiny into your own hands here.

  • Another MDUSD Mom

    Answers Another MDUSD Mom of 3:
    1. Yes, I have spoken to the Principal, I do attend PTA meetings, and I am a member of the school site council where it is discussed.

    2. The Bond Measure does not make sense and no one knows if solar makes sense. The bond measure has 21 years of deferred interest and with that comes a great cost to the community. More of our money will go toward interest than into the classroom. How do you know the solar project makes sense? Have you really evaluated the numbers and the sources of information? The District has not yet provided an accurate accounting of the project. I was at the Measure C oversight committee meeting tonight, were you?

    3. DVC has cut back many classes that were once available to high school students.

    4. The fact that the technology plan is not good has nothing to do with the staff. It is a mandated template plan. If we were serious about technology we would have an up to date and innovative plan. It can’t all be about budget cuts.

    5. That is always a possibility.

    6. Yes, I became involved because I wanted to help make a difference and be informed.

    7. More times than you would think and probably more times than he would like.

  • Doctor J

    @Wait #12 & Theresa #8 I don’t think the Board ever reviewed and approved the District SIG plan, did it ? I can only find that in June it approved the four schools submitting a SIG grant proposal.

  • anonamom

    I couldn’t help but be dragged back to Eberhart’s campaign and promises of 2008. The shoe is on the other foot now, and two and a half years later, he can no longer blame the last board. He was there for many years without being effective in getting “his way”. Now that it is “his way” what promise of improvement has he kept? Does anyone in the District, besides Gary and Sherry, feel more confident or more secure than they were two years ago? Those 2008 promises are now recognizable as weak and reeking platitudes.

    A growing maniacal ego coupled with stubbornness is not a good trait in an elected official and should be closely scrutinized when reelection time draws near.

    While Hansen is calling for exactly what he said he wanted while campaigning in 2008, he denigrates her for being rebellious.

    Lest we all forget:
    http://www.smartvoter.org/2008/11/04/ca/cc/vote/eberhart_g/philosophy.htm

  • Theresa Harrington

    Per the district’s revised School Closure Transition Plan, Holbrook and Glenbrook families should be receiving their transfer school assignments this week: http://bit.ly/gKB0dv.

    Dr. J: No, the board never approved the final SIG applications. Instead, the board on June 15 authorized staff to submit an application to the California Dept. of Ed., without actually seeing it: http://esbpublic.mdusd.k12.ca.us/public_itemview.aspx?ItemId=2525&mtgId=269&mtgType=No

  • Doctor J

    Theresa, the Jun 15 Board vote was ONLY for four schools, not for a district SIG grant. The Board never voted to increase the size of SASS as Eberhart assumed the other night — that was done unilaterally by Lawrence. Also remember that June 15 was the same night the Board approved the appointment of the original eight members of SASS.

  • Hell freezing over

    Theresa Harrington Says:
    March 23rd, 2011 at 2:22 pm
    Per the district’s revised School Closure Transition Plan, Holbrook and Glenbrook families should be receiving their transfer school assignments this week: http://bit.ly/gKB0dv.

    So Holbrook & Glenbrook families – did you receive your official notice yet from the district as to where your children will attend school next school year?

    It has been 6 weeks as of Tuesday 03/22 since the board voted 4-1 to close the two schools.

  • Hell freezing over

    Did the board ever meet with the parents as invited by Kelly Van Boekhout to answer questions?

  • anonamom

    I believe each member of the Board knows in their gut that they chose the wrong school to close, but fear that it would be admitting to “knee-jerk” decisions if they changed their mind—which they could easily do—by going back to the public and rescinding their vote.

    It would just be a procedural item to decide to “delay” closure for one more year until they had time to do further study of the full impact to students and neighborhoods. They don’t even have plans for where new teachers at Wren could park their cars. They have not even discussed noise/traffic/air quality mitigation/street light timing changes etc with the City or filed required CEQA declarations for these same things.

    While it may be easy to sit “up there” and play king of the hill, it would be really hard to sit at eye level with Kelly and others at Holbrook, as well as the City leaders and defend what they know was a very poor decision.

  • Another MDUSD Mom

    Anonamom,

    When Cheryl Hansen asked for short term planning to address the very issues you mention relating to the school closures, she did not even get another Board member to second her motion. In addition, the district has not yet provided the Board with an analysis of the cost savings for the school closures. Will it even be close to the abritrary $1.5mil goal? And if they lose the SIG money….

    There is no question that schools need to be closed but to do so without a plan for the students and their families and without an accounting of the savings is irresponsible. A “plan” made up after the fact and 2 hours before a board meeting is not a plan.

  • Doctor J

    Of course Lawrence has not provided the “alleged cost savings” — there are none ! Its just a ruse. The SIG money is subject to a Federal audit, and the Feds send people to jail for false statements — ask Barry Bonds.

  • Theresa Harrington

    Dr. J: The SIG application was never presented to the board. However, every Local Educational Agency that received a SIG also received money for the agency itself. Since the board authorized staff to submit the application without seeing it, trustees gave staff the discretion to build new positions into the budget without approving them.
    As part of the authorization, the board agreed to several “assurances.” Here’s the first one:

    “As a condition of the receipt of funds…..the applicant agrees to….
    1. Use its SIG to implement fully and effectively an intervention in each Tier I and Tier II school that the LEA commits to serve consistent with the final requirements of SIG.”

    This means the board committed to implementing the Glenbrook SIG fully and effectively.

    The complete list of assurances is at http://esb.mdusd.k12.ca.us/attachments/5dd301a2-3030-4475-b153-f79d2427197f.pdf.

  • Doctor J

    Maybe the district is in danger of losing the SIG funds to all schools ? I wonder if Lawrence thought of that ? He probably just signed the application without reading it.

  • Theresa Harrington

    HFO: Kelly Van Boekhout told me in an email that she hasn’t received her child’s transfer information yet.
    She said Trustee Cheryl Hansen has accepted the invitation, but that Holbrook parents have yet to receive a definitive answer from any other board member.

  • Wait a Minute

    Its probably because Cheryl is the only board member with the courage to go to Holbrook and listen to them.

  • anonamom

    Is all of this tantamount to “insider trading”? Solargate, Schradergate, Portergate and maybe even CACgate?

    I kept seeing commented innuendo, so I knew I was missing something trying to connect the dots to figure out the real reason why Holbrook at 67% of capacity and higher test scores etc. was chosen to close, BUT:

    Mountain View, which is only at 52 percent capacity, sitting with 383 empty seats and is within – throwing distance – of two or three other elementary schools, WHICH COULD VERY EASILY HAVE BEEN DISBURSED TO TWO SCHOOLS, was not even considered to be closed. AND, since we knew they weren’t really considering closing Silverwood, Mtn View wasn’t even really considered to receive.

    Ayers was very well protected by Todd Porter with both money and territory on his side. They brought up Westwood, but only as a diversionary I am sure.

    Holbrook had no representative because Mr. Surran (who I could not find) “moved” before the list was even published, and the Board chose to leave the position open, even while others sat on an applicant list.

    In fact, according to the list, Mt Diablo High feeder pattern was represented by TWO EMPLOYEES from schools “over the hill” and one person listed as “community”, but who I was unable to locate.

    So I keep saying “what else am I missing”?

    Well, in addition to the Todd Porter connection which should have never been allowed due to his financial tie to several of the schools, I also find that CAC member from Mountain View, Joseph Hernandez with four votes, is married to President of the school’s PFC Christine Hernandez, who is related (sister, I believe) to Michelle Eberhart, who is…You got it!! I can hear it now: “Honey, whatever you do, don’t let them close Mtn. View”.

    Did everyone else in Concord know this, and I just found out???

    How does one go about getting not only the vote records, but a transcript of the meetings where they chose the CAC panel? Surely they have to be Public Records.

  • Theresa Harrington

    Rose Lock chose the School Closure Advisory Committee members based on their applications. There were no public intereviews, to my knowledge.
    The votes were anonymous. They are detailed in the Dec. 13 committee minutes at http://www.mdusd.org/Community/Documents/scac/minutes/121310.pdf and in the Jan. 19 board PowerPoint presentation, pages 67-70: http://www.mdusd.org/Community/Documents/scac/powerpoint/01-19.pdf.
    Mountain View Elementary did not appear in any scenarios being considered and it received no votes.
    It received a score of 82 according to the criteria on page 10 of the PowerPoint. (Holbrook received 66 points.)

    Also, Kelly Van Boekhout told me in an email that she received her child’s transfer information today (Saturday).

  • Doctor J

    Theresa, I would tend to disagree — Rose Lock has never done anything in a vacumn. I would bet dollars to donuts those names were vetted with at least some board members and the Supt. when Rose couldn’t control the direction of the committee, the Supt put forth his own proposal under the guise of his “council” — its the same idea he had when he first came to the district. The committee promptly rejected it.

  • Wait a Minute

    Good sleuthing Anonamom!
    When you peel back the layers of this onion these are the kinds of conflicts of interest and insider-manipulation so embedded in these so called “leaders”.

    I highly recommend you make a Grand Jury request for investigation and a Federal Office of Civil Rights complaint using this information you have found.
    These outside agencies can come in and put people under oath and get to the bottom of this scandal.

    Lets be clear, these “leaders” have never represented the whole community impartially. They have always been skewed towards the money and power elites. Who pays the price for their favoritism–the lower income communities.

  • Wait a Minute

    I was just going to add that the fact that only Cheryl Hansen has taken up the offer by Holbrook Elementary’s invitation to a meeting about the closure is further evidence that outside of Cheryl, the other MDUSD “leaders” have a bias against the low income community.

    Dr. J, Steve Lawrence is a notoriously manipulative control freak. You can bet that his fingerprints are all over the decision to close low-income schools with higher test scores then the higher income area schools that they will be sent to.

    I find this decision and the way it was reached to close these schools revolting and the most emblematic of the deep-seated bias that these “leaders” embrace.

  • Theresa Harrington

    The district is offering partial use of Glenbrook MS to the new Flex Academy: http://esbpublic.mdusd.k12.ca.us/public_itemview.aspx?ItemId=3785&mtgId=300

  • Kelly Van Boekhout

    As of today, I have received my daughter’s transfer information, and I have still yet to receive a definitive answer from any member of the Board other than Cheryl Hansen.
    Sherry Whitmarsh has contacted me to inform me that the meeting would have to be announced 72hrs prior according to the Brown Act. I responded to her email, on March 19th, stating that “According to the Brown Act, Item III states ‘A majority of the members of a legislative body may attend community gatherings, public meetings, or purely social events without violating the provisions of the Brown Act, provided that such attendees do not discuss among themselves, other than as part of the scheduled program, business of a specific nature that is within the subject matter jurisdiction of the legislative body of the local agency (Govt. Code/54952)’.”
    I sent that email to Greg Rolen also, just to make sure that it was understood that I was not attempting to manipulate the Board and that I respect the fact that they have rules, regulations and protocol to follow.
    I have yet to receive a response.
    So, today I emailed the Contra Costa County Department of Education. I asked them to hold our District Board accountable and require them to show some form of proof relating to a hard number of funding that would be saved by closing Holbrook.
    I also asked them to make the Board prove that there would be MORE funding saved in closing Holbrook rather than another school on the closure list.
    We’ll see what happens.
    And personally, I agree with #20 in that the Board knows in their gut that they made the wrong decision. I believe that is why they refuse to acknowledge us, respond to us, or come and speak with us.

    I implore you, whether or not you are a member of the Holbrook Elementary community, if you feel the Board is mishandling the money they have, make your opinion known to them AND THEIR BOSSES!
    Contact the County and let them know, this is no longer a matter of budget cuts, it is a matter of money handling.
    Budget cuts should not directly affect the students (ANY student, mine, yours or otherwise) until there are literally NO OTHER answers!
    jovick@cccoe.k12.ca.us
    kkilmer@cccoe.k12.ca.us
    lhuerta@cccoe.k12.ca.us

  • Theresa Harrington

    On Tuesday, the board expects to approve new “Schoolwide Programs” at Holbrook and Sun Terrace elementary schools: http://esbpublic.mdusd.k12.ca.us/public_itemview.aspx?ItemId=3768&mtgId=300.

    According to the staff report: “The emphasis in schoolwide program schools is on serving all students, improving all structures that support student learning, and combining all resources, as allowed, to achieve a common goal. Schoolwide programs maximize the impact of Title I. Adopting this strategy should result in an ongoing, comprehensive plan for school improvement that is owned by the entire school community and tailored to its unique needs.”

    In three months, however, the district plans to close the campus and abandon the Holbrook Schoolwide Program, along with its Glenbrook School Improvement Grant program.

  • anonamom

    Good luck Kelly. I recommend building an outline, and asking to have items added to County’s Agenda so that we can take the entire district issue “publicly” up to County level.

  • Theresa Harrington

    Letter to Flex Public charter school says district provided Flex a preliminary facility offer ON FEB. 25 to occupy space at Glenbrook MS for one year. This was just 17 days after the board voted to close Glenbrook: http://esb.mdusd.k12.ca.us/attachments/4a37a631-a90f-4f53-8258-74c299f22e12.pdf.
    Yet, I don’t believe this plan appeared in any of Superintendent Steven Lawrence’s PowerPoint presentations about how Glenbrook would be used after it closes.

  • anonamom

    Has anyone been told publicly what will happen at either school? When you offer “partial occupancy” wouldn’t you need to tell them with whom they would be sharing the campus? Safety, Security, Lunch Facilities……

  • Doctor J

    Can anyone at MDUSD spell T R A N S P A R E N C Y or T R U S T ?????????

  • Theresa Harrington

    The March 11 letter from Flex to the district outlining its concerns with the offer is missing, but I’ve requested a copy of it.
    There’s been no new information about what will happen to Holbrook, but Lawrence said he wanted to convene his committee to look at high schools, including relocating small necessary high schools, in April, I believe.

  • anonamom

    I suppose it would be asking too much for THIS committee to actually involve homeowners in Holbrook/East Sun Terrace neighborhoods, unlike the last committee.

    Maybe they want to relocate certain “special kids” to maybe control, confine and hide them in the center of an old lower income neighborhood?

    What will it cost to turn Holbrook into a proper high school environment–fields, furnishings, science labs, taller drinking fountains :) , etc. Seriously??

    I call BS on they decided to rush headlong into closing schools to “save money”.

    I say Lawrence “played” the closure committee like Three Card Monte and then sweetened the pot for the Board by drawing attention away from the fact that Holbrook scored much better than Wren, and that Glenbrook and Holbrook were “exact same neighborhood” schools.

    Not one thing they do with either of these schools will save a dime over what they will give up in Grant money, and all the rest of you sitting smug in your “safe” school…don’t count on it! Now they really DO need to get to work to fix the budget!

  • Another MDUSD Mom

    Anonamom,
    Why do you think they chose to close these two schools? I agree that they are not saving money.

  • anonamom

    Granted Glenbrook did not fare well on any scale; but looking down the road a couple of years , (after the heat has let up) that piece of dirt may well be the very best piece of real estate in North Concord outside of CNWS. Keep in mind that this Board and this City are good-buddies.

    Holbrook was, for the Board, just a major Flub. Now it’s become a growing cow-pie in the middle of the dais, and they’re looking for Lawrence to clean it up with just about anything he can come up with. They still don’t quite acknowledge that he gave them the old 2-school or 3-school routine that threw them off in the first place.

  • Theresa Harrington

    Trustee Cheryl Hansen said in a voicemail message this afternoon that she had not known about the plan to allow the Flex Academy to use the Glenbrook campus before the agenda was released.
    “So,” she said, “that was a surprise.”
    Hansen and Trustee Linda Mayo said during the board retreat that they would like “no more surprises.”

  • 4Students

    Good luck Kelly, but the County will tell you that there’s NO accountability. There’s NO system of government checks and balances here. MDUSD can do whatever it wants until it goes bankrupt. To create some kind of accountability, MDUSD should be working with City of Concord (and all the cities) to decide on school closures.

  • Wait a Minute

    Kelly,
    your best bet to get the MDUSD investigated for this debacle is to make a complaint to the Federal Office of Civil Rights. They have the mission and the resources to come in and analyze every document and piece of evidence both on the fiscal side and on the criteria for closure side.

    If the MDUSD cannot prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that closing Holbrook saves substantial money then it will be assumed that other reasons (like singling out the low income community) is the real reason for this decision.

    The OCR can and does go so far as to put people under oath and make them explain to a trained team of investigators/lawyers. If this were to happen it could get really interesting since someone is bound to spill the beans to protect themselves.

    You could also try the State Dpt of Ed as they also have a Civil Rights division but the Feds are the gold standard in this realm.

    Good luck.

  • Wait a Minute

    Forgot to mention that the Federal Office of Civil Rights for this area are located in SF. You simply go online and read their website for guidance on how to make a complaint.

  • Concerned College Student

    I want to know for the schools that are closing down, has anyone done any student walk outs? I help fight for all areas of education, i am a college student but have children of my own in another county and have had to deal with these same questions and problems. Has anyone set up a comittee to help educate and explain to the parents of the schools closing, what they can do to fight the closures? Marching in March was created last year by students and activists all over the country. Schools across the US walked out for the first time in history as one to let there voices be heard. The more this is done and repeated eventually they take notice that we are not goping to deal with all the BS that is handed us. We have a right to an education and if want our children to suceed in anything they must be properly educated and with all these massive budget cuts and school closures how is this going to be possible. Education must come first there are other areas to cut!
    March 31st is another National Day of Students walking out, fighting for what they believe in!!

    Defend Public Education – Education for the People! – Organizing Group Can be found on Facebook!!

    We must show the power that we have in the education system. Without students – there can be no schools, there can be no classes. We need to be bold, walk out of class, and show that we have to power to change the system. We know where the money is – its in wars and bailouts. We say bring …that money back to our schools and communities! Walkout and Strike March 31st!

    Build and organize in your area – if you do think you can walkout/strike, then rally, speak out, hold teach-ins, talk about what’s going on in your state and nationally and why we need to strikes and mass action to win.

    ###

    We call on students to take part in a national day of walkouts and strikes on March 31st. We call for walkouts and strikes nationwide to fight back the attacks on public education. We have the answers to the problems of this system. in order to stop these attacks, we must shut the system down.

    We must unite and refuse to take part in a system that is destroying our communities! We must unite and fight for the system that we need! Walkout, Strike, Shut it Down on March 31st!

    Link to flyer: http://www.defendpubliceducation.org/sites/default/files/m2011%20copy.jpg

  • Kelly Van Boekhout

    #35-Thank you!
    #44-Every revolution has to start somewhere. :)
    #45-Thank you for the suggestions!! I’m off to implement them right now!

  • Marta Vanegas

    If you are on Facebook, like our Cause Page and start contributing there: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Save-Holbrook-Elementary-School-Concord-CA/193841240642966

    I will definitely pursue all avenues to stop this nonsense. Holbrook is an excellent school, the children are happy there, and it’s an integral part of our community. I will fight to the last drop.