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Mt. Diablo board starts strategic planning

By Theresa Harrington
Monday, March 28th, 2011 at 4:47 pm in Education, Mt. Diablo school district, Theresa Harrington.

The Mt. Diablo school board wants to know what you’d like to see in its strategic plan, which is intended to guide the district in a cohesive direction.

Here’s the draft trustees will review Tuesday night:

“MDUSD Strategic Plan



Student learning for all students/educational excellence for all students

‘Our responsibility is to prepare every student for success in college, career, and life.’ (Antioch USD)

MDUSD students will graduate as responsible citizens prepared to succeed in the college or career of their choice.




– Focus on learning and children
– Excellence
– Integrity
– Respect
– Collaboration
– Safety

We will always…
– Make decisions based on the best interests of the students,
– Elevate communication to a level that is inclusive and instills trust,
– Behave in an ethical, respectful, responsive manner,
– Seek out reform, innovation, and partnerships to bring academic excellence to our students,
– Recruit and retain the most effective, highly qualified staff available.

Strategic Initiatives

1. Academic Excellence and Learning

MDUSD will provide a rigorous, relevant, and engaging educational experience to all students. MDUSD will seek out reform and innovation to ensure academic excellence.

MDUSD understands that increasing student achievement is a team effort, one that requires a systemic and sustained approach to school improvement and reform. Student success is dependent upon parent, teacher, administrator, support staff, and school success.

Goals/Specific Results

1.1 Provide curricula that reflects high expectations and alignment to content standards.

1.2 Ensure focus, consistency, and alignment of our curriculum, instructional strategies, and assessments.

1.3 Improve the content, quality, and use of assessments and ensure that data from these assessments drives instruction.

1.4 Provide, support, and monitor instruction based on identified best practices.

1.5 Examine the district’s curricula to ensure career and/or college-ready rigor at each grade level.

1.6 Implement programs that support 21st century skills, including collaboration, innovation, critical thinking, and communication.

1.7 Provide and meet program improvement requirements and support for academically under-performing schools.

1.8 Expand autonomy and empowerment for high performing schools.

1.9 Support struggling learners by targeted preventions, interventions, resources, and professional development.

1.10 Increase the use of technology in the teaching and learning process.

1.11 Ensure that the English Language Learner program is responsive to the needs of students and implemented, supported, monitored, and assessed based on student learning and a master plan.

1.12 Examine Special Education programs, services, and delivery to ensure high expectations in the least restrictive environment.

1.13 Establish clear parameters for allocation of Special Education staff and resources.

1.14 Ensure successful transition and articulation among elementary, middle, and high school levels.

1.15 Seek innovative community and business partnerships to expand programs and pathways in schools to enhance rigorous, relevant academic opportunities.

2. Supportive Family and Community Involvement

MDUSD will actively build strong relationships with students, families, and the community to increase trust, shared responsibility, and a positive perception of our district.

MDUSD will use multiple methods of communication and engagement to reach all stakeholders and increase opportunities for meaningful community input and participation to advance student achievement and learning in all subject areas.

Goals/Specific Results

2.1 Use multiple, regular methods of communication and engagement to reach all stakeholders.

2.2 Ensure that our communications are honest, accurate, thorough, and accessible to the public.

2.3 Increase opportunities for meaningful community input and participation.

2.4 Cultivate community, business, and higher education partnerships that advance student achievement in all subject areas.

2.5 Increase collaboration with cities, businesses, and the community to build a community that supports and values education.

2.6 Achieve a positive perception of MDUSD among parents and community members and ensure that parents consider MDUSD a “preferred place” to meet their educational needs.

2.7 Engage and involve parents in their children’s education to create shared responsibilities for student success.

3 High Quality, Effective Staff

The key to MDUSD success is its people, and MDUSD will recruit, develop, support, and retain the most talented staff.

Goals/Specific Results

3.1 Ensure that every classroom has a high-quality, effective educator.

3.2 Provide support through high-quality, effective administrators and support staff.

3.3 Ensure that our staff has the skills and capacity to achieve our mission.

3.4 Increase the retention rate of high-performing teachers, administrators, and support staff.

3.5 Increase leadership opportunities for staff.

3.6 Provide targeted professional development that supports the Strategic Plan.

3.7 Build staff morale and efficacy.

4 Respectful, Responsive Service and Communication

MDUSD district and site staff will be responsive and respectful while providing outstanding service to co-workers, students, parents, and community members.

District and site staff will proactively seek opportunities to improve communication and customer service. Every person who interacts with MDUSD should be treated with dignity, respect, and courtesy.

Goals/Specific Results

4.1 Assess, adopt, and improve practices that encourage respectful, responsive customer service.

4.2 Improve communication, both internally and externally, ensuring that community members, parents, students, and employees receive information, responses to inquiries, and services in a timely, efficient manner.

4.3 Improve employee morale by strengthening internal communications.

4.4 Ensure that employees consider MDUSD a ‘preferred place’ (culture and climate) to work.

4.5 Ensure that parents consider MDUSD a ‘preferred place’ to meet their educational needs.

4.6 Diligently monitor and report progress on strategic plan initiatives to gain trust, promote dialogue, and determine success.

4.7 Increase the use of technology to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of communication throughout the organization.

5 Optimal Operations and Infrastructure

MDUSD will implement sound fiscal and human resource policies that maximize resources, generate revenue, provide accountability, and accomplish educational priorities within a balanced budget framework.

If students are going to achieve excellence, all school and district operations must be excellent as well. Alignment across the district is critical so MDUSD will clearly align its fiscal and human resources to focus on achieving educational excellence. MDUSD will work in partnership with employees, parents, and the community to be a results-oriented district that involves all school, departments, and community groups.

Goals/Specific Results

5.1 Transform MDUSD into a high-performing, results-oriented organization that involves all schools, departments, and community groups.

5.2 Align district-wide initiatives, district and site plans, and expenditures to the MDUSD Strategic Plan and Board goals and policies.

5.3 Ensure that our facilities and infrastructure support and enhance student learning.

5.4 Place priority on educational needs and programs when making fiscal decisions.

5.5 Develop comprehensive short-term and long-term plans that proactively anticipate and address enrollment trends (e.g., decline and/or growth in enrollment, attendance boundary adjustments, possible school closure or repurposing, capacity needs, facilities issues, fiscal impact).

5.6 Ensure fiscal stability and accountability through effective stewardship of financial assets, community funding sources, and other activities to improve district resources and build public trust.

5.7 Enhance the support for and integration of instructional technology

1) Stakeholder Input Sessions
2) Plan Revision and Finalization
3) Implementation Strategies/Action Plans/SMART Goals with Monitoring and Accountability

Vision (from the MDUSD web site)
Mt. Diablo Unified School District is to be a district in which all students, staff, and community:
– treat each other with dignity and respect
– respect cultural, racial, and economic diversity
– assume responsibility for the educational and individual needs of students
– support each other in achieving meaningful outcomes to enable individuals to experience success
– use technology to access, manage, and communicate information
– collaborate to achieve mutual goals
– encourage students to become responsible citizens in a democratic society

The Mt. Diablo Unified School District is to be a district in which all schools:
– provide effective instruction as the focus of all activity
– provide a safe, secure, nurturing, and stimulating learning environment
– arrange time and space around the needs of the student
– are recognized and supported for their individuality and culture
– support students in achieving meaningful outcomes to prepare them to be successful adults.”

What do you think of the plan? Are there items not included that you would like to see added? Do you think it’s achievable?

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63 Responses to “Mt. Diablo board starts strategic planning”

  1. Wait a Minute Says:

    The third bullet comment under Values is, get this..Integrity???

    I certainly don’t see any integrity in the power elites running this district into the ground with their myriad scandals and conflicts of interest.

    Remember, long after they are gone the taxpayers will still be paying for 40 years the MDUSD’s $1.87 BILLION solar boondoggle.

  2. Linda Says:

    Wait a Minute,
    The strategic plan is a step in the right direction. I think Cheryl and Sherry should be commended for having integrity on the list.

  3. anonamom Says:

    We absolutely have to give the ladies credit for getting this published.

    As my old granddad would say, “all that preachin’ sounds real good and the pictures look real purty, but if words could do it I wouldn’t need that old mule”! In other words; “if buzzwords were dollars, we wouldn’t have to close schools or fire teachers”.

    I’m sure the district, in three quarters of a Century, must have had a “Plan”. So, let’s get off of these warn out buzzwords and platitudes, and lets work on a “job plan” now, on how and when and why on specific and individual jobs to get done!

  4. anonamom Says:

    What I wanted in a plan from them was something more specific for Mt. Diablo, and less “montage”.

  5. Do your job! Says:

    Huh? Isn’t this what they Board and district should have been doing for the last 40 years? Let’s quit defining the job and get on with it. I know it is the 21st century and the year of CYA but we could be legondary and do the right things and not just put the ideas to paper. And who took the time and money to produce this document?

  6. Linda Says:

    Specifics without a vision is still shooting from the hip. The next step in this plan WILL BE specifics but it has to be done with community input or there won’t be buy-in. When I say community I mean parents, teachers, students, administratos, staff, businesses, foundations, etc…
    I would argue that a plan without input and buy-in is simply the same as goals and objectives, a top down directive.
    Integrity may be a buzzword to you but it is exactly one of the things I expect from our District leadership and appreciate the fact that it is included.
    Now we will see how the next step goes.

  7. Jim Says:

    This is not a plan. This is a verbose vision. Whenever I see a “strategic” plan, I ask two questions:
    1) What is “new” in this plan? Could it have been our “plan” 1 year ago? 3 years ago? In other words, is it trying to do anything different than what people thought they’ve been doing all along?
    2) What is unique in the plan? What is unique to our organization? Could any of the other districts in the area have published this plan? Answer: any of them could say that this is their “plan”. If a plan is that generic, it isn’t much of a plan.

    Another way to test a plan is to raise a serious problem that the organization struggles with and ask if the plan provides any guidance. If so, how useful is that guidance? We have a shrinking enrollment base. What does this plan tell us about how to handle that challenge? We need more school choice to offer more targeted learning options and to provide more accountability throughout the district. Does this take us in that direction? We have serious problems with instructional quality and teacher performance in certain distinct areas. Reading Section 3 of this plan, do you get any sense of how MDUSD will approach s persistent underperformance issue? We have no coherent sense of the role of technology in our schools. (Are online courses a “good” thing or a “bad” thing for our students?) Does this plan help define that? Maybe other readers would prioritize other issues over these. Fine. My point is that this document doesn’t seem to address any issue in a particularly meaningful way.

    I commend the board members who have pushed this process, but it looks as if we are a long way from anything substantive. If this document gets fleshed out, and most importantly, if it gets sequenced, then maybe we’ll have a roadmap with some usefulness. The hard part about planning in an organization as wayward and dysfunctional as MDUSD, is that you have to make hard choices. You can’t fix everything at once. At any point in time, everyone in the organization has to know the 2 or 3 (or maybe 4) things that everyone is supposed to be focused on. If you sequence the goals and focus on them according to your priorities, then you can accomplish a lot over time. But so far, this document looks like dozens of other district plans that are floating around on the web.

    I believe in planning, but I hope that this isn’t just an exercise in generic blah, blah.

  8. anonamom Says:

    Jim, I too commend them for getting this done and out of the way. At least the main argument won’t be the missing “PLAN”. There is no question that all schools want to accomplish the same goals in their district, but after months with the hummm of the ‘stratigic plan mantra’ I had hoped for even better here. However, this one is so cut/paste they should have had to pay royalties to Richland Co. SC to publish it.

  9. Linda Says:

    Jim and Anonamom,
    Help me understand. You commend Cheryl and Sherry’s work. You recognize the value of a comprehensive plan(I think). Would you have wanted Cheryl and Sherry to sit down and write the entire plan from their perspective? All of us know that planning takes a lot of time and a lot of input. We also know if you don’t start out the discussion with some kind of framework you waste a lot of time and energy. The first Strategic Planning meeting for the Board is at the end of April. Is your concern based on the fact that the plan does not include details or that you don’t believe it will?

    I can’t believe I am saying this but it is a bit unfair to judge the “plan” today since it has not been vetted by anyone but Cheryl and Sherry. The true strategic planning process has not even begun.
    If you think a plan is a waste of time or “superficial mantra” then I can only presume you like the way decisions are being made currently?
    I like you both, but help me get where you are coming from with your comments.

  10. Jim Says:

    If this is just a framework, then perhaps it will evolve into something useful. I hope so. But it seems like an awful lot of words and platitudes for a starting framework. It seems to say, “Here are all of these things about education, and they are all important.” Who could disagree with that?

    If Cheryl and Sherry believe that this is the right way to get started, then by all means, we should give them some time to get things moving. My concern about the strategic plan all along has been about whether it would start with key challenges and then articulate key values that support specific strategies.

    Here is a hypothetical (and perhaps simplified) example:
    Challenge: We have poor instructor performance in certain key academic areas (exemplified by W, Y, Z).
    Values: We believe that every class of students, every year, deserves focused and competent instruction. We believe that teacher evaluation should be useful, fair, and timely.
    Strategy: Working with MDEA and site personnel, we will define a teacher evaluation system that incorporates student scores, classroom observation by principals and master teachers, parent feedback, and peer input that will provide early identification of instructional underperformance and correct or otherwise resolve performance issues within one academic year.
    Action Steps: Identify key performance criteria. Research and review available evaluation options. Define key evaluation mechanisms, supports for improvement, and ultimate decision-making process. Create two-year implementation timeline.

    Each step above requires input from the organization and community. (You wouldn’t just write it off the top of your head, as I just did). This example may not be feasible in MDUSD, but eventually, a strategic plan has to lead to specific actions to make things better. Or why bother? Otherwise, it’s better to stick with a focused vision statement or set of “decision rules” that can help people decide priorities, but without a formal plan or set of prescriptions. Even that kind of document can be useful in fleshing out priorities and helping an organization change direction. I realize that it is much harder for a public entity like MDUSD to develop a credible plan than it is for a private company. But I have seen a lot of these things dangle for a long time without resolution, taking up time and energy but without producing benefits. Since this is the district’s first attempt, I’m willing to keep an open mind. It will be interesting to hear the comments when this document is discussed.

  11. Linda Says:

    I really like your hypothetical way of approaching change. I hope that kind of detail is exactly where this process leads MDUSD. It is a tall order but I think the groups who come together to give input and those who work on the plan have an obligation to help make sure it is a meaningful document.

  12. anon Says:

    Jim, Linda and Anonomom will you all be part of community input for this strategic plan? You all seem to know how it should be and if I understand things correctly, they will need and want members of the community to be part of the Strategic Plan process. I commend Sherry and Cheryl, they both hold full time jobs and being a BOE member for the MDUSD is more than a full time job with peanuts for compensation. Anyone in a BOE position would be there because they care for our community and the education of our children.

    I say, this is a great start and I have heard it can take over a year to get a really good strategic plan in place.

  13. MrBudget Says:

    Jim’s example is right on. The problem with what Cheryl is pushing is that it is top down. (More micromanaging!)

    All the research on Public School Strategic Planning shows that the plan must be stakeholder driven. By setting out this “draft”, she has already started a top-down process.

    For a good example look at Walnut Creek Elementary. Their plan was stakeholder driven (and yes that takes the committment and time) and it was reviewed and adjusted each year.

  14. Doctor J Says:

    I agree with Mr B — but I think that Cheryl had to give a ‘vision’ of what a Strategic Plan might look like. The whole purpose of a SP is to be stakeholder driven — total buy-in by everyone to create unity. While the district might not think twice about spending money for consultants on other matters, there appears to be resistance in spending money on consultants for a SP — that is so backwards. Look at what San Juan Unified in Sacramento did —

  15. Theresa Harrington Says:

    How do you all envision the board-adopted goals and objectives fitting in with the strategic plan? Should they be folded into it or changed? Does it make sense for them to remain separate during the strategic planning process?
    The board will discuss progress on these goals and objectives tonight:

  16. Long-time Board Watcher Says:

    How do the very specific Goals and Objectives, approved by the Board last September and included as information in Agenda Item 14.0, relate to the Strategic Plan draft included in Agenda Item 14.11?

    I think the Goals and Objectives are from the district plan that supports the individual schools’ Single Plan for Student Achievement. The district and schools have been working under these very specific and state-required plans for several years. The Board members’ draft seems to be a compilation of typical components of a school district strategic plan. As such it can serve as a starting point for discussions among the many interest groups in the MDUSD community. The final document may be very different.

    It’s a little disconcerting that the draft plan includes no reference to the Single Plans. The Board especially, but also the district community, should have one document that guides every decision. The final “MDUSD Strategic Plan” should reflect and build on what has been working, what staff and parents have been doing at schools where student learning is improving.

    Personally, I’m not sure MDUSD has been without a long-range and strategic plan. The Single Plans for Student Achievement have marked a course for school staffs to follow and for district staff to use in providing guidance and resources. I think what’s been missing is the public’s confidence that The Board 1) has a stated and long-range vision, 2) has a working knowledge of the Single Plans’ goals and objectives, and 3) uses that vision and knowledge when making decisions.

    Let’s hope the exercise of community-involved strategic planning leads to Board decisions, even unpopular ones, that everyone can understand.

  17. Long-time Board Watcher Says:

    Correction: The specific Goals and Objectives, approved by the Board last September are included as information in Agenda Item 14.10. The Strategic Plan draft follows as Item 14.11.

  18. Doctor J Says:

    Long Time BW, all school administrators are fantastic at drafting “plans” but where has there been any accountability for the implementation and success of the plans ? For the most part, they are drafted, approved, and filed, never to see the light of day again. Blow the dust off these plans. What follow up on these plans has ever occurred ?

  19. Linda Says:

    Anon #12
    I will most certainly participate in the strategic planning process.

    Long-time Board Watcher,
    Do you really see the Single Plan for Student Acheivement as the kind of document you want to use as an example for strategic planning? I have been a Site Council member for 3 years, I see that document as cumbersome, status quo, and lacks accountability. It also addresses struggling students not all students.

    As for the Goals and Objectives… there was no buy-in by teachers or parents of the G&Os. Of course they should be considered as the plan moves from strategies to goals but I don’t think they should be blindly wrapped into the plan.

  20. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Do you think the board was aware of the Glenbrook School Improvement Grant plan, which was incorporated into the Single Plan for Student Achievement, when it voted to close the school?
    The facilitator at the board retreat said trustees should spend most of their time discussing student achievement.
    Yet, the board never publicly reviewed the final School Improvement Grant application and approved seven restructuring plans for schools on the state’s list of persistently low-achieving schools without any staff presentation:
    Here’s what facilitator Kirk Berger told trustees regarding strategic planning:
    “The board and superintendent work together on establishing a strategic direction for the district. Governance through the board always trumps the superintendent. You work together to establish the vision, the values, the goals and the measurable objectives for achieving those goals. You set the policy, you establish the resources through the budget and you direct the superintendent.”
    What measurable objectives would you like to see in the strategic plan?

  21. anonamom Says:

    Linda; I would be hard put to say it any better than Jim did in his last couple of posts.

    We already have a Vision and a Mission, and they are not unlike every school district’s goals. This publication merely builds more words into them. Provide, Ensure, Examine, Assure, Expand…Buzzzz.

    Yes—it is a good start, but we already had that “start”. We already have a long list of things to accomplish. The need Right Now is to do more than scratch the surface. MrBudget is pointing in the right direction. Emphasize, then itemize, then prioritize, then ‘dollarize’, then ‘specifize’ (to coin a word or two), It’s the way we should run our homes. If it isn’t an emergency, and the dollars aren’t there for a new one, move it down the list. What can WE accomplish with what WE have to work with right now?

    Just because the fridge doesn’t seem to keep things cold enough, do we just throw it away and do without? No, we clean the coil, we replace the seals, we force it to run more efficiently. We put our goal of buying a new one farther down the list.

    Just because money is tight and enrollment at some schools is lagging right now, do we just throw away a neighborhood school? No, we make all of the schools run more efficiently.

  22. Doctor J Says:

    Theresa, “aware” ? Of course, I think on June 15 the Board approved the submission of SIG grants for the four schools, including Glenbrook. I know the final submissions were revised and submitted months later without being on the Board agenda but then again Lawrence is the guy who wanted carte blanche approval to appoint administrators without Board oversight the same night he recommended Chris Nugent despite his knowledge and knowlege of some board members of Nugent’s DUI. Remember all the time Eberhart spent behind the scenes getting Nugent to withdraw his name ? I imagine Nugent has quite a story to tell about how Eberhart got him to do that.

  23. Doctor J Says:

    Anonamom, you have some good points. However, the beauty of a Strategic Plan is the “buy in” of ALL STAKEHOLDERS, not just a few. It is the ‘conversation’ that takes place, and the acceptance of ‘all stakeholders’. It creates unity. Really, it is the old saw, “United we stand, divided we fall.” Just imagine the synergy that happens when everyone is “united” in common purpose, vision, and devotion.

  24. anonamom Says:

    Dr. J; If schools really ‘had to’ close this year, without delay, do you feel that the right schools were chosen? Do you believe the District had some ulterior motive for choosing these two schools first? Did ‘someone’ already have a goal for the future use of these campuses before they were maneuvered into the top spot on the list?

    Do you believe as I do, that there is about to be a huge “shuffle” of bodies, with no financial gain or progress in Educational Goals?

    If you can answer affirmatively on any TWO of these questions, will you explain further?

    I think I can speak for a few thousand “stakeholders” that aren’t “buying into” the current plan.

  25. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Do you believe the School Closure Transition Plan should include planning for what will happen to the closed facilities?
    Right now, the plan doesn’t mention anything about that:
    Also, do you believe Superintendent Steven Lawrence did not know on Feb. 22 that the district would offer the use of Glenbrook Middle School to the Flex Academy on Feb. 25 (three days later)?
    If he did know, do you believe he should have informed the board and the public about this plan on Feb. 22?
    His staff report ( recommended: “Develop a program at Glenbrook that will allow us to reduce the number of special education students served by nonpublic schools.”

  26. Long-time Board Watcher Says:

    Dr. J and Linda,
    The Goals and Objectives in Agenda Item 14.10 are pretty darn specific and ones I would think belong in a district strategic plan. For example, for those of you pushing for more on-line learning:”Develop a plan to provide the infrastructure, hardware and software necessary for modern digital classroom tools in every classroom and begin implementing $11M in technology upgrades to bring the plan to fruition.”

    I’m not saying the Single Plans are the same as a formal Strategic Plan, but they have components that could provide the details lacking so far in the draft plan attached to Agenda Item 14.11. Most of the Single Plans are the work of principals, teachers, parents, and district staff working collaboratively. The plans set annual goals and must be updated each year. The measure of their success is, under the current state and federal regulations, shown in their students’ academic growth (API and AYP ratings). What other accountability measures do you suggest?

    I share your frustration with the district leadership over the whole issue of planning, both long- and short-term. My post was to point out that the Board does not have to start from scratch in creating a strategic plan. Gathering up some of the work that’s been going on at school sites and by the former Curriculum and Instruction (and current SASS) staff would be useful.

    I just hope that, tonight, when Board members look at the Goals and Objectives and then at the draft to kick off strategic planning, they will see links between the two and build on those connections.

  27. MrBudget Says:

    The Board does not create the strategic plan. The stakeholders do. The Board creates the process and provides the support and then, when all is done the Board affirms the plan and aligns its goals to it. The Board is responsible to the stakeholders.

  28. Doctor J Says:

    Lets hope that tonights conversation at the Board about the process of creating a Strategic Plan goes forth and that all stakeholders participate in its creation. Thanks to all Board members.

  29. anonamom Says:

    Thanks to Cheryl for saying she wants a line item accounting on an agenda for what’s being saved versus what it will cost to close the two schools, plus a definitive proposal of what the campuses will be used for. Unfortunately as usual, all she got in response were a couple of grimaces.

  30. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Hansen appears to have stopped asking for the list of employees on post-retirement contracts, such as the new Measure C project manager approved tonight.

  31. So Tired Of This Says:

    So Marc Fabie retires a few months ago, gets his pension, and now gets $80K to head up Measure C? Adorable.

  32. Linda Says:

    Long Time Board Watcher,
    You bring up some good examples. I am interested in online learning and technology. However, I am not interested in either of these things outside of an overall/b> plan.
    ”Develop a plan to provide the infrastructure, hardware and software necessary for modern digital classroom tools in every classroom and begin implementing $11M in technology upgrades to bring the plan to fruition.”
    I want the district to ask why they are bringing technology to the classroom. How will it benefit the students? Is it being driven by curriculum or is curriculum going to be driven by technology? Are we putting technology in the classroom without tech support or without professional development? I would hope that a strategic plan includes the need to ensure that our students not only have core academic skills but also 21st Century skills when they graduate. These skills include collaboration, critical thinking, problem solving, and creativity. Will our technology goals, curriculum goals, and our budget goals be aligned to achieve this? If we don’t tie all of these together under a single vision and plan, this one example could become an $11mil waste of money. Right now the technology upgrades on the Measure C list for my child’s school calls for high speed cables. I personally think that is an obsolete technology.
    As for the SPSA – I would like to know how often those plans change from year to year. They are very template driven. They rely almost solely on the test results that are published in the fall. This alone causes a timing issue with respect to really evaluating and customizing the plan. I would like to know how many Site Council members know how many students are directly being served through the plan at their school. How are they progressing by December? How are they progressing by June? So when you ask me what other types of measures I would want I would tell you that I want to see progress reports at intervals throughout the year so that we know if the SPSA is working prior to the date that the next plan is due. I also believe that while school districts are obligated to meet the NCLB requirements that are addressed in the SPSA, the plan does not address the achievement needs of those students who are already proficient and above.
    There may very well be great parts of plans throughout this district that need to be evaluated as part of a strategic plan but I truly hope we will see innovation and reform of the status quo as we move forward. I personally would not be satisfied with bringing all the current pieces of plans together and simply organizing the District. I want to see a vision for the future that looks different from what we have now.

  33. Doctor J Says:

    @So Tired, yesterday on MDUSDParents, Poseidon Paul argued the district is entitled to hire quality construction managers directly and save money — now we get a retired custodian supervisor who doesn’t even have a contractor’s license. He is expected to supervise the installation of the largest school solar project at over 35 sites, each with design and construction issues. Doesn’t make sense to me.

  34. Theresa Harrington Says:

    The bond oversight committee is charged with reviewing expenditures to ensure that “bond proceeds are expended only for the purposes set forth in the ballot measure” and “no bond proceeds are used for any teacher or administrative salaries or other operating expenses of the district.”
    The committee was given a budget that includes $11.9 million for “MDUSD Program Staff,” without any explanation about who the staff members are or what they are being paid to do.
    Do you think the committee should request more detailed information related to staff costs and duties?

  35. anonamom Says:

    Teresa, the Oversight Committee should be charged with the task of saying “NO” to ANY expenditure outside the legal wording on what “the people” were coerced to vote for. The Bond, like many tax measures, was worded to “scare” the voters with words like “safety”, “facility improvement” etc. No one believed a third of it would go for a solar project that would be outdated before the Bond would be half paid.

    Regardless of who the District wants to hire, or for what purpose, it should not be paid for out of this Bond Measure.

  36. Linda Says:

    I think Pete Pederson is great to have on board. But that is not the point. Unfortunately saving money and saving general fund dollars is also not the point. I think the committee needs to ask about the legality and the ethics of moving forward with paying those salaries when the voters were told they would not.

    The fact of the matter is that it is not okay to lie to the voters. The polling data confirmed that the voters did not want the money spent on administative salaries.

    The language in the ballot statement was not an accident or poor wording. The language was carefully crafted and reviewed multiple times.

  37. Poseidon Says:

    The dollars are being spent on construction management, not on administrators. Would you rather the district hire a construction management firm at double the cost to the tax payers? There is no way that the district can manage $348 million in construction projects without construction managers. Either they hire more people and do it in house at a cost of 3% or they hire an outside firm at a cost of between 8% and 12%. This is pete’s 3rd bond that he has overseen and he is without a doubt the most qualified person to provide oversight for the district. Have any of you people that are complaining sat down and spoke with pete about the legalities of the district hiring construction managers? If you had, you’d know that its allowed. Instead, you come on here and complain. Dr. j has even suggested that gary, a board member, manage the $348 million construction projects. I for one don’t want a board member managing construction projects in the district, especially gary. I suspect that theresa knows all of the answers to the questions, but instead of working to inform the community about whats going on in the district, she appears to just want to fan the flames started by the anonymous agitators. I hope you feel great about hurting the students in the mt diablo school district. Thats all that you are accomplishing. I suspect that the board doesn’t care about the gum flapping thats going on on this blog.

    Poseidon (not paul)

  38. anonamom Says:

    “Have any of you people that are complaining sat down and spoke(n) with pete about the legalities of the district hiring construction managers? If you had, you’d know that it(‘)s allowed.”

    So now we’re paying Pete as a Legal Consultant too? Are you sure that instead of “legal” you don’t mean “they’ve gotten away with this before”?

  39. Billy Bob Says:

    Hi Poseidon I mean Paul,

    This statement in your previous post gives you away: “I hope you feel great about hurting the students in the mt diablo school district.” That is eerily similar to when you called Linda an enemy for the kids of MDUSD when you where on the board.

    Something I might add you never apologized for.

  40. anonamom Says:

    Continuing to quote Poseidon: “I suspect that the board doesn’t care about the gum flapping thats going on on this blog.”

    He cared enough last night to refer to a goodly number of voters as “hacks”. When one has decided to “get theirs” while they can, and just disappear once they’ve gotten it, the lies and insults seem to flow even more freely.

    He (and cohorts) should understand that while few post, they do it at the behest of the many who read and listen.

  41. Doctor J Says:

    Poseidon Paul, in MDUSD you are either an administrator or a union member. Neither Pete nor the new administrator hired last night are union members. The difference between Measure C and the prior measures is the written restriction on paying administrators from the Bond money. I hope some public interest law firm takes on the district soon before the district gets in over its head financially on paying these administrators from Measure C. I wonder if they are paying part of Lawrence’s salary from Measure C for the time he spends on solar.

  42. Billy Bob Says:

    I am willing to present these issues to a public interest law firm. Does anyone have any suggestions of where to start?

  43. MrBudget Says:

    Frankly I do think many of you are doing harm to the district and the students with all of the negative comments, lack of trust in anyone and half-truths. Blogs can be great but most do harm.

    For any strategic planning to work, the community has to get together and build it. That means listening and trusting one another to have the best interests of the students at heart. That means showing up and participating. That means respecting different viewpoints.

    The atmosphere at MDUSD is the worst that I have ever seen and this new Board is making it very hard to build the sense of community needed to move forward. The blogs seem to just fan the fire.

  44. Doctor J Says:

    @Billy Bob, a quick google brought up a few. Good luck. If they don’t handle it, maybe they can give you a referral.

  45. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Being in the boardroom for last night’s meeting, I saw a new sense of energy and optimism that has been absent recently.
    Trustees Cheryl Hansen and Sherry Whitmarsh, who haven’t seen eye to eye on some issues, came together to draft the plan.
    Board President Gary Eberhart, who has questioned the need for testing and the cost of the SASS Division, joined the rest of the board in praising staff’s accomplishments.
    He also said the district now has the team it needs — in terms of board members and staff — to move forward with strategic planning.
    The teachers’ union is also moving toward accepting furlough days, which the district is seeking to balance its budget.
    MrBudget, Do you think the atmosphere now is worse than it was in the months leading up to the resignation of former Superintendent Gary McHenry?

  46. Doctor J Says:

    Theresa, you are right — it was refreshing to see Cheryl and Sherry working together for a common purpose. It was interesting to see a softer Gary — although he did let a few snide remarks slip out — but much better. However, he and Cheryl at the end did press Lawrence once again for the “numbers” that have not been forthcoming. I continue to believe that Strategic Planning by all stakeholders can be very unifying, and perhaps we saw the first rays of hope on that last night.

  47. Linda Says:

    At about the same time you were writing your 2:33 comment I was emailing a friend with a Board meeting update. I indicating the very same thing. I liked how Cheryl and Sherry seemed to be working well together on the SP. Sherry was laughing at one point, it was nice to see. There was an optimism last night that I have not seen before.
    I do not think the atmosphere is worse. The blogs have allowed a different kind of conversation. And while some people would have you believe that there is a lot of mis-information on the blogs, I would argue that there is some but for the most part it has allowed the community to have a voice… just as Gary and Paul hoped it would back in the era of McHenry.

  48. MrBudget Says:

    Yes I do think it is worse and I am so disappointed that Theresa does not dig deeper.

    Gary is tired and stepping back and everyone else (and i do mean everyone else) is doing their best to appease Cheryl.

    The teachers union got a sweetheat deal compared to the other unions and the administrators. Look for labor actions this week from the other unions.

    This is the calm before the storm. the state could not agree to put the tax extensions on the June ballot – that means more budget cuts are coming.

  49. Linda Says:

    Mr Budget,
    Tell me, what is it that Cheryl is doing that causes you to make a statement like “everyone else is doing their best to appease her.”
    She asked for planning when it came to the school closures. She asked that parents have an opportunity to speak before the Board made a decision to remove the Sequoias from the list. She asked a week before the agenda needed to be posted to add some items she wanted to bring up at the meeting. She teamed up with Sherry to start the strategic planning process.
    What is it that she is doing that is so wrong?

  50. Theresa Harrington Says:

    The teachers’ union has overwhelmingly agreed to the tentative agreement, which calls for three furlough days. The board still needs to vote on it.
    If ratified, students and teachers would have no school May 6, 27 and 31.
    The vote was 1,148 in favor; 136 against. 26 votes were declared invalid, according to Mike Langley, union president.

  51. MrBudget Says:

    Really watch at the next board meeting. Watch the body language. Watch how items are presented. Listen to Cheryl’s many responses and questions. Ask how Cheryl has behaved at community meetings such as Measure C.

  52. Linda Says:

    I attended the last Measure C meeting. I attended the retreat. I have watched the Board meetings. I see her as a new Board member who ran for the office because she was concerned. I think she asks good questions. She is being accountable to the community by asking these questions and requesting specific information. As a community member I appreciate that.

    I would like to pose this scenario –
    Let’s say you are unhappy with our District leadership and decide to run for school board. Do you assimilate into the existing Board and go along with the kinds of decisions that caused you to run in the first place or do you ask the hard questions? I have not seen her refuse to work as a team, the very fact that she and Sherry worked on the strategic plan would substantiate that.

    What did you think of Linda Mayo’s questioning during the strategic planning discussion the other night? She asked questions that could be considered negative from certain perspectives. At the March 8 meeting I would have told you that Gary’s behavior toward Cheryl was condescending at best. He made the comment, “if you had spoken to staff, you would not have put this on the agenda.” How would you like your co-worker to speak to you (in public) like that?

    I am glad that at the last meeting the Board seemed more cohesive but I would never want that at the expense of making changes that could make MDUSD a better district.

    I’ll keep watching but right now it just seems like feathers are being ruffled.

  53. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Eberhart appeared to chastise Hansen for not speaking to the superintendent regarding her “surprise” about the recommendation to offer Glenbrook to the Flex Academy. However, if the staff report had clearly spelled out why the offer was made, Hansen wouldn’t have had to ask staff. And if board members get “insider” information from staff about why decisions are being made before the meeting, the public is left in the dark. I appreciated the fact that Eberhart asked staff to explain the decision after Hansen questioned it.

    Also, Mayo softly criticized Eberhart when he asked staff to include check marks next to items completed in the School Closure Transition Plan. “Micromanaging,” Mayo said quietly. Eberhart responded: “It’s not micromanaging. I have to do this.”

  54. Doctor J Says:

    It is pretty clear that Lawrence is not communicating to ALL board members in unison. Lawrence is attempting to divide and conquer to protect his own skin. Disgusting.

  55. anonamom Says:

    I am bothered that the decision to deny use of all three of the schools that Flex had requested, but offer Glenbrook for Flex was supposedly due to the fact that he didn’t want High School kids coming and going on a campus with younger kids, but seemed to see no conflict of ideas when suggesting it would be ok for Flex students to share a campus, and come and go with “special” school kids.

  56. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Fields and a science lab were also cited. However, the Superintendent’s Council pointed out that Ygnacio Valley HS has declining enrollment and so much underutilized space that it recommended relocating Oak Grove MS to the site and creating a 6-12 campus. It has ample field and science lab space. Also, Deb Cooksey said the district decided against “Pleasant Valley” because there was already an alternative education program on the site. Perhaps she meant Pleasant Hill Middle School, which houses the Prospect small necessary high school. In that case, there was no clear rationale presented for denying Flex the use of Ygnacio Valley HS. The Flex operator told me he originally wanted to locate in an area near the Shadelands Business Park because it is centrally located. Glenbrook, on the other hand, is on the outskirts of the district.

    Regarding communications, the board retreat facilitator said that information given to one board member should be given to all board members.

    However, the district also has an obligation to inform the public — as well every trustee — about why it recommends specific actions. Cooksey’s explanation should have been included in the staff report to give the public, as well as the board, the opportunity to review it and comment or raise questions or concerns. The timeframe for the discussions was also missing. If Cooksey was in discussions with Flex regarding Glenbrook by Feb. 22 (three days before the written offer was made), Superintendent Lawrence should have informed the board and the public about this during his Feb. 22 school closure presentation.

  57. anonamom Says:

    I thought “fields” was a pretty lame excuse. “Labs” would make sense, but considering the District denied the Charter application, I doubt highly if they really care if Flex has (or has to build their own) labs. They simply did not want to give anything Flex asked for.

    The argument about the conflict with the Small Schools at Pleasant Hill pretty much falls through, considering Small Schools is what they say they are looking at combining at Glenbrook.

    They really don’t have their ideas well put together enough yet, or have known for a long time what they want to do, but won’t publicly say it yet.

    I can’t help but wonder if they did anything even closely resembling “traffic” studies. All of North Concord as well as the few neighborhood routes they will utilize may become a nightmare at school commute times.

    As to Staff/Lawrence discussing with some Trustees, but not others, could easily be construed as attempted “serial meetings” to gain favor of certain items. They/He may just want to be VERY careful of that. People are watching and keeping score.

  58. Theresa Harrington Says:

    The retreat facilitator said the superintendent is not prevented from speaking to each trustee individually. In fact, he encouraged the superintendent to do that so that everyone would be on the same footing going into the meeting. He said the superintendent should reach out to each trustee to see if they have questions, instead of passively waiting to be contacted by them.

    Trustees may not speak to each other in “serial” meetings, however.

  59. Linda Says:

    Did you get the letter from Flex to the District that you were looking for? If not do you still want it?

  60. anonamom Says:

    Nor is the superintendent allowed to ask them for their opinion on what staff presents as agenda item, as that opinion may tend to be transmitted to the next one he talks to, and that can be construed as attempting to “drive” the direction of a board decision. That in and of itself can be considered a serial meeting.

    With this board, it seems there is all too often some information “sprung” at the last minute, with no chance for input by the public, who might have chosen to attend and speak had they seen all information to be presented.

  61. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Linda, No I didn’t and yes, I do. I also plan to speak to Flex about this.

  62. Linda Says:

    Mark said he would be happy to provide you the letter. I will shoot him an email.

  63. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Thanks! Got it!

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