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Strategic planning meetings set for Mt. Diablo school district

By Theresa Harrington
Friday, April 29th, 2011 at 11:12 pm in Education, Mt. Diablo school district, Theresa Harrington.

The Mt. Diablo school district sent out the following e-mail to parents regarding upcoming strategic planning meetings:

“The Mt. Diablo Unified School District is beginning a strategic planning process. A straw model of strategic intents has been developed. Each strategic intent has been defined and a list of potential goals has been identified. Our next step is to review the work with the community and get feedback. To this end, 15 community input sessions have been scheduled for May and June.

Each session will review the strategic intents and definitions. The community will give input on the goals: should any be changed, are any goals missing, and what are the concerns or issues for the goals.

You are invited to attend one of the community input sessions listed below:

- Monday, May 2, 7:00 p.m., Clayton Valley High School Multi Use Room

- Tuesday, May 3, 7:00 p.m., Mt. Diablo High School Multi Use Room

- Thursday, May 5, 7:00 p.m., Northgate High School Multi Use Room

- Monday, May 9, 7:00 p.m., College Park High School Multi Use Room

- Wednesday, May 11, 7:00 p.m., Monte Gardens Elementary Multi Use Room (geared for staff input)

- Thursday, May 12, 7:00 p.m., Ygnacio Valley High School Multi Use Room

- Saturday, May 14, 9:00 a.m., TBD

- Monday, May 16, 7:00 p.m., Concord High School Multi Use Room

- Tuesday, May 17, 7:00 p.m., Dent Center (geared for Community Advisory Committee)

- Wednesday, May 19, 7:00 p.m., Riverview Middle School Multi Use Room

- Wednesday, June 1, 7:00 p.m., (geared for Parent Advisory Committee)

- Thursday, June 2, 7:00 p.m., Willow Creek Center (geared for Foundations)

- Wednesday, June 15, 7:00 p.m., Dent Center (geared for Measure C Oversight Committee)

- Wednesday, June 15, 7:00 p.m., Willow Creek Center

- Thursday, June 16, 7:00 p.m., Dent Center (geared for Measure C Oversight Committee).”

What do you think should be included in the strategic plan?

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  • Linda

    Theresa,

    I apologize for commenting here but I want to respond to your sales tax story. I think this is one more way to avoid doing the hard work necessary to pass a parcel tax. The idea is fraught with problems. How does a City like Walnut Creek allocate those funds? All of the Mt. Diablo Walnut Creek Schools are in the City. Half the Walnut Creek School District Schools are in the county. Part of Walnut Creek is served by San Ramon Valley Unified and Lafayette Elementary District and they have no schools in the City. Will the other cities that are served by the Acalanes, San Ramon Valley, and Lafayette districts also pass a sales tax? If not how will the WC City sales tax funds that go to those districts be allocated? If Walnut Creek, Pleasant Hill, Clayton, and Concord all put measures on the ballot what happens if one of the measures fail, or two, or three? What happens if they all pass but in a year one City pulls out claiming the need for other services? Does Lawrence know that you can not specify the use of these sales tax dollars without triggering a 67% election threshold?

    I do not want to use this word but there is nothing better…. The idea is STUPID.

    We have Measure C and solar, I think we have done our share of thinking outside the box. It is time to get serious about a parcel tax and to do that means we are going to need to see movement toward improving the quality of education in this district. We will also need to see real leadership that is competent, transparent, trustworthy, and makes good solid thoughtful decisions. Lastly we need district leadership that actually makes a commitment to a parcel tax campaign by focusing their efforts toward that goal and that goal only… no plan B this time.

  • Doctor J

    Linda is spot on — the idea is STUPID, and can’t work in a district with multiple municipalities. Even more important is that the taxpayers have ZERO TRUST and confidence in the poor spending practices of MDUSD. The recent Grand Jury report criticizing the Gang of Five reorganization and raises, the refusal of the Supt to impose a Travel Ban, the school closing fiasco when King Lawrence promised to save $1.5 million and now can’t put it in writing [his degree is in math], his shell game in reorganizing the Curriculum Dept into the SASS Dept to “save money” and instead has nearly doubled the spending, and having six of the worst schools in California, ten on Program Improvement. That’s what happens when you hire someone who has worked in small districts in Roseville and West Sacramento.

  • Poseidon

    You’ve both been advocating that the district begin the strategic planning process for a long time now. Can you tell me how the first meeting went? I was unable to attend.

  • Walnut Creeker

    Linda makes good points but forgot the inequity that a sales tax would cause within Walnut Creek. The city would divide the sales tax between districts, and Walnut Creek School District would receive a 100% return on this tax, and those in MDUSD would receive a 13% return on this tax. Walnut Creek is estimated to have 13% of MDUSD sales tax and Concord has 60%, but everyone knows Concord just passed a sales tax for city services and won’t add on another one for schools.

    No wonder the California Legislature recommends that city and school district boundaries should overlap. Walnut Creek schools should have been unified when there was a petition in the 1970s. Sadly our system is several decades late and several million dollars short.

  • Doctor J

    @Poseidon Paul, I guess you didn’t read the email too carefully. There are 15 Community Input sessions scheduled and the public is invited to attend “one” over the next two months. Its not exactly the formation model I would have used, but I guess Cheryl and Sherry agreed upon it.

  • Theresa Harrington

    Linda, I have just posted a blog entry about the budget meetings at http://bit.ly/mHZtQL

  • Linda

    Poseidon,
    I would not miss the strategic planning meeting set for my area. It has been on my calendar since the date was announced. I know you wanted so badly to hear I would not make the effort…. sorry you are wrong again.

  • Linda

    Thanks Theresa

  • Theresa Harrington

    FYI, here’s what the CDE has to say about the importance of “School Climate:” http://www.cde.ca.gov/ls/ss/se/schoolclimate.asp?print=yes

  • g

    Speaking of school climate, and considering one of the first things a kid learns about is school competitive spirit, I suspect little else makes a student feel more worthless than having their neighborhood school closed.

    City of Concord is trying to plan how to best help the City and the District deal with truancy. Do you think having to find your way to a school from 2-5 miles away versus 2-5 blocks is likely to affect truancy?

  • Doctor J

    King Lawrence never addressed “school climate” in his top down “Goals & Objectives”. Hopefully the Strategic Plan will.

  • Theresa Harrington

    Yes, Gary Eberhart has said he expects that to be addressed as part of the strategic plan and Equity Advisory Team work.

    FYI, Superintendent Lawrence said he has decided not to convene the “high school” advisory group that he mentioned when he recommended the “other items” that would contribute to the estimated $1.5 million in savings from school closures and things such as consolidating high schools. He originally said he would convene this group starting in April. He told me he hopes high schools will be addressed as part of the strategic planning, Equity Team and budget meetings.

  • Linda

    Theresa,
    What does that mean? Are you saying the Superintendent and/or Board will not address the consolodation of the small high schools as part of the school closure savings? Where are they going to find $1.5 mil in savings?

  • Theresa Harrington

    Yes, it appears that the superintendent has put that on the back burner, while he conducts the Monday/Wednesday districtwide budget meetings. However, he said high school consolidation could be addressed as part of the budget and strategic planning meetings. Obviously, this means he may not be able to explain how the district is going to achieve the $1.5 million in estimated savings for quite a while. Perhaps he will address this when he brings his new cost-cutting recommendations to the board on May 24.

  • Linda

    Interesting? Curious, when did the Superintendent tell you he decided to put this on the back burner?

  • Theresa Harrington

    He told me this when I asked him about it at the districtwide budget workshop on Monday.

    “There are a lot of unknowns,” he said.’

    Some of these “unknowns” — which are being fleshed out during the Equity Team, strategic planning and budget meetings — would impact discussions about closing or consolidating high schools, he said. Therefore, with so much already on the district’s plate, he decided to wait until some of the unknowns are determined before moving forward with the high school planning group.

  • Doctor J

    I agree with Theresa that King Lawrence perhaps is at a loss to explain his promise to save $1.5 million on the closure of two schools. I think this is backed up by Poseidon Paul’s claim today that it included 3 schools. So since King L. cannot get his math to produce $1.5 million, he needs to defer and play another shell game adding some more variables so he can blame it on a change in circumstances. He reminds me of that used car dealer from Seattle who used to sell cars, advertising they had ‘dual door handles’. the irony is that if this conversation had begun a year ago when I suggested, we would be way down the road more rational solutions.

  • Linda

    Monday May 2? So the need to try to utilize all of the closed school campuses is not such a pressing issue any longer.

  • g

    Never put off till tomorrow something you can put off indefinitely, or at least long enough for you to find someone else to blame it on.

    There never was $1.5 million; not even half that at best! Did he think he wouldn’t still have to pay for free meals and people to prepare them and teachers and subs and admins and property maintenance and utilities and everything else that travels right along with the kids themselves? Did he think he could just “stuff” a couple hundred more kids into this school or that school without nearly equivalent added expenses at the new school?

  • Theresa Harrington

    Yes, Monday, May 2.
    I also heard someone asking him about whether the district needs to offer closed campuses to charter schools. Maybe that’s a reason the district is slowing down.
    It’s up to the board to decide whether it’s a pressing issue. We’ll see if it comes up May 10.

  • Kelly VB

    Funny… the Board and Lawrence DEFINITELY have my email address and contact info… but they certainly did NOT invite me. :)
    Guess they’ve had their fill of me.

  • Theresa Harrington

    FYI, the Strategic Planning Meeting originally scheduled for 9 a.m. today has been changed to 7 p.m. at St. Matthews Lutheran Church: http://www.mdusd.org/Lists/UpcomingEvents/DispForm.aspx?ID=180&RootFolder=%2FLists%2FUpcomingEvents.
    I don’t believe the district is sending out e-mails to specifically invite people. Anyone is welcome to attend any of the meetings, according to Trustees Cheryl Hansen and Sherry Whitmarsh.

  • mdusdmomx4

    Kelly- They have my email and contact info too and I do not expect an individual invitation. Theresa is correct that anyone is welcome. Did you attend?

  • Linda

    Theresa #20,

    Given the fact that Flex had to give their answer about Glenbrook by May 1 would lead me to believe the pressure is off. Gary made that clear when at a past board meeting discussion of school closures he asked the Superintendent how many Prop 39 requests were in the works. He also admonished Cheryl Hansen for not knowing better in suggesting the closure of Willow Creek. At that time there was an offer to lease Willow Creek on the table from a charter school. Clearly charter schools are playing a role in the school closure decisions and facility use.

    Limiting choice is a sad thing for all our kids.

  • g

    Teresa, I hope you can help with a question that has been bugging me for some time. Do you know if it is ethical, or even legal for Sherry Whitmarsh to sit on the Board, and also be President of the Ygnacio Valley High School PTSA. Wouldn’t she need to recuse herself on virtually everything, involving even at arms length, not only YVHS but its entire feeder pattern? For example: Laying off teachers in “other” schools, but not YV; Voting for which schools to Close; or helping to set up and vote for the RtI Oregon Junket for Principals and Admins in that Feeder Pattern?

    A City Council member must recuse himself if a “property” vote comes within a few hundred feet of his personal property. It seems to me that if a School Board member has a student in the District, as an elected official they should be barred from voting on anything that affects “their” school, and most especially if that member is also in any position of authority at a school.

  • Billy Bob

    G,

    You must be new around here.

    Your expectation that the MDUSD board act ethically is a bridge too far. The current board majority never has, I would bet they never will.

    Good try though.

  • Doctor J

    One year ago King Lawrence promised us an “annual review” of SASS — in less than 45 days, SASS will “celebrate” its first year and hence a first time “review”. Do you think SASS is achieving its purpose ? Here is the criteria King Lawrence promised to evaluate SASS by: “The members of this new department will be annually evaluated based on criteria that also include: 1. Whether or not the schools they support meet or exceed the growth targets identified by the State for school-wide and subgroup API data; 2. Whether or not the EL students in the schools they support make annual progress on the CELDT. Our goal is that all EL students are redesignated English proficient within six years of entering our schools. 3. Whether or not all students are making measurable gains on district benchmark assessments that measure students’ progress toward mastery of the State standards; 4. Whether or not our high schools are increasing the graduation rate, increasing the number of students completing CTE pathways, increasing the percentage of students taking AP classes and achieving a 3 or better on the end of course assessments, increasing the percentage of students taking the SAT/ACT, and increasing the SAT/ACT scores for all subgroups of students on an
    annual basis. 5. Annual principal surveys that focus on whether or not principals feel supported in moving their schools forward.