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Proposed Clayton Valley High charter brings hope, questions

By Theresa Harrington
Friday, May 20th, 2011 at 7:47 am in Education, Mt. Diablo school district, Theresa Harrington.

The effort by some Clayton Valley High School teachers to convert the public school into a charter is entering unchartered territory in the Mt. Diablo district. It is the only school in the district to consider such a move, although organizers say it could prompt others to follow if it is successful.

Unlike many charter conversions throughout the state, organizers are giving themselves a year to plan – expecting a vote of teachers by June 6 to open in fall 2012.

The charter would continue to operate as a public school, but would be recognized as an independent educational agency that would receive funding directly from the state. Run by a board of directors, it would develop its own budget, hire teachers and decide whether or not to contract out for services such as custodians.

At a Monday teachers’ meeting about the charter, organizers said they expected the current staff could remain at the school. They also said clerical staff would likely be able to work full-time, since the school would take on administrative duties that are now handled at the district office.

The clerical staff at the school is excited by the conversion idea, office secretary Renee Steen and attendance secretary Dina Jacobsen told me on Tuesday.

Due to state budget cuts, the school board cut one hour a day and two weeks from their work schedules. This equals about 30 days cut from their paychecks over the year, Steen said.

On top of that, they are taking three furlough days this month, along with most district staff.

”We feel so devalued,” Steen said. “We’re feeling pretty downtrodden these days.”

But the charter effort is energizing staff, as they look forward to working together as a team to improve the campus, the pair said.

Statewide, only about 10 percent of charter schools are conversions, consultants said. The rest are new start-up schools.

They speculated that this is because a conversion requires 50 percent of teachers plus one to vote for the change. Although a community petition isn’t required, Clayton Mayor David Shuey told the City Council on Tuesday that about 500 community members have signed petitions in support of the conversion.

This prompted Councilwoman Julie Pierce to ask why those people hadn’t been tapped for money to help fund legal costs for drafting the petition. If each person donated $20, organizers would have the $10,000 they needed, she said.

Instead, organizers have raised about $1,500 and were scrambling to come up with about $8,500 more. Although Shuey asked the council to give the group up to $8,500, Pierce and Councilman Howard Geller were uncomfortable with this idea.

The council voted 4-1 to approve an unsecured loan of up to $8,500, with the hope that the city will get its money back if the charter moves forward. Consultants said organizers could likely receive a line of credit, as well as a start-up grant.

If the charter vote fails, however, the city is unlikely to recover its money. Pierce said she personally supported the charter and would be willing to donate $40 herself. Geller added that he would put up $100.

Pierce suggested that organizers should also ask the Concord City Council for funds, but Shuey said that may be problematic, since Concord students feed into the district’s five other high schools, as well as Clayton Valley.

Clayton students, on the other hand, all attend Clayton Valley High School, unless they attend private schools, Shuey said. He insisted a charter would attract more residents, businesses and increase property values, but Pierce was more skeptical.

She said several residents had asked her not to spend city funds on the charter, while Shuey said several residents had told him they supported the use of city funds for that purpose.

Pierce said the city should consider how the district would interpret the city’s support of a charter, since the city negotiates with the district on other matters, such as joint use of a gym.

“I’m not ready to slap them in the face this way and I think that’s the way they’ll take it,” she said. “I think our negotiations with the school district will get decidedly muddy if we go forward with this. I think this discredits our relations with the school board if we go forward.”

Shuey argued that helping to fund the conversion would show “bold leadership.”

“To take the myopic view that we are not responsible for the school is just flat out wrong,” he said. “It is short-sighted. It is conservative.”

Shuey and Geller said they hoped the Clayton Business and Community Association would also consider contributing money to the start-up costs.

Do you support the charter conversion?

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83 Responses to “Proposed Clayton Valley High charter brings hope, questions”

  1. Wait a Minute Says:

    This proposal absolutely holds the most promise in reforming the MDUSD.

    When individual schools start to fire their (amply demonstrated) incompetent and unethical superintendents and districts this will have the effect of ending the careers of people like “King Lawrence” and the ebermarshes of the educational world.

    Of course, the upside doesn’t stop there because CVHS and any other schools that convert out will now get to keep control of their money. Since about 40% of the educational dollars are now sucked right off the top by the self-serving bureaucracy within the MDUSD to pay their extravagent salaries and the many consultants they apparently need to do their jobs and their many all-expenses paid junkets!

    Imagine that, 40% more money IN THE SCHOOL and CLASSROOM where it belongs instead of feeding the leaches at corporate. This prospect certainly has the classified people ecstatic. Instead of being the first ones cut because they lack the clout to resist they can cut out the middle men.

  2. Doctor J Says:

    @Wait No kidding. Just think if we didn’t have the “middle” — no “King Lawrence”, no “Mildred”, no “Rose”, no SASS — how much more would reach the classroom. How much would our students be better off. Its astounding.

  3. Billy Bob Says:

    I suspect there are a number of board members sweating this one. Word on the street is that Northgate is next.

    My personal bet is that we will see the entire MDUSD go charter in the next five years. Gary and Sherry and the Gang of Five better start saving up, you’ll all be out of work before long.

  4. Doctor J Says:

    Why does Sherry need health insurance from MdUSD? Doesnt’t Chevron already provide that to her? Silence is a denial.

  5. g Says:

    And doesn’t the Schreder team pay Gary enough? Almost $18grand for his MDV! I bet they both take higher salary at their “day jobs” in lieu of benefits, because they can suck it from the District.

  6. Doctor J Says:

    Like father like son. Who is kidding who ?

  7. Billy Bob Says:

    G,

    Of course they do. These are not ethical individuals we are talking about.

  8. Jim Says:

    Thumbs down to Julie Pierce for being so timid about helping CVHS explore a charter conversion. Schools are always one of THE most important factors in the health of any community. Ask any real estate agent. Or ask anyone who has lived in other communities with declining schools. What other $8,000 investment could provide the same return that a healthier CVHS could provide to Clayton? The small amount of money asked of the Clayton City Council provides a rare and valuable lever to help improve their community. If a city council person is that afraid of alienating the MDUSD administration, for heaven’s sake, then who on earth is she willing to stand up to?

  9. mdusdmomx4 Says:

    Wait a Minute Provide facts to back up your statement that 40% of the budget goes to Dent Center Admins. I attended a budget meeting and 86% of the budget went to classified and certificated! Also you can not categorize restricted funds and general funds together. Many times a district has to hire consultants if they are receiving funds for Title 1, lower socio economic, ESL and if a school has sanctions because of test scores. You need to show me the money, proof and facts.

    I asked Sherry and it was reported that she does NOT take the health benefits Doctor J.

  10. g Says:

    According to what the District breakdown on their payroll reports, Sherry took $1,557.00 in MDV last year. True, that isn’t nearly as egregious as Gary’s nearly $18grand, or May’s $14,399.00 MDV, but it is still enough for an honest person to admit to.

  11. g Says:

    That should be $14,399 on MAYO’s MDV. (not may’s)

  12. g Says:

    What wait a minute said was: “Since about 40% of the educational dollars are now sucked right off the top by the self-serving bureaucracy within the MDUSD to pay their extravagent salaries and the many consultants they apparently need to do their jobs and their many all-expenses paid junkets!”

    He said “educational dollars” and I say that encompasses all dollars, and you can call it apples and oranges if you like, but a tax dollar is a tax dollar. Thirty eight percent of the employees in the District are Dent employees! It doesn’t take much to figure that about that same percentage of dollars is being used by them, whether for payroll, party, trip, or hiring someone else to do their thinking for them.

  13. g Says:

    Theresa, it took me a while to find the “Final Offer” MDUSD sent to Flex regarding the request for space for their Charter program. I have not been able to find anything about whether Flex accepted that (very stiff and unfriendly) Offer.

    http://esb.mdusd.k12.ca.us/attachments/4a37a631-a90f-4f53-8258-74c299f22e12.pdf

    Do you have any info or updates on this.

    I am considering filing a legal complaint regarding what I see as an improper process and handling of the Offer, but may not proceed if the Offer has been accepted by Flex.

    Feel free to email me if you have questions.

  14. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Flex has turned down the offer, but hasn’t yet made a final decision about whether to open in the fall.

  15. g Says:

    Thanks for the info Theresa. Can’t blame them, the offer was ridiculously stiff.

  16. Jim Says:

    My concern about charters being offered co-location space in an empty school like Glenbrook, is that the district is then free to devote the rest of the space to all sorts of users who might not be compatible with a charter high school that is trying to attract new families to the location. In the lease, Flex could try to specify the sorts of uses that they don’t want on the same campus, but I don’t know whether MDUSD would be obligated to agree to such restrictions under Prop 39. One could imagine MDUSD designating the rest of the space, at a later date, for “alternative instruction” for students who were not able to fit into regular high schools. I’ve been on various alternative high school campuses, and the students can be a bit intimidating. That kind of neighbor could make it harder for Flex to attract and retain parents and students (a convenient outcome for the district, of course). Also, the Glenbroook space is configured into traditional classrooms that really aren’t that suitable for the more innovative Flex instructional model. I think they are better off not relying on MDUSD for their space.

  17. Linda Says:

    From Gary Eberhart this morning on the MDUSD Blog”
    “For instance, should we spread the loss of $1.651 million district wide or since it’s the CVHS feeder pattern that seems to be interested in a charter, should we limit the reductions to only the CVHS feeder pattern? I’m sure that schools in Pleasant Hill and Walnut Creek don’t feel that they should lose positions in their schools so that CVHS can have a charter school.”

    He is using his position to bully parents against one another, teachers against one another, and feeder pattern against feeder pattern and that is simply wrong. To threaten to withhold funds from a series of schools because their feeder pattern high school is looking for something better is not only highly unethical, I believe it to be illegal. That money does not belong to the District, it belongs with the students. That is how the law works. By withholding funds from the other schools in the feeder pattern he isn’t withholding CVHS’s funds, he would be withholding the funds rightly due to those children attending the feeder pattern schools. I don’t believe for a second that he would have Board support for this and the fact that he mentions it in his charter school post comment is simple playground bullying.

    MDUSD Parent Blog is running a poll about support for the CVHS charter. http://mdusdparents.blogspot.com/

  18. g Says:

    Will the real TRUTH please stand up.

    “revenue limit per student” and “receive per student” and “funding per student” all sound like the same thing, right? Especially coming from the same person, on the same day, while trying to fortify the same argument.

    5/20/2011 Steven Lawrence: “This year, MDUSD received $5,206 as our Revenue Limit per student”.

    5/20/2011 Steven Lawrence: “…unified districts receive per student (currently $4,876.08*)…”

    5/20/2011 Steven Lawrence: “…School funding per student amount at the high school rate (currently $5,808.00*…”

    It seems the”facts” can change to fit the argument du jour. I need to go buy myself one of those PhDs in “mumbo-jumbo” so I can understand these things! It seems Gary must have already gotten his, since he’s using mumbo-jumbo man’s numbers to make his threats to turn neighborhood against neighborhood.

  19. Doctor J Says:

    Long time Board members are responsible for this mismanagement. What a disaster ! This is the kind of managment that needs to be swept clean ! http://esb.mdusd.k12.ca.us/attachments/1951acd4-9986-44bd-9d02-757e0573ea7e.pdf

  20. Doctor J Says:

    @Linda, Bullying is not a problem limited to students — it is learned behavior from parents. So sad.

  21. Jim Says:

    Gary Eberhart’s comments on his blog about punishing the CVHS feeder pattern are reckless. If MDUSD tried to punish parents in such a blatant and illegal manner, they would get hauled into court faster than you can say “dying district”. And his blog comment (which I saved on my hard drive, how about you?) would be Exhibit A. They spend so plenty enough on attorneys as it is. Isn’t at least one of those lawyers paying attention to this board member’s rash comments?

  22. Billy Bob Says:

    Uh oh, Gary stepped in it with those comments. I predict he takes them down off his blog by morning. Luckily I did a complete screen capture and plan to print up big banners with them in the next election cycle. Good luck getting reelected Gary.

  23. Anon Says:

    If this is true and not taken out of context or something like that it is truly disgusting.

  24. g Says:

    If he back peddles any harder than he’s doing on his blog comments right now, he’s likely to throw a hip out.

  25. Flippin' Tired Says:

    So it’s okay for CVHS to suck money out of ALL the other schools in the district, because they want a charter? Screw that. My kid isn’t going to suffer because of some snotty charter school. The CVHS feeder pattern can absorb the cost of the charter high school – you want it, you can pay for it yourself.

  26. Billy Bob Says:

    Flippin’ (I mean Poseidon, uhhh I mean Paul),

    I see that Gary called you up and asked you to get out and start defending his assinine comments on the blog.

    How you been? Glad your not on the board anymore?

  27. Charter new course Says:

    Flippin’ Paul lives near CVHS and should want a charter school. Oops, sorry, momentarily forgot his family is assigned to drive farther to Northgate HS instead – increasing traffic and greenhouse gas emissions for some arcane, archaic, inane reason. Typical mdusd!

  28. Doctor J Says:

    Despite all his experience, it appears the only reason Gary opens his mouth is to switch feet.

  29. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Here is the link to Board President Gary Eberhart’s blog post regarding charter schools: http://mdusd.blogspot.com/.
    I’m not sure he’s correct about the change in status regarding declining enrollment. I went to the School Services of California budget workshop on Friday and the presenters said that charter schools don’t receive the same benefit as districts regarding declining enrollment. In other words, charters are funded based on current enrollment, while districts are funded based on the previous year’s enrollment.
    No one said anything about a district losing this benefit if a charter school opens in its boundaries.

  30. g Says:

    Lawrence has turned the “law of averaging” into a “lie of averaging”. Please don’t fall for the lie.

    $4876.08 = This is what Lawrence says is the amount per student the District will receive if tax isn’t extended, or if proposed “cuts” go through. This is an “average”.

    In the second artical titled “May Revise Questions”, also published on 5/20 (on Eberhart’s blog), Steven Lawrence said that: “This year, MDUSD received $5,206 as our Revenue Limit per student”. Keep in mind that, again, this is the “average” per student. Again, “average” is the operative word–because the high schools are allocated a higher amount than primary schools.

    The big third dollar figure he very cleverly gives but does not properly give an explanation is: …
    “funding per student amount at the HIGH SCHOOL rate (currently 5,808.00*)…” THIS FIGURE IS NOT AN “AVERAGE” and it is the amount alloted to high school students TODAY, not what it would be if there is a tax cut, or taxes are not extended.

    THE LIE OF AVERAGES VERSUS THE TRUTH:

    The State allocates one amount for primary students and a higher amount for secondary students. It costs more to educate high school kids than grammar school kids.

    Lawrence’s first two figures are the tax cut “average” and the today “average”. He just “averages” the primary and secondary allocation amounts in his figures one and two. But when he needs a “difference” figure to come up with his “loss” of $1.6 million, he uses the “third “dollar figure of $5,808.00 (NOT AN AVERAGE-BUT RATHER A TRUE FIGURE AT TODAY’S HIGH SCHOOL RATE) versus his first and lowest tax cut “average” figure.

    YES, I KNOW, IT’S HARD TO FOLLOW, AND THAT IS WHAT HE IS COUNTING ON!

    So he takes the High School “top dollar” true amount alloted to high schools today, and subtracts the “low dollar” “average” that ALL grades would get if taxes are cut. From that FALSE figure he comes up with his FALSE $1.6 million, and says he’ll have to cut that amount from all schools in the District.

    THE ENTIRE ACCOUNTING IS A LIE, DESIGNED TO TURN ALL OTHER SCHOOLS AGAINST CVHS AND ITS ATTEMPT TO CHARTER OUT OF THE DISTRICT’S CONTROL.

    So what is the TRUTH? Forget averaging! The State will allocate a certain amount per primary student. If there are tax cuts, that amount will be lower than it is today. Likewise, the State will allocate a certain amount per Secondary student (regardless of whether they are in the District or in the Charter—the dollars go with the STUDENT–regardless of which school, or which administration!)

    So what amount of dollars does the District actually LOSE when a school goes to Charter? It loses the amount of money allocated to that particular school for ADMINISTRATION of that particular school. It loses NOT ONE DIME of student allocation at any other school–period!

    So what does a Charter gain along with its independence? It gains the ability to ADMINISTER its own funds, which means that from the “high school dollar figure that it is allocated” it has to hire and pay for its own administration! It doesn’t get a penny off the backs of other schools in the district.

    SIMPLE! Just hard to follow if you don’t see the lie!

  31. Doctor J Says:

    @G: King Lawrence has his degree in “Applied Mathmatics”. Its just a shell game to confuse the public.

  32. g Says:

    Dr. J: Agreed! And I defy him (or Gary) to apply the truth to his “applied mathmatics”, and tell me I’m wrong!

  33. Billy Bob Says:

    The kingdom is crashing all around them. The kings (Gary and Lawrence) are panicked, hence the absurd money arguments.

  34. anon Says:

    A little homework might make some sense here. If CV goes charter, they will receive more funding than the current level of funding. The State will debit the District for the difference between what they currently receive as students in a unified school district and what they will receive as a charter high school where the students receive funding based on a high school district. The district doesn’t receive higher funding for their high school students, every student in a unified school district is funded by the state at the blended unified rate. Those who claim that the district has been taking money that was supposed to be used for high school students are wrong and do not understand how schools are funded.

    When the charter law was first enacted, a high school that became a charter did receive the higher per student funding and the district didn’t have to cover the additional amount, but that all changed because the legislature modified the law so that when a high school went charter, they did get the higher per student amount, but the district had to make up the difference between what they were getting and the new higher rate. The state had to do that because if they didn’t, every high school in the state would go charter and the state couldn’t afford to pay the increased amounts.

    I don’t blame CV for wanting to go charter, but there will be a negative financial impact to the district’s budget as a result. I think the district is wise to want to work with the other schools to decide where the money to cover the lost revenue should come from. The charter may make perfect sense and it may be a great thing for students, but I want some say about where the additional money comes from.

  35. Charter new course Says:

    Anon – Now let’s subtract the amount that MDUSD will save once CVHS is independent, on site administration, site maintenance and other costs.

  36. Doctor J Says:

    When you read the scathing report on EL learning in MDUSD you will recognize that this same level of poor quality district leadership permeates almost every program in MDUSD. Is it any wonder that parents are fed up and want a charter school ? It seems like a no brainer. Also significant is that there was no interview of Gary, just Linda and Sherry. http://esb.mdusd.k12.ca.us/attachments/1951acd4-9986-44bd-9d02-757e0573ea7e.pdf

  37. Wait a Minute Says:

    Flippin @25, you have it ass-backwards.

    CVHS as a charter will NOT suck money out of the other schools.
    It is the Dent Center that is sucking an outrageous amount of money out EVERY SCHOOL in the district.

    CVHS going charter will only take with them the amount of money they bring into the district so there is no net difference to the district persay.

    Now will there be a deleterious effect on the MDUSD budget if any school leaves as a charter?
    That depends on how the MDUSD adapts. If they don’t downsize the vast amount of overhead they have built up and they try to spread their costs over fewer schools then yes it will effect the other schools.

    But that scenario is simply the logical conclusion to a bloated bureauracy failing to adapt.
    I think it far more likely that CVHS pulling out will instead cause a wave of much needed and long overdue reform to the MDUSD.

    This reform will likely bring new leadership and a real re-assesment of the priorities with the kids and the schools coming first before the bureaucratic leaches.

    It should be very exciting!

  38. Wait a Minute Says:

    And by the way.

    Gary ranting on his blog about punishing other schools if CVHS charters out is simply Gary blaming the victims of his ineptitude in mis-managing the MDUSD.

    Its an obvious act of desperation on his part since his job and relationship with the Shreder empire is based on his standing as a direction of a large district.
    If that district starts shrinkig then it throws into doubt the reasons for Shreder INC to employ him.

    I hope someone files suit against him or at least makes a complaint to the Grand Jury for his attempt to use his official standing as a director to issue threats to intimidate the voters.

    This emperor truly has no clothes!

  39. Doctor J Says:

    One cost cutting idea that I proposed that never showed up on the Board list of potential cuts is the elimination of the Board’s medical insurance subsidy –that counts for one teaching position.

  40. Doctor J Says:

    @WaitAMinute #38 Gary says on his “linked in” site that “In my role as VP of Solar Business Development, I am responsible for identifying school districts that would benefit from the energy services that we provide.” Does anyone know of any other school districts that Seward L. Schreder Construction, Inc. is working with to use as Gary says “my expert knowledge of solar photovoltaic systems and traditional construction processes.” ???

  41. g Says:

    While I admittedly don’t like Gary’s style, and often question his veracity, I have been careful in criticizing his personal character. However, in the same questionable blog, “Linda L.” was the first to comment and scold him for threatening the other schools. He wrote back and ACTUALLY USED HER LAST NAME!!! That was an OBVIOUS abuse of blogging etiquette, and could be construed as threatening. So we now know he “tracks” his bloggers, and can be vindictive. Not a sign of good character!

  42. Theresa Harrington Says:

    At the School Services of California budget workshop on Friday, districts (including Mt. Diablo) were told that charter schools receive a General Purpose Block Grant based on the statewide average revenue limit per ADA by grade level.
    For 2011-12, SSC estimates charter schools serving grades 9-12 will receive a general purpose block grant of $6,116 per ADA plus a categorical block grant of $10 per ADA for a total of $6,526 per ADA. SSC did not call this a “pass through” or mention anything about the district being debited for the difference between its blended funding and the charter’s higher level of funding.
    SSC did, however, acknowledge that new charters negatively impact districts. “Unfortunately,” SSC wrote in its Powerpoint, “it is not one of the five grounds for charter denial spelled out in current law.”
    SSC says the negative impact is “fewer dollars from revenue limit, federal and state categorical dollars.” It also says a revenue limit district is backfilled with state aid in lieu of property taxes.
    However, the district can earn revenues from the charter by charging for services such as: administrative services, payroll, purchasing, staff development and legal services, according to SSC.

  43. Doctor J Says:

    Lets get back to the central question — why does the CVHS Charter bring “hope” ? Its because parents, teachers, and city leaders have lost TRUST in the MDUSD Board and District Leadership in providing a quality education to the children. A charter will return control of education back to those most concerned. Lets review some of the more “infamous” incidents that give rise to the loss of TRUST : Gang of Five raises, Chevrongate, Nugentgate, Buttercupgate, Solargate, Salarygate, Travelgate, Concordcentre Gate, and I am sure I have missed a few more of them. Again, I ask this question: Which of the Board members do you associate with TRUST ? Which of the District Administrators do you associate with TRUST ? The financial shell game can no longer pull the wool over the eyes of MDUSD parents. I wish luck to the CVHS Charter — it will open the floodgates to reform.

  44. Theresa Harrington Says:

    The CVHS charter is planning to address one of the issues brought up at the district’s “Equity” meeting.
    Many students at the board study session said they didn’t understand how the credit system works or what they needed to take to get into college, when they were freshmen. The district is spending months analyzing the equity issue and expects to eventually come up with a plan that can be implemented districtwide.
    But the charter won’t have to wait for a districtwide plan. Instead, organizers want to institute a four-week summer school orientation program for incoming freshmen.
    This could likely help reverse the district’s trend of freshmen who fail to complete 50 credits by the end of the year, and could improve the school’s dropout rate.
    Perhaps the charter could serve as a model to other district schools by implementing pilot projects such as this, which could be replicated at other sites, if successful.
    Similarly, the Flex charter is addressing another issue that was brought up at the equity meetings: mastery of subject matter.
    The current system of testing throughout the quarter and semester penalizes students who don’t master some curriculum standards by the time quizzes and tests are given. Some at the equity meeting suggested that more flexibility would help students pass classes, since what really matters is whether they master the curriculum standards by the end of the quarter or semester. This is how Flex operates. Students pass classes when they master the subject matter, even if it takes some longer than others to get there.
    The district could possibly learn from Flex by offering similar flexibility to struggling students and by offering online classes, especially since the district has cut back on summer school.
    Mildred Browne says that after an Equity Plan is established, decisions such as budget cuts should be based on equity.
    Tuesday’s agenda shows that Bel Air Elementary and Shore Acres Elementary will both be using their SIG funding to pay for summer intervention plans for their students: http://esbpublic.mdusd.k12.ca.us/public_itemview.aspx?ItemId=4013&mtgId=303.
    Glenbrook MS had planned a similar summer intervention program with its SIG, which the district won’t be able to provide to its students, because the board voted to close the school and forfeit the remaining grant money. Might an Equity Plan have changed the board’s decision to abandon Glenbrook’s SIG plan?

  45. Billy Bob Says:

    Dr. J.,

    I think you missed a couple:

    1. Illegal meeting in San Ramon Gate
    2. Improper member on School Closure Committee Gate
    3. And now, Gary’s Blog Gate

  46. Doctor J Says:

    Sorry for forgetting the Grand Jury Report #1102 issued a few weeks ago, and “SchoolClosuregate” — how could I forget ?

  47. Doctor J Says:

    @BillyBob — so right, so many I guess we need a masterlist. I was thinking that Gary’s latest blog could be called “retributiongate” ?? I have been trying to think of one we could call “Poseidongate”. :-)

  48. Anon Says:

    #47… Poseidongate… hmmm let me think. LOL

  49. Doctor J Says:

    Gary, in your 17 years on the Board, you just realized that it takes 8 years to make an English learner proficient ? How many different Supt’s have you hired ? 4 or 5 ? What have the last three you hired done to improve that ? Lawrence, Nichols, McHenry ??? Who has been watching the store ? Norm Gold recommends hiring an EL “Director” PLUS 7 new administrators. Sounds like another $2,000,000 SASS Department — got some extra money, do you ?

  50. Billy Bob Says:

    Dr. J, and Anon @3:44pm,

    Poseidongate is probably the time a tireless MDUSD supporter and fundraiser was publicly called “An enemy of the children of the MDUSD”, by you know who.

  51. Doctor J Says:

    Billy Bob you are brillant.

  52. Charter new course Says:

    We like to think we’re color blind. We teach our students about cultural diversity and tolerance. We watch them perform together in sports, music, etc without racism. Then it’s a shock to see the Board President using the words “institutional racism” – meaning the Dent Center. Also overheard the CVHS charter referred to as “veiled racism” – meaning the teachers since it’s the teachers charter. This is getting ugly. MDUSD racism should be covered in the Superintendent’s evaluation tonight.

  53. ANON1 Says:

    Interesting sidelight to the board meeting tonight. Lawrence is going to recommend two principals, one for CP and one for CV. Given the charter school uprising at CV it should be enlightening to see who Lawrence wants to place there.
    His style also would not make it surprising to see at least one of his appointees be a crony of his. A superintendent bringing in someone he/she is comfortable working with is not a bad thing necessarily if you have a superintendent who has a vision, competency, and leadership to bring in outstanding people. Unfortunately, Lawrence doesn’t have any of those qualities so you get mediocrity.

    Anyone out there hear anything about who he’s bringing in?

    What’s your opinion, Dr.J?

  54. Doctor J Says:

    @Anon1, there is tremendous pressure on King Lawrence by Gary to put a halt, at whatever cost, to the mutiny on the Bounty. That is why Gary began blogging again and King Lawrence put out his propagana, almost at the same time. The rest of the Board remains silent. Whether or not a new principal can block the charter movement will be an interesting question. Paranoia is reigning supreme at the Dent Center. And we are still waiting for Dr. Browne to produce her expense receipts and expense reimbursement from the State of California. I am betting against it.

  55. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Charter New Course: How is the charter effort by teachers considered to be racist? The school would still be required to accept all students in its attendance area, since it would continue to be public.
    Anon1: According to the agenda report, several committee interviews were held for the principal positions. I asked Board President Gary Eberhart and Trustee Sherry Whitmarsh about this and they both said the new principal should be someone who can be an “instructional leader,” according to the goals established by SASS.
    Eberhart was adamant that the new principals should not be administrators who sit at their desks all day. He said he wants leaders who are in classrooms observing and mentoring teachers and who are out on campus, interracting with students and staff.
    He also said he expects there to be many new principal assignments this year, continuing the effort to realign staff that began last year, when SASS was established.
    Dr. J: To clarify, Eberhart also said he has long been concerned about the length of time it takes to redesignate English language learners as English proficient. He said this is something he has been complaining about for years and that he also discussed it with former Superintendent Gary McHenry.
    I don’t believe a new principal could block the charter, since teachers plan to vote by June 6, when Principal Gary Swanson is still in charge. However, Eberhart said he expects the new principals to go to the campuses before school ends and to hold “meet and greets” with the staff and parents.

  56. Doctor J Says:

    @Theresa #55. If Gary was so concerned about it, why didn’t he take any action ? Why did it take two years of getting dinged by the state before they hired a “consultant” to identify the problems. Isn’t that why we a Supt and Asst Supts to identify these kind of problems and fix them ? The report so easily identifies that many of the problems are so blatant and show no continuity at the district level for change, implimentation or improvement. Does the Board really want to hire a new Director for EL plus 7 new administrators ?

  57. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Dr. J: Of course I can’t speak for Gary Eberhart, but my impression was that he felt he was doing something by complaining about the situation to previous superintendents. I don’t believe he has a background in curriculum and instruction, so it appears that he was expecting staff to come up with solutions.
    As you may recall, Trustees Cheryl Hansen Lynne Dennler questioned the cost of this consultant’s report when the board approved it. They asked why staff couldn’t just do its own audit and look at what other districts were doing to come up with recommendations for improvement.
    Dennler told me before she was elected that she knew the district’s system was flawed because it didn’t devote enough time to English language learners, yet it took time away from other children when teachers devoted time to the English learners.
    It will be interesting to hear what Hansen and Dennler think of the report.

  58. Charter new course Says:

    Theresa,
    It seems the district uses the word “racism” strategically, and probably without basis. Best guess is the speaker believes the CVHS attendance area is more white than the rest of the district, or that the charter will take away resources from EL learning at other schools. But CDE Accountability Progress Reporting shows that CVHS has about 20% Hispanic (less than about 35% in entire district) and has EL students. Is that racism? What is racism? It’s alarming this word is circulating, as you quoted Gary in your article, because it is inflammatory.

  59. Doctor J Says:

    @Theresa #57 If my memory serves me, I recall hearing that last summer Rose Lock took her SASS entourage to a Stanford sponsored English Learner Institue for a few days on the penninsula, all expenses paid. I think it was this one. http://ellib.stanford.edu/?q=ELL-institute-school-leaders-dev I don’t recall Norm Gold’s report noting any changes in the MDUSD EL program following that conference. Perhaps Cheryl Hansen and Lynne Dennler were correct that SASS already had the tools to do their own evaluation and plan. Perhaps Rose Lock will comment tonight on whether there are any differences in the Stanford appoach versus the Gold approach. I can give credit to Gary for seeing and raising the issue of English learners but no credit for not following through to make sure there was the proper evaluations and changes. Yes, I know Gary had some serious working issues with Gary McHenry. So why do we send these entourages to conferences if nothing changes ?

  60. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Dr. J: The SASS Dept. did draft an English language learner “corrective action plan,” which I don’t believe has been shared publicly at a board meeting.
    The state has set the goal that by Sept. 2012, 20.1 percent of English learners with four or less years in a US school will meet their English proficiency growth target.
    The district’s SMART goal: “By Sept. 2012, the percentage of English learners in language instruction educational programs fewer than five years attaining English language proficiency will increase from 17.1 percent to 20.1 percent.”
    It’s strategy: “Implement and monitor consistent ELD instruction and monitor the placement of students across the district.”
    I wonder if this plan will be shared with the board tonight.

  61. Billy Bob Says:

    Dr. J.,

    Entourages get to go on junkets, even leaving on a Sunday for a Monday/Tuesday conference a commutable distance away, so that administrators can see themselves as big important people who stay at the fanciest hotels and eat at the fanciest restuarants. ALL ON THE TAXPAYER DIME.

    (Gary plese read that as: I don’t care if its “categorical” money, there is not some magical field of jelly beans that grows “categorical” money, it ALL COMES FROM THE TAXPAYERS)

    The money then gets shuffled down to cronies of those in power (ie. Gang of Five rasies). In some cases raises are not appropriate so the money is shuffled down on expense paid mini vacations i.e. conferences.

    It has nothing to do with learning anything or improving education for our children. It’s about doling out some favors to your cronies.

    Look at which feeder pattern gets to go on the all expenses paid junket to Oregon for something that takes place in Santa Clara. Any tie in to a board member?

  62. Doctor J Says:

    So SASS spends nearly $20,000 for a week long EL conference in July, drafts a plan, doesn’t share it with the Board, hires Norm Gold for $92,000 on December 14 because Rose Lock said the District has discussed “best practices” but not implemented them with fidelity, and Norm Gold concludes the district hasn’t implemented “best practices” consistently — gee whiz, same thing Rose Lock said. So we just spent $112,000 and still no concrete plan. And the district goal takes one year more than the state standard. Am I understanding this correctly ? Do you think the voters really believe education needs more tax money ?

  63. Doctor J Says:

    @BillyBob, I wonder if the Board was told at the Dec 14 meeting when they approved the $92,000 Norm Gold Contract that SASS had attended the weeklong conference put on by Stanford that was result in the following outcomes “By the end of the institute, participants will:
    •Identify areas in need of improvement within the school or district’s EL program;
    •Identify ways in which the school or district can better connect to EL students’ families;
    •Develop a framework for observing and providing feedback to ELD and content area teachers;
    •Identify priority areas for professional development and create a plan for carrying out the necessary training.
    •Use student performance data to identify ways in which the school or district can better align curriculum and assessment;”
    So why did SASS need Norm Gold to tell them the same thing at nearly $2,000 a page for what Cheryl Hansen calls “boilerplate language” ?
    And to add insult to injury, SASS wants a RFP to modify “the district’s English Learner Master Plan”. Isn’t that one of the outcomes from the July conference ? What will be the final price tag ? Again, why do we send entourages to conferneces if they don’t learn anything ?

  64. Theresa Harrington Says:

    It’s also unknown whether the district is on schedule in terms of following its English learner plan.
    For example, the first “task” (which costs $3,000) is to “identify and communicate districtwide criteria that will be used for placement of students in ELD classes.”
    SASS was supposed to present these criteria to administration by March 30 and to “ensure appropriate allocation of resources” by April.
    Does anyone know if this has been done? Considering that the district still isn’t sure where all the students from Glenbrook MS and Holbrook Elem. are going next year, this seems like an ambitious timeline.

  65. Wait aMinute Says:

    Dr J.

    All this goes back to my original (#1) comment on this thread.

    You have demonstrably incompetent administrators making six figure incomes who suck up even more money going to expensive junkets (with NO RESULTS TO SHOW FOR IT) and then they have expensive consultants come in and do their jobs for them!

    Couple this with the fact that in a district with already far to much fat at the top, coming at the expense of the kids and the schools where the focus should be I might add.
    You then have these consultants tell the district admins how their problems are large and growing so that these same admins run around and come up with the solution that they need to hire MORE administrators to tackle the problems since they are obviously incapable of dealing with it themselves!

    In fact that the incompetency at the top is the real problem and their throwing good money (they can’t afford) after bad and the entire problem of a institutionally incapable and crisis driven “leadership” team just gets worse.

    This district could be a case study in self-fulfilling bureaucracy gone amok.

    As far as Gary goes, he talks a great deal but hasn’t delivered anything other then more unfulfilled rhetoric. His proposed ban on travel is the perfect example.

    Schools becoming independent charters can take all this now-squandered money and actually use it to resolve the problems far more effectively and efficiently then the layers of self-serving bureaucracy led by narcissists like gary and stevie.

  66. Theresa Harrington Says:

    At the Dec. 14 board meeting where trustees approved Gold’s contract, both Hansen and Dennler said they wanted an action plan, not just an audit.
    Superintendent Steven Lawrence promised that Rose Lock and her staff would develop the plan, based on the report generated by Gold.
    “We will make sure with Ms. Lock’s team that we have a plan,” Lawrence said.
    Lock stated that Gold would provide 30 copies of his report. Hansen commented: “He better. Expensive paper.”
    Lawrence again reiterated that district staff would use Gold’s report to develop a plan.
    “Ms. Lock and her team clearly hear this,” Lawrence said. “Obviously, we’re going to get a lot of information from him….We do need to bring in teachers and our parents and we will create a thorough process where at the end of this, we will have a strategic plan.”

  67. Doctor J Says:

    Gold’s findings should be an embarassment to the District Administration from top to bottom. He stated:
    “With few exceptions, the district’s EL programs are not well understood. Staff throughout the
    district and in the various schools interpret requirements and research-supported best practices in
    ways that vary substantially. There are no commonly understood program designs or standards
    for Structured English Immersion, English Language Mainstream Programs, or Alternative
    Bilingual Programs. Programs vary widely in their implementation.
    We found that the essential components of high quality EL programs4 are not in place or
    consistently implemented. And the district does not currently have an optimal alignment of
    resources (staff, guidance documents, instructional materials, etc.) for the most effective
    implementation of EL programs.”
    This translates to a lack of organization, a lack of leadership, and a lack of accountablility. The last master plan for EL was 7 years ago in 2004.

  68. Theresa Harrington Says:

    For the most part, the English learner corrective action plan says SASS is accountable, with much of the burden falling on Carmen Garces, who is responsible for English learners and student support.
    The plan says that Lock and Garces will complete a “Master Plan for English Learners” by February, 2012.

  69. Wait a Minute Says:

    Feb 2012?
    So it will be 8 years with no plan !
    The voters have already figured out their not getting their money’s worth here and now more lame excuses, delays and money squandered.

    What a joke!

  70. Theresa Harrington Says:

    The “Instructional Services” section of the Master Plan is supposed to be completed by August 2011.

  71. Doctor J Says:

    @WaitAMinute, actually there has been a plan in place since 2004 but as the “audit” says, it was not being followed, not the “best practices” and never updated. An example of the Board not understanding its role in setting policy and holding the administration accountable. Ten months ago, Rose Lock and the SASS entourage attended the five day Stanford conference on evaluating and developing a plan. Instead in December they paid $92,000 for a consultant. Now, even though they have a draft plan, they want to hire another consultant to write the plan. Round and round we go; where we will stop, no body knows.

  72. Doctor J Says:

    Theresa #66 Rose Lock seemed to backpeddle quite quickly about the Gold report being anything more than an audit. Cheryl tried to politely press it, but to no avail. $112,000 on Gold and the Stanford conference and no action plan. How much more will an action plan cost ?

  73. Wait a Minute Says:

    Dr J, any news on who they hired as Principals for CV and CP?

  74. Doctor J Says:

    Sue Brothers at Clayton Valley . . . .I didn’t catch the name for CP as I got a phone call. As for Sue Brothers, it was only a matter of time for King Lawrence’s “hitman” Lt. to come to the district. Who better to quash the mutiny on the Bounty ? I predict that she will be there just one year and oust Rose Lock, which will be bad news for Denise and Susan.

  75. Theresa Harrington Says:

    The College Park Principal is Paul Gengler. The board approved him unanimously. Brothers were appointed on a 4-1 vote, with Trustee Cheryl Hansen voting against the appointment.

  76. Wait a Minute Says:

    Dr J,
    How can I contact you?

  77. Doctor J Says:

    @WaitAMinute, if you will email Theresa, I will authorize her to give you my email address.

  78. Jim Says:

    I’m afraid that I haven’t paid much attention to the process around hiring the two new principals. WAS there a process, for that matter? It seemed to happen so fast. Did the parents and faculty at the two schools have any input as far as the types of leadership attributes and skills that they wanted? I know that MDUSD often treats school communities as undifferentiated, but individual schools often have very different needs, and those needs are often most apparent to the people who work at the site or send their children there to learn. Was there any community involvement in setting out the needs, before the search commenced? To me, seeking this type of input should be a major “guidepost” in any strategy for improving student learning.

  79. Doctor J Says:

    Lets not forget the Norm Gold presentation last night. I have never seen someone slice and dice like he did with a smile on his face, and the administration not realize they had just been eviscerated. Lets also not forget he identified $4.5 million in “carryovers” the district has been keeping in reserve that he said could be spent on EL students. Lets also not forget that his report is directly contrary to King Lawrences “English only” announcement from a year ago — that is the contradictory message he was referring to. This report came out a month late to save Toby.

  80. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Jim, here is the process, as outlined in the agenda staff report:

    “Interviews have been conducted and a candidate has been selected to fill the position of Principal, High School.

    The incumbent in this position will be retiring at the end of the 2010-2011 school year.

    There were 37 applicants for Clayton Valley High School and 39 applicants for College Park High School. There was a paper screening of the submitted applications. Candidates not holding the proper credentials and/or experience necessary for a high school principal position were screened out.

    Input sessions were conducted at the high school sites with staff and community members to obtain a description of the attributes and skills that the community was seeking. Questions for the candidates in first round interviews were selected that would address the input obtained from each school site.

    The first round interview included representatives of all the employee groups and the parent leadership organizations of both high schools. There was a College Park team and a Clayton Valley team. Each candidate submitted a writing sample based on a scenario presented to them 30 minutes before their scheduled interview time. Fourteen candidates were interviewed by both panels. Both panels identified the same four top candidates as their choice to go forward for further consideration.

    A second interview was conducted by the Superintendent’s Council of those candidates forwarded from the first round. Extensive reference and background checks were conducted on all candidates prior to final selections being made.”

    Dr. J: Gold also specifically said that EL students should receive instruction in science and social studies in their native language. This is in direct contradiction to the board-approved restructuring plan at Meadow Homes Elementary, which some parents questioned at the time it was adopted. At that time, Lawrence defended the elimination of those curriculum areas for EL students, saying they wouldn’t be able to learn science and social studies if they couldn’t read the textbooks. He didn’t address problems they might encounter when they lacked the knowledge of their peers as they moved to higher grade levels.

  81. 4Students Says:

    Linda Hutcherson has been promoted from Foothill principal to SASS administrator

  82. Doctor J Says:

    @4Students Funny how they mentioned how many candidates they had for principals, but never mentioned how many candidates they had for SASS. Not many I guess.

  83. Doctor J Says:

    What is the MDUSD policy on intimate affairs between administrators ? http://www.contracostatimes.com/education/ci_18183766

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