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An updated look at MDUSD school closure costs and savings

By Theresa Harrington
Monday, June 6th, 2011 at 8:08 pm in Education, Mt. Diablo school district, Theresa Harrington.

After the school board voted to close Holbrook and Glenbrook, I wrote a blog post questioning whether the district would really save $1.5 million.

Since then, the district has updated its projected cost savings, but questions remain about whether it will in fact reach its goal to save $1.5 million.

As reported last week by West Contra Costa school district reporter Shelly Meron, that school board unanimously voted on June 1 to keep Shannon Elementary open, reversing a 2009 decision, after realizing it would cost more to close the school and move the students than to keep the school open.

An analysis of the Mt. Diablo district’s costs versus savings shows that similarly, it could cost the district more to close Glenbrook than to keep it open — at least for the next two years.

According to the district’s revised estimates, it will save $510,000 a year by closing Holbrook and $741,396 by closing Glenbrook, for a total of $1,251,933. This still leaves nearly $250,000 more to reach the $1.5 million goal, which has not been demonstrated to the board.

However, the district’s estimates don’t include money lost from the Glenbrook School Improvement Grant and the after-school ASES grants, or the cost of hiring new staff and moving students and staff.

The district received a $1.7 million three-year School Improvement Grant for Glenbrook, at $584,002 per year. It will lose two years of the grant, or $1,168,000, plus $57,000 from this year’s grant that was supposed to pay for a four-week summer school intervention program. So, the total SIG money lost is $1,225,000.

According to Superintendent Steven Lawrence’s PowerPoint presentations, the district could lose $346,500 in ASES grant money for Glenbrook and $201,500 in ASES funds from Holbrook, for a total of $548,000. He later revised these numbers, saying the district might be able to retain $74,775 for Glenbrook and $16,672 for Holbrook. His Feb. 22 PowerPoint also included lower estimates for the grants, referring to a $189,000 “base grant” for Glenbrook and a $139,500 “base grant” for Holbrook.

Using the lower estimates, this means the district could possibly keep $91,000 out of $328,000 in grants, for a loss of $237,553.

In the same Feb. 22 PowerPoint, Lawrence estimated that 250 additional students at El Dorado would require the district to “expand the food lines at El Dorado.” No cost estimate for this was given.

Further, he estimated the district may need to hire one or two additional vice principals, at a cost of $102,000 each.

Finally, he estimated the district would need to spend $20,000 to $30,000 per site on moving costs.

So, here’s the breakdown with all costs considered:

GLENBROOK: save $741,396 per year (x2 = $1,482,792)
Subtract 584,002 per year (x2 = $1,168,004 + $57,000 = $1,225,004)
SUBTOTAL SAVINGS: $157,394; 2 years: $257,788
Subtract at least $102,000 for 1 vice principal ($204,000 for 2)
SUBTOTAL SAVINGS: $55,394; 2 years: $155,778
Subtract at least $115,000 for ASES loss (up to $346,500)
SUBTOTAL SAVINGS: ($59,606); 2 years: $40,778
Subtract at least $20,000 for moving costs (up to $30,000)
TOTAL SAVED PER YEAR: ($79,606); $20,778 (or less if higher estimates are used)

Based on this, it looks like the district could actually spend nearly $80,000 in 2010-12 to close Glenbrook and may save $20,778 at most in the second year.

HOLBROOK: save $510,537; 2 years: $1,021,074
Subract at least $122,828 for ASES (up to $201,500)
Subtract at least $20,000 for moving (up to $30,000)
TOTAL SAVINGS: $367,709; 2 years: $735,418

In combining the savings for the two schools, it appears that the district could save at most $288,103 in the first year by closing both schools and at most $756,196 after two years. This number would be reduced if two vice principals are hired and if the higher ASES loss estimates and moving costs estimates are used.

This means the district still appears to be more than $1.2 million shy of its goal of saving $1.5 million next year.

However, board president Gary Eberhart told me today that he is confident the district will realize the expected savings, based on the plan to relocate special education students on the Glenbrook campus. He also said the Glenbrook SIG paid for additional costs, which will go away.

The SIG helped pay for¬†counselors, professional development and a librarian. These services for Glenbrook’s low-income population¬†will also be lost.

Are you satisfied that the district will save $1.5 million, according to Lawrence’s estimates?

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63 Responses to “An updated look at MDUSD school closure costs and savings”

  1. Doctor J Says:

    Anon #47. We will have to disagree about the transparency. Perhaps you have forgot about his hide and seek about the Measure C public survey relied upon by the board; Buttercupgate; his refusal to identify ALL of his contacts and gratuities with Chevron; his continuing refusal to identify to the public the names of the persons to be nominated for district/site positions when the agendas are released, and I could go on and on. I don’t call that transparency. Just look at the agenda for next Tuesday — the Board was told today or earlier who the people are who are nominated, and yet the public is kept in the dark until the moment of the announcement — remember Gary’s hand picked new Principal for his children’s elementary school — Patrick Nugent ? Hence Nugentgate. Gary never denied knowing that Nugent had a DUI when he voted for him and had to spend all weekend getting Nugent to “withdraw” his name after it was approved by the board. While I was strongly opposed to Measure C and instead supported the parcel tax, nevertheless, it passed. I don’t see much difference from spending Measure C money on science labs and on broadcast journalism labs. We will spend many times the amount of money we could create a broadcast journalism lab with, by instead spending it on the Measure C “administrators” that were banned by the measure itself. That seems a little incongruent.

  2. Kelly VB Says:

    Anon #22-The comments on here are not “personal attacks”. They are comments being made by people who have educated themselves on the situation. Notice they have facts in them? If you don’t understand the underlying anger, there is only one of two options available; A.)you aren’t paying attention to the reality of what the Board is doing and how it will long term effect the entire District or B.)you are somehow personally connected to a Board member and are attempting to defend them.
    In fact the first direct personal attack was your comment “It really highlights a significant lack of intelligence.”

    Anon #38-I comment on Theresa’s blogs, and I can guarantee you that every staff member at Holbrook, most of the parents at Holbrook, and the MDUSD Board know both my name and my face.
    I have attended Board meetings, asked questions, expressed concerns, emailed the Superintendent, emailed the Superintendent of the CCCOE, emailed Tom Torlakson, contacted the OCR, written and mailed hard copy letters, been on the news, been in the paper, and organized a petition signing.
    So yes, some of us are doing something more than just “blathering” on the blog.

  3. 4Students Says:

    MDUSD should improve the meeting broadcast system, and should arrange TV air time. City council meetings and student events are broadcast on Channels 28 & 29. MDUSD wants to create better trust in the community and TV broadcasts would be a start. Paul and Gary have shown it can be done easily, so what’s the hold up?

  4. Wary of Gary Says:

    @ MtDiabloJester: If you haven’t already, try to catch Eberhart’s speech at Olympic’s recent graduation (the same one he gives every year). It goes something like this: “I went to Ygnacio Valley HS, dropped out, got my GED, went on to DVC, and look at me now!” Great message for graduates who have overcome so many obstacles and still had the strength and tenacity to graduate from high school instead of taking an easy way out. Eberhart took the easy way out and is still using the district to further his own interests, financially and politically.

  5. Theresa Harrington Says:

    In an e-mail, Supt. Lawrence says he isn’t counting the money lost from the SIG and the ASES funding in his estimates because it is restricted funding.
    He says his goal was to save $1.5 million from the general fund, which will be accomplished from closing the schools, “repurposing” Glenbrook and redrawing boundary lines.
    “The SIG and ASES funds are part of the restricted funds and do not help us balance our budget,” he wrote.
    That restricted funding would, however, help provide services to students and jobs to employees. And it is still money lost from the overall budget.

  6. g Says:

    Ah, what he said was “supposed to mean” the General Fund only, hmmm. Restricted money isn’t “real” money, hmmm.

    So, who was at Holbrook Elementary taking pictures? Property Appraisers?

  7. anon Says:

    Wary of Gary,

    What in the world does that have to do anything? What has your comment added to the conversation?

  8. Doctor J Says:

    Let’s look at the IEP Board Math from the reduction of the Sp Ed Assistants. How many total IEP’s are there currently in MDUSD? Who is going to review each of these IEP’s to see if the SEA reduction will impact the IEP? How many hours will each review take ? Once those IEP’s that are impacted are identified, who is going to schedule the new IEP ? I believe each IEP requires an administrator, the teacher, a physchologist, the parents and child and maybe more. I am guessing each IEP will take more than one hour. If not acceptable to any party, an appeal can be taken. Are these all to be completed prior to the first day of school ? What is the estimated budget cost of all these reviews and adjustments ? Since teachers don’t come back except for about two days prior to the school start, I am just not sure how all of this is going to occur. Perhaps Gary, Sherry and Linda who voted for this change, could indeed enlighten the masses with the FACTS and FIGURES. Or were they just shooting from hip not considering all the issues and didn’t have the facts ?

  9. g Says:

    From the hip, and straight down through the foot! Again.

  10. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Dr. J: Mildred Browne said IEP meetings would not be required because the assistants being cut assist “resource specialist students” and are in “collaborative RTI (Response to Intervention).”
    She referred to the assistants as “resource specialist positions” and said they work primarily in the general education program.
    “So, that’s where the challenge would come, to support general ed,” she said.
    Now that these assistants have been cut, it’s unlikely that the district will be able to effectively implement RTI (which is what the YVHS feeder pattern administrators are traveling to Oregon to learn about).
    A Pine Hollow special education assistant said that school was out of compliance last year. She said she had told administrators this, but nothing was done.
    Some assistants acknowledged they work with general education students who are struggling. Without their help, they predicted some wouldn’t be able to graduate (which could increase the district’s dropout rate).

  11. Doctor J Says:

    I don’t know how Mildred can make such a blanket statement about IEP’s since they are all tailor made and may include SEA for more than 3 hours. Hence, each one must be reviewed. That could be a long summer for Mildred.
    What sanctions are there for Pine Hollow for being out of compliance last year ? What administrators ignored the statement of non compliance ?
    Why continue with the Oregon trip if RTI is impossible ?

  12. Anon Says:


    What are they talking about the non public school? I have been told that it would be all non public programs at one place and I have also been told that it would only be one of the non public sites that would take over the closed school. Do you or anyone else have any info on this? When are they planning on this?

  13. Theresa Harrington Says:

    The details were in the agenda for Tuesday’s board meeting:

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