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Oak Grove MS parent sad to lose McCormick

By Theresa Harrington
Tuesday, July 5th, 2011 at 11:23 am in Education, Mt. Diablo school district.

Terry McCormick voluntarily left her position as principal of Oak Grove MS in Concord so the Mt. Diablo school district could apply for a $4.5 million federal School Improvement Grant.

Terry McCormick voluntarily left her position as principal of Oak Grove MS in Concord so the Mt. Diablo school district could apply for a $4.5 million federal School Improvement Grant.

This letter to the editor appears in today’s CC Times. I am re-posting it below to give blog readers a chance to comment on former Oak Grove Middle School Principal Terry McCormick’s decision to transfer to another campus so the district could apply for a $4.5 million School Improvement Grant.

McCormick is now Principal of Pleasant Hill Middle School. The board unanimously appointed Lisa Oates, who has held several positions in the Antelope Valley Union High School District in Southern California, as the new principal of Oak Grove Middle School in Concord.

“I read with interest Theresa Harrington’s article, ‘Two Mt. Diablo district principals leave schools in face of ‘failing’ stigma,’ in the Times.

I have two kids at Oak Grove Middle School and am quite pleased with the education they have received. Oak Grove has dedicated and talented teachers and administrators. I particularly want to acknowledge Terry McCormick’s leadership in improving the overall climate of learning at Oak Grove.

The statistics provided in your article show that Oak Grove’s API score was up 18 points in one year and met the target growth for that year. All the while at a school serving 83 percent low- income families and with 47 percent of the students classified as “English Learners.”

McCormick is a big reason for this improvement. It’s sad we have to lose a beloved principal to get this grant money. I guess holding the school board accountable or the district superintendent and his staff accountable would be too much to ask?

Because of McCormick, Oak Grove is no longer a failing school but an improving school. I’m afraid the loss of McCormick will be a setback for the school’s progress

Lisa Robinson

Do you agree with the US Dept. of Education’s requirement that a “failing” school must replace its principa to receive a School Improvement Grant?

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143 Responses to “Oak Grove MS parent sad to lose McCormick”

  1. Doctor J Says:

    Did the district get awarded the new SIG Grant for Oak Grove and Meadow Homes, plus a boatload for the district ? If they didn’t get the grant, maybe that was a premature shuffle of two principals.

  2. Theresa Harrington Says:

    The CDE is recommending that no districts be awarded new SIGS this year, because many have failed to include required improvements such as increased learning time for all students:
    In fact, many districts will have to create “corrective action plans” to continue receiving funding for SIGs awarded last year because they didn’t implement required elements such as increased learning time and evaluations of teachers and principals based partially on student progress.
    Districts were supposed to negotiate agreements with teachers’ unions to accommodate these elements. That hasn’t happened in MDUSD.
    The list of districts recommended to receive continued SIG funding will be posted later this week, according to the CDE:
    So, the short answer to your question is: No, the district isn’t likely to receive a SIG for Oak Grove MS or Meadow Homes Elem. this year. McCormick and Montez could have remained in their positions for another year, while the district rewrites its grant application and negotiates extended learning time and a new teacher evaluation tool with MDEA.

  3. Doctor J Says:

    MDUSD blows it again ! The $5 million SIG grant for Oak Grove/Meadow homes/district lost. The $15 million SIG grant for four other schools probably won’t be renewed because MDUSD failed to impliment the approved plan. I don’t know how the Board can approve SIG Grant applications that require “increased learning time” and then impose teacher furlough days, and project them out at 7-10 days for the next three years. Those concepts are inconsistent. Learning time must increase in all three areas: (1) core academic subjects; (2) other subjects and enrichment activities; or (3) teacher collaboration and professional development. What was MDUSD’s written plan ? A longer school year, longer school day, before or after school, summer school, weekend school ???? Did MDEA pre-approve any of the plan ? Were SIG school teachers going to be paid more for working longer and harder ? Sounds like it was just the typical MDUSD money grab with no intention to implement the requirements. And what about the requirement of replacing half the staff at the schools ? Did that happen at any of the schools ? Who is accountable for this mess ? Last year’s Board: Gary, Sherry, Linda ?? Lawrence ?? SASS ?? Apparently the Oak Grove/Meadow Homes SIG application was just a block and copy of last years, submitted weeks before it ever came to the Board for a rubber stamp. And this Board just gave Lawrence “carte blanche” to appoint administrators. OMG, what is next ? Reminds me of Laurel & Hardy: “Here’s another NICE mess you’ve gotten me into.” Will there be any accountability ?

  4. Theresa Harrington Says:

    At the Education Writers Association conference I attended earlier this year, reps from AFT and NEA said many districts negotiated MOUs for increased learning time with their teacher’s unions, who worked collaboratively with them on their SIG applications.
    In MDUSD, MDEA opposed the SIG applications, saying the union wasn’t involved and hadn’t agreed to increased hours or extra pay for teachers at SIG sites. MDEA also hasn’t agreed to teacher evaluations based on student performance.
    Last year, Rose Lock told me she expected to be able to negotiate those things during the three-year grant period. She said they didn’t need to be implemented immediately. However, the state and federal government appear to disagree.

  5. Charter new course Says:

    Many MDUSD schools still need leadership for a new school culture that will inspire the teachers and students. Leadership should begin with the Dent Center and a district strategic plan, and then the site administrators.
    David Brooks column today addressed this “The fact is that many schools have become spiritually enervated and even great teachers struggle in an inert culture. It’s the reformers who often bring the passion, using tests as a lever. If your school teaches to the test, it’s not the test’s fault. It’s the leaders of your school.”

  6. Doctor J Says:

    @Theresa, I don’t recall the amended SIG applications filed in Dec 2010 saying that the MDEA opposed the SIG applications, that MDEA had not agreed to the “basic requirements” of the SIG applications inclduing increased instructional time, teacher evaluations, etc. In fact, if my recollection is correct, the SIG applications implied that the MDEA had been “consulted” in preparation of the SIG applications, giving the false impression that MDEA had agreed with the basic premises of the SIG applications — apparently not. Now MDUSD’s deceptive wording is coming back to haunt them to the tune of a $20 million dollar hit. Oh what a tangled web we weave . . .

  7. Doctor J Says:

    In an amazing discovery, the West Sac school district Board, apparently as a result of their experience with Lawrence, is holding the Supt and staff accountable in 28 areas. This has resulted in “reassignments, transfers, and dismissals”. Why isn’t the same thing happening in MDUSD ? It now looks like MDUSD will lose $20 million in SIG funding because the most basic of all requirements are not being met: increased instructional time. Instead Lawrence/Eberthart/Whitmarsh/Mayo violated the SIG applications and minimum requirements by implementing last year and recommending for the next three years school furlough days which will significantly DECREASE instructional time, in violation of the SIG grants. That will cost the district about $20 million dollars. So what is the SASS department doing today ? Probably working on their resumes. Looks like Jen Sachs had the right idea. Abandon ship.

  8. Theresa Harrington Says:

    The district could lose $8.9 million in funding for Bel Air, Rio Vista, Shore Acres and the district over the next two years.
    It already forfeited nearly $1.2 million it could have potentially received for Glenbrook Middle School, when the board decided to close that campus.
    However, it could still retain the $8.9 million if it creates a corrective action plan that meets with the state’s approval. But, that would likely require some fast negotiations with MDEA.
    The district may also be able to qualify for the $11.2 million in new SIG funding if it rewrites its SIG applications and is able to negotiate increased learning time and new teacher evaluations with MDEA by the new fall deadline proposed by the CDE.
    The original application stated: “A wide range of stakeholders were involved in the needs analysis process to ensure all areas of the school and community were represented, services and needs were aligned and ownership was achieved.”
    It stated that union leadership was “involved” and that “local input was solicited and heard.” However, it omitted the fact that union leadership objected to the plans.

  9. Doctor J Says:

    I am not sure the correct word to describe MDUSD’s application. Some words that come to mind are misleading, deceptive, and stronger. Who signed these applications ? Could the Feds prosecute them like they did Barry Bonds ?

  10. Doctor J Says:

    @Theresa, Why wouldn’t MDUSD also lose the district funding to support these schools ? And why couldn’t the Feds/State come back and charge back the district for the 10/11 funds since they were obtained under false pretenses ?

  11. MDUSD Board Watcher Says:

    Oh wowser,

    Now we have SIG Gate to add to the list.

  12. Theresa Harrington Says:

    The $8.9 million includes district funding to support the schools. Here’s what MDUSD is expecting over the next two years:
    District: $933,557 x 2 = $1,867,114
    Bel Air: $1,517,005 x 2 = $3,049,010
    Rio Vista: $443,230 x 2 = $886,460
    Shore Acres: $1,556,359 x 2 = $3,112,718
    TOTAL: $8,915,302
    Interestingly, the original SIG application mentions the union in the “needs analysis” section, but doesn’t include it at all in the “Consultation with Relevant Stakeholders” section. Instead, it says that “educators” were consulted and that a “team of teachers, parents and administration” presented the improvement plans to the board in June 2010.
    Ironically, it says the district decided against closing any of the schools (including Glenbrook) because of “…processes already in place around school closures due to previous budget reductions due to the fiscal crisis….”
    Regarding MDEA, it states:
    “In order to ensure successful implementation of the proposed strategies and actions….MDUSD has identified the following policies or practices that will need to be revised over the three year grant through negotiations and/or MOU:
    – Teacher preparation time flexibility to allow for common preps, ELD rotiations and supplemental intervention;
    – Lengthening the school day for full-day Kindergarten and a longer school day for targeted students (students far below and below basic on CST);
    – Use of rigorous, transparent, and equitable evaluation systems for teachers and principals that takes into account data on student growth as a significant factor;
    – Ensuring that the school is not required to accept a teacher without the mutual consent of the teacher and principal, regardless of the teacher’s seniority; and
    – Offering fiscal incentives or stipends which change the salary structure.”
    I have spoken to Mike Langley about these items throughout the school year and he told me district officials hadn’t even mentioned them, because they were more intent on negotiating furlough days and other budget items.
    There was no signature page on the copy of the SIG I was given by the district. It was never presented to the school board. Instead, the board authorized district staff to submit the application without seeing it.

  13. Doctor J Says:

    We pay the Supt. over $250,000 a year, and Asst. Supts over $150,000 a year, and Directors over $120,000 a year and look at the mess they created by shading the truth and not doing their job. Now all those employees at Bel Air, Shore Acres, and Rio Vista, and the district who positions are funded by SIG money are in jeopardy of losing their jobs — or maybe the district is in jeopardy of employing them without funding !! Unsure if the district already hired anyone at Oak Grove and Meadow Homes on the unapproved SIG grants. Who is in charge ? Will any heads roll ? Nope. Business as usual.

  14. Charter new course Says:

    On another blog, Trustee Eberhart has declined to join a public discussion of Measure C with Linda L, reasoning “Thanks to the support shown to our students by our amazing community, we are under constriction (sic) on the Nation’s largest solar photovoltaic generation project for a K-12 school district, a project that will generate millions of dollars that will directly benefit our students.” No mention of the escalating cost of the solar project which was Linda’s question.

    Can someone compare the amount saved by the all-mighty solar project versus the cost, with the millions being frittered away by this SIG bungling versus the cost of closing Glenbrook and this annual summer staff shuffle, and then analyze given these costs how any of this is benefiting our students?

  15. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Charter New Course: Given the $348 million Measure C bond, including more than $70 million for solar projects, more than $10 million for administrative construction managers and more than $9 million on high school improvements including football field lights, it’s surprising the school board unanimously agreed the district can’t afford $300,000 to install drinking fountains in 10 school cafeterias to comply with state and federal mandates. Do you think voters would support the use of Measure C funds for this purpose?

  16. Charter new course Says:

    Mr. Pedersen said the schools had refused the water fountains because students might spill water on the floor creating a hazard. I wonder whether at that time anyone considered a small sink where students could fill water bottles. Usually it’s more expensive to retrofit but if that’s what is necessary then go ahead. It’s the same old story for MDUSD – don’t plan ahead and pay the escalated price later.

  17. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Yes, Pedersen told the Measure C Oversight Committee that the principals refused the service when the Multiuse rooms were built. That, however, was BEFORE the mandates.
    He said they were Measure A sites, plus Valley View MS, Bancroft Elem., Delta View Elem., Highlands Elem. and Mt. Diablo Elem.
    The state doesn’t allow districts to ignore the law because they don’t want to comply. Do you believe that the district can’t afford the $300,000?

  18. g Says:

    It seems to me that if they can spend a few million on automatic sprinkler systems they could spend a few hundred thousand on safe drinking water solutions. Student health and safety and updated buildings is what they touted and what the people “thought” they were voting for.

  19. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Yes, I’ve already heard a complaint from the YVHS neighborhood regarding spending Measure C money on football field lights — which many neighbors didn’t find out about until after the board voted to approve the project.
    “That is not necessary,” the angry voter told me. “No one I know will ever vote for another Mt. Diablo district bond measure.”

  20. Doctor J Says:

    voting for football lights over academics is inesxcusable.

  21. Theresa Harrington Says:

    It is much more disruptive to the surrounding residents. And the lack of adequate communication with neighbors is not building goodwill in the community.

  22. g Says:

    Well we do have a very well seated Board member who is/was Pres of YVHS PTSA, and I would imagine if she wants lights on the field, there will be lights on the field, and at least one Oversight Committee member works for the same company in the same job classification, so I wouldn’t expect anything less than support from him if any questions arise in oversight talks.

  23. Doctor J Says:

    Expose him, please.

  24. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Communication with the community is a key element of the draft strategic plan:
    “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.”

  25. g Says:

    Dr. J: Well, I would have used names, but this is Theresa’s Blog, and it seems she has removed the previously posted letter from him, so I will respect whatever reason she may have for doing that.

  26. g Says:

    Oops, my mistake. I didn’t search back far enough. Theresa did not remove the letter from Mark Weinmann on 6/24.

  27. g Says:

    …and in case anyone asks; yes, the (Independent) Oversight Committee was vetted and seated while the Bid Process was still in effect. It’s anyone’s guess how many other possible conflicts of interest there may be or may have been.

  28. Linda L Says:

    Charter a New Course #14
    I would like to add to your comment by pointing out that the following accusation by Mr. Eberhart in comment #114 of the post you refer to is what prompted my offer to discuss the issues in a public setting, something I have wanted to do for a long time. Funny how it came full circle…

    “That’s why the people who continually post the misinformation and lies are not willing to have a live, in person public debate on the issue. Doing so is not possible when the facts are not on your side.”

  29. Doctor J Says:

    @Theresa #24 How long has it been since we heard from Stevie ?

  30. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Superintendent Steven Lawrence’s last message to the community was dated May 26, regarding the CVHS charter school petition:
    The district subsequently posted a Whooping Cough immunization alert, which is undated and doesn’t follow the same format as the superintendent’s messages:

  31. Doctor J Says:

    Why would MDEA even talk to MDUSD after Lawrence & Co. misrepresented to the Feds/State MDEA opposition to the SIG grants ? How can the instructional day be increased when MDUSD insisted upon instructional “furlough days” for the 10/11 school year and projected 7-10 days per year for the next three years ? How can MDUSD even suggest that there are teacher peformance based evaluations based on student performance when they have NOT yet even discussed these with MDEA ? Are the SIG school teachers going to be paid more for longer “instructional days” or given financial incentives that other teachers are not given, and why has this disucssion never yet occurred with MDEA ? Clearly, MDUSD has lied to the feds/state about what has been “agreed” with MDEA — who is going to hold those who lied accountable ??? Will the Feds/State prosecute those who lied so they could get more money ? Maybe we need a Federal Grand Jury this time. What if the Feds/State makes MDUSD pay back the money for 10/11 because of the misrepresentations ?

  32. Doctor J Says:

    @Linda #28 Linda you are not alone — a year or two ago, I accepted Gary’s offer of a “debate” “anyplace and anytime”. So I accepted and chose the CCT blog so it would be in writing and we could both be held accountable for the statements we made. He backed out. I don’t know whether to call him just a chicken or a coward or afraid of the truth. For whatever reason, he backed out and would not keep his promise. He really doesn’t want a debate — he just wants to pontificate — and not be “held” to any specific statements by a “record”. In an amazing discovery, the West Sac school district Board, apparently as a result of their experience with Lawrence, is holding the Supt and staff accountable in 28 areas. This has resulted in “reassignments, transfers, and dismissals”. Why isn’t the same thing happening in MDUSD ? It now looks like MDUSD will lose $20 million in SIG funding because the most basic of all requirements are not being met: increased instructional time. Instead Lawrence/Eberhart/Whitmarsh/Mayo violated the SIG applications and minimum requirements by implementing last year and recommending for the next three years school furlough days which will significantly DECREASE instructional time, in violation of the SIG grants. That will cost the district about $20 million dollars. So what is the SASS department doing today ? Probably working on their resumes. Looks like Jen Sachs had the right idea. Abandon ship. I would love to watch Gary sweat before a Grand Jury. Anyone who has supported the lies and deception in MDUSD doesn’t deserve to be a school district employee — protecting your own job is no excuse.

  33. g Says:

    Dr. J. Your note to Linda reminded me of the fact it’s been a year since we all got together “live” in what was to be a good question/answer conversation. Gary refused to talk to you. 😉 It looks to me like after a year of evasion, none of the issues has yet been answered. Love the Guest entries obviously by Sherry or? Maybe the Mrs? Only a loved one could be so “shut-your-mouth-and-leave-my-man-alone” adamant.


  34. Doctor J Says:


  35. Linda L Says:

    I forgot about that.
    And the public will be consulted every step of the way?
    Where are those project lists?
    Energy escalation figures – still no answer?
    Did the elementary school get their stage?

  36. Doctor J Says:

    And you wonder why Gary erased his blog ? The written record destroys his credibility.

  37. g Says:

    Go ahead and erase those files Gary.

    Gary on “Buttercupgate”: “Times has made the assertion that the District has been having “secret meetings” with Chevron. Really? Secret meetings? There have been a number of meetings with Chevron to discuss the possibilities of solar and what those possibilities could mean for the students of our district. As I stated above, the discussions that have been held over the past 20 months or so have changed a deal that was worth $6 million over 30 years to a deal that is worth well over $100 million over 30 years. The meetings did not cost the school district anything. The meetings were not secret. The meetings were held in many locations, including the district office and at restaurants. The District has a subcommittee of the Board called the Facilities Subcommittee and some of the meetings were held during regularly scheduled Facilities Subcommittee meetings, which are public meetings. We do not have secret meetings.”

    (We just don’t “Notice” them all or keep minutes or tell the citizens about them—unless we get caught—but they aren’t “secret”–not really!)

  38. MDUSD Board Watcher Says:


    Where are you? Having another “secret” meeting at the Buttercup?

  39. Theresa Harrington Says:

    g: I have asked to receive notices of the Facilities subcommittee meetings, but was told they are not regularly scheduled. Instead, they are occasionally and sporadically scheduled. I have never received a meeting notice.
    Also, the Measure C website still hasn’t been updated with information presented to the Oversight Committee last month, although Pete Pedersen promised to post it immediately after the meeting:
    Linda, It was Sequoia MS that wanted a stage. Now, former Principal Hellena Postrk is in the SASS Dept. I don’t know if the new principal is still pushing for that. The school has also had three instrumental music directors in the past three years, but maybe the drama teacher and/or music parents will continue the quest. I see the district still has Sequoia Elementary’s site plan displayed, instead of the middle school’s: And there is no mention of a stage.

  40. g Says:

    What you and I would call an official Subcommittee meetings, they call beer and BBQ and nobody else’s business. Gary’s mention of it was a gross lapse of judgement while trying to defend himself “off the cuff”. They would like us to think all their plans just poof-“appear”.

    Where on the MDUSD site is there even one link or mention of any Subcommittee of any dept.?

    With all the employees floating around at Dent, etc. why does it take months to have minutes posted, or other things on the site updated? Oh, some minutes get approved a couple months after the fact, but don’t get posted—sneaky or lazy?

  41. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I believe the district’s webmaster only works part-time. However, it shouldn’t take months for things to get posted.
    Also, some Measure C Oversight committee members said they hadn’t received the draft minutes from the previous meeting. The chairman said he had been concerned about sending them out before they were approved. But he was assured that as long as they were marked “draft,” all commmittee members should receive them. Those minutes (from the previous committee meeting) still haven’t been posted either.
    Pedersen said he didn’t provide the committee members with information in writing on June 16 because he was trying to cut down on paper. So, the committee relied on his promise that he would post the information immediately.
    One committee member asked Pedersen to post the agenda packet before meetings. Pedersen responded to that suggestion with surprise and didn’t agree to it.

  42. g Says:

    Someone needs to send Pedersen a summary of the Brown Act as well as Oversight Committee and public obligations of the District. We understand better than he, apparently, that he is not The District, but rather is an employee OF The District. As such, if he is “running the show”, he needs to make sure these things are taken care of! I’ll leave this here, just in case someone from his gaggle of Managers is reading and would rather not have the Board or the Boss get into deep doo-doo.

    “The District shall provide to the Committee necessary technical and administrative assistance as follows:

    (a) preparation of and posting of public notices as required by the Brown Act, ensuring that all notices to the public are provided in the same manner as notices regarding meetings of the District Board;


    (b) provision of a meeting room, including any necessary audio/visual equipment;

    (c) preparation and copies of any documentary meeting materials, such as agendas and reports; and


    (d) retention of all Committee records, and providing public access to such records on an internet website maintained by the District.”

    (and they DON’T mean someday, 5 or 6 months from now)

    Also of importance:

    7.3 No bond proceeds shall be used to provide District support to the Committee.

    Thank you.

  43. LindaL Says:

    What does John F mean by not wanting to send them out to the committee before they are approved? Isn’t it the committee who approves the minutes?

  44. Sue Berg Says:

    G, I don’t know where you’re seeing “all the employees floating around at Dent,” but it’s sure not in the Superintendent’s Office.

    After my senior position in the office was cut two years ago, my very capable officemate, Loreen Joseph, was made responsible for work that two of us had been doing. She continues to prepare and post all Board meeting agendas (a time-consuming task that the electronic system has not reduced) while also serving as the sole support staff to the Board and Superintendent. With my position cut, she is having to attend the Board meetings (at night), take minutes, and get them posted–tasks that took much of my time.

    Complain about the elected officials and senior administrators if you will. As organizational leaders, they should know that criticism comes with the job. But support staff positions and hours, both in the Dent Center and at the school sites, have been significantly reduced over the past several years. I never saw anyone “floating around” during my 9 years in the Superintendent’s Office, neither during the daily hours the Dent Center was open nor at night or on weekends, when many employees put in extra hours. Given the reductions in district support staff, I don’t believe anyone is doing any “floating around” these days.

    On another note, the district never had a designated “webmaster.” Rather, an employee handled the task as an extra duty, responding to requests (from me and staff in district departments to post info) and performing cleanup duties. In the year before my Communications Specialist position was cut I led a team that redesigned and upgraded the website and trained staff to make it easier to navigate and update. I’ve been disappointed to see the website not being used to the potential created for it more than two years ago. I assume no one has been given the responsibility nor the time to oversee it.

  45. Doctor J Says:

    Sue, I guess you haven’t seen the population explosion in Wing C in SASS. And now the Measure C retired annuitants have outgrown their digs. And by the way, I thought Steve Lawrence was the Secretary to the Board of Education. So the Board Secretary needs a secretary to keep the minutes ? Frankly, the minutes I have seen posted don’t have much commnentary or additional detail in them except was was on the agenda. The votes are electronic.

  46. g Says:

    Its nice of you to try to defend your old department Sue, but It’s like the old saying–“ignorance of the law is no excuse”. Well, lack of feet on the ground is no excuse for violating basic laws governing what public officials “must” provide to the citizenry with a timeliness and manor specific to those laws.

    At first glance it may seem unfortunate that so many positions have been cut. I’m sure you personally did a masterful job for your department. Maybe many of the others that were cut wouldn’t have been needed in the first place if efficiency standards had been kept tight.

    It is unfortunate that the District threw money around without regard for “a rainy day”, but the fact now is: if the superintendent doesn’t have the staff to do a “legally required” job, he should stay up all night and do it himself. Life is hard!

  47. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Linda L: My impression was that Ferrante was worried about too many people seeing the minutes before they were approved. But, yes, it is the committee that is supposed to approve them. Maybe he was afraid they would be forwarded to non-committee members, since he distributed them to select committee members via e-mail.
    Yet, the board minutes are posted online before trustees approve them, so I don’t understand why Pedersen and Ferrante seem unwilling to post the draft committee minutes online before the committee meetings.
    Pedersen told me he had given the oversight committee agenda to someone to post online the day of the meeting. He said it wasn’t posted on the Measure C website because he didn’t think anyone would look for it there. I told him I hadn’t seen it posted on the main web page either. The problem with the main web page is that once the “upcoming meetings” listed occur, they drop off the website. So, if the agenda was posted there, it’s no longer accessible.
    I’m surprised the committee isn’t pushing harder for transparency. It’s unclear if committee members are receiving other backup materials via e-mail, as well.
    It was also surprising that Pedersen didn’t present any backup information about the auditor’s qualifications. When several committee members asked why CFO Bryan Richards recommended an auditor in San Diego, Pedersen said he didn’t know and he hadn’t anticipated that anyone would want additional information.
    On the way into the meeting, I saw Richards heading to his car in the parking lot. It appeared that he could have stayed an extra 10 minutes to brief the committee on his auditor recommendation.
    Regarding the Measure C parking lot work slated for Northgate HS, Pedersen told me in an e-mail that it is unrelated to the solar project. The solar contractors are required to repair the parking lots as part of their scope of work, he said.
    g: The district has set aside money — not for a rainy day — but for midyear cuts. However, AB 114 says districts aren’t allowed to project mid-year cuts in their budgets. Instead, they are supposed to budget based on the same amount of money they received last year. They are also supposed to maintain staffing and programming at last year’s levels. This could mean the board may be forced to rescind the special education assistant cuts (as well as others), which were made specifically to create a $10.7 million reserve in anticipation of $330/ADA less funding.

  48. Doctor J Says:

    Theresa, AB 114 does several things, but does not guarantee that cuts already made will be reinstated. Indeed the district will be free to spend that money on any other thing they want, not just roll back prior cuts. AB 114 also removes authority from the County School Superintendent in requiring review of the Districts budget projections for THREE years, and reduces IT down to the current year. It also allows schools to cut school days by up to ten days if the STATE budget money does not materialize. Whether MDUSD imposes education furlough days or the state allows the school days to be cut, that will be the death knell of the FEDERALLY FUNDED SIG Grants, which require “increased instructional time” not less. In fact, when Lawrence, Martin-Brun and Lock negotiated the furlough days for last school year 10/11 none of them had probably read the SIG Grant applications they signed where they were required to “increase instructional time” and as a result those SIG Grants now likely will not be renewed. Indeed, a collossal mistake that will cost the district between $10 and $15 million dollars since it appears the new SIG grants were not approved and the old ones are clearly in jeopardy of not being renewed. Now Lawrence projects furlough days for the next three years of 7-10 days per year. AB 114 really endangers the financial stability of MDUSD and I wonder how the Bond Market will respond to such financial instability. BTW, I think Lawrence has drinking fountains in the Dent Center.

  49. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Many districts are asking School Services of California if they need to reinstate positions that were cut. The response has been: yes, if those cuts were made based on projections of reduced revenue limit allocations, which MDUSD’s were.
    Most school districts throughout the state budgeted based on flat funding, but MDUSD and some other Contra Costa County districts budgeted more conservatively than that.
    Also, it’s my understanding that the new budget allows for seven fewer school days on top of the five that were already allowed, bringing the total possible loss of school days to 12. I don’t know if it’s possible for the district to negotiate an MOU with the teachers’ union to have furlough days in all schools except those with SIGs. Eagle Peak Montessori didn’t have furlough days and CVHS charter supporters say they want to avoid furlough days as well.

  50. Doctor J Says:

    Should be an interesting Board meeting on August 9 since the 45 day budget revise will be due a few days later and will have to be considered by the Board at that meeting or a special meeting a few days later. School will not be in session yet, most site administrators don’t return until Aug 8,9 or 10, and teachers won’t be on the job yet until August 29. I think the state teacher’s union shot themselves in the head by supporting AB 114. They are at a clear disadvantage now. On the other hand, the Supt and Gary have to be having sphincter contractions this weekend wondering how they are going to “increase” instructional time to save the SIG renewal of last year’s grant without having an agreement from MDEA to discriminate against some teachers by paying the SIG teachers more money. Right now Lawrence and Gary’s bullheadedness in imposing furlough days is costing the district about $15 plus million bucks. In the meantime, the renewal of the SIG grants for Bel Air, Rio Vista, Shore Acres and the district over the next two years remains in serious jeopardy, but those employees funded by the SIG grant renewals were not given lay-off notices, so if there is no funding for their positions, where is the district going to get the extra money ? How many people were hired for the new SIG grants for Meadow Homes and Oak Grove and the district that have been denied ? Funny how passing the budget on time, and the last minute shenanigans of the Democratic legislature in passing AB 114 without committee meetings, has caught Lawrence and Gary in a compromising position, and grabbing their ankles. Boys, you had better start practicing those Kegel exercises. You are going to need them. Gary, how is your speed dial to Torlakson working now ?

  51. Doctor J Says:

    MDUSD’s next move: Pension Spiking. How can they do it and get away with it ? Moving Principals to SASS. Just compare the SASS salaries from year 09/10 as principals to year 10/11.

  52. Theresa Harrington Says:

    The CDE is recommending “corrective action” for all 41 agencies that got SIGs last year:
    Surprisingly, they are also recommending continuing funding for Glenbrook, as long as it takes “corrective action” to increase student learning time!

  53. Doctor J Says:

    You have to wonder about the IQ of Lawrence, SASS, and the Board who believe you can have “increased instructional time” at the SIG schools [a MANDATORY requirement] while at the same time imposing instructional furlough days, three last year and up to ten or more each year in the next three years. What is it they don’t understand about “increased” ?? The irony is that since MDUSD has probably the most SIG schools of any district in the state, the Feds did their “audit” primarily with MDUSD and now all 41 California schools are being required to submit “corrective action plans”. As Theresa pointed out, most sane school districts around the country prenegotiated MOU’s with their teacher’s unions to meet the Federal standards. Not MDUSD. In fact, MDUSD conveniently decided not to tell CDE and the Feds that MDEA officially OPPOSED the SIG grants. Standard Operating Procedure for MDUSD in playing shell games and not disclosing the whole truth, and in fact the application as Theresa pointed out was really misleading. Why should we be surprised by that ? MDUSD Standard Operating Procedure. Lets remember that as a result of a review of the MDUSD SIG grant program, the Feds have come down hard on the CDE on its implementation, resulting in no SIG Grants being recommended for approval in Cohort 2, and now requiring “corrective action” in all 41 districts. We should not forget the SIG grants are a FEDERAL PROGRAM with FEDERAL MONEY. Remember what happened when Barry Bonds lied to the Feds ? Can’t you just imagine some Federal Prosecutor in San Francisco wanting some school board members and school superintendents on his/her wall to match Barry Bonds trophy head? Its a career maker. They got away with the solar bonds so they must figure they can get away with about $20 million in federal funds without meeting the requirements. What will it take for them to learn ?

  54. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Here is a link to the tool the USDOE used to monitor School Improvement Plans:
    USDOE representatives based feedback to the CDE largely on visits to San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Bernardino.

  55. Doctor J Says:

    MDUSD SIG schools had a number of visits and interviews consistent with these instructions. Not sure whether they were done by the State or Feds or both.

  56. Charter new course Says:

    According to front page article, Concord median home price is down 50% since 2007. Improving the schools should counter-act this trend. Does City of Concord care that the MDUSD has squandered these millions?

  57. Doctor J Says:

    It appears that MDUSD can write the grant to qualify for the millions. But it also appears that MDUSD after a whole year did not fulfill its promises of “increased instructional time”. In fact, in a whole year, it never once entered into negotiations with MDEA for “increased instructional time.” Just the opposite — MDUSD hammared MDEA into accepting 3 furlough days last year, thus decreasing the instructional time. MDUSD apparently has no conscience about accepting money for which it had no intention of performing the SIG grant minimum requirements. To me, that is dispicable conduct and those who are responsible should be held accountable.

  58. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Charter New Course: It’s not clear that MDUSD has “squandered” its money (except for forfeiting the Glenbrook grant). It has implemented some of the promised reforms, just not to the level the SIG required.
    Dr. J: Although MDUSD can certainly rewrite its grant, it must also IMPLEMENT it fully. That, of course, is the sticking point. Furlough days will also complicate the applications. They may need to ask MDEA to except SIG schools from furloughs and use SIG money to pay the staff (which would eat into the grants considerably).
    Also, it’s clear that MDUSD was behind most other districts in terms of negotiations. It’s very surprising that MDUSD hasn’t even broached these subjects yet with MDEA.

  59. Doctor J Says:

    Lawrence and SASS’s failure to even communicate with MDEA in the last year concerning implementing the SIG grants since MDEA publicly opposed the SIG grants is a catestrophic failure of leadership. Yet, Lawrence had plenty of time to negotiate three furlough days. The SIG requirements are clear: Learning time must increase in all three areas: (1) core academic subjects; (2) other subjects and enrichment activities; or (3) teacher collaboration and professional development. ALL STUDENTS in the SIG schools must get increased instructional time, not just small segments. It would be interesting to compare the quarterly SIG expense reports and the SIG applications to see how they match up and where the money was to be spent and how it actually was spent. I agree Theresa that the “corrective action” rewrite could work but I think the obstacles are too great. First, the cost of funding 7-10 furlough days and then adding the “increased instruction” in the three areas above would be astronomical, and deplete most if not all of the remaining SIG money. Lets also remember that each school was not funded in “equal amounts”. Also, since the district will essentially be begging MDEA for assistance, MDEA will likely require other concessions across the district which will cost significant amounts of money. In addition, I just can’t believe that MDEA would allow the teachers at the three SIG schools to make 15-20% more because they are not taking furlough days and having bonus pay for the “increased instruction” — smacks of favortism or discrimination. Then you have the fact that SASS has already spent a large amount of next years SIG money on materials for these schools so there is even less money available. Another problem looms overhead: there are additional employees alreay hired or not layed off, that are to be paid with SIG funds, that might not be available. One last bombshell — CDE has to approve the “rewrite” and we just saw with Cohort 2 where all applications were denied by CDE that CDE is under tremendous pressure from the Feds to “get it right” after they got blasted by Washington for not ensuring that the districts/schools were in compliance with the SIG grants. Great reading if you want to reinforce a belief that the CDE is incompetent. So where does MDUSD go from here ? Lawrence and Eberhart appear to be MIA. No Board meeting until August 9, nearly a month away.

  60. Doctor J Says:

    I am so appalled at Rose Lock’s misstatements to Theresa that the Feds changed the rules — so not true; also, that Rose was under the impression they had all three years to put it into place increased instructional time if they started the process — so not true. All you have to do is go back and read the SIG applications of MDUSD approved in June 2010 and submitted in July 2010 and then revised again in November/December 2010. Rose Lock helped prepare them, approved them, and had full knowledge of them. Look at the timetable that Rose submitted with the grant. Negotiations with MDEA and other unions from June 2010 to June 2011 for INCREASED instructional time. Rose admits that never took place. The only negotiations with MDEA were for REDUCED instructional time — just the opposite. Rose was on the negotiating team. Rose Lock and her team promises the Feds one thing, misled the state into believing MDUSD was in complaince, and then the audit happened they got caught red handed. Taking Federal money under false pretenses has serious consequences — not much different than bank roberry. Instead of working on this issue fervently, Rose decided to hold the hand of long time Board member Linda Mayo once or twice a week and accompany her to site visits that took serval hours each. Sure it was a nice social thing to do, but as an Assistant Supt over SASS, Rose had more important things to do. Her failure to ride herd on the 2010 SIG grants has put them in jeopardy and got the 2011 SIG grants denied. The SIG grants totaled about $25 million. Less hand holding and smoozing with the Board, and more work and keeping promises made would have been best. MDUSD has been playing the fiscal shell game for so many years without getting caught, they don’t know what to do when they get audited. Too many stories but only one truth.

  61. Theresa Harrington Says:

    The State Board of Ed meeting is now being webcast live at
    First, they are addressing the Parent Trigger Law. After that, the board will discuss the SIGs, in agenda items 2-4:

  62. Doctor J Says:

    Breaking News: State Bd of Education passes unanimously Parent Empowerment Regulations to allow parent take over of public schools — different from the Teacher Trigger we have seen at CVHS, this is known as the “Parent Trigger”. This is a huge blow to the power structure of Lawrence, Eberhart, Whitmarsh, Mayo.

  63. MDUSD Board Watcher Says:

    When do we start the parent takeover at Northgate?

    I’m in. Other Northgate parents are you with me?

  64. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Here’s the AP story about the Parent Trigger:

  65. Charter new course Says:

    Thank you Doctor J #60. In addition to the ill-timed closure of Glenbrook, the entire SIG scenario fits my definition of “squandered.” It’s beyond a shell game, it’s a fiscal black hole.

  66. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Astonishingly, Chris Swenson, the state’s director of district and school improvement, told the State Board of Education she didn’t find out until after the list of corrective actions was posted Monday that that Glenbrook MS was closed.
    “Since this list was published,” she said, “CDE was informed that Glenbrook Middle School, which had been approved to implement the transformation model, has been closed.”
    Yet, Rose Lock tole me the district had informed CDE previously about the school closure.
    “That could be a mistake on their part,” Lock told me Monday, after I asked why Glenbrook appeared on the list. “We forfeited that part of the funding. I’m sure it can be corrected.”
    I also left a voicemail message for Swenson on Monday, asking why Glenbrook appeared on the list. In my message, I reminded Senson that I had a phone conversation with her myself a few months ago, after the board’s decision to close the school. I had asked Swenson in February about Board President Gary Eberhart’s proposal to try to retain Glenbrook’s SIG by closing Holbrook Elem. and combining Glenbrook MS and El Dorado MS students at the campus, calling it “Glenbrook MS.” At that time, Swenson told me she thought that would be an acceptable use of SIG money. Later, the district was informed that wouldn’t be acceptable after all.
    It’s very surprising that Swenson apparently has no recollection of that conversation or the Mt. Diablo school district’s notification about the school closure.

  67. Hell Freezing Over Says:

    @Theresa #66:

    Doesn’t anyone have any documents as proof of notifying the CDE of not one but TWO school closures in the MDUSD? One would think with something as dramatic and altering to the families affected, and the because of the added impacts to the recieving schools that SOMEONE in MDUSD would keep some sort of record of the notification.

  68. g Says:

    RE-HIRE TEACHERS, No promise to do it. DO IT! Increase Learning Time! Don’t waste the money at Dent! Use the money for and in the schools!

  69. Theresa Harrington Says:

    State Board of Ed just unanimously agreed to renew second year funding, under the condition that MDUSD and all other 40 districts have implementation IN PLACE by the first day of school.
    MDUSD first has to show that it increased learning for all students last year (despite furlough days) and will increase it for all students next year. This could throw a monkey wrench into the planned five days of lost instruction already adopted in the district budget for the next two years.

  70. Doctor J Says:

    State BOE blasts MDUSD indirectly ! Just voted unanimously to only approve SIG Cohort 1, Second year funds, if “increased learning time” is IMPLIMENTED by the first day of school ! MDUSD right now has no such plan, and is in fact planning 7-10 days of furlough days. First day of school is in 58 days. That means that the furlough days for 11/12 will have to be cancelled for the SIG schools. Some pertinent comments by State BOE members applicable to MDUSD: “This is year two” “This is not a buffet” “LEA’s [districts] had enough time over the last year for collective bargaining.” “Not just a corrective plan — implementation begun.” Coach Torlakson was relatively quiet most likely knowing that MDUSD is in it deep. Clearly Lawrence, Eberhart and Lock’s strategy of postponement of MEDA negotiations has blown up in their face — pink mist.

  71. Doctor J Says:

    @G The beauty of the State BOE desicion today is that MDUSD in the next 58 days has to: (1) negotiate “increased learning time” with MDEA and other unions or not be funded by the SIG; (2) actually hire the increased teachers and begin it on day 1; (3) no furlough days at the SIG schools while other schools will have 7-10 days. Lawrence, Eberhart and Lock really got spanked today.

  72. g Says:

    Where does MDUSD sit as pertains to the QEIA funds being discussed right now? Did the District accept (and misuse) Qeia funds that they may now have to pay back?

  73. Interested board watcher Says:


    Is there anyone from MDUSD at this meeting right now? Is this the kind of meeting someone would attend given that there is a vote on the SIG funds, or is this the kind of meeting that is just monitored via video, kind of the way we watching it right now? If someone from MDUSD was in attendance, who would it likely be? Would it be helpful for anyone from our district to be there?

    Dr. J. – You ask some great questions. You’re definitely spearheading some accountability. Which is great. Your habit of sharing your personal interpretations and then stating them as the basis for character assassination doesn’t sit so well with me.

    There are many schools that are currently being discussed, not just MDUSD, so whether the SBE is taking an indirect potshot at us or not is up to interpretation.

  74. Doctor J Says:

    @G Its unclear what MDUSD did with their QEIA funds and how it might be affected. But as far as the SIG funds, Chohort 1 — I think Lawrence is on his second highball already ! Hey Steve and Gary, hope you are working on those Kegal exercises. :-)

  75. Doctor J Says:

    Gary, how is your speed dial to Torlakson working ? I haven’t seen him answer his phone one time today. :-) Maybe you are out of touch.

  76. Theresa Harrington Says:

    The state Board of Ed. just unanimously agreed to apply for a waiver from the USDOE for the new round of SIGs (including MDUSD’s $11.2 million application for Meadow Homes and Oak Grove) and to reopen applications in the fall. MDUSD and the other 24 districts that applied will get no preference the second time around. They will receive feedback ASAP about what they need to do to make their applications “approvable,” with the expectation that funding would be released as soon as Jan. 2012.
    Interested Board Watcher: I didn’t see anyone from MDUSD there. Yes, this is a meeting you would expect someone from MDUSD to atttend, if they were confident in their applications. Oakland, West Contra Costa and other districts sent representatives saying they believe they only need minor modifications and are “ready to roll.”
    It appears that MDUSD isn’t as ready to roll as some other districts, which have already built additional instructional time into their plans, have no furlough days that would impact instruction planned and have already negotiated agreements with their unions. MDUSD has a lot of work to do to get its applications approved, based on the SBE conversation.
    They could have sent Supt. Steven Lawrence, Assist. Supt. Rose Lock or another SIG administrator. Other districts sent superintendents, assistant superintendents and other administrators. Oakland’s rep brought a letter from the superintendent.
    But you’re right that MDUSD is by no means the only district being singled out. All 25 districts that applied for the new funding were denied.

  77. Doctor J Says:

    MDUSD is going to have to engage MDEA immediately on the issues of furloughs to have that in place by the “first day of school” on August 30 for the Cohort 1 schools, and essentially the same issue for the Cohort 2 schools. “Increased instructional time” must be more than “marginal” but must be significant. Since there is no board meeting until August 9, there is not much of a window. How will the District bargaining team even get authorization to bargain and have enough time to cut a deal ? If the district had followed their written time table and started the bargaining on this issue in June 2010 — yep, 2010 — they would not find themselves in this mess. Right now they find themselves without any layoff notices in place, no current labor negoitations, going to start school on August 30, and spending federal money in Cohort 1 for which they have not been approved. Sounds like MDUSD has put themselves into a poor bargaining position.

  78. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Considering all the time the district spent negotiating with MDEA during the past year, it’s very surprising this didn’t come up.

  79. Interested board watcher Says:

    Thank you, Theresa.

    I don’t understand your comment that only those districts who are confident in their applications and ready to roll sent people. I had to walk away for a bit, so I might have missed something.

    I too, didn’t see anyone from MDUSD, but that didn’t mean they weren’t there, just that if there was someone, they weren’t visible to the camera, and didn’t choose to speak. It was just interesting to hear the administrators from so many other schools stand up to speak to various issues.

    If no one was there, but perhaps should have been, whose responsibility is it to ask for someone to attend? The board or the superintendent?

    Don’t know much about the process, just curious. I followed your link to see what it was all about. Thank you for posting it. It was quite interesting.

  80. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I just meant that those who spoke appeared to believe they were basically “ready to roll.” Certainly districts that need to do substantial revisions could have also sent people and it’s true that someone from MDUSD could have been there.
    Since the district only found out about the corrective actions required on Monday, there was no time for the board to formally request that someone attend. The superintendent certainly could have requested that, though. And a board member could have informally made such a request, without it being a board-approved directive.
    But, given the district’s tight finances, there would be no need for someone to drive to Sacramento and spend the day there if no one planned to speak to the board or to present a letter from the district. Taxpayers would end up reimbursing the driving costs. Instead, the person could easily sit at his or her desk and watch the meeting online, while also being available to take care of other district matters.

  81. Doctor J Says:

    @Interested BW, I too found it fascinating. It was actually instructive to watch Board members with many varying opinions and backgrounds interacting so well, even when they disagreed, but to find consensus. All were respectful of other’s opinions, and there was no heavy handedness. A nice change from watching a MDUSD Board meeting.
    @Theresa, not only is it surprising it didn’t come up in the MDEA negotiations, it was clearly an issue the district needed to resolve as indicated in the June 2010 timeline prepared by SASS. Now MDUSD has lost its bargaining power and MDEA is in the catbird seat.

  82. Theresa Harrington Says:

    MDUSD also needs to negotiate a new teacher evaluation process that includes student tests scores. This doesn’t have to be done by the first day of school, however.
    Many other districts are already well underway in discussions regarding this, as well.

  83. Doctor J Says:

    With MDUSD’s track record, Lock had better not wait another year to begin negotiating teacher evaluations based in part on student achievement or their won’t get year 3 of the funding and I wouldn’t count on the CDE to bail them out again like they did today. Astonished that some districts, like MDUSD, still had done nothing on some of the basic requirements that were supposed to be in place on day 1 of the SIG grant, said “This is year two of the grant !” He didn’t seem very sympathetic. What kind of negotiating leverage does Lock have with MDEA in extending the instructional day 30-60 minutes per day for the SIG schools, but not others ? What kind of negotiating leverage with MDEA does Lock have in basing teacher evaluations in part on student test scores ? MDEA has opposed both these concepts in the past. Maybe Lock can offer to change the SASS dept to the STSS dept — Student Testing and School Support ?

  84. Doctor J Says:

    57 days left and the finger pointing at Dent must have begun as the import of yesterday’s CA BOE decision sets in — and MDUSD was absent from the meeting. What MDUSD didn’t do in the last 13 months that it only has 57 days left to do or lose the SIG Grants Cohort 1 year 2, apprx. $10 million [3 schools and the district] ? #1 “Increased Instructional time” “in place, not just planned” in all three areas: (1) core academic subjects; (2) other subjects and enrichment activities; (3) teacher collaboration and professional development. ALL STUDENTS in the SIG schools must get increased instructional time, not just small segments. Current issues with #1. The planned “instructional furlough days” for 11/12 will not be able to be implemented at the SIG schools. MDUSD will have to negotiate with MDEA for more pay for the “increased instruction”, negotiate that other schools will have to have more furlough days to make up for the SIG schools not taking any furlough days. MDEA’s Mike Langley might not even be in town. The MDUSD Board hasn’t authorized any negotiations. Rose Lock’s timetable in the SIG Grant application filed over a year ago said negotiations would begin in June 2010 and be completed by June 2011 — they never started. Didn’t it take nearly a year to negotiate 3 furlough days for 10/11 ? MDUSD has no bargaining power, and MDEA has no incentive to bargain. #1 is a SIG grant buster. Next issue #2 Teacher evaluations based in part on student test results. Must be negotiated with MDEA and same issues as above. Goes to the core conflict between SASS and MDEA — one size fits all teaching to the test. Next issue: there are a few more that haven’t been implemented yet, but they are minor compared to the above.
    The finger pointing must be like an old Roadrunner cartoon: Eberhart, Whitmarsh, Mayo, Lawrence, Braun-Martin, Lock, Rugani, Petersen. Will those responsible please stand ?

  85. Theresa Harrington Says:

    After the last round of negotiations concluded, Mike Langley told me that MDEA and the district had agreed not to begin new negotiations until September, I believe.
    Here’s a report with ideas on how to expand learning time:

  86. Doctor J Says:

    @Theresa #85. Two days late, and $10,000,000 lost by MDUSD. Even if MDEA negotiations begin August 1, the teachers don’t return until August 29 and an election could not happen before August 30, which is the CA BOE drop dead date for “implementation” or loss of funds. As the State BOE yesterday was emphatic: these were supposed to be in place on day 1 in 2010 and we are now in year 2 of the SIG grant. The State BOE had little sympathy for the districts after the Feds issued the “searing report” against the State BOE and CDE for lack of compliance monitoring. As Christine Swanson said yesterday, both the Fed and State officials who did the walk throughs in March 2011 were at times “speechless” about the total lack of implementation of the SIG grants by the districts. The State BOE demanded “actual documentation” of implementation from the districts, not just hollow statements of future plans.

  87. g Says:

    Eberhart: “Not my fault, I’m goin’ Fishin'”
    Whitmarsh: “I’ll bait your hook, OK? OK?”
    Lawrence: “Ho-hum, I’m still getting mine”
    Lock: “But, you said they’d never notice”

  88. Theresa Harrington Says:

    At the state Board of Ed meeting, CDE staff said most school districts appeared to be honestly trying to implement reforms, but were encountering some barriers, such as collective bargaining. They added, however, that some school districts may have thought no one was watching. This seemed to apply mostly to schools that hadn’t yet replaced their principals, or for turnaround models that hadn’t replaced the principal and half the staff.
    I just received a voicemail message from Mike Langley saying: “As far as the SIG grant, we had been told I think last week that there may be some difficulties with it and we were looking at setting up some impact bargaining with it in August.”
    He said he’s been out of town and wasn’t sure what the current status was.
    Clearly, this bargaining could have taken place during the past year. What isn’t clear is why it didn’t.

  89. Doctor J Says:

    I recall State Trustee Rucker saying: “They have enough time over the whole year to conduct collective bargaining.” Langley said he was just told last week there were some issues and discussions would occur in August. The smoking gun is the MDUSD SIG Timetable prepared by Rose Lock and submitted in July 2010 and again in November 2010 that said collective bargaining to implement the SIG Grants would begin in June 2010 and be completed by June 2011. Why was Langley just approached last week ?

  90. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Langley also confirmed that the union was not involved in the creation of the plans. He said the district presented the first plans to union leaders the day of the board meeting where they were approved.
    Langley said he hasn’t read the Meadow Homes and Oak Grove SIGs. He said Terry McCormick asked him if he would like to see the Oak Grove plan the day before the board approved it. Unfortunately, he had other plans that day and wasn’t able to take her up on the offer.

  91. Doctor J Says:

    Langley got presented the SIG applications Cohort 1 or the Powerpoint on June 15, 2010 ? It would be interesting to compare what he got and what was submitted to CDE. As far as Cohort 2 SIG applications [Oak Grove / Meadow Homes] since they were denied yesterday by the State BOE, they will have to be redone and resubmitted next year.

  92. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Yes, it’s true that cohort 1 applications could have changed substantially from what was presented to the Board in June.
    And regarding the new applications, it will be interesting to see if the district involves MDEA in the rewrites. But the district doesn’t have until next year to do it. CDE expects to request applications in the fall.
    Here’s a report about the meeting by the Silicon Valley Ed. Foundation:

  93. Doctor J Says:

    56 days left. See post #84

  94. Doctor J Says:

    Who took credit for authoring the defective SIG grants ? Gary Eberhart said: “the Board and the Superintendent did come up with plans for the underachieving schools, in fact the plans were so highly rated that they were able to secure over $14 million in funding based on the merits of those plans.” 3:48 pm September 10, 2010 in MDUSDParents blog. “Highly rated” ??? I guess he didn’t read the “searing” Federal report, or the state report, or watch the CA BOE meeting this week. Gary has gone into radio silence. I wonder if he is still taking credit after the Feds and State BOE blasted those plans, refused to renew the SIG Grants for the second year, is requiring a “corrective action” plan, and also requiring hard proof that the Plan is fully operational on August 30, 2011, the first day of school, which will require substantial concessions from MDEA and those discussions have not yet begun despite district representations to the Feds and State CDE that they were to begin in June 2010 and conclude by June 2011. Oh, and I forgot to mention that the SIG Grant application, Cohort 2, for Oak Grove and Meadow Homes was flatly rejected as not meeting the SIG requirements. Take all the credit you want Gary. Silence will not make it better.

  95. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Both the board and MDEA are taking July off.
    When I mentioned the board’s vacation to our West County school district reporter, she was quite surprised. She said the John Swett board takes July off, but not WCCUSD.

  96. Sue Berg Says:

    The MDUSD Board has traditionally not met in July. Special meetings have been called if/when need arises, but they’ve been rare. Important matters have been handled under this schedule. In fact, summer is a particularly busy time for district staff (maintenance, personnel, curriculum, student services, business) preparing for the upcoming school year. MDEA also has not conducted business, including negotiations, in July though its leaders are available to members who work during the summer. Some may criticize this practice, but it is not new.

  97. Doctor J Says:

    Sue, you are correct it has been a long standing MDUSD tradition of the Board taking July off — but not in all districts. What is new this year, is that July is not a busy time for staff — most of them have had cuts so that July is not working for all or most of the month. For example, there is no one to answer the phone this year. And last year, security was even absent for a couple of weeks. Not sure about this year. The irony is that as a result of this hiatus, it is unlikely the work can get done and implemented by August 30 to save the Cohort 1 SIG Grants and about $10 million dollars will be lost. I guess you didn’t have the pleasure of watching the State BOE on their webcast — no implementation by the first day of school, no grant. BTW, if anyone wants to see what a quality webcast looks like for a Board meeting, watch the next State BOE.

  98. MDUSD Board Watcher Says:

    I bet the solar project can take care of all these issues.


  99. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Speaking of the solar project, I’ve heard that contractors have wreaked havoc on a student garden at El Dorado MS.

  100. g Says:

    Ms. Berg; With all due respect, it is not, however, tradition to wait ’till very late Wednesday night to figure out the best way to thaw a turkey.

    This District needs a real wake-up call!

    Such a small percentage of funds ever actually makes it past Dent payroll, and conferences and consultant fees to get into the classroom anyway; with good caring teachers the kids will survive without this Grant.

  101. Doctor J Says:

    Speaking of wreaking solar havoc, have the Delta View trees been replaced yet ? Any pictures to make sure it was a quality job ?

  102. Theresa Harrington Says:

    g: If MDUSD can’t make the required corrections to the old grant plans and improvements to the new application, the kids may have to survive without the money:

  103. Doctor J Says:

    Lets remember that MDUSD was already required to rewrite the SIG grant once. Original submission July 2010. Strike one. Second submission on rewrite November 2010. Strike two. August 29 deadline will be Strike 3.

  104. Doctor J Says:

    53 days left. Lawrence, Eberthart, the rest of the Board and District are silent.

  105. Doctor J Says:

    52 days left. Where is Lawrence and Lock ? Hmmm . . . Aloha Oe … SIG grants ? Bring me another Mai Tai.

  106. Number Eight Says:

    Doctor J,
    Count down the number of days, and count up the number of umbrella drinks . . . Instead of “let them eat cake,” it will be “let them drink water”

  107. Doctor J Says:

    T minus 51 days. Where in the world is Carmen Sandiego . . . . er I mean Steven Lawrence ?

  108. Doctor J Says:

    Excuse me . . . its only 41 days until August 30.

  109. Theresa Harrington Says:

    The first day of school in the Oakland district is Aug. 29. Yet, Oakland’s SIG coordinator says the CDE hasn’t yet provided the district with detailed feedback about what types of corrective actions it needs to take for Cohort 1 or why it denied its Cohort 2 application.

  110. Theresa Harrington Says:

    MDUSD is looking for an accountant:

  111. Doctor J Says:

    @Theresa, #109, So what has the MD SIG coordinator said about what type of corrective actions it needs to take ? With less than 41 days left, does she have a timeline to have this in place and functional by August 30 ? What did she think of the Soledad District SIG application ?

  112. Doctor J Says:

    T minus 40 days. Theresa’s interviews with CFO Richards and Asst. Supt Lock show there is no coherent plan to have a SIG grant “fix” in place and operational by August 30. Lock having just returned from Hawaii is still in denial. Richards clearly is receiving his marching orders — most likely from Eberhart and Lawrence. MDUSD has hired and spent money for SIG GRant Cohort 1, Year 2 already, and it is not only not in place, but not likely to be approved since time is running faster than Eberhart, Lawrence, Lock or Richards can think and act. They certainly are not giving MDEA a carrot to negotiate. But what do they care ? Their salaries are safe no matter what happens. So why have Lawrence and Eberhart gone totally silent ?

  113. Theresa Harrington Says:

    The district is seeking a Mechanical Service Technician, but warns of “an undetermined number of furlough days at this time”:
    Local 1 has already agreed to seven furlough days next year. CFO Bryan Richards told me he was in negotiations yesterday. I was surprised, because I didn’t know any unions were in negotiations. When I asked which unit he was bargaining with, he responded: “I’m not sure I’m at liberty to tell you.”
    I don’t think it’s MDEA because Mike Langley told me yesterday that they intend to begin bargaining on Aug. 8.

  114. g Says:

    But we know from wording on the SIG proposal that to this District, just thinking about or planning a negotiation in the future is, in their minds, the same as negotiating.

  115. Doctor J Says:

    Langley says August 8 — that leaves only 21 days to reach an agreement, hold an election, and implement it on August 30. How many days notice must the union give its members ? Impossible since the Teachers don’t even return until August 29. If MDUSD lies again on their application, they should be prosecuted.

  116. MDUSD Board Watcher Says:

    Dr. J.,

    People are watching this like hawks. I suspect no matter what happens people will be prosecuted.

  117. Doctor J Says:

    T Minus 39 days. Lawrence is MIA. Where is he ?

  118. Doctor J Says:

    T minus 36 days as of tomorrow morning to save the SIG Grants, Cohort 1, or lose $10 million, and the Dent Center is still trying to figure out how to write the SIG Grant — when all else fails, read the instructions. After all, the Supt CERTIFIED he read ALL of the Federal and State requirments. Good luck ladies and gentlemen, you really don’t think the Supt is going to accept responsibility do you ? Think of some of the other tirades you have already witnessed.

  119. Doctor J Says:

    T minus 35 days to save the SIG Grants, Cohort 1, or lose $10 million. No plan. No performance. What is it that the Marine Corps say: PPPPPP.

  120. Doctor J Says:

    T minus 34 days until MDUSD loses $10 million in SIG grants. Have parents even been consulted about extending the instructional day by 30 to 60 minutes ?

  121. Doctor J Says:

    T minus 33 days before MDUSD loses $10 million SIG Grants. The silence from Dent and Eberhart is deafening.

  122. g Says:

    I’ll bet Stephanie Roberts is putting in a lot of overtime—-if she’s still there.

  123. Dan Says:

    I just got information from Pedersen that the promised June 16th Powerpoint will be posted on Monday.

    The hold up (I’m paraphrasing here)is that there was a slide regarding staffing that is inaccurate. Now more than a month later they have received corrected data regarding Measure C staffing and they will not release what they are calling “inaccurate” data.

    The way this all happened, I suspect, “inccurate” really means there may have been some things in the slide that could be construed as “illegal” depending on ones point of view.

    Would truly be interesting to compare the original slide with the updated one that comes out on Monday.

  124. Theresa Harrington Says:

    During the PowerPoint presentation, I was typing furiously to get the information from the slide. Here’s what I copied from the PowerPoint slide that night (I had previously posted this in another blog comment thread):

    Pedersen promised transparency regarding the Measure C management team. He presented a list of team members, which he promised to post with the PowerPoint on the Measure C website immediately after the meeting. He did not pass out any paper copies of it, saying he wanted to conserve paper.

    Here is the list that Pedersen presented. Unfortunately, however, it doesn’t include salaries, or show what percentage of each person’s salary is charged to Measure C. He verbally stated the percentages, but I wasn’t able to type as fast as he was speaking, so I didn’t get them all.

    Michael Fox: Supervisor senior trades
    Tim Cody: Asst. Project Program Manager
    Linda Carter: Secretary 11.5 months
    Pete Pedersen: Post-retirement contract – admin.
    Engelberto Balba: Network technician
    Michael Huff: Area manager
    David Hart: Area manager
    John Williams: Assist Buiding and Grounds Manager
    Marcelino Fabie: Project Coordinator
    Ross Johnson: Network Technician II
    Len Isenbarger: Area manager
    Keagan Mize: Autocad
    Richard Jackson: Supervisor Trades (just hired as Assistant Construction Manager II)
    Brad Hunter: Construction manager I
    Mitchell Stark: Assistant Project Program Manger
    Substitutes: Various clerical

    Pedersen said the district had spent $443,000 to date on the team, including “all fractional positions” and seven full-time positions.

  125. Doctor J Says:

    OMG, now Powerpointgate. Hasn’t it become a public record and cannot legally be destroyed by MDUSD since the slide was already presented to the public? So even if it was in error, it still should have to be produced under a public records request, and then could be compared to the “altered slide”.

  126. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I don’t see why they’re so wary of releasing it. Previously, Bryan Richards presented a budget PowerPoint and said some information was in error, so he verbally corrected it.
    If there was an error, Pedersen can simply correct it and explain what the error was.
    Also, the 2002 Measure C Oversight Committee received detailed quarterly expenditure reports. So far, no such reports have been presented to the 2010 Measure C Committee.

  127. g Says:

    No quarterly reports, yet they should be getting an annual audit very soon??? Back in Sept, Pedersen presented the Board with his projections of “Inside Staffing Schedule and costs” showing 5/6 people in ’10-’11, and adding 3 more in 2012 and 3 more in 2013:

    But here we are mid 2011 and he already has a staff of 15??? Trust me, there is a Pedersengate and I suspect this also will tie into a Rolengate!

  128. g Says:

    “…and they will not release what they are calling “inaccurate” data”. HaHaHa, that’s just too funny!

  129. Doctor J Says:

    T minus 31 days until loss of $10 million in SIG funds — where is our incommunicado leadership ? Gary’s friends confirm he is reading the blogs and went ballistic over SIGgate. Gary must be tired of Lawrence’s songs and dances of always blaming problems on others — Gary, please read the SIG timeline prepared by staff and signed off by Lawrence to negotiate with MDEA for increased instructional time starting in June 2010 and finishing by June 2011. Never happened, and still hasn’t happened. Furlough days last year killed any additional miniscule instructional time differential. Why didn’t Lawrence advise you of that ? You can’t have furlough days at SIG schools this year and have increased instructional time. The SIG budgets don’t have enough money to pay staffs for 7 furlough days. Come on Gary, its time you come out and show some leadership on how this is going to be fixed instead of being silent, refusing interviews with the press, taking down your blog and failing to keep your promises of transparency. You wanted to be President of the School Board, now act like it.

  130. Mary Farnon Says:

    In reading how Mt. Diablo is so short of funds, it leads me to think how short of common sense they can be. Teachers recently got a “check,(Direct Deposit Advice) complete with stub” for 0.00. As always, teachers have no idea what it’s for, even though a sheet explaining non related things accompanied it. I think there are about 2,500 teachers, which would cost about $1100 in postage. Not to mention the paper these were printed on, labor to print and stuff envelopes, and why???? To give no money or reason. Couldn’t this have been a simple email??? Use your heads MDUSD! People working @ the district need to have been in classrooms WORKING within 5 years, or in a real business doing their jobs with the ability to be fired for not thinking!

  131. Theresa Harrington Says:

    The district has finally posted the Powerpoint presentation from the June 16 Measure C Bond Oversight Committee meeting:
    However, the “staffing costs” appear on page 48 as part of the “Financials” instead of at the end, where they were actually presented in response to “Other committee concerns/topics.”
    Also, the slide is different from the one originally presented. It doesn’t include Michael Fox, John Williams or “various clerical” substitutes. Also, it includes salary and benefits information that wasn’t presented to the committee.
    According to the slide, the Measure C team includes 13 people who make $647,534 in salaries plus $264,467 in benefits, for a total of $912,001. It’s unclear if this is an annual salary or if it was supposed to reflect expenditures through June 16.
    At the meeting, Pete Pedersen said the district had spent $443,000 so far on the Measure C team, including seven full-time positions, with the rest charging a portion of time to Measure C.
    He verbally stated the percentages of each employee’s salaries that were paid through Measure C. The slide in the PowerPoint doesn’t specify whether the staff members are being paid their full salaries and benefits through Measure C.

  132. g Says:

    Throwing the Committee’s Agenda into HIS slideshow only proves to me that the 3-4 dominant committee members bow to him, and they don’t truly represent the people. If this is not the case, the committee should be screaming fowl right now at the alterations that have been posted. The only purpose possible: To deceive the taxpayer!

    On the other hand, he posts this dirty Power Point, but “isn’t sure” if it’s OK to post draft minutes??? —-,—-, pants on fire!

  133. anon Says:

    Classified also received the $0 pay stub. The district changed email addresses. The directions for the new email log-in was included in the paperwork, which I think is why they sent it out….couldn’t check email without knowing the new email password, etc.

  134. Doctor J Says:

    Well, can’t wait to see if the draft minutes are accurate as to what was said, or doctored to conform to the signficantly changed powerpoint ! Who can the public trust ? Who protects the public from being deceived ?

  135. Anon Says:

    Where is the Oversight Committee? Why aren’t they upset? Why aren’t they calling for an emergency meeting? Don’t they have a fiduciary responsibility to the community? While the Board appoints the members this is not a District Committee, this is a committee commissioned by law to serve the taxpayers and provide oversight over $348 million. They need to take their job seriously, this isn’t a bake sale committee.
    If the committee doesn’t require an accounting of the line item expenditures, project lists, and appropriate audits then they are simply aiding and abetting.

  136. Theresa Harrington Says:

    According to the committee’s bylaws, meetings are supposed to include “an annual organizational meeting to be held in July.”
    No such meeting was held.
    The bylaws also state that the committee is authorized to “Review the district’s efforts to maximize use of bond proceeds in ways designed to: (1) reduce costs of professional fees or site acquisition…”
    The financials include nearly $13.2 million for “other operating expenses” which weren’t explained and more than $2 million for “bond issuance.” Every time the district issues bonds, its financial advisor, bond underwriters and bond counsel get paid.
    At the June 16 meeting, the committee was told the district issued another $10.7 million in bonds. Pedersen said he had a seven-year cash-flow plan, but he didn’t share it with the committee.
    One committee member said: “You don’t want to be issuing $10 million every few months, otherwise you’re going to be racking up issuance costs.”
    Jay Bedecarre said the 2002 Committee had been given a cash flow report. Pedersen said he was hoping to bring back similar reports at the next quarterly meeting.
    Here’s a link to the last quarterly report posted online for the 2002 Measure C bonds:
    This 81-page report is much more comprehensive than the financial information the 2010 committee has received.
    Page 14 includes a note to “Respond to OPSC financial audit inquiries.” No subsequent quarterly reports were posted, although they were mentioned in the minutes of subsequent meetings.

  137. g Says:

    There is obviously a big difference between what you get for your management dollars with professional management like Vanir and what you are likely to get from an in-house-money-sponge who doesn’t mind stroking the back end of a lie to get what he wants, and pretends to have not learned anything while playing high priced “facilities team boss-man” for 2002’s Measure.

  138. g Says:

    From the 2002 Measure “C” Home Page, touting what a great job they did, the Closing Report states:

    “All Measure C projects have been certified by the Department of the State Architect (DSA) and have been formally accepted and closed-out by the State.” Hmmmmmm? Say What?

    Two years later Pete says: “Over 50 projects were closed without certification, and it’s going to cost at least another $90K to fix that!”

    Thank goodness you kept back that little unaccounted for $3.3million, huh Pete?

    A.J., is it possible that Pete fudged just a wee bit to you and your 2002 Committee? Is that why you didn’t stick around to keep an eye on this “C”? It would be nice to have at least one watch-dog member that didn’t support the Measure! But alas, if you didn’t support the measure, you will not very likely get to be on Pete’s Committee!

    I wonder; what does Chairman Ferrante have to say about it? He is yet again, it seems, riding shotgun for Pete.

  139. Doctor J Says:

    How do taxpayers hold public officials accountable for lying ?

  140. Easy Answers Says:

    Doctor J and G, will you be running for the board when the next vacancies come up? You two seem to have lots of great ideas to fix all the ills of MDUSD.

  141. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I have posted the superintendent’s latest Measure C and budget update on my blog, since it’s not yet available on the district’s website:

  142. g Says:

    It probably won’t go up on the District’s site until Pedersen and Rolen get a chance to “edit” it yet again.

  143. Doctor J Says:

    @G, Its dated July 29 but not sent out until last night — I’m sure it was edited since it is so disjointed. Obviously a CYA letter. And probably had to be “approved” by “his partner” the Board President. How coincidental that this letter and Pete Pedersen’s “doctored” PowerPoint came out on the same day ? I just haven’t figured out yet who the driver of the get-away car is. :-)

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