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Despite AB 114, MDUSD doesn’t plan to restore cuts

By Theresa Harrington
Wednesday, July 20th, 2011 at 7:42 pm in Education, Mt. Diablo school district.

Some school districts throughout the state are restoring cuts based on the flat funding projections required by AB 114. But the Mt. Diablo school district is not among them.

Here’s an e-mail Q & A about the subject that I exchanged with CFO Bryan Richards:

“Q. I attended the SSC (School Services of California, Inc.) budget workshop today (Tuesday) in San Jose and plan to write about how AB 114 is affecting local school districts. Based on the SSC presentation, it looks like MDUSD cannot project $330/ADA cuts in the 2011-12 budget and must instead project flat funding, with respect to revenue limit funding.

I have heard that some districts are reinstating cuts, based on this.

Does MDUSD intend to reinstate cuts made to create the $10.7 million reserve, which is based on the $330/ADA (average daily attendance) projected revenue reduction? If so, which cuts might you reinstate? (Such as cuts to special ed assistants hours and benefits and furlough days.)

A. Not at this time.

Q. Also, SSC said that districts that have ‘restorative’ language in their contracts need to look at restoring concessions that were negotiated based on the reduced revenue projections. Do you intend to restore concessions, such as hours, benefits and furlough days?

A. Not at this time.

Q. As I’m sure you know, AB 114 would allow districts to handle possible mid-year cuts by reducing the school year by up to 12 days (seven on top of the five already allowed this year). Do you intend to try to negotiate 12 furlough days with district unions?

A. Not at this time.

Q. I understand the district has been instructed to create a corrective plan for its SIG (School Improvement Grant), showing increased instructional time for all students at the SIG sites. I also understand that the district’s new SIG application for Meadow Homes and Oak Grove MS was denied, in part because it didn’t include increased instructional time for all students. Does the district intend to try to negotiate no furlough days at SIG sites so that instructional time would not be reduced?

A. This has not yet been determined.

Q. Will you be presenting recommended revisions to the board Aug. 9?

A. As the District’s budget was built on the State’s revenue assumptions, and our expenditure budget is also aligned with those revenue assumptions, we do not anticipate bringing forward significant revisions to the budget at this time.”

After I received this response, I discussed MDUSD’s budget with Ron Bennett, of School Services of California, Inc.

He said AB 114 prohibits the district from setting aside a reserve specifically to cover a projected $330/ADA midyear cut. The district, he said, must build that $10.7 million back into its budget.

However, he said the district could justify continuing to set aside the $10.7 million if restoring the cuts would result in a deficit at the end of its multi-year projections through 2013-14. But, this would not be the case.

According to Richards’ June 28 budget PowerPoint presentation, the district would have nearly $16.2 million left over by June 2014, including its $330/ADA reserve.

This budget includes seven furlough days in the next two school years that haven’t yet been negotiated with MDEA (Mt. Diablo Education Association). I also spoke to Mike Langley, MDEA president, today about AB 114.

“My understanding is the law says the district is not allowed to set up a slush fund just in case,” he said. “It should go back into the general fund.”

If the state fails to meet its revenue projections, mid-year cuts to schools would be triggered. According to the law, districts would be allowed to reduce the school year by 12 days, dropping from 180 days to 168.

But that would require teachers’ unions to agree to furlough days. And if the school year is less than 175 days, teachers would lose retirement credits for their pensions.

I asked Langley if teachers would agree to take the seven furlough days already built into the budget next year, knowing that the district has an extra $10.7 million to spare.

“A trigger goes both ways,” Langley said. “There should also be a trigger to add back in negotiations.”

If the district can afford to pay teachers for a full school year in 2011-12, Langley said it would make sense for the district to also reopen its contracts with other unions (which have already agreed to the seven furlough days).

“Students need the services of all staff,” Langley said, “not just teachers — including in classrooms, in offices and on the grounds.”

On June 14, the board made $4.2 million in cuts, which could all be restored if the district put the $10.7 million set aside for mid-year cuts back into the general fund.

These include:

– $56,000 for a popular fifth-grade water environmental study program on the Brownlee boat in the Delta

– $1.2 million in special education assistants’ hours and benefits

– $300,000 for adult education programs

– $300,000 for instructional improvement block grants

– $908,731 for classified positions including: confidential administrative assistant, senior secretary, attendance/student records assistant in special education, electro-mechanical technician, equipment mechanic, general maintenance worker, inventory and materials storekeeper, medium equipment operator and three painters.

The $10.7 milion could also be used to help cover high school athletics costs outlined in the June 14 budget recommendations.

Or, the school board could try to justify the $10.7 million reserve, despite AB 114’s prohibition of setting aside money for mid-year cuts. This is because the bill has a huge loophole: there’s no penalty for districts that disregard it.

“This one doesn’t have any punishment with it at all,” Bennett said. “Someone might say: ‘This looks like it’s not in compliance with the law,’ and I don’t think there’s anyone who can say what happens.”

Do you think the Mt. Diablo district should use the $10.7 million it set aside for midyear cuts to restore positions, programs or furlough days?

JULY 21 UPDATE: I just spoke to Contra Costa County Office of Education spokewoman Peggy Marshburn. She confirmed that the county is no longer requiring that districts set aside reserve funds of $330/ADA, in anticipation of midyear cuts.

However, the county is advising districts to look at possibly maintaining higher than required reserves based on cash flow needs. She said the county is not advising districts regarding whether or not to reinstate staff or positions, since those decisions should be made by each district based on its own unique circumstances.

JULY 22 UPDATE: I have received further clarification from Richards, Bennett and the County Office of Education regarding their understanding of how AB 114 affects local districts.

Although the board made cuts in June in part to establish its $330/ADA reserve of $10.7 million to guard against midyear cuts, it doesn’t need to reinstate the cuts because it is still deficit spending, they agreed. The governor’s signing message allows districts to make cuts based on financial circumstances — such as declining enrollment, the loss of federal funds and cash flow management — which are unrelated to a possible midyear cut.

Here’s the clarifying e-mail I received from Richards:

“The budget was built based on flat funding of the revenue limit on a per ADA basis. If you look at form 01 in the budget document, you will notice that the District has a deficit of $2.6 million projected for the 2011/12 school year. The expenditure budget is built upon the projection that the District will negotiate 7 furlough days with MDEA and proportionate reductions of work year for the other bargaining units, which reflect agreements already made with Local #1 and CSEA (California School Employees Association). Our expenditure budget exceeds the revenue budget based on flat funding by $2.6 million, with the furlough days built in.

AB 114 does not require Districts to spend down existing 2010/11 fund balances in the 2011/12 year. It does require that the expenditure budget be based on a revenue budget incorporating flat funding. MDUSD’s expenditure budget already goes beyond the requirement of AB 114 and projects expending $2.6 million more than we expect to receive during the year.

The District still had to make a substantial amount of cuts to deal with the expiration of Federal funding associated with the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act and to deal with our continued declining enrollment. As Governor Brown noted in his signing message, districts are expected to make the required cuts necessary to deal with declines in other funding sources or enrollment and to protect their cash positions to remain solvent.

The district has done this.

Bryan Richards, CFO”

However, there is still some disagreement between Bennett and Bill Clark, associate superintendent for business services for the Contra Costa County Office of Education, regarding whether it is appropriate to retain a separate reserve with a specific amount set aside to guard against mid-year cuts. Bennett says “no,” but Clark says he is recommending that districts maintain such a reserve, although he can no longer require it.

“You cannot have a reserve specifically for the mid-year cut,” Bennett said. “We would say you shouldn’t do that. The law is vague in that area, but to be consistent with the law, you would just put it in your reserve and it gets put in your three-year projection to avoid fugure cuts, but not specifically a mid-year cut.”

Clark said he plans to recommend (but not require) that districts set aside $260 per ADA for unified districts, $250 per ADA for elementary districts and $300 per ADA for high school districts, based on School Services’ estimates of the maximum cut to districts if the state budget reduction trigger is pulled.

For Mt. Diablo, this would be about $8.4 million, or nearly $2.3 million less than the current reserve of $10.7 million. If the district reduces its reserve to the new amount recommended by the county, it could potentially afford to reinstate the special education assistant hours and benefits, as well as some other cuts.

But Bennett reiterated that AB 114 doesn’t require the Mt. Diablo district to make any restorations.

“That would simply be up to the board,” he said.

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49 Responses to “Despite AB 114, MDUSD doesn’t plan to restore cuts”

  1. Doctor J Says:

    A school district that refuses to obey the law ? Doesn’t that violate the Oath that each district employee took when they were hired ? Aren’t there consequences for that ? No wonder the CVHS Charter wants nothing to do with district officials that don’t tell the truth, don’t obey the law, and are not good examples for our children.

  2. Doctor J Says:

    Two points. Think of the massive greivances that MDEA and the other Unions can file after August 9 based on the “restoration” clauses they negotiated. By the time the greivance is decided, and back pay awarded, the award could be in the millions for the Union employees and MDUSD got no work out of them in the meantime. Point two: The district desperately needs MDEA to agree to “increased instructional time” at the SIG schools, both Cohort 1 and Cohort 2, while at the same time, probably requiring additional furlough days at the non SIG schools. This all has to be functional by school day 1 — August 30 — which means MDEA and the other unions will have to conduct elections when the teachers don’t even return until August 29. So what kind of strategy is it to antangonize MDEA by not agreeing to restore the cuts and out of the other side of their mouth asking for major concessions ? I think we should require IQ tests for the school board, and for the District leadership. Sounds like double digits would be the mean.

  3. Doctor J Says:

    Don’t know the definition of “mean” ? Check with Lawrence who has a degree in Applied Mathmatics.

  4. g Says:

    Dr. J: The District is at least teaching the students valuable life lessons: First, always find the “loophole”. Second, hold on to that loophole as if your very life depended on it.

  5. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Here’s the link to the full text of the bill:

    In contrast to MDUSD, the Alum Rock district has posted a Budget Update about the impact of AB 114 on its schools:

  6. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I have posted an update above with new information regarding guidance from the Contra Costa County Office of Education.

  7. Doctor J Says:

    Where is the CC Office of Education update ? Can’t find it ?

  8. Anon Says:

    I find it ironic that a newspaper that has always preached that governmental agencies pursue conservative spending habits, but when the MDUSD takes a prudent path they are blasted.

    Anyone who has kept up with the State’s financial situation knows that it is very likely that the State will have to impose significant mid-year cuts to balance the budget. If that occurs, the MDUSD will be able to deal with the reductions because of the prudent fiscal position that they have taken.

    I would say that AB 114 was driven by employee unions at the state level. It is meant to protect jobs, not to help manage a school district. If the District has found a way to act fiscally prudent, I am all for it, even if it means that they are using a loop hole to do that. It’s about time that local governmental agencies act fiscally prudent. The State is wrong on this issue and the Times is too. There is no basis for the argument that insists that a school district spend money that it is saving for a fiscal crisis when the fiscal crisis is eminent. The state has cut the budget and the district has responded by cutting their budget.

    It’s too bad the State and Federal Governments didn’t act as fiscally prudent as the MDUSD.

  9. Doctor J Says:

    @Anon #8 Your saying MDUSD is “fiscally prudent” is like saying a broken down nag can win the Kentucky Derby. The district is 39 days from forfeiting about $10 million in awarded SIG funds because it didn’t do what it promised in extending the “instructional day” for all students a year ago. It is about 39 days from forfeiting another $5 million in SIG Cohort 2 funds for the same reason. As a condition of receiving Federal SIG funds, Lawrence and the District promised to increase instructional time from the base year of 2009/10. Instead, last year they imposed 3 instructional furlough days and intend to impose more for this coming year and the next few years and did not increase instructional time for all students. Applying furlough days to the SIG schools dooms the SIG grants. More significantly, the timetable submitted by the district promises in writing to start the negotiations with MDEA and other unions to lengthen the instructional time by 30-60 minutes per day way back in June 2010 and be concluded by June 2011. Instead the district never even discussed it with the unions until a week ago and no meetings are set up until around August 8. The agreement needs to be approved by the Union membership and functioning by August 30. That is near impossible. If you think that is fiscally prudent to forfeit $15 million in grants because they didn’t keep their promises, then place your life savings on some broken down nag in the Kentucky Derby. So how has the Federal Government been fiscally imprudent ? They are trying to give us $20 million and we can’t even follow the rules to get it.

  10. Anon Says:

    Yeah, it’s not easy to run a school district, live up to world class expectations, while the State and Federal Governments provide third world funding. Do a little home work. The federal guidelines relative to SIG grants were not clear, in fact many districts are in jeopardy of losing SIG funding because the Federal guidelines were not clear and the State instructions on how to apply the Federal guidelines made things worse. Education funding in the State of California has the entire public education system going down the drain. This is not a MDUSD problem, this a problem for the entire State.

    My comments about MDUSD being fiscally prudent were specifically in regards to AB114. My comments were on point and I stand behind them.

  11. Doctor J Says:

    @Anon #10. The Fed reqts are posted on the CDE website and are in plain English — easily understood on requiring “increased instructional time” for all students. Yes, you are correct, its not easy to run a school district. When the Supt certifies under oath that he read all of the Federal and State requirements and will follow them, we actually believe that he should have told the truth. Yes, we acutally believe that the Supt should read and write English with ease, should only accept grant money if he intends to keep his promises he made to get it, and should adhere to the timelines he promised. You know that little chart, now known as the smoking gun, where Lawrence promised to start negotiations with MDEA in June 2010 and be completed by June 2011. Yet Lawrence didn’t keep that promise — MDEA wasn’t even notified of a need to negotiate until last week, well over a year when they were supposed to start, and then the district won’t meet with them until August 8, 2011. How in heaven’s name will an agreement be reached with MDEA and the other unions, be approved by the unions and the school board, and be functioning by August 30, the first day of school. Lawrence signed the certifications in July and November 2010. Who else signed them ? Will they all be held accountable for losing $15 million in grants for either not telling the truth that they read all the Federal and State requirements or for following up on their promises to negotiate with MDEA begining in June 2010 ? Where is the accountablility. BTW, anon #10, SSA Hotchner says you profile a lot like Poseidon Paul. Maybe you as Board President signed the SIG Grants too. Maybe the Board president is just as culpable as Lawrence and staff. Again, that darn “Cops” theme keeps going through my head . . . “What you going to do when they come for you . . . bad boy . . . bad boy …”

  12. g Says:

    MDUSD…prudent fiscal position”…”saving for crisis”…. — but come on, really, what’s the punch line?

  13. MDUSD Board Watcher Says:

    This is starting to get very interesting. Would be good to know if Poseidon Paul has any culpability in this. If so maybe that is why he bailed out?

  14. Doctor J Says:

    @MD Board Watcher: We need Theresa to get those signature pages for July 2010 and November 2010 and post them to her blog to see who signed what. This is Federal money so the Feds have jurisdiction. Some young prosecutor might like the head of a School Superintendent or School Board President on his wall of shame.

  15. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I have posted an update above (dated July 22) that clarifies the positions of the district, the County Office of Education and School Services of California regarding AB 114’s impact on local district budgets.

    Anon: The Times is not taking a position on whether or not the district should reinstate cuts. This post is attempting to clarify what is required under the law, what is being recommended by SSC and the county, and what discretion the district has.

  16. Doctor J Says:

    Theresa, if the SIG Grant Cohort 1 is not approved, since the district has already hired people under year 2 and spent money under year 2, they will have to use some of that money until they can issue lay-off notices. As for SIG Cohort 2, if the Federal waiver is approved, since year one won’t go into effect until 8/2012, the district will have some time, the district will have some time to prepare to have everything implemented by school day 1, 12/13. Of course, the danger is that more schools will apply and there won’t be enough money to go around. Lots of consequences for not following the instructions.

  17. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Rose Lock said the district still has money left-over from the first year SIGs, which it could carry-over to pay for year 2 costs until the grants come through. However, it’s unclear if the district would be able to keep the leftover money if the second year grant funding isn’t approved.
    If the CDE (California Department of Education) requires the district to return its unused money, then the district would likely need to use some its reserves to cover the cost overruns for staff. It’s unclear if the district would abandon other elements of the plan, such as consultant contracts, or shift those costs to the general fund.
    Regarding Cohort 2, the CDE said it might release funding by January, 2011 for the 2012-13 school year. This would allow districts to start spending the money before Day 1, possibly on consultant contracts, program materials and staff planning.
    If the CDE rejects second year funding for many districts, there could end up being a larger pot for Cohort 2.
    It’s unclear if the CDE would give districts a year to plan (if it denies second year funding for Cohort 1) and then allow them to reapply for third year funding.

  18. Doctor J Says:

    Theresa, do we have the March 31 and/or June 30 SIG spending reports by MDUSD yet ? Since the SIG money had to be on an approved budget, and MDUSD already amended their budgets earlier this year, how likely is it that CDE would approve a budget amendment to spend 10/11 money in 11/12, especially where there is not any SIG approval for year 2 ?

  19. Theresa Harrington Says:

    The CDE SIG staff has been on vacation this week, but I’m hoping to get more information next week.

  20. g Says:

    Do you know how much of the “Leftover” funds are from Glenbrook? Surely they have to pay that one back if they didn’t use all of it.

  21. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I don’t know how much was leftover from Glenbrook. However, I believe you are correct that the district must return unused funds for that site.
    Lock told me the CDE instructed the district to stop spending money for Glenbrook after the district informed the state that the board had voted to close the campus. Although CDE staffer Chris Swenson told the SBE that she didn’t find out about Glenbrook’s closure until after the board addendum was published July 11, Lock said the district informed the CDE in February that Glenbrook would be closed.

  22. tino Says:

    As someone who isn’t down in the weeds on all these school financing issues, it would be really helpful if the first use of an acronym was accompanied by what it stands for. I was struggling trying to understand what $330 had to do with the Americans with Disability Act. Ok I finally think I figured out that ADA in this instance stands for Average Daily Attendance. But the article and the comments are strewn with SBE, CDE, SIG and the like. Can’t you let the general public in on the discussion?

  23. Doctor J Says:

    @Theresa, if we had the March 31 and June 30 quarterly spending reports we should know.

  24. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Yes, I’m sorry about that. SBE is State Board of Education, CDE is California Department of Education and SIG is School Improvement Grant.
    I’ll add these into the blog post.

  25. Jim Says:

    To Tino and other readers, the alphabet soup of education acronyms can be maddening, but here’s a tip: if you enter the acronym plus the word “California” into your Google search bar, it will almost always provide the right explanation. In fact, clicking through to those explanations may help members of the public begin to appreciate the enormous, stifling bureacracy that public educaton has become.

  26. Theresa Harrington Says:

    FYI, here’s a link to the state’s budget guidance:

  27. Doctor J Says:

    Torlakson’s quoting the law that the district “must” maintain the same staffing levels as last year, really puts the Unions in the driver’s seat for grievances if any cut positions are not restored. Since the Board hasn’t met, wonder how those kind of policy decisions stated by CFO Richards are being made without a public meeting ?

  28. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Neither Richards nor Lawrence has responded to questions I e-mailed them regarding the $330/ADA reserve. Now that the county is recommending $260/ADA, I have asked whether the district intends to reinstate any cuts.
    I have also asked how much the district is expecting to save for each teacher furlough day.
    Peggy Marshburn, the county spokeswoman, told me the county is not recommending setting aside a separate reserve for mid-year cuts. Instead, the county is recommending that districts increase their reserves for economic uncertainties (which for MDUSD is a minimum 2 percent).
    Here’s a CDE link Marshburn sent me regarding fiscally prudent reserves:

  29. John Q Says:

    With only one month of summer left, we’re looking for news about the changes coming at every school. Will the libraries be closed? Will the ELL program be revamped? Are schools ready to accommodate former Glenbrook and Holbrook students? And we’re looking for news about the strategic plan and when it will be presented for board approval, and whether the district will campaign for a multi-city sales tax or another revenue measure?

  30. Theresa Harrington Says:

    John Q: Hopefully, some of these things will be discussed at the Aug. 9 board meeting. The agenda should be posted by early evening, Friday. Aug. 5.
    I don’t believe libraries will be closed, but they will likely operate at the same reduced levels as last year, since the board didn’t approve any additional cuts to them.
    Consultant Norm Gold is working on an ELL plan and the district is seeking a director of English learner services. So, changes are in the works.
    Planning is underway to accommodate Glenbrook students, but we should hear more about this Aug. 9. I’m assuming the board will continue to have “School Closure” plans as a standing item on the agenda. However, I was surprised to learn that the district still has not supplied the CDE with “official notification” that Glenbrook has closed (according to a CDE staffer with whom I spoke).
    I believe Trustee Sherry Whitmarsh is planning to present the strategic plan to the board, based on input from the community meetings. However, I’m not sure of the timeline on that, so I’ll try to find out.
    Aug. 12 is the deadline for local agencies or citizens to qualify a measure for the Nov. 8, 2011 ballot. So, if MDUSD is planning to float a sales tax or parcel tax, it would most likely vote on that Aug. 9.
    I do have one bit of news, which Valley View MS parents already know: Ean Ainsworth (former Riverview MS vice principal) has been appointed interim principal at Valley View MS in Pleasant Hill.
    “Parents were invited to attend a meeting to be introduced to him at Valley View already,” according to an e-mail I received from Julie Braun-Martin.

  31. g Says:

    Doesn’t it seem that if they are planning to move the Necessary Small Schools to Glenbrook as they discussed, that they would have already begun to do that? As I recall, they originally spoke of moving them to Holbrook, but as soon as Flex formally asked for space they decided to say they were going to move NSS to Glenbrook, but Flex could have a few rooms. Was that just a ploy to dissuade Flex?

    Any word on Flex? Have they given up on Concord?

  32. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I believe the Small Necessary High School moves were put on hold. Superintendent Steven Lawrence said he didn’t establish the small working group to evaluate high schools because he thought that would overlap with strategic planning and the Equity Team work.
    Flex decided not to move to Glenbrook. The last time I spoke to Mark Kushman, he hadn’t decided whether to open in the fall, since the school was trying to acquire its own facility space. I’ll follow up to see what’s going on.

  33. g Says:

    Thanks Theresa. Something will always “overlap” in a district this size. Excuses for lack of planning before he talks things up off the top of his head. He needs to keep Glenbrook closed to show that he did save a teeny amount by closing it.

  34. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Glenbrook will not be completely closed, since the board approved Lawrence’s idea of using the site for a nonpublic Seneca special education school, expected to save $300,000 next year.

  35. Linda L Says:

    Theresa and G,
    The physical space at Glenbrook would not accommodate the Flex model and the overwhelming response from families for the program. Almost 350 kids applied to the program for fall 2011 and many have indicated they will anxiously wait for fall 2012. The Glenbrook campus plan only provided 5 classrooms for Flex. Classrooms don’t work well for their model which operates much more like an office environment with large open spaces and the ability for collaboration. Flex also needed small breakout rooms for their small class sizes of 3 – 8 students.
    Flex determined that traditional school sites would not work. They will open fall of 2012 and have already begun to identify a site(s) that will accomodate them. They are trying to make sure the site is physically condusive to the program and conveniently located.
    For anybody who may be interested in fall 2012 join the facebook fanpage for Mt. Diablo Flex.

  36. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Regarding small necessary high schools, Braun-Martin said in an email that the district is in the process of filling the administrator openings for Gateway and Nueva Vista.

  37. John Q Says:

    G mentions “a district this size.” When will someone do something to divide it? When will the board and/or administration realize this problem?

  38. Theresa Harrington Says:

    The size of the district appears to be a major factor in the Clayton Valley HS charter conversion effort.
    At the community meeting earlier this month, Pat Middendorf pointed out that the district operates 56 schools, including six comprehensive high schools. Of those, four didn’t meet federal Adequate Yearly Progress goals (Northgate and Concord HS were the exceptions).
    One parent I spoke to said she also had a child who had previously attended Alhambra HS in Martinez. I previously covered that district and I was struck by the difference when I started covering MDUSD. In Martinez, the high school is a focal point. Their homecoming parade is a citywide event. Every trustee attends the graduation.
    The Clayton Valley HS charter effort appears to be largely supported by Clayton residents, who also seem to yearn for that same hometown pride.
    MDUSD has so many graduations that trustees don’t even attempt to attend all of them. And some leave before the ceremony has ended.

  39. John Q Says:

    Dent Center should consider dividing the district. MDUSD was created when every student in the area attended one high school, Mt. D. Since then many high schools were built and some were closed, and CCTimes reported the Pacifica High closure damaged the Bay Point community which had gathered to support the wrestling team.

    The district is too big for any superintendent, McHenry or Lawrence, and for any board. No one has the time to visit every school, even those that were targeted for closure. How about a smaller school district where the admin can visit all the schools, the board meetings would be shorter with less issues, the district can work with the city on local collaboration, and unite the city and businesses for community spirit? Martinez and many other cities benefit from this model.

    Revenue is always an important consideration. CVCHS is motivated by the potential increase in school revenue and local control, the magic words for education. Dividing MDUSD to improve local control would give a better chance to pass a revenue measure. The failure of the Measure D showed the MDUSD is too disconnected to pass a parcel tax.

  40. AnotherMom Says:

    Regarding breaking up the district, let’s say, theoretically, it divides into 2. Then there will be 2 superintendents to pay, 2 payroll departments, 2 maintenance departments, 2 finance departments, etc.

    So still many people needed to administer the same number of students/schools in the district and possibly more? (more cost?)

    I’m not in favor or dividing or not dividing, BTW. Just making an observation.

  41. John Q Says:

    The reality is that MDUSD has grown so big that it is inefficient, and those departments seem to be swamped and struggle to get the job done. The superintendent doesn’t send bi-weekly newsletters; payroll has had its issues over the years; we hear from many schools that maintenance is slow, not to mention cutting down the wrong trees; finance doesn’t provide numbers to Theresa, and the list goes on. The district could divide in two, with 3 high schools each, or there are other possibilities which would not increase admin. Obviously Walnut Creek could finally join the Walnut Creek School District, that would reduce the size of MDUSD and increase the size of WCSD, making each a better size without forming a new district. The same for Pleasant Hill which could join the Martinez School District. Or how about both!

  42. Doctor J Says:

    MDUSD is inefficient not because of size but because of poor leadership with no plan and no vision. Chevron is a huge corporation but would not tolerate the kind of inefficiency of MDUSD. Why do we think a teacher who then becomes a curriculum director, and then a Supt of a 4000 child district for a couple of years, can all of a sudden manage a $370,000,000 budget which because of shrinking revenues requires organizational and management restructuring, increasing efficiencies, and public accountability ? Where is the accountability for the SIG Grants approved of $15,000,000 and zero follow-up by the Supt who signed off on the grants and PROMISED in writing he would ensure compliance with the grants? I would add the same for a lot of positions. Human resource directors for large corporations are highly trained in human resources — not MDUSD, former teachers. Facility management directors do not usually come from the janitorial staff. We are seeing it right before our eyes with Pete Pedersen’s estimates on the size of his Measure C construction management team doubling, and now tripling in just a year. If he had a clue about managing such a large project, he would have had a plan at the beginning and known what he needed and who he needed. Now, its just shoot from the hip which is MDUSD Standard Operating Procedure — that needs to change. If MDUSD was a company traded on the stock market, would you invest in their stock with the current management ?

  43. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Smaller districts do have more administrators than some feel is necessary. This is why a few people have questioned whether it is really necessary for Lamorinda schools to be served by separate elementary districts for Lafayette, Moraga and Orinda, as well as the Acalanes Union High School District, which also includes the portion of Walnut Creek served by the Walnut Creek school district.
    Some have argued in favor of one Lamorinda Unified district. I’m not sure if proponents want to include half of Walnut Creek.
    Interestingly, some Acalanes district people say Las Lomas HS in Walnut Creek “brings down” test scores for Acalanes (which also includes Acalanes, Campolindo and Miramonte high schools). Yet, Northgate HS in Walnut Creek (which is part of MDUSD) strives to catch up to Las Lomas.
    Most Lamorinda residents appear to agree: Why mess with something that is working so well?

  44. John Q Says:

    Didn’t that Pepperdine survey show that tiny WCSD has the most efficient administration in the county?

  45. anon Says:

    Dr. J,

    You are finally absolutely correct on one point. Chevron would never tolerate this level of inefficiency. Chevron, like most of corporate America, has established an efficient and effective model of management. That model includes between 2.5 and 3 times the number of managers to line employees that MDUSD has. MDUSD had always pledged to cut away from the classrooms first, but they took that promise too far. MDUSD is operating at a level of 4.2 managers per 100 employees. That’s a level that is far below corporate America and far below surrounding districts. That is why MDUSD struggles to accomplish all of the necessary leadership tasks. Until the district gets serious about hiring back managers to run the district, things will continue to be more than challenging. Of course if they do staff management positions at reasonable levels, all of you will bellyache about that… The saga and the rhetoric continues.

  46. g Says:

    Anon, it seems to me that if the District can expect one teacher to manage 25 nearly feral kids in a classroom, they should be able to expect one very highly paid manager to oversee 25 educated, mature adults!

  47. anon Says:


    So you believe that corporate America is wrong and the MDUSD is correct with their manager/employee ratio? Interesting. The MDUSD is more efficient and smarter than corporate America. I don’t believe that I have heard that argument before. Thanks for clarifying.

  48. g Says:

    Geesh…Anon—I said all that? Wow, I’m good!

  49. wait a minute Says:

    Its time to point something out people.

    This “Anon” who began posting all over the CC Times blog to defend the MDUSD leadership and try and shift blame to anyone else started doing this at the same time as Sue Brothers was hired and is none other then SUE BROTHERS herself!!!

    Her posts have been shown to a couple of dozen of her former colleagues from West Sac/Roseville and all agree its Sue’s writing. By the way, comments about Sue ranged from vile, manipulative, incompetent egotistical control freak to many that are unprintable.

    So why is she doing this? Because of the 3 reasons she went to MDUSD: #1, West Sac became (to quote Sue herself) “no longer a comfortable place” for her and her M.O. #2, her benefactor Steve Lawrence hired her to try and quash the CVHS Charter. #3, she has also been hired to fight the info war here on the CC Times to try and protect her savior Lawrence.

    Some other interesting information has also come up.

    Sue extensively lied in her interviews with Theresa Harrington. She claimed she was only making $125,000 at West Sac when she was at the top of the pay scale there at $145,000 plus benefits. She claimed she spent lots of time in classrooms and sites (when she rarely left the administrative offices until the new Super Dr. Gilleland made her get out last year and start regularly visiting sites/classrooms).

    In fact, Sue spent the better part of her 5 years in smallish West Sac building up a personal empire. In her Dpt of Ed Services she had 2 “Directors” at $110,000 each (one of whom was infamous in that district for having been caught having sex at a school site with one of the custodians and whom Sue tried to replace one of West Sac’s best principals with when her Directors position was cut!). Sue also had at least one other administrator and several “Teachers on Special Assignment” as well as 2 secretaries. So her Dpt had well over 1 million dollars in salaries/benefits in a 1 HS town until the budget cuts of last year. In fact, Sue was famous for manipulating hiring in West Sac. She decided who would be hired ahead of time and represented panel interviews were conducted only to go through the motions.

    Her record in these matters is less then stellar. A Super of HR who was forced to leave his former district for having conducted a blatant affair with a colleague and having unlawfully fired a teacher was hired by Sue to be a reliable and unethical hatchet man who proceeded to drive up litigation costs to exceed the rest of the districts in that county combined! She also replaced the well respected and successful Continuation HS principal with an incompetent personal friend of hers that took that school from safe to dangeous and ended up expelling like 20 kids in an over-correction.

    Meanwhile Sue claims she is this zen-like coach to all the principals in matters like discipline. Well that explains why West Sac’s River City HS had a student riot in late 2009 that was so bad that the Principal suffered severe head injuries and missed months of work. To make matters worse both Sue And Stevie Lawrence lied to the board and called the riot just a food fight and this lie ended up in the Sacramento Bee!
    This incident is a main reason that Stevie fled to the MDUSD and now Sue has followed him as she has her whole administrative career.

    Sue also said that West Sac has a good relationship with charters. It has only had this since Lawrence left.Sue and Stevie opposed every Independant charter trying to come into West Sac and they both constantly raved about how bad charters were so Anon/Sues post #11 represents Sue’s true feelings about charters, hated competition that puts pressure on a district to reform bad management.

    So that explains how she summed you up G, see Sue is a “legend in her own mind”!

    And by the way Sue, Chevron doesn’t represent modern management like Google and many of the newer companies that use a everyone-is-equal team approach with much less layers of management unlike Chevron or the MDUSD for that matter.

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