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Archive for August, 2011

CVHS charter petition committee rebuts Mt. Diablo district’s Q & A

I received the following response to the district’s charter Q & A from the charter petition committee. At the committee’s request, I am posting it as a rebuttal to the district’s Q & A, so that readers may comment.

“Date:                August 29, 2011

To:                  Clayton Valley Community

From:               CVCHS Steering Committee

Re:                   Recently Posted MDUSD Charter Q&A

On Friday, August 26, 2011 at around 5 p.m., the district posted a list of questions and answers regarding the CVCHS charter conversion.  We believe the points raised by the district are meant to frighten and intimidate any charter supporters.

Please refer to the attached rebuttal/clarification to all of the points raised by the district.  Be assured that this charter petition has been thoroughly thought out as well as fully vetted before the entire staff and reviewed, and assessed by leading experts in the field including consultants, attorneys and budget analysts.  We are on target to open our doors as stated in August of 2012.

Resources*:

  1. ClaytonValleyCharterHigh Schoolconversion charter petition
  2. August 9, 2011 Public Hearing PowerPoint presentation
  3. August 10, 2011 CVCHS and District meeting response (submitted August 25th)

*Posted with other important information on the CVCHS website (http://sites.google.com/site/ claytonvalleycharterhighschool/)

CHARTER PETITION PROCESS

1.      What should I do if I signed the petition saying I am “meaningfully interested in teaching at the charter” but have changed my mind? 

District Answer – If you are no longer are interested in teaching at the charter, please e-mail or call Julie Braun Martin in the Personnel Department at braunmartinj@mdusd.org or 682-8000 ext. 4136 by September 5, 2011.  The District is required to verify that at least 50 percent of the current permanent teachers are meaningfully interested in teaching at the charter, or the petition cannot be considered for review.  Regulations exclude probationary teachers from the decision

Charter Answer — Pursuant to Education Code Section 47605(a), the District is required to evaluate the petition signatures at the time the charter petition is submitted to the district, not at some later date. The real question is whether, at the time the charter petition was submitted to the district, the petition included signatures from 50 percent or more of the permanent status teachers currently employed at CVHS. If teachers who signed the charter petition decide to ‘withdraw’ their support from CVCHS, this has no legal impact on the charter petition itself.

Current CVHS teachers do not need to make a final decision at this time whether or not to teach at the charter school.  Once the charter is approved, you would technically have until June 2012 to make this decision.  However, the district has asked us to move the deadline up to February 2012 in in order for the district to engage in master calendaring for the following year. It is our intent to honor this request as long as the charter approval/appellate timeline allows.  Again, you do not need to make this decision until the charter has been approved and for several months after.

2.      I was surprised that so many teachers were willing to sign the document.  Did they have a chance to thoroughly review the charter petition before they signed it, and did they understand the implications to their employment rights?

District Answer – We do not know whether teachers read the petition before signing, or whether the changes to their employment rights were fully explained to them.

Charter Answer—Yes – The teachers (and staff) had ample opportunity to review and read the petition prior to signing.  Many members of the Steering Committee made strong personal commitments of time and money to ensure all teachers were clear and knowledgeable on the charter language and its impacts. From the beginning of the process, draft versions had been available for faculty and staff to review, comment on and add to. Different elements of the document were initially drafted by groups of faculty and staff familiar with specific areas.  Almost 50 percent of the teachers who signed the petition were involved in the writing process at some point.  We held multiple meetings wherein the charter conversion legal issues and financial and operational issues were discussed at length. As the final draft versions of the charter petition were completed, the petition was placed on the S-drive and made available to all faculty and staff on campus two weeks prior to completion.  The final version of the document was available to all faculty and staff on June 1, 2011.  The final document was delivered to the District offices on June 8 and was available online thereafter.  It has been published on the CVCHS website, as well as linked to the CVCHS Charter Facebook page.  Additionally, several local blogs and the Contra Costa Times published links to the Charter document.

Not only is it the right thing to do, but it is also in the best interest of CVCHS to protect our employees. Therefore, CVCHS will continue to collectively bargain through MDEA and in the first year of operation of the charter school use the current agreement in place between MDUSD and MDEA . Negotiations for change will be considered and finalized through the CVCHS Governing Board and the collective bargaining unit, again, with MDEA for at least the first year of operation.  Through many meetings and sharing of the petition, employees were informed and indicated understanding of their employment rights.

After the August 10 meeting of five CVCHS steering committee members and district representatives, and review of the district’s Clayton Valley Charter Update, CVCHS now understands that the district has chosen to require resignations.

NOTE:  The CVCHS steering committee learned over the summer of a significant change in the issue of leaves of absence. While the district has the right to disallow leaves of absence, precedent shows that, even for teachers leaving for a year to teach in another district these leaves have been approved. Because of this, and because of evidence of other charter school employees’ being granted not only one-year but multiple-year leaves while serving the charter school, we had hoped MDUSD would work with CVCHS on this issue. We are currently advising our teachers of MDUSD’s decision.

3.      When will the public know whether the teachers who signed the petition saying they were ‘meaningfully interested in teaching at the charter’ really plan to teach there?  I’m worried that some of the teachers at my school will lose their jobs because of this.

District Answer – If the charter is approved, the district staff will recommend to the board that teachers be required to resign from the district if they work at the charter school.  If the charter is approved, we will request that teachers who plan to work there voluntarily submit a resignation to the district by February 1, 2012, effective June 30, 2012.  The February time frame allows the charter school to have ample time to recruit teachers.  The February, 2012 deadline also allows the district time to absorb senior tenured teachers from ClaytonValleyHigh School who will bump into other schools, displacing more junior teachers. Once an employee submits a resignation and the board votes on it, the resignation is irrevocable.

Charter Answer -- Please be aware that some school districts grant conversion charter school employees a on-e to five-year leave of absence to allow them to teach at the charter school but retain return rights to the district; MDUSD has rejected the charter petitioner’s proposal to adopt such a policy. Therefore, upon approval of the charter, teachers may begin to make their decision as whether they wish to work at the charter school.  While district staff will recommend that teachers make their decision by February 1, 2012, per MDEA contract, teachers have until June 30 to finalize their decision.  CVCHS has committed to hiring every current certificated and classified staff member that is interested in working at the charter school.

CHARTER SCHOOL BOARD

4.      Who will be on the Board of the charter, what experience do they have in running a school and do they have a background or significant experience with school finance?

District Answer – The charter petition does not identify the members of its board. We understand that the charter proposers are in the process of identifying board members.  The petition indicates that the board will be composed of 2 teachers, 2 parents, 1 classified staff member, 2 members at-large, 1 retired teacher and 1 administrator.  At-large members cannot be current employees of the charter.

Charter Answer — The decision to delay selection of the initial board of the charter school was a conscious decision of the charter petitioner’s. We wanted to allow more time for the staff to fully understand the charter process, charter governance etc. before soliciting nominations and holding election for board members.

Teachers and classified staff at ClaytonValley have had extensive experience running programs at the school.  Department chairs direct and lead curriculum within specific departments, the curriculum committee helps shape the school-wide direction of curriculum, several teachers help write curriculum for the district and many hold master’s degrees in their field and others.

Some of the programs and activities regularly administered by certificated and classified staff include: department scheduling, staff development, technology integration, after-school tutoring and intervention programs, college and career counseling, Club 800, all campus academies, staff senate, student leadership activities, athletics, etc.

Parent and community candidates for CVCHS board membership have a wealth of knowledge related to management, finance, working and leading organizational Boards and extensive charter experience.

Between the different positions available on the CVCHS Board (Teachers, Classified, Parents, Community Member, Retired Teacher and Administrative), there are 18 people that have applied for the Governing Board.  Just as the MDUSD School Board is made up of elected members, CVCHS cannot mandate who might prevail in an election situation.  Having certain members of the Board appointed allows for a continued high-level of knowledge and experience to be part of the board makeup. The elections for the board members will be held on Thursday, September 1st, 2011 with the initial board set by October, 2011. Thereafter, there will be annual elections for certain board positions held among the different constituency voting groups (i.e., teacher, classified, parent, etc.)

Additionally, the Steering Committee has retained ExED, the state’s foremost non-profit business management service provider for charters in California, to support and train CVCHS in all back office areas including finance.  The steering committee has also retained the services of Middleton, Young & Minney, LLP, the premier legal counsel for charter schools in California as well as California Charter Schools Association, a non-profit association offering a broad range of training and support for California Charter schools.

Importantly, the board will hire an Executive Director, Chief Financial Officer and key personnel with extensive experience in school management, finance and administration.

PERSONNEL

5.      If a current CVHS teacher chooses to work for the charter, do they retain district seniority and tenure?

District Answer – No.  Teachers at charter schools are at-will employees of the charter school and are not district employees.  If the charter is approved, the district staff will recommend to the board that teachers who choose to work at the charter be required to resign from the district.  Those teachers will lose their district tenure and seniority rights.  The charter could grant seniority status and tenure, but those rights would only apply at the charter, and teachers would not have rights to employment in MDUSD.

Charter Answer – The charter school shall comply with any and all applicable collective bargaining agreements and/or employment agreements in place at the time of conversion until negotiated and agreed upon otherwise. Teachers who choose to work at CVCHS will maintain the same seniority they held at MDUSD at CVCHS and if reemployed by the district within 39 months of resignation will be reinstated at the same level of seniority.  In the unlikely event of a closure of CVCHS, it is at the discretion of MDUSD whether or not to grant returning teachers the same seniority they had when they left.  Other authorizing districts for conversion charter schools across the state have included in the contract language that charter teachers have the right to return and maintain seniority. The 2006-2009 UTLA contract, Article XII-B, which refers to charter employees, states, ‘The employee’s District seniority date (if previously earned) is preserved during the leave.’ It is unfortunate that MDUSD has taken the stance that ‘teachers will lose their District tenure and seniority rights.’

6.      Can teachers who want to work at the charter school take a leave from the District for one year or for any period of time?

District Answer – The district, in its sole discretion, can permit or refuse to allow employees to take a leave to work at a charter school.  Staff recommends against this.  It is too difficult to plan, and unfair to the district teachers who remain, to hold positions within the district for teachers on leave who chose to work elsewhere.  Teachers should be required to resign from the district to teach at the charter school and if they decide to reapply to the district, then they will need to go through the hiring process.

Charter Answer – Districts have the option to grant leaves of absence to employees, including those who choose to leave district employment to work at a charter school.  For example, the same section of the aforementioned UTLA contract, states, ‘qualified employees shall, upon written request and subject to the conditions set forth below, be granted an unpaid leave of absence to work for a Conversion Charter High School.’   MDUSD has stated that is ‘too difficult to plan,’ for them to do so.  Therefore, it appears that teachers who choose to leave the district are unlikely to be granted a leave of absence.

7.   What happens at a charter school if a teacher needs an extended leave of absence because of a medical condition?  Does the charter school have to pay the teacher who is out plus the sub?  Where does that money come from?

District Answer – The charter school board would decide whether to grant leaves of absence and whether or not those leaves are paid.  It is unclear how substitute costs related to paid leaves would be funded as the current budget information received from the petitioners does not include a line for substitute teacher expense.

Charter Answer – Extended leaves of absence for charter employees will be the same as it is currently for MDUSD employees as stated in the contract between MDEA and MDUSD unless and until otherwise negotiated.  As stated in the charter, CVCHS teachers and other staff will still be entitled to the same rights and protections they had as employees of MDUSD under the bargaining agreements in place at the time of the conversion unless and until otherwise negotiated.

8.      Will teachers at the charter have the right to transfer back into the district?

District Answer – No. The district, in its sole discretion, can permit or refuse to allow employees to transfer back to the district from the charter for a limited period of time.  Again, if the charter is approved, the staff will recommend against allowing such transfers.  In considering transfers, the district must consider the equity of allowing teachers who leave to work elsewhere to return and thereby displace other district employees. If we were to permit transfers back, it would be unfair to our employees at other schools who could lose their jobs to make room for transfers from the charter.

Charter Answer – It is at the discretion of the district whether or not they wish to grant teachers the right to return as employees.  Again, although other districts in the state have chosen to allow charter employees such rights, MDUSD has stated that they will not offer return rights to employees of CVCHS.

9.      Do the Ed Code rules for teacher termination apply to teachers at the charter school?

District Answer – No.  While the district must strictly adhere to the due process dismissal rules as set forth in the Education Code, charter schools do not have to abide by those rules. Charter school teachers are at-will employees who can be terminated at any time without cause unless the charter Board decides to give them protection from at-will dismissal.

Charter Answer – As stated in the charter, CVCHS will continue to follow the collective bargaining agreements and employment agreements in place at the time of the conversion unless and until otherwise negotiated.

10.  Will the teachers and classified staff at the charter be covered by the district’s current bargaining agreements?

District Answer – The charter petition says employees of the charter will be covered by the collective bargaining agreements in place at the time of conversion until it negotiates different agreements.  However, those agreements would be between the employees and the charter, not the district.  The charter board would need to adopt the contracts as written for this to occur.  The charter board could modify any district agreements, or they could write new ones from scratch.  Again, contract negotiations would be between the charter school and the charter employees union

Charter Answer – CVCHS will abide by the collective bargaining agreements currently in place with the district at the time of the conversion unless and until otherwise negotiated. All changes to the collective bargaining agreements would have to be negotiated with the exclusive representative (i.e., unions); the charter school does not have the right to unilaterally change wages, hours, and/or other terms conditions of employment at the charter school without negotiating with the union

11.  The charter school plans to open in September 2012 and district teachers are not required to give notice until June 2012 of their intention to return to the district.  How will the district plan to absorb those teachers who decide not to work at the charter school?

District Answer – If the charter is approved, the district will ask CVHS teachers who plan to work at the charter to submit a resignation form by February 1, 2012 to be effective at the end of the 2011/12 school year.  If the district is unsuccessful in getting resignation forms, it will have to do precautionary layoffs by March 15, 2012 in order to reduce or eliminate the number of FTE equal to the number of teachers who are eligible to teach at the charter.  This will impact staffing at most, if not all, secondary schools.

Charter Answer – Teachers who choose to work at CVCHS can notify the District of their intent up until June 30th, 2012.  According to the District, teachers who do not wish to work at CVCHS are likely to be reassigned to other schools.  Teachers in MDUSD replaced by seniority transfers are welcome to apply at CVCHS.

FUNDING

 12.      The charter school will be funded at a higher rate than CVHS currently is funded.  Will the district cover the shortfall by taking funding away from other schools?

District Answer – Yes.  The charter will be funded at the charter high school rate, which is higher than the unified funding rate the district currently receives. The board will have to determine how to cover the shortfall.  The difference is about $800 per student at the charter school.  There are currently about 1900 students at the school, so the district would lose about $1.52 million dollars each year the charter was in operation.

Charter Answer – This is not true — the district’s statement above focuses exclusively on the funding rate difference between the charter school and the District — it fails to reveal that it actually costs the district more money than it receives per ADA to operate the Clayton Valley High School. So the net effect of the charter conversion is closer to zero.  As an independent high school the charter school will receive the high school funding rate from the state. As a result, the district will not receive this revenue.  However, they will also not incur the expenses of operating ClaytonValley. We have repeatedly asked the district for CVHS school expenditure figures which historically offset the revenue loss for the district, often resulting in a net gain for the district.

MDUSD acknowledged in the August 10th meeting with Clayton Valley Charter High School the following:

a) MDUSD acknowledged that they spent more than the unified funding rate to operate Clayton Valley High School (i.e., it cost them more to operate the high school then the revenue it received for the children attending the high school).

b) Revenue loss caused by the difference between the charter school funding rate, less the unified rate the district receives, is not the same as an operating loss. That is, MDUSD can possibly be made financially better off by not operating Clayton Valley High School.

c) Prior law (SB 319) governing conversion charter schools stated that conversion charter schools were to be funded based on the school’s previous year’s expenditures. Several school districts fought SB 319 to change funding rates for future conversion schools to the current funding model (SB 191) because it would be less of a financial burden to school districts.

13. Would CVCHS be willing to forgo the high school funding rate and to be funded at the lower unified rate so as not to create a financial drain on the remaining schools in the district?

District Answer – The budget projections that the charter submitted were based on the higher funding rate.   They can negotiate a lower rate with the district, but at this point, they have not indicated they are interested in a lower funding rate to minimize impact to the rest of the District.

Charter Answer – First, question noted above includes an inaccurate statement of fact — as outlined above, the conversion of the charter high school will not be a ‘financial drain on the remaining schools of the district’ — any more so than the current operation of Clayton Valley High School is a financial drain on the other schools of the District. Second, Clayton Valley Charter High School will not negotiate a lower rate than what CVCHS is entitled to receive under SB 191 for the following reasons:

a) The funding for a conversion charter school is similar to what a school district receives. That was the legislative intent of SB 191. The reason MDUSD receives a lower rate than a charter school high school rate is that the district serves grades K-12. That is, the district receives more funding than charter schools for the lower grades, and less funding than charter schools for the higher grades. The unified rate MDUSD receives from the state is an averaged rate for all grades it serves.

b) If Clayton Valley Charter High Schoolwas funded under the old SB 319 model that looked at previous year’s expenditures, then funding for the conversion charter school would be higher than the current district perADA funding. Most charter schools that converted under SB 319 are being funding more than what the charter school would have received under the charter school funding rates.

c) Based on budget analysis, it is impossible to operate Clayton Valley High School using MDUSD’s per ADA funding rate. MDUSD clearly spent more than the unified district rate to operate Clayton Valley High School. Clayton Valley Charter High School is able to project budget reserves because the charter school will not have the same overhead as a traditional public school under the district (e.g., a lower student-to-employee ratio). In other words, CVCHS plans to operate more efficiently as a charter school in terms of lower overhead costs and increased flexibility to spend funds in the classroom to directly impact student learning and achievement.

14.      Is the proposed budget realistic?  Can the charter proposers do what they say they want to do with the amount of revenue they project?

District Answer – The charter proposal includes little detail about programs and costs.  The ExEd firm that developed the budget for the proposers, and who the petition says will be their business services provider, said in a meeting that they used typical charter budget figures which assume most teachers will be lower on the salary scale.  If the charter hires mostly teachers on the low end of the salary schedule, those predictions could be realistic.  If they hire experienced teachers, costs would rise significantly.  The charter proposers have also indicated that they do not plan to use union custodial or landscape maintenance services, but instead will contract out those services.  Charter schools are not required to use the District’s services, and can achieve cost savings by hiring low wage employees.

Charter Answer – CVCHS has partnered with Excellent Education Development (ExED) who has an extensive and impressive history of success as the premier non-profit business management service provider for charters in California.

The Clayton Valley Charter High School’s budget assumes the following:

a) 100 percent of the current CVHS staff, including all teaching, janitorial, and cafeteria staff, are employed at the new conversion high school. No staff replacements are assumed.

b) Services (e.g., back office business providers, payroll, legal, etc.) that were once provided by the district will now be provided by experienced consultants paid by the charter school.

c) If the charter school seeks outside janitorial and cafeteria services, they will receive salaries competitive with those paid by the district.

15. I notice also that the budget that is proposed contemplates a $2 million loan, presumably for startup expenses.  If the sponsors cannot meet projected enrollment or revenues do not match predictions, and the school is forced to discontinue operations, who then pays back the loan?  Does this obligation fall back on the district?  Have the sponsors said anything about where they will get this loan?

District Answer – The charter will be an independent corporation.  The district will not be liable for debts of the charter as long as the district meets its obligation of fiscal oversight.  If the charter is approved, the district will follow the oversight obligations to minimize its legal exposure for debts and other obligations of the charter.  However, the district will have to adjust its budget, if necessary, for any costs associated with reabsorbing the students back into the district, including the expense of hiring staff and teachers if the charter school is unsuccessful.  The charter application does not specify the source of the charter will acquire the $2 million loan.

Charter Answer – ExED has already identified banking partners that have worked with charters. Clayton Valley Charter High School plans to receive a line of credit from one of these financial institutions that will use its receivables as collateral. The past two conversion charter high schools in Los Angeles were able to attain these low interest lines of credit.

The widespread community support and enthusiasm for this charter would lead us to believe that enrollment will increase at CVCHS. Current attrition rates as families seek alternative high schools will decrease with renewed faith and energy in the local public school.  We have seen evidence of this with over 1,200 emails and signatures of support from the Clayton Valley community.

Element 16 of the charter petition covers school closure procedures including indemnification of MDUSD in the unlikely event that the charter closes. The District will not be liable for the debts of the charter school nor any outstanding loans or expenses that the charter school incurs in accordance with the terms of Education Code Section 47604(c) which protects a school district from the debts and obligations of the charter school it authorizes which operates as a nonprofit public benefit corporation.

16.   What is the District’s response to comments by the sponsors that the District’s assessment of the financial impact of the conversion is overblown, because it does not take into account the savings that would be realized from expenses relating to the operation of the High School that would be taken off the district’s books?

District Answer – The district will not realize significant savings if it no longer operates Clayton Valley High School.  This fact is due to all of the budget reductions that have been made to district office staff prior to now.  In fact, we are not aware of a single district level position that could be reduced as a result of Clayton Valley High opening as a charter school.

Charter Answer – At the conclusion of the August 10th, 2011 meeting, the CVCHS Steering Committee asked for clarification of the $1.52 million that the district has suggested would be a loss of revenue as a result of the CVCHS charter.  Bryan Richards, the district CFO, carefully explained the calculation.  We agreed with his math for the loss of revenue to the district, but inquired about the loss of expenditures for the District if they no longer had to cover the costs of operating CVHS.  A recent article from the Contra Costa Times was brought up that cited a MDUSD School Closure Committee Report commissioned within the past few years that estimated savings to the district for closure of CVHS at $1.7 million. Mr. Richards explained that the $1.7 million figure was based solely on savings from district office employees that would no longer be employed, and said that the total expenditures for CVHS (including salaries, utilities, etc.) would be much higher than $1.7 million.  The steering committee then suggested that that would seem to mean that the district would have a net financial gain when comparing the revenue loss to the expenditure savings.  While no one from the district would agree with this conclusion, district staff offered no other explanation.  We then asked if the district could disclose the annual expenditure figures for the last three years for CVHS.  After some hesitation, Mr. Richards agreed to supply copies of these figures.  As of Sunday, August 28, 2011, the CVCHS Steering Committee has not yet received the information promised.

INSTRUCTIONAL PROGRAM

17.  How long will the charter school day and year be?

District Answer – The information in the charter petition is vague.Bell schedules and calendars were not included, but there is a statement that the school year could be longer.

Charter Answer -- CVCHS will use the current CVHS bell schedule and calendar as a baseline to be modified, utilizing research of best practices, once the CVCHS Governing Board and Standing Committees are in place.  This process will be finished no later than January 13, 2012. (See pg. 26 and 27 of Charter document). The Charter School shall ensure compliance with Education Code Section 47612.5 and Title 5, California Code of Regulations Section 11960 with regard to compliance with the minimum number of offered instructional minutes and days of instruction.

18.   Would my child have to attend school in the summer at the charter school?  We usually take a long vacation in the summer, and the petition says the summer induction is mandatory.  How long is the induction, when is it, and what happens if we are on vacation during that time?

District Answer – There are no specifics about the mandatory summer induction in the proposal.

Charter Answer – CVCHS is modeling the summer transition program after the highly successful Granada Hills Charte High School.   This transition program is explained in detail on their web site at http://www.ghchs.com.  They offer a 2-4 week program while CVCHS will offer a 1-2 week program.  Like Granada this program will include diagnostic testing, academic readiness and goals, social orientation, acceleration plans, and remediation in needed areas.  The transition program will be mandatory for incoming 8th graders with a choice of two dates to attend. This is explained further in the Charter document on page 27.

19.  Will the charter require all students to wear uniforms?

District Answer – There is mention of uniforms in the charter petition, but no clear information.

Charter Answer – There is no specific mention of uniforms in the charter petition. A dress code policy will be discussed and finalized once input from all stakeholders has been considered. This policy will be finalized by December 2011 along with the rest of the staff handbook. (See 8/9/11 PPT, Slide 16).

20.  What are the courses of study being offered at the charter school?

District Answer – The petition says ‘a full catalog of courses’ but there are no other details included.

Charter Answer – In order to make the transition more manageable and successful, we will use the current CVHS course catalog and curriculum offerings as a baseline to be modified and supplemented over time. Once the CVCHS Governing Board and Standing Committees, representing all stakeholders, are in place, new courses/programs will be researched, analyzed, developed, and implemented.  We will constantly evaluate our courses and curriculum for overall effectiveness and to ensure that they are meeting the needs of all of our students. (Taken from paragraph 1 and 3 of CVCHS and District meeting response document, Instructional Section.)

21. What kind of grading system will be used at the charter?

District Answer — There is no description of a grading system.

Charter Answer — We will use the CVHS current standard grading system as a baseline. Alternative systems will be researched and evaluated with all due diligence. CVCHS shall meet all statewide standards and conduct student assessments required pursuant to Section 60605 of the California Education Code and any other statewide standards authorized in statute or student assessments applicable to students in non-charter schools. (See pg. 49 of Charter document).

22. What will be the graduation requirement at the charter?

District Answer — The petition indicates the ‘goal’ is 230 credits, but does not contain a clear timeline to achieve this goal.

Charter Answer — All students will be required to accumulate a minimum of 200 credits the first year of the charter (as is required by MDUSD). By CVCHS’ fourth year of operation, our goal will be to increase the minimum graduation requirements to 230 credits in grades nine through twelve, along with passing the CAHSEE and meeting proficiency standards as determined by the State of California to graduate with a diploma. This requirement (included on p. 28 of the Charter document) will apply beginning with the freshmen class of 2012. The additional sections have been budgeted in our financial plan as outlined in Appendix F in the charter petition.

23. When will the curriculum plan for the charter school be developed?

District Answer — The petition did not provide a timeline.

Charter Answer — A timeline highlighting development and implementation of key charter transition milestones throughout the 2011-2012 school year was provided to the MDUSD school board in the 8/9/11 PowerPoint presentation. Please reference slides 15-18 for additional details.

24. When will the charter assessment plan be developed?

District Answer — The petition did not provide timeline for developing the assessment plan.

Charter Answer — CVCHS’s assessment plan has already been developed, as outlined in the Charter document, pages 49-64. Details of our charter assessment plan can be found in Element 2: Measurable Student Outcomes and Element 3: Methods Of Assessing Pupil Progress Towards Meeting Outcomes. Outcomes will be determined by measuring CAHSEE and CST scores, graduation rates, attendance rates, and the API. In addition to statewide testing, performance assignments, collaborative scoring, and school accountability report cards, we would also use annual parent surveys and annual performance reports to analyze the success of the charter.

25. How will teaching effectiveness and student learning be monitored to ensure that instruction is rigorous and students are engaged and learning at the charter?

Charter Answer — Learning will be monitored formally and informally through the use of formative and summative assessments, both in the individual classroom, within subject Professional Learning Communities (PLC), and as a school PLC to monitor the effectiveness of our curriculum, teachers, interventions, and enrichment strategies. Of course, part of this analysis will include data from CAHSEE, CST, AP Exams, SAT, API and college placement. For additional information, see Element 2: Measurable Student Outcomes (pages 49-60 of the Charter document). To help us track and analyze our data we will be implementing a student data management system after completing research on several systems including, Edusoft, OARS, and Data Director. (Refer to 8/25/11: Response to District Questions, Instructional Section and Charter documents-Element 2: Measurable Student Outcomes).  The data will be analyzed by the CVCHS board, the Executive Director, and the Standing Committees and used continuously to monitor and adjust the instructional program as necessary to ensure high student engagement and achievement.

26. What specific strategies will be used to address the diverse learning needs of students at all ability and achievement levels, as well as of all racial, socio-economic, and linguistic backgrounds?

District Answer — The petition does not provide a description or details about this.

Charter Answer – We have a commitment at Clayton Valley High School to provide an education to all students regardless of racial, socio-economic, or linguistic background. Teachers must be highly qualified and effective in developing and delivering curriculum and instruction in ways that encourage each student to meet and/or exceed proficiency in state standards regardless of racial, socio-economic or linguistic background (page 24 of the Charter). In order to address the diverse learning needs of our students, we will continue to research and develop effective differentiation strategies and support programs for our students. Teaches will continue to attend professional development conferences that promote effective differentiation strategies, such as Kate Kinsella workshops that advocate scaffolding strategies to promote better speaking and writing skills for students with varied background knowledge and skill sets. (Refer to paragraph 3 of 8/25/11: Response to District Questions, Instructional Section). The Educational Program of the CVCHS charter (see Element 1) also describes the instructional strategies and supports CVCHS will use to address the needs of students achieving above and below grade level, English learners, and special education students.

27.  How will instruction be individualized for students who are more advanced or behind their grade level peers?  What will be the curriculum or teaching methodology for these students?

District Answer – No details are provided in the petition.

Charter Answer –  CVCHS believes that all students are entitled to receive a content rich, academically rigorous educational experience that prepares them for a multitude of post-secondary opportunities. We are as committed to meeting the special needs of students achieving above grade level as we are to other special needs groups. Additional details are listed on page 33 of the Charter document. To individualize instruction for students achieving below grade level, expectations to facilitate student achievement and pre-empt failure, CVCHS will offer interventions to address each student’s specific learning needs. More detailed examples are listed in the Charter document page 34-35.

28.  What is the school calendar and how is the school day scheduled?

District Answer – Several options were discussed in the petition but no definite selection was made.

Charter Answer – CVCHS will use the current CVHS bell schedule and school calendar as a baseline to be modified once committees are in place and research of best practices is completed – to be finished no later than January 13, 2012, per our timeline on slide 17 of the August 9th PowerPoint to the District. For additional information, see page 27 of Charter document.

29.  Will there be a summer program for students wanting enrichment or remediation?  What about students who need to make up credits?

District Answer – A summer program is referenced in the petition for year 2 but there are no details about which students will be eligible or allowed to attend, or what the budget for this program would be.

Charter Answer – We have already begun designing several summer programs to better support some of our struggling students. See the “Charter Answer” to Question #18, above, for more information. The summer program has been allocated in the budget with an extra duty/stipend for teachers. (See line item 1175 in Appendix F of the Charter.

30.  How much English Language development will students who are English learners get?  How will this instruction be provided?  How will English learners be supported in core instruction?

District Answer – The petition does not contain details relative to how much ELD English learners will receive, how that instruction will be provided or how English learners will be supported in the core instruction.

Charter Answer – Clayton Valley is currently an existing traditional public high school and has a English Learner (EL) program.   As a conversion school, CVCHS will have had experience in this area.  EL students will have the same equal access to all curriculum as other students and the charter school will meet all legal requirements of English Learners.  The autonomy of a Charter school actually provides more opportunity to EL students and, in fact a study done by Stanford-based Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) in June 2009, specifically states that “English Language Learners realize significantly better learning gains in charter schools”.  Refer to pages 31-33 of the Charter document for the stated CVCHS EL program.  This section also clarifies the personnel credential requirements and resources that will support these students.

SPECIAL EDUCATION

31.  Historically, charter schools have not served large numbers of students with special needs.  How will the charter school ensure it has personnel and resources in place to assess and support students with special needs so they have access to the charter experience?

District Answer – The charter school must enroll all students whether or not they are in special education.  The district would initially need to ensure that the charter school has an appropriate plan for special education students.

Charter Answer – Conversion charter schools are public schools open to all students and shall not discriminate on the basis of the characteristics listed in Education Code Section 220 (actual or perceived disability, gender, nationality, race or ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, or any other characteristic that is contained in the definition of hate crimes set forth in Section 422.55 of the Penal Code or association with an individual who has any of the aforementioned characteristics).  TheMission statement of CVCHS indicates that CVCHS passionately believes in servicing all students.  As such, Clayton Valley Charter High School is committed to servicing all students regardless of placement or disability.  In accordance with applicable State and Federal law and in accordance with an Memorandum of Understanding developed between the Charter School and the district, the district will to deliver all special education services to CVCHS students in the same manner as any other student of the district at least for the first year.  Element 5 of the CVCHS Charter document requires highly qualified personnel in accordance with the Education Code 47605(l).  The Charter document maps out assessment and placement practices for students on page 36 of the Charter.   The Charter document specifically speaks to the CVCHS special education program on pages 15-16, 36-48 and 87-88.  In addition, CVCHS fully commits to the appropriate assessment and placement of students.

SUSPENSION/EXPULSION

32.  What is the suspension and expulsion appeal processes? (a) Where will students be placed pending their expulsion hearing? (b) Where will students be placed if they are in fact expelled from the school?

District Answer – There is no appeal process if students are suspended or expelled from the charter school.  The petition does not address where the students will be placed pending expulsion hearings or when they are expelled from the charter school.  However, if students are expelled from the charter school, parents will most likely seek to enroll their students back in a district school.

Charter Answer – The charter provides for full due process for all students recommended for expulsion.  As stated in Element 10 of our charter: ‘The Charter School has reviewed Education Code Section 48900 et seq. which describes the noncharter schools’ list of offenses and procedures to establish its list of offenses and procedures for suspensions and expulsions.  The language that follows closely mirrors the language of Education Code Section 48900 et seq.  The Charter School is committed to annual review of policies and procedures surrounding suspensions and expulsions.’  Please see pages 96-114 of the charter for a full discussion of the policy and procedures for suspension of expulsion of students, including the process for a hearing upon the recommendation for expulsion.

In addition, CVCHS steering committee members met with members of the MDUSD Superintendent’s office and the issue regarding student placement while awaiting expulsion hearings was raised at this meeting. While the charter does not state specifically which particular placements will be considered for interim time periods pending expulsion, it does state the procedures for when to use alternative placements and outlines the use of a rehabilitation plan for readmission.  At this August 10th meeting the superintendent’s team stated that the district has an agreement with the county regarding post expulsion placements and that this information would be provided to the CVCHS steering committee so that it would be able to explore which alternative placements to use.  The district has not yet provided this information.

STUDENT SERVICES

33.  Will students have the services of a school nurse? (a) What will be the role of the school nurse? (b) What will the services be for those students who have medical issues that prevent them from attending school?

District Answer – The charter intends to be a ‘school of the district’ for special education purposes.  Therefore, students whose IEPs require nursing services will have those services provided by the District.  The charter school organizers have not indicated whether general education students, including those with Section 504 plans that require nursing services, will be provided with them.

Charter Answer – CVCHS will follow all state and federal laws regarding IEP’s and 504s.  Page 77 of the CVCHS Charter document indicates that the charter will hire all required non-teaching personnel (including nurses).  The role of the school nurse will be to follow an IEP, 504 or other needs as designated by the needs of the student in accordance with school policy.  CVCHS will follow all federal and state guidelines with regard to students who have medical issues that prevent them from attending school.
FACILITIES

34.  If all CVHS students don’t attend the charter, will the District be operating CVHS at the same site?

District Answer–For purposes of determining whether to grant the petition, the law requires that the District assume that all or the vast majority of current CVHS students will attend the charter and therefore, that the charter will use the entire facility.

Charter Answer–  Under Proposition 39 (Ed. Code 47614) CVCHS has the right to remain on the current campus in the current configuration based uponADA projections to be provided this fall. The charter school may not be moved from the current campus unless the District and the charter school agree to modify the charter or the District secures a State Board of Education waiver. The law also requires the charter school to provide a preference for enrollment to students residing in within the attendance area of the charter school at the time the conversion.

35.  I notice the budget does not have any line item for reimbursing the District for the use of the campus through rent or any other mechanism.  Is this what is required by the Education Code when there is a direct conversion?  It seems any other operator would need to pay for a facility.

District Answer — There areCalifornia statutes that address the facility charges that a school district charges a charter school for the use of a District school. Beginning with its first year of operation as an independent conversion charter, the charter will have to pay a charge for the use of the district facility.  The applicable rate is determined in statute.

Charter Answer – Under Proposition 39 charter schools are responsible for paying to the district it’s  ’pro-rata’ share of facilities cost (typically about 2 percent of revenue) in addition to the approximately 1 percent oversight fee owed to the district. Both of these items are accounted for in line item #5500 ‘Utilities and Housekeeping.’”

—————————————————————-
[END CHARTER RESPONSE]

I would also like to point out a few things:

1. District staff’s recommendations are not done deals. The board has the ultimate authority to adopt staff recommendations, modify them or reject them. All of the staff recommendations listed in the Q&A are subject to public input and board discussion. If the community disagrees with the staff recommendations, it can voice its objections to trustees, who are held accountable by voters for district decisions. District staff is accountable to the superintendent.

2. The information in response to Question 16 is not entirely accurate, as it relates to the Times blog post regarding a potential $1.7 million savings if the district closed CVHS. The $1.7 million was not based on savings from district office employees that would no longer be employed. It was based on 17.93 FTE CVHS employees (for a savings of $1.4 million) plus $273,541 in utility costs. It is true that the actual cost of operating the school is much higher than this. The district cannot continue to claim that it will lose money if CVHS converts to a charter unless it shows the public how much it is spending to operate the school.

Perhaps the committee should submit an official Public Records Act request for the information to Greg Rolen, since Bryan Richards has so far failed to supply it as promised. It is critical that this information be made available to the public before the Sept. 13 board meeting.

Do you believe the Q&A posted by the district sufficiently answers the questions posed?

Posted on Tuesday, August 30th, 2011
Under: Education | 28 Comments »

Clayton Valley HS charter committee responds to district questions

The Clayton Valley HS charter conversion committee met with district officials on Aug. 10 to share information. After that meeting, the conversion committee sent the district responses to questions asked.

Clayton Mayor David Shuey sent me the following information, which was sent to the district, to post in response to the charter Q&A provided by the district.

“August 25, 2011

Deborah A. Cooksey
Associate General Council
Mt Diablo Unified School District
1936 Carlotta Drive
Concord, CA 04519-1397

Re: Clayton Valley Charter High School Steering Committee – Response document from meeting with Superintendents Council on August 10, 2011.

ATTENDANCE

District Representatives
Deborah Cooksey – Associate General Council
Julie Braun Martin – Personnel
Mildred Brown – Special Ed
Rose Lock – Instruction
Bryan Richards – Finance

CVCHS Steering Committee Representatives
Neil McChesney – Co Lead Petitioner
Pat Middendorf – Co Lead Petitioner
Alison Bacigalupo
Dylan Perreira
Cate Sundling

CVCHS Consultants
Nick Driver – California Charter Schools Association
Paul Minney – MYM Law Firm
Marshall Mayote – ExED

Submitted by: Clayton Valley Charter High School Steering Committee

GOVERNANCE

These questions primarily came from Deb Cooksey and included the following:

1. Who will initially operate the school?

The election for the initial Governing Board is currently underway. Candidate applications for teacher, classified and parent representatives will be accepted through August 25th. Those applications will then be published for review by the different constituencies. The actual election will be held on September 1st at the Clayton Valley High School MUR beginning at 3:00pm and extending until 7 pm. Representatives from the different voting groups will be on hand to verify which group each voter belongs in. These representatives will then count all votes and verify who, from each group, was elected to the governing board.

The elected members of the governing board will then review all applicants for appointed positions. Upon interviewing applicants, the board will appoint the requisite number of representatives. As per our draft by laws, this will help ensure that the Board retains members that are committed to the mission and vision of the school, have direct familiarity with CVHS history and goals and/or experience in education, strategic planning, staff development, board relations,
financial management and organizational leadership.

2. Are there now “draft” by laws indicating the question of the parent representative election process?

An emailed copy of the correct version of the CVCHS bylaws was sent to Deb Cooksey on Sunday, August 21, 2011. Deb Cooksey sent back email verification that she had received them the following day.

3. What is the amount of insurance the Charter School will secure?

CVCHS has committed to and budgeted for an insurance policy with $5 million/$25 million coverage. This is higher than the amount requested by MDUSD. Page 127 of the Charter document outlines the extent of coverage and, as stated, is subject to recommendations and negotiations with MDUSD.

4. Was the Charter document available to teachers prior to signing? At what point was it available?

From the beginning of the process, draft versions had been available for faculty and staff to review, comment on and add to. At least 10 draft versions were sent out to faculty and staff during this process. Different elements of the document were initially drafted by groups of faculty and staff familiar with specific areas. As the draft versions got bigger, it moved to the S-drive available to all faculty and staff on campus two weeks prior to completion. The final version of the document was available to all faculty and staff the week of June 6th. The final document was delivered to District offices on June 8th and was available online thereafter. It has been published on the CVCHS website and Facebook.

Additionally, several local blogs and the Contra Costa Times published websites where the document could be accessed.

5. How will parents have a meaningful role in the decision-making of the school?

Parents have been an integral part of this process since the beginning meetings.

At the first meeting there were 5 parents or future parents in attendance. The perspective of the parents and perception within the community has been an ongoing conversation of the Steering Committee. The Steering Committee has held numerous informational meetings to help educate the parent community about the conversion of Clayton Valley High School both on and off campus, during the afternoon and in the evenings in an effort to reach the largest number of people possible.

Our Governing Board composition consists of two (2) parents which are elected positions as well as two appointed community members who will likely be parents of CV students. Each of the Standing Committees will consist of parents, students, teachers and others that may be interested or have knowledge of individual committee duties.

There has been a clear indication on the part of the parent community, that this is something they are excited about. As a long-time parent volunteer, it is obvious from the emails, conversations and offers to help and volunteer that parents and the broader community feel strongly about this change and are willing to put in the work necessary to make it successful.

SPECIAL EDUCATION

These questions primarily came from Mildred Brown.

1. There are a large number of children in the CV attendance area that are in nonpublic school placements, how will they be handled?

The steering committee does not have access to how many students or what type of placements they are in at this time. Mildred stated that she would make that information available, including the number of students and what type of facility. The charter will handle all placements the same way as they are handled now by the district. This will not change once the school becomes a charter.

Consistent with our charter language we stated that we will stay as a school of the district for the first year of the charter. According to the California State Ed Code a charter school must notify their current SELPA one year in advance (by June 30) of their intended exit. Since Mt Diablo is their own SELPA the charter will have to seek membership in another SELPA. Again according to CA ED code the charter must apply to the new SELPA one year in advance. Since that date has passed before the charter will be approved it must stay in the current SELPA as a school of the district in regards to special education students. This is stated in pages 36-48 of the Charter Petition.

Through an MOU the district will agree to deliver all special education services to the charter school and in exchange the district will retain the full amount of AB602 special education funding that it receives from the state and may also require the charter to pay a fair share of the encroachment fee.

During the first year the charter will be able to gather appropriate information to make a decision on whether to apply for membership in another SELPA and become its own local education agency (LEA). It is typical for the conversion charter high schools in CA to stay a school of the district the first year and to then seek autonomy for special education services the following year or two.

Mildred stated she will provide to the charter committee a copy of the MOU the district has with Eagle Peak Montessori School.

2. How will due process and litigation be handled?

The committee referred to page 41 of the charter. Again the Charter will establish in a MOU with the district how this will be handled.

3. Be specific when describing how expulsions will be handled, interim placements pending expulsions and what happens after an expulsion.The committee referred to pages 105-115 of the charter. Step by step expulsion procedures for special education students and non-special education students are explained in detail in this section. While the charter does not state specifically which particular placements will be considered for interim time periods pending expulsion, it does state the procedures for when to use alternative placements and outlines the use of a rehabilitation plans for readmission.

Mildred stated that the district has an agreement with the county regarding post expulsion placements and that she would provide the committee with a copy so that we would be able to explore which alternative placements to use.

4. Will the Lottery be consistent with the transfer policy and MDUSD timeline for that process?

The committee agreed that it would be in the best interest of all parties involved to parallel the district timelines with the charters to accommodate transfers in or out of the charter.

5. Will specialized health services like scoliosis screening be provided? What vendors would we use?

This is referenced on page 85 of the charter. We will also develop a list of vendors to consider if we choose to use independent contractors for campus and building maintenance, landscaping, custodial services, food services, and campus security.

INSTRUCTIONAL

These questions primarily came from Rose Lock and included the
following:

1. When will the full curriculum and catalog of courses be
developed?

In order to make the transition more manageable and successful, we will use our current course catalog and curriculum offerings as a baseline to be modified and supplemented over time. Once the Governing Board and Standing Committees, representing all stakeholders are in place, new courses/programs will be researched, analyzed, developed and implemented over time.

During the planning year (2011-2012) we are going to investigate and research calendar and scheduling options that will allow us to offer more remediation and enrichment programs to our students. We also plan on adding our freshman transition program in Summer 2012 before our Fall 2012 opening.

We will constantly be evaluating our courses and curriculum for overall effectiveness and to ensure that they are meeting the needs of all of our students.

2. How will teaching and learning be monitored? Dylan responded to this question and Nick Driver mentioned the fact that they have a ‘data director’ program that charter schools use.

Learning will be monitored formally and informally through the use of formative and summative assessments both in the individual classroom, with-in subject PLCs, and as a school PLC to monitor the effectives of our curriculum, teachers, interventions, and enrichment strategies. To help us track and analyze our data we will be implementing a student data management system after completing research on several systems including, Edusoft, OARS, and Data Director. The California Charter Schools Association offers a customized version of Data Director that we will are very interested in investigating further. We will also examine data visualization software, such as Tableau, as an additional possible tool to be able to effectively analyze, interpret, and communicate our data.

3. What strategies will be used to address diverse learning needs?

At this point, Deb indicated that they are looking for a little more specificity; they are not able to put their arms around a lot of these issues. We mentioned the process for developing the charter, the collaborative process with all the different stakeholders, the timelines, the due diligence and that through the MOU and conditions of approval we could address certain data points and check ins.

In order to address the diverse learning needs of our students, we will continue to research and develop effective differentiation strategies and support programs for all of our students. For example, teachers will continue to attend professional development conferences that promote effective differentiation strategies, such as Kate Kinsella workshops.

We have already begun designing several summer programs to better support some of our struggling students. A freshman transition program that will help students enter high school more prepared and a student remediation program to help students develop and practice deficient skills necessary for success in high school. We also plan on developing and
offering more tutoring and peer assistance programs for students who want or need more support.

In addition, we are investigating ways to design, and better track, individual student learning and performance plans for all of our students, so performance problems can hopefully be diagnosed and remedied more quickly and effectively.

PERSONNEL

These questions primarily came from Julie Braun Martin and included the following:

1. When will the current employees of the School District make a final decision to stay or go with the Charter School? She indicated they would need this information no later than February 2012 so the School district can do layoffs if they are going to have excess teaching capacity.

2. Deb indicated that they would not recommend any bumping rights back to the School District and pretty much wouldn’t allow leaves of absence for anybody who wants to work at the Charter School (noting that they don’t allow a leave of absence for anybody who wants to work elsewhere).

We understand that the District will need to assess employee capacity for the 2012-2013 school year. We will inform the District no later than the beginning of February 2012 which employees at Clayton Valley High School will elect to stay with the Charter School and which employees will seek a transfer within the District. We acknowledge that, in the same manner any District employee can not use a leave of absence to
work a similar job in another district, MDUSD leaves of absence can not be used by employees who elect to become employees of the Charter School. CVCHS employees will have no guaranteed right to return to work within MDUSD.

3. They asked questions about the collective bargaining process and whether the charter school would have a separate collective bargaining agreement and whether there would be any inter-relationship between the School and the District in the collective bargaining agreement.

CVCHS teachers will be part of the MDEA bargaining unit but with a separate agreement. CVCHS will work with MDUSD, or other authorizing body, in seeking advice and guidance regarding contract negotiation. While satisfactory evaluations are requisite to continued employment with CVCHS, no employee of CVCHS will be fired without cause or due process.

4. They asked about the seniority and tenure rights of charter school employees and for clarity regarding how that will work at the charter school.

For teachers already at CVHS who elect to continue with CVCHS, seniority will be based on the years currently held with MDUSD. Seniority for newly hired teachers will be based on decisions made at contract negotiation. Teacher pay will initially be based on the current MDUSD step scale.

FINANCE”
[Since this document includes charts that I can't cut and paste into my blog, here is a link to the document: http://www.docstoc.com/docs/document-preview.aspx?doc_id=92425607]

The committee also provided the district with insurance information and copies of the 579 emails Shuey received in support of the charter, which I am not attaching to this blog.

Do you believe the district’s charter Q&A accurately reflects the answers provided by the charter committee?

Posted on Sunday, August 28th, 2011
Under: Education, Mt. Diablo school district | 36 Comments »

Mt. Diablo district answers questions about proposed CVHS charter school

At Mt. Diablo school board President Gary Eberhart’s request, the superintendent has posted a list of Questions and Answers regarding the proposed Clayton Valley HS charter conversion on its website. I am posting it below, in case blog readers would like to comment on it.

“Clayton Valley Charter Update
Charter Petition Process

1. What should I do if I signed the petition saying I am “meaningfully interested in teaching at the charter” but have changed my mind?

A. If you are no longer are interested in teaching at the charter, please e-mail or call Julie Braun Martin in the Personnel Department at braunmartinj@mdusd.org or 682-8000 ext. 4136 by September 5, 2011. The district is required to verify that at least 50 percent of the current permanent teachers are meaningfully interested in teaching at the charter, or the petition cannot be considered for review. Regulations exclude probationary teachers from the decision.

2. I was surprised that so many teachers were willing to sign the document. Did they have a chance to thoroughly review the charter petition before they signed it, and did they understand the implications to their employment rights?

A. We do not know whether teachers read the petition before signing, or whether the changes to their employment rights were fully explained to them.

3. When will the public know whether the teachers who signed the petition saying they were ‘meaningfully interested in teaching at the charter’ really plan to teach there? I’m worried that some of the teachers at my school will lose their jobs because of this.

A. If the charter is approved, the district staff will recommend to the board that teachers be required to resign from the district if they work at the charter school. If the charter is approved, we will request that teachers who plan to work there voluntarily submit a resignation to the District by February 1, 2012, effective June 30, 2012. The February time frame allows the charter school to have ample time to recruit teachers. The Feb., 2012 deadline also allows the District time to absorb senior tenured teachers from Clayton Valley High School who will bump into other schools, displacing more junior teachers. Once an employee submits a resignation and the board votes on it, the resignation is irrevocable.

Charter School Board

4. Who will be on the board of the charter, what experience do they have in running a school and do they have a background or significant experience with school finance?

A. The charter petition does not identify the members of its board. We understand that the charter proposers are in the process of identifying Board members. The petition indicates that the board will be composed of 2 teachers, 2 parents, 1 classified staff member, 2 members at-large, 1 retired teacher and 1 administrator. At-large members cannot be current employees of the charter.

Personnel

5. If a current CVHS teacher chooses to work for the charter, do they retain district seniority and tenure?

A. No. Teachers at charter schools are at-will employees of the charter school and are not District employees. If the charter is approved, the district staff will recommend to the board that teachers who choose to work at the charter be required to resign from the District. Those teachers will lose their District tenure and seniority rights. The charter could grant seniority status and tenure, but those rights would only apply at the charter, and teachers would not have rights to employment in MDUSD.

6. Can teachers who want to work at the charter school take a leave from the District for one year or for any period of time?

A. The district, in its sole discretion, can permit or refuse to allow employees to take a leave to work at a charter school. Staff recommends against this. It is too difficult to plan, and unfair to the district teachers who remain, to hold positions within the district for teachers on leave who chose to work elsewhere. Teachers should be required to resign from the district to teach at the charter school and if they decide to reapply to the district, then they will need to go through the hiring process.

7. What happens at a charter school if a teacher needs an extended leave of absence because of a medical condition? Does the charter school have to pay the teacher who is out plus the sub? Where does that money come from?

A. The charter school board would decide whether to grant leaves of absence and whether or not those leaves are paid. It is unclear how substitute costs related to paid leaves would be funded as the current budget information received from the petitioners does not include a line for substitute teacher expense.

8. Will teachers at the charter have the right to transfer back into the District?

A. No. The district, in its sole discretion, can permit or refuse to allow employees to transfer back to the district from the charter for a limited period of time. Again, if the charter is approved, the staff will recommend against allowing such transfers. In considering transfers, the district must consider the equity of allowing teachers who leave to work elsewhere to return and thereby displace other district employees. If we were to permit transfers back, it would be unfair to our employees at other schools who could lose their jobs to make room for transfers from the charter.

9. Do the Ed Code rules for teacher termination apply to teachers at the charter school?

A. No. While the district must strictly adhere to the due process dismissal rules as set forth in the Education Code, charter schools do not have to abide by those rules. Charter school teachers are at-will employees who can be terminated at any time without cause unless the charter board decides to give them protection from at-will dismissal.

10. Will the teachers and classified staff at the charter be covered by the district’s current bargaining agreements?

A. The charter petition says employees of the charter will be covered by the collective bargaining agreements in place at the time of conversion until it negotiates different agreements. However, those agreements would be between the employees and the charter, not the District. The charter board would need to adopt the contracts as written for this to occur. The charter board could modify any district agreements, or they could write new ones from scratch. Again, contract negotiations would be between the charter school and the charter employees union.

11. The charter school plans to open in September 2012 and district teachers are not required to give notice until June 2012 of their intention to return to the District. How will the District plan to absorb those teachers who decide not to work at the charter school?

A. If the charter is approved, the District will ask CVHS teachers who plan to work at the charter to submit a resignation form by Feb. 1, 2012 to be effective at the end of the 2011/12 school year. If the district is unsuccessful in getting resignation forms, it will have to do precautionary layoffs by March 15, 2012 in order to reduce or eliminate the number of FTE equal to the number of teachers who are eligible to teach at the charter. This will impact staffing at most, if not all, secondary schools.

Funding

12. The charter school will be funded at a higher rate than CVHS currently is funded. Will the district cover the shortfall by taking funding away from other schools?

A. Yes. The charter will be funded at the charter high school rate, which is higher than the unified funding rate the district currently receives. The board will have to determine how to cover the shortfall. The difference is about $800 per student at the charter school. There are currently about 1900 students at the school, so the district would lose about $1.52 million dollars each year the charter was in operation.

13. Would CVCHS be willing to forgo the high school funding rate and to be funded at the lower unified rate so as not to create a financial drain on the remaining schools in the district?

A. The budget projections that the charter submitted were based on the higher funding rate. They can negotiate a lower rate with the district, but at this point, they have not indicated they are interested in a lower funding rate to minimize impact to the rest of the district.

14. Is the proposed budget realistic? Can the charter proposers do what they say they want to do with the amount of revenue they project?

A. The charter proposal includes little detail about programs and costs. The ExEd firm that developed the budget for the proposers, and who the petition says will be their business services provider, said in a meeting that they used typical charter budget figures which assume most teachers will be lower on the salary scale. If the charter hires mostly teachers on the low end of the salary schedule, those predictions could be realistic. If they hire experienced teachers, costs would rise significantly. The charter proposers have also indicated that they do not plan to use union custodial or landscape maintenance services, but instead will contract out those services. Charter schools are not required to use the district’s services, and can achieve cost savings by hiring low wage employees.

15. I notice also that the budget that is proposed contemplates a $2 Million loan, presumably for startup expenses. If the sponsors cannot meet projected enrollment or revenues do not match predictions, and the school is forced to discontinue operations, who then pays back the loan? Does this obligation fall back on the District? Have the sponsors said anything about where they will get this loan?

A. The charter will be an independent corporation. The district will not be liable for debts of the charter as long as the district meets its obligation of fiscal oversight. If the charter is approved, the District will follow the oversight obligations to minimize its legal exposure for debts and other obligations of the charter. However, the district will have to adjust its budget, if necessary, for any costs associated with reabsorbing the students back into the District, including the expense of hiring staff and teachers if the charter school is unsuccessful. The charter application does not specify the source of the charter will acquire the $2 million loan.

16. What is the district’s response to comments by the sponsors that the district’s assessment of the financial impact of the conversion is overblown, because it does not take into account the savings that would be realized from expenses relating to the operation of the high school that would be taken off the district’s books?

A. The district will not realize significant savings if it no longer operates Clayton Valley High School. This fact is due to all of the budget reductions that have been made to district office staff prior to now. In fact, we are not aware of a single district level position that could be reduced as a result of Clayton Valley High opening as a charter school.

Instructional Program

17. How long will the charter school day and year be?

A. The information in the charter petition is vague. Bell schedules and calendars were not included, but there is a statement that the school year could be longer.

18. Would my child have to attend school in the summer at the charter school? We usually take a long vacation in the summer, and the petition says the summer induction is mandatory. How long is the induction, when is it, and what happens if we are on vacation during that time?

A. There are no specifics about the mandatory summer induction in the proposal.

19. Will the charter require all students to wear uniforms?

A. There is mention of uniforms in the charter petition, but no clear information.

20. What are the courses of study being offered at the charter school?

A. The petition says ‘a full catalog of courses’ but there are no other details included.

21. What kind of grading system will be used at the charter?

A. There is no description of a grading system.

22. What will be the graduation requirement at the charter?

A. The petition indicates the ‘goal’ is 230 credits, but does not contain a clear timeline to achieve this goal.

23. When will the curriculum plan for the charter school be developed?

A. The petition did not provide a timeline.

24. When will the charter assessment plan be developed?

A. The petition did not provide timeline for developing the assessment plan.

25. How will teaching effectiveness and student learning be monitored to ensure that instruction is rigorous and students are engaged and learning at the charter?

A. The petition did not provide a description or details on how it will ensure rigorous instruction and engagement.

26. What specific strategies will be used to address the diverse learning needs of students at all ability and achievement levels, as well as of all racial, socio-economic, and linguistic backgrounds?

A. The petition does not provide a description or details about this.

27. How will instruction be individualized for students who are more advanced or behind their grade level peers? What will be the curriculum or teaching methodology for these students?

A. No details are provided in the petition.

28. What is the school calendar and how is the school day scheduled?

A. Several options were discussed in the petition but no definite selection was made.

29. Will there be a summer program for students wanting enrichment or remediation? What about students who need to make up credits?

A. A summer program is referenced in the petition for year 2 but there are no details about which students will be eligible or allowed to attend, or what the budget for this program would be.

30. How much English Language development will students who are English learners get? How will this instruction be provided? How will English learners be supported in core instruction?

A. The petition does not contain details relative to how much ELD English learners will receive, how that instruction will be provided or how English learners will be supported in the core instruction.

Special Education

31. Historically, charter schools have not served large numbers of students with special needs. How will the charter school ensure it has personnel and resources in place to assess and support students with special needs so they have access to the charter experience?

A. The charter school must enroll all students whether or not they are in special education. The district would initially need to ensure that the charter school has an appropriate plan for special education students.

Suspension/Expulsion

32. What is the suspension and expulsion appeal processes? (a) Where will students be placed pending their expulsion hearing? (b) Where will students be placed if they are in fact expelled from the school?

A. There is no appeal process if students are suspended or expelled from the charter school. The petition does not address where the students will be placed pending expulsion hearings or when they are expelled from the charter school. However, if students are expelled from the charter school, parents will most likely seek to enroll their students back in a district school.

Student Services

33. Will students have the services of a school nurse? (a) What will be the role of the school nurse? (b) What will the services be for those students who have medical issues that prevent them from attending school?

A. The charter intends to be a ‘school of the District’ for special education purposes. Therefore, students whose IEPs require nursing services will have those services provided by the District. The charter school organizers have not indicated whether general education students, including those with Section 504 plans that require nursing services, will be provided with them.

Facilities

33. If all CVHS students don’t attend the charter, will the district be operating CVHS at the same site?

A. For purposes of determining whether to grant the petition, the law requires that the district assume that all or the vast majority of current CVHS students will attend the charter and therefore, that the charter will use the entire facility.

35. I notice the budget does not have any line item for reimbursing the district for the use of the campus through rent or any other mechanism. Is this what is required by the Education Code when there is a direct conversion? It seems any other operator would need to pay for a facility.

A: There are California statutes that address the facility charges that a school district charges a charter school for the use of a district school. Beginning with its first year of operation as an independent conversion charter, the charter will have to pay a charge for the use of the district facility. The applicable rate is determined in statute.”
————————————————
[END OF MESSAGE]

This message doesn’t state who submitted the questions. Some of them could have been answered by reading the petition, which is available at https://sites.google.com/site/claytonvalleycharterhighschool.

It’s surprising that the district didn’t specifically answer the question about whether the district would save money by not having to operate the charter. Instead, it said the savings would not be “significant.” It also stated that no district office positions could be eliminated as a result of the conversion.

As I have previously pointed out, the School Closure Committee was given estimates for how much the district would save if it discontinued operating each campus in the district. The amount for Clayton Valley HS was listed as nearly $1.7 million — including several site administrators, office workers, campus supervisors and custodians — as well as utility savings. No district office staff were eliminated as a result of closing Glenbrook or Holbrook either, yet the district still saved money by discontinuing operations of those campuses.

The Q&A also doesn’t specify how much money the district would receive from Clayton Valley in rental income. These revenues would partially offset the loss of ADA revenues.

Also, the district knows how much each teacher at CVHS earns. It could provide the public with information about whether those who signed the petition are at the high or low pay range.

Finally, the Q&A doesn’t reveal whether district staff plans to recommend that trustees approve or deny the charter.

Although I normally pose only one question at the end of blog posts, this Q&A raises a few I would like to throw out:

1. In light of this new information, do you believe trustees should approve the charter?

2. If trustees approve the charter, do you believe they should require charter teachers to resign from the district? (Or, do you think they should allow a one-year leave of absence?)

3. Do you think the district should tell the public how much it spends to operate CVHS and how much it could charge in rent, so the public would know both the costs as well as the possible revenue loss associated with the possible conversion? (In essence, should the district reveal how much it would save or lose, when the cost of operations and possible revenues from rent are taken into consideration?)

Posted on Saturday, August 27th, 2011
Under: Clayton, Concord, Education | 31 Comments »

MDUSD Superintendent Welcomes Students Back to School

Mt. Diablo district Superintendent Steven Lawrence has sent out the following message to families, welcoming them back to school on Tuesday:

“Mt. Diablo USD News Update
Where Kids Come First
August 26, 2011

I would like to welcome all of our families back for the 2011-12 school year. I hope that you had an enjoyable summer and are ready for a new school year. Although times remain financially difficult for public schools across California, I assure you that the dedicated Mt. Diablo Unified School District professionals are working hard to serve your children. We look forward to an exciting and successful school year.

Start of School Reminders:

If you are driving your child to school please leave a little early during the first week of school. Many parents will be new to your school and are becoming familiar to the traffic patterns. So, it is always good to give yourself a little extra time as people learn the beginning of the school year traffic. Also, let your neighbors know that school is starting so they anticipate additional traffic and look for students walking to and from school.

A reminder to students in grades 7-12: you must have proof of your TdAP immunization. If you have not already turned it in, please bring it with you to school. All students in grades 7-12 must either submit their booster verification or have their parent/guardian complete and submit a waiver form by September 30th.

Clayton Valley Charter Update

Based on community questions, we have created a Q&A that can be accessed from the District’s home page under the District News heading. The link to the Q&A is http://www.mdusd.org/NewsRoom/Pages/default.aspx.
After reviewing the Q&A, if you have further questions, please e-mail the district at cvchs@mdusd.org. The Board will be taking action on the Clayton Valley Charter High School proposal at the September 13th Board meeting.

Measure C Update:

As you know, we are using a portion of the Measure C Facilities Bond resources to invest in a district-wide solar project. This project truly began three years ago when district staff and the Board had the foresight to apply for $56 million in Clean Renewable Energy Bonds (CREBs) through the Federal Government. Through the CREBs program, the Federal Government pays for 70 percent of the interest rate on the bonds which will save our local community millions of dollars in interest payments. This community investment is expected to save the district more than $220 million over the next 30 years. In the first five years of the solar project, we will not only save three million dollars annually on our PG&E bills, but we will also receive approximately three million dollars annually in rebates from the California Solar Initiative. During this ongoing state financial crisis, this additional $6 million per year will help us minimize the need to further reduce staff and educational programs. Without these funds, the board would have had to identify millions in additional reductions from the June budget. These reductions would have been equivalent to eliminating 80 teaching positions which would significantly increase class size or necessitate closing an additional eight to 10 schools.

Significant progress was made over the summer installing solar at many district schools. When completed, our solar project will be the largest K-12 project in the nation and will generate more than 12 megawatts of energy annually. We appreciate your support and patience while we complete the solar projects. For some schools, there will be short term traffic issues… Please remember the long-term positive impact the solar initiative will have on your children’s educational opportunities.

If you have specific questions about the solar project or other facilities projects being funded with Measure C, please visit our Measure C website at http://mdusdmeasurec.org/ or contact your school’s principal.

Again, welcome back and I hope that everyone has a great start to the school year. We look forward to seeing all of our students on the first day of school, next Tuesday, August 30.

Sincerely,

Steven Lawrence, Ph.D.
Superintendent
Mt. Diablo USD”
————————————————-
[END OF MESSAGE]

I heard from Northgate parent Teresa Torbett that Walnut Creek police were ticketing cars parked in special permit areas off Hutchinson Road near the school’s athletic fields, despite the fact that parking is no longer available in the Eagle Peak school parking lot due to the solar project.

Although parking is available off Castle Rock Road in the school’s north parking lot, no signs were posted on Hutchinson Road to let people know this, she said.

She spoke to the Walnut Creek Police Chief, asking for leniency until the school parking lots are usable, and was initially told no exceptions would be made. However, she was later told by the city’s Arts, Recreation and Parks Department that officials would see what could be done to provide parking for families such as those in the Walnut Creek Soccer Club, who use the fields.

During the Aug. 23 board meeting, Measure C administrator Tim Cody presented a Powerpoint about the project and said his team plans to hold community meetings with schools slated for solar panels during the second interval of construction.

Do you think the district should work with cities to ensure alternate parking is available for families that need to access schools during solar construction?

Posted on Saturday, August 27th, 2011
Under: Education | No Comments »

How will your school commemorate 9/11?

We’re working on a regional story taking a look at how local schools are commemorating and teaching about 9/11.

Due to state budget cuts, the California Dept. of Education hasn’t updated its history-social sciences framework since the last one was adopted in 1998.

However, the CDE has links to resources for educators on its website: http://www.cde.ca.gov/ci/cr/lb/sept11.asp.

In the past, some local schools have assembled students around the flag pole for assemblies featuring band and choral performances, short speeches and a moment of silence remembering those who died. I am looking for schools to profile this year.

If you’re planning special lessons or other activities, please contact me at 925-945-4764 or tharrington@bayareanewsgroup.com.

Thanks!

Posted on Saturday, August 27th, 2011
Under: Education | No Comments »

MDUSD appoints nine administrators

At Tuesday’s Mt. Diablo school board meeting, trustees appointed nine administrators, including some who were promoted to new positions.

Unfortunately, I’m still having technical difficulties embedding videos in my blogs, so I’m including links to videos of the appointments, which provide more information about the candidates.

Here are the appointments:

English Learner Services Director: Jeanne Duarte-Armas.
Video: http://qik.com/video/43625513

Director, Technology Support: Joshua Wittman
Video: http://qik.com/video/43625567

Continuation School Vice Principal: Richard Correa
Video of appointment: http://qik.com/video/43626593
Video of Correa (I accidentally stopped the first video before he made his comments): http://qik.com/video/43629416

Coordinator, Student Community Services 9-12 for Concord HS: Robert Bass
Video: http://qik.com/video/43625580

Coordinator, Student Community Services 9-12: Pulled

Assistant Director, Categoricals and School Support: Lorie O’Brien, promoted from position as SASS coach
Video: http://qik.com/video/43625810

Supervisor, Food and Nutrition Service: Tim Watson-Williams
Video: http://qik.com/video/43629480

Assistant Project-Program Manager for Measure C: Kenya Chatman
Video: http://qik.com/video/43629546

Assistant Construction Manager for Measure C: Melanie Koslow
Video: http://qik.com/video/43629564

I also shot other portions of the meeting — related to the School Closure plan, teachers’ union contract, the strategic plan, Measure A tax assessments, and Board President Gary Eberhart’s comments related to the special Measure C Bond Oversight Committee meeting and the YVHS 30th anniversary reunion — which I’ll post separately.

Are you satisfied with these appointments?

Posted on Thursday, August 25th, 2011
Under: Education, Mt. Diablo school district | 5 Comments »

A closer look at school construction bond oversight

The 2010 Measure C campaign promised voters funds would be spent to upgrade labs and classrooms, improve career technical education facilities, fix old leaky roofs and windows, make other basic repairs and provide safe places for after-school activities. This flyer, distributed in Walnut Creek, did not mention solar panels, which are projected to comprise about $88 million of the district's $348 million in bond expenditures.

I received the following e-mail last night from Terry Francke, of Californians Aware, regarding my story about Alicia Minyen, a 2010 Mt. Diablo Measure C Bond Oversight Committee member, who has had difficulties getting financial records from district officials:

“State law requires school districts not only to establish bond oversight committees but to accord them full cooperation in providing documentation of bond money spending. To treat Ms. Minyen’s requests as simply governed by the California Public Records Act is to defy the bond oversight law and invite a taxpayer suit to force the district to comply with it, if not a recall of the trustees who permit this obstructive nonsense.
Terry Francke
Californians Aware”

He included the following excerpt from the state’s Education Code Section 15278 et seq.15278, with emphasis added to pertinent portions:

“a) If a bond measure authorized pursuant to paragraph (3)of subdivision (b) of Section 1 of Article XIII A of the California Constitution and subdivision (b) of Section 18 of Article XVI of the California Constitution is approved, the governing board of the school district or community college shall establish and appoint
members to an independent citizens’ oversight committee, pursuant to Section 15282, within 60 days of the date that the governing board enters the election results on its minutes pursuant to Section 15274.

(b) The purpose of the citizens’ oversight committee shall be to inform the public concerning the expenditure of bond revenues. The citizens’ oversight committee SHALL ACTIVELY REVIEW and report on the proper expenditure of taxpayers’ money for school construction. The citizens’ oversight committee shall advise the public as to whether a school district or community college district is in compliance with the requirements of paragraph (3) of subdivision (b) of Section 1 of Article XIII A of the California Constitution. The citizens’ oversight committee shall convene to provide oversight for, but not be limited to, both of the following:

(1) Ensuring that bond revenues are expended only for the purposes described in paragraph (3) of subdivision (b) of Section 1 of Article XIII A of the California Constitution.

(2) Ensuring that, as prohibited by subparagraph (A) of paragraph (3) of subdivision (b) of Section 1 of Article XIII A of the California Constitution, no funds are used for any teacher or administrative salaries or other school operating expenses.

(c) In furtherance of its purpose, the citizens’ oversight committee may engage in any of the following activities:

(1) Receiving and reviewing copies of the annual, independent performance audit required by subparagraph (C) of paragraph (3) of subdivision (b) of Section 1 of Article XIII A of the California Constitution.

(2) Receiving and reviewing copies of the annual, independent financial audit required by subparagraph (C) of paragraph (3) of subdivision (b) of Section 1 of Article XIII A of the California Constitution.

(3) Inspecting school facilities and grounds to ensure that bond revenues are expended in compliance with the requirements of paragraph (3) of subdivision (b) of Section 1 of Article XIII A of the California Constitution.

(4) Receiving and reviewing copies of any deferred maintenance proposals or plans developed by a school district or community college district, including any reports required by Section 17584.1.

(5) Reviewing efforts by the school district or community college district to maximize bond revenues by implementing cost-saving measures, including, but not limited to, all of the following:

(A) Mechanisms designed to reduce the costs of professional fees.

(B) Mechanisms designed to reduce the costs of site preparation.

(C) Recommendations regarding the joint use of core facilities.

(D) Mechanisms designed to reduce costs by incorporating efficiencies in schoolsite design.

(E) Recommendations regarding the use of cost-effective and efficient reusable facility plans.

15280. (a) The governing board of the district shall, without expending bond funds, provide the citizens’ oversight committee with any necessary technical assistance and SHALL PROVIDE ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANCE IN FURTHERANCE OF ITS PURPOSE and sufficient resources to publicize the conclusions of the citizens’ oversight committee.”

Anton Jungherr, executive director and cofounder of the California League of Bond Oversight Committees, or CALBOC, told me that some districts don’t give bond oversight committees the respect they deserve.

“A lot of these districts think this is like one of their little local citizen advisory committees,” he said. “This is not that. This is an oversight committee required under the law because they got the benefit of the 55 percent vote. They could have gone with a two-thirds vote.”

In 2000, California voters approved Proposition 39, which lowered the threshhold for approval of school construction bonds from two-thirds to 55 percent, with the requirement that a citizen’s committee provide strict oversight of the spending.

But many citizens throughout the state serving on these legally required bodies do not understand their responsibilities, Jungherr said.

“They don’t know what they’re supposed to do and the districts are not helpful in telling them what they’re supposed to do,” he said. “It’s a basic conflict of interest.”

Better trained oversight committee members would provide stronger oversight, which districts are not eager to invite, he said.

“Our mission is to train some 5,000 bond oversight committee members in California,” Jungherr said. “There’s about 500 of these committees.”

His organization is conducting a statewide survey to find out how many districts are complying with Proposition 39. Some districts, he said, don’t even appoint oversight committees. Others don’t have websites or don’t post all the information they should.

“You get a great variety of understanding of these matters,” he said. “The problem is: there’s no central state agency that administers this or enforces this.”

Some oversight committees meet monthly, while others meet quarterly or annually. The minimum is one per year, he said.

I told him the 2002 Measure C Bond Oversight Committee hasn’t met since September, 2009 — even though money remained from bond proceeds.

“That’s illegal,” he said. “The committee is obligated to at a minimum issue a report until the funds are fully expended.”

After Minyen began raising questions about the 2002 Measure C audits, I noticed that no audits appeared on the district’s website for 2002, 2003 or after 2008. In response to a Public Records Act request, I received the following audits from 2002-03 and for fiscal year 2009: http://www.docstoc.com/docs/document-preview.aspx?doc_id=91135270

No audit appeared for fiscal year 2010. I repeatedly asked district officials if there was and audit for 2010 and if not, why not?

That question was never directly answered. However, the agenda for Tuesday’s board meeting shows that the district intends to belatedly enter into a contract for the fiscal year 2010 audit of 2002 Measure C funds: http://esbpublic.mdusd.k12.ca.us/public_itemview.aspx?ItemId=4390&mtgId=313

Jungherr said he serves on the West Contra Costa bond oversight committee, which meets monthly and receives 100-page reports.

“It not only shows what’s been spent, but it shows what’s been obligated,” he said. “If you issue a contract today for $100,000, what you want to know is what’s the contract amount, how much as been paid and how much has been obligated — otherwise, how could you know where you are and what your status is? That’s just normal bookkeeping.”

Jungherr said it’s also critical for districts to give oversight committees detailed information about revenues.

“You have not only the bond proceeds, but you have interest and state matching funds and developer fees,” he said. “How would you know how to manage a project if you don’t know what the total income is?”

In his opinion, Jungherr said districts have a higher duty to provide documents to members of their bond oversight commitees than to the general public, because committee members are legally charged to review such records.

An effective bond oversight committee can give credibility to efforts to pass new bond measures in the future, he said.

Minyen says the 2010 Mt. Diablo committee should meet monthly, so it can review detailed records related to bond proceeds and expenditures as they are happening. Given the size and scope of Mt. Diablo’s proposed projects, which are expected to cost $348 million and span seven years of construction, Jungherr said he agrees.

Jungherr said his organization was so impressed by Minyen’s knowledge and background that they elected her to their board of directors Aug. 12.

“We thought, because of her work in Mt. Diablo, she would be useful on statewide basis,” Jungherr said. “She is very meticulous and knowledgeable about bonds and refunding bonds.”

I also asked Jungherr whether it is important for oversight committees to follow their bylaws. He said bylaws are not legally binding according to state law, since they are approved by district trustees. However, he said a committee should strive to be in compliance with its own board-approved bylaws.

The bylaws of the Mt. Diablo oversight committee state that the group is supposed to hold an organizational meeting each July. Yet, the committee didn’t meet in July.

“Certainly it wouldn’t be a best practice to have the school board provide that in their policy and then have them not do it,” Jungherr said. “It certainly doesn’t give any credibility to the committee.”

John Ferrante, chairman of both the 2002 and 2010 committees, said he didn’t call a July meeting because all of the business that would have been conducted at such a meeting was discussed at the June meeting. When I asked him if the bylaws should be changed to reflect the committee’s practice, he said that might be a good idea.

John Parker, who is a member of both the 2002 and 2010 committees, said he has spoken to Ferrante about the need to hold another meeting of the 2002 committee. He said he recalled the 2002 committee discussing the need for another audit at its last meeting, but said the committee never met again to review it.

The state controller’s office criticized the San Joaquin Delta College in 2008 for lax bond oversight by its committee, calling it “passive, perfunctory and ineffective.”

It stated that the San Joaquin committee “apparently did not seek any information or data beyond that presented by Delta College’s staff during its quarterly meetings.”

Instead, it said the committee merely listened to staff presentations and did not engage in any other oversight activities.

“We also found that the information presented was general in nature and did not contain sufficient detail for the (committee) to conduct meaningful reviews of bond expenditures.”

The report also criticized the San Joaquin committee for failing to follow its own bylaws related to its annual report.

Garin Casaleggio, spokesman for the state controller’s office, said the controller’s office only audits districts if requested to do so by a state legislator.

Jungherr said many oversight committee members aren’t very motivated to provide strict oversight.

“In most of these districts, the school board makes the appointment,” he said. “Most of the people that get on those committees, they’re interested in lobbying for their locoal programs. Most of them don’t have any interest in bond oversight, and they have no skill in doing it, either construction skill or fiscal skill. And there’s no agency that’s training them.”

He said a San Mateo County grand jury recommended that the County Office of Education provide training.

His organization has helped to push for new legislation that would require annual performance and financial audits to be completed and submitted by March 31st for the previous fiscal year.

It also wants better enforcement of Proposition 39 violations. Right now, Jungherr said, citizens must take the district to court.

His organization would like to see legislation that imposes penalties on districts that don’t comply with the law, such as prohibiting them from spending bond money or from seeking future construction bond measures.

“To think that a private citizen has to go to court and pay the fee to enforce a consitutional and statutory requirement doesn’t make sense at all,” Jungherr said.

Minyen says she’d like to get legal clarification about expenses and revenues related to Proposition 39 projects.

According to the Smartvoter website, Proposition 39 authorized districts to seek bonds for repair, construction or replacement of school facilities and classrooms for projects evaluated by districts for safety, class size and information technology needs. Districts are prohibited from using bond funds for salaries or operating expenses.

Minyen questions whether solar panels meet these requirements, since district officials have said they are constructing the solar projects to provide general fund relief, for the express purpose of paying operating expenses.

She also questions the district’s plan to divert solar credits from the bond fund into the general fund. This goes against generally accepted accounting principles, since the credits are supposed to offset the cost of the solar panels, she said.

Jack Weir, a Contra Costa taxpayer advocate who served on the Contra Costa College District’s bond oversight committee, agrees. He said the college district left its solar rebate money in the construction fund, which lowered the cost of its project for taxpayers.

Jungherr, who is an accountant, shares this opinion, saying it’s “completely inappropriate” to transfer the solar rebates into the general fund.

“That should go to retire the bond,” he said.

Minyen also questions the legality of using bond proceeds to pay off Certificates of Participation (COPS) and leases, which she says appear to be operating expenses. In addition, she questions how COPS for landscaping and maintenance property at 2344 Bisso Lane in Concord, leased by a nonprofit public benefit corporation run by district trustees, fulfills the district’s obligation to spend bond money on safety, class size and information technology needs.

Do you believe the Legislature should adopt a law penalizing districts that fail to comply with Proposition 39?

Posted on Sunday, August 21st, 2011
Under: Education, Mt. Diablo school district | 127 Comments »

MDUSD bond oversight committee meeting to address questions about spending, audits

The Mt. Diablo 2010 Measure C Bond Oversight Committee will hold a special meeting at 7 p.m. Monday in the district office board room to discuss concerns raised by recently-appointed taxpayer representative Alicia Minyen.

I am writing a story about Minyen’s concerns, which should be published in the Times before the meeting. With Minyen’s permission, I am posting a July 25 e-mail to her fellow committee members, as well as a letter she presented to the school board on Aug. 9. She has asked that these be included in the agenda packet for the meeting, so the public is aware of her concerns.

“From: Alicia Minyen
Sent: Mon, 25 Jul 2011 19:38:23
Subject: Multiple Issues with MDUSD’s Bond Issuances

Hello John and Bond Oversight Committee (“BOC”) Members:

In order to be a more effective BOC member, I’ve been researching the applicable laws pertaining to school district general obligation bonds found under Proposition 39, the Education Code, and California Constitution. In addition, I have been researching Proposition 55, and the MDUSD’s 1989 Measure A and 2002 Measure C since each of these have their own specific mandates, and Pete Pedersen indicated that the remaining funds from these sources of revenue would be used for current projects listed.

I have uncovered many issues and red flags that raise serious concerns of noncompliance with virtually every MDUSD measure and Proposition 55. I have outlined these issues and red flags below for your consideration, some of which require immediate action and full disclosure to the public. Accordingly, I believe the BOC should meet as soon as possible to address the issues below.

1. 1989 Measure A Community Facilities District Mello Roos Bonds

A. In November 7, 1989, the voters authorized the MDUSD to issue $90 million in bonds ‘to finance all or a portion of the facilities for the Community Facilities District.’ According to the California Debt & Investment Advisory Commission, the MDUSD to date has issued $201.5 million in Measure A CFD bonds.

B. It appears that in 2002, 2005, and 2006, the MDUSD issued illegal ‘cash out refundings’ where the MDUSD refunded amounts above what was owed on the outstanding bonds and took additional cash out beyond what was authorized by the voters. (See State Attorney General Opinion 06-1102: ‘Without voter-approval, no cash-out refunding bonds. Absent the required voter approval from a school district’s voters, a school district may not issue refunding bonds at a price or at an interest rate that will generate proceeds in excess of the amount needed to retire the designated outstanding bonds (i.e., cash-out refunding bonds).’)

C. MDUSD board minutes indicate cash out refundings occurred, e.g., board minutes dated May 10, 2005, Mayo states, ‘due to current low interest rates, the District may refinance 1995 Measure A Bonds, creating additional fund for Measure A projects at no additional cost to taxpayers.’ MDUSD financial statement footnotes in the audit reports also imply cash out refundings occurred.

D. I made public comment to Greg Rolen and the MDUSD board on June 28, 2011, addressing this issue and asked that they cease and desist in the expenditure of Measure A funds until this issue is resolved. I have had no response to this issue.

2. 2002 Measure C General Obligation Bonds Subject to Proposition 39

A. Proposition 39 requires 2 separate audits, a ‘performance audit’ and a ‘financial audit.’ The financial audits were never obtained for the 2002 Measure C bonds. In addition, in lieu of a ‘performance’ audit, the MDUSD engaged Perry Smith LLP to perform ‘agreed-upon procedures,’ where the MDUSD and prior 2002 Committee determined the scope of the engagement and the sample size, thus compromising the integrity of the results. The State Controller, John Chiang’s, Audit Division issued an opinion where he said “agreed-upon procedures” does not meet the ‘performance audit’ requirement or the intent of Proposition 39. Therefore, the taxpayers in the MDUSD have absolutely no assurance that the bond proceeds were expended in accordance Proposition 39 and applicable laws. Please see language below directly from Proposition 39 regarding the two audit requirements under Section 4:

-A requirement that the school district board, community college board, or county office of education conduct an annual, independent performance audit to ensure that the funds have been expended only on the specific projects listed.

- A requirement that the school district board, community college board, or county office of education conduct an annual, independent financial audit of the proceeds from the sale of the bonds until all of those proceeds have been expended for the school facilities projects.

B. I spoke with the Bureau Chief at the State Controller’s Audit Division charged with Proposition 39 audits, and they confirmed that agreed-upon procedures does not meet the performance audit requirement. The State Controller and founder of California League of Bond Oversight Committees confirmed the requirement for a separate financial audit, which was never performed. Instead, it the MDUSD is relying on their combined school audit, and this is not appropriate since additional test procedures are required by the independent accountant to address general obligation bonds.

C. On June 22, 2011, I wrote to Greg Rolen and the school board to inform them of this issue and asked that a cease and desist from expending the remaining 2002 Measure C monies be placed on the board Agenda. Greg Rolen did not respond to me until minutes before the MDUSD board meeting on June 28th, and he refused to comply and informed me that he consulted with their accountancy firm and bond counsel and thought there is no issue. However, I called Christy White and they said agreed upon procedures is not appropriate. I asked Greg Rolen to provide me with documentary evidence to support an opinion that supersedes the State Controller, and he never responded. Further, the Contra Costa Times heard my public comments on June 28th meeting, and an impending newspaper article may be on the way soon.

D. I’m asking the BOC and BOC chairperson to ask the MDUSD to pay for a performance and financial audit for all periods of the 2002 Measure C. A qualified auditor should be engaged immediately to perform these required audits. The audits should be performed before any remaining 2002 Measure C funds are fully expended.

3. Proposition 55 (MDUSD received over $100 million state matching funds)

A. In reviewing the MDUSD’s financial audit report for the year-ended June 30, 2008, I noticed an irregular $14 million interfund transfer from the County Schools Facilities fund (containing Proposition 55 funds) to the Building Fund (containing 2002 Measure C funds) to ‘cover increased costs.’ I confirmed with the California State division of General Services, who oversees Proposition 55 expenditures, and they believe that this $14 million is not an appropriate expenditure under Proposition 55.

B. I noticed in the 2002 BOC minutes for 2005, that Proposition 55 reimbursement funds would be used to pay principal on 2002 Measure C funds. I’m not sure if funds were used in his manner, however, I confirmed with the California State division of General Services, that this use of funds is prohibited.

C. Until these potential issues involving Proposition 55 funds are resolved, there should be a cease and desist on the expenditure of any remaining funds. Furthermore, the State auditor informed me that any savings from Proposition 55 funds must be used only on ‘high priority’ urgent need projects only, e.g., removal of asbestos, within 3 years for elementary school projects and 4 years for high schools.

4. 2010 Measure C

A. Proposition 39 requires that projects funded with Measure C bond proceeds must be spent on projects that will result in smaller class sizes and safer schools. As you know a massive solar installation project is underway. The State Controller said that this solar project may not be allowed if the disclosure was not adequate in the full text 2010 Measure C, and it does not result in smaller class sizes and safer schools. It does not appear that the disclosure was adequate, especially in light of the solar project’s magnitude and significant use of bond proceeds.

B. The State Attorney General has prohibited the use of bond proceeds to pay for salaries and general operating expenses. Generally, what you cannot do directly your cannot do indirectly. With that in mind, using bond proceeds to pay for solar panels, a revenue generating equipment arrangement, may be prohibited. The State Controller informed me that the MDUSD cannot keep the CSI rebates for the general fund. Such an act is prohibited and goes against accounting principles. The rebates must remain with the 2010 Measure C fund.

C. Further, Eberhart has stated that the MDUSD is trying to obtain federal tax incentives. These tax incentives, which now can be received via cash grants, are available to ‘for profit’ entities under the American Reinvestment Recovery Act (“ARRA”). The ARRA specifically excludes government entities, municipalities and school districts from receiving these federal tax credits because government entities are not subject to tax. I’ve requested records from Greg Rolen to determine the status of federal tax incentives 10 days ago, and I’ve obtained no response. My concern is that the receipt of the tax credits is illegal, will be misused, and the IRS may institute clawbacks of such credits if deemed illegal, placing the MDUSD at financial risk to the extent they are relying on such revenue.

D. $59 million in Clean Renewable Energy Bonds (CREB) were issued in September 2010 to partially fund the solar project. The IRS provides lump sum ‘subsidy payments’ or tax credits, depending on the situation. I’ve asked Greg Rolen several questions about the CREBS and related tax incentives, but he will not answer my questions regarding the CREBS. Further, when the MDUSD applied for the CREB bonds, an application describing the proposed project was submitted to the IRS. According to IRS rules, the solar project cannot deviate from what was proposed on the application. I believe the BOC should be made aware of those expenses that attributable to complying with the IRS rules pursuant to CREBS.

E. The voters were told that for the combined 2002 and 2010 Measure C, taxes would not exceed $60 per $100k of assessed valuation. The MDUSD reached the $60 cap in September 2010; however, the MDUSD issued an additional $10.9 million in bonds in March 2011. So absent the MDUSD issuing nontraditional termed bonds, the MDUSD may have exceeded this cap. It appears this $60 cap is the result of the most recent bond offers aggregating $10.9 million, and may explain the June 21, 2011, refunding of 2002 Measure C bonds in the amount of $37 million. I asked Greg Rolen for the calculation of the $60 assessment, and he will not provide me the records. In addition, my concern is that the MDUSD is paying exorbitant legal and underwriting fees as a result of the $60 cap, and there is another $220 million left to be issued on 2010 Measure C offering. I don’t know how the project timeline can be met given the $60 restriction. Further, I’m concerned that the MDUSD will exceed the cap when it may not be lawful to do so. The BOC is responsible for ensuring that legal costs and professional fees be kept to a minimum.

F. I’ve asked Greg Rolen if the June 21, 2011, 2002 Measure C refunding was a ‘cash out.’ He will not answer my question.

G. Bond counsel has informed me that they believe using 2010 Measure C funds to pay off prior long term debt in the form of certificates of participation and lease obligations is acceptable since “acquisitions” took place upon payoff. However, when I asked Greg Rolen for records to prove that an acquisition took place, including title transfer records, and he did not provide the records to me since he believes the district does not maintain such records. I find this implausible. Further, I believe the disclosure in the 2010 Measure C full text language does not adequately disclose this type of transaction. I noted that investors to the 2010 Measure C bond were told specifically that bond proceeds would be used to pay prior long-term debt, but that same language in the bond offering statement was not made to the voters in the 2010 Measure C full text. So this may also turnout to be a prohibited use of funds.

5. Other

A. Pursuant to California Legislature 1908, all BOC reporting should be posted on the internet. We may not be in compliance with Proposition 39, AB 1908, since not all the board minutes are posted on the internet, and written materials provided to BOC members during our meetings are also not posted on the internet.

B. 2002 Measure C performance and financial audit is not posted for 2009. Perhaps there is no audit?

C. Greg Rolen’s overall response to my records requests is disconcerting. I asked for specific records pertaining to expenses for the 2010 Measure C, I was accused of burdening his staff and abusing the spirit of the public records act. Pete Pederson to date has provided us only with expense information in general categories and aggregate balances. According to AB 1908, the BOC should be provided with appropriate financial records, and the California League of Bond Oversight Committees states that it is highly unusual for BOC’s not to receive detailed expense information like date, description, payee, and amount of each expense by project. At a minimum we should be reviewing the general ledger and related invoices. It is very disturbing that the MDUSD’s general counsel is pushing back on my request, and I find it impossible for the BOC to be able to attest to the appropriateness of expenses when the BOC has not seen detailed expenditures. This should be incorporated as part of our regular review, in addition, we should be making regular site visits to verify the work being done. Has anyone made site visits that would very the expenditures to date?

D. The projects list that was filed with the Board of Education should be brought to the BOC meetings so we can ensure that expenditures are for the “projects listed”.

E. Furthermore, I believe that posting the meeting Agendas should also be made on the internet. It is confusing when we have a website for 2010 Measure C, but it is not being updated, while Agendas are being posted outside of the Dent center making the public have to drive quite a distance to view the Agenda.

So I hope you all realize that the manner in which the MDUSD has been funding its projects complicates the ability to ensure that expenditures are appropriate, and we need to take immediate action, where necessary, to protect bond proceeds and ensure that MDUSD is in compliance with applicable laws. John, please advise on how you will proceed.

Also, to the extent the Greg Rolen does cooperate and provides me with the financial records I requested, is there anyone on the BOC who is willing to help with the review? Perhaps a sub-committee should be formed to address audit and financial budget issues. I welcome any opinions from other members, however, please keep in mind that what is discussed via email must be disclosed in a public forum to avoid Brown Act violations.

Thank you,
Alicia Minyen”

Here is the letter Minyen submitted to the board on Aug. 9, during the public comment period. It includes a list of questions she wants the bond counsel to answer at the Monday meeting:

“Date: August 9, 2011
To: Members of the Board; Superintendent Lawrence; and Greg Rolen, General Counsel
From: Alicia Minyen, CPA
Member of the 2010 Measure C Citizen’s Oversight Committee

Please have bond counsel ready by August 22, 2011, to respond to the following concerns and questions regarding the use of 2010 Measure C bond funds to pay for 1998 refunded certificates of participation totaling about $5 million. In addition, please have bond counsel ready to address concerns in my July 25, 2011, email I sent to all 2010 Measure C Committee members.

Further, I wanted to ensure that the use of 2010 bond proceeds were appropriate to payoff 2006 and 2007 lease obligations totaling about $8.7 million. I had asked the district under a public records request dated July 6, 2011, to provide copies of the lease agreements, description of collateral/property leased, and documents evidencing title transfer, among other things. The district has not provided these records. In order for the 2010 Citizen’s Bond Oversight Committee to make a determination of the appropriateness of paying off long-term lease obligations totaling about $14 million, please provide the records I had requested prior to August 22, 2011, so I have sufficient time to review. Please note that I already have a copy of agreements pertaining to the 1994 and 1998 certificate of participations.

When responding to the questions below, please keep in mind the requirements of Proposition 39 and its related laws (i.e., the expense must result in smaller classes and safer schools). Also keep in mind the State Attorney General’s opinion 04-0110, which states that bond proceeds cannot be used for general operating expenses.

1. Please explain why the debt service associated with the 1998 certificates of participation (COP), which are securities, do not constitute general operating expenses. Please also note that the 2010 Facilities Master Update refers to the COPs and Lease Obligations paid for with 2010 Measure C funds as ‘General Fund Relief and Debt Retirement.’

2. You have stated in the past that with respect to using 2010 Measure C bond proceeds to pay for COPs and Lease Obligation, that you are relying on the following ballot disclosure: A) ‘Acquisition of any of the facilitates on the bond project list through temporary lease or lease purchase arrangements, or execute purchase option under leases for any of these authorized facilities; and B) acquisition of leasehold interest on facilities currently subject to lease.’

It appears to me that the disclosure in A and B above would apply to new transactions (transactions subsequent to the passing of 2010 Measure C. Please explain why disclosures under A and B above would be relevant and apply to old COP transactions, i.e., a structure located at 2344 Bisso Lane, Concord, CA, built in 1994 subject to a COP, which was refunded in 1998.

Further, in my review of the COP, I do not find language that would define that an acquisition took place. For example, the COP states that the District retains title to the subject property at all times. Please identify the language that supports an acquisition took place by the district as a result of payoff. Also, identify language that would address a purchase option.

I did notice prepayment language; however, it simply said that if a prepayment occurred, the interest in the property would be vested. Perhaps I missed something. Please point out the language in the 1998 COP that states upon prepayment the District acquires a leasehold interest.

3. Please identify the facility located at 2344 Bisso Lane, Concord, on the projects listed. Please also explain how this facility results in smaller class sizes and safer schools.

4. Please explain if the district can enter into a new COP transaction using the same facility as used in the 1998 COP in the future…is there any waiting period since the time it was paid off?

5. In 1998, the COP was refunded and generated about $500,000 extra money to be used for additional acquisitions. Please describe what type of assets that were acquired with the $500,000. Also, please show the 2010 Committee if such assets are on the projects listed.

6. The 2010 Committee should consider the amount of professional fees paid for using bond proceeds. In light of this, please explain whether premiums/penalties were charged for prepayment of the 1998 COP.

7. Was there an appraisal obtained on the property located at 2344 Bisso Lane. What was the current market value of property in 1998 and was the market value below the amount raised from the sale of certificates (i.e., $7,760,000)? Was a new appraisal obtained just prior to the time of payoff? If so, did the appraisal support the amount outstanding?

8. I noticed that the 1994 COP agreement says it is a ‘project lease’ and the 1998 COP states it is a ‘lease purchase.’ Please explain the differences in these two types of leases.

9. I searched the county’s clerk & recorder’s records and couldn’t find that MDUSD held the 2344 Bisso Lane property. Please show the deed/title and owner of this property. If someone other than the district owned the property, provide evidence that the district was allowed to enter into the lease associated with the 1998 COP. Also, please explain this facilities current use and whether it is fully occupied.

10. Please explain why the prepayment of the COPs was a priority vs. using the bond proceeds to fund more urgent projects that may jeopardize the safety of children.

11. The counter- party to the 1998 COP is Mt. Diablo Unified School District Education Facilitates Financing Corporation. Was this related non-profit corporation created solely for the purpose of the COPs? Does the district use this corporation for any other purpose that may relate to the 2010 Measure C?”
————————————————————–
[END OF MINYEN'S LETTER]

Minyen has also sent additional e-mails and Public Records Act requests to district officials, beginning June 6. Rolen initially responded that her requests for information were overly burdensome to staff, that the district might not have the records she sought, that he wasn’t sure he was required to release some of the records and that her requests were an abuse of the Public Records Act.

Today, however, he informed her that “information responsive” to her requests would be made available at the Monday meeting.

“If you wish to receive them in advance, or, review them at your leisure there are 1,496 pages of documents the district has copied,” he wrote. “The generally excepted (sic) $.10 copying fee will be required prior to receipt. Accordingly, if you wish to receive the documents either before or after the meeting, please remit $149.60 to Bryan Richards in the Fiscal Department.”

Do you believe a board-appointed member of a Bond Oversight Committee should be required to pay for documents related to his or her duties as a volunteer on the legally required committee?

Posted on Thursday, August 18th, 2011
Under: Education, Mt. Diablo school district | 45 Comments »

Mt. Diablo teachers’ union to vote on agreement Friday

Mike Langley, president of the Mt. Diablo Education Association teachers’ union, sent me a copy of a Memorandum of Understanding that could enable the district to keep its School Improvement Grant funding.

“A majority of the Mt. Diablo Education Association (MDEA) Executive Board has voted to recommend to the Representative Assembly the approval of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) attached,” he wrote in an email. “This MOU allows the Mt. Diablo Unified School District (MDUSD) to reapply for School Improvement Grant (SIG) money that has been withheld after a state wide audit of SIG recipients. It is our belief that this MOU allows the district to meet any requirements that may have been missed in the original grant proposal. We also believe that the product is a positive example of how reform can be introduced when the effort is truly collaborative and all parties views are valued.”

Here’s the full text of the agreement, on which which members of the union’s Rep Assembly will vote tomorrow morning:

“MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING
MT. DIABLO UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT and MT. DIABLO EDUCATION ASSOCIATION

PURPOSE

The purpose of this memorandum is to reach an agreement between the Mt. DiabloUnified School District (‘District’) and the Mt. Diablo Education Association that will allow the former to meet the terms of the $9,610,304 School Improvement Grant (‘SIG’) awarded during the 2010/11 school year. The grant funds are to be paid over the course of three school years. During the 2010/11 school year, the District received $4,627,653, which represents the first installment of SIG funds for Cohort 1 schools: the LEA, Glenbrook, Bel Air, Rio Vista and Shore Acres Elementary Schools.

In order to receive the second installment of $4,453,638 in 2011/12 and the third installment of $4,529,013 in 2012/13, for the LEA, Bel Air, Rio Vista and Shore Acres, the District must, among other things: (a) significantly increase learning time at SIG schools; and (b) implement a rigorous, transparent, and equitable evaluation system for teachers and principals that takes into account data on student growth as a significant factor.

GENERAL

1. This memorandum shall only apply to the Cohort 1 SIG schools. The parties fully intend to enter into a separate memorandum for Cohort 2 schools that will be substantially similar to this document but may vary relative to payment
for teachers who are centrally assigned or for itinerant teachers at Cohort 2 secondary schools.

2. The parties agree that the terms of this memorandum shall be null and void if: (a) the state or federal government informs the District that it does not meet the requirements of the grant; or (b) the District is unable to provide the funding for this agreement. In the event that either eventuality contemplated in paragraphs 2 (a) or (b) come to pass, for any work days during which SIG teachers worked extended site time, compensation will be provided pursuant to the terms of this
agreement. In the event that the parties are required to increase the number of instructional hours beyond those in this memorandum, the parties shall meet to determine whether either is interested in pursuing that course of action.

3. The term of this memorandum shall be for the 2011/12 and 2012/13 school years only. However, the term may be extended if the SIG grant is extended.

4. The parties expressly agree that certificated staff at SIG schools shall not be exempt from the District’s normal layoff processes and that the District shall not attempt to use special training acquired during service at a SIG school as a criteria for skipping in layoff proceedings.

5. All other increases or reductions in benefits and working conditions and work year negotiated for general MDEA membership will apply to members at SIG sites.

INVOLUNTARY TRANSFER

No teacher currently assigned to SIG schools at the time this memorandum is entered into will be required to transfer or interview for his or her position. The District shall grant involuntary transfer status in Spring 2012 to those SIG teachers who respond to the February 15th Subsequent Year Assignment Preference Form with a written request for involuntary transfer status by March 1, 2012.

INCREASED LEARNING TIME

Increased Learning Time: The school improvement grant requires Districts to increase the instructional time for students. Learning time will be increased by an average of 55 minutes per day, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. Increased instructional time increases the amount of time teachers are required to be on site.

1. The current contract states teachers shall remain at their site for 415 minutes. Due to the longer teacher work day and the additional performance requirements, teachers shall be paid an additional 14.46 percent.

2. The length of the extended teacher work day shall be 475 minutes. This includes a lunch period of 30 minutes and recesses to amount to 20 minutes.

3. To provide consistency among SIG schools, the teacher work day will be from 7:30 – 3:25 (475 minutes). Sites may choose to increase their lunch time or add an additional recess. If so, the time shall be added to the teacher work day. (Attachment A, Sample) [Blog Note: Langley didn't provide me with a copy of this attachment.] This schedule may vary 5-10 minutes from beginning to end of day depending on traffic patterns (transportation needs).

4. Instructional minutes on ‘regular school days’ shall be:”

[Blog note: this chart didn't reproduce in my copy, so I have paraphrased it here:
Daily minutes at Bel Air, Rio Vista and Shore Acres are 305 for kindergarten, 385 for grades 1-3 and 395 for grades 4-5.]

“5. On Wednesdays and Conference days (minimum days) instructional minutes shall be:

Daily Minutes Kinder 1-3 4-5
Bel Air 255 250 250
Rio Vista 255 250 250
Shore Acres 255 250 250

SALARY INCREASE

1. Site time will be increased for designated teachers identified as SIG Teachers. A new salary schedule for SIG teachers will be created for the duration of the grant at all SIG schools at 114.46% of the current salary schedule for MDEA members.

2. A SIG teacher is defined as a teacher who provides an additional hour of service to students beyond the 415 minimum required minutes.

3. SIG teachers are site-based teachers such as classroom teachers, intervention teachers, RS/ISP, EL Resource teachers who will have increased student contact time. At the conclusion of the grant, teachers will return to the regular MDEA salary schedule with commensurate placement and shall receive longevity and column credit earned as a SIG teacher.

4. Other centrally assigned and itinerant staff such as PE, music, and library prep teachers will be assigned using the same guidelines as non-SIG schools which is based on the Administrative Rule 4113.11 and Article 9.8.5.1 in the MDEA contract. These teachers will not have additional student contact requirements as a result of increased learning time for students. Speech and Language Pathologists will adhere to the case-load parameters outlined in the MDEA contract. These centrally assigned employees shall remain on the regular MDEA salary schedule. For any centrally assigned and itinerant staff at SIG schools site meetings will be held immediately at the end of 415 minimum site day and shall adhere to the MDEA contract language regarding after site time meetings.

AFTER SITE TIME MEETINGS AND TRAINING TIME

1. The parties agree that after site time meetings or trainings scheduled by the principal shall be limited to no more than twenty eight (28) hours per year. The following meetings shall not be included in the 28 hour limitation: (a) after school IEPs; and (b) after school SSTs.

2. Personnel at the SIG schools who will not have a longer instructional day and increased compensation are not required to participate in SIG meetings or SIG training.

3. The District shall direct principals to be thoughtful and judicious in their use of after site time meetings considering the longer work day that will now be implemented at SIG schools.

EVALUATION PARTIALLY WEIGHTED BASED ON STUDENT GROWTH

1. The SIG requires districts to utilize a teacher evaluation tool that ties the results of student learning to the performance evaluation of the teacher. Teacher performance evaluation at SIG sites will include a formula which considers student progress as a significant element in the existing evaluation tool.

a. The District will utilize the Formative Assessment for California Teachers (FACT model) as a formative assessment tool. FACT focuses on the demonstration of teacher practice, reflective assessment, and support to assist teachers in developing as a practitioner and assuring maximum learning for students.

i. The SIG will provide each site with a trained (in FACT) Instructional Coach (TSA) during the first year of implementation to guide teachers through the inquiry process. The Instructional Coach will provide ongoing support and coaching but will not participate in the evaluation process.

ii. During the initial year of implementation of this agreement, additional content area coaches will not be hired at SIG sites with the exception of any currently assigned coach.

iii. Teachers will complete the assessment module of FACT collecting multiple measures of data including, but not limited to, district identified benchmark assessments.

b. All teachers at SIG sites will be evaluated annually.

c. Administrators at SIG sites will select Standard 5 (assessing student learning) as a focus area; teachers will select one additional standard of their choice.

d. Teachers will meet with the site administrator for an initial conference, an interim conference and a final conference to review the multiple measures of data collected in 1. (a) iii above, and assess growth in the teacher’s professional practice towards meeting the selected evaluation goals.”

—————————————————————

[End of MOU]

 

Langley clarified that the union hasn’t yet entered into negotiations regarding possible furlough days in the 2011-12 school year. He said he couldn’t speculate about how furlough days would affect the SIG grant requirement for increased instructional time.

Based on this agreement, any furlough days negotiated in the future would apply to all schools and teachers, he said. The district has built seven furlough days into its budget for 2011-12, including five days of instruction and two staff days.

Do you think teachers should agree to this Memorandum of Understanding?

Posted on Thursday, August 18th, 2011
Under: Education, Mt. Diablo school district | 24 Comments »

A closer look at MDUSD STAR results

The state Department of Education released Standardized Testing and Reporting (or STAR) results Monday, showing that the percentage of students scoring proficient in math and English language arts rose slightly statewide from 2010 to 2011.

The chart below shows that Mt. Diablo school district students did better than the statewide average, but scored lower than the county average. The English language arts score is listed first, followed by the math score.

CALIFORNIA 54% 50%
CONTRA COSTA COUNTY 61% 55%
Acalanes 85% 56%
Antioch 47% 38%
Brentwood 66% 69%
Byron 62% 65%
Canyon 80% 70%
John Swett 46% 42%
Knightsen 64% 68%
Lafayette 85% 85%
Liberty 53% 26%
Martinez 67% 62%
Moraga 92% 91%
Mt. Diablo 57% 52%
Oakley 56% 53%
Orinda 92% 92%
Pittsburg 41% 42%
San Ramon 84% 78%
Walnut Creek 81% 80%
West Contra Costa 42% 38%

All students in grades 2 through 11 took English tests. Math tests were given through ninth grade and at the end of higher level courses. Science was tested in fifth, eighth and 10th grades and at the end of higher level courses. Students in grades eight and 11 took history-social science tests. Modified tests were given to some special education and English learner students.

Here’s a closer look at the overall change in the Mt. Diablo district’s proficiency rates:

2010
English language arts (grades 2-11): 56.6 percent
History (grades 8, 11 and end-of-course): 48.5 percent
Math (grades 2-7 and end-of-course): 49.5 percent
Science (grades 5, 8 and 10): 56.7 percent
Science (end-of-course): 42.0 percent

2011
English language arts (grades 2-11): 56.8 percent (+ 0.2 percent)
History (grades 8, 11 and end-of-course): 49.8 percent (+ 1.3 percent)
Math (grades 2-7 and end-of-course): 52.1 percent (+ 2.6 percent)
Science (grades 5, 8 and 10): 57.5 percent (+ 0.8 percent)
Science (end-of-course): 40.2 percent (- 1.8 percent)

The district received School Improvement Grants for four of its lowest-achieving schools, intended to help boost student achievement. Here’s a side-by-side overall look at changes from 2010 to 2011, which shows improvement in all areas tested at the elementary schools, but drops in most areas at Glenbrook Middle School:

Bel Air Elementary
2010
English language arts (grades 2-5): 21.2 percent
Math (grades 2-5): 40.5 percent
Science (grade 5): 11.5 percent

2011
English language arts (grades 2-5): 21.9 percent (+ 0.7 percent)
Math (grades 2-5): 47.0 percent (+ 6.5 percent)
Science (grade 5): 32.9 percent (+ 21.4 percent)

Rio Vista Elementary
2010
English language arts (grades 2-5): 25.6 percent
Math (grades 2-5): 42.7 percent
Science (grade 5): 8.7 percent

2011
English language arts (grades 2-5): 33.0 percent (+ 7.4 percent)
Math (grades 2-5): 61.7 percent (+ 19 percent)
Science (grade 5): 20.4 percent (+ 11.7 percent)

Shore Acres Elementary
2010
English language arts (grades 2-5): 23.9 percent
Math (grades 2-5): 41.6 percent
Science (grade 5): 13.2 percent

2011
English language arts (grades 2-5): 25.7 percent (+ 1.8 percent)
Math (grades 2-5): 48.5 percent (+ 6.9 percent)
Science (grade 5): 16.7 percent (+ 3.5 percent)

Glenbrook Middle School
2010
English language arts (grades 6-8): 35.8 percent
History (grade 8): 32.9 percent
Math (grades 6-7 and end-of-course): 17.7 percent
Science (grade 8): 42.9 percent

2011
English language arts (grades 6-8): 30.0 percent (- 5.8 percent)
History (grade 8): 34.9 percent (+ 2.0 percent)
Math (grades 6-7 and end-of-course): 9.4 percent (- 8.3 percent)
Science (grade 8): 35.9 percent (- 7.0 percent)

The district has closed Glenbrook and will send students in that attendance area to El Dorado, Oak Grove and Valley View middle schools. The district’s grants for Bel Air, Rio Vista and Shore Acres are in jeopardy of being lost, unless the district can show it will increase instructional time for all students at those sites in 2011-12, despite the board’s plan to decrease the school year by five days.

This is among the first batch of scores to be released in the upcoming test result season: STAR scores are used to calculate a campus’ Academic Performance Index, or API, which are expected to be released Aug. 31, and to calculate Adequate Yearly Progress according to No Child Left Behind, which will also be released Aug. 31.

Superintendent Steven Lawrence released the following News Update on Tuesday, reviewing the STAR results and inviting parents to assist principals in analyzing school scores and developing plans for improvement:

“Mt. Diablo USD News Update
Where Kids Come First
August 16, 2011

Over the past four years, because of the state budget crisis, we’ve made significant programmatic reductions at our school sites. Despite these reductions our teachers, support staff, and administrators continue to work incredibly hard to meet the learning needs of our students. Please join me in recognizing and thanking these dedicated professionals.

The annual STAR results were released yesterday by the California Department of Education. As a District, we will continue to focus on the use of internal and external assessment data to guide instructional decisions. General trends in student performance on the STAR test reinforce the need for

- a strategic and targeted approach to standards-based instruction and assessment

- continued focus on improving the learning opportunities for all students

- particular attention on efforts to close the achievement gap between our higher performing students and students performing at far below and below basic levels.

In mathematics, STAR results showed a slight increase district-wide in the percentage of students achieving proficient and advanced levels. At the elementary level, many schools made significant gains in the number of students at these two levels, and almost all of our middle schools made some gains in this area. In order to ensure all our students will be able to compete in the global economy, we must continue to increase the number of students taking the Algebra II and the Summative Math California Standards Tests and increase the percentage of students measuring proficient or advanced on these tests. Job trend data clearly confirms high school graduates who have a firm understanding of Algebra II math skills will have a broader opportunity for living wage jobs and careers.

In English Language Arts, STAR results showed inconsistent achievement across district schools. At the elementary level our English Learner students showed some gains, but not at the same level as their gains in math. In most middle schools, test scores reflected greater student proficiency in language arts. At the high school level, students at Mt. Diablo High School demonstrated increased performance in both language arts and mathematics.

Overall, the results of statewide testing reinforces the need for site based professional discussions that focus on the development of

- common, standards aligned assessments and

- unit lesson plans aligned to the common assessments.

The data collected from common assessments allows teachers and site leadership teams to identify areas where the best instructional practices are in place and areas where gaps exist that must be addressed. Once we assure all students receive daily instruction that includes the critical elements of effective instruction, the data can be used to identify students requiring additional help and those students who are ready for additional challenges.

At each school site, leadership will work with teachers and parents to analyze the school’s data to determine which target growth areas were met, exceeded or not achieved. We can learn a great deal from our successes to help inform us around areas where we need to improve. This analysis process assists each site in updating their Single Plan for Student Achievement. As a parent, if you would like to participate in the analysis process at your child’s school, please contact the principal today.

If you would like to view school test scores, please visit: http://star.cde.ca.gov.”

Are you satisfied with student proficiency levels at district schools?

Posted on Wednesday, August 17th, 2011
Under: Education, Mt. Diablo school district | 29 Comments »