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

By Theresa Harrington
Tuesday, August 30th, 2011 at 12:35 pm in Education.

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?

[You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.]

  • Doctor J

    The district caught misstating facts and law in the very first Q&A — and it goes on and on. MDUSD just seems to love to hide the truth and engage in misleading and vindictive scare tactics. Theresa’s comment that the District’s statements are NOT Board policy is spot on. I am still waiting for any of the Trustee’s to stand and decry the mean spirited District answers to questions the District made up. Well done Charter committee.

  • Just J

    Dr. J. You know you will be waiting a log time for that so please don’t hold your breath.

    Theresa I love your comments at the end! The truth will always win in the end.

  • CV Parent Here

    I think you’re asking the wrong question of readers, Theresa. The real question is “Has the Charter Steering Committee sufficiently answered the questions posed by the District?”

    Some of the questions are the very same questions the Education Code requires the State Board of Education to consider if a denial were appealed all the way up to the State Board. If the Steering Committee doesn’t have adequate answers, the charter will be denied.

    Some of the responses refer back to the charter documents. I haven’t gone back and reread the pages cited in their response, but my impression from reading the charter documents when they were first published is that much of what the the CV teachers wrote is lacking in specifics. They were fine when they were just regurgitating the required language that was in the generic charter document they started with. But when they had to actually put in language that was specific to Clayton Valley and their own plans, it completely fell apart and became a lot of wishful thinking and “maybe we’ll do something like this or something like that or some other thing we haven’t figured out yet.” The Ed Code requires specifics, and the teachers just weren’t there yet when they submitted their documents.

  • anon

    Teresa mentioned before the need to contrast the responses of the district and the charter group, and what a difference it is! Whereas the charter group is on point, thorough, and references the authority for their position, the district’s responses is just plain incompetent, incomplete and bordering on fraudulent. Any wonder as to who we should trust?

  • Doctor J

    The district is being penny wise and pound foolish about CVHS — they ought to start worrying about losing the $15 million in SIG grants because their “corrective action” plan is short a ton of bricks. It appears the MDEA/MDUSD MOU does NOT MEET the Federal and State “corrective action” standards to approve year 2 of the SIG grants. State Supt. Torlakson sent a letter on August 11 outling in detail the requirements for “Increased Learning Time” and the MOU does not meet those standards — its not just about longer days and the budgeted furlough days clearly jeopardize the grant. The US Dept of Education sent a letter on August 12 outling in detail the requirments of “High Quality Teacher and Principal Evaluation System” and the MOU does not meet those standards — no such evaluation system exists for teachers, let alone principals. I wonder if this is the reason that the Board did not approve the MOU on August 23 ? Or maybe Lawrence isn’t reading his mail ? http://www.cde.ca.gov/be/ag/ag/yr11/documents/sep11item05a1.pdf
    http://www.cde.ca.gov/be/ag/ag/yr11/documents/sep11item05a4.pdf
    No wonder Denise Rugani abandoned ship. Does anyone really think MDEA will really agree to those things ? September 12 is the deadline for submission of the “corrective action plan”.

  • Theresa Harrington

    CV Parent: Certainly the charter committee needs to respond to the district’s questions so the board can decide whether or not to approve the petition.
    Trustees can also question the petitioners. Yet, the board denied the Flex charter without any discussion.
    The Contra Costa County Board of Education had an extensive discussion and asked many questions before approving the Flex charter.
    If the board decides to deny the charter, it should let the public know why.

  • Doctor J

    “In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.” George Orwell
    “Remaining silent is not telling the truth.” Doctor J

  • anon

    I hope the district agrees to allow the charter. Frankly I am amazed at the caustic nature of many of the posts that I see on this blog and on claycord that are in support of the charter. So much venom and hatred and personal attacks on all sorts of people. Are these the type of people who are the parents and community from Clayton and from Clayton valley high school? Just approve the charter and let these people go their own way. Very sad.

  • g

    I hope the district agrees to allow the charter. Frankly I am amazed at the caustic nature of many of the posts that I see on this blog and on claycord that are NOT IN SUPPORT of the charter. So much venom and hatred and personal attacks on all sorts of people FOLLOWED BY MISINFORMATION. Are these the type of people who are the parents and community from Clayton and from Clayton valley high school? Just approve the charter and let these people go their own way. Very sad.

  • Long-time Board Watcher

    Really, G? You and Doctor J, in particular, criticize every poster who even asks questions about the charter.

  • g

    Theresa, I am hoping Julie Braun Martin will be nice enough to advise you/us of just how many teachers contact her to advise that they have “changed their minds” by Sept. 5th.

  • g

    LTBW: Not so. I question those who continue to negatively insinuate meaning into the Charter proposal that have been refuted by the Charter organizers since day one. Either they have not read the proposal or they have a motive for making false statements. On those questions where the District’s response isn’t quite tantamount to an outright lie, it is at least a perfect example of that type of insinuation.

  • Number Eight

    So, looking at API scores, is MDUSD in Program Improvement Year 1? Is Walnut Creek School District in PI Year 1? What does that mean for the districts?

  • Number Eight

    Theresa,
    Just saw your amazingly prompt article online, but what will “deeper sanctions” entail?

  • g

    Great article Theresa. Checked out the scores. Even under the “close” sign, Holbrook up 39 pts to 816 and being transferred to Wren down 24 pts to 741 and even Sun Terrace dropped to only 776 . Holbrook should sue for taxation without representation!

  • CV Parent Here

    G, I’ve read the charter proposal and I don’t see much in it to benefit our kids. In fact, I’m very disappointed to see that that the school will be governed by the employees, not the parents. Four out of nine governing board members will be current CV employees and a fifth will be a retired teacher, giving the employees a five person majority on the Board. Only two spots are reserved for parents. That’s a board designed to put the employees first, not the students.

    I’ve yet to read any comments from supporters of the charter conversion who actually have a well-reasoned argument for why they support the conversion. All they say is “I hate MDUSD” or “I hate Gary” or “I hate Lawrence” or “Anything MUST be better than MDUSD”. So, CV parents who suppor the charter, why do you support it? Why do you believe it will be better for our children?

    Quite frankly, even the teachers can’t come up with any sensible reasons other than it’s good for them financially and it will be a lot more fun for them if they don’t have any site or district administrators to tell them what to do. Can’t blame them for that. Who doesn’t dream about firing your boss, giving yourself a raise, and doing whatever you want on your job? Of course I don’t think it will result in a better education for our kids. But I’m sure it will be a lot of fun for the teachers.

  • Wait a minute

    CV Parent Here,

    You do have one thing right.

    The teacher/entrepreneurs who have partnered with the Clayton Valley community to go charter are in fact “firing their boss(es)”.

    These bosses need to be fired. They have run the MDUSD completely into the ground with their myriad scandals and utter imcompetence. They have become a state-wide embarrasment for their for what they have done to Alicia Minyen and for Stevie Lawrence’s claiming he did nothing wrong by taking Chevron’s gratuties while they lobbied him for the solar contract.

    They closed a school serving economically disadvanted families and sent those children to another school that scored 75 POINTS LOWER.

    Yes, under these circumstances they chose to fire their so-called leaders. If more people would do the same the world would be a better place.

    As far as who will run the charter, their will be far more representation now for the Clayton community then their ever was under the MDUSD.

    If you are dissatisfied that the teachers have led the charge here you can always start a Parent-Trigger conversion.

  • Doctor J

    Congratulations to Gary Eberhart (17 yrs), Linda Mayo (15 yrs) and Sherry Whitmarsh (3 yrs) for achieving “Program Improvement” for MDUSD. Your “leadership” — and I use that word sarcasticly — has now allowed MDUSD to join the ranks of “underachieving” districts. Add it to your resumes — you should be proud of your accomplishments. Education of children should be your first priority. Its so ironic you allow Lawrence to “spin” the STAR test results and API scores as some kind of mental “m” to make you all feel good. Last year you approved Lawrence’s “goals and objectives” for 2010/11 and now you have the results — remember how he said he didn’t like a Strategic Plan. Please publish the report card on Lawrence’s “goals and objectives”. He flunked. Are you going to “exspell” him ? Or are you going to “stand by your man” ? You just lost 3 of 8 key players in SASS who abandoned ship. More will be leaving. Why are you fighting so hard against CVCHS ? I wish you would put children first — not goats.

  • Wait a minute

    Of course Dr. J, the irony of all this is that Lawrence had virtually the same track record of no improvement of PI in West Sacramento for 3 1/2 straight years before the MDUSD board hired him.

  • Another MDUSD Mom

    He was hired because he had done a solar project…
    Not because he had…
    Leadership skills,
    Experience with a large District,
    A track record of improving the quality of education,
    Communication skills,
    A history of building a sense of community to help begin to restore trust and confidence…

    NO, he had done a solar project.

    This one move by our school board shows the greatest lack of leadership and misdirection.

  • Doctor J

    Yes, ironic, that after Lawrence leaves West Sac that suddenly that district under a new Supt has a 28 point API gain. Lawrence has no record of turning around any district.

  • Hmmmmmm

    @dr. J, come out and play. You are always so critical but how can we give you any creedence if we have NO idea who you are (I think I do by the way.) Show your colors so we can beleive you and have true debate. I’ll show you mine if you show me yours. :)

  • 4Students

    Doc J,
    Don’t listen to Hmmmmmm.

    You are the Caped Crusader. You don your cowl and cape for justice. ZAP! POW! ZOWIE! Your nom de plume for CCT could be Bruce Wayne.

  • 4Students

    I suppose CCT requires your address and phone. Address is Wayne Manor, and phone number is Alfred’s.

  • Hmmmmmm

    LOL
    Dr. J is BATMAN! So I guess that makes Gary the Joker and Sherry is Catwoman….this is what I mean. Who can take any of you seriously!

  • Linda L

    And Hmmmmmmm, who are who?
    Ironic isn’t it?

  • Linda L

    Sorry
    Who are YOU?

  • Hmmmmmm

    @ Linda L – I’m Mr. Freeze:)