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Archive for August, 2011

MDUSD appoints new administrators

At the June 28 Mt. Diablo school board meeting, Superintendent Steven Lawrence asked trustees for authorization to fill the following nine positions over the summer:

– one elementary school principal position,

– four Student Services Coordinators,

– two Necessary Small School administrator positions,

– Assistant Director of Categoricals and School Support, and

– Director English Learner Services.

“So, that candidates can be selected and under contract prior to August 1, for the above stated positions, it is requested that the Board authorize the Superintendent to enter into contracts with selected candidates,” the agenda report stated.

That evening, Lawrence announced that Valley View Middle School Vice Principal Joe Berry had resigned. He asked trustees to grant him the authority to also fill this position, as well as one high school vice principal position that remained unfilled at that time.

The board amended its motion to include the additional two positions, granting Lawrence authority to “enter into contracts for the above stated positions prior to the Aug. 9 board meeting.”

For the Aug. 9 board meeting, the agenda report stated: “On June 28, 2011, the Board gave the Superintendent authorization to enter into contracts with selected Administrative candidates prior to the August 9 Board meeting. The following candidates accepted positions and are being brought forward for introduction to the Board:”

However, Lawrence’s appointments included three positions that were not included in the list authorized by the board in June:

Two program specialists and one middle school vice principal.

Five of the positions filled were on the June list, while six of the originally listed positions remained unfilled.

Here’s a rundown of the appointments announced Aug. 9:

Principal, Valley View Middle School – Ean Ainsworth (former Riverview MS vice principal)

Administrator, Necessary Small High School – Rachelle Buckner

Administrator, Necessary Small High School/Vice Principal – Brook Penca

Program Specialist, Special Education – Berry Murray

Program Specialist/Extended Year, Special Education – Carolyn Patton

Principal, Sequoia Elementary School – David Franklin

Vice Principal, Middle School – Eric Wood

Vice Principal, Clayton Valley High School – Lorne Barbosa.

Here’s a video of the appointments, which includes more information about the backgrounds of the new administrators:

The following positions listed June 28 remain unfilled:

– four student services coordinators

– one director of English learner services

– one assistant director of categoricals and school support.

I asked Julie Braun-Martin, assistant superintendent of personnel services, why Lawrence appointed three positions that weren’t listed on the June 28 agenda.

“I believe that he had the authority to make appointments during the month of July and he outlined the ones that he knew about,” she said.

The district is still interviewing for the unfilled positions, she added.

Do you agree that the June 28 board action included positions not listed in the agenda report or motion?

Posted on Tuesday, August 16th, 2011
Under: Education, Mt. Diablo school district, Theresa Harrington | 9 Comments »

MDUSD responds to grand jury report

In April, the Contra Costa Grand Jury released a report regarding the district’s 2010 Measure C bond, organizational structure and finances. I recently obtained the district’s response, which was sent May 24.

I am posting both below.

“Contra Costa County Grand Jury Report 1102
TO: Mt. Diablo Unified School District Board of Education


Mt. Diablo Unified School District (District), like other school districts, has suffered revenue losses. The District has had ongoing budget deficits due to declining enrollment and reduced State funding. The District continues to face increasing costs for salaries and benefits. In an effort to address revenue losses and to complete identified projects not funded by a 2002 Bond, the District Board of Education (Board) sought passage of a bond measure (2010 Bond) that was later approved by the voters.

Four factors raised questions regarding the Board’s procedures and transparency:

– an expedited bond initiation process,
– a lack of open discussion at Board meetings of the full range of costs for financing a bond,
– revisions to the organization’s structure within the District, and
– continuing budget shortfalls.

Completed initial Bond offerings suggest that bond interest expenses should be less than the worst case scenario calculated by the bond advisor or reported in the news media. A potential 42-year life of the 2010 Bond could tie taxpayers to a long-term financial
commitment that significantly impacts future Boards’ ability to address funding shortfalls.


The Mt. Diablo Unified School District can be characterized as a microcosm of California demographics. One of the largest school districts in the State of California, the District has more than 56 school sites and programs. District statistics – for ethnic/racia1
diversity, average class size, test scores, number of Limited English Proficient (LEP) students and the primary languages they represent – mirror those of the State.

The District encompasses the cities of Concord, Pleasant Hill and Clayton, portions of Walnut Creek and Martinez, and unincorporated areas, including Lafayette, Pacheco, and Bay Point. Student population for K-12 is approximately 33,200 students.

The Board is composed of five elected members. As stated on the District’s website, the Board recently set the following goals:

– Improve the achievement of all students and close the achievement gap
– Improve attendance and reduce lost average daily attendance
– Insure access to all programs and services for all students
– Improve maintenance and facilities and appearance of the grounds
– Address legal and programmatic mandates
– Support new program initiatives:
o Career Integrated Academics
o Early Childhood Education
o Smaller Learning Communities
– Maintain sound fiscal procedures and practices.

The District Budget and Fiscal Services Department is responsible for developing and maintaining a balanced budget. The FY2010-11 Approved Operating Budget is $268.4 million.

The District has faced funding reductions from the State and from declining enrollment. In response to revenue losses of $20 million, the District has resorted to staff and service cuts by reducing its Approved Operating Budget by $17.9 million over the past three
fiscal years (FY2008-09 thru FY20 10- 1 1).

Even with significant efforts to reduce operating expenses, the District’s last two Annual Audits shows a cumulative deficit of $5.1 million as shown in the Table below: [Due to technical difficulties, the chart is not included in this blog. You can see it at]

Approximately 81 percent of the Approved Operating Budgets for the past three fiscal years has been committed to District employees’ salaries and benefits.

Since 2007, the District has discussed and attempted passage of a parcel tax to remedy budget shortfalls. A parcel tax generates school revenues at the local level to be used for general operating expenses without incurring interest costs. The District was unsuccessful in 2009 when a parcel tax was narrowly defeated. Subsequent surveys validated that securing the necessary two-thirds voter approval for a parcel tax was unlikely.

After the parcel tax failed and still faced with revenue losses, the Board sought new cost savings measures and revenue sources to offset operating expenses. In January 2010, the District began considering a bond measure. By law, funds raised from a bond can be used only for capital projects. Bonds require a 55 percent voter approval and the appointment of a Bond Oversight Committee (Proposition 39 and Education Code Sections 15278k, 15280 and 15282). Previously the District had prepared a list of capital projects with an estimated cost of more than $1 billion. About one-third of these projects had been completed with funds from a 2002 Bond.

On March 9, 2010, a resolution to seek voter approval for a $348-million bond was unanimously approved by the Board. Alternative bond financing measures provided by a financial advisor were reviewed by District staff. However, these financing alternatives were not discussed at open Board meetings. The resolution was placed on the June ballot for voter approval. The terms and conditions of the Bond included maintaining the existing tax rate (currently $60 tax per $100,000 of property valuation), and extending the repayment duration for up to 42 years. In the judgment of the Board, this scenario provided the best opportunity for voter approval.

The initial Bond offerings were completed at an interest rate significantly lower than the projected worst case scenarios as calculated by the bond financial advisor. Based on current low interest rates for bonds the probability of reaching the worst case scenario is diminished.

One feature of the 2010 Bond allocated $68 million for installing a solar energy system that would decrease operating expenses (i.e. reduce utility bills). The savings could be used for other operating expenditures. The District estimated that the solar energy system would create $5 million per year in savings, based upon receiving energy rebates, for the first five years after installation. Subsequent savings are estimated at $3 million per year for the remaining life of the solar energy system.

Some parents mounted a ‘Yes on C’ campaign that was funded by an assorted group of interested parties. There was no formal rebuttal on the ballot measure filed with the Contra Costa County Elections Office. The 2010 ballot measure does not state a range of costs to the taxpayers for the entire bond term. Voters approved the bond in June 2010. The Bond measure, from inception to voter approval, took only five months.

Another approach to reduce expenditures included changes to the District’s organization structure. This included eliminating some management positions and consolidating responsibilities into remaining positions. Specifically, the Assistant Superintendent of Administrative Services position was eliminated and some duties were assumed by General Counsel. The time demands of this newly assigned administrative work takes time away from conducting legal work. Recently another attorney was hired to assist with legal duties.

Despite cost cutting and revenue generating efforts during the past several years, the District still faces an operating expense deficit of approximately $8.6 million for FY2010-11.


1. No discussion of the 2010 Bond’s possible financial ramifications took place at open Board meetings before the Board passed the resolution to proceed with a ballot measure.

2. Some of the capital projects, such as solar panels, insulation and window replacement, to be financed with the 2010 Bond should generate energy cost savings for the Districts.

3. The organization restructuring of the General Counsel’s responsibilities has not resulted in anticipated operational effectiveness and may not have fulfilled the cost savings originally projected.

4. In addition to the anticipated relief to the general fund from specific 2010 Bond projects, further savings could be achieved through further salary and benefit expenses reductions.


The Grand Jury recognizes the Board for their efforts in addressing funding problems in these challenging fiscal times. The Grand Jury has the following recommendations:

1. When contemplating future taxing measures, the Board should allow sufficient time for full disclosure to the public of financial information including legal fees, underwriting costs and repayment obligations. The Board should develop a written process addressing discussion of the financial consequences of taxing measures in a public forum and share their proposal with the public in the next 180 days.

2. To verify the estimated energy savings from specific planned capital projects, there should be an annual audit of energy expenditures. The audit should focus on and reflect any costs reduced by the use of solar panels funded by the Bond. This audit should be done within 180 days after the initial solar panels are installed and continue on an annual basis for 3 years.

3. The Board should review the effectiveness of combining the General Counsel’s responsibility for legal work and services with transportation, maintenance and food services. They should also analyze the impact of combining these responsibilities on actual costs.

4. The Board should continue to pursue reducing salaries and benefits to address the District’s 2011-2012 budget shortfalls.



Mt. Diablo Unified School District Board of Education 1 through 4


Mt. Diablo Unified School District Board of Education 1 through 4″

Here’s the district’s response:

Do you believe the board should have discussed the report and response during a public meeting?

AUG. 17 UPDATE: I just spoke to Lloyd Bell, the current civil grand jury foreman, who served on the grand jury that issued the report. I specifically asked him about the district’s response to finding number 1, which states, in part: “The respondent disagrees with the finding and is unclear as to the factual basis there for. The board had an extensive conversation on March 9, 2010, concerning the possible financial ramifications of the bond. The board discussed the tax rate extension, tax rate estimates, the par amount of the bond, and a possible bond proceeds schedule…”

Since this directly contradicts the grand jury’s finding, I asked whether the grand jury would take any further action on that issue.

Bell said the grand jury does have options to follow-up, if it disagrees with the district’s response. However, he said he couldn’t tell me whether it would or not, due to the confidentiality of the proceedings.

“There are things that can be done,” he said. “The grand jury, if it decides that the issue warrants further evaluation, could conduct another inquiry.”

If this occurs, the public wouldn’t find out until another report is released, he said. The grand jury could also seek clarification in a letter or invite district officials to clarify their response during a confidential interview in the grand jury room, he said.

“It’s very important that the public also has within its authority the ability to appear at a board meeting and question their response to the grand jury’s inquiry,” Bell said. “That is perhaps one of the most visible and effective — and the quickest way — to clarify that situation.”

He said the grand jury is prohibited from disclosing who it interviewed, what it considered, what it is evaluating and what it isn’t looking at.

“I can outline what we can do,” he said, “but more importantly, what the citizens can do, once they see their response.”

If the grand jury takes further action, it would do so before mid-June, 2012, Bell said.

Posted on Monday, August 15th, 2011
Under: Education, Mt. Diablo school district | 67 Comments »

Clayton Valley HS Charter Board members wanted

Alison Bacigalupo, a member of the Clayton Valley HS Charter steering committee, sent me the following information about the election process for the charter school board:

“The Clayton Valley Charter High School (CVCHS) Governing Board electoral process has officially begun. We are currently looking for candidates to fill our nine open board positions:

(2) Teachers

(1) Classified

(2) Parents

(2) Community members at large

(1) Retired teacher

(1) Administrative

To submit an application or resume for candidacy or to find out more information about board member qualifications, terms, powers, and/or the general election procedures please visit the CVCHS website at:

The application deadline for candidacy submission is Thursday, August 25th, 2011. The election will take place in the Clayton Valley High School Multi-use Room on Thursday, September 1st, 2011.”

The Mt. Diablo school board expects to vote on the charter petition Sept. 13.

Do you agree with the charter committee’s decision to elect a governing board before the charter is approved?

Posted on Sunday, August 14th, 2011
Under: Clayton, Concord, Education, Mt. Diablo school district | 24 Comments »

Clayton Valley HS charter public hearing brings throngs of supporters

CVHS sophomore Sara Kommer and her mother Megan Kommer were among dozens of Clayton Valley charter petition supporters at an MDUSD public hearing Tuesday.

All five Clayton Valley City Council members spoke in favor of a teacher-led petition to convert Clayton Valley High School in Concord to a charter school during a packed Mt. Diablo school board hearing Tuesday.

Most of the roughly two dozen other speakers at the meeting also threw their enthusiastic support behind the proposal, which trustees expect to approve or deny on Sept. 13. If it is denied, petitioners plan to appeal to the Contra Costa County Board of Education and the state, if necessary.

“Our physical building and grounds are deteriorating to the point of embarrassment,” said Clayton Vice Mayor Howard Geller. “We, of the City Council, feel strongly that a charter school run by qualified teachers and members of our community would not only bring back the quality of teaching we once had, but also make our community one that people will want to live in — to attend what we are confident will become the jewel of high schools in education for our area and the Mt. Diablo school district.”

The only people who spoke against the petition were the principals of Northgate High in Walnut Creek and Ygnacio Valley High in Concord, which are also in the district. The crowd — decked out in blue T-shirts endorsing the charter — booed Northgate Principal John McMorris, after he said Clayton Valley could accomplish its goals within the district. Ygnacio Valley High Principal Bill Morones referred to a U.S. Department of Education study that showed charter schools on average don’t perform better than other schools.

But many charter supporters disagreed with McMorris and Morones, saying they want to break free of the district so they can reinvigorate the school. Rep. George Miller, D-Concord, who didn’t attend the meeting, is also in favor of the plan.

Here is an excerpt of a supportive letter Miller sent to the district:

“I believe that the proposal by the Clayton Valley Charter High School Steering Committee presents an important opportunity for the Mt. Diablo Unified School District to explore alternative educational forums and opportunities in your very diverse and dynamic district.

During my time in the Congress serving on the Education and Workforce Committee, including serving as Chair of the Committee, I have had the opportunity to witness the growth and evolution of the public charter school movement in California and across our nation.

The record of charters to date is mixed but there are many well thought out programs that are providing both learning and teaching environments with significant improvements in both school and student performance. Many of these charters also fulfill the original mission of public charters, which is to give school districts the opportunity to try different models for teaching and learning under more flexible rules and regulations and to serve as laboratories for experimentation for their districts. When done right, important feedback can be shared with districts on such topics as classroom teaching and preparation, time management, professional development, collaborative student learning, use of technology and other common academic interests.

I believe that the Clayton Valley Charter High School Steering Committee proposal has the real potential to be one of the success stories of the public charter school efforts in California. I personally met with the lead petitioners and we discussed their comprehensive research, their innovative ideas, and their plan of action. They displayed enthusiasm and commitment to the limitless potential of this movement that was inspiring. This energy, coupled with important partnerships with some of the best charter support groups in the business (California Charter Schools Association, ExED accounting firm and the law offices of Middleton, Young and Minney), should undoubtedly lead them down the right path.”

Parent Faculty Club President Alison Bacigalupo said charter organizers would post information about the election process for charter board and committee members soon on their website at The Powerpoint presented by teachers Pat Middendof and Neil McChesney is at

District staff did not make a recommendation and trustees didn’t speak for or against it. Board President Gary Eberhart asked Superintendent Steven Lawrence to post Questions and Answers about the petition on the district’s website at

After the meeting, California Charter Schools Association Vice President Nick Driver sent me a 2009 EdSource study of charter schools in the state, which shows that charter high schools in California outperformed noncharters by 8.6 points on the API and middle schools outperformed noncharters by 26 points, while elementary school charters collectively underperformed.

“Overall,” Driver said in an e-mail, “if you were to take all three levels in the aggregate, charter schools in California outperform, since high schools account for 40 percent of all charter schools.”

Do you support the charter petition?

Posted on Friday, August 12th, 2011
Under: Clayton, Concord, Mt. Diablo school district, Theresa Harrington | 53 Comments »

Clayton Valley HS charter petition meeting Tuesday

The much-anticipated Mt. Diablo school board public hearing regarding the Clayton Valley HS charter petition will take place at 5:45 p.m. Tuesday at in the multi-use room Monte Gardens Elementary, 3841 Larkspur Drive, Concord.

So far, no staff recommendation or staff report has been posted with the agenda. The board expects to vote on the petition Sept. 13.

Here’s a portion of the district’s “News Update,” which describes the format for the meeting:

“No board action will be taken during this meeting. Members of the public are encouraged to attend the meeting to voice their support, ask questions, or share concerns about the charter proposal.

Please note that the board and staff will not engage in a dialogue with the public at this meeting.”

Petitioners will begin the meeting with a presentation lasting between 15 minutes and one hour, followed by public comment.

“This meeting will end promptly at 7 p.m. so that board may enter into closed session for the regularly scheduled board meeting,” according to the News Update.

The agenda report states that the purpose of the public hearing is: “for the Board of Education to consider the level of support of teachers employed by the district, other employees of the district, and parents, for the charter petition submitted to establish the Clayton Valley Charter High School. The hearing provides the public the opportunity to make oral or written presentations to the board regarding the charter petition.”

Do you think district staff or trustees will comment on the petition?

Posted on Monday, August 8th, 2011
Under: Education, Mt. Diablo school district | 44 Comments »

MDUSD Superintendent gives Measure C update

Mt. Diablo schools Superintendent Steven Lawrence sent out the following news update Aug. 1 (although it is dated July 29). Since it still hasn’t been posted on the district’s website, I’m posting it below.

“Mt. Diablo USD News Update
Where Kids Come First
July 29, 2011

Measure C Update

We encourage parents and community members to visit our Measure C website at http:/ / to get the latest information and updates about Measure C projects. Below are answers to questions and updated information regarding Measure C projects.

Some questions we continue to hear is how can we be doing construction projects like solar when we are still reducing positions and people’s hours of employment? Why not just use the money going towards solar to keep our current people fully employed?

The money being spent throughout the district on solar and other facilities projects comes primarily from the 2010 Measure C Bond. By law, and by voter decree these funds can only be spent on construction projects such as solar, HVAC, classroom enhancement, new classrooms, technology, etc.

Our school district has three distinct pots of money: unrestricted general fund, restricted categorical, and facility funds. Our general unrestricted funding is determined by the Revenue Limit we receive from the State multiplied by the number of students we have on a daily basis. Nearly 90 percent of the revenue limit funding supports salary and benefits. The state reductions in Revenue Limit funds over the last four years led to the necessity to reduce staffing. The restricted funds we receive are state and federal funds for a defined purpose, and must be spent according to specific guidelines. We have also had to reduce positions that are funded out of restricted funds due to reductions in federal and state categorical funding.

Another Measure C question we have received is how can the district hire its own people to manage the Measure C projects?

By hiring in-house professionals we expect to be able to put an additional $7 million toward facility enhancements instead of projects management costs. According to the California Attorney’s General opinion in 2004, Prop 39 facilities funds can only pay for district positions that directly plan and manage the facilities enhancements being funded by the bond.

Historically, the district used construction management firms to manage Measure A and a majority of the 2002 Measure C projects. The base contract for the $90 million Measure A program awarded by the Board was $4.8 million or 5.35% of the program value. The base contract for the $250 million 2002 Measure C program was awarded by the Board for the program/construction management of services was $14 million or 5.59% of program value. Both project totals excluded all housing and infrastructure costs which the district elected to absorb separately to avoid mark-up costs.

Looking at the current Measure C facilities project and assuming a project management cost of 5.47 percent results in an $18 million expense, which excludes housing and infrastructure costs.

By comparison, an in-house program/construction management team, would cost the district $7.5 million, or 2.22 percent of the program value. Even if a support budget of $492,500 for operating costs, $185,000 for temporary extra help and a $2.5 million allowance for outside consultants is added, the entire full-term budget for a resident management operation would total only $11 million or 3.27 percent of program value. Moreover, it is significant that, unlike the costs cited for the two earlier programs’ management, this figure is fully inclusive of all project and housing infrastructure costs. Therefore, by hiring in-house professionals we expect to be able to put an additional $7 million toward facility enhancements instead of project management costs.”

[Unfortunately, I’m not able to reproduce the chart included in Lawrence’s memo in my blog. Hopefully, the district will post his memo soon on the district site.]

“General Fund Savings created by Measure C

Through the legal use of Measure C funds, an anticipated savings of approximately $8 million annually can be credited to the general fund for five years: 2012-13 through 2016-17. To date the general fund has been relieved of debt services that cost the district $1.4 million annually paid out of the general fund. These debt payments would have continued through 2024. The remaining Tier III deferred maintenance funds of $1.5 million were swept to the general fund. These two initial savings allowed the district to reinstate 24 laid off teaching positions in August 2010. These restored teachers work with students who are struggling to master reading and math skills.

Within the 2012-13 and 2013-14 school years budget projections, we were able to budget the savings our solar project will create. Beginning in the 2012-13 school year $3 million dollars in savings to our PG&E bill was deducted as an expense and more than $2 million annual from the California Solar Initiative was added as revenue to be received through the 2016-17 school year. The solar project also allows us to add HVAC to our schools that currently do not have it without increasing our PG&E expenses. We sized the solar arrays to handle the increased electrical load. Lastly, the PG&E annual historic increase of 4 percent no longer must be budgeted.

It has been questioned whether or not our solar project will meet our production and longevity expectations. As part of our contract with SunPower, a 20 year service and production guarantee was negotiated. This means that for the first 20 years the solar arrays will be maintained by SunPower and they guarantee their productions levels. If arrays do not meet their production levels during any given year, SunPower must provide the district with a cash reimbursement for the lost production. This is why we are confident the solar arrays will save more than $200 million for the district general fund over the 30 year expected life cycle.

Measure C Project Updates


Construction has begun at the Phase 1 sites as well as Northgate HS, College Park HS, Ygnacio Valley HS and Cambridge Elementary. Structures are already up at Concord HS, Mt. Diablo HS, and Clayton Valley HS. The remaining Phase 1 sites are presently in various stages of survey/layout and or underground boring and and/or trenching. Electricians are now beginning the above ground work at some of the sites including installation of conduit on the structures. The Measure C team works closely with SunPower and their subcontractors to develop and sustain an extremely aggressive production schedule intended to complete as much critical construction prior to the start of school. All Phase 1 and 2 schematic plans have been posted on the Measure C website at http:/ / Site-specific photographic uploads of construction progress will begin in August.

By August 15, we will post a schedule of community meetings at the six comprehensive high schools and Riverview Middle School to discuss information about the Phase 2 and 3 construction process. Project timelines, and traffic and parking impacts will be shared. Check the Measure C website and watch for the next News Update for the times and dates of the meetings.


All schematic drawings for the first phase of the HVAC program have been completed and we are on schedule to begin the HVAC facility up-grade project this spring.


All site assessments have been completed and detailed project lists have been submitted so we can begin design and installation of an enhanced (1 gigabyte) Optiman service to those district sites not presently enjoying this level of connection.

High School Projects

In order to save tax payer dollars the district applied for Quality School Construction Bonds (QSCB) through the State of California. We received $4 million in approved bonds and were able to bundle them with another $7 million in bond sales. Given the current market conditions the district sold the $11 million in bonds at below a 3 percent interest rate.

The acceleration in the bond sales allowed the district to provide each high school with $1.5 million in funding to complete projects that they deemed priorities. Each site principal worked with staff and parent advisory groups to compile a list of needs which the district then provided estimated costs. Based on the costs, the sites then prioritized their lists and submitted them to the Board for approval at the June 28th Board meeting. Some highlights of the projects are:

· A classroom building with two new chemistry labs and store room at Clayton Valley and Mt. Diablo;

· Stadium water/sewage lines and Project Lead the Way engineering equipment at College Park;

· Stadium lighting and classroom technology up-grades at Ygnacio Valley;

· Stadium bleachers and Project Lead the Way engineering equipment at Northgate; and

· Classroom technology and HVAC up-grades at Concord.

Financial Update

The Board took several actions this past spring to save tax payers money and create a balanced budget while attempting to preserve positions. In March, the Board approved the sale of $11 million in additional bonds including the $4 million in QSCBs. The combined interest for the sales of these bonds was below 3 percent. In May, the Board approved a refinancing of the 2002 Measure C bonds sold in 2002 which lead to a savings of $4.4 million for tax payers.

The budget adopted by the state has triggers in place that may cause mid-year reductions. The budget the Board adopted in June will allow the district to address the current level of proposed mid-year funding reductions without having to eliminate positions in the middle of the year.

According to a July 21st letter from the Contra Costa County Office of Education, unified school districts should budget for flat funding but set aside a minimum of Average Daily Attendance (ADA) of $260 and appropriate reductions for lost transportation funding in reserve as a precautionary measure. Our budget meets these recommendations.

Lastly, our transportation department applied for and received a $1.7 million grant to purchase new buses. This will allow the district to purchase 10 new fuel efficient 65 passenger buses without having to expend any district resources. I would like to give special recognition to Jeff McDaniel and Angela Goakey who lead the grant application process.”


The Measure C website address has been changed to:

The district actually set aside $330 per ADA (average daily attendance) for mid-year cuts. Now that the County Office of Education has reduced its recommendation to $260 per ADA, the district has nearly $2.3 million more than recommended in its contingency fund for midyear cuts.

In addition, the district’s 2011-12 budget includes seven furlough days, which haven’t yet been negotiated with the teachers’ union. It also includes nearly $4.5 million in School Improvement Grants for the district and Bel Air, Rio Vista and Shore Acres elementary schools, which are in jeopardy because the district didn’t follow state and federal requirements to continue receiving the funding.

The district is required to INCREASE instructional time for all students at the three schools receiving the grants. Furlough days would DECREASE instructional time at the schools. The district is hoping to negotiate extended school days with the teachers’ union by the first day of school, which is four weeks away.

According to the district’s School Improvement Grant application, negotiations were planned during the 2010-11 school year. Yet, they were never begun.

Teachers union president Mike Langley told me the district urgently requested to “impact bargain” regarding the grants, after both sides had completed negotiations for the 2010-11 school year and had agreed not to resume negotiations until September. Now, the urgent negotiations are set to begin Monday, Aug. 8.

Are you satisfied with the district’s communications to the public regarding Measure C and the MDUSD budget?


Posted on Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011
Under: Education, Mt. Diablo school district | 90 Comments »