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A closer look at spending and test scores in East Bay schools

By Theresa Harrington
Wednesday, September 7th, 2011 at 9:02 am in California, East Bay, Education.

A recent study by California Watch has found no correlation between the amount of money school districts spend per student and their level of academic achievement on test scores.

The study compared 2009-10 school district per student spending and 2010 Academic Performance Index (API) scores.

For each district, the study showed whether spending and scores fell into the top 25 percent, median 50 percent or bottom 25 percent. Based on this data, I looked at which East Bay districts got the biggest bang for their bucks, as well as those that didn’t.

However, it is important to note that elementary districts receive less funding from the state than unified districts and high school districts receive more, based on the increased costs of running unified and high school districts. 

BEST BANG FOR BUCKS (Spending in bottom 25 percent, with academic achievement in top 25 percent):
Brentwood elementary: spent $6,918 per student, API of 840
Castro Valley unified: spent $7,429 per student, API of 854
Fremont unified: spent $7,449 per student, API of 868
Walnut Creek elementary: spent $7,345 per student, API of 907

BIGGEST DISCONNECT BETWEEN SPENDING AND SCORES (Spending in top 25 percent, with performance in bottom 25 percent):
Emery unified: spent $13,680 per student, API of 709
Oakland unified: spent $10,958 per student, API of 719

For districts that didn’t land at one end or the other, I looked to see if spending was in the median range of $8,213 per student, compared to the median score of 783.

Districts that spent in the median range, but got test results in the top 25 percent, appeared to be getting a good bang for their bucks.

GOOD BANG FOR BUCKS (Median range spending, with API in top 25 percent):
Acalanes High: spent $9,327, API of 899
Dublin unified: spent $7,945, API of 878
Orinda elementary: spent $9,473, API of 954
Pleasanton unified: spent $7,599, API of 906
San Ramon Valley unified: spent $7,824, API of 916
Sunol Glen unified: spent $8,416, API of 909

Those that spent in the high or median range, but scored lower, appeared to be getting poorer performance for their money.

Top 25 percent of spending, but median API:
Berkeley unified: spent $12,092, API of 785

Median spending, API in bottom 25 percent:
Pittsburg unified: spent $7,995, API of 718
San Leandro unified: spent $7,709, API of 730
West Contra Costa unified: spent $8,899, API of 696

In several districts, the level of spending appeared to match the level of achievement.

Piedmont unified: spent $11,589, API of 925

Alameda city unified: spent $8,630, API of 833
Livermore Valley unified: spent $8,213, API of 822
Mountain House elementary: spent $8,707, API 743
Mt. Diablo unified: spent $8,199, API of 784
New Haven unified: spent $8,182, API of 777
Newark unified: spent $8,089, API of 762
San Lorenzo unified: spent $8,096, API of 739

LOW SPENDING AND LOW PERFORMANCE (Bottom 25 percent for both):
Antioch unified: spent $7,578, API of 732

The complete California Watch database is at

NOTE: New 2011 API scores were released last week.

Do you think local districts are spending their money wisely?

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80 Responses to “A closer look at spending and test scores in East Bay schools”

  1. Just J Says:

    This seems to be a very complex question. There are many factors at play with the numbers. I don’t think that the data in California or the Nation can say higher spending = better performance. It seems to be all over the board. The real question is when are the egos of the adults going to get out of the way to let real progress in? Again I am new to paying attention to what is really going on here and can’t say that I fully understand what all of the reports mean but I think the more people are aware the better chances we have at some reform. I think we need to spend better not more.

  2. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Yes, it is very complicated, which is why I am hoping to add comments I received from district officials about these numbers, when I have time to compile them.

  3. Question Says:

    Does the amount spent in the good bang for bucks section take into account the extra money they get from parcel taxes, or is that number what they get from the state?

  4. Theresa Harrington Says:

    It includes money from parcel taxes.
    Acalanes and Orinda are at the high end of “median” spending.
    Orinda gets less money from the state because it’s an elementary district, while Acalanes gets more because it’s a high school district.

  5. anonanon Says:

    What do they spend their money on?

    Mt. Diablo it’s graffiti. Northgate it’s new equipment.
    Also, donations/cash donations are not figured into the total…leaves a gap in the numbers.

    Another data point is household income vs. API. There’s a telling data set – even within MDUSD.

  6. g Says:

    Off Topic (or maybe not since were questioning beneficial uses of taxpayer dollars), but I notice that the Measure “C” site has now added belated Agenda for three of the (at least) 6 meetings that have been held since last summer. Both the August and December 2010 minutes refer to a September 23rd (2010) meeting but they haven’t yet posted those minutes or belated Agenda. Note to self: (remember that a couple things have been put under “Community” too–just not what you’re looking for).

    It’s GREAT that we now have at least some records to go back to for reference, but I wonder: Do they think “Better late than never” postings will fly with the Brown Act and GJ and State Oversight and scrutiny on this Bond?

    And really, you should publish an agenda 72 hours before a meeting, not create one that will “fit” the minutes months later, and if you are presenting attachments or reports, they HAVE to be published TOO!

    Mr. Ferrante: Measure A advisory Committee; 2002 Measure C Look-the-other-way Committee; 2010 Measure C Overpay-our-friends Committee; 2010 School Closure Committee; School Budget Advisory Committee… etc!!!

    Team G: Force-them-to-do-it-right Committee!

  7. g Says:

    ALSO; They seem to be taking applications to form a NEW 2002 Measure “C” Oversight Committee. 😉

    The beauty of this is that a new committee can go back over all Eight years of records and decipher just what was accounted for under Measure C, but was actually paid for by A, 55, Deferred Maint. etc! They may have a chance of doing it right this time if they insist on a full financial audit as requested by Ms. Minyen.

    I think also, that since the old committee (unoffically) disbanded around 6/09, those who aren’t on the 2010 committee are now eligible to go back to 2002.

  8. 4Students Says:

    Are we correct assuming the number includes money from parcel taxes, from federal gov’t, etc. but NOT from educational foundations? Foundations can raise big bucks from the community, that MDUSD has failed to develop and encourage.

    Off topic: Doug Regalia lampooned MDUSD today. After the snail, the sloth, and the starfish, MDUSD is one of the “slowest moving organisms” with a sign “THOSE WANTING BOND DATA — PLEASE GO AWAY”

  9. MDUSD Board Watcher Says:


    Very interesting. I bet they fill the committee with people they are sure “won’t look too hard into the past misdeeds of Pedersen and company”.

  10. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I’m not sure if it includes foundation money, but I thought it did. I know that the Lamorinda districts often say money from parcel taxes, parent donations and foundations accounts for about a third of their budgets.
    Lamorinda districts are able to spend some of their money on credentialed art teachers in elementary schools, while low-performing districts such as Emery and Oakland spend some of their extra money on intervention programs.

  11. Dan Says:

    They just posted the notice of the next meeting on Sept. 15th. Strangely though no time, you have to “call” Pete Pedersen if you have any questions.

    Another attempt at identifying some of us who are anonymous? Or just more incompetence?

  12. Doctor J Says:

    @Dan, call Pete Pedersen ? And no administrative salaries from Measure C 2010 ? Isn’t it amazing how notices and agendas missing for years suddenly appear when the Grand Jury sends them an “invitation” aka subpoena ? Just remember that Barry Bonds was convicted of Obstruction of Justice not perjury.

  13. Theresa Harrington Says:

    The Grand Jury has been busy.
    According to the minutes of the Aug. 17 Contra Costa County Board of Education meeting, the grand jury has requested information regarding meeting fees, health benefits, mileage reimbursement and other monies received by the board members during both the prior year and thus far during the current year.
    Superintendent Joe Ovick told the board “this is the first time that such a request has been received by the COE during the 26 years he has been with the agency,” according to the minutes.

  14. g Says:

    The question for Lawrence and the Board and the Oversight Committee is:

    Did Vanir3DI also get to CONTROL the Oversight Committee and choose WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE?

    If not, then it is very clear. They are ALL in violation of the Prop 39 “Intent” of an Oversight Committee.

    Dr. J; When “Pedersen/Rolen” convinced them to give HIM the job that Vanir3DI held for the 2002 Measure C, and allowed him to hire a staff, in effect, they took him and his crew out of “school administrative” and put them into “outside” “Construction/Project Management” which IS allowed to be paid from Measure C proceeds.

    However, the “Construction Manager/Project Director” is supposed to report to and answer to the Oversight Committee–NOT the other way around!

    Pedersen is being allowed to choose: 1) WHO gets recommended to be on the committee; 2)WHAT the Agenda will be; 3) WHAT gets published for the committee; 4)WHAT the committee (and the taxpayer) gets to see–and WHEN…and the list goes on. This is a flagrant disregard for the law!

  15. g Says:

    Theresa, I hope the Grand Jury is also looking at this Measure “C” oversight. Why is Pedersen’s “outside” management team using roughly 15 District Vehicles daily and what fund is being charged for that?

    And–while they are looking at the County BOE, they should check to see if the County BOE is doing proper oversight of the District BOE.

  16. Theresa Harrington Says:

    It’s my understanding that the COE mainly oversees district spending.
    The voters are responsible for holding board members accountable for their actions.
    I know that one Holbrook parent complained to the COE regarding the district’s school closure process, but was told the county has no jurisdiction over that.

  17. Interested Board Observer Says:


    Ever since Alicia Minyen’s meeting with the Bond Counsel, I’ve wondered who actually makes the final decision on what gets priority when spending the Bond money.

    The Measure C Oversight Committee meeting seemed to tackle the issue of only of whether the money was being spent on Bond voted projects.

    (Kudos to Alicia for trying to follow the paper trail.)

    The Bond Counsel made it very clear that it was not for the Measure C Committee to like how the money was being spent. The committee’s job was only to determine whether the money was spent on Bond projects, or not.

    But this has really made me stop and wonder who does have the final authorization. Who’s the person, or group that says, “First this, then this, and finally this, if there’s enough money left.” How does this process work?

    I understand that the projects have to be taken off of the list that the voters voted upon. Then what?

    After all the principals submitted their wish list, and the District M & O gives their input for ongoing facility improvement needs, and the voters voted yes for the projects listed in the voter pamphlet, then what?

    I guess I think this is important to know, because Solar made it to the top of the Agenda. Okay, so it’s being installed. Now what? What’s next? This is part of the strategic plan issue, and the communication needed to the community.

    Do we, the voters, the tax payers, and the primary debt owners get any kind of say in what we will see installed or fixed next? If “Yes”, who do we talk to, and how do we let them know what we want? If “No”, wth? That’s a serious blank check to be signing.

    Thanks in advance for your help answering this question.

  18. Theresa Harrington Says:

    IBO: The school board decides on spending priorities.
    The board-approved schedule is on the Measure C website, under “View Our Program Schedule”:
    However, this schedule hasn’t been updated to show that irrigation has been put on hold. It also doesn’t show the $1.5 million projects approved for the six comprehensive high schools.
    According to this schedule, solar and technology are top priorities, followed by “mechanical” and “modernization.”
    It’s unclear where fixing leaky roofs and windows fits into the schedule.
    Here’s the link to the 2002 Measure C Oversight Committee application and info:

  19. 4Students Says:

    Supt Ovick and the County BOE can do more. County Supervisor Glover and others requested MDUSD be divided into Trustee Districts, which would have given better representation throughout MDUSD, but the County Committee (a.k.a. BOE) denied. Every year they hear many inter-district transfer appeals between Knightsen and Brentwood districts, they review the financial straits of those districts, and CC Times covers the 3 empty new schools in East County, and Supervisor Piepho holds a meeting to discuss East County district consolidation, but Supt Ovick and the County Committee have done nothing. Wonder about Supt Ovick’s salary (benefits and retirement), what are his daily duties, and whether he could give more guidance?

  20. g Says:

    Theresa, all priorities SHOULD be scheduled by the Board. But are there Board Minutes somewhere that show the “schedule” being openly discussed and actually agreed to by the Board?

    I don’t think so…?

  21. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Last night, the county BOE considered a resolution requesting that the Legislature and governor immediately restore the decision-making and budgetary flexibility that local educational agencies need to deal with midyear budget cuts, should they occur.
    The COE has also established a charter schools committee.
    Is there community pressure on Ovick to provide more leadership?

  22. Theresa Harrington Says:

    The board approved an “implementation schedule” Sept. 14, 2010.
    However, there is no attachment on the agenda report that outlines what the board approved:

  23. Doctor J Says:

    @Th 22, Funny how relevant documents disappear from the District website when under scruitiny. Perhaps you should stop by Dent and ask to see the blue ink signature copies. If someone is alterning approved documents . . . just saying.

  24. Interested Board Observer Says:

    Interesting. Thank you.

    So, if I understand you correctly, the 5 Board Members review, discuss, and vote upon the Implementation Schedule. (Or already did.)

    But then they don’t revisit the plan? Or they do, and we should look for it at a scheduled time of year in a posted agenda?

    Do they ever discuss this in public? Or is this a closed session meeting?

    Is there ever a time for a give and take response where we can hear their process for determining the projects, or is this only a Public Comment session, where we stand up for a minute (usually there’s no time for the three minutes) and they sit there and listen to us complain?

    How do they know what we want? It’s not like we see a poll going out: “In your view as a community, what is the most important priority project?”

    Or is this a matter of only reacting to the squeakiest wheels or the most recent crisis?

    This begs the question, is the Board operating in a vacuum? Is the BOE voting on what they think is most necessary, or are they responding to constituents who are letting the BOE know what they want?

    I wish we could have some Town Hall style meetings in that case, so that we could get community input on what projects people would like to see happen. Or at least hear the BOE talk about why some projects need to occur sooner than others. That would be helpful.

    Thanks again.

  25. Theresa Harrington Says:

    These decisions are publicly discussed.
    On June 28, the board approved a SunPower change order, approved high school facility enhancement projects, awarded a design services contract for YVHS field lights, awarded a design contract for football field improvements at CPHS, awarded a design services contract for chemistry labs at CVHS and MDHS, and awarded a design services contract for window replacement at CPHS.
    These were items 15.13 through 15.19 on the agenda:
    The public may comment separately on each agenda item. The public can also send written comments to board members about agenda items.
    The elected board members approved the schedule based on the staff recommendations, public input and their own opinions about district priorities.
    If the district made recordings of its meetings available to the public, you would be able to see the board discussion of these items.
    Unfortunately, minutes from the June 28 meeting have not yet been approved. When they are available, you may be able to find out how much discussion occurred regarding these items.

  26. g Says:

    Theresa; I suspect they knew if they published the “schedule” there would have been a very large turnout for that meeting–and they surely did not want that to happen.

    Further proof of Brown Act violation lies in the actual wording of the Minutes–(my parentheses): “Staff has proposed (not IS PROPOSING) an implementation schedule for the delivery of facility improvement projects included in the 2010 Measure ‘C’ Bond Program and is requesting Board consideration and adoption of the proposed schedule.”

    They had decided and approved the schedule long before it ever came to an OPEN Board meeting and knew they didn’t dare publish the schedule! In fact the Paul/Gary/Sherry Board du jour and Staff had decided on their schedule long before the Proposition was ever placed on a ballot!

  27. Theresa Harrington Says:

    In looking at my notes from that meeting, it appears that Pete Pedersen gave a detailed report. It’s possible he presented a Powerpoint, although my notes don’t specifically state that he did. If so, it should be attached to the agenda report, but it isn’t.
    Pedersen outlined four distinct project groupings: resource conservation, technology infrastructure, retrofit of heating and air conditioning, and modernization.
    He outlined the entire process for determining the master plan, starting with the history of the 2002 Measure C bond.
    He noted that he hadn’t actually developed a list of school improvements. Instead, he created a square-footage model of about $12 million worth of site-based improvements.
    “When we start planning with the sites,” he said, “those particular items will be identified by site.”
    He also suggested that it would make sense to repair schools that were closing, but said he wasn’t sure if the district should move forward with air conditioning at closed sites.
    Superintendent Lawrence specifically asked trustees: “Is solar and the technology and the update of HVAC the first work the board wants us to focus on in the next two or three years?”
    Pedersen said to the board: “Essentially, I’m looking to see that your priorities are my priorities.”
    The board unanimously approved Pedersen’s plan.
    Later, some high schools said they didn’t want to wait until the last five years of implementation to get their projects done. This summer, Pedersen proposed jumpstarting the high school projects.

  28. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I called the district to get a copy of the Powerpoint and was told it was attached to the agenda item.
    When I looked again, it was there:
    Maybe it was a problem with my computer?
    In case others are having trouble accessing it, I requested a copy of it and you can link to it here:

  29. g Says:

    It does not show on my computer yet. Maybe it is taking some time to distribute to various servers?

  30. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Can you access my DocStock link?

  31. g Says:

    Thanks for the docstoc link Theresa. WOW, the “CRITERIA FOR PROJECT PRIORITIZATION” is MILES and MILLIONS off from the actual “Implementation Schedule”—just like the Ballot Measure wording.

  32. Theresa Harrington Says:

    The 2010 prioritization criteria added “General Fund Relief.”
    This is why solar jumped to the front of the list of priorities, ahead of health and safety, systems equity and community enhancement.
    The board also agreed that updating school technology infrastructure was a high priority.

  33. g Says:

    Yes, and just WHO is on that “SCHOOL FACILITY ADVISORY COMMITTEE”? I couldn’t find anything listed like that anywhere on the District site. Could that be Sherry’s “Save our schools–Yes on ‘C'” committee?

  34. Theresa Harrington Says:

    The School Facility Advisory Committee is only mentioned in relation to the 2002 Measure C criteria, developed in 2001.
    There was no such committee for the 2010 Measure C.

  35. 4Students Says:

    Theresa #21,
    Apparently Supt Ovick has no accountability for MDUSD. This is a wonderful expensive education system with no accountability. In 20/20 hindsight, it would have made a difference for MDUSD if the County Office had approved the Trustee Districts idea. Probably would not have the Gary-Paul-Sherry trio. Probably would have a board member from Bay Point. Probably would have made us feel represented with local control of our schools. Instead, missed opportunity, status quo, nada mucho.

  36. Interested Board Observer Says:

    Does the basic timeline look something like this, then?

    1. Staff recommendations are presented to Board in May. (Is this a public discussion, or is this sent via email/text documents for Board members to review?)

    2. Board discusses prioritization needs in May Board Meeting.

    3. Items show up on the Agenda in June

    4. Public Commentary regarding specific Agenda Items are heard.

    5. Board Vote occurs in June.


    Is this about right? Also, if I have it correct, does the Board review this every year at the same time, or do we just need to read the Agenda to see if they are discussing Measure C projects throughout the year?

    Thanks, again!

  37. Theresa Harrington Says:

    The timeline started in 2010, with the preparation of the ballot language for Measure C, which voters approved in June, 2010.
    In terms of the projects, the board approved the implementation plan Sept. 14, 2010.
    On May 10, 2011, the board approved a plan to begin high school facility enhancements originally not slated to begin construction until 2013.
    These improvements were posted with the agenda report and were publicly discussed.
    On June 28, 2011, the board publicly discussed and approved specific contracts for the high school improvements. These were also posted ahead of time with the agenda reports.
    The board expects to receive the first annual report from the 2010 Measure C Bond Oversight Committee in September.
    The board can modify the implementation and construction plans at any time of year, so you should keep your eye out for Measure C items on every agenda, if you don’t want to miss them.

  38. g Says:

    Based on today’s costs, and the original Budget for Solar, if the District had been able to pay the estimated $69million in “cash” for solar, it would have taken 17.1 years to realize a full Return on Investment using savings, rebates and Crebs; (a couple of years before the Solar Warranty expires and seven years after the Inverters Warranty expires. But financed through Bonds and then more refinancing bonds, and more refunding bonds… they may never be paid off.

  39. Theresa Harrington Says:

    According to information presented to the Bond Oversight Committee, the district is now budgeting $88 million for the solar project.

  40. Interested Board Observer Says:


    Thank you for pointing me in the right direction. I found the discussion on Item 16.3 on the May, 2011 Minutes.

    However, isn’t the report from the Oversight Committee basically just a confirmation that the money was spent on these projects? As I understand it, they cannot issue recommendations or offer opinions to the Board.

  41. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Yes, but the public may comment on the report and offer opinions.

  42. g Says:

    Well of course the budget has to just keep increasing.

    1) Pedersen/Rolen proposed to eliminate Vanir or some other Project Manager (in order to save money–wink-wink). Once approved, Pedersen’s elite team has now grown to (my best estimate) at least 18 very highly-paid staff.

    2) Pedersen builds in a 10.5% cost overrun contingency into every contract. (The State only allows 5-7% on its contracts)

    3) The Board approves multi-million dollar amendments to contracts before shovel ever hits dirt (and this is NOT part of the ‘contingency’ allowance given to contractors.

    4,5,6,7 coming to a Board Agenda soon…!

  43. Theresa Harrington Says:

    On June 28, the board approved a change order for the second phase of the solar project that boosted the SunPower contract to $70.6 million.
    Pedersen said he expects to bring another change order to the board for the third phase of the project.
    These costs don’t include project management and “soft costs” related to bond issuance and lawyer’s fees.

  44. Linda L Says:

    I have been following the MDUSD solar project since January 2010. I can tell you that the numbers offered up by Pete Pederson in both his June 22 2010 Power Point to the BOE and the numbers he provided the BOC in March 2011 are wrong. Also note the difference between the September 16 2010 BOC subcommittee presentation and the revised numbers presented on September 28 2010 to the BOE. Who did the 9/16 numbers? I suspect it was a solar company. The timing and assumptions were correct but two weeks later the presentation was changed to closer reflect the flawed District numbers. The 9/16 presentation proves the net present value of the solar savings would not cover the $88mil price tag.
    From the very beginning the energy escalation number was calculated incorrectly from the source data. They spent months using the wrong number and then hid their mistake in later presentations by including a growth factor in energy usage. Hard to believe energy usage will rise at 2% per year compounded in a district with declining enrollment and closing schools. They also had a math error in the calculation of the solar rebates.
    The cost of this solar project will continue to rise. There is still an additional change order for phase III and I do not believe any of the $11mil for Pederson’s team has been allocated to solar specifically.
    There are so many other issues to address – the risk of paying for maintenance up front, the time value of money with respect to prepaying for maintenance, the fact that the most expensive components are only covered for 10 years. Are we planning for deferred maintenance in 20 years when the vast majority of maintenance will be required? Should we look at potential revenue for 30 years, 25 years, or just the 20 years that are part of the performance contract. We paid extra for the performance contract… was it worth the money?

  45. Alicia M Says:

    #17 – Interested Board Observer

    The board has priorized projects based on general fund relief, and based on time restrictions imposed by the IRS with respect to the Clean Renewable Energy Bonds, which are partially funding the solar project.

    1. About $14 million in leases and certificates of participation were paid off in December 2010 to provide immediate relief to the general fund.

    2. The IRS imposes a 3 year time restriction to install solar from the time that the Clean Renewable Energy Bond (“CREB”) applications were approved. The district obtained approval from the IRS for the CREBs in October 2009. So if solar is not installed by Fall of 2012, the district could lose the IRS cash subsidy payments it received in connection with the CREBs. The cash subsidy payments, according to bond counsel, is currently being used to help pay the interest to CREB bondholders. However, bond counsel said that the district can change its mind and use the cash subsidy payments for anything it wants.

  46. g Says:

    Alicia, that CREBs interest payment thing confuses me. If the Feds “give” us a piece of the money they receive by selling Federal CREBS, wouldn’t it be they, not us, who pay the interest on them?

  47. Theresa Harrington Says:

    It’s interesting that the district obtained approval from the IRS in October, 2009, since the board didn’t approve the ballot measure projects list until March, 2010 and Pete Pedersen didn’t complete his Measure C facilities master plan until April, 2010.

  48. g Says:

    Theresa, The June 28 Agenda lists Superintendent and Legal Counsel reviews under the Closed Session Items. Do you have notes on what was “reported out” by Gary when they returned to Open Session? Did he simply state that they had delayed the reviews to a date uncertain? I’m still wondering about the “quicky Special” early evening July meeting held for the same purpose.

  49. Alicia M Says:

    G – You would think it would be the feds that give out the subsidy payments. The district said the subsidy payments are being used for debt service…but I’m worried that this could change and cause the community to be on the hook for the entire interest payment on the CREB. According to the district, the tax payers on are the hook for 1.7%, the remaining interest is being covered by the subsidy payments. Please see the clause below from the IRS:

    **In March 2010 Congress enacted H.R. 2847 (Sec. 301) permitting New CREB issuers may make an irrevocable election to receive a direct payment — a refundable tax credit — from the Department of Treasury equivalent to and in lieu of the amount of the non-refundable tax credit which would otherwise be provided to the bondholder. This option only applies to New CREBs issued after the March 18, 2010 enactment of the law. In April 2010 the IRS issued Notice 2010-35 providing guidance on the direct payment option.

  50. g Says:

    I think I’m answering my own question Alicia. The Feds “give” us some of the revenue from CREBS, and we pay 30% of their interest due.

    In other words, it’s like we are buying the CREBS at a 70% discount.

    Am I correct that just to file the Application for the CREBS cost us something like $300K, and we spent that two years before the Measure went on a Ballot?

  51. g Says:

    Alicia, sorry I missed your 9:55 post. How would H.R. 2847 (Sec. 301) affect our CREBS that were issued earlier? Are we in danger of reneging on our promise made in the original application?

  52. g Says:

    Alicia–Sorry, but it seems the more I read about CREBs, the less I understand the legal speak!

    Are WE selling the CREBs (bonds), and the Feds are simply helping us to make the interest payments by giving us cash subsidies that amount to about 70% of the interest due?

    If this is correct, wouldn’t we be obligated to spend that cash subsidy on “nothing but” the Solar interest expense in order to pay the CREBs off within the Maximum Maturity time allowed ?

  53. Milan Moravec Says:

    Wage concessions by Chancellor, Vice Chancellors, Provost Faculty make more money available for the education of students. I love University of California (UC) having been a student and lecturer. But today I am concerned that at times I do not recognize the UC I love. Like so many Alumni, Donors, Legislators, and Californians I am deeply disappointed by the pervasive failures of UC senior management and regents.
    Californians suffers from 19% unemployment (includes those working part time, and those no longer searching), mortgage defaults, loss of unemployment benefits. And those who still have jobs are working longer for less. Chancellor/Faculty wages must reflect California’s ability to pay, not what others are paid.
    UC Berkeley (Cal) planned pay raises for generously paid Faculty is arrogance. UC Berkeley (ranked # 70 Forbes) tuition increases exceed national average rate of increase. Chancellor Birgeneau’s leadership molded Cal into the most expensive public university in the USA.
    Can we do better with a spirit of shared sacrifices by Faculty, Provosts, and Chancellors?
    (17,000 earn more than $100,000)
    No furloughs.
    18 percent decrease UCOP salaries, $50 million budget cut.
    18 percent prune chancellors’ salaries.
    15 percent trim tenured faculty salaries, increase teaching.
    10 percent non-tenured faculty pay decrease, increase research, teaching.
    100% elimination of Academic Senate, Academic Council budgets.

    There is no question the necessary realignments with reality will be painful.

    UC Board of Regents Chair Sherry Lansing can bridge the public trust gap with reassurances salaries reflect depressed California wages. With UC’s shared financial sacrifices, the sky above UC will not fall.

    Yours is the voice that can make the difference, email UC Board of Regents

  54. Alicia M Says:

    G- I’m still doing research. However, the disrict did issue CREBs and the Feds subsidizes the interest payments on those bonds. The principal payments plus interest of 1.7% will be paid by the taxpayer. In looking at the bond offering for the CREBs the stated interest rates on the bonds reaches as high as 5.048%, but we have been told so far that the taxpayer will only pay 1.7% of the 5.048% since the subsidy payments will cover the rest of the interest payments.

  55. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Also interesting that the application states the installation was expected to begin in January 2010 and to be in service by September 2010.
    How could that be true, with the bond measure on the June, 2010 ballot?
    Pete Pedersen signed the document on Aug. 2, 2009, under penalty of perjury, stating: “I have examined this application and to the best of my knowledge and belief, all of the facts contained in this application are true, correct and complete.”
    And most interesting is that the engineering certificate is signed by a Chevron engineer.

  56. wait a minute Says:

    HOLY COW Theresa.

    I think you just found the smoking gun!

    This could very well be evidence that there was a conspiracy by Chevron and parties within the MDUSD to pass a bond under somewhat false pretenses (promising to fix leaky roofs and do other repairs, etc)…

    And all along it was simply cover to steer most of the bond monies to an enormously expensive solar boondoggle with Chevron to be the contractor of this lucrative contract. That is until it broke in the CC Times that Stevie Lawrence was meeting secretly with and taking gratuities from Chevron at which point they quicky divorced and went with SunPower instead.

    There are way to many coincidences otherwise:

    MDUSD board member Sherry Whitmarsh is a Chevron employee as are other supporters of the Ebermarsh/Lawrence team?

    The the engineering certificate is signed by a Chevron engineer before the contract goes out to bid or a contractor is “officially selected?

    Pete Pederson signed under oath the document and he subsequently resigned to take the job of construction manager in a blatant case of lucrative double-dipping?

    Gary Eberhard takes an MDUSD paid-for class on solar and suddenly finds that solar is his passion and uses his position to leverage a lucrative vice-president job with the Shreder family company that happens to be based in Roseville where Stevie Lawrence and Sue Brothers used to work?

    Sounds to me like there might be some connections here.

  57. g Says:

    Theresa @55, is that another one of those docstoc items that you’re so good at finding? Show me how/where please.

  58. wait a minute Says:

    Forgot to mention the Rolen connection.

    He steers a lucrative Bond Counsel contract to his buddy Matt Juhl-Darlington who has no experience in this and “asociates” an LA attorney to do the actual work while Matt skims a fat profit off the top?

    Does anyone know if Turner Construction of Sacramento has received any contracts regarding Measure C?

  59. Alicia M Says:

    #57 G – A CREB application was filled out for each school. I think I have 46 applications, all certified by Chevron Energy Solutions, all state the contractor selected is Chevron, and each application has an estimated cost and timeline to install solar along with a brief description of the project to be performed. Each solar application indicates that transmission equipment (necessary to return power to the PG&E grid) will not be installed. (Please note that the CREB applications made up most of my 1,496 pages of documents requested.)

    Further, the application indicates that financing of the solar project was going to be CREBS along with MLA’s (leases) or QSCB bonds. I believe that in 2009 the district was going to rely on the solar savings to pay the debt service on the CREBS and QSCBs or on a Lease arrangement. But something happened after the time the CREBs were approved in October 2009 where the district decided to go for a General Obligation Bond. Perhaps it was because the district was only allocated/qualified for about $3 million in QSCBs, and they needed at least another $25 million (on top of the $59 million in CREBs) to finance the solar project. In the end, the CREB applications is one piece of evidence that shows solar was the primary reason for 2010 Measure C.

    Even though Chevron may have had a conflict of interest with the district, I can’t help but wonder if Chevron would have been the better choice over Sunpower, especially in light of instability in the market place. Both Solyndra and Sunpower have received federal grant money (at least Sunpower has received more than Solyndra).

  60. g Says:

    Just this past June SunPower sold 60% of the business to Total SA, a French oil & gas co.

    Future maintenance haggling may have to be done in French.

  61. Doctor J Says:

    46 Applications all signed under the penalty of perjury to get Federal Funds under false pretenses. My friend tells me that perjury is 5 years times 46 is 230 years. That’s a long time. Actually I think Chevron withdrew from the MDUSD after the nefarious relationships between Chevron Energy Solutions and Lawrence/Eberhart/Strange were published in the CCT, and went viral. Believe what you want about Chevron’s massive profits, but its corporate HQ wants nothing to do with scandal. With Solyndra’s bankruptcy filing with massive debts, you have to wonder about the financial stability of Sunpower. If Sunpower were to follow suit, MDUSD would be left holding the bag.

  62. Theresa Harrington Says:

    When I visited Rio Vista Elementary, I was told the district ran out of solar panels and had to order more for that school.
    This seems very odd, since this project was so carefully planned.

  63. Just J Says:

    I have sun power on my home. They are a very good company who plans very well. I know my home is nothing compared to the schools but they know before they begin how many panels and the energy they will produce. So it is strange that they ran out of panels for a school.

  64. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I was told this by a school staff member. However, I haven’t yet had a chance to confirm it with district officials.

  65. g Says:

    Just J: It may not be just SunPower’s miscalculation, considering they’ve already gotten a few million dollars more in change orders, (supposedly) due to “somebody’s” failure to properly calculate the total wattage needs. It seems that in spite of all the manpower on board, Pedersen, Inc. failed to count all of the HVACs and their load requirements.

  66. g Says:

    Just wondering. Do those applications indicate the plan was for mostly “rooftop” solar?

    I wonder if altering that to ground mounted without proper changes and notifications would cause a problem. I also wonder if since they are using up a good bit of playground space at some schools if they should have had to get clearance through CEQA.

    I don’t recall any Board meetings regarding having Chevron do any projections or certifications. Nor do I recall any sizable payments going to Chevron.

    I do seem to recall some big bucks being contracted to someone? Was it the Juhl-Darlington contract that said part of their job would be to handle the Rebate and Crebs applications?

  67. Theresa Harrington Says:

    No, the CREB application is for a carport model.
    I also don’t recall any board meetings where Chevron’s participation in the CREB application was discussed. And, I don’t recall any board contracts with Chevron.
    The application appears to assume the district could issue the CREBs without a bond measure, by using a municipal lease purchase agreement for additional financing.
    Yet, when the district decided to seek a bond measure, the financial adviser touted the CREBs as as a selling point.

  68. Alicia M Says:

    G- The CREB applications all indicate solar structures over parking lots, where possible.

  69. g Says:

    CopyPaste from Measure C site: Meeting Minutes (09-23-11)
    what it brings up is a jump to the “Planroom”.

    I personally have not lived Sept 23, 2011 yet, but I am looking forward to it!

    Team Pedersen has obviously been sniffing their own powerpoints.

  70. g Says:

    In all fairness I should say that last week on this site I called for a posting of the 9/23/10 minutes and it looks like someone is at least reading those posts and trying to comply. But please, at well over a million a year for In-house Management you should strive for accuracy as well as timeliness.

  71. Dan Says:

    Hey Everyone,

    They just changed the Measure C Oversight Committee meeting date from Sept. 15th to Sept. 22nd.

    Why such a late change? What about all the people who have arranged their schedule for the last month so they could attend and observe the illegalities for themselves?

    I would bet my bottom dollar this is an attempt by Pedersen and Ferrante to quash dessent among the public. Wonder what the Grand Jury will think of that?

  72. g Says:

    On 8/23 the Board approved two new members to the Oversight Committee indicating that they had been voted on and approved by the rest of the Committee. Does anyone know when the “C” meeting was held and these new folks approved? Nothing against them, as we haven’t heard from them yet, but the only possible open meeting was the 6/16/11 meeting (no actual minutes posted YET). 6/16 was the “Power point” meeting. Did they vote in new members that night?

  73. Hermine Feola Says:

    A round of applause relating to your blog.Much appreciate it. Want more.

  74. Theresa Lozac'h Says:

    Lots of research has been published on standardized testing and what can and cannot be correlated with it. What can be correlated with high achievement in standardized testing are two things (1) high socio-economic status and (2) maternal education levels. That is it. Nothing else….not even instruction.

  75. Doctor J Says:

    @TL#74 Sorry, but I disagree. I have cited several research studies on this blog — just take a look at the massive gains last year in the 3 SIG elementary schools that implemented longer instructional days as a condition of the SIG grants. The studies, which you can find on the US Dept of Education website, support the very results we saw last year. And there are many more positive results that can be measured by standardized testing — but its not a cure-all, just a tool.

  76. Theresa Harrington Says:

    FYI, I live tweeted part of the San Ramon PTA Legislative Advocacy Day at Also, I’m uploading videos from state and federal legislators; San Ramon Valley, Moraga and Acalanes superintendents; and the the CA PTA President at
    Here is my story about the PTA event, which includes comments from elected officials about state and federal school funding:
    By the way, I saw an MDUSD CAC rep there! :)

  77. Theresa Harrington Says:

    The state has released more detailed data for suspensions and expulsions in 2011-12:

  78. Doctor J Says:

    @TH#77 Ugly — especially in the high schools. Students can’t learn if they are not in school.

  79. Theresa Harrington Says:

    On an unrelated note, I’m working a General Assignment shift today, covering the last day of movies at The Dome in Pleasant Hill:

    If anyone wants to comment for this story, please call me at 945-4764 or email me at

  80. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Although this is mostly unrelated to this blog, here’s my story about the Pleasant Hill dome theater:

    Two things that do remind me of this blog are the fact that some consider the CineArts theater to be an educational institution because of the types of cultural films it shows, and some people are upset by what they perceive as a lack of transparency in the city’s approval process.

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