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Clayton mayor expresses disappointment in MDUSD board charter decision

By Theresa Harrington
Sunday, September 18th, 2011 at 3:06 pm in Education, Mt. Diablo school district.

Charter Rally Flyer

I received a copy of this letter to the editor from Clayton Mayor David Shuey regarding the Mt. Diablo school board’s recent decision to approve the Clayton Valley High School charter petition, as long as organizers satisfy numerous conditions by Feb. 1.

Although it is likely this letter will appear in the Contra Costa Times sometime in the future, I am posting it below, in case blog readers want to weigh in:

“Dear Editor:

The city of Clayton and the charter steering committee were deeply disappointed in the MDUSD school board’s de-facto denial of our petition to convert CVHS to a charter school. There is overwhelming community support, little external opposition and it would appear the only opposition is within the district itself. What is clear is denying this petition, with conditions that cannot be met and are illegal, is in direct conflict with the stated vision statement of the district to: support each other in achieving meaningful outcomes to enable individuals to experience success; use technology to access, manage and communicate information; and collaborate to achieve mutual goals.

We have already taken steps to re-approach both district staff and the board in an attempt to reach a mutually agreeable set of conditions, which can be agreed upon and allow the charter to open in 2012-13. As both staff and the board have publicly indicated they wish the charter to succeed but they needed more information and specifics, we are hopeful that we can work in good-faith to achieve the resolution.

If you feel that the committee and board should work together to ensure a true approval, please email me at shuey@rankinlaw.com.

David ‘Shoe’ Shuey
Mayor
City of Clayton”

In his e-mail to me, Shuey added that the committee plans to hold a rally and information meeting at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the Clayton Valley High multi-use room.

In addition, Clayton Valley High Principal Sue Brothers told me that the school’s new advisory committee will meet at 7 p.m. Tuesday to discuss planned improvements this year, including a strategy for increasing student achievement in math.

Teacher Pat Middendorf told me that committee members plan to meet Wednesday with Deb Cooksey, the attorney for the district who presented the staff report to the board. The committee hopes to inform the public about the outcome of that meeting Wednesday night.

County Superintendent Joe Ovick told me that he doesn’t believe the charter organizers can appeal the petition to the county Board of Education unless the district denies it outright. He did not agree with charter organizers that the conditions represented a “de-facto denial.”

Here is a link to information presented to the board Tuesday, including the resolution approving the charter with conditions, which trustees adopted: http://esbpublic.mdusd.k12.ca.us/public_itemview.aspx?ItemId=4476&mtgId=307.

Trustee Cheryl Hansen told me she has asked Superintendent Steven Lawrence and Board President Gary Eberhart to schedule a board study session aimed at reducing the number of conditions. Trustee Linda Mayo said she couldn’t comment on whether she would be willing to reconsider the conditions until she saw a written proposal from the charter committee.

Do you think the board should consider reducing the number of conditions it is requiring to approve the charter?

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  • WHOA!

    Ok, hold on a second.. hold on a flippin second! Pipeline to the Superintendent? And they find 91,000 under a flipping rock? WAIT A SECOND! Seriously, site money? Have they even had a site council meeting yet? What is the site council / site money budget? Holy shit, so as others have said, instead of fixing the problem, and showing the bad teachers the door, they’re just going to throw money at tutoring?!?!??!??! My kids have been victim of the “sweep under the rock” mentality in the math department at CVHS and this is an insult! Seriously?

    Who gets to vote on the 91,000? Is that the highest and best use of that money? What if you just GOT GOOD TEACHERS!?!???!!? Get rid of all but 3-4 of them. Costello, Tarantino, Stoffer can stay… the rest… ? THEY SUCK! And there have been complaints for YEARS, YEARS, YEARS!!!! Pipeline to the superintendent my ass, they just threw our kids under the bus for the last many years, and now they want to fix it all. Just great. How about you provide our kids with a quality education with a teacher that can teach !?!?!?!?!? HUH? How about that novel concept? I just shake my head at this latest turn of events.

  • 4Students

    Theresa #48,
    If Sue Brothers wants to match Northgate then she should copy the Northgate principal. His Focus On Learning program has been successful, shifting focus to students actively learning in the classroom. The site administration is responsive and shows the leadership necessary to make it happen. Don’t waste $91,000 on peer tutoring and make other high schools mad. Step up with the leadership that this district is needing. Hmmm strategic planning…

  • Theresa Harrington

    The peer tutoring is in addition to plans for improving instruction.
    Brothers also wants to implement Explicit Direct Instruction, which involves teachers engaging students by showing them what to do, then doing it together with them, then asking them to do it: “I do, we do, you do,” she said.
    I saw this teaching strategy in action when I visited Jonathan Moses’ class at Rio Vista Elementary. The kids were engaged and excited about learning math.
    It seems that many of Brothers’ ideas are already being implemented at the elementary level and she is trying to bring these ideas to the high school level.
    Denise Rugani and Jonathan Roselin have told me that math teachers are already starting to collaborate districtwide. I’m not sure how Brothers’ plan fits in with that.
    She also said that a 2-hour block of class time is too long to keep students engaged in math.

  • Mark Weinmann

    Notes on Parnet Advisory Council and “Tutoring” program:

    I just got off of the phone with anotehr parent and PFC board member who read the above comments and was concerned that we were paying $90K for students to tutor others in math.

    As one of the few CVHS parents who attended the Parent Advisory Council meeting last night, I think Theresa’s description is off and lacks detail which has caused some of the reactions above (not sure if it was intentional…).

    Mrs. Brothers did not unveil a $90K “Tutoring” Program. It WAS unveiled as a three point Math Improvement Plan. Tutoring was only one of the elements and the last one at that. The program covers first, improving initial instruction through smaller class sizes (which she has achieved with moving around funds to an average of 30 instead of 35 to 37), pacing and collaboration with the teachers involved. Second is assessment done more frequesntly to identify students “needing” intervention to catch them before they fall. Finally is the tutoring element done with the supervison of the subject matter expert teachers overseeing high achieving students. The cost is NOT being paid by district funds (because their isn’t any) butr rather through other sources including the PFC for a small portion.

    ALL of the parents in attendance were impressed with the innovation and creativity and, most of all, the passion and commitment,that Mrs. Brothers has shown in developing and putting this together in just a few short weeks and gaining the staff commitment to execute it.

    Additionally, Mrs. Brothers gave a very detailed analysis of student performance from last year’s STAR scores to show where we are deficient and what we, and she, can do about it.

    Anyone who’d like to know more, please ask me and I’ll give you the accurate picture from an involved parent at what transpired at the meeting last night.

  • Theresa Harrington

    Mark, thanks for adding your perspective. I am planning to do a separate blog post that goes into the plan and presentation in detail.
    Yes, all the parents in attendance appeared to be very impressed with the plan and appeared to support it wholeheartedly. The tutoring was part of a broader plan to improve math achievement (Brothers also mentioned tutoring for Spanish).
    She presented an overview of test scores to provide a rationale for her plan.
    The $91,000 would pay for teacher supervisors, as well as student tutors and other costs. The money would come from site sources.

  • Doctor J

    $91k from site sources ??? So what did the site spend the $91k on last year ? While I am very happy there are ideas being bantered around on how to improve education at CVHS, it appears just to be another politician promising to change the world and then it never happens. If this was someone other than a person that had a long standing “sidekick” relationship with the Supt, it would be a lot more believable. The other thing that doesn’t make it believeable is that if the charter does not go through, Sue Brothers has not promised to remain at CVHS for a minimum of 5 years to see it through — she has her SASS Director job waiting for her that she was promised so she can become the Asst Supt thereafter. Why haven’t they replaced Denise Rugani ? Why is there no advertised opening for her position ? Like most MDUSD ledgers, it doesn’t balance. Unfortunately, Sue Brothers is a good talker, but can’t walk the walk. Even Roseville won’t hire her back.

  • Theresa Harrington

    The Clayton City Clerk confirmed that the council approved a resolution “condemning the de-facto denial of the Clayton Valley Charter High School petition by the Mt. Diablo Unified School District’s Board of Education, reaffirming Clayton City Council’s unanimous support for the charter petition, and urging the charter steering committee to immediately appeal said de-facto denial to the Contra Costa County Office of Education for its approval of the charter for commencement effective the school year 2012-13: http://www.ci.clayton.ca.us/agendas/council/9.20.11a.pdf.
    The vote was 4-0 with Mayor David Shuey absent.

  • A former CV Mom

    Glad to see the new Clayton Valley HS principal is making positive changes that the parents and teachers want to see.

    I don’t see the need to convert to a charter with the new principal. The charter organizers don’t have a financial plan in place that demonstrates that they can actually do the things they talk about. Until they can show they can afford it, it’s nothing more than pie-in-the-sky dreaming. Sue Brothers isn’t just blowing hot air. She is making the changes happen.
    Converting to a charter is a risky proposition. I’d rather take my chances with the new principal.

    I’ve been doing some reading on the conversion charters down in L.A. They’re having the same financial problems that districts all over the state are having. They’re cutting teachers and cutting their summer programs, too. Their teachers are complaining as loudly as MDUSD teachers about the budget cuts. Converting to a charter isn’t a cure for what ails our schools.

  • Doctor J

    I wonder if they are going to frame it and present it to the MDUSD BOE ?

  • Joe tarantino

    WHOA Thanks for mentioning my wife in your comment. She works very hard to engage all learners and loves her students.

  • Theresa Harrington

    I have just posted a new blog item about the CVHS charter rally this evening: http://bit.ly/ntb7Fh