Part of the Bay Area News Group

MDUSD board strategic planning meeting tonight

By Theresa Harrington
Monday, September 26th, 2011 at 1:36 pm in Education, Mt. Diablo school district.

The Mt. Diablo school board will hold a special meeting tonight to discuss districtwide strategic planning.

Last spring and summer, trustees Sherry Whitmarsh and Cheryl Hansen conducted 15 meetings with various school and district groups to get feedback on a draft strategic plan focused on academics; family support and community involvement; staff; service and communication; and operations and infrastructure.

Trustees expect to review the community feedback and discuss their top five priorities in each category.

The meeting will take place at 7 p.m. Monday at the district office, 1936 Carlotta Drive in Concord.

More information is available by calling 925-682-8000 ext. 4000 or by visiting

What are your top priorities?

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

47 Responses to “MDUSD board strategic planning meeting tonight”

  1. 4Students Says:

    Theresa, will you report on the result?

  2. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Yes, it was very interesting. The CVHS charter petition has definitely made a difference in the way trustees believe the district needs to support schools and be responsive to parents.
    Trustee Cheryl Hansen created a shorter draft version, which the rest of the board commented on. Trustees hope to get more feedback on the new draft document before bringing it back to the board.
    I shot video of portions of the meeting, which I’ll post later.
    Board President Gary Eberhart said he also wants the plan to address school climate and social promotion.
    After the meeting ended, Eberhart and Hansen were deep in conversation about the charter petition.

  3. g Says:

    Theresa, I was following your qik feeds as you posted them last night. Obviously a lot of hours have gone into this already, and I appreciate their efforts. However, admittedly, I’m a skeptic. What I saw, other than an obvious need to make the whole thing more compact, was a lot of how can we put more FLUFF in the wording. “I like this word better than that word”. “Assure is a better word than guarantee, and every is better than all”.

    Break out your Thesaurus and find a word that will make those common folks feel better.

  4. Theresa Harrington Says:

    One such discussion that was particularly interesting was one about the word “honest.”
    Board President Gary Eberhart suggested deleting the word “honest” from this goal: “Ensure that communications are honest, accurate, thorough, and accessible to the public.”
    He said “accurate” is objective, but that “honest” is subjective. Do you agree?

  5. Doctor J Says:

    Gary Eberhart wanting to eliminate “honest” from the goal of communications ? Are you kidding me ? “Honest” means you tell the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. “Accurate” just means that whatever small portion of the truth you tell is not incorrect — its a far cry from being honest and telling the whole truth. Typical Eberhart.

  6. g Says:

    Honest and accurate mean two entirely different things, and Gary seems to prove daily that he knows the difference very well. And I think he has his objective and subjective meanings bass-ackwards.

    For example, the Measure C wording on the ballot. While it was “accurate-subjective” by including the word solar in the description of work planned, it was not presented to be “honest-objective” in the scope of work planned.

  7. Theresa Harrington Says:

    The board also had an extensive conversation about rewording this goal: “Collaborate and communicate with cities, businesses, and the community to build public trust and promote a positive perception of our district.”
    Trustees Sherry Whitmarsh and Linda Mayo objected to the phrase: “promote a positive perception of our district.”
    “The way this is worded insinuates we don’t have it,” Whitmarsh said.
    Trustee Cheryl Hansen said she thought it was a critical goal to keep.
    Superintendent Steven Lawrence suggested using the word “relationships.”
    Trustee Lynne Dennler suggested changing the word “build” to “foster.”
    Board President Gary Eberhart said he was looking at PR websites that suggested building “rapport.”
    In the end, I think they agreed on: “(The district) will actively build strong, positive relationships with students, families, and the community to foster trust and shared responsibility.”

  8. g Says:

    That one had to be changed, because “collaborate” has not been a goal or even an honest intention for a very very long time.

    Poor Sherry. She just doesn’t really get it does she?

  9. Number Eight Says:

    “G” you beat me to it. I think its pretty obvious.

  10. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Actually, in looking at my notes, I think they did leave collaborate. I believe they agreed to: “Collaborate and communicate with cities, businesses and the community to build public trust and foster positive relationships with our district.”

  11. Number Eight Says:

    Good. Collaborate, cities, businesses, and public trust are key words. Honest is also, to set an exemplary role model for students. Looking forward to the final draft.

  12. Jack Weir Says:

    A conflict prevented my attendance, but the above reports confirm my long-standing opinion of Eberhardt.
    At a board meeting shortly after Measure C 2010 passed and the outrageous ultimate cost became known, a resident asked if the board was concerned about the $1.8B cost. Eberhardt replied, “That’s not the district’s worry; that’s the taxpayers worry.”
    Eberhardt only cares about raising money for the general fund, and will do or say anything to make that happen.
    There is wide-spread mistrust of the board, which is well deserved.

  13. Theresa Harrington Says:

    They also discussed the importance of keeping employees happy.
    Yet, here’s a blog post about the recent workbook/textbook ordering snafu:

  14. Wait a minute Says:

    Jack Weir,

    Its actually even more serious then Eberhart’s a blatant disregard for the taxpayers.

    He planned and is using this whole Measure C/Solar issue as a way to get ahead in his job as VP of Solar for the Schreder family empire. Old man Schrede’s (Jack) company is based in Roseville where both Stevie Lawrence and Sue Brothers spent their formative administrative years. You can bet they played a part in Gary getting his job.

    And if you want to dig even deeper, it is obvious that the original solar plan was to steer that contract to Chevron–Sherry Whitmarsh’s employer. That is until Lawrence’s secret meetings and freebies from Chevron hit the press.

  15. School teacher Says:

    Unbelievable description of the “wordsmithing” done at the meeting. Total waste of time. I’ve been at those types of meetings. All that ends up being produced is some bland document that accomplishes nothing but having everyone involved patting themselves on the back for. Some of these district people should stop wasting their time in these meetings, and really come into the classroom where the real work is done. They haven’t done a whole lot to help the teachers out in that area, and I doubt this document is going to change that.

  16. Alicia M Says:

    Wait A Minute – So did you know about the Clean Renewable Energy Bond applications for 47 school sites submitted to the IRS in August of 2009? Each CREB application described the proposed solar project and indicated that Chevron was the chosen contractor. A Chevron engineer certified each school site for the solar project, and their certification was attached to each CREB application.

  17. Theresa Harrington Says:

    At last night’s board meeting, Eberhart lamented the fact that “only one member of the public” was at the strategic planning meeting.
    I’m guessing he was referring to me. Teachers’ union president Mike Langley also attended.
    Another member of the public was there at the beginning, but he left when I arrived.
    Eberhart said he hoped more people would take an interest in the finalizing of the strategic plan, since there seemed to be a great deal of interest in it during community input sessions.

  18. Number Eight Says:

    What is the public’s role at this meeting? We had ample opportunity to comment at the community input sessions. Is our attendance required to babysit the board? The strategic plan is vital but at this point it’s the board’s document and we’re eagerly awaiting for the result.

  19. Doctor J Says:

    Once again, Gary has no clue about how a real strategic plan is developed by all the stakeholders. Gary wants to micromanage the strategic plan — the public is not fooled.

  20. Wait a minute Says:


    I didn’t know at the time but we all know now thanks to your due diligence for which the public is grateful.

    I’m just stating that the Crebs showed Chevron as the sole contractor are a key piece of evidence in how from the beginning the entire Measure C was just a cover for a huge Solar project along with a blatant attempt to steer the lucrative contract to Chevron.

    It is a fact that Gary is a VP of Solar for Jack Schreder’s son Seward Schreder Construction. They have an office in Roseville, Ca.

  21. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Number 8: There was opportunity for public comment at the beginning of the meeting.
    But this meeting was specifically intended for the board to offer its own input.
    Hansen’s revised draft was not posted online with the agenda. However, she did distribute it to those who attended the meeting.
    The further revised draft will be distributed to district committees including PAC, CAC and the Bond Oversight Committee, for additional input.
    It’s possible that trustees wanted the public to know that they heard the concerns of the community and were trying to be responsive to them.
    Several trustees made comments about the need to incorporate the community input into the plan.

  22. g Says:

    I have looked and looked, and I cannot find any indication of an open board meeting leading up to the Board discussing, doing RFPs or approving Chevron to do those CREB applications. Lawrence wasn’t around yet but on 8/26/11 he reports: “This project truly began three years ago when district staff and the Board had the foresight to apply for $56 million in Clean Renewable Energy Bonds (CREBs) through the Federal Government.”

  23. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Pete Pedersen told the Bond Oversight Committee that he never brought the CREB applications to the board for approval.
    This is surprising, since the board approves most grant applications and is required to approve expenditures over $25,000.
    It’s unclear who directed Pedersen to pursue the CREBs. Pedersen also said “no money changed hands” for the Chevron engineering certifications. If the district had paid for the certifications, that work might have needed board approval (depending on how much it cost).

  24. Alicia M Says:

    G #22 – I looked and looked too. With respect to Chevron, I only noticed on a Board agenda in May 2009 that Chevron gave a $59k grant for MDUSD schools.

  25. Linda L Says:

    I find it interesting that a district employee does not have to get Board approval when applying for a financing mechanism equal to $59mil. Even after the government subsidies on the CREBs the District is being obligated to a $10mil dollar debt service. I believe that exceeds the $25,000 limit.

  26. Doctor J Says:

    There is something rotten in Denmark. CREBSgate. Another one to add to the list. CCC needs a special grand jury just to keep track of MDUSD.

  27. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I believe that concern about not missing out on the CREBs contributed to the decision to quickly get Measure C on the June, 2010 ballot instead of waiting to plan it out more — including solidifying the list of projects — and putting it on the November, 2010 ballot instead.

  28. Doctor J Says:

    Sorry Pete, you knew the rules and the Grand Jury at Gary’s request had already spoken about them. Paying back $59 million or it it just $10 million will eat most of your retirement, won’t it ? You had no authority, did you ? Maybe if you rat out the person who promised you Measure C 2010 job after retirement, you might get a plea bargain. But then again, maybe the prosecutor will want to make an example of you and go for a judgeship ? Its hard to tell until you tell us the truth.

  29. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Both Pedersen and Superintendent Steven Lawrence have told me there was no advance plan to hire Pedersen after he retired.
    Lawrence said he asked Pedersen to stay on and oversee Measure C after Pedersen announced his intention to retire. Pedersen said he had not planned to stay on and had been looking forward to retirement, but agreed to Lawrence’s request.

  30. g Says:

    I’m pretty sure the Feds and their lobbyists like to make sure a certain number of contracts are going to “favored” companies. I wonder if they have been made aware that Chevron is not the Contractor on this huge project, or how it was handled without proper public notice?

  31. Alicia M Says:

    My impression from reading the CREB application is that the district didn’t need the 2010 Measure C to issue the CREBs. The application states that the district’s operating budget will pay the bonds back since savings from solar would cover the debt service. Further, the district stated on the application that QSCBs would finance part of the solar project too since the estimates, I’m assuming came from Chevron, on cost of solar would aggregate $74 million on 47 district sites. However, the district was only allocated $3 million in QSCBs.

  32. Theresa Harrington Says:

    The district touted the CREBs as a selling point for the $348 million bond measure, since those bonds have less interest and shorter repayment periods than regular GO bonds.
    Pedersen said the district didn’t qualify for more QSCBs because it didn’t have more “shovel ready” projects.
    The district recently used pool improvements to get some QSCBs, even though the projects were nearly completed at the time of the bond issuance.

  33. Alicia M Says:

    The CREB applications’ discription of the solar projects, which add up to about $74 million, each indicate the sites are “shovel ready”: “The District projects are in keeping with State identified goals that highlight “shovel ready” projects that will contribute to the economic stimulus for the Community. The District’s projects will create green jobs in the Community and beneficial long-term environmental impacts.”

  34. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I thought projects had to be DSA approved to be considered “shovel ready.”
    The district still hasn’t received DSA approval for all of its solar projects.

  35. Doctor J Says:

    I applaud the parents that only 130 students either didn’t have their shots or waivers, and that there are “free immunization clinics” but the bottom line on Monday is that it will be cheaper to hire a traveling nurse to do the immunizations or obtain the waivers than miss the ADA.

  36. Doctor J Says:

    The Board should be ashamed of themselves for exploiting elementary children to become fundraisers when the Board wastes millions of dollars meeting after meeting. I call on the Board to BAN all fundraising by 5-9 year olds. It hurts their self esteem, it takes away from their educational experience, and it is not their responsiblity. A long conversation this evening with an acquaintance took me back to being an elementary parent. Board meeting after board meeting, the Board awards consultant huge contracts, gives their elite Gang of Five raises, approves extraordinary salaries to the Supt, Asst Supts, District Directors, and many others, and then lets the elementary schools beg the children to “fundraise” to pay for essentials. It is wrong. When as a people and as a community are we going to stand up and say “HELL NO, WE WON’T TAKE IT ANYMORE !” ? When a young child shows up to class and just the top fundraisers are “praised” by the beloved teacher, how do the other students feel. That is exploitation of children. Our schools are turning our children into child prostitutes of fundraising. ITS WRONG ! IT MUST STOP ! STOP EXPLOITING THE CHILDREN ! When is it ok to “require” and “intimidate” a 5 year old child to raise money for his/her class because instead we spend money for the Board’s heath care ? When is it ok to “require” and “intimidate” a 5 year old child to raise money for his/her class because instead we spend money for temporary and consultants to take the place of an SASS director who abandoned the district, and we are “holding” the position for a friend of the Supt ? When is it ok to “require” and “intimidate” a 5 year old child to raise money for his/her class because instead we spend money on consulants to do things that an already existing dept could do ? When is it ok to “require” and “intimidate” a 5 year old child to raise money for his/her class because instead we spend money on giving the Gang of Five raises, including having the district lawyer take over “transportation” when he has a conflict of interest because he benefits from it ? Please tell me, when is it ok ? Now I know the state is not doing its part, but just because YOUR elected representives are incompetent, does not give the district the right to put their pensions above the children. STOP THE EXPLOITATION OF CHILDREN. Start cutting the administration, even to the bone. As I have suggested before, large reductions in the salaries of the Supt, Asst. Supts, Directors, and other district administrators will go a long way to getting this mess fixed in Sacramento. But please, immediately BAN all fundraising by 5-9 year olds ! Its unconscionable.

  37. Anonn Says:

    I heard some kids were sent home on Friday from CVHS. Why would that be? I thought the deadline was Oct 1 which would mean Monday they’d be disallowed entry. Puzzling how with all the information, free clinics, posted notices everywhere (even at the grocery store), school reminders, etc that some would still not have it. Maybe some of these families should be looked at as not providing adequate care to their kids if it is literally a matter of just not getting it.

  38. 4Students Says:

    You’re right again. MDUSD has a double standard. Elementary school fundraising is absurd. Our school had a Read-A-Thon but our family believes children should read for pleasure not profit. Plus there was no verification for the prizes that were awarded. We participated only because Read-A-Thon offered a set donation alternative so we chose that and our child’s classroom received credit.

    Pretty much every other district has an education foundation for fundraising. In Brentwood the foundation is fundraising, and also linking parents and the community for broader student support and character education.

    MDUSD has dropped the ball on this. Get school PTAs together to set up a district foundation, or each feeder pattern foundation. There are model foundations already in Pleasant Hill and Walnut Creek. Connect with the community and businesses. Link foundations on the district web site. Otherwise the district is not doing everything possible for our students.

  39. Doctor J Says:

    I am not opposed to adult fundraising — but don’t exploit the young children. The Board should pass an immediate policy against fundraising participation by young children at least 9 years old and younger. How can the Board in good consciousness allow this to happen and then take their $60,000 plus in medical benefits ?

    And I really don’t care if other youth groups do it — public schools should not. It pains me to see these young cub scouts being pandered in their cute uniforms outside stores to sell high priced popcorn and they only get to keep a small percentage for their troop.

  40. Doctor J Says:

    CDE just released the SIG Grant Applications for Cohort 2, for which Oak Grove and Meadow Homes are eligible to apply. However, in reviewing the application, I don’t think either school will be able to apply because they can’t meet the rigorous standards. Hopefully, I am wrong. Its interesting because if these same standards are applied to the current three schools awaiting approval of their “corrective action applications” for non-compliance last year, its clear those three schools did not meet the three part requirements of increased instruction time. Yes, they did increase instructional time, but didn’t meet all three of the ruberics required for increased instructional time. Also siginficant is the requirement that if there is fraud or non-compliance, the money will have to be returned. Arne Duncan is for real education reform. California schools have never been held to such rigorous inspection of compliance with grants and its about time.
    Very interesting reading.

  41. Doctor J Says:

    CDE confirmed today that “furlough days” will be subtracted from other “increased instructional time” and may disqualify the school from the SIG grant. Also, CDE is considering surveying the districts to see how many furlough days are budgeted or planned for as they consider whether to approve year two. If MDUSD moves forward as the Supt indicated the other night with 5 school furlough days that may not only disqualify the 3 current SIG schools, but also the 2 for Cohort 2. The MOU negotiated with MDEA requires the SIG schools to take the same number of furlough days. Remember, if there is non-compliance, the money has to be returned. Now that MDEA has learned there is an extra $7.6 million . . . well lets just say MDEA feels like they got tricked.

  42. Doctor J Says:

    Can you imagine how our high schools could soar if they all had an additional $941 per student per year ? Science, math, VAPA, and yes even sports. As I said, Lawrence shot himself in both feet at the same time with one shot by the admissions in his memo attempting to destroy the charter. Instead, he created a Pearl Harbor that has strengthened the charter proponents of CVHS, and also aroused the ire of the other high schools who have been shorted for many years. Who allowed these policies in the district to get this way: Eberhart 17 years; Mayo 15 years. Whitmarsh 3 years. Lawrence is just the Marionette of the Puppeteer Eberhart. The failure to have a Strategic Plan for many years has contributed immensely to this fiasco.


  43. GO CHARTER! Says:

    Doctor J, are all “unified” districts funded in this way? Is it just MDUSD that channels monies away from high school in this manner ?

  44. Just J Says:

    What I don’t understand is why did Lawrence put that update out on Friday if that is not even a consideration.
    The update should have been about the bussing situation and workbooks. Wonder what Lawrence will have to say about that major F&*^ up! He thinks he is smarter than the community. Putting that out there to try to take the heat off of the rest of issues. Hope you are ready for me to visit the District next week. I want answers!!!!

  45. Doctor J Says:

    @Just J, you’re right, not a peep about “Busgate” from Lawrence — but wait until Tuesday when parents accuse him of putting finances over child safety, even after he promised 3 buses and only provided one. Lawrence put out the cost sheet to rile up parents and staff with propaganda, unrelated to the real issue before the board. Even though the board can’t legally “take it into consideration” it is now clear the district since May 21 has made the finances of the charter its main consideration. Just another shell game. I would think that all Clayton residents would want to bring a small bag of gourmet small potatoes to present to Gary AFTER the vote to show your support for what Gary thinks is your “small potatoes Mayor”. Frankly, I don’t think Gary knows that very small potatoes are a gourmet delight.

  46. Just J Says:

    LOL Dr. J.
    I hope the parents with the buss issue go to the meeting and let him have it.

    Ya know I have been to a few meetings now and I watch the eye contact and body language of each person sitting on the stage. Mr. Lawrence only makes eye contact and gives a somewhat smile when the people speaking have what he considers an education equal to his and Greg Rolan is obviously counting the dots on the ceiling. Gary and Sherry are playing a game and not paying attention. Cheryl Hanson is the only one who makes it a point to make eye contact and acknowledge that she heard what was being said.

    Why did the teachers push so hard to have Gary and Sherry elected to the Board? bet they feel pretty bad now. I for one will NEVER vote yes to either of them.

    MR. LAWRENCE (I refuse to call you DR.) You need to GO or step up! Greg Rolan you should be ashamed! Quit telling lies.

    Gary and Sherry I hope you are reading this with your friend Paul….WE DON’T WANT YOU ANYMORE! You 3 make me sick!

  47. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Here is an update on the CVHS charter discussion anticipated at the Tuesday MDUSD board meeting:
    FYI, I will be on vacation Sunday-Tuesday, so comments by new posters may not be moderated right away.
    A story about the meeting will appear in the Monday Contra Costa Times and we are sending reporter Rick Radin to cover Tuesday’s meeting.
    I will follow-up on Wednesday.

Leave a Reply