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State Senator, Assemblywoman and Walnut Creek Councilman urge quick resolution to Clayton Valley High charter issue

By Theresa Harrington
Tuesday, October 25th, 2011 at 5:26 pm in Clayton, Concord, Education, Mt. Diablo school district, Walnut Creek.

Today, state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, D-Concord, and Walnut Creek City Councilman Kish Rajan sent the following letter to the Mt. Diablo school board regarding the Clayton Valley High charter petition:

“October 25, 2011
The Honorable Gary L. Eberhart
and Members of the Mount Diablo Unified School District Board
1936 Carlotta Drive
Concord, CA 94519

Dear President Eberhart,

We are writing to urge the Board to take action on the Clayton Valley Charter High School (CVCHS) conversion petition on November 8th so that teachers, parents and students can adequately plan for the 2012/13 school year. We want to applaud the tireless efforts of the CVCHS Steering Committee and District staff as they have met repeatedly to address all of the outstanding issues necessary for approval. We understand that almost all of the conditions have been met and that District staff is finalizing their analysis and preparing to make a recommendation to the board.

As elected officials representing many students throughout the Mount Diablo Unified School District, we also encourage the Board to request a district wide financial impact analysis by a respected independent organization, such as the Financial Crisis Management Assistance Team (FCMAT), independent of the approval of the CVCHS conversion process, so that the Board and the community better understand how to prepare for the financial future of the District.

We are proud of how passionately our community continues to support our teachers and students. We know that this has been a difficult process and have been encouraged by the work completed by the CVCHS Steering Committee and District staff.

As we all work together to support the teachers, parents and students in our community, we believe that a transparent district wide conversation regarding the future of the entire community is essential to a responsible way forward.

Sincerely,
Mark DeSaulnier, Senator, 7th District
Susan Bonilla, Assemblymember, 11th District
Kish Rajan, City of Walnut Creek, Councilmember”

Do you agree with the letter’s recommendations?

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

  • Anon

    Dr. J #49,

    They probably have to continually tweek it as they read the comments being posted.

    Keep the pressure up people, I have news from the inside that it is really starting to get to people in Dent.

  • Another CV Parent

    Wendy, I see it differently. I think parents see the many, many painful budget cuts the district has gone through and want to blame somebody, they blame the school board and district management. They don’t realize that MDUSD received less than other similar Districts for many years because of the convoluted way the state calculated how much each school district was entitled to. They don’t see (or don’t want to see) that the state has been making cut after cut to education spending, forcing MDUSD to make cuts as a result. The anger at the Board members and the District all goes along with the currently popular political notion that there’s plenty of money to go around, no need to raise anybody’s taxes, all we have to do is cut the waste, and government (the president, the congress, the state legislature, your city council, the MDUSD Board – take your pick) is the enemy.

    We’re certainly seeing the results of the cost cutting in our District. We have busing problems for the special ed kids after that responsibility was reassigned due to budget cuts. We have students without textbooks after the summer hours were cut back for the school site staff that would have caught such errors in the past. We have parent fundraising keeping high school athletics afloat. It’s terrible, but that’s what happens when we cut funding to education. I agree the district is terrible at PR, but didn’t the point person for that get laid off a while ago?

    My children have been in this school system for many years. I’ve followed the school board fairly closely. I don’t always agree with their decisions, but I do believe Mayo, Eberhart, and Whitmarsh all care deeply about this district and have done their best for it. I haven’t observed Dennler and Hansen long enough to form an opinion about them.

    Keep in mind that the Clayton Valley charter is a “teacher trigger” conversion. It wasn’t started by the parents or the community. It was started by the teachers in response to cuts in their own pay. They saw a way to get more money for CVHS and pay themselves more. They thought the extra money would come from the state, but it doesn’t. It comes from the MDUSD budget. Their gain is everbody else’s loss.

  • Another MDUSD Mom

    Another CV Parent, I see it differently. I do blame the District leadership and Board for many of the problems we face as a District and I am also very aware of the painful budget cuts and unfair funding.

    I agree that we are seeing the results of cost cutting and most of your examples are good examples however we are also seeing the results of poor leadership and most definitely abysmal public relations. The loss of the communication position had far less to do with the budget and much more to do with the 2008 takeover of the Board majority and the ousting of the Superintendent. That position was a casualty of a very public war amongst members of the Board and the Superintendent.

    The incompetence from this District includes the hiring of a Superintendent who has never led a District of this size, a Superintendent who does not have the skills needed to be an effective communicator, a Superintendent who does not believe in strategic planning, a Superintendent without a vision, and collectively all this means a Superintendent without leadership skills.

    In addition, at time when the cuts from Sacramento are hurting the quality of education for our children this Board chose not to do the hard work necessary to pass a parcel tax (most Districts require two attempts before they are successful) and instead pursued a costly bond measure that will most likely burden future generation’s ability to pass a bond for school facilities down the road. Many people do not understand the bonding capacity of a district and the rules pertaining to the caps on issuing bonds.

    The solar project is a joke. If Mr. Eberhart had put half the energy into a parcel tax campaign that he has put into the largest school district solar project in the country then perhaps we would have $7.5mil more annually in the general fund right now. Oh he speaks in terms of hundreds of millions of dollars to make you think his deal is good but if you base the solar projections on a 20 yr analysis to coincide with the timeframe guaranteed by SunPower, solar simply breaks even.

    The strategic plan should be the road map for the vision of this district. Our District leadership should make every decision based on the strategic plan. It should be an integral part of every budget presentation and agenda item. It should include community advisory groups in order to utilize much needed community resources like time, money, and expertise. But instead Ms. Whitmarsh said there will be no community advisory boards and the Superintendent has made it clear that he does not believe in strategic planning but prefers goals and objectives. The devastating results from a lack of planning has been proven in this District over and over… most notably with the closure of Glenbrook and Holbrook.

    We should be outraged at the fear mongering and spinning of information as it relates to the Clayton Valley charter. Forget about what it does to the charter process itself, which is bad enough, but the most horrendous violation of public trust is what it has done to our communities. True and good leadership would not pit one neighbor against another to win a policy debate.

    As the rhetoric on all sides builds the District leadership has collapsed the lines of communication not opened them. The loss of the MDUSD blog, the shutting down of the broadcast Board meetings, the lack of communication from the Superintendent, the unwillingness to provide documents to members of vital oversight committees, Board members desires to speak privately rather than publicly to those who disagree with their policies, the lack of Board inclusiveness and a lack of Board tolerance for those Board members with opposing views or concerns should be an ongoing concern for those of us who want more transparency and an open and honest process.

    So Another CV Parent, while we agree the budget cuts hurt our schools and our children we disagree about the our District leadership. They may care about the kids in this District but I personally will need to see a much better approach to improving the state of our district before I would support their reelection or champion their efforts.

    There is no better time to unite a body of individuals then when collectively they face a greater enemy… In this case the greater enemy is the State of California and yet we completely lack the leadership to follow.