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Will fewer school days hurt students?

By Theresa Harrington
Monday, October 31st, 2011 at 6:13 pm in Education, Mt. Diablo school district.

As the state budget trigger looms, some school districts may be bracing for budget cuts that could include reducing the school year.

Already, at least eight East Bay districts plan to reduce their 2011-12 school years by one day or more from the traditional 180 days, even without the trigger.

They are:

New Haven 175
Newark 175

Acalanes 178
Byron 177
John Swett 178
Mt. Diablo 175*
Oakley 175
Pittsburg 179

*Needs to be negotiated with teachers’ union.

Last year, the Mt. Diablo school district cut three days from its school year. This year and through 2012-13, it hopes to negotiate seven furlough days with its teachers’ union, including five instructional days and two staff development days.

A policy brief called “Turning Back the Clock: The Inequitable Impact of Shortening California’s School Year,” released by Education Trust-West and other education advocacy organizations today, said shortening the school year hurts students, especially those who are poor or who are English language learners.

“Our policymakers have long applauded themselves for ensuring that California has some of the most rigorous academic standards in the nation,” said Arun Ramanathan, executive director of statewide education advocacy organization. “All California’s students, including the more than 50 percent of our students who are low-income and our 1.3 million English learners, deserve a full opportunity to learn those standards and perform on grade level. As a state with some of the widest achievement gaps and lowest student performance in the nation, reducing learning time in our schools should not be an option.”

AB 114 signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown allows school districts to shorten the school year by up to seven additional days if state revenues fall short of projections, which could result in 168-day school years in some districts.

“Our students deserve both the opportunity and time necessary to achieve their dreams of college and career,” Ramanathan said. “We call on the governor and the legislature to protect the rights of our children and prevent these harmful and inequitable cuts to the school year.”

Superintendent Steven Lawrence said in an e-mail that it is unfortunate that districts throughout the state need to balance their budgets by reducing school days.

“If we expect our children to complete (sic) both nationally and globally,” he wrote, “the state needs to fund education at a level that allows us to expand educational opportunities not reduce them.”

According to the report, most state school years are 180 days. Kansas is the state with the longest school year, at 186 days.

Some other countries, however, have much longer school years, including the Netherlands with 200 days, South Korea with 220 and Japan, which has 243 school days a year.

Here’s a link to the complete report:

Do you think the Legislature should try to find another way to balance its budget?

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

124 Responses to “Will fewer school days hurt students?”

  1. Wait a Minute Says:

    Of course it hurts education. Other countries are kicking our butt by having much longer and more rigorous school years.

    These economically competing countries also have far fewer problems with discipline and drop outs then the US.

    As much as cutting 7-12 days off the calender hurts the MDUSD it pales in comparison to the damage being done by the district management and their terrible decision making.

    They have squandered millions of dollars and will continue to do so until they are replaced with honest/ethical and competent leaders.

    Honestly, I wouldn’t trust these people with my dog!

  2. Doctor J Says:

    Much of the blame in MDUSD has been their horrific financial management in the last ten years, and especially in the last five years. I disagree with Lawrence that the entire blame of MDUSD’s financial crisis should be placed on the Legislature. A perfect example from last week. Just nine weeks into the school year, the Board had to rescuse the transportation dept, headed by district lawyer Greg Rolen, who had a budget of $917,000 which he forcasted in November 2010 would save the district $240,000, and had to be bailed out with a budget INCREASE of $863,000 because of inexcusable financial forcasting on the cost of the District taking over the bus transportation and even worse transportation planning which apparently never consulted with the Special Ed Dept. This kind of financial fiasco has plagued MDUSD time after time for the last ten years — are there any board members who have been on during that whole time ? Oh, yeah. Eberhart and Mayo. The $863,000 increase was done WITHOUT any financial backup provided to the Board or to the public about how such a fundamental error could have been made — only one Board trustee objected and she was shut down. This kind of habitual very awful financial management has created public distrust has made the public reject parcel taxes which most districts have. Even though the “strategic plan” agreed upon by the Board rejects this kind of shoot from the hip response, the Board’s actions speak louder than their words. Back to the Legislature: AB 114 was introduced one night and passed the same night without public hearing and debate. It was a legislative compromise to get a “balanced budget” on time — ha, ha — and the Governor balked at signing it but he did.

    Ask yourself, has MDUSD done everything it can to reduce its expenses ? Of course not. The Supt salary remains above average, the Asst Supts are above average, the Gang of Five raises were never reversed, and MDUSD has some of the highest paid teachers in the country — California avg is third highest in the country. And the Board gets $60,000 in health benefits. The Board’s policies and the Administration’s implemention have just resulted in a Hat Trick, MDUSD is now “Program Improvement” in all three titles: Title I [new], Title II [3 years], and Title III [6 years]. Tremendous amount of human resouces now must be spent at the District and school levels developing plans that should have been in effect for years, and the plans in place for Title III have been continued despite being a collosal failure year after year. Yet we still have the same jockeys riding the horses. Go figure. Would that work at Chevron ? or Microsoft ? or General Electric ?

    So yes, there is much more that can be done other than reduce the school year — much by the district and much by the legislature. There is plenty of blame to be passed around. Its time to fix it, instead of pointing fingers. Where is the finalized Strategic Plan ?

  3. Theresa Harrington Says:

    The board said it wanted to send the strategic plan draft to other committees such as CAC, PAC, etc. However, I don’t know if it has actually been circulated. The PAC meets Wednesday, but no agenda has been posted yet.

  4. Doctor J Says:

    @Theresa #3 Just another ruse and delay. Eberhart and Whitmarsh never intended for “real” strategic plan to be developed.

  5. Doctor J Says:

    Looks like MDUSD is in violation of federal law by not having sent out the NCLB letters within the 14 day window and not posting the school choice and supplemental educational services matrix on their website. Take a look at this
    And then there is a 20% allocation requirement of title 1 funds.
    Am I reading this correctly ?

  6. Another CV Parent Says:

    According to Doctor J, “MDUSD has some of the highest paid teachers in the country”. Yet the CVHS teachers started the teacher conversion so they could pay themselves more. Yes, it’s true. Read the charter documents and watch their PowerPoint presentations. Their first pass at a charter even stated that they planned to pay themselves more than MDUSD teachers. Do some research and you’ll see that teachers at “teacher trigger” conversion charter schools often give themselves raises with the extra money the schools get. What do you expect when you give financial control of a school to its employees?

    The teachers got to decide on the composition of the Clayton Valley governing board and they made sure it was dominated by employee interests, not members who will put the students first. Out of nine members, four will be school employees (the max. allowed by law) and one will be a retired teacher selected by the governing board, giving the employee interests a majority. Plus the two community members will be selected by the other governing board members, the majority of whom will be employees. Even the two parents reps were originally going to be selected by the other governing board members. Thank goodness that was changed after a public outcry. But when the teachers changed the parent reps to elected reps, they added a provision that every person who wants to be considered for a postion on the governing board, even the parent reps, must first submit their resume to and be interviewed by a committee that is made up primarily of school employees.

    The deadline for parents to submit the form stating that they intend to enroll their child in the charter school has just been extended. Parent support for the charter isn’t as overwhelming as the teachers and Mayor Shuey would like you to believe. Most will enroll their children at CVCHS simply because it’s our neighborhood school. But many recognize the charter for the trainwreck it is. Even some who favor the charter conversion are deeply embarrassed by the irresponsible, selfish, and juvenile behavior of the charter steering committee.

  7. Just J. Says:

    Since the National Report card came out today I think having less days will hurt our students more than they are being hurt now. Shame on all of us for letting this happen.

    Nations Report Card for 2011 released today shows stalled performance in 4th grade reading. Proficient means at grade level. 67% of 4th graders were below proficient (the same as in 2009), and 76% of 8th graders were below proficient.

    Find a summary of your state performance

  8. Doctor J Says:

    Well, it appears its Sue Brothers still celebrating Halloween as Another CV Parent. California ranks 3rd in the Country as to highest paid teachers. Lets get to your salary at West Sacramento as an Asst Supt for a tiny school district — way overpaid according to California and national standards, as our administrators here in MDUSD even though its larger. All of this information is right from the California Department of Education website. NCLB is all about getting more money in the classroom and out of administration so there is better teaching. In fact, one of the deficincies in MDUSD’s SIG grants is they don’t, as they are required, have a plan to “reward” good teachers — all the CAP for the SIG did was say they will “recognize” them — you know the good old slap on the back or wherever. How about a financial reward ?

  9. Wait a minute Says:

    Good call Dr J,

    Yes Sue Brothers is a hypocrite. She built an expensive empire in smallish West Sac with a very large Dpt under her control and outrageous pay for herself and her minions there.

    Now she is playing her role in the strategy her good friend Stevie Lawrence and his minions have come up with to oppose the charter.

    By all means Sue, take on those greedy teachers and their politician supporters like the Federal and State Representatives, State Senator and multiple Mayors and City Council Members.

    Just remember that while you and Stevie do this, the MDUSD is literally crumbling under the weight of repeated bad management decisions leading to crisis and scandal now known all over the State and Federal Dpts of Ed.

    By all means spend all your energies on fighting the many people backing the charter and all the while the self-induced damage could very well lead to the takeover or breaking up of the MDUSD not to mention indictments!

  10. anon Says:

    PAC meets tomorrow night , and the agenda is always a joke, it says Welcome and Introductions, Elementary Report Card, Other. What will other be? Its not a productive meeting, no one would ever challenge Lawrence in person as people do on the blogs. Some do bring concerns to the table , but I never hear if they actually get taken care of. One parent suggested a couple times back (maybe it was the CV mom) to get back to more regular communication, and that hasn’t happened. Does anything ever happen around here?

  11. Theresa Harrington Says:

    As I pointed out after the last meeting, the Superintendent didn’t actually ask if anyone had anything they wanted to bring up under “Other.”
    Instead, he adjourned the meeting after he finished answering budget questions.
    I won’t be able to attend tomorrow night’s meeting. It would be nice if the district would post handouts and minutes.

  12. Doctor J Says:

    The PAC meetings have become just a wink and a nod to placate parents — one item agendas when there this many crisis in the district ? Are you kidding me ? How will the parents be involved in reviewing the data and input into the LEA for Title I ? Its a federal requirement. Then there is the bus fiasco, including both routes and costs ? in Google Maps Just put in 2326 Bisso Lane, Concord CA and see all the buses ! Why did we need to purchase new buses ?

  13. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I’m surprised the draft Strategic Plan isn’t on the agenda.

  14. Another CV Parent Says:

    Sorry, Doctor J, I’m not Sue Brothers.

    And as much as it pains you, CVHS parents like her because she’s doing a good job.

    I’d love to see good teachers rewarded and bad teachers let go. But that would take a change in the union contract, wouldn’t it. We won’t be seeing that with CVCHS, no matter how much the parents want it. Same teachers and same contract after it turns charter. There are many Clayton Valley parents who want a say in teacher evaluation, pay, and hiring and firing. But we won’t get it with the charter. Paying the same teachers more money isn’t going to do a thing to improve student performance.

  15. Doctor J Says:

    @Another CVP #14: If the CVHS parents thinks she is doing a good job, they can send their kids to whatever school she is at next year — oh, I almost forgot, Lawrence is holding her a job at Dent as SASS Director of Secondary.
    There may be lots to criticize about the “teacher trigger” but the parents sure never got themselves organized to do the “parent trigger”. Nevertheless, peer evaluation can be much more brutal than administrator evaluation. We will just have to wait and see how wise and frugal the teachers will be of the budget when they are in charge. I still favor the charter and trust all charter management to do a fair and equitable job. Afterall, parents will vote with their feet.

  16. Wait a Minute Says:

    @Another CVP, why don’t you ask Brothers to apply to the charter people for the principalship of CVCHS?

  17. Theresa Harrington Says:

    On a very positive note, I just received an e-mail linking to this wonderful, heartwarming video of the Oct. 9 5k run to save sports:
    This shows there are a lot of very hard-working people in this district who live up to the MDUSD motto: “Where Kids Come First.”

  18. Wait a Minute Says:

    That is a great video Theresa.

    What it shows is that there are many, many great people in the MDUSD working very hard to save this district.

    Unfortunately, the district’s so-called “leadership” is largely responsible for much of the damage that Pat Middendorf and other true leaders are trying to rectify.

    Way to go Pat! Not only are you working to save athletics you are also working to save the district from its inept leaders by leading the charter movement which will bring positive change to the MDUSD.

  19. CVHSMom Says:

    That really is a nice video! I hope they use that video as an educational piece next year to drum up more interest. Sad it keeps dwindling. But I do think Pat has a point, people see the sports continue, I think there is a perception that “it’s fine.” Of course we know it’s not. Pat brought a tear to my eye when she got choked up. I can’t even imagine the school, and my kids lives without high school sports.

  20. Doctor J Says:

    While my heart is warmed by the tremendous contribution of volunteers and donors to the MDUSD athletic fund for about $60,000 it pales in comparison to the horrific spending practices of MDUSD where we saw last week overspending on bussing of $863,000 and recently where because the textbooks were order from a wrong vendor instead of the mfg, it cost the district an additional $175,000 for the workbooks, nearly 3 times what was raised by the run. We need good decisions made by the top leaders in MDUSD so we don’t have to depend upon generous donors to support high school athletics.

  21. Another CV Parent Says:

    Doctor J, I can’t imagine why you think handing over the school to the employees to run with no oversight will be good for the students.

    Take a look at what happened at one of the conversion charter schools the CV teachers have named as a school we should emulate. Helix Charter High School in La Mesa had four teachers arrested and convicted for molesting students in an 18-month period between 2006 and 2008. The authorizing school district brought in an outside firm to investigate if there were any systemic problems at the school that led to this pattern of bad behavior. Staff refused to cooperate with the investigator on the advice of their lawyers. The consultant crucified Helix school leadership. He said they were more concerned with their school’s reputation than protecting the students, didn’t follow the law, didn’t effectively investigate, failed to cooperate with investigators, created an atmosphere where teachers felt they could misbehave with impunity, etc. The school responded by attacking the report and denying everything.

    The school district began the procedure to revoke the school’s charter because the school was unable to fulfill its basic duty to protect its students. But the district decided to let the school continue in operation if they agreed to work with district staff to write and institute a strict code of conduct for school employees, better trained employees on their legal responsibilities, and reconstituted the governing board to make it more accountable (fewer teachers on the board).

    Just a few months later a Helix school administrator was arrested for contributing to the delinquency of a minor after he helped a student run away from home. The school school district once again began the procedure to revoke the school’s charter because Helix administrators were slow to report the incident to authorities, failed to remove the administrator from the school during the investigation, and were slow to respond to school district inquiries about the incident.

    Helix High School responded by accusing the District of trying to revoke the charter for financial reasons, filed to get its charter renewed early, and sued the school district. Guess who their lawyers were…. Yes, the same law firm the CV charter steering committee is using. A legal settlement was eventually reached. The school district agreed to renew the charter in return for the school dropping the lawsuit and firing their executive director.

    Just last August a Helix High personal finance teacher was sentenced to jail for embezzling money from a neighboring high school where he worked as a baseball coach.

    As of last spring, Helix was projecting significant financial deficits for each of the next three years, which will leave it close to insolvency. The school is fully enrolled, but has no one on the waiting list despite the continuous publicity campaign it wages to entice parents to enroll their children.

    This just goes to show what can happen when a school is free to operate without the oversight of district staff or an elected school board to make sure they do the right thing. It also shows how difficult it is to revoke a charter, even with the most grievous mismanagement.

    I didn’t have to look hard to find this story. All I had to do was google one of the schools the charter steering committee was naming as a school in whose footsteps we should follow. It’s probably still listed in their powerpoint presentation from last April.

    And yes, Helix’s API score is slightly higher than CVHS’s. But as is noted in the last set of board minutes posted by the Helix governing board, “scores are not totally reflective of what goes on at a school.” Helix’s API score dropped 8 points this year. Also noted in the board minutes, one of the board members wonders if the governing board should have a strategic plan.

  22. g Says:

    Great showing of those who do believe that the “kids come first”!

    Think of how proper spending could help with sports, or pay for a couple more teachers, or
    classroom enhancements.


    11/24/10, MDUSD ORDERED: 10 ea. 22 passenger Bantam buses AND 9 ea. 12+2 passenger Bantam buses

    Total cash price $1,326,000.00

    They could have paid cash–they had the money to do that–but instead they wrote a Lease Agreement with PNC, a finance company in Ohio, and put the full $1,326,000.00 cash, as security, into an Escrow acct at US Bank in Columbus, OH. From those funds, US Bank will make the twice yearly payments to PNC Equipment Finance Co for seven years.

    So, MDUSD had the funds to pay cash and thus pay NO interest—but instead, they will now pay 14 equal installment payments totaling $1,469,948.48

    In other words— $143,948.48 in interest. So Bantam got its cash sale for 19 buses, PNC makes almost $144K in interest, and US Bank gets to “invest and reinvest” MDUSD’s Escrow funds of $1,326,000.00 over and over for seven years in their own Money Market Account and KEEP the income they earn on it (over and above $144K interest) as their fee for handling the escrow account.

    Does the Board even bother to read this crap before they agree to toss out $144,000.00 of our school’s money in unneccessary interest payments?

    Now I’m looking for an accounting of the $1.7Million dollar (10 bus) Grant from 2011…?

  23. Just J. Says:

    Thank you for posting that video! Pat I know you will read this…..Thank you for your passion. Thank you for trying to make it better for the kids!

  24. Just J. Says:

    @ Another…..The only thing I can say is REALLY?????
    That is really digging deep. So now you think the teachers will run wild and contribute to minors rape them and take all the money for their own gain. REALLY??
    I think you need to get back on your meds with that one. I don’t believe they are modeling after HELIX pay attention.

  25. Wait a Minute Says:

    @Another is REALLY keeping busy.

    You must really hate teachers, just like Sue Brothers.

    Sue Brothers and Stevie Lawrence are infamous in West Sac for having their hatchet man HR person go after several staff members suffering from serious conditions like cancer and MS.

    If that isn’t deplorable conduct then I don’t know what is. Stevie Lawrence has already had 3 different CC Times editorials blasting his so-called “leadership” such as when he was taking gratuities from Chevron while discussing the largest school solar project in the USA.

    Do you have anything to say about that Ms” Another…”?

    Did you bother to watch the video above with Pat Middendorf going the extra mile for the ENTIRE MDUSD sports community?

    Pat and Neil are pillars of the community, so why don’t you crawl back into your hole before you disparage them and the rest of the greedy teachers of the charter effort?

  26. Doctor J Says:

    Lets just focus on the repetitive spending fiascos: recently the SASS spending $175,000 for workbooks that were given out for free if they ordered from the mfg instead of the vendor; and then the $863,000 cost overrun on buses because of the failure of Greg Rolen to do the math — he just used Pete Pedersen’s old math and didn’t do his own research. Is that the kind of lawyer you want running the district ?

  27. Another CV Parent Says:

    Just J, I didn’t have to dig deep. Middendorf and McChesney named Helix Charter High School as a school for us to emulate. All I did was google it to find out why they thought it was so good. Imagine my surprise at what I found. Just goes to show how little research Middendorf/McChesney put into researching charter conversions before they decided to go for one. It also illustrates the dangers of having a school with no district staff or elected school board overseeing school leadership to make sure they do the right thing, even if tarnishes the school’s reputation, even if it means one of their fellow teachers or administrators is in serious trouble. Given the poor behavior exhibited by the CV steering committee, I have no confidence in the willingness of the CV governing board to do the right thing when the going gets tough.

    But it’s not just about the personalities involved in the school today. The governance structure structure created in the charter documents will endure long after the current personalities have moved on. Unfortunately it is inherently flawed and is designed to put the needs of the school employees ahead of the needs of the students.

    Before you get too gushy over how wonderful Pat Middendorf is, think about what is likely to happen to MDUSD athletics if CV turns charter. The MDUSD board has said that either all high schools have sports or none will. So all six high schools have banded together to raise money through the UMDAF. But if CVHS turns charter, that rule will no longer apply to CVCHS. They can have all the school sports they can afford, no matter what happens to sports in the rest of the District.

    My understanding is that CVHS raises more than it’s fair share for UMDAF, in effect subsidizing poorer schools such as Mt. Diablo High School. Do you think they’ll continue to do that when they turn charter? I don’t. I think they’ll drop out of UMDAF, raise their own money for sports, and keep it at CVCHS. Their fate will no longer be tied to what happens to the remaining MDUSD high schools, so they have no incentive to subsidize sports at MDUSD high schools.

    And of course CV turning charter will cost the rest of the district $2.4 million per year. Every school and every child will suffer because of what Pat Middendorf and the charter supporters are doing. But in return Clayton Valley will be a better place for Pat and the rest of the Clayton Valley teachers to work. Nice going, Pat.

  28. Wait a Minute Says:

    Crawl back in your hole Sue. You and Stevie are beyond redemption.

  29. Dan Says:

    Another CV Parent (AKA Sue Brothers),

    Are you off your meds? Why the F’ would CVCHS subsidize other schools sports if they are a charter?

    Have fun in the unemployment line next year. I bet you and Stevie are out of jobs in the not to distant future.

  30. To Another CV Parent Says:

    Don’t you see how inflammatory your comments are? No more sports! $2.4 million in costs to the other schools! Teachers only out for themselves!

    Let me ask you this – What is our ELECTED school board and district administration going to do to make this District better?

    Continue to ignore pleas for change until it becomes a crisis for the District and not just the individual school sites?

    Continue to blame every short-coming on the budget and the lack of funds coming from the State?

    Continue to ignore the pleas for proper planning?
    Or proper leadership? Or proper communication? Or proper honesty?

    Continue to ignore the call for a better quality of education especially at the high school level? Ignore the pleas for more relevance, rigor, and engagement?

    Continue to ignore the pleas for better customer service and the pleas to have a District that says “yes” instead of “no”

    What is it that our ELECTED Board is going to do to make this better? Let me answer that for you. NOTHING. They are going to do what they always do. Sherry Whitmarsh is going to say, “Our schools are great, my kids have thrived.” Linda Mayo is going to tell us about her digital safari visit and the fact that the kids are doing amazing things. Gary Eberhart is going to say, “yes we want to do those things but it is all the State’s fault, we don’t have the money!” Hansen is going to continue to be shut out at every turn and complete the first half of her term with the fewest “seconds to her motions” ever. Lynne Dennler will be silent unless she finds the strength to speak her mind.

    And all the while our kids wait for a quality education. So CV Parent I find your arguments petty, misleading, and designed to scare our communities.

    If this District want to sway puplic opinion they need to start looking internally and address REAL PROBLEMS not the made up issues!

  31. Wait a minute Says:


    Dr J and G are making good points above about the incredible fiscal incompetence of the so-called “leaders” of the MDUSD.

    $863,000 cost overrun by Greg Rolen in the cost of bussing students.

    + $27,000 raise that was given to Rolen for doing this.

    + $143,000 in unecessary interst payments for their new busses that could have been avoided by paying cash?

    = $1,033,000 squandered on bussing and Rolen

    +$175,000 wasted on workbooks because of the misorder.

    =$1,208,000 or a cool $1.2 million dollars squandered right there in the last 6 months by these “leaders”!

  32. Doctor J Says:

    I think Steve Lawrence’s contract expires end of January 2013, a couple of months after the Nov 12 election where two school board seats will be in the election.

  33. Doctor J Says:

    Theresa, can you update us on the MDEA negotiations ?
    1. Overall negotiation for a contract extension ?
    2. MOU negotiations for the SIG grants for Meadow Homes and Oak Grove ?
    3. Issue of NCLB requiring 50% staff from four low performing schools to be transfered out ?
    4. Furlough days or should I say week ? :-)

  34. Anon Says:

    There is still the issue of a half million dollar IRS fine! It’s been sitting there for years, still being “worked on” I can’t believe that more penalties etc aren’t being tacked on, and if they really don’t think they owe that , then why is it still being set aside? When will that be resolved?

  35. Audience Member Says:

    Let me get this straight, CVHS shouldn’t leave MDUSD because the CVHS parents donate money for MDUSD team sports and if they leave the district then the other schools would not be able to take money from the pool that CVHS athletes raise? CVHS’ raises more than its fair share? Excuse me, how do you donate too much? Any school can fundraise, it just takes effort and ideas. I am watching the CVHS Band turn over every fundraising rock it can think of to try to send the CVHS Band on a trip next spring.

    I also take issue with “Another CV Parent’s” descrition of the charter steering committee. I have never been so proud of a group of volunteers. Folks like Mayor Shuey and the volunteer parents have nothing to gain but a better school for our community. The teachers have been great and very hardworking. I see them over and over at the MDUSD Board meetings and they make me proud.

    The MDUSD Board meetings have become quite uncomfortable to attend. Small venues when they know a large group is coming, thus forcing dozens of charter supporters to wait in the foyer while district employees save inside audience seats with their “Reserved” pieces of paper. Odd, confrontational behavior from Mr. Eberhart that adds nothing to his cause. A real lopsided rule system about how long each side can speak, no matter the importance of the topic or the information being given by the speaker.

    I hope that this comes to a final decision on November 8 with a straight approval or denial from the MDUSD Board. After all the meetings that have gone before, I still wonder what surprise hoop lies in store for the charter school to jump through…

  36. g Says:

    “Reserved Seating”? The Board allows this? WTH?

  37. Anon Says:


    “Word on the street” is that another delay attempt is in place for the supposed vote on Nov. 8th.

    Get ready for the “October Surprise” from the board leadership.

  38. Doctor J Says:

    @Audience Member, I regret to inform you that Gary will not allow a “final decision” on November 8 — its part of his personality. His intention is to keep it in limbo so there can neither be an appeal nor court action.

  39. vindex Says:

    Of course. Also, it cuts the pay of teachers which is not a great recruiting tool for new recruits. This bodes poorly for the future.

  40. g Says:

    I think it’s not just “word on the street”. You have to read between the lines on everything that Cooksey said. “”We collaborated and we worked everything out: “except the fiscal stuff”; “except the final insurance stuff”; “except the personnel stuff”; “except the stuff Rose Lock is still looking at”; “except the stuff Bryan Richards is working on””…. “We’re going to bring you recommendation this and recommendation that”. “We’re going to recommend you hold them to the February personnel dates”….

  41. Wait a minute Says:

    Welcome to the Twilight Zone.

  42. Just J. Says:

    Yes G reserved seating. Now granted the 5 seats in the first row were for students to report to the Board and they left after they were done but the 2nd or 3rd row was reserved for Wing D (I think) Special Ed. I could not stay and hear what was up with them but I don’t think this should be allowed. They were on the agenda after the Charter and could have let others have those seats since the room cleared out right after the charter business was done (None of us can stomach the mess the Board is making) with the exception of Ms. Hansen.

  43. School Teacher Says:

    If “another CV Parent” would like to really try to prove a point, he/she should try to list some positive things the leadership of MDUSD has done that would attract a teacher to want to stay in the district. In watching this whole charter thing progress, I haven’t really seen much that would make me want to stay in the district if I worked there. In fact, most of the district actions have simply driven me away from their side. How many of the members of the district, if they had children entering the teaching profession, would encourage them to take a job in MDUSD instead of other surrounding districts, or even the charter school? I understand that there are unknowns involved in the development of the charter, and there will be issues to work out, but the “knowns” of the district have offered nothing I think would attract a teacher to stay. And, with the extremely poor conduct on the part of the district, coupled with a lack of what I would consider to be legitimate objections, it makes me think even they feel the charter will work out, and it will end up being further evidence of their incompetence.

  44. School Teacher Says:

    This thing has really gotten off topic from “will fewer school days hurt students?” Whose fault is that? haha.

  45. Anon Says:


    What I meant by “word on the street” is “according to my very inside sources”. The fix is in.

    My bet will be there will not be an up or down vote on Nov. 8th.

  46. Doctor J Says:

    @Anon #45 and G: Don’t worry, the Charter committee is prepared. There will be swift and decisive action taken. A lawsuit filed, injunction obtained, and then depositions under oath of the major players. They can’t all keep their stories consistent, and the lies will be exposed. The liars will be prosecuted. Please research the definition of a narccist, and you will know what I mean.

  47. District Teacher Says:

    @ School Teacher. No matter what the article or blog entry is about, virtually the same posts follow. Though I agree with the comments made by very vigilant community members regarding the mismanagement of this district (and believe me, I could add plenty regarding the school where I work), greater focus on topics at hand would be appreciated. Reading the On Assignment posts is like a written version of Groundhog Day. Perhaps off-topic posts should be deleted.

  48. Just J Says:

    @District teacher

    Isn’t this how discussions happen? When people talk in person the conversation usually goes elsewhere. Deleting off topic posts would be a violation of freedom. Perhaps you should join in and tell us some things you would like changed and lets see what happens.

  49. Doctor J Says:

    What is the cost of sending the Title I sanctions letter to every home in the District ? Think postage, printing, stuffing envelopes, etc. It had to be at least $25,000. Benjamin Franklin said: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. When are we going to get to the prevention instead of just relying on the cure ?

  50. Doctor J Says:

    @District Teacher #47 Would love to hear what you could add about the mismanagement of the district and your school ! Nothing will be improved until it is identified and discussed.

  51. Flippin' Tired Says:

    Why are people working overtime and weekends at the Dent Center, to keep up with the work? I thought the rank & file were subject to the same cuts as the school sites, but they are making up for it – and then some – by all this overtime. Where is this money coming from?

  52. Doctor J Says:

    @FT Management employees are not entitled to overtime. They are not keeping up with the work. they are just trying to keep the district running. Mistake. They really are just perpetrating the poor management of the board. It needs to implode in order to get better. Its a sad state of affairs.

  53. Flippin' Tired Says:

    No, I’m not talking about the management, I’m talking about the workers. The regular secretaries, clerks and assistants. They are working OT and weekends – on time sheets. They’re making as much, if not more, than before the cuts. But the school sites are hogtied.

  54. Another CV Parent Says:

    Doctor J, the CV steering committee isn’t going to sue the district. They don’t have any reason to and it would take money they don’t have. They should admit they did a lousy job with the initial charter petition and actually put some serious work into rewriting it instead of trying to get a quickie approval or denial.

    I read the CV petition and the District’s conditions. Then I checked into what large districts such as Los Angeles and San Diego require of charter petitions. It’s easy to see that the CV petition just didn’t measure up. No district would have approved it as written. MDUSD wasn’t being any pickier than other districts. In fact, they could have been much tougher on the CV petition. It was that bad. It’s also clear that most charter petitions have to go through several iterations before being approved. The CV charter steering committee should have done their research. They didn’t understand what was required of them.

    Sadly, the steering committee still doesn’t understand what’s required of them. One of the steering committee members is posting on another blog that it really doesn’t matter what they turn in to MDUSD because it’s all just a draft and they don’t expect the governing board to be held to it. She’s wrong about that. Any material revisions to the charter have to be approved by MDUSD. But her statements show that the charter steering committee isn’t dealing with MDUSD in good faith. And that’s another reason why they’re not going to sue MDUSD.

  55. To Another CV Parent Says:

    There you go again. I am not a CV parent but I spoke to a charter expert at the State level who said the Clayton Valley charter is working with a very experienced and well qualified group. You are clearly a district employee, a board member, or a spouse of one of those because this is exactly what the Board tried to portray last time they had a charter application in front of them. Please tell me what makes you qualified to to be enough of an expert to make a statement like:

    “In fact, they could have been much tougher on the CV petition. It was that bad. It’s also clear that most charter petitions have to go through several iterations before being approved. The CV charter steering committee should have done their research. They didn’t understand what was required of them.”

    Unbelievable propaganda and not true. It is sad that you have to resort to lies in order to defend your position.

  56. Doctor J Says:

    @CVParent #54 — You are a fiction writer. The most experienced people in MDUSD with charters are Sue Brothers and Deb Cooksey. Both have the same track record: oppose, deny and lose the appeal. However, no charter ever has had the support of such a variety of elected officials: US Representative, State Senator, two mayors, city council, etc. Gary has just flushed his future political career down the toilet.

  57. Wait a minute Says:

    A I think what is most illustrative of Another CV Parent is that she REFUSES to address here anything about the massive problems of the MDUSD and its leaders with their many crises/scandals.

    Instead she lies about the charter and its supporters which according to her are a bunch of greedy, unaccountable, whats in it for me teachers without much public support. The locals all know that Pat, Neil and many others are in fact pillars of the community and there is massive public support to leave the MDUSD because of its inability to even admit its problems, much less solve them.

    Meanwhile, Sue Brothers has lied to the classified staff saying they will lose their jobs if the charter passes.

    Nonsense! The charter board even has a classified board member so right there they are already better represented then they ever were under the dictatorship of the MDUSD.

    Meanwhile while Nero fiddles, Rome burns Sue.

  58. Another CV Parent Says:

    The teachers and their politican sidekick, Mayor Shuey, got other politicians to come out in support of a charter school? So what. Charter schools are one of the most politicized education issues out there. So I don’t think that’s much of a surprise. Nor does it sway my opinion one way or another. Do you believe any of those politicians actually read the Clayton Valley charter petition?

    Someone asked what makes me an expert in charter petitions. I’d never read a charter petition before the CV teachers wrote their petition. I had no idea why the teachers started the teacher trigger process or what their goals were until I listened to what Middendorf and McChesney had to say and watched their presentations. I had no idea how other districts, more experienced with reviewing and approving charter petitions, evaluated them. So I did some research. I looked at their criteria. I looked what they said about actual petitions. I read other petitions. It’s

  59. Anon Says:

    Beware Charter Proponents,

    The fix is in. You will not get a fair up or down vote on Nov. 8th.

    Please prepare alternative methods of getting this through the system.

  60. Another CV Parent Says:

    Oops…. Hit the “submit” button before I was done. To continue…

    It’s too bad the Clayton Valley teachers didn’t do more research before they submitted their petition. They could have gained a better understanding of what is actually required.

    How many of you actually read the petition the teachers turned in? I did. It was terrible, How many of you actually researched how other districts evaluate petitions and what they require of them? Give it a try. Look at what other large districts do, the districts that have evaluated – and approved – dozens and dozens of charter petitions. If you do that, you’ll see that the CV petition wouldn’t have been approved as submitted anywhere. The petition was full of “maybe we’ll do this or maybe we’ll do that… we haven’t decided” when it came to the educational plan for the charter. That kind of thing doesn’t fly in a charter proposal. Districts require definite educational plans with a financial plan to support what is proposed. The things the charter was definitive on were the items that would improve the work life for a teachers: lots and lots of detail on all the training they were going to provide for teachers, collaboration time built into the teachers workday, the teachers making decisions on new teacher hires, the teachers getting paid more, the governing board being controlled by school employees.

    #55 says she was told the teachers are working with a very experienced, well qualified group. I assume you are talking about ExEd. Yes, ExEd is a southern California firm that is experienced in performing back office operations for charter schools, and CV is planning to hire them to do their back office functions. ExEd provided the three-year budget plan submitted to MDUSD. According to Mayor Shuey, ExEd provided the plan for free with the agreement that CVCHS would hire them for the first year of operation.

    I found a charter petition in another school district that has a similar ExEd contract attached. Here’s what ExEd provides for the charter proposal: They give the proponents a generic budget based on charter schools with similar characteristics. Then, if the charter proponents have any specific financial information based on their own plans and situation, ExEd will adjust the financial plan accordingly. Here’s the problem for CVCHS. Their plans hadn’t gotten past the “maybe we’ll do this or maybe we’ll do that” stage, so their budget wasn’t worth much. In fact, when the District questioned the salary numbers, ExEd said those were just average charter salaries. The teachers hadn’t even provided their own salary information to ExEd. Given what a large part of a school budget is taken up with salaries, how could anyone think that budget plan was worth the paper it was printed on? There was no way the District could have given a clean approval to that charter.

    As far as the teachers’ motivations, they were very clear at the beginning of this process: Clayton Valley would get more funding as a charter school than as a part of a unified district. That would enable the teachers to not have to take furlough days or endure the benefit bleeds that other MDUSD teachers will have to go through. They clearly stated that at the first informational meeting for the public where Middendorf and McChesney played the powerpoint presentation they had put together to convince the other teachers to sign the charter petition. It’s still up on their website if you want to see it for yourself.

    So what did the teachers propose for the students? They said they wanted to have a summer orientation program for freshmen, reinstate summer school, build a theater… Eventually the charter school expert they had brought with them had to jump in and say that they needed to be realistic because it wasn’t going to be all that much more money. A parent pointedly asked Middendorf is she had a financial plan to show she could do any of the things she was proposing. She admitted that no, she didn’t actually have any financial numbers. When another parent asked McChesney what he most wanted to use the money for to improve the school, his answer was “uhh……..”. The parent prompted, “smaller classes?” “Yeah, that would be good.”

    So here’s the problem. The teachers never came up with a solid educational plan to improve the school. Their charter proposal read like it was a list of random “wouldn’t it be nice” ideas they brainstormed one afternoon attached to a generic charter proposal they copied from a template. Then they attached the generic charter budget plan from ExEd. That doesn’t meet the requirements for a charter proposal.

    Here’s the saddest part of all. The teachers thought the extra money for charter schools came from state. They didn’t realize that it would come out of MDUSD’s budget. What did they do when MDUSD told them and the public that the extra money comes out of MDUSD’s budget? They said MDUSD was wrong. They said MDUSD was lying.

    Well, they’ve finally given up on the argument that MDUSD was lying about that. Now they’ve moved on to arguing that even though it comes out of MDUSD’s budget, MDUSD will still miraculously save money if CV goes charter. (Or MDUSD was spending too much money on elementary schools and now CV will finally get its fair share of the money. Take your pick. Both arguments are being made simultaneously.)

    Once the teachers learned the truth about where the money comes from, they should have done the right thing and called a halt to the charter process. They should have said “We thought converting Clayton Valley to a charter would bring more money into our community to support our schools. But now that we know the truth, that it just takes away money from every other student and employee in MDUSD so that those of us at Clayton Valley can get a bigger piece of the pie, we are calling off this effort because we believe in the Clayton Valley motto of ‘Do the right thing’.” But they didn’t.

    The charter steering committee needs to take a long hard look at their own actions. They should admit that they did a lousy job with the charter proposal. They should admit what they are doing will hurt every other student and employee in the District. And they should admit that their own behavior has been terrible. If anyone has any doubt about that last statement, go back and read the press releases from the charter steering committee. Start with Mayor Shuey’s letter to the Board regarding the Northgate principal.

  61. Wait a minute Says:

    Another/Sue Brothers, Really?

    “So what” if politicians like US Representative George Miller, State Senator DeSaulnier, State Representative Bonilla, the Mayors of Concord and Clayton support the charter?

    You know what this means for you and your buddy Stevie Lawrence? Not only is he already the worst Superintendent in CA. He probably won’t be able to get another Superintendent job in CA when this is over and that is if he doesn’t lose his credential. Question is, who will you follow after Stevie is gone?

    I can’t help but notice you won’t respond to my observation that you just conventiently ignore the many scandals and crises of Stevie and the other “leaders” of the MDUSD.

    Your comment that “you have no idea why the teachers started the trigger process…” says it all in your refusal to address the scandal and crises of your buddy Stevie.

    I guess for you the only crisis IS THE CHARTER since it will forever cement Stevie’s reputation as the WORST SUPERINTENDENT IN CA!

    You are nothing more then a cynical minion in the district’s current corrupt leadership and their strategy of trying to thrwart the will of the people.

    Not only will the charter be a rousing success, it will immensly help the rest of the MDUSD by bringing down Stevie and Co.

    The charter will redirect their slice of the money back into the school and away from the corrupt machinations of the upper management of the MDUSD like Rolen getting a $27,000 RAISE to run transportation, which in fact has already cost the district close to a million dollars in overruns.

    What do you have to say about that Sue?

  62. Anon Says:

    Rescind the GANG OF FIVE RAISES!.

    Remember The Gary and his lap dog Whitmarsh are the ones with (Pauly Strangeglove) that voted this through.

    Rolen was laughing all the way to the bank.

  63. Wait a Minute Says:

    And I’m sure he still does.

  64. Linda L Says:

    Another CV Parent,
    I am so tired of the District argument that the money comes from the District and not the State. This is exactly one of the things wrong with this District. The money you refer to DOES NOT belong to the District, it is the money the State allocates to individual students in California (via ADA). The fact that MDUSD “claims” to spend the unified rate on high school students would be laughable if it wasn’t so outrageous.
    You know it, and the Board knows it… the reason the State funds high schools at a higher rate is because it costs more to educate a high school student. If MDUSD is spending the same on their high school students as their elementary school students, they are more inept than I thought. So which is it INEPT or DISHONEST… it is one or the other.
    Regardless the money is earned by the taxpayer, collected by the State, and distributed to the public education entity educating the student…. NO WHERE IN THAT PROCESS DOES THE MONEY BELONG TO THE DISTRICT!

  65. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I have learned that at least one parent is suing the district because of a busing problem.

  66. g Says:

    Gee, why do you think CVHS is upset? I just grabbed a quick sample of Total spent per pupil from last year’s SARC reports.

    Clayton Valley High: $7849.12
    Ayers Elementary: $8006.24
    Bancroft Elementary $8213.04
    Northgate High $8288.21
    Oak Grove Middle $8891.34

  67. Number Eight Says:

    WAM #31,
    Get out your calculator again! On top of the $1.2 million, start adding on busing law suits and settlements, and how much will that be? And who will pay? Finally we know “where kids come first” because FIRST it will be subtracted from the children’s education! Enough district bungling! We’re all being robbed!

  68. Anon Says:



  69. Doctor J Says:

    @Anon #68. Please, the election is now 12 months away. Its a waste of time and energy to do a recall now. I suggest you spend your time speaking to those who can investigate the district actions and take action against the district where violations are found.

  70. Another CV Parent Says:

    G, Do those numbers include teacher pay? The District has already pointed out that our District’s elementary school teachers are more experienced than our high school teachers. Therefore, per the MDEA contract, they get paid more. I’m going from memory here, but I think MDUSD elemetary teachers make on average $9000 more than high school teachers.

    Here’s a little “back-of-the-envelope” math for you. Let’s imagine it was the high school teachers that were more experienced instead of the elementary school teachers and made $9000 more. Multiply $9000 by 83 (the number of teachers at CVHS) and you get $747,000. Divide $747,000 by the number of students at CVHS (1868) and you get $400.

    So if the high school teachers at CVHS were as experienced as the elementary teachers in MDUSD – and the elementary teachers were as inexperienced as the high school teachers – then the per pupil spending at CVHS would be $8249 and the elementary school numbers would be lower.

    I’m not an expert at what goes into those per pupil numbers, but that’s an explanation that makes sense to me. Those numbers don’t mean the District is “shorting” CVHS. They just might show what the District has already explained. Our elementary teachers are more experienced and higher on the salary scale.

  71. Another CV Parent Says:

    By all means, if you don’t agree with what Eberhart and Whitmarsh are doing, vote them out at the next election. That’s the way it works with a public school system here in America. We elect the school board. Unless it’s a charter school.

    If CVHS turns charter you, as community members, will have no elected voice on the CVCHS governing board and no way to vote anyone off the board. As parents, we’ll only be able to vote for two of the nine board members. And any parent we want to elect to the governing board must first pass muster with a committee made up primarily of employees.

  72. Wait a Minute Says:

    Notice again that Another CV Parent will not comment on any of the massive problems of the MDUSD.

    So “Another…”,

    What do you think about Greg Rolen getting a $27,000 raise to take on transportation considering he has now cost the district over 1 MILLION DOLLARS with his incompetence and with lawsuits it will only go up?

    I’m dying to hear your response to this tragedy in the making.

  73. Doctor J Says:

    @Another CVP #71, If you don’t like the charter concept, you can send your child to one of the other fantastic MDUSD high schools — its the greatest form of democracy in action — vote with your feet. The charter becomes one of those “employee owned companies”. It will only succeed if parents support the charter. I guarantee you that if the charter doesn’t meet the needs of its “customers” it will fail. One other thing I can guarantee you — the CVCHS teachers can’t do a worse job than Eberhart, Whitmarsh, Mayo and Lawrence.

  74. Linda L Says:

    Another CV Parent,
    I am so glad you brought up Superintendent Lawrence’s little exercise regarding teacher salaries. Another piece of information that may be accurate but is not honest.

    These are average salaries that were quoted in the Superintendent’s memo. I am sure you know that there are many high school teachers who work less than full FTEs. While the high model lends itself to accommodating part time positions, elementary school programs inherently make being a part-time teacher much more difficult. So you can not leap to the conclusion that the average salary varies due to experience. In fact you can have a lower average teacher salary at a school site and a higher per pupil teacher cost.

    If the District wanted to be honest, and not just accurate, they would tell us the salary costs attributed to CV as compared to elementary schools but instead the Superintendent decided to use “back of the napkin” math like you.

    Not at all an HONEST account of the true picture.

  75. Linda L Says:

    that should say “high school model”

  76. g Says:

    @Another: Your memory has failed you. Try not to believe the District’s reporting of “elementary teachers get paid more, and that is why they earn higher pay”. That, like much of what they say simply is not true.

    Read and compare:

  77. g Says:

    @Another, sorry, I meant to say “elementary teachers are “more experienced” is why they get more pay”. THAT is not true. Look at Northgate; look at Oak Grove; look at Bancroft. Now tie teacher salary to school performance. That’s an easy one!

  78. Doctor J Says:

    @Another CVP — The CDE explains quite clearly what is included in the calculations for amount per pupil. Read FAQ #20 at

  79. Flippin' Tired Says: Just plug in the parameters, and you can see what every employee makes in the school district. I’d love to know why the board members get benefits. Don’t they have jobs, or Medi-Care? Why does an elected job come with such generous benefits?

  80. Wait a minute Says:

    Thanks Flippin,

    Are we getting our money’s worth?

    Stevie Lawrence is costing us $294,281.00.
    Greg Rolen is costing us $231,861.00
    Eberhart is costing us $27,460.00

    Of course we know that they are costing us millions more then this with their flawed decision making.

    Now that an aggrieved parent of a special ed child is suing the district over their messed up transportation I wonder how long it takes to become a CLASS-ACTION LAWSUIT involving many of ther parents who had their special ed students rights violated.

    All it would take is a hot-shot lawyer to recruit a number of parents to join in and then convince a judge to certify it as a class action.

    No doubt that Rolen will sub-contract out this work since it is obviously beneath him to do the work himself at $231,861.00/year.

  81. Anon Says:

    G @66. It is clear and evident CVHS has been short changing its students and ignoring it’s problems for a LONG TIME. I hope to GOD this charter is passed, if for no other reason but to show the district and board that we’ve had enough. We’re taking back control of our school, and even if there are still questions about the finances, I have WAY MORE questions about the district’s finances and decision making. It is a classic “pot calling the kettle black” – this district is in shambles, they lie, they’re irresponsible, they can’t even provide data that a normal person can understand. That is how I know they are trying to be deceitful. Bryan Richards is SMART, smart enough to simple it up for us “common folk,” but he won’t.

  82. Doctor J Says:

    @#’s 79 & 80: Lets not forget about the Asst Supts, and SASS Directors;
    Mildred Browne $182,923
    Rose Lock $170,479
    Julie Braun-Martin $166,818
    Susan Petersen $128,939
    and last but not least, the master double dipper,
    Pete Pedersen $210,591

  83. g Says:

    This is going to be a very long day—waiting for the Agenda to be posted—will there be proper attachments presented for the “recommendations” on the conditions?

  84. Theresa Harrington Says:

    WAM: Actually, the parent is not suing regarding a special education student. And, Rolen is doing the work himself, which apparently surprised the judge.

  85. Doctor J Says:

    CC Superior Court apparently has on line access to some court records.
    There were three cases filed against the district last year, and some this year, but I can’t tell which one Theresa is talking about. You can search by individuals name or business name. Try both.

  86. Theresa Harrington Says:

    In response to Dr. J’s question on Nov. 2, here’s a link to MDEA’s most recent bargaining update:
    This shows the district’s ending balance was $18.8 million more than anticipated earlier in the year. Interestingly, the district appears to have removed Bryan Richards’ Powerpoint and the unaudited actuals report from the Sept. 13 agenda:
    I recall seeing it posted before. I called the superintendent’s secretary and she said she thought it had been posted also. She said she did not remove it and would try to find out what happened to it.
    Superintendent Steven Lawrence gave the Parent Advisory Council a copy of Richards’ Powerpoint, which showed “artificial ending balance inflation” related to SFFS money, tier 3 grants and unspent carryovers. He characterized the ending balance as being up by $7.6 million. This doesn’t include more than $10 million that the board already set aside to prepare for midyear cuts.
    After subtracting the required reserve for economic uncertainties, IRS assessment and other expenses, the Powerpoint showed an undesignated ending fund balance of $30.8 million, or $7.6 million more than the $23.2 million originally estimated.
    However, the district has built $6 million in savings from furlough days into its budget, including nearly $4.6 million for MDEA that haven’t yet been negotiated.
    Previously, the district said it needed these furlough days to balance its budget even before midyear cuts. The district has also predicted that it would need to make about $2.4 million in cuts if CVHS converts to a charter.
    Yet, according to the MDEA update, the district may be reversing its position regarding the furlough days. Now, instead of insisting that the furlough days are needed no matter what, the district appears to be willing to base the number of furlough days on the amount of midyear cuts, reducing the school year by one day for each $42 decline in per student funding, up to a maximum of seven days (of which five would be school days and two would be teacher in-service days).
    If the district can afford to do this, its argument that cuts would be necessary if CVHS converts to a charter could also be questioned, since It appears to have a substantial amount of undesignated money in its ending fund balance.
    Lawrence told the PAC that the IRS assessment has not yet been resolved in part because the IRS person who was working with the district has left and a new person is taking over the investigation.

  87. Just J. Says:

    I wonder just how many state complaints have been filed for special Ed for Mt. Diablo? Anyone know if there is a link that states that?

  88. Curious Says:

    @ #82- Our old friend, and close friend of Mildred Browne, Adria Angelo has been spotted working in Wing D. First question is how much is she being paid? I would guess in the $90,000 to $100,000 range. Second question is how does that money get approved and is it listed on any budgets? And final questions…couldn’t she get a job anywhere else? Or will only Mildred Browne hire her?

  89. Wendy Lack Says:

    Interesting article on charter school movement:

  90. Doctor J Says:

    @Wendy, Many parallels between Oakland and MDUSD — except we have more schools in Title 1 Program Improvement. :-( Another interesting point is that when Deb Cooksey “left” Oakland as General Counsel she ended up in MDUSD, and she is point on the charter review. Too weird.

  91. Just J. Says:

    I do believe that this shift is a good thing. People are starting to wake up to what the District officials are doing.

    Does anyone know if MDUSD has done the contracts for the non public school placements and if those schools are being paid? If they have not been paid it could be the reason why we have more money in the pot then anticipated.

  92. Theresa Harrington Says:

    “Undesignated” means it hasn’t already been budgeted for anything.
    I believe the NPS contracts are already included in the special education budget, even if they haven’t been paid yet.

  93. Another CV Parent Says:

    Linda L, elementary school teachers work part-time by job sharing. My daughters had two years in elem. school where teachers get together to job share. An example of a job sharing schedule would be Teacher A working M-W-F and Teacher B working T-Th.

  94. Another CV Parent Says:

    Anon #81, “we’re taking back control of our school” by converting to a charter? Unless you’re an employee of CVCHS, you won’t have control. Check out the composition of the governing board. Parents only get two out of nine seats on the board. The rest are occupied by school employees or people they’ve appointed.

  95. Doctor J Says:

    The campaign against the charter is in full swing — Eberhart and Whitmarsh are courting community members to oppose the charter on financial reasons — something they can’t consider but something they do consider. Spreading disinformation that the loss of funds from the charter students will cause massive cuts in programs across the district. What this tells me is that indeed there will be a vote to approve or disapprove that the conditions have been met. The swing vote is Linda Mayo and she will have to put aside her prejudices to consider the finances, which legally she cannot, but is fully aware of, and vote her conscience as to whether she believes the Charter has substantially met the 56 conditions imposed upon them. If she follows the law, she will vote to approve even though she personally is not in favor of the Charter.

  96. Theresa Harrington Says:

    It turns out that the board didn’t vote on the unaudited actuals until Sept. 27 and the agenda items are attached to that staff report:

  97. John Q Says:

    “the new charter school would be funded at the same rate as the other high schools in our district” – ummmm what’s that number?

  98. School Teacher Says:

    @ Another CV Parent #94

    Quite frankly, I don’t think people are excessively concerned as to who is running the show (parent, teacher, banker, constrction worker, etc) as long as they feel the show is being run correctly. So, as some others have explained, I see the charter movement at CVHS overwhelmingly being motivated by dissatisfaction of the people presently running the show. I know the present people running the district have all these official credentials, but it doesn’t appear to have helped them to do it well enough to keep people satisfied, and they saw a way to give it a go themselves. More power to them. If they are able to do a better job of it, maybe all those official credentials don’t mean all that much. We have clearly heard your fear mongering about “turning the company over to the employees”, but have yet to hear what the present “company directors” are doing to really try to better things (Oh yeah, you gotta love all those solar panels. That has really improved the situation.). Maybe you could shed some light on those issues. We’ve heard your negatives. Bring on the list of positives.

  99. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I am planning to do a blog post about this shortly. Rajan sent this letter to me as well.

  100. Doctor J Says:

    Rajan letter not attached. You can erase this post.

  101. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I am referring to the post by John Q. I will do a post shortly that includes the same letter.

  102. Tired Of The Rhetoric Says:

    @John Q #97–Good question. Based on the SARC report for 2009-2010 (latest one on MDUSD website), the high schools are funded at vastly different rates:

    CLAYTON VALLEY–$7,849.12
    COLLEGE PARK–$7,503.54
    MT. DIABLO–$9,551.46
    YGNACIO VALLEY–$8,918.44

    While it makes sense that Mt. D and YV might be funded at a higher rate if there are Title I funds involved (not sure here), I can’t see why Clayton Valley and College Park are so far below Northgate and Concord. I’m not surprised Clayton Valley is looking for a better way to fund their kids’ education. College Park ought to be looking as well.

  103. Doctor J Says:

    Ok, I see his letter in #97. Rajan, please read the SARC’s — every high school, indeed every school, is funded at a different rate by the district even though the ADA amounts are set by the state. We even have some elementary schools that are funded at higher rates than our high schools. High Schools are intended by the state to be funded at higher rates — it costs more to educate teenagers, just like everything with teenagers costs more. Almost every elementary school only has a Principal and no Vice-Principal — and some have 700-800 children. The main high schools have a myriad of administrators. It just costs more, but they are getting in many cases less money than what the state designates. This is upside down. The leadership has let this get out of control. They haven’t listened — so action was taken. Now they are listening but no action. I hope the Board and the District Administration learns their lesson from the succession of CVHS.

  104. Theresa Harrington Says:

    NOTE: These expenditures are from the 2008-09 school year and include both restricted funds (such as Title 1) and unrestricted funds.
    Interestingly, though, even the unrestricted funds vary from site to site. I will outline these differences in the blog post I’m working on.

  105. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Agenda for Tuesday has been posted:
    It does not state whether the district intends to recommend approval or denial. It also doesn’t include any detailed staff report regarding the conditions of approval.
    It is unclear whether there will be a Powerpoint presentation and if so, whether the district will post it before the meeting.

  106. Wait a Minute Says:

    Board agenda is posted.

    They are not stating the Lawrence, I mean staff recommendation for the charter but they are of course highlighting their unsubstatiated claim of a financial loss that the law doesn’t allow them to consider.

    Business as usual!

  107. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Yes, but now the district states that the financial impact is $1.8 million, instead of the $2.4 million that was referenced in its Oct. 7 News Update:
    This is a difference of $600,000.
    It’s unclear why the estimated financial impact keeps fluctuating so dramatically.

  108. MDUSD Says:

    Our union rep has reported that the district has 24 million in reserves. There should not be more days cut.

  109. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Do you think this would also cover the projected loss of $1.8 million from the CVHS charter?

  110. Just J. Says:

    could the $600,000 difference be in the amount of funding Clayton Valley is getting now VS what they should be getting?

  111. g Says:

    Rajan says “the solution is clear”. Do they actually let him run a city? Does he divvy up the Walnut Creek funds equally, and make sure they spend exactly the same amount on Third Street that they spend on Broadway?

  112. Anon Says:

    Notice how there is no recommendation, unlike the previous time it was up for a vote?

    Beware charter proponents. My inside sources have advised me that there is a plan in the works for a stall to the vote. Watch for something along the lines of, “We have to wait until the FMCAT gives their final numbers”, or something along those lines.

    You think The Gary and Stevie boy are going to give up that easily? Trust me, the games haven’t yet begun.

  113. MDUSD Board Watcher Says:

    The rumor mill is heating up. Remember where there is smoke there is fire.

    October Surprise Anyone:

    Whitmarsh is (allegedly) telling parents that they will vote no on the charter. If the charter proponents take it to the county and win then Whitmarsh (allegedly) said that the board will shut down one of the feeder schools in the CVHS feeder pattern.

    Remember Gary previously threatening retribution (Search MDUSD Parody on youtube), well his lap dog Whitmarsh has taken up the retribution threat.

  114. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Here’s a new blog post with Rajan’s letter, followed by Clayton Mayor David Shuey’s response and a look at how much the district spends per student per school:

  115. Just J Says:

    @ 113. Sherry can spout all the bull she wants. They will not shut down pine hollow or diablo view. Just a bunch of bs

  116. g Says:

    Actually, maybe it’s time for a Clayton City K-8 School District!

  117. Wait a Minute Says:

    This proposal is total crap.

    Basically a POISON PILL.


    It follows the students, not Stevie or Greg or Ebermarsh’s overpaid compensation for piss-poor performance.

    The above referenced so-called “leaders” don’t care about the kids–they only care about the money.

    Their entire strategy is to run the charter out of time and/or money.

    If the charter accepts this it will dramatically increase the chances they will not succeed for fiscal reasons.

    The other problem is you cannot trust the MDUSD’s accounting, THEY CONSTANTLY LIE. So don’t trust them and take it to County as they will be far better to work with as the oversight body.

    I do find it interesting that Mt Diablo has the most money but are still incapable of even running a safe school, “Where Thugs Come First”.

  118. Doctor J Says:

    Why the Meadow Homes SIG grant application is doomed to failure: MH is not only 5 plus years in PI, but also for 5 consecutive years in PI failed to meet AYP. That means next year [12/13] it must fire the principal and let go 50% or more of the staff [or transfer them to your schools]. Neither SASS, nor Rose Lock, nor Supt Lawrence has a clue on how NCLB works. As I pointed out yesterday, over a MILLION DOLLARS of signatures appeared on supporting the SIG applications, yet they have no idea of how it works. Here is a primer.
    If Title I schools do not meet AYP for two consecutive years, they are placed in “Choice” School Improvement Status, which means they must develop an improvement plan, provide students the option to transfer to a different school and provide them transportation to get there, and they must use part of their Title I funds for professional development for their teachers and staff. If a school does not make AYP for three consecutive years, they will be in “Supplemental Services” School Improvement Status, which means that in addition to all the “Choice” requirements above, they must also use some of their Title I funds to support students by providing tutoring or after-school programs from a state-approvded provider. If a school fails AYP for four years in a row they enter “Corrective Action” Improvement Status, where they must provide both “Choice” and “Supplemental Services” as well as choose one of the following: Replace responsible staff, Implement a new curriculum, Decrease a school’s management authority; Appoint an external expert to advise school, or restructure the internal organization of the school. [15] Lastly, if a school fails AYP for 5 years or more, they must plan to and implement one of the following:

    Chartering: Closing and reopening as a public charter school.
    Reconstitution: Replacing school staff, including the principal, relevant to the failure in the school.
    Contracting: contracting with an outside entity to operate the school.
    State takeovers: turning the school operations over to the state education agency.
    Any Other major governance restructuring: engaging in another form of major restructuring that makes fundamental reforms.

    These “other major governance restructuring” strategies were most popular in restructuring schools in 2007-2008, and allows schools to do a variety of things to improve their schools such as narrow the grade range, re-open as a theme school, close the school, create smaller learning communities, or create their own option that is not provided by the Department of Education. [15]

  119. Doctor J Says:

    Let me speak more clearly: The loss of a $2 Million per year SIG grant for Meadow homes for three years [$6 million] exceeds any net loss, if there is any, by the approval of CVCHS. We have over a million dollars worth of administrators “approving” the MH Sig grant, but yet it is not attached to the agenda for public review ! What is wrong with this picture ? Clearly the District is preventing FULL DISCLOSURE !

  120. Doctor J Says:

    Were the Board members secretly provided copies of the SIG applications that were purposefully concealed from the public ? If so, I am damned tired of these Brown Act violations.

  121. Wait a minute Says:

    I think a Grand Jury Complaint regarding this and other likely Brown Act violations is in order here.

  122. Anon Says:

    How many Brown Act violations can one district incur?

    This is rediculous. Recall Eberhart and Whitmarsh and fire Stevie.

  123. Doctor J Says:

    Until the CC County District Attorney starts enforcing the Brown Act, MDUSD will continue to violate it. Corruption at its finest.

  124. Sabine Says:

    Of course shortening the school day will hurt students! And here is the interesting thing: It will hurt poor students and low income districts even more. While rich school districts will be able to pass a parcel tax or raise the sale tax to benefit their schools, less fortunate districts and families will be left behind. The gap between rich and poor is widening, and there is no equal education any more in this country.
    That this is not even questioned any more is the real scandal here.

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