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Walnut Creek Councilman suggests Clayton Valley charter consider accepting less funding

By Theresa Harrington
Friday, November 4th, 2011 at 7:22 pm in Clayton, Concord, Education, Mt. Diablo school district.

Kish Rajan, a Walnut Creek City Councilman and Mt. Diablo school district parent, says the Clayton Valley High School charter committee should consider accepting less money from the district to create goodwill, if the trustees approve the charter Tuesday.

Here’s a letter he submitted to the Times about this idea:

“November 1, 2011

Dear Editor –

On Nov. 8, the Mt. Diablo School board intends to make its decision on whether to grant final approval to the Clayton Valley charter application. The decision they make, and how they make it, has enormous implications to our district that is at a critical crossroads.

It has been well chronicled, perhaps at times overly so, that our district suffers from a myriad of challenges. Persistent state budget cuts have been particularly damaging to large unified school districts like ours that are mandated to serve a large and diverse range of educational needs. Though our district leadership has done their best under increasingly difficult circumstances, to be sure, over the years they have made some errors of commission and omission. Together, these factors have caused frustration among the widely disparate communities tied together by district boundaries drawn decades ago.

Despite this frustration, I believe that the large majority of parents in our District are driven by a yearning to see things improve for our District in general, and certainly for their children in particular. The recent effort by some Northgate parents to explore a transfer of that feeder pattern into a different district was one expression of that. And now, of course, the Clayton Valley charter petition. In each instance, the primary motivation is sincere and understandable. Undeniably, for the MDUSD, some things must change. Indeed I believe the district leadership wants positive change.

The question therefore should turn from whether our districtshould be reformed, to how. Where can we make fundamental improvements in the education program, curriculum, structure, district operations, and district culture? How can we leverage the talented and committed people who abound in our community to participate in that effort, both to create near term reforms and to engage the broader community in supporting our schools for the long term?

But in order to get to that important discussion, we first need a thoughtful, constructive resolution to the Clayton Valley charter application that gets us beyond the vitriolic tone that has defined it to date. To this point, the process has unfolded as a battle between one community and our District (literally described at one point as ‘war’). The matter is also provoking a conflict pitting individual feeder patterns against one another. Should it conclude as such, this will result as a battle in which all sides lose.

The charter proponents (driven by parents, teachers, and community leaders) are raising serious concerns about the state of their campus, e.g. safety, campus conditions and the overall quality of education. They believe strongly that under a new operating structure, with localized leadership, accountability, and flexibility to innovate, they can make substantial improvements. Their community has spoken out with passion and conviction about their commitment to supporting the school, and in so doing is demonstrating the kind of community engagement and commitment we need district wide. The Clayton Valley charter should be used as an opportunity to experiment and evaluate how we canimprove all of our high schools (and all schools for that matter).

The problem with the approval is the potential negative budget impact on the balance of our District. Under the state law that defines this process, it appears that the new charter school would be funded at a higher rate than the other high schools in our district, and that difference must come from our District budget. However, also per the state law, this broader financial impact is not one of the approval criteria the school board may use in making their decision on the application. Nevertheless, it would be unconscionable to take resources away from the balance of our kids to support one school, particularly amidst these brutal economic times.

The solution and the opportunity are clear. There should be an agreement to approve the charter application with an understanding that the new charter school would be funded at the same rate as all other high schools in our district. This would grant the Clayton Valley community what they seek: a new way forward for their school with the local control, flexibility and accountability that they covet. Yet this would be accomplished in a way that is financially responsible, fair and reasonable toward the balance of our district.

Should all the parties involved join in this solution, they would transcend conflict, embrace positive change, and set an example of collaboration. This could also commence a new chapter for our district: one of reform, innovation, and planning that welcomes change while reaffirming our commitment to serving our entire community and all of our kids.

Let’s use this moment to do what is smart, fair and right. And let’s remember our kids are watching.

Kish Rajan
MDUSD Parent and Walnut Creek City Council Member”

I spoke to Clayton Mayor David Shuey about this today. He said the committee would not change its funding proposal before the board vote, since trustees cannot consider financial impact in their decision.

“Once the charter is approved, if the issue of funding comes up, we will meet in good faith on this,” he said. “We are all parents and teachers who recognize that we’re not an island.”

Shuey also said he agrees with a suggestion made by Rajan — along with state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, and Asssemblywoman Susan Bonilla, D-Concord — asking the district for an independent analysis of the financial impact of the charter on the district. The district still has not revealed exactly how much it spends to operate the school, he said.

The district has posted several memos to the public regarding the financial impact of the charter. Each one has stated a different amount:

May 20: $1.65 million
May 26: $1.59 million
Aug. 26: $1.52 million
Oct. 7: $2.4 million

But Tuesday’s agenda report states that the financial impact would be “at least $1.8 million.” It also states: “This amount may be revised based on the FCMAT report.”

However, the staff report does not provide any basis for this latest estimate. It also fails to state what staff’s recommendation will be.

It says: “Accept or deny Clayton Valley charter high school proposal.” There is no report detailing the conditions of approval.

It states: “Prior to Nov. 8, 2011, district staff will have completed its final review and be prepared to present their summative recommendations to the board for approval or denial of the charter petition.” No summative recommendations are attached.

Rajan recommends funding the charter “at the same rate as all other high schools in our district.” However, the district’s school spending reports show that each high school receives a different amount of funding.

The most recent school spending information on the district’s website appears in School Accountability Report Cards. Unfortunately, however, the 2009-10 reports have data that is one year old, from 2008-09.

Here’s a breakdown of what was spent at each high school, according to that data. I am listing the total per student first, followed by a breakdown of unrestricted and restricted funds (including Title 1). Note that the district average unrestricted funding per student was $4,835.41.

CLAYTON VALLEY: Total: $7,849.12
Unrestricted: $4,937.05
Restricted: $2,912.06

COLLEGE PARK: Total: $7,549.24
Unrestricted: $4,523.84
Restricted: $3,025.40

CONCORD: Total: $8,400.82
Unrestricted: $4,341.17
Restricted: $4,059.65

MT. DIABLO: Total: $10,252.39
Unrestricted: $4,862.85
Restricted: $5,389.53

NORTHGATE: Total: $8,043.11
Unrestricted: $4,903.59
Restricted: $3,139.51

YGNACIO VALLEY: Total: $8,661.39
Unrestricted: $5,004.92
Restricted: $3,656.47

According to data provided to the California Department of Education, the district spent $8,199 per student in 2009-10:

In response to a Public Records request, the district sent me the following information related to its 2010-11 per student expenditures:

CLAYTON VALLEY: Total: $7,839.78
Unrestricted: $4,648.57
Restricted: $3,191.21

COLLEGE PARK: Total: $7,503.54
Unrestricted: $4,677.64
Restricted: $2,825.90

CONCORD: Total: $8,011.70
Unrestricted: $4,709.92
Restricted: $3,301.77

MT. DIABLO: Total: $9,551.46
Unrestricted: $5,256.86
Restricted: $4,294.60

NORTHGATE: Total: $8,228.21
Unrestricted: $5,282.71
Restricted: $3,005.50

YGNACIO VALLEY: Total: $8,918.44
Unrestricted: $5,660.51
Restricted: $3,257.92

Here are all the schools that received more unrestricted funding than Clayton Valley in 2010-11, according to data provided to me, followed by the amount per student more they received:

Cambridge Elementary: $4,735.25 (+$86.68)
Fair Oaks Elementary: $4,782.13 (+$133.56)
Gregory Gardens Elementary: $4,675.77 (+$27.20)
Holbrook Elementary: 4,903.61 (+$255.04)
Ygnacio Valley Elementary: $5,049.84 (+$401.27)

Diablo Valley MS: $4,739.57 (+$91.00)
Foothill MS: $4,751.55 (+$102.98)
Glenbrook MS: $4,733.44 (+$84.87)
Riverview MS: $4,765.53 (+$116.96)

Mt. Diablo HS: $4,862.85 (+$214.28)
Northgate HS: $4,903.59 (+$255.02)
Ygnacio Valley HS: $5,004.92 (+$356.35)

Gateway small HS: $7,499.43 (+$2,850.86)
Prospect small HS: $8,940.89 (+$4,292.32)
Summit small HS: $9,366.59 (+$4,718.02)
Crossroads small HS: $17,442.61 (+$12,794.04)
Nueva Vista small HS: $5,362.39 (+$713.82)
Olympic HS: $8,215.00 (+$3,566.43)

The difference between the district’s 2011-12 projected base Revenue Limit of $5,207.18 per student and the charter’s projected base Revenue Limit of $6,148.00 is $940.82 per student. As you can see above, the district spent over $940.82 more per student than it spent at Clayton Valley at nearly every small necessary high school.

It also spent between $27.20 and $401.27 more per student at 12 elementary, middle and high schools.

Do you think the charter should consider operating with less funding than it is entitled to request?

NOV. 6 UPDATE: Below are links to the spreadsheets provided to me by the district to backup the $2.4 million estimated financial impact.

Here is how Superintendent Steven Lawrence explained them to me in an e-mail:

“Attached at the three spreadsheets that Bryan Richards’, CBO, prepared to determine the financial impact of the CVCHS on district finances. The first one is an overview of the calculations we made to determine if there would be a gain or loss in revenue when CVCHS opens next year. The second is our School Accountability Data that shows the cost of each site, and the third is our special education encroachment data. We basically take special ed encroachment data divide it by the number of students in the district. Then multiple that number times the number of students at each school to determine their share of the special education encroachment costs. Basically, columns B and C in the first spreadsheet provide the information you are requesting and the second and third spreadsheets provide the back-up date around some of the calculations in the first spreadsheet. The numbers that were put in the News Update take into account the money saved as well as revenue reductions.”

It’s unclear why the district has now revised the estimated financial impact down to $1.8 million. As you can see, the district did not provide any specifics related to salaries or many other costs related to operating the school. It’s unclear what is included in the unrestricted, restricted and central services costs.

Overview of calculations:

School accountability data:

Special education data:

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113 Responses to “Walnut Creek Councilman suggests Clayton Valley charter consider accepting less funding”

  1. g Says:

    Seeing this, I’m sure Rajan would agree that Northgate should “donate” $100 per student back to the unrestricted pot to help level the field.

  2. Just J Says:

    No way should they consider taking less. Perhaps mr Rajan should have done his homework before writing such a letter. Maybe Northgate or mt diablo or ygnacio or one of the many other schools would like to give up some money to help fund cv at a better level. I think cv students have paid for the rest of the district long enough.

    So can someone tell me why Northgate gets so much more? Even Olympic gets more…..seems like a no brainer to me. Go charter!

  3. g Says:

    And where do the two loudest principals come from, with their “you’ll take money from MY school”. McMorris–Northgate, Marones–Ygnacio Valley. Whining shills!

  4. IthinkNot Says:

    You might want to mention all the schools that Clayton gets more than. The District has 50+ schools and only 18 get higher $/student. That puts CVHS in the top 20 for compensation. To compare the expenses of small necessary schools to regular HS is an apples to oranges argument. Limit your comparison to regular HS, and CVHS doesn’t seem to be shorted at all. So much for their ‘woe for us’ argument. They should drop their petition, but they won’t. Too much ego invested to do the right thing.

  5. Anon Says:

    The scuttlebutt on some of the other blogs,

    “Just a heads up, Whitmarsh, MDUSD school board member opened her big trap and they are gonna vote against the charter. She called a parent of a feeder school to Clayton Valley and specifically named a school on the chopping block if parents don’t speak against the charter. Just wait till this hits the fan. I’m not a fan of the charter but I’m less of fan of someone in power making threats. So disturbing.”

    Don’t know if this is true or not, but seems somewhat outrageous if it is.

  6. Just J Says:

    Didn’t one of the teachers say at a meeting that Lawrence said he will never let this happen because it will make him look bad…..well Lawrence and gang it’s not the charter making you look bad.

    Go ahead sherry and keep calling parents of feeder patterns and threatening them. Just the post about closing a school in the feeder is enough to take down the whole district.

  7. 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 don’t take this offer, take it to County instead as they will be far better to work with as the oversight body.

  8. Theresa Harrington Says:

    High schools are expected to cost more to run than elementary and middle schools. Clayton Valley receives more than College Park, but less than the four other comprehensive high schools.
    Most small necessary high schools cost more per student, but it’s unclear whether the public realizes how much more they cost.
    Superintendent Steven Lawrence said he would create a committee to explore the idea of consolidating small necessary high schools as part of his proposal to save $1.5 million by only closing two schools instead of three:
    However, he has not yet followed through on this portion of his proposal, which was approved by the board as a way to prevent the closure of another school.
    No Clayton school was on any of the School Closure Advisory Committee’s proposed scenarios for closure and none received any votes from committee members for closure:
    According to the rubric created by the committee, Mt. Diablo elementary received 109 points, Pine Hollow MS received 99 oints and Diablo View MS received 104:
    By comparison, Holbrook Elementrary received 66 points and Glenbrook MS received 57 points.
    The superintendent’s council recommended consolidating Oak Grove MS and Ygnacio Valley HS due to declining enrollment at both sites. Oak Grove MS received 60 points and Ygnacio Valley HS received 52 points — the lowest score of all high schools in the district.

  9. MDUSD WC Resident Says:

    My neighbor on the NHS PFC said that the parents have given $100,000 to Northgate to have department chairs have an extra prep period for meetings that the principal has everyday.Why do department chairs need an extra preparation period? Shouldn’t that money go to extra classes like AP and Honors Sections? My sister’s children go to Acalanes and they have far more AP classes than Northgate.

  10. Just J. Says:

    Shocker….Lawrence didn’t follow through with what he said he would. There is absolutly no way that the District could consider closing Pine Hollow or Diablo View.

  11. Don't think so Says:

    Theresa, I think Anon 5 is just a troll. The same type of post, purporting to know what a board member told someone about the charter vote, was made before the last vote. It’s just an attempt to stir up trouble by making crazy allegations against a board member. The post doesn’t even make sense. BTW, the poster was wrong about how the board member would vote last time.

  12. Just a Parent Says:

    The numbers you provide versus the unified funding rate are not comparable. You’re not comparing apples to apples.

    What you do see is the difference in funding per school. That only proves that more money doesn’t equal success. Because if it did wouldn’t you all be rushing to send your kids to YV and Mt. Diablo?

    Oh but lets not trifle ourselves with looking at why one might have more restricted funds. This is actually pretty easy to figure out but it means doing some research that might not fit your own world view.

    Also, are you actually shocked that different schools are funded at different rates? Are you all so brainwashed to not understand that these are not widgets with the same dimensions and properties that you can simply assign a fixed cost to?

    The schools are of different sizes, in different conditions with different salary structures and serve different needs based on where they are located. This is not Harrison Bergeron.

    Didn’t the district also suggest a third-party audit of the impact numbers in response to the charter committee. To date, I have not seen the charter pushing for this, in fact, it’s the exact opposite.

    So yes, lets do that. Let’s get a third party audit.

    Then there are only three options right?

    CV gets more than it used to, in which case Mr. Rajan’s suggestion is a good one, unless this is really about greed and making sure you get yours at the expense of everyone else.)

    CV gets the same amount that it used to, which will likely disappoint the charter (see original PPT deck with $$$ dollar signs as slide titles)

    CV gets less that it used to, which would be an interesting development and likely cause some rift between teachers and the charter board (hard decisions then huh?)

    If this is actually published I will now wait for those to shout that I’m actually Gary or some District mouthpiece. Fun! Not at all true. But again, whatever fits your rigid worldview.

  13. Tired Of The Rhetoric Says:

    Just a Parent #11–you’re argument might have some merit if it made any sense. College Park (lowest funding of all HS) has almost 600 more students than Northgate and CV has almost 400 more, those campuses are bigger, etc. You can spin it any way you’d like but it doesn’t look good. Additionally, Northgate teachers make on average almost $4,000 more than CV teachers. That’s alot even if you factor years of experience into the mix. The other schools are even further away. While there may never be perfect equity between schools and per pupil funding, it does seem as though MDUSD could get a bit closer. And that doesn’t even take into account the elementary and middle school disparity.

  14. Wendy Lack Says:

    If this discussion is reduced to narrow consideration of only dollars and sense, then does it follow that it would be advantageous for every school in the district to go the charter route?

  15. Jim Says:

    We should be careful about using the words “funding” and “spending” interchangably, because they are not the same thing. Schools receive money from parents and from grant sources, for example, that do not go through the district and are not part of district “funding”. Extra parent funds at NG, for example, would account for at least half, if not more, of the per student discrepancy cited above, if the “funding” is all funds spent, and not just district funding. In the case of Mt. Diable High, I suspect the figures are higher because of all of the Title I and English Language Learner funds that can be spent on those students. Those federal and state funds could not be spent at schools like Northgate, no matter how much people might wish to. They are non-discretionary, and if you don’t spend them on the targeted student populations, you simply lose them.

    In the parallel universe of school funding, administrators in our public monopoly districts often don’t aggregate all funding sources for a given site, and they almost never match those sources with all of the relevant expenses at that site, to produce what people elsewhere in the universe would call an “income” or a “sources and uses” statement. That, I suspect, is why the district has not documented the real “funding hole” that would result from CVHS leaving the district. They may not know. Which, of course, does not excuse their throwing around all sorts of inconsistent numbers. The irony here is that CVCHS is, understandably, expected to produce pro forma revenue/expense statements for its operations in future years, when the district cannot produce such statements for that same school, even for years past.

    All of this argues, in my mind, for getting every school that we can out from under the heel of the MDUSD boot. We will never get a handle on funding so long as those incompetents are in charge.

    Why Kish Rajan would go out on a limb to suggest his “compromise”, without knowing any of the true MDUSD numbers and without suggesting any way that these funding “make goods” could be done, year after year, without knowing the comparable MDUSD numbers, is a real puzzle. His letter to the CC Times raises two possible explanations: 1) either he doesn’t understand the financial mechanics here and should just keep quiet; or 2) he is simply jumping in for political gain (i.e. placating his current WC constituents by proposing how they can keep from being “hurt” by the charter, while also pandering to the CVCHS community members who will be voting when he runs for higher office — as he shows every indication of doing). Given his one-time promise to lead support for an MDUSD parcel tax, which he then abandoned for Measure C, as soon as he saw the potential campaign fundraising gravy train from those special-interest solar supporters, it may be a combination of #1 and #2. Regardless of the explanation, I wouldn’t expect his politically expedient actions to have any impact at all on the final outcome.

  16. Theresa Harrington Says:

    MDUSD Resident: Northgate has implemented an initiative called “Focus on Learning,” which involves meetings between the principal and department chairs to collaborate about improving instruction schoolwide. Department chairs also participate in teacher observations to try to mentor teachers to improve instruction.
    I’m not sure if this accounts for all of the extra money, but it may account for some of it.
    Also, Northgate has some very highly regarded honors classes that some students and teachers prefer over AP classes, because they are able to go more indepth into topics of interest. While AP classes are highly regarded by many, they sometimes don’t give teachers as much flexibility as they may want, because they require teachers to cover very specific material by the end of the year to prepare for the AP test. In essence, these are “teaching to the test” courses.
    Northgate has a very popular honors “Threads” course, in which teachers collaborate to teach English and social studies. The rigorous course involves interesting projects, student team work and class discussions intended to teach students to be critical thinkers. Some students opt to take this course instead of AP courses because of its strong reputation at the school.

  17. Doctor J Says:

    Gary, Lawrence and now Kish are trying to confuse the issue before the Board on Tues — the only issue is whether CVCHS has met the onerous 56 conditions imposed by MDUSD. Deb Cooksey admitted two weeks ago, CVCHS had met 55 of 56. So just one issue is really in the balance. MDUSD has refused to give to the Charter the ACTUAL costs of operation of CVHS, instead just floating numerous inflated “averages” and the districts usual spin and shell games. Lets face reality: the State of California determines the ADA per student, and also determines the amount that the charter is entitled to receive from the state, which is just a pass through via the district — it is not money lost by the district, it is money that follows every student. If you don’t like the formula contact your state legislators and the governor. If you want to worry about money for next school year, ask your Supt and school board why the SIG grants for Meadow Homes and Oak Grove due Nov 14 are not attached to the agenda. Because I raised the issue here on the blogs, the District is just realizing that its SIG grant proposal for Meadow Homes is not going to work under the proposed Transformation Model. How can we spend over a million dollars on all the administrators that signed the Board agenda item, and they don’t understand the sanctions under NCLB — they are not paying attention. the problem is that Meadow Homes is now in its 5th year of Program Improvement, AND its 5th consecutive year after identified as a PI school of not meeting its AYP [really 7 years in a row since it took two years in order to be named a PI school]. That means that next school year 12/13 Meadow Homes must, under NCLB, adopt the Turnaround Model, and replace the principal and 50% or more of the staff.
    That my friends will really highlight the career of Eberhart and Lawrence and cost the district a pretty penny. Julie Braun-Martin better cancel those July vacation plans — she is going to be working long July days without staff.

  18. Another CV Parent Says:

    Northgate HS did all those things as a traditional school under the MDUSD “boot”, not as a charter school? Imagine that!

  19. Jim Says:

    @ Another CV Parent — Yes, NGHS did those things as an MDUSD school, but in spite of the district, not because of it. You are not seeing any mention here of the initiatives that people at NGHS are trying to move ahead with, but which face continual opposition and/or indifference from the district (initiatives around foreign languages and online learning come to mind, to name just two, but really, the list is way too long to include here.) Given the NGHS demographics, the school would be likely to have a high-performing student body no matter where it was located. What should interest us are the comparisons with high schools of smilar demographics around the state, where NGHS ranks near the very bottom — and for very good reasons.

    Also, remember that what goes up can come down. Many of the recent “improvements” at NG are really attempts to recover from years of deterioration under a totally inept and indifferent principal — a principal whom the district had ample reason to replace, but who was finally shuffled along only after a concerted, multi-year effort by parents that included the feeder pattern neighborhoods trying to secede from the district entirely. While that principal coasted comfortably to retirement, grossly incompetent teachers were allowed to stay, year after year, and the plant and equipment were allowed to deteriorate in a totally inexcusable fashion. Instructional practices and curriculum were allowed to fall to the lowest levels ever. Despite an involved parent body, robust fund-raising, and a corps of very committed, capable teachers, the community could not overcome the influence of poor campus leadership and constant district interference. The deterioration in that school was evident to everyone. And it could all happen again if the district should decide to replace the current principal or if he should decide to leave. The whole community remains completely vulnerable to the incompentence, corruption, and general mismanagement of the central office bureaucracy. The inescapble fact is that MDUSD is an unaccountable monopoly that does not have to do anything they don’t want to do, and they CERTAINLY don’t have to do anything well. A “teacher-trigger” CVCHS would not be my preferred method for bringing more school choice to this district, but since MDUSD typically blocks every other charter option, then I am delighted to see the CV community trying to take things into their own hands. I suspect that his conversion won’t be the last such attempt, which, of course, is exactly what Lawrence et al fear.

  20. anon Says:

    #18 Another CV Parent, actually Northgate did that as a school that attempted to secede from the MDUSD altogether. Since that threat, they have gotten all sorts of perks that they have managed to keep. I don’t blame them but keep in the mind the size of the “boot.”

  21. Doctor J Says:

    @ACVP #18 Northgate did those things because they funded them from private donations. Ask Northgate parents if they want to “revenue share” their fundraising with the other high schools where all high schools deposit their fundraising into a pot and take it out on an equal per capita basis. See what kind of reaction you get from Northgate parents. Likewise, the Charter doesn’t want to revenue share its ADA with the district. You saw the outrageous salaries posted the other day.

  22. Just J. Says:

    Well said Jim!

  23. Wait a second Says:

    Because this Charter started as a way for the teachers to avoid distrect days off, I could see why the teachers/ supporters in this blog are against making this fair across the board. This charter always has been about more money, and I understand their frustration. Because this charter has no educational goals or vision, improved funding for teachers salarys is at the heart of the matter. The few parents and teachers that support this really have no place to go if the money remains the same. They have no educational vision, and lack the education to make this school better for the students.
    A group has started called Clayton Parents against the Charter Takeover. Their first meeting included Teachers and parents and it was heald at a Teachers house. They will be starting a web site and a facebook page so parents and teachers who feel railroaded by this take over can voice their opinion. I will post their web information in the next few days if anyone is interested.

  24. Anon Says:

    All this has shown, including the squabbling here is that each school needs to have a better understand of their own finances and critically important… is that they gain control. This district is broken beyond repair. Lawrence is smug, and I have no confidence this will be approved on Tuesday. I also don’t believe (until I see it) that some “clayton parents against charter takeover” has started unless it was started at Ayers by the Eberharts (their home school), or Silverwood if that happened to be the one “threatened” again with closure if this goes through. Either way, this district has shown it’s ugly side in this charter effort and I for one am disgusted.

  25. Just J. Says:

    Let me guess (if such a group has indeed started) it is by Clayton parents that send their kids to Northgate (Yes there are plenty) If a group did form and had meetings why was the public not aware? Why did they not invite people to hear what they had to say?

    This Charter will succeed beyond anyone’s imagination! Yes it is about money but not for teachers salaries it is about getting money to the school that it is entitle to so that they can make positive changes for the kids. The group of teachers involved are passionate about the students. If they do get raises it will be because of no furlough days which hurt our students. If they get paid more I have no problem with it if they are doing their job.

    I have complete faith that ALL students needs will be met and we will start turning out more college ready kids….This is a good thing for our community and will not hurt the other schools. If anything it will help the other schools be more competative.

    Special Ed will finanally have the programs needed to teach the kids how they need to learn, Accademies will be better, General ed students will have more access to better curriculum. How is this bad?

  26. Another CV Parent Says:

    Jim, if lousy teachers are a problem, a teacher trigger conversion isn’t going to help.

    The CV teachers have already stated that they plan to keep their current contract for the first year and all current teachers will be offered a job at the charter. In fact, that very issue was brought up at one of the first informational meetings held by the teachers. There were more questions on that issue than any other. Will parents have a say in hiring and firing? Will the teachers have pay for performance? Will parents have a role in teacher evaluation? How are they going to get rid of the lousy teachers? The teachers danced around the issue and wouldn’t give direct answers. They later announced they were keeping the same contract, all current CV teachers would be offered a job, and then they created a governing board that would be controlled by employee interests. Even the two parent reps on the board were originally going to be appointed, not elected by the parents. After that was brought to light, the teachers agreed to let parents elect their two reps. But all candidates for the nine board positions board must first submit their resumes to and be interviewed by a committee made up predominantly of school employees.

    The employees will be in control of CVCHS, not parents or community members. The teachers wrote the charter, so they made sure of that.

  27. Doctor J Says:

    @WAS #23 ROFLOL — Its the DISTRICT that has no vision or goals. Lawrence got the board to ‘approve’ his ‘goals & objectives’ for the school year 10/11 that ended last June. Has he ever given a report on how well he did on those ? NOPE. Lawrence’s G&O were a collossal failure ! The district “gained” 2 API points — whoopteedo — it did not make APY and got named as a “Program Improvement District” which it narrowly avoided the year before only because of an exception. The six “persistently underperforming schools” the bottom 5% in the state, went down to five only because Lawrence closed one of them. 🙂 The SIG Grants, Cohort 1, Year 2 were NOT APPROVED because the district did not keep its promises on what it said it was going to do and meet the minimum requirments and a Corrective Action Plan filed on Sept 12 that was to be approved on Sept 23, but still has not been approved. Now check out the agenda for Tuesday, Meadow Homes is applying for a SIG Grant, Cohort 2, under the “Transformation Model” when because it has been in PI for 5 plus years, and not met its AYP for 7 years, NCLB will REQUIRE as a SANCTION the “Reformation Model” that its principal be replaced and 50% plus of the staff be transfered out — MDUSD is so unprepared for this, their agreement with MDEA has no provision for this, the SASS is promoting a SIG grant that will be impossible to be approved for MH because it is under the wrong model and can’t work. BTW, its due on Nov 14. Another last minutes shoot from the hip project by Lawrence. Yet, when you look at all the people who signed the Board docket approving this, their salaries total over a million dollars ! The administration and the Board are being caught with their pants down on this just like the six persistently underperforming schools “surprised” them. Who is reading the reports ? Who is the district expert on NCLB ? We have two experienced district lawyers on staff but the “General Counsel” is so busy trying to figure out the capacity of a school bus so you don’t have a child “one cheek on, and one cheek off”, so busy he can get his M&O Dept to hang white boards for six to eight months, they can’t change light bulbs in schools so the children can read without straining and the teachers and children can be safe during non-daylight hours. But the Board refuses to rescind the Gang of Five raises. Who has no vision and no goals ? Lawrence has just one vision and goal: $300,000 in direct deposit to his bank in 12 monthly installments.

  28. Another CV Parent Says:

    Anon 24, when you say each school needs to gain control, who do you think should be in control? At CVCHS, it will be the employees in control, not the parents or community.

  29. Another CV Parent Says:

    Just J, special ed at the charter will be contracted out to MDUSD. Read the charter yourself if you need confirmation. That’s what it says.

    I don’t know why you think the charter will be better educationally. The teachers have already stated they’re going to keep the same classes. That’s their explanation as to why parents don’t need to worry about a-g recertification or WASC approval. It will be the same. Read the charter. They don’t have any ideas for improving the school academically. But they do have lots of ideas for making it a better place to be a teacher: lots more time going to training classes, better salary and benefits, more collaboration time and less teaching time in the day, no pesky administrators to tell you what to do…. The list goes on and on.

    It takes more than just “faith” for me to believe a charter school will be better. I need to see actual plans and a budget to support them. The teachers have supplied neither.

  30. School Teacher Says:

    @ Another CV Parent

    We’re still waiting for the list of positive things the district and its leaders are doing/will do, to improve the district. I think that most of the positvie things that have been mentioned have been brought about by motivated parents/teachers/school sites, not by the district. And, it has been pointed out that even those positive things weren’t slam dunks, but had to be doggedly pursued to overcome district hesitation/blocking. I will repeat my point on a previous entry that I think most people don’t have great concerns over who is running things (directors, teachers, employees, retirees, housewives, men, women, etc) as long as they feel things are being run correctly. And I think that many technically unqualified people can actually be very effective leaders compared to life long bureaucrats because of the different perspectives that they bring. I think the present MDUSD leadership has failed dramatically on this front. They seem very intent on just maintaining a status quo environment, which doesn’t seem to be working too well. I’m sure that people with the charter movement feel they can do better than the present MDUSD leadership.

  31. Just J Says:

    Is another cv parent Greg Rolen?

  32. Tagg Says:

    Jim hit the nail on the head! THANK YOU! The district only seems to be able to notice a school when it is on the brink. Our story is the same story as Northgate. The district is reactive instead of proactive. They “knee-jerk” react when they sniff trouble brewing, throw a little money at the problem, change out the Principal and cross their fingers that their restless clients get distracted by other issues and whatever stirrings of revolt were in motion, will be placated for awhile and with time, disappear. I hope they’ve met their match with the CVCHS movement. The district’s failing performance to meet even minimal state academic standards in math and english, their “creative” accounting practices with the public’s money and lack of integrity and ability to reason fairly in their leadership should be shocking enough for every citizen in the MDUSD to summon the courage to take action for change.

  33. Anon Says:

    I think more than enough of us have said that CV was long ignored, and not until the charter did we get some positive change. Finally after years some of the academic issues are being addressed in the math department, but it took years of failing kids and NON college ready seniors to get parents and teachers so fed up they came up with a charter as a way to improve education. If you believe the BS for one second that the only reason this charter was started was for better teaching conditions, then you’re a complete an utter moron. The district has had access to the tools and data to know how badly CVHS has been doing and sat by for YEARS and did nothing. There is nothing in this charter that scares me as the district has already destroyed our school by neglect and indifference. Seriously, it is like being in a bad marriage and one not admitting anything is wrong, and refusing counseling, avoiding all attempts for success. At some point, being alone and “on your own” is better than being miserable, pushed to the ground, laughed at, spit upon and neglected year over year over year. Eberhart of all should be ashamed and embarrassed as he had a child go all 4 years there. Somehow I doubt she was fully college ready. I think this is why he’s so against this, because it puts him in the position of having to admit that the education his daughter got was NOT good enough. He didn’t do enough for her, why would he do it for the rest of us?

  34. Wait a Minute Says:


    Another CV Parent=Sue Brothers.

    2 dozen people who know her well from her former districts agree its her writing style. She is a control freak narcissist who will research and pull out what she wants to make a her argument and she is very persistive.

    I think I’ll just call it—-Another Sue Brothers Post.

    So another Sue Brothers Post#26,
    in case you haven’t figured it out yet its not “lousy teachers” that’s the problem, ITS LOUSY ADMINISTRATORS and that includes your benefactor STEVIE LAWRENCE!!!

    By all means keep up your chicken little warning that these uppity teachers are going to run their school because while you and your fellow narcissists put all your energy into fighting the people their whole empire is crumbling.

    As far as this threatened counter-revolutionary group starting up I guess I’ll call that the Empire Strikes Back LOL.

    Its undoubtedly what they call in politics ASTROTURF. A few district management minions and perhaps a few of their coat-tail riding followers.

    NOT a mass movement like the charter supporters.

  35. Anon Says:

    Kish has jumped into the wrong fight. This has nothing to do with him! Northgate is only doing fine now after also trying to pull out of the district. How about he spends some time trying to HELP the district improve instead of picking a side! What a disgusting excuse for a public servant. How does WC feel that their elected official is spending even any time on a Concord/Clayton issue? If he’s so stupid to believe what the district is feeding him, he should leave office now. Why should it be equal funding? As others have said, the funding follows the students not the district, so how about he help the district do a much needed shake up to get the KIDS (remember them) the funding they deserve and are awarded by the state via ADA funding. Stop MDUSD from misappropriating it! THEN I’ll call it fair! If it weren’t for the stupid rules of this stupid “unified” district in how they allocate and rob peter to pay paul, this wouldn’t even be a discussion as it WOULD be equal and the way the state INTENDED the money to be used!

  36. WC Parent Says:

    To Anon #35-
    Mr. Rajan helps one person and one person only. You can count on the fact that he is expanding his audience in order to expand his political appeal.

  37. Another CV Parent Says:

    Sorry, Wait a Minute, I’m not Sue Brothers. But you go on believing that if it makes you feel better. You sent my posts to two dozen people? I’m flattered. I’m glad you noticed the research I’ve done. I’m trying to make my arguments based on facts and logic, not emotion.

    I’m not Greg Rolen, either, Just J.

    Hard as it is for you to believe, there are parents out there who have read the charter, listened to the teachers, compared the proposed CVCHS with other charter schools and other charter petitions, and observed the charter steering committee’s behavior. I’ve done my research and I’m making my decisions based on facts, not emotion. Thanks, but no thanks. I’d prefer not to have my neighborhood school taken over by the CV employees and their sidekick, the incredibly childish Clayton mayor. I’ll stick with my elected school board and the new principal. They may not be perfect, but they are clearly better than the CVCHS alternative.

    To the Clayton Valley teachers and parents who want a charter school, go start one. But leave my neighborhood school alone.

  38. Wait a Minute Says:

    Since there has been talk by WC people of acquiring the MDUSD schools in WC, I wonder if Mr. Rajan would be OK for WC to send money back to the MDUSD if in fact they acquired MDUSD schools?

    I can only imagine how Mr. Rajan’s voters would react to his proposal if he proposed the same thing for them.

  39. Wait a Minute Says:

    I can’t help but notice Another Sue Brothers Post that you again and again refuse to make any statements regarding the many crises and scandals that the MDUSD’s leaders have burdened the citizens of this district with.

    I guess that just wouldn’t fit your “World View” or the chicken little argument you keep repeatedly making here does it?

    If you really hate the CV teachers and Shoe so much you can always move or should I say transfer!

  40. Another CV Parent Says:

    Anon 35, this isn’t just a Concord/Clayton issue. The financial impact will affect all schools in MDUSD, including those in Walnut Creek.

  41. Audience Member Says:

    I don’t think that the charter can legally accept less funding. The charter will also be doing all their own administrative work so not taking the amount that is mandated doesn’t really make sense anyway.

    I am looking forward to attending the MDUSD meeting on Tuesday, November 8. I hope that the charter is finally approved(or denied cleanly) so that we can all move forward.

    Another CV Parent should join the CVCHS Curriculum Committee and voice her/his opinion on exciting new curriculum ideas. I hope the Realidades Spanish textbooks used by MDUSD are the first to be changed…

  42. Anon Says:

    @40, only if you believe that crock from the district (as I said). I do not believe it for one second and even if any money is rearranged due to this, they’ve already a) admitted to a surplus and b) have short changed these kids themselves so it’s just righting a wrong.

  43. Anon Says:

    Since Kish wants things equal, how about this… all schools , no matter how much, or how little is earned through parent groups and other fundraising all put their money into one big district pot and then it will all be distributed fairly – evenly. That’s what he wants right? An even split? Ok Northgate, willing to share your hefty parent fundraising with all the rest of us? Come on, you know it has to be fair and equal, that’s what your councilman says, and oh, I know the district will take really really good care of that lump of change from each school. Really , they will! Pinky swear!

  44. Interested Board Observer Says:

    Teacher Triggered charter movement.
    Disappointed, angry parents.
    Posturing politicians.
    Vastly overpaid administrators who are bringing home a generous paycheck in exchange for undermining a school system.
    Incompetent, or at least underwhelming, leadership.
    Gutless, squabbling, passive-aggressive Board members in charge of demanding accountability who are focusing on power struggles at the cost of real direction and communication. (Except for one.)

    A public relations nightmare at the community, state and federal level.

    MDUSD: Where kids *will* come first if we have to secede from the district to do it.

    Let’s get back to the point. How do we make sure our schools are getting our children to this point:

    Or google: “How to get children college ready.”

    This is the future we’re trying to shape here, people. Get on board. Remember our priorities. If it isn’t getting our children either college ready, or career ready, stop doing it.

  45. Anthony C. Says:

    If the board cannot factor financial impact to the district into their decision, why does the posted agenda for the 11/8 meeting include the following:

    “If approved, the District will have to address a revenue reduction of at least $1.8 million. This amount may be revised based on the FCMAT report.”

    As Theresa pointed out in this article, the numbers provided by the district keep changing.
    “May 20: $1.65 million
    May 26: $1.59 million
    Aug. 26: $1.52 million
    Oct. 7: $2.4 million”

    Even the current $1.8 million comes with a disclaimer that the amount may be revised. Until the district can come up with a solid number, they should stop quoting figures that only serve to instill fear and anger into the parents from other schools. Especially since those numbers are not concrete and they cannot base their decision on those numbers.

    @Just Another Parent, apparently you did not read the full article or you would not have said this:
    “Didn’t the district also suggest a third-party audit of the impact numbers in response to the charter committee. To date, I have not seen the charter pushing for this, in fact, it’s the exact opposite.”

    In the article Mayor Shuey “said he agrees with a suggestion made by Rajan — along with state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, and Asssemblywoman Susan Bonilla, D-Concord — asking the district for an independent analysis of the financial impact of the charter on the district. The district still has not revealed exactly how much it spends to operate the school, he said.”

    Shuey also mentions that the district will not reveal the operating costs for CVHS. I for one don’t even believe the numbers the district is releasing, especially when they come with a disclaimer that the figures may be revised. By including these fictitious numbers in the agenda the district is only stirring the pot.

  46. Theresa Harrington Says:

    In looking more closely at the numbers the district gave me in response to my Public Records request, I see that the per student cost includes central services administration.
    The unrestricted amount spent on CVHS not including central services is actually $3,822.29 per student.
    The restricted amount spent on CVHS not including central services is $1,254.17 per student.
    The total per student cost not including central services in 2010-11 was $5,076.46.
    This means that the district was allocating $2,763.32 per student for central services.

  47. Anthony C. Says:

    Theresa, I’m curious. Has the district released the breakdown on how they reached that $1.8 million figure? And if so does it include the costs of operating CVHS? I realize Mayor Shuey said the district has not released those costs but there have been so many figures thrown around its hard to keep track. Correct me if I’m wrong but doesn’t the charter have to lease the campus from the district? If so that money should also be deducted from the claimed loss to the district.

    Thanks for keeping us so informed.

  48. Anon Says:

    So there is over 5 MILLION dollars for Dent, over 5 MILLION dollars for teachers. That’s 10 mil they don’t have to spend on CV anymore. And they’re complaining about 1.9 mil shortage? Seeing those kinds of numbers are going to Dent make me realize they can figure this out! Not that hard. And it won’t hurt any other schools unless they want it to!

  49. Interested Board Observer Says:

    Whenever I post, I immediately regret it. I especially regret the comment about “Gutless, squabbling, passive-aggressive Board members in charge of demanding accountability who are focusing on power struggles at the cost of real direction and communication. (Except for one.)”

    Board Members: At least you’re trying, which is more than the rest of us visiting these blogs are doing. (Anonymously.) And when your term is up, if you think you can be effective, you’ll run again.

    Sometimes I can’t help it. I’m angry that our school system sucks this badly. I’m angry that I am powerless in the face of institutionalized incompetence. I’m angry that some children can do some things, but only if their parents can afford to do it privately. I’m angry that my feeder pattern means that our children go to five different schools. I’m angry that we have so many schools in Program Improvement. We’re turning into a Failure Factory. I’m angry that we are making stupid mistakes because we don’t have a plan. I’m angry that our teachers are jerked around every year. I’m angry that politics is poisoning our community. I’m angry that we aren’t adequately preparing our children, all of them, for the future.

    When I got angry, I made it about your personalities, and how you approach your job.

    So I’m sorry for being so rude.

  50. Theresa Harrington Says:

    The district has not given any breakdown regarding how it came up with the most recent $1.8 million.
    In the information provided to me from my Public Records request, the district shows a total CVHS budget of nearly $13.8 million.
    This includes $6.7 million in unrestricted costs directly related to CVHS plus nearly $2.2 million in restricted costs directly related to CVHS, for a total of about $8.9 million directly related to the costs of operating CVHS.
    The district tacked on about $1.45 million in unrestricted costs related to Dent/Central services, plus nearly $3.4 million in restricted costs for Dent/central services (which is more than the $2.2 million in actual restricted costs) for a total of nearly $4.85 million going toward Dent/central services.
    The district has not given any accounting of teachers’ salaries or administrators’ salaries or other operating cost breakdowns.
    So, it is very difficult to figure out whether food services, etc. are included in the central services numbers.
    So, yes, it appears that nearly $5 million of CVHS money is spent on Dent/Central services. It’s unclear what this actually pays for and whether other schools will have to pick up the payments if CVHS turns charter.

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