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More details about MDUSD busing, special education

By Theresa Harrington
Saturday, November 12th, 2011 at 3:42 pm in Education, Mt. Diablo school district.

At the Nov. 7 special education Community Advisory Committee meeting, the minutes from the Oct. 3 meeting were distributed.

These included notes regarding the transportation update provided by general counsel Greg Rolen, in response to complaints the district had received about students not being picked up and dropped off on time, being dropped off at the wrong location or not being picked up at all.

Here is what Rolen told the CAC, according to the minutes (which are not posted on the district’s website):

“Transportation Update — Mildred introduced Greg Rolen, General Counsel and Angie Goakey, Transportaton Manager. Greg told the CAC that the two main reasons for the transportation issues this school year were the transition from using Durham buses to using district buses and the unanticipated increase in ridership. Other statistics he talked about included:

- Approximately 850 students being bussed each day, which is an increase of 183 students from the last school year.
- NPS (Non Public School) ridership increased from 64 students last year to 86 students this year.
- NCLB (No Child Left Behind) ridership increased from 139 students last year to 165 students this year.

Greg also noted the following:
- School closures also caused a burden to the system.
- The statistics mentioned did not include field trips or sporting events.
- There are approximately 22,000 drop-offs and pick-ups per week.
- The process to get students routed onto buses takes about 10 days to two weeks.

The floor was opened to questions.”

The minutes don’t give any information about the questons or answers.

Here is what Mildred Browne, assistant superintendent for special education, said in her report to the committee, according to the minutes:

“Mildred reported that…the California Department of Education (CDE) reps were here in September for another phase of the verification review. This review was headed by Bryan Cassin. The CDE reps will return on Oct. 18 and they will continue to return to the district until we are 100 percent compliant. Mildred shared that a major lawsuit in L.A. that was recently approved by the court, requires that SELPAs (Special Education Legal Plan Areas) have the responsibility of providing educational services to students in jail. This ruling has to be added to our Service Plan by Nov. 1; it will be approved at the Oct. 25 board meeting.

Mildred also shared that this school year has been very turbulent. Many new students have moved into the district. A lot of students coming into the district were in NPS previously and a lot of new students have behavioral issues; many of these students are general education students. The special education department will have to go back to the board for additional FTEs. There are many students that still need placement.

Finally, Mildred talked about teachers and vacancies. Currently, there are 10 teacher vacancies. Once their credentials are cleared, there will only be four openings. A handout was provided to the group identifying the various vacancies in the district. Mary-Ann (Tucker) noted that the district sub pool is being used until vacancies are filled.”

At the end of the meeting, Browne reported that June 2012 is the last time special education students will be able to take advantage of the California High School Exit Exam waiver, according to the minutes. “After that date,” the minutes state, “special education students will have to take the alternative form of the exam to demonstrate their proficiency of the subject matter.”

Do you believe the district’s busing issues have been resolved?

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  • Doctor J

    Call it and let us know. A real “genius” to put your cell number or home number or private office number on a mass email. ROFLOL

  • Theresa Harrington

    The copy of the email I received from Rajan did not include the phone number.

  • Doctor J

    Apparently he sent out different versions. Most interesting.

  • Theresa Harrington

    The rest of the email is the same.
    Here’s my story about the meeting: http://www.contracostatimes.com/news/ci_19369229

  • Doctor J

    Its not exactly the same as another version that I obtained. In my version there are several row spaces between “Sincerely,” snd “Steven Lawrence” whereas on the version in post #98, there are no row spaces in between the “sincerely” and his name, plus the addition of a telephone number. Perhaps he used a different “signature” template on his computer.

  • Theresa Harrington

    Or perhaps the poster just cut out the extra spaces.

  • g

    So I guess there will be an Agenda Item in Dec or Jan asking the Board to approve a ‘retroactive’ increase in the Debi Deal contract to cover “follow-up contingencies”.

  • Doctor J

    Perhaps . . . I guess someone will just have to tell us who answers the telephone. :-)

  • Theresa Harrington

    Interestingly, her analysis didn’t include the Nov. 4 CVHS charter budget projections on which the board based its denial. The FMCAT review was based on previous charter financials, submitted as of Nov. 1. The district later asked the charter to submit new numbers based on the county office of ed guidance.

  • g

    From Theresa’s article; “…Kish Rajan — along with Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, D-Concord, and state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord — to suggest that an independent analysis be done. Rajan also suggested that an independent committee review the estimates.”

    Surely Lawrence/Cooksey/Richards realize that while their Monday Vacation Meeting and the obligatory fluff Power-point repeat performance might add a few bucks for a few of them under “Other” Pay, it does not in any manner qualify as either an “independent analysis” OR an “independent committee” with 150 ‘members’. Laughable attempt to pull the wool!

  • Theresa Harrington

    Do you believe that a committee of principals and “parent leaders” selected by principals constitutes an “independent committee?”

  • Just J

    No and hell no!!! This is not how the process should work. This is part of the problem

  • Just J

    Now back to the bussing issue I mentioned this morning. My friends son did not get picked up by the district for transport to his special day class. The district said they had staffing problems so I guess that means the child misses school. No other explanation or sorry or solutions. By the way the district never contacted the parents. The teacher found this out trying to help the family.

  • g

    I believe the person that signs the paychecks ‘choosing’ his nearly captive audience of 50 and having those 50 ‘choose’ the next 100 constitutes something a bit more like a splinter tribe, and in this particular case a demagogy. There is little about it that I would consider “independent”.

  • Anon

    For an “informational” meeting, it would behoove the administration to invite all board members to have access to the information. You know, nice and public and open and transparent and all that, so you don’t get bad publicity by barring board members from attending heaven forbid! To invite all board members, it would behoove the administration to post 3-day notice. Heck why not?

  • Anon

    Don’t kid yourself, anything that Kish Rajan is proposing has been conceived in a backroom deal with Lawrence. Debi Deal was hired before Rajan made his statement and Lawrence said nothing at the Board meeting. Why not?

    We are being manipulated by a plot to sway public opinion, period. Rajan DOES NOT support the charter and has made private statements indicating this. Any committee he suggests will fall inline with the District.

  • Doctor J

    It very telling that FCMAT verified the source but NOT the accuracy of the MDUSD numbers. Bryan Richards is the source — we all knew that. What always has been questioned is the accuracy of the information dribbled out by MDUSD in an untimely and incomplete manner. Where are the actual numbers on actual costs of operation of CVHS that have been requested for 7 months ?

  • Theresa Harrington

    At the Sept. 27 board meeting, Richards failed to mention the $10.7 million reserve the district has set aside for midyear cuts ($330/ADA).
    The teachers’ union is now seriously questioning why they are being asked to take any furlough days at all, since the district has about $30 million in an undesignated ending fund balance. This balance appears to be big enough to cover the additional amount that the district may have to pay the charter, as well as to fully cover proposed furlough days.
    However, these reserves would not last indefinitely, of course. And, as Lawrence and Richards both frequently point out, many of the proposed cuts would be ongoing. This means that they would affect budgets two to three years out, but would likely not force big cuts in 2012-13.

  • Interested Board Observer

    Re: TH #111
    “Do you believe that a committee of principals and “parent leaders” selected by principals constitutes an “independent committee?”

    Are you kidding me?

    Tell me under what possible situation would a principal invite 2 parent leaders with any kind of known disagreement/negative viewpoint/or opposition to the district policies or actions?

    As a principal sitting with 2 Parent leaders from your school, you aren’t going to bring someone who might potentially cause you to have egg on your face.

    And you can’t tell me that a principal sitting with their parent leaders who brings someone who puts their hand up to ask some disagreeable question isn’t going to incur some kind of negative attention.

    That would be stupid. If I was the principal, I wouldn’t invite someone who I suspect would make me look bad. Would you?

    Also, this thread was the first I heard about this, and we aren’t in the DVM, CVH feeder pattern.

    This doesn’t appear to be a public meeting, but rather a private group discussing issues.

  • Theresa Harrington

    It does seem odd that the district is not letting the general public know about this meeting, especially since it has sent out several “news updates” about the financial impact of the charter. Also, Superintendent Steven Lawrence assured principals, Kish Rajan and reps from Assemblywoman Bonilla’s office, Senator Mark DeSaulnier’s office and Rep. George Miller’s office that it was a public meeting.
    However, his emails to me said there would be limited space at the meeting and that those invited would fill the room. He also did not invite the charter committee or teachers. He informed the charter committee they would not be turned away, as long as there was space in the room, after they found out about it and asked to attend.
    However, I know of at least one parent who has been known to ask tough questions who has been invited.
    In a previous post, Alicia Minyen also posed several questions that could be asked in relation to the FCMAT report. But, since she is not a “parent leader” at a district school, she will not have the opportunity to ask those questions herself.
    Here are her suggested questions:
    “The Steering Committee should ask for 1) the FCMAT engagement letter/agreement, 2) the representation letter to FCMAT, 3) all correspondence with FCMAT, including emails, 4) FCMAT workpapers, and 5) all documents provided to FCMAT. It is important to know the precise procedures performed by FCMAT to determine if any of their work was meaningful.”
    Based on your assessment of this meeting, do you think the public will trust its outcome?

  • g

    Theresa, I think the bottom line here is that “the cat got out of the bag”. Just as he has tried to do at least three times in Newsletters to the public, Lawrence thought he could present negative connotations and influence a drive against the Charter. Now he thought he could just quietly “envite” whomever he thought he could have some control over, and who might further his cause going forward.

  • Doctor J

    Who answered the posted phone number ?

  • g

    New questions: Who or how many principals have RSVP’d to the Boss Man? Anybody “independent” enough to send “regrets” that they have made other plans for their recess days.

  • Doctor J

    @G, I think the only people sweating non-attendance are the high school principals — and he gave them a “pass” but I guarantee you that Sue Brothers will not forget who attended and who didn’t. Her memory can be described as a “steel bear trap”.

  • Theresa Harrington

    Kish Rajan, who was invited, said he won’t be able to attend, since it’s during the holiday vacation time.
    Mike Langley, who wasn’t invited, said he also doesn’t plan to attend, since it’s during teacher vacation time. He said he prefers to utilize the “discovery” process open to the union to find out about the district’s budget numbers, rather than rely on public presentations.
    The charter committee apparently isn’t privy to the same “discovery” process.

  • Anon

    I will be there as a parent representing Northgate even though I have not been invited by McMorris.

    Frankly at this point I don’t give a rats @$$ if McMorris wants me there or not.

  • g

    I would think that within about 30 minutes of calculating Mike Langley could spit out exactly how much the teacher salaries affect the disparity in funding/costs between high school and elementary/middle levels.

  • Flippin’ Tired

    Every parent and staff member in my school got an e-mail notification about the meeting on Monday. Anyone can attend; it is open to the public. If your principal didn’t forward the information, then maybe your principal doesn’t read their e-mails.

    Seriously, you folks have got to get over your Oliver Stone complexes and stop seeing conspiracies around every corner. Y’all are tiresome old biddies.

  • g

    Yeah, but YV is “special”.

  • Linda L

    To Anon 126,
    McMorris does not censor the parents at Northgate. You do not have to agree with him to receive an invitation.

  • Old Biddy

    Flippin’

    I am a parent who did not receive notification. Everyone would have received notice if the superintendent had used our district technology to send a district email. Problem solved!

  • Anon

    [This comment was edited to delete an offensive remark]

    Linda L,

    I have no idea what you mean with your #130 post. McMorris has specifically refused to invite me. I have emailed and called and he refuses to let me be one of the parent representatives from Northgate.

    I say too damn bad. I will be at the meeting. I will be representing Northgate…

  • Linda L

    What I mean by this is that he has invited one person who he knows supports the charter and one that I believe does not (I don’t want to speak for someone else). Neither of those he invited will hesitate to speak up and both have spoken at Board meetings regarding this issue. If he is asked to invite two people, that is about as fair as it gets. I wonder how many other Principals will do the same?

  • Doctor J

    What will be interesting is to see if Debi asked for certain information, or if she was just provided certain information and asked to confirm its source. Was there information she asked for and did not receive ? Is there additional information she would need to see to conclude the total impact to the District in light of both the income and expense sides ?

  • Alicia M

    @Flippin Tired – You indicate you received an email saying that the FCMAT meeting on Monday is a public meeting and anyone can attend. I’m just curious because the MDUSD website and calendar of events do not indicate a meeting taking place on Monday. Do you know if everyone in the room will have an opportunity to speak and ask questions?

  • Doctor J

    Alicia, the invite is posted at #98 along with a phone number to call.

  • g

    Alicia: Only after the cat was out of the bag did it become a “public” meeting. It was originally intended as a “by invite only” war-room. One or two principals may have gotten over enthusiastic and thought they could add extra weight to their particular cause–or it’s very possible they may have been the one or two who were actually encouraged to bring extra support for the cause. We all know the routine by now. Fluff Power Point, Fluff speeches by “assigned” speakers. Maybe a couple of well chosen “email questions”, and a few semi-polite “shut up and sit down” responses to any hard questions from the floor, and oops “we’re out of time–have a nice vacation”.

  • g

    All numbers provided for the Debi Deal report are based on “school” current enrollment, but at “district” ADA of 95.3% of today’s current enrollment, and presume same numbers going forward–not on probable decline or possible increased enrollment, or that the school attendance may be better or worse than district “average”.

    Missing breakdown Examples: 1) Do they actually evenly distribute/charge the SE/ADA encroachment allocation district wide? While the “average encroachment” per ADA district wide might be a valid number for the “whole” district, once the school uses an “independent” or “in-house” SE/ADA number, the allocation/cost amount for a new SELPA account might be very-very different. Did Debi Deal crunch any “actual numbers”?

    2) Then, there probably should be a break-out for the “independent” school’s different allotment percentages for the (approx) 4.4% EL, 14.5% Socioeconomically disadvantaged and 7.8% disabled.

    3) And those 42 “Day Class” students, and the “40 ADA” not included—Debi–let’s include them, and then look at the numbers again.

    4) That “Current year revenue less prior year central service contribution” figure== it seems to me that equals an Enormous amount going to central services that might be spent much more wisely by the “independent” school.

    5) Cost savings for “restricted routine maintenance” — it seems to me “restricted” means exactly that. The District would have to still do that maintenance or pass thru the “restricted” funds to the school. ?? not sure??

    6) Athletics cost savings. Really? Does the District really want to “cut off” the athletics revenue stream? You have to give up the revenue if you want to give up the cost. I’m no expert, but it looks like this whole thing might need a whole fresh outlook.

    7) Rent as a percentage of total district wealth? Would they use acreage? Building square footage? County tax assessments? Or– what would be the difference in income to the district if they chose to charge no “rent” but instead chose to charge the “administrative” fee of up to 3% of the Charter’s income?

    Debi, I think your report is not worth the amount it took from our taxes to fly you up here.

  • Theresa Harrington

    Alicia: It appears that FT is basing the assumption that it’s a public meeting on the message that was sent out to his or her school. Many other school communities, however, did not receive this message. Also, as you point out, there is no agenda posted on the district’s website. Instead, the only thing listed for Nov. 21 is “School Recess.”
    Northgate Principal John McMorris sent a very nice message out to his parent community wishing them a Happy Thanksgiving and listing several things (including people and programs) that he was thankful for, but he did not mention the Monday meeting.
    It is unclear what the format of the meeting will be and whether public comment or questions from those not specifically invited as “parent leaders” will be allowed.
    However, since Superintendent Steven Lawrence characterized the meeting as “public” in his email to principals and to several elected officials, it appears that anyone who wants to attend can — even without an invitation.
    Only two board members will be able to attend, however, since the meeting has not been publicly noticed.

  • g

    Theresa, for simply personal and educational purposes, I believe any number of board members could legally and unofficially attend as individuals, as long as they did not speak to or of the issues among themselves about the information presented. This might fall under the area of doing “due diligence”.

  • Theresa Harrington

    Here is a blog post that shows how I found out about the Monday and meeting and tried to determine whether or not it was open to the public: http://www.ibabuzz.com/onassignment/2011/11/20/mdusd-to-discuss-budget-and-charters-possible-financial-impact-on-monday/
    The post also explores the possible charter budget impacts in the larger context of the district’s overall budget, including reserves, as well as its attempts to negotiate furlough days with the teachers’ union.

  • Going straight

    I wish that the driver of the MDUSD small school bus on Mitchell Canyon Road in Clayton would use her left turn indicator when she turns left (down Pine Hollow towards Concord)at the four way stop. Dangerous for both of us.

  • Theresa Harrington

    Aren’t drivers trained to use their turn signals?

  • Just J

    Theresa, I doubt it. They never use their signals.
    Also I was at MDE this morning at 8:15 School had already started and the special Ed bus was just pulling in. I guess Special Ed kids can be late and it is ok.

  • Theresa Harrington

    At CAC meetings, parents stress that every minute of instruction is especially important for their children.