Part of the Bay Area News Group

MDUSD to discuss budget and charter’s possible financial impact on Monday

By Theresa Harrington
Sunday, November 20th, 2011 at 6:32 pm in Clayton, Concord, Contra Costa County, Education, Mt. Diablo school district.

As the Mt. Diablo school district prepares its budget report for December, it expects to take into consideration two possible events that could require cuts — a Clayton Valley High School charter conversion in 2012-13 and state “trigger” cuts due to lower-than-anticipated revenues.

The district has already set aside $330/ADA or $10.7 million in a “State Fiscal Uncertainty” reserve fund for midyear cuts. At the board’s Sept. 27 meeting, CFO Bryan Richards estimated the worst-case $4 billion state budget trigger scenario would be $296/ADA or $9.6 million.

“We are prepared,” he said.

This means that even with the $4 billion trigger, the district would have an extra $1.1 million left over. However, the LAO has projected a much lower trigger of $180 per ADA, which would amount to nearly $5.9 million. With this cut, the district would still have $4.8 million left over in its State Fiscal Uncertainties reserve.

The State Fiscal Uncertainty reserve is part of a $45.5 million ending fund balance that the district had at the end of the 2010-11 year. Richards reported that about $14.7 million of that was set aside for various uses including nearly $6 million in a required reserve for “Economic Uncertainties,” leaving an “undesignated” ending balance of $30.8 million. Richards said this was about $7.6 million more than anticipated.

Yet, district officials say they would need to cut about $1.8 million from other schools across the district if the charter conversion is approved by the county or state boards of education. The district is also pushing the MDEA teachers’ union to agree to seven furlough days this year and next year, including five fewer days of school in both years.

The district has built a savings of about $6 million into its budget for furlough days from all employees, including nearly $4.6 million for teacher furlough days that haven’t yet been negotiated.

Mike Langley, president of the teachers’ union, questions whether the furlough days are necessary at all, given the large ending fund balance. The charter committee, likewise, questions whether the district’s calculations related to costs and expenses for the charter are accurate.

Because of the intense debate surrounding the charter’s financial impact, Walnut Creek City Councilman Kish Rajan — along with Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla and state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier — asked the board on Oct. 25 to seek an independent review of the financial calculations from the Fiscal Crisis and Management Assistance Team (FCMAT). Rajan also suggested that the district convene and independent committee to review the financial data.

That same day (Oct. 25), the district requested a financial review from FCMAT. The independent agency visited the district Nov. 1 and used information available at that time to prepare its report.

However, a lot changed after the FCMAT visit. The next day (Nov. 2), Bill Clark, associate superintendent for business services at the Contra Costa County Office of Education, issued guidance to districts about how to prepare for midyear cuts.

The district asked the charter committee to submit new financial estimates based on this guidance, which the charter submitted on Nov. 4. The board denied the charter petition Nov. 8, based on the charter budget submitted Nov. 4. FCMAT did not review that budget.

Instead, the FCMAT review, based on data obtained Nov. 1, stated that: “Calculations prepared by the district to analyze costs associated with Clayton Valley High School are accurate, reasonable and based on either current year projections or prior year actuals when applicable.”

However, the report went onto state that special education costs had not been adjusted to show the charter’s intention to use the El Dorado County Charter Special Education Local Plan Area (SELPA) or to show revenues the district could receive from the charter for facilities and oversight.

The report concluded: “FCMAT reviewed the district’s cost impact based on a defined set of assumptions. As these assumptions change, so will the costs either positively or negatively, as these findings are based on a particular point in time. The district and the charter organizers have not completed negotiations regarding some major areas such as facility arrangements and serving special education students. In addition, the charter organizers have resubmitted adjusted financial statements since FCMAT’s fieldwork. The financial impact associated with special education and facilities can be substantial. The district is encouraged to clarify these issues with the charter organizers.

The team provided Mount Diablo Unified School District management with suggestions on potential cost impacts associated with the possible conversion. FCMAT verified the source of the data utilized by the district in its calculations but did not perform an in-depth fiscal review or financial audit of Mount Diablo Unified School District, and accordingly, FCMAT does not express any opinion in this regard.”

To try to get a better understanding of how the district’s ending fund balance could possibly soften the need for cuts, I emailed some questions to Lawrence on Wednesday. I also asked him whether he was following up on the idea of convening an independent committee to look at the financials, as well as on Trustee Lynne Dennler’s idea of exploring issues that led to the charter movement.

On Thursday, Nov. 17, I received the following email response from Lawrence:

CHARTER FOLLOW-UP:

Q. “I believe you said you would create some sort of independent committee to look at the financial impact of the charter on the district. Have you done that? What is the status of the analysis?

A: I requested that principals attend a meeting next Monday evening along with two parent leaders from their site. The purpose is to review the District’s current budget situation based on the November 2nd letter from the Contra Cost Office of Education providing financial guidance on the 1st interim report, and the possible approval of the charter application at the county or State level. The meeting is from 5-7 p.m. at the Loma Vista center. Debi Deal from FCMAT is also able to attend the meeting. Please feel free to attend.

Q: Lynne Dennler said she thought the district should have a dialogue with the charter committee about its grievances, to try to remedy them and prevent future charter efforts. The day after the meeting, Gary Eberhart told me that he thought this dialogue should begin immediately. Has any dialogue begun between the charter committee and the district regarding grievances that led to the charter?

A: We did have a meeting last spring to learn of the concerns that the charter petitioners have. The District then began working to address those concerns by, among other things, interviewing Clayton Valley staff members to determine what they felt was going well and what needed to be changed. Based on those interviews, we made leadership changes at the school. Though we appreciated the efforts of individual administrators at Clayton Valley, there was consensus that a new leadership team would help move the school forward. Since her arrival, Ms. Brothers has meet with both parents and staff members to identify concerns and address them. We continue to support Ms. Brothers, like our other principals, to meet the needs at their site. If the principal at any site thinks it would be useful to have me attend a site leadership meeting to listen to concerns, I would be happy to do that.

Q. Gary (Eberhart) also said he thought the district would need to identify $1.8 million in cuts in the 2012-13 budget for the first interim report, in case the charter is approved by the county or the State Board of Education. Is this what you are planning?

A: Bryan is at the CASBO (California Association of School Business Officials) conference so I do not have the most updated numbers. The financial impact and how it was arrived at will be presented at the meeting on Monday.

Q. What is your response to some critics, who say the FCMAT disclaimer at the end of its report shows that the agency did not actually verify the numbers provided by the district. Therefore, some people are still skeptical about the district’s estimates of the financial impact of the charter.

A: This is why we are having the meeting on Monday evening because Ms. Deal and Mr. Richards will be there. Between the two of them, we can answer questions about the FCMAT review as well as how the District developed its numbers.”

RESPONSE FROM ME TO SUPERINTENDENT LAWRENCE:

“Thanks very much for this. Is the public invited to the Monday meeting?”

RESPONSE FROM SUPERINTENDENT LAWRENCE:

“The meeting is set up for principals and two parent reps from each school. Given that is 150 people that will fill the room at Loma Vista.”

It was unclear to me whether this meant the public could attend. I followed up with an email to Lawrence on Friday, asking whether a “robocall” had gone out about the meeting and stating that there seemed to be some confusion in the community about whether or not it was a public meeting.

I also contacted Clayton Mayor David Shuey on Friday, who told me that the charter committee had not been invited. After my call, Shuey sent the following email to Lawrence:

“Subject: FCMAT meeting Monday?

Dr. Lawrence,

Theresa Harrington called and asked me about a meeting that is apparently being held on Monday that will include a presentation and update from FCMAT on the charter school issue. I have seen no notice of such a meeting (looked on your website just now) and only learned from Ms. Harrington that it is apparently Principals of each school and two parent representatives. I asked our group if anyone had gotten notice of this and am currently unaware of such notice. I also have not seen anything come back from any of my kids schools regarding parent participation. So as you can see I am a little confused on this meeting.

Please kindly provide me the time, location and agenda for this meeting so that those of us interested can attend.

Sincerely,
Shoe
David “Shoe” Shuey
Mayor, City of Clayton”

Lawrence copied me on his response to Shuey below:

“Mr. Shuey,

The meeting is at the Loma Vista Center from 5:00 – 7:00 p.m. We asked each principal to invite two parents because that would be a group of about 150 people. However, as long as there is room in the room we won’t be turning people away.

Sincerely,
Steven Lawrence”

I also called Rajan to find out if a committee comprised of principals and two parent leaders they chose to invite was the type of “independent” committee he envisioned when he suggested the idea of a charter budget review on Oct. 25.

Rajan said he was aware of the meeting, but wasn’t sure at that moment how the committee was selected. He later followed up with the forwarded email below, which was sent to him, along with representatives for Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, Sen. Mark DeSaulnier and Rep. George Miller:

“From: STEVEN LAWRENCE
Sent: Monday, November 14, 2011 6:07 PM
To: Kish Rajan; Herbert, Mark; Satinder S. Malhi
Cc: Johnson, Barb
Subject: FW: Budget Meeting e-mail to principals

Good evening,

I wanted to let all of you know that I am following up on the suggestion from Senator DeSaulnier, Assemblywoman Bonilla and Councilman Rajan for a public meeting to review the district budget and loss of funding due to the a conversion charter high school. It would be great if they or their representative could attend the meeting.

Sincerely,
Steven Lawrence
————————————————–
(FORWARDED EMAIL)

From: STEVEN LAWRENCE
Sent: Monday, November 14, 2011 5:59 PM
To: All MDUSD principals
Subject: Budget Meeting e-mail to principals

Good afternoon,

In order to publicly answer questions about the District’s budget and our calculations around the loss of funding that will result if the County or State approves the Clayton Valley conversion to a charter school, we will hold a public meeting at the Loma Vista Center next Monday, November 21, 2011 from 5 – 7 p.m. I know this is the first Monday of vacation, and I completely understand people may have travel plans or other commitments that will not allow them to attend the meeting. We are holding the meeting on November 21 because Debi Deal, who conducted the FCMAT review, is in the area and able to attend at that time. Please invite two of your parent leaders to attend the meeting. If there are specific questions that you or your parents would like to have answered at the meeting, please forward your input to Rose or me so we include the information in the discussion. If people are unable to attend this meeting we will have follow-up evening meetings to address budget concerns. Again, I am sorry that this meeting is during vacation, but Ms. Deal lives in Southern California and happened to be working with another district in our area on November 21st.
Sincerely,
Steven Lawrence”

In his email to me, Rajan said (in part): “This was sent to every principal in the district. This is clearly not a ‘hand picked’ group. And there is no effort to exclude or obscure. It appears very consistent with our request for an open transparent meeting on this matter.”

He also asked me if the charter folks were participating and said he hoped they would “participate honestly and not be dismissive of the critical financial facts.”

In addition, Rajan asked how the charter committee felt about the state “triggered” budget cuts and whether they would be insulated from them.

I responded, letting Rajan know that the charter folks were not invited, but that Lawrence told them late Friday they would not be turned away, after Shuey asked to attend. I also said that Lawrence’s decision to allow principals to select two parent leaders could give some the appearance that the committee was “hand-picked”. In addition, I asked whether he thought the meeting should have been publicly noticed, since some people were questioning how open and transparent it really was.

Here is Rajan’s (excerpted) email response:

“I trust the principals to invite responsible parents who have no agenda other than to help the kids at their schools.

I think the charter folks have every opportunity to live up to their statements that they want to know the facts of the financial impact the charter would have on the rest of the district. And given the larger triggered cuts that are looming, I would hope the charter proponents are sensitive to the impact all parents are bracing for.”

To get a better idea of how midyear cuts may affect the district, I emailed some questions to Lawrence on Thursday and received the following response:

MIDYEAR CUTS:

Q: “I know that the district set aside $330/ADA in anticipation of the cuts, or $10.7 million. According to Bryan (Richards)’s most recent budget presentation, the district estimated midyear cuts would cost about $296/ADA or about $9.6 million, which leaves a cushion of about $1.1 million. This doesn’t include the extra $7.6 million in the district’s ending fund balance that wasn’t anticipated. Do you agree with this?

A: Bryan is at the CSBO so I can’t run your assumptions by him to validate your numbers. If you review the November 2 letter form CCCOE CBO Bill Clark that is attached to our website the County is recommending that not only do we assume the triggers will be pulled, but we assume they will be on-going, not one time, and we remove any COLA (Cost of Living Adjustment) from our budget for the next two years. Here is the link to the letter http://www.mdusd.org/NewsRoom/Documents/012%202011-12%20First%20Interim%20Guidance.pdf

Q: A recent MDEA (Mt. Diablo Education Association) bargaining update says the district is proposing one furlough day for every $42 in per-student funding from the state, which would equal seven furlough days, if the trigger costs the district $296/ADA, as projected. I understand that MDEA wants to propose a counter-offer. Do you agree with this?

A: I can’t speak for MDEA; please contact them.

Q: Another MDEA bargaining update states that the district is asking teachers to agree to ‘Make no plan dates,’ in anticipation of furlough days. It states that teachers don’t want to agree to this unless the furloughs have actually been negotiated.

A: We have received concerns from teachers, high school parents, and principals that they need to know what definitive dates graduation will be held on. They have to reserve dates at the Concord Pavilion and the Concord Center. Parent groups that sponsor grad night need to enter into contracts with vendors. Elementary and middle school teachers don’t want to have to change their plans and lose fieldtrip deposits as they almost did last year when furlough days were agreed to late in the school year. Therefore, the District recommended dates that would not impact holding graduation during the last week of school on the current district calendar. We also want to make sure that furlough days don’t impact AP Testing and STAR testing.”

I also asked Lawrence for quotes the Times might be able to use in a story about midyear cuts.

Q: “Might you be able to tell me in general how you expect the district to cope (will you rely on the reserve you set aside for midyear cuts)?”

A: We set aside a reserve to address one-time, midyear reductions, not ongoing cuts the County is asking us to assume.”

I also asked for a general quote regarding the state budget’s affect on the district.

A: “Children are being minimized and marginalized by the continual reductions to education funding. We are robbing a generation of children of the rich educational experiences that others received in the past. The Legislature and Governor have to stand up and not let the hemorrhaging continue.”

Langley said the district has consistently underestimated its ending fund balance during the past few years, which has prompted the board to make deep cuts to balance its budget. In June, the board cut the hours and benefits of special education assistants — even after Lawrence and Richards said the additional reduction would not be necessary to certify a “positive” budget.

These cuts are hurting students and teachers, Langley said, because the district has been unable to fill many of these positions. He speculated that the district’s inability to fill the positions could be because the district reduced the hours to three per day and eliminated benefits. This was an outcome that many predicted before the board made the cuts.

Trustee Sherry Whitmarsh pushed for the special education cuts, saying they would be necessary if teachers didn’t agree to furlough days. Now, the district has made so many cuts and has such a large ending fund balance that furloughs may not be necessary this year, Langley said in an email.

“The question parents should be asking is: Why is MDUSD proposing to cut out a week of student instruction when they have a $40 million excess reserve?’” he wrote.

In response, I asked Langley if he thought the public should also question whether the district would need to make cuts if the CVHS charter is approved.

“Anytime the district says it has to make cuts, it should be in context of the amount of reserves,” Langley replied. “Although it is important to project the estimates for future demands on reserves, one must remember that the district reserves have been growing during times when their estimates have seriously underestimated the ending balances. This does not bring into question that spending cuts were needed in the past. It does bring into question the severity of the cuts and the areas that were cut. As long as the philosophy of the governing board and top management is focused on pouring resources, time and money, into narrow data-driven goals and starving the human resources that are critical to the education of our children, the public must question every cut and every expenditure. That question must address the basic need: access to a well rounded education.”

Shuey said the charter committee had submitted new financials to the district Nov. 4, which responded to the County Office of Education guidance related to midyear cuts.

“We are as interested as anyone else to find out the complete factual basis and truth of the (charter’s financial)impact on the district,” he said.

In addition, Shuey said he would like to know why each high school gets a different amount of money per student and why some get less than other schools throughout the district. He said he wants the district to explain the methodology it uses to calculate school funding and he wants to know how MDUSD’s methodology compares to other districts.

“There’s a lot of preliminary factual information that I need to get an understanding,” he said. “I’m hoping the meeting on Monday will start that process.”

Are you satisfied with the composition of the committee and the district’s notification to the community about the meeting?

MDUSDReservesChart

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

  • Doctor J

    Langley says in effect the teachers don’t believe the District’s financials based on a number of years: “one must remember that the district reserves have been growing during times when their estimates have seriously underestimated the ending balances.”
    As the truth is painfully uncovered like the layers of an onion, the public wants the WHOLE TRUTH AND NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH: “Shuey said he would like to know why each high school gets a different amount of money per student and why some get less than other schools throughout the district. He said he wants the district to explain the methodology it uses to calculate school funding and he wants to know how MDUSD’s methodology compares to other districts.”
    Lawrence on Nov. 14 sent an email to all his principals that said: “we will hold a public meeting at the Loma Vista Center next Monday, November 21, 2011 from 5 – 7 p.m.” He called it a PUBLIC MEETING. Then when Theresa and Mayor Shoe asked about it being a public meeting, Lawrence tap danced around the question saying only that if there was room in the small venue, then others could attend what he previously described as a “public meeting”. It is this kind of disengenous and evasive responses that create the distrust between the public and the MDUSD administration. There was plenty of time between Monday Nov 14 and Mon Nov 21 to arrange for a larger venue. But Supt. Lawrence doesn’t want the full public’s particpation or knowledge.
    And he is clueless about why nearly 80% of the public doesn’t trust the district’s finances.
    I guess we will just have to add FCMATgate to the district leadership’s resume.
    I guarantee you one thing: Neither Lawrence nor Eberhart will allow open questioning and discussion of the district’s finances and the irregularities.
    BTW, speaking of irregularities, where is the overdue Measure C audit ?

  • Just J

    Can they really stop public input? This is not a Board meeting and should not follow board rules. Unless of coarse it turns out that 3 board members show up then it is a violation.

    How can the District and WC whats his name (Council member) call this a public meeting when the public is clearly not involved? How can WC whats his name say that the process of picking who goes is fair when no one except the principals knew about it.

  • g

    Legally, the most this could be considered is an “open to the public budget information seminar”, sponsored by staff.

    Nothing is being presented regarding any pending budget items before the board, and there is no longer ANY Charter consideration before the board now or in the foreseeable future, (unless the County sends it “back down” and orders the Board to reconsider it–which they could do ;) !

    There is no indication that it is an any way board sponsored or approved, and therefore board members may attend (as public figures) to learn and observe with the rest of us, without violating Brown or Bagley-Keene Acts.

  • Alicia M

    @Dr. J #1: I left a message last Monday with Bryan Richards asking for the completion dates for the 2010 Measure C performance and financial audits. I haven’t heard back, but I’m guessing these audits will not be available until the district’s 2010-2011 audit is also complete. In looking at the district’s 2009-2010 audit report, it was signed off by Christy White on 11/24/2010. Also, new legislation passed (Senate Bill 423), which requires that the 2010 Measure C performance audit be presented to the Citizen’s Bond Oversight Committee no later than March 31st of each year. I’m hoping we will all see the 2010 Measure C audits by the end of this month.

  • g

    Christy White was also contracted a few months ago to do a wrap-up audit for the 2002 Measure C. Maybe she’ll present them all at the same time. It would be nice to find out where that un-accounted money went.

  • Alicia M

    In my read of the FCMAT “Confirmation Letter”, I noticed that the “Conclusion” does not meet the “Scope”. Specifically, the scope states that the district is asking “FCMAT to provide the financial analysis of the district’s funding model for a charter conversion school and make recommendations or corrections.” However, I do not see a financial analysis summary anywhere in the report. I would expect to see something like, “based on these assumptions, we believe that the district’s funding model will be impacted by $$$ and consequently the district will realize a negative/positive impact on its overall financial position of $$$.”

    Also, FCMAT was addressing only the district’s “funding model”. Does anyone know the definition of “funding model”…this sounds like revenue sources only. Or is the funding model the same as the overall district’s financial position?

  • g

    If not to cause/influence/encourage trouble for the charter at the county level, one can’t help but wonder exactly WHAT the Supt thinks he might accomplish by a “show and tell” budget talk with the Principals. Is he going to tell them to tighten their belts a little bit? Is he going to put them on a tighter “OPEN ORDER” budget at the Office Depot, or tell them that the general fund really can’t afford that new office furniture this year? Maybe he is going to limit conference travel or “business mileage”. Maybe they will have to try harder to “just make do” and rely on their own educations without any extra $thousand-dollar-a-day outside contracted “advisors” for a couple more years.

  • Doctor J

    @Alicia #4 SB 423, passed in August 2011 and approved by the Governor on Sept 6, 2011, will require the Measure C audits for year 2011 to be completed by March 31 2012, just in time for the 2012 elections — this might actually cause a couple of candidates for school board to start having sphincter contractions. No wonder there has been a sudden change in the spending habits of Measure C. Reminds me of the song, “Its too late baby now, its too late.”

  • Number Eight

    G #3, I agree. This is a public meeting just like the UC Davis students sitting on the sidewalk. No one invited them but there they are. Anyone can attend at Loma Vista until MDUSD brings out the billy clubs or pepper spray. Including board members. What is hilarious is Rajan’s assumption that the charter committee was invited or even informed of the meeting. The lack of a public meeting notice is the definition of absurdity. MDUSD is a different world, like Wonderland, or Blunderland.

    Alicia M or Theresa, Do you know when the district general fund will start receiving the solar panel income, and is this amount included in the current MDUSD budget for 2011-12 and subsequent years?

  • Doctor J

    Not being considered is that if furlough days are instituted, they could cause loss of the SIG funding on Cohort 1 of about $10 million and Cohort 2 of about $6 million since SIG funding requires significant increase in “instructional time” along with a lot of other improvements like collaboration between teachers which is really teacher instructional days. Right now neither of those grants is yet approved, and still being reviewed. The district failed to disclose to the state and feds that the approved budget includes 7 furlough days for each of the next two years. Short sighted at best. But what else is new at the Dent ?

  • Anon

    Number Eight –
    Great question. Quibbling over unjustified numbers when we have $200,000,000 coming in from solar. Or was that $100,000,0000, no wait $90,000,000. Breakeven?
    Depends 40years? 30 years? 20 years?
    With tax rebates? Without tax rebates? Twenty years of prepaid maintenance and guarantees, at a cost of $5,000,000, to a company who has been bailed out by the federal government once already.

    Maybe as a community we should collectively “deny” the MDUSD solar project as unsound! There is more evidence to substantiate this than there is to deny CVCHS on the same grounds.

    Councilmember Rajan, as co-chair of the Measure C campaign, why not call for an independent (yeah right) report on the fiscal soundness of Measure C and the solar project. Oh thats right, that would require a behind the scenes meeting with the District asking for your help. Guess that won’t happen in this case.

  • Just J

    Just got confirmation from Fiscal Services that the meeting tonight is open to the public.

  • Theresa Harrington

    #8: The solar income has been built into the budgets, but I’m not positive when that was supposed to kick in. The last time I asked Pete Pedersen about this, he said the district was still in the process of trying to “connect to the grid.”

  • Doctor J

    @G #7 If 35% of the school’s ADA is going towards supporting “central services” at Dent, aren’t the principals and the public going to push back and tell the Supt to reduce the “central services” instead of cutting school based programs ?

  • Doctor J

    @G #5 The M-C 2002 audits will be a real problem because no matter what Christy White reports in the audit, it will conflict with multiple inconsistent statements by Pete Peterson and others with regard to the Finances of Measure C – 2002.

  • Anon

    I will be at the meeting tonight representing Northgate even though McMorris has refused to let me be one of the Northgate parents present.

    I will be making public comment regardless of whether or not Lawrence intends to allow it. I mean what can he do? Pepper spray me?

  • g

    You’ve lost me on solar ‘income’. Have we contracted to sell back to PG&E what isn’t needed at each school? How else would solar produce ‘income’?

    I understand saving money on utility ‘costs’, but that is not budgetable ‘income’.

  • Theresa Harrington

    g: I believe the district is counting the solar CSI credits as “income” and is reducing its projected energy costs to account for projected savings (not counting that as income). It’s unclear whether the district will actually make much money “selling back” energy, since it expects to produce enough energy to nearly fully cover the energy use at each site, but does not anticipate generating much more energy — except possibly during summer months. My understanding was that the amount of money that could be made selling back energy was negligible. This was why some BOC members were questioning whether it makes sense to spend more than $1 million to install solar on closed schools, since the district can’t make much money selling back unused energy produced.

    Dr. J: In looking at my past blog posts, I see that I haven’t done a sideby-side comparison showing how much from each site is going toward central services. I’ll try to do that (at least for the high schools) before tonight’s meeting.

  • Doctor J

    @TH #18 Is each school’s contribution from ADA a “flat rate” per school/per student, or a percentage, or some other methodology ?

  • Theresa Harrington

    It looks like direct unrestricted and restricted costs are related to the actual cost of running the school.
    Here is how Bryan Richards explained the methodology used in calculating indirect central services costs: “All expenditures generated by sites that do not produce ADA are allocated to all those that do in a prorated portion based on the ADA generated. This is part of the calculation of the per pupil district wide expenditures on the school accountability report card.”
    A side-by-side comparison may shed some light on this.

  • School Teacher

    Any way of breaking down that statement or giving an example so that the general public could follow that?

  • Theresa Harrington

    I believe that Richards is saying that costs for sites that don’t “produce ADA” (ie. don’t directly educate students, such as the Dent Center) are divided among sites that do “produce ADA” (ie. schools), on a prorated basis, based on their ADA. This seems to indicate that central services costs are spread out to all the schools and divided by ADA.
    In the case of restricted costs, this means that some schools (such as CVHS) are paying more in indirect costs than they are in direct costs.
    Here’s the CVHS breakdown for 2010-11 from a previous blog post:

    Direct unrestricted costs: $6,703,622.65 ($3,822.30/ADA)
    Unrestricted central services: $1,449,129.74 ($826.27/ADA)
    TOTAL UNRESTRICTED COSTS: $8,152,752.39 ($4,648.57/ADA)

    Direct restricted costs: $2,199,586.91 ($1,254.17/ADA)
    Restricted central services: $3,397,225.95 ($1,937.04/ADA)
    TOTAL RESTRICTED COSTS: $5,596,812.86 ($3,191.21/ADA)

    TOTAL COMBINED COSTS: $13,749,565.25 ($7,839.78/ADA)

    Total Direct Costs: $8,903,209.56 ($5,076.46/ADA)
    Total Central Services: $4,846,355.69 ($2,763.32)

    Total going toward direct costs: 65 percent
    Total going toward central services: 35 percent

    NOTE: We have embedded the MDUSD Reserves Chart provided to me by Mike Langley, president of MDEA, at the end of the above blog post.

    Also, the district has removed the “Nov. 21 Holiday Recess” from its website. Now, Nov. 21 is not listed at all. The next “upcoming event” is Thanksgiving: http://www.mdusd.org/Pages/default.aspx.

  • g

    That’s just because it is no longer an ‘upcoming event’. Nov. 21 has already arrived.

  • Theresa Harrington

    In comparing CVHS and CPHS, it looks like both paid $826.27/ADA in unrestricted costs for centralized services last year.

  • Number Eight

    G #17, MDUSD paid for a performance guarantee so it will receive solar income, regardless of energy output, for the 20 year term of the guarantee?

  • Just J

    So, now that the meeting is over with about 50 or less in the room. I am more concerned about the District even in CV does not convert. We are in a world of hurt here. None of this makes sense.

  • Doctor J

    CDE just confirmed this afternoon that it approved the Corrective Action Plans of the SIG grants, cohort 1, year two, which essentially guarantees that there will be no school furlough days because MDUSD committed to “increased instructional time” of a specific amount and if furlough days are taken on school days, it won’t meet the conditions of the CAP’s, and will stop receiving the SIG money. That’s a huge win for the MDEA, and they let MDUSD shoot themselves in the foot all by themselves. Lawrence must sign these applications without even reading them.

  • Theresa Harrington

    CFO Bryan Richards and Superintendent Steven Lawrence now estimate the charter would cost the district $1.8-$4.2 million a year starting next year. This is because the district spends less to operate the school than it receives in revenues, so the students of CVHS are in essence partially subsidizing other schools and the district now.
    Combined with ongoing midyear cuts, the district estimates it will have to cut about $20 million to balance its three-year budget, if there is no cost of living increase.
    Lawrence said he would like a committee to start meeting to discuss possible budget cuts, but he recommended waiting to actually start making the cuts until after the governor announces his budget in January.

  • Just J

    What I don’t understand is why CV students have to subsidize other schools when we need the money to get our school up to date? Knowing this does everyone who said CV will take away from other schools still feel this way? Our students are suffering to help other schools. Why is it so bad that CV community wants what our students deserve?

    Last night Mr. Lawrence said it was the state doing this to our budget. I thought about it….Yes the state does some of it and the district mis-manages funds and combined we are at a loss. The fact that we need to cut 20 M more from the budget is terrible. When will Lawrence give up some of his pay for lets see the next 3 years to help. Other superintendants have done this. So we can’t fix the state in the next 2 years so we still need to balance the budget. We still need to cut 20 M regardless of whose fault it is. This makes the Charter look like nothing.

    The other interesting thing I saw last night was the look of fear when questions were asked of Mr. Richards. It was kind of like how do I answer this and keep the spin where we need it. I was also surprised at the lack of questions coming from the rest of the people there.

  • Theresa Harrington

    It was interesting that Richards let Lawrence step in and answer some of the questions regarding how the charter costs were determined.
    Richards also said part of the unrestricted central services costs could be going toward positions that aren’t coded to schools. After the meeting, I asked him about these costs and he said costs for substitutes across the district are not currently coded to individual schools.
    This means there are likely additional direct CVHS costs that are not currently in the $7 million budget, but are instead included in “central services.” If these costs were calculated, it could lower the financial impact of the charter.

  • Just J

    absolutley. This is what we have been saying. It is the wonkey accounting they do that is causing this issue. They should break close to even when you calculate actual costs and savings along with income from use and oversight. I am unclear who gets the oversigt money since they denied. There are many issues going on here. This meeting needed to be sperate from the budget It was very clear to me that this was intended to undermine the Charter even more and pit school against school. I hope people realize what is really going on.
    We now need to have a budget PUBLIC meeting to discuss the 20 M loss.

  • Theresa Harrington

    It’s likely that Richards will present the PowerPoint he showed last night at an upcoming board meeting as part of a budget report, so Lawrence can begin convening a task force to look at cuts.

  • Doctor J

    @TH#30, There is well over $100,000, maybe $200k or more that is being spent for substitutes for the “data analysis” days as a result of “teachers” becoming “testers” and also so called “Professional Development” when teachers go to seminars, classes, and even local classes on how to do board math etc. Substitute expenses need to be broken out from being sick and other reasons. The irony is that all of the different grants, including SIG and others, pay for much of that, but the district — excuse me, Lawrence — is not including that in the calcuation. Plus, remember that almost all of the SASS dept is supposedly being paid for by “categorical” funds, but that is not being added into the mix either. That is why he had to “rescue” Richards from telling the truth. The registrations for the February conference in Monterey at the Asilomar are now fixed. How many are going ? Who is paying the money for that ? Who is paying the substitutes for teachers and administrators that are going ? What happened to Gary’s policy earlier this year that all out of town and overnight travel was to be approved by the Board ? Was that just another ruse ? Lets have names and estimated expenses, since many of them refuse to stay at the Asilomar and share rooms. Sounds like this is going to be another Mildred’s Marriott boondogle. Hey Mildred, your 1099from Napa school district for your trip reimbursement , and the others you took on the three day trip to Sacramento for a 1 1/2 day meeting, is coming so you and everyone can pay taxes on it !

  • Theresa Harrington

    Perhaps the idea of cutting travel costs will resurface during the new budget cut task force meetings.
    Lawrence also brought up a parcel tax, sales tax with cities and possible statewide education tax as possible revenue-generating ideas.
    Regarding categoricals, this is part of why the restricted central services amount is larger than the direct restricted amount. All these costs get spread to all schools. Richards said some employees such as psychologists, who are not charged to a specific school, may also be included in central services.
    After Clayton Mayor David Shuey asked why MDUSD’s unrestricted central services costs were so much higher than other districts such as LAUSD, Lawrence pointed out that MDUSD has a lower ratio of administrators per 100 teachers than any other district in the county. This includes site administrators as well as Dent administrators.

  • Doctor J

    Theresa, how do I search your database for the 15 or so suggestions I made a year ago on how to cut budget expenses ?

  • Doctor J

    @TH #33 Most of the data analysis that is being spread across all district schools is for elementary since the middle and high schools are not into that kind of “testing” v. “teaching”. Lawrence can’t blame it all on higher salaries.

  • Theresa Harrington

    Dr. J: Here is the blog post I did last time Superintendent Lawrence convened such a task force: http://www.ibabuzz.com/onassignment/2011/05/04/mt-diablo-district-seeks-ideas-for-raising-money-cutting-costs/
    You listed 13 cost-cutting ideas in the first comment.

  • g

    That one slipped by me. Our expenses are ‘higher’ because we have ‘fewer’ employees?

    I have tried in the past to point out that some of the discrepancies in who pays for what are not always subtle, and some principal who is paying attention needs to scream loud and clear when this happens. My point has always been that the little things add up, and some schools benefit while others pay the tab. Every time someone at M&O runs down to Kelly Moore and grabs a $30.00 gallon of paint to spot-touch a scratched wall at one school, the cost is spread out to ‘every’ school. Or the extreme of over $48,000.00 from general funds to refinish the gym floor at YV, and the cost was spread to every school! If that isn’t bad enough, YV didn’t even have to show that $48 grand anywhere as ‘revenue’. That makes it a bit of a double dip. How about the Sept check paid out for the cost of $25,000 for Pool maintenance? Do all students/schools get equal use of the
    pools? They all pay, right down to the Kinderbabies.

    The point is–no one has ever watched them carefully and said that, with very few exceptions, each school should be self sustaining.

    I’ll bet NOT ONE board member has ever sat down and looked at the Vendor Warrant before they voted to approve spending that $22,583,215.25 of General Fund for just one month, and said “I’d like to see this purchase order, or receipt, or contract”. NOT ONE has asked why is this coded to such’n'such?

  • Theresa Harrington

    Richards told me that substitute costs are “substantial.”
    Since the elementary schools currently don’t include these costs, this means the district is spending a larger share of its money on elementary schools than the spreadsheets show.
    However, I believe middle schools are starting to have “data analysis” workshops now also. So, their substitute costs should rise this year as well.

  • g

    It seems to me that there are way-way too many workshops, trainings, consultants; people and companies drooling like wolves at the sight of MDUSD dripping its life blood out to buy the stuff we should already know–how and what to teach?

    Don’t you all have somewhere between 5 and 10 years of College Education of your own? We are in Hard Times. Just stay home and teach.

    Do college graduates with advanced degrees really need to hire someone to teach them how to do basic data analysis every year or two?

    Did our herd of PHDs really need to hire another PHD from San Lorenzo and pay over $2500.00 for about 3 hours to have him tell them how to teach and talk to students? Or do our PHDs also make a buck or two under quid pro quo? Damn!

    Tell the Education Beast to find another trough! We’ll be back when times are better!

  • Linda L

    I thought one of the best questions of the night came from Brian Lawrence, “So if the entire CV feeder pattern went charter the cost would be a wash.” He has a point based on how the District continues to evaluate the numbers.

    I also still contend that our high school students are being short changed. Teacher seniority was used to justify this short-changing of high schools. The average salary numbers to not take into account that more high school teachers work less than full FTEs. For example a French teacher may only work .6 FTE and thus make less than a full-time salary. It is much harder for elementary school teachers to work part-time.

    It was odd to see that the District, after 7 months, still did not have answers to what seems like very basic questions. Also it was clear last night that the letter commissioned from FCMAT was not an independent analysis of the charter cost.

  • Theresa Harrington

    I received an envelope recently from a reader who enclosed several news clippings related to a scandal involving some school districts using Bay Area Community Resources: http://www.baycitizen.org/education/story/fallout-sf-unified-scandal-reaches/.
    This shows that strong oversight of such contracts is necessary to ensure the public’s money is being spent as it should be.

  • Theresa Harrington

    Linda L: Yes, Debi Deal said it would cost about $12,000 and take about 6-8 weeks to prepare a true independent analysis of the charter cost.
    Superintendent Steven Lawrence invited the charter committee to partner with the district on such an analysis.
    I believe Deal also said that average salaries should not be used, but that actual costs at individual schools should be looked at.

  • g

    With 50-60+ local schools plus distant facilities/programs it makes NO sense to speak in terms of “average” anything. How do you average that one single student that costs $100,000.00 a year, with that one little kid in the corner chair where, in late November, the teacher still can’t quite pronounce their name?

    You say they can’t compare, so you can’t average? Well this district does just that!

  • Theresa Harrington

    The district also distributed a reduced copy of its 2010-11 School Accountability Report Card spreadsheet.
    Richards and Lawrence pointed out that some schools receive less ADA funding than their actual enrollment, because the funding level is based on the prior year.
    Although CVHS’s ADA was 1753.82, it received funding based on an ADA of 1720.73.

  • anon

    So charter organizers and charter supporters, what about the comment that Theresa made in 43? You have been complaining that the district’s analysis is flawed and now you are complaining that the FCMAT analysis is flawed. The superintendent is asking the charter people to partner with the school district to have a thorough analysis done so that once and for all the entire district will know the truth. If the district does it on their own, they will be criticized. Are the charter supporters going to demand a joint study so that the truth will be out there once and for all? Or would the charter organizers rather not have the real numbers out in the community? You can’t have it both ways. If you are going to complain, you need to step up and partner to have a joint analysis done.

  • Theresa Harrington

    Some of the numbers won’t be known until the district and charter organizers finish negotiating regarding facilities and oversight fees. Also, special education is a big unknown at this point, it seems.

  • Just J

    Anon #46. The Charter people are not complaining. We should not have to spend $12,000 to get the #’s. The fact that the district has no idea what the real numbers are and can NOT answer simple questions tells a whole lot. Do you really want to take another $12000 from the budget or shall we start worring about how in the heck are we going to cut 20 M more over the next few years and start solving the issues of underfunding our High Schools?

    The Fact is Financial burden or not the law says they can NOT take that into consideration. Get over it and lets all move on! Clayton’s tax dollars still go to fund the rest of the district and many have children in other schools (feeder pattern) so no one wants to hurt the rest of the schools.

  • Theresa Harrington

    The $29 million in cuts needed by June 2014 is a worst-case scenario, if the full $4 billion trigger is pulled, the state gives no cost of living increases, the teachers’ union does not agree to any furlough days and the charter costs $4.2 million a year.
    Richards was estimating a trigger cut of $296.45 per ADA or about $9.6 million. However, he later pointed out that the LAO projects a trigger cut of $231 per ADA or $7.5 million. This means he built $2.1 million more into his trigger cut estimate than the LAO.
    Similarly, Richards estimated the 2012-13 trigger cut would be $9.9 million and the 2013-14 trigger cut would be $10 million. These may also be inflated by at least $2 million annually.

  • Linda L

    Anon 46,

    The District isn’t being criticized because they are the ones who commissioned the study, they are being criticized because the study they commissioned was not a study typical of what FCMAT produces when asked to do a financial analysis.

    So often the District takes the position that they are a victim of undue criticism. They create this the lack of trust, not the community.

    The charter is an issue that the District claims will affect 30,000 of our children and harm their ability to be educated while the proponents claim otherwise. An issue potentially this harmful to the District and one where public opinion is divided deserves an independent financial analysis of the numbers through an independent party. It is the best way to convince a wary public one way or the other? Why do something less and then pass it off as something viable?