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Recap of MDUSD Clayton Valley HS charter cost meeting

By Theresa Harrington
Saturday, November 26th, 2011 at 2:14 pm in Clayton, Concord, Education, Mt. Diablo school district.

Since the Mt. Diablo school district never publicly noticed the meeting held Monday to discuss the possible impacts of a Clayton Valley High charter conversion, it’s unclear whether any minutes were taken or will be made public.

I videotaped portions of the meeting and am posting links to the clips below. Unfortunately, the meeting was held in a large multiuse room, so the sound quality on the video is not very good.

Also, the district has not posted the Powerpoint presentation on its website and it is not clearly visible in the video. So, I’ll post excerpts of it in my blog.

CFO Bryan Richards presented the Powerpoint entitled: “The budget, the multi-year projection, and the potential charter at Clayton Valley High”

The first portion of the Powerpoint (which I was unable to videotape) says:

“The state budget….
- Erased the 2.24 percent COLA (Cost of Living Adjustment) with increase in deficit factor
- Did not cut the additional $330 per ADA (Average Daily Attendance) that was believed to be at risk at May revise (and which the district budgeted in its “State Fiscal Uncertainty” reserve)
- Instead, created trigger cuts if state revenues come in below projections, cutting funding mid-year
– Revenue limit up to 4 percent
– Home-to-school and special education transportation approximately 50 percent
- If triggers activated, districts may negotiate up to seven additional furlough days that reduce the school calendar up to a total of 12 days” (from 180 to 168).

Next, Richards presented the district’s assumptions when the board adopted its budget, compared to the unaudited actuals. I have combined the information below, showing the estimates followed by the actuals.

Ending 10-11 fund balance: $33 million; Actual: $45.5 million
Undesignated balance: $23.2 million; Actual: $30.8 million

Projected 2011-12 deficit: ($2.2 million); Actual: same
State fiscal uncertainty ($330/ADA): ($10.7 million) (Reserve)
Unassigned balance 6/12: $10.3 million; Actual $17.9 million

Projected surplus 2012-13: $7.1 million; Actual: $7.1 million
Reduction of 2 percent reserve: ($0.5 million); (Actual same)
State fiscal uncertainty 2012-13: ($10.7 million); Actual same
Estimated unassigned 6/13: $7.2 million; Actual $14.8 million

Projected surplus 2013-14: $8.7 million; Actual $8.7 million
State fiscal uncertainty 2013-14: ($10.6 million); (Actual same)
Unassigned 6/14 balance: $5.3 million; Actual $12.9 million

Richards then explained why the actual ending balance was higher than anticipated with this slide:

“Artificial Ending Balance Inflation
- Full utilization of State Fiscal Stabilization Fund and Education Jobs Fund in 2010-11
- Tier 3 grants remain unrestricted
- Their unspent balances and site carryovers make up large part of ending balance.”

I started videotaping as he went into more detail about this: http://qik.com/video/46001371

Here are the slides he reviewed, with my notes in brackets:

“Fund balance is up $12.5 million. Why is undesignated only up $7.6 million?

- Tier 3 Program Carryovers: $3,178,903
- Site Carryovers: $1,786,820
- Inventory and Prepaid Adjustments: ($27,678)

- [Total] Fund Balance Designation Changes: $4,938,045

- Undesignated is up by $7.6 million due to one-time Special Disability Adjustment plus $2 million Mandated Cost Reimbursement plus $1.4 million, CSR plus $0.5 million, State Fiscal Statibilization Funds used for salaries plus $1.6 million and cost savings efforts”

“The 2011/12 Budget Year Revenue Limit and the Deficit
- Higher deficit factor in 2011-12 (increased from 17.964 percent to 19.754 percent to offset COLA)
- Base Revenue Limit = $6,489.01/ADA
- Deficited Revenue Limit = $5,207.18/ADA
- Deficit also applies to Meals for Needy and Beginning Teacher Salary Adjustment
- Total deficit factor for 2011-12 = $42,055,325
- Equivalent to eliminating 35.6 days’ instruction”

“The Mid-Year Cut Trigger

- State budget calls for graduated mid-year cuts if state revenues miss estimates. If it misses by $4 billion the following occurs:

- Reduction of Revenue Limit (including MFN and BTS) by an additional 4 percent = $261.73 per ADA or $8,515,797

- It will also reduce transportation funding by 50 percent = $1,129,707 or $34.72 per ADA

Total [worst case] trigger cuts $296.45 per ADA or $9,645,504″

“Other MDUSD Budget Adjustments

- Furlough Days: Budgeted at seven days, yet to be negotiated with MDEA [Mt. Diablo Education Association teachers' union] ($6 million)

- $6 million x 3 years = $18 million

- This is greater than the remaining unassigned balance in the three-year term of the projection” [through 6/14 -- however, that projection includes the worst-case trigger, which is $2.1 million more than the LAO projection]

Richards said that each furlough day would save the district more than $858,000.

“How does the future look?

New dartboard: Loss of 2012-13 COLA:
- ($5.4 million) Lose 3.2 percent COLA for 12-13
- ($5.4 million) Loss of 12-13 COLA in 13-14

County Guidance: Loss of 13-14 COLA:
- ($4.7 million) Loss of 13-14 COLA

Clayton Valley Charter High School
- Loss of $11.4 million in revenue (less oversight $0.1 million, facilities use $0.2 million)
- School expenses $7 million if they leave SELPA” [Special Education Legal Plan Area]

Richards then outlined how all these estimated changes could affect the district’s three-year budget projections, projecting “worst-case” estimates (including no teacher furlough days and maximum trigger cuts).

In the slide below, I have noted in brackets possible lower estimates if teachers take furloughs and the district uses LAO trigger projections.

“How do changes affect the budget?

- Actual UGF (Unrestricted General Fund) ending balance: $45.5 million

- Actual undesignated balance 6/11: $30.8 million

- Projected deficit 2011-12: ($8.2 million) [$2.2 million if teachers take seven furlough days]

- Reduction of 2 percent reserve: $0.4 million

- Trigger cuts 11-12: ($9.6 million) [$7.5 million according to LAO]

- Estimated unassigned 6/12: $13.4 million [$21.5 million if teachers take seven furlough days and calculations use LAO trigger]

- Projected deficit 2012-13: ($10.1 million)[Previously estimated a projected surplus of $7.1 million, so this is a difference of -$17.1 million, based partially on $6 million for seven furlough days, $5.4 million for projected loss of COLA and $4.2 million for the maximum CVHS conversion loss]

- Reduction of 2 percent reserve: $0.2 million [previously estimated $0.5 million, so this is $0.3 million less based on a projected lower overall budget]

- Trigger cuts 12-13: $9.9 million [Unclear how this was calculated; Could be about $2 million less based on LAO's 10-11 projection of $7.5 million instead of $9.6 million]

- Estimated unassigned 6/13: ($6.4 million) [Previously estimated $14.8 million, so this is a difference of -$21.2 million, based partially on higher estimated costs due to possible lack of furlough days, loss of COLA and CVHS conversion; could be $1.4 million if teachers take seven furlough days and LAO trigger estimate is used]

- Projected deficit 13-14: ($12.6 million)[Originally projected surplus of $8.7 million, so this is a change of -$21.3 million, based partially on $6 million if teachers don't take seven furlough days, $10.1 million for a two-year loss of COLA and an estimated $4.2 million maximum CVHS conversion loss; could be -$6.6 million or more if teachers take seven furlough days]

- Trigger cuts 13-14: ($10 million) [Unclear how this was estimated; Could be at least $2 million less based on LAO's 10-11 projected trigger cut of $7.5 million]

-Estimated unassigned 6/14: ($29 million)” [Previously estimated $12.9 million surplus, so this is a difference of -$41.9 million if teachers take no furlough days, there is no COLA, the district loses maximum estimate for CVHS conversion and uses higher trigger cut estimates than LAO; could be -$4.7 million or higher if teachers take seven furlough days each of three years and district uses LAO trigger projections]

Richards explained that the $29 million is a worst-case scenario, based on no furlough days, loss of COLA and the maximum charter conversion estimate of $4.2 million, according to the slide below [However, he did not mention that he was using a trigger cut estimate that was $2.1 million more than the LAO's]:

“How from $12.9 million surplus to a $29 million deficit?

- 2011-12 furlough days: $6 million

- 2012-13 furlough days: $6 million
- 2012-13 COLA loss: $5.4 million
- 2012-13 CVHS loss: $4.2 million
[TOTAL 12-13 -$15.6 million]

- 2013-14 Furlough days: $6 million
- 2013-14 COLA loss (2 years): $10.1 million
- 2013-14 CVHS loss: $4.2 million”
[TOTAL 13-13 -$20.3 million]

Richards broke down CVHS expenses as follows:

“How much spent at CVHS?

In 2010-11 the district spent $6.7 million unrestricted and $2.2 million restricted general fund dollars at CVHS

The site generated $9 million in unrestricted revenue limit funding

The site’s unrestricted budget is currently $7 million

The revenue the district must transfer to the charter school under the conversion scenario is $11.4 million

The district can negotiate rent and receives a 1 percent oversight fee calculated on certain revenues of the school”

Richards talked about how the state is falling short of revenue projections, then reviewed the latest LAO trigger projections as follows:

“Mid Year Cut Trigger LAO Update

LAO projects state revenues miss estimates by $3.7 billion. Under their projection the following occurs:

- Reduction of Revenue Limit by additional 2.9 percent +- $189 per ADA or $6,151,289 (less than the prorated percentage due to hitting Proposition 98 floor)

- It will also reduce transportation funding by 51.693 percent = $1,167,958 or $35.89 per ADA

- Transportation may be exchanged for revenue limit cut at statewide average of $42 per ADA or $1,366,953

- Total trigger cuts $231 per ADA or $7,518,242 [which is $99 per ADA or $2.1 million less than the district's estimate of $9.6 million]

- The trigger cuts become ongoing”

Richards then explained how districts spread some costs to all schools in the district, as follows:

“Cost data vs. revenue data

- Why don’t costs track with revenue generated by site?

- Declining enrollment – funded on higher of current or prior year ADA districtwide (not by site)

- Expenditure data based on current year annual ADA

- General education programs support more costly programs such as
– Special Education
– Community Day School
– Continuing Education
– Home and Hospital”

Richards ended with School Accountability Report Card information, as follows:

“SARC data

- SARC collects data on expenditures, both unrestricted and restricted by site

- Not all unrestricted dollars are revenue limit, but most are

- Separate handout, you can see how much revenue limit was generated by each site versus expenditures [spreadsheet]

- Non site-based expenditures are apportioned out based on annual ADA

- Remaining funds contribute toward categorical programs such as special education and transportation”

Here’s a breakdown of high school revenues, costs and “contribution toward encroaching programs” from 2010-11, including direct and indirect central services expenditures per student, according to the SARC data. (Note: ADA calculation for revenues is slightly different from ADA for expenditures because they are taken from two different years.)

CLAYTON VALLEY: Total budget: $13,749,565.25 ($7,839.78/ADA)

Total unrestricted revenues generated: $9,053,648.90 ($5,261.50/ADA)
Total deducted for contributions to other programs: $900,896.52 or $523.55/ADA (about 10 percent)

Unrestricted school budget: $8,152,757.39 ($4,648.57/ADA)
Direct unrestricted costs: $6,703,622.65 ($3,822.30/ADA)
Unrestricted central services: $1,449,129.74 ($826.27/ADA)
Contribution to other programs: $900,896.52 or $523.55/ADA
Total unrestricted central services/other programs: $2,350,026.26 (approx. $1,349.82/ADA)

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

Total direct costs: $8,903,209.56 ($5,076.36/ADA or 65 percent of school budget)
Central services costs: $4,846,355.69 ($2,763.32/ADA or 35 percent of school budget; not including contribution to other programs)

COLLEGE PARK: Total budget: $13,888,043.58 ($7,549.24/ADA)

Total unrestricted revenues generated: $9,764,639.60 ($5,261.50/ADA)
Total deducted for contributions to other programs: $1,442,341.58 or $777.18/ADA
(nearly 15 percent)

Unrestricted school budget: $8,322,336.02 ($4,523.84/ADA)
Direct unrestricted costs: $6,802,279.22 ($3,697.57/ADA)
Unrestricted central services: $1,520,056.80 ($826.27/ADA)
Contributions to other programs: $1,442,341.58 ($777.18/ADA)
Total unrestricted central services/other programs: $2,962,398.38(approx. $1,603.45/ADA)

Total Restricted: $5,565,707.56 ($3,025.40/ADA)
Direct restricted: $2,002,205.78 ($1,088.36/ADA)
Restricted central services: $3,563,501.88 ($1,937.04/ADA)

Total direct costs: $8,804,484.90($4,785.93/ADA or 64 percent of school budget)
Total central services costs: $5,083,558.68($2,763.32/ADA or 36 percent of school budget)

CONCORD: Total budget: $12,133,551.14 ($8,400.82/ADA)

Total unrestricted revenues generated: $7,402,848.17($5,261.51/ADA)
Total deducted for contributions to other programs: $1,132,773.06 or $805.10/ADA(about 15 percent)

Unrestricted school budget: $6,270,075.11 ($4,341.17/ADA)
Direct unrestricted: $5,076,667.83 ($3,514.89/ADA)
Unrestricted central services: $1,193,407.38 ($826.27/ADA)
Contributions to other programs: $1,132,773.06 or $805.10/ADA
Total unrestricted central services/other programs: $2,326,180.34(approx. $1,631.37/ADA)

Total Restricted: $5,863,476.03 ($4,059.65/ADA)
Direct restricted: $3,065,745.73 ($2,122.60/ADA)
Restricted central services: $2,797,730.30 ($1,937.05/ADA)

Direct school costs: $8,142,413.56($5,637.50/ADA or 67 percent of school budget)
Total central services costs: $3,991,137.68($2,763.32/ADA or 33 percent of school budget)

MT. DIABLO: Total budget: $14,098,055.42 ($10,252.39/ADA)

Total unrestricted revenues generated: $7,222,799.08($5,261.51/ADA)
Total deducted for contributions to other programs: $535,889.19 or $390.37/ADA(about 7 percent)

Unrestricted school budget: $6,686,909.89 ($4,862.85/ADA)
Direct unrestricted: $5,550,705.32($4,036.58/ADA)
Unrestricted central services: $1,136,204.50($826.27/ADA)
Contributions to other programs: $535,889.19 or $390.37/ADA
Total unrestricted central services/other programs: $1,672,093.69(approx. $1,216.64/ADA)

Total Restricted: $7,411,145.53($5,389.53/ADA)
Direct restricted: $4,747,516.76($3,452.48/ADA)
Restricted central services: $2,663,361.88 ($1,936.85/ADA)

Direct school costs: $10,298,222($7,489.07/ADA or 73 percent of school budget)
Central services school costs: $3,799,566.38($2,763.12/ADA or 27 percent of school budget)

NORTHGATE: Total budget: $11,436,253.68 ($8,043.11/ADA)

Total unrestricted revenues generated: $7,374,278.14($5,261.51/ADA)
Total deducted for contributions to other programs: $402,005.87 or $286.82/ADA(about 5 percent)

Unrestricted school budget: $6,972,272.27($4,903.59/ADA)
Direct unrestricted: $5,797,423.03($4,077.32/ADA)
Unrestricted central services: $1,174,849.25($826.27/ADA)
Contributions to other programs: $402,005.87 or $286.82/ADA
Total unrestricted central services/other programs: $1,576,855(approx. $1,113.09/ADA)

Total Restricted: $4,463,981.40($3,139.51/ADA)
Direct restricted: $1,709,757.10($1,202.47/ADA)
Restricted central services: $2,754,224.30($1,937.04/ADA)

Direct school costs: $7,507,180.13($5,279.79/ADA or 66 percent of school budget)
Central services school costs: $3,929,073.55($2,763.12/ADA or 34 percent of school budget)

YGNACIO VALLEY: Total budget: $10,221,560.38 ($8,661.39/ADA)

Total unrestricted revenues generated: $6,141,083.95($5,261.51/ADA)
Total deducted for contributions to other programs: $234,628.75 or $201.02/ADA(about 4 percent)

Unrestricted school budget: $5,906,455.20($5,004.92/ADA)
Direct unrestricted: $4,931,348.59($4,178.64/ADA)
Unrestricted central services: $975,106.70($826.27/ADA)
Contributions to other programs: $234,628.75 or $201.02/ADA
Total unrestricted central services/other programs: $1,209,735.54(approx. $1,027.29/ADA)

Total Restricted: $4,315,105.18($3,656,47/ADA)
Direct restricted: $2,029,141.82($1,719.42/ADA)
Restricted central services: $2,285,963.35($1,937.04/ADA)

Direct school costs: $6,960,490.31($5,898.07/ADA or 68 percent of school budget)
Central services school costs: $3,261,070($2,763.12/ADA or 32 percent of school budget)

The above calculations show that the district is consistent in charging $826.27/ADA for high school unrestricted central services costs and about $1,937.04/ADA in restricted central services costs, for a total of about $2,763.12/ADA going toward central services costs.

However, there is great inconsistency between high schools related to the amount that the district skims off the top of the unrestricted revenues generated by students at each school for other programs, from a low of $201.02/ADA or 4 percent from Ygnacio Valley to a high of $805.10/ADA or about 15 percent from Concord High.

Since these figures are not spelled out in the spreadsheet (I had to calculate them myself), they were not apparent when Richards referenced the SARC numbers during his presentation.

Richards, Lawrence and Debi Deal from FCMAT answered several questions from the audience. When Clayton Mayor David Shuey asked about the district’s latest estimate for the financial impact of a Clayton Valley charter, Richards said it would depend on many variables, including special education: http://qik.com/video/46018247.

Richards said he estimated the charter would cost about $4.4 million in lost revenues and lost contributions to central services and other programs. But, the district could receive about $100,000 as an oversight fee and about $200,000 for facilities use, according to his PowerPoint.

This would bring the total cost down to $4.1 million [which is $0.1 million less than the $4.2 million estimate Richards used in all of his projections].

He said the range would likely be between $2 and $4.4 million.

“At this point,” he said, “we don’t have enough data.”

Lawrence said the $1.8 million calculation was based on the $941 per student difference in revenue, plus the additional $127/ADA in block grant money the district must transfer to the charter. He and Lawrence said the special education number could vary by about $1.5 million.

Lawrence said that after the end of the first year, the district would know the actual impact. He said the $900,000 in “encroachment” costs that CVHS now contributes to other programs would have to be spread out to other schools.

Deal said a more indepth FCMAT review would take six to eight weeks and cost about $12,000-$15,000.

“The difference is that we start with the district’s numbers and agree those are correct,” Deal said, referring to the letter FCMAT provided to the district.

She said FCMAT verified the district’s assumptions and agreed the impact could be more than $1.8 million, based on the intense special education programs at CVHS. This is partially because CVHS students were generating more revenue than the district was spending to operate the campus and the additional money (about $900,000) was helping to pay for other programs districtwide.

Richards said the district currently spends $7 million to operate the school. He said the charter organizers are still negotiating the facilities fee with the district.

CVHS teacher Neil McChesney pointed out that the facilities fee could range between $520,000-$840,000 not including utilities. [This is $320,000-$640,000 more than the $200,000 the district estimated in its $4.2 million calculation and could reduce the total impact to about $3.5-$3.8 million].

Deal said it would be “mixing apples and oranges” to compare average salaries [yet, this is what Lawrence has done to justify lower expenditures at CVHS and some other high schools than at some elementary schools]. She said it is costing the district less to educate CVHS students than the district receives in CVHS student revenues from the state.

Lawrence said teachers are allocated the same way to all schools, but costs vary because of the difference in salaries. Currently, he said, elementary teachers have higher average salaries than high school teachers.

The district used to have ratios of administrative and support staff on campuses based on ADA, but it has moved away from that due to budget cuts, Lawrence said. So now, staffing is similar at all high schools, even though ADA varies from a low of 1,375.1 at Mt. Diablo High to a high of 1,839.66 at College Park High.

A CVHS parent said the district’s allocation of about $826 per ADA for unrestricted central services is twice as high as what the Los Angeles Unified District spends for those services.

Deal clarified that FCMAT looked at the unrestricted costs and revenues in making its calculations. She said restricted dollars are generated by the campus through a variety of sources, based primarily on the number of students who receive free and reduced lunches.

The district receives $5,207 per student from the state, no matter their grade level, Deal said. Charter high schools receive $6,148 per student, she said.

Lawrence said he would recommend waiting until after the governor releases his January budget, before making cuts. If the governor restores the COLA, the district would have $10.8 million more than it now projects in its three-year budget.

He recommended establishing a committee of principals and parents — similar to a group that met a few times last year — to come up with budget cut and revenue-generating ideas. Last year, he said the group suggested a parcel tax and a shared sales tax with cities.

Lawrence said the district would submit its second interim budget report to the county in March. If it is qualified or negative (meaning the district might not be able to pay all of its bills through June, 2014), the district would have to submit a third interim budget report in May.

He also pointed out that the district has the lowest ratio of administrators to 100 teachers in the county, at 4.52 per 100 teachers. The next highest is Pittsburg, with 5.18 per 100 teachers, he said. Legally, districts can have as many as eight administrators per 100 teachers, including site administrators, he said.

McChesney asked how much per student the district spends on Dent Center central services. Lawrence said he didn’t have that number at his fingertips.

However, the spreadsheet shows the district incurred about $12.1 million in unrestricted costs at the Dent Center in 2010-11, or $371.92/ADA. So, of the $826.27/ADA in unrestricted central services costs at the six comprehensive high schools, about 45 percent pays for Dent Center services and 65 percent goes toward other programs. This doesn’t include the “contribution toward encroaching programs” that the district does not include in the school budgets.

Richards said central services costs also include floating P.E., music and special education teachers, as well as those at Sunrise, Shadelands and the Shearer preschool at Gregory Gardens Elementary. He said many other districts code these positions to school sites, so their “central services” costs appear to be lower.

Costs for substitute teachers are also spread across the district, instead of coded to individual schools. If the district added these costs to the CVHS budget instead of lumping them into central services, the school’s budget would be larger and the estimated financial impact would be reduced.

Lawrence said “Sacramento wrote a bad law,” when it required unified school districts to pay high school rates to charters that convert.

“It’s a shame that in many ways,” he said, “Sacramento has created a system that is pitting program against program.”

Lawrence said he has asked State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson and Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla if they would try to change the funding formula.

If the financial impact is $2.4 million, that would be about $74 per student, he said. If the district didn’t have to worry about this, he said it could concentrate on the beneficial aspects of the charter.

“We have to go back and work with Sacramento and relook at these laws and change these laws,” he said. “Ms. Bonilla wasn’t aware of this. Tom Torlakson wasn’t aware of this.”

Lawrence estimated the district would need to cut about $20 million from its budget, based on Richards’ financial projections.

He said the district is saving $7-$8 million a year from Measure C, including more than $5 million a year in solar savings, in addition to paying of Certificates of Participation and covering deferred maintenance.

Shuey said the FCMAT analysis was not an independent review. Lawrence invited the charter committee to share in paying for a more thorough analysis of the fiscal impact of the charter.

He estimated the financial impact would be $2-$4.4 million, depending on special education costs and the facilities rental agreement.

“When we put our numbers out to the community,” he said, “we wanted to be as conservative as possible.”

Are you satisfied with the FCMAT review and the district’s budget estimates?

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

  • Wendy Lack

    Thank you, Theresa, for your conscientious reporting on this important meeting.

    It appears that only a full FCMAT study has validity and credibility. Accordingly, it’s rather surprising that the shortcut approach was pursued — seems rather like a waste of time and energy since this work product is tainted, thus will never get any traction in the community, with the various constituencies involved.

    Back to square one.

  • AnonParent

    Too funny!

    Shuey says FCMAT was not an independent review. Lawrence invites the charter to share in paying for a more thorough analysis. Odd, that there’s no reported response from Shuey.

    This is after the charter didn’t pursue the third-party audit in the first place. Is it any wonder that Shuey and the charter have been foot dragging on third-party audits and doing everything in their power to throw sand in the eyes of the rest of the district parents as to the impact of a Clayton Valley High School charter.

    I don’t expect a politician like Shuey to actually stand up and tell the truth here, but it would be refreshing if he’s just say that the charter doesn’t really want to get the numbers validated because they don’t want to go on record as saying that the charter will negatively impact every other student in the district.

    Clayton Valley High School just wants more public money at the expense of every other student in the district for a charter school which the most recent study shows will have minimal impact on performance.

    Greed and power. No wonder it’s a politician running the show for the charter at this point.

  • Flippin’ Tired

    ” Last year, he said the group suggested a parcel tax and a shared sales tax with cities.”

    No one will approve any increase in taxes. Do the hard, but right thing, Mr. Lawrence: close one elementary school in each feeder pattern. You’ve already closed Holbrook, so you only have five more to close.

  • Doctor J

    Lawrence’s last year “cut” committee: Names, and minutes of meetings please.

  • Doctor J

    Parcel tax ? Eberhart and Lawrence deep sixed that idea last round when the public survey showed that almost 80% of the public lacked confidence in TRUSTING how MDUSD spends its money — hasn’t got any better since then and in fact worse when you see Lawrence’s compensation package bumping $300,000. It might have worked a couple of years ago, but the solar fiasco has now burned out that idea. The solar bond promises have already been broken so don’t expect the taxpayers to trust MDUSD again.
    Shared sales tax ? There are so many problems with this one I can’t list them all. A couple of the biggies are: 1. Too many municipalities within district boundries to get them all on board; 2. Some municipalities have more than one school district so how do you possibly apportion that ? 3. New tax requires 2/3 majority; what if not all municipalities approve ? All municipalities are currently in their own fiscal crisis, cutting police, fire, and public safety. Why would they want to share with mismanaged schools ?
    I have posted my “cut” list several times for over a year and no action — Gary asked for it, got it, and ignored it. Interesting that Gov. Brown “borrowed” a couple of my ideas for the State.

  • Doctor J

    Interesting Times article that Santa Clara Co School Supt might be picked from outside education. The Board of Education wants a proven leader, but the right candidate need not have a track record in schools — or even have an education credential.
    Trustees are dangling a $295,000 starting salary, with retirement benefits and other perks, to entice candidates to lead the sprawling county Office of Education. They’re looking in government, business and the non-profit sector. The board is latching on to a trend in education: Bring in outsiders to reform schools. Hmmmm . . . could that work in MDUSD ?

    http://www.contracostatimes.com/education/ci_19417593

  • Theresa Harrington

    Last year’s cut committee included principals and parents, but I don’t know if a roster was ever created. I also don’t believe any minutes were created. If so, they were not posted online.
    However, a list of possible cuts was created, along with the tax ideas already mentioned.

  • Doctor J

    While MDUSD leadership continues to be all-consumed by the CVCHS Charter ramifications, great article today about Transitional Kindergarten — except no word from MDUSD — just silence. Kindergarten sign ups have traditionally been held in January as well as Pre-school sign ups. Yet not a word yet from MDUSD on which schools the Trans. Kinders will be held at, what their curriculum will be, nor when the sign ups will be, which are traditionally “first come, first serve”. Just three weeks of school left until Winter Break starts Dec 16. Why haven’t parents been given information on sign-up dates, school locations, and curriculum ? Parents will have to make choices, coordinate with pre-schools, and transportation. Sounds like more management by crisis than by vision and foresight. Nothing changes. This has been on the California radar since 2010. If MDUSD has made the information, why haven’t they made it public ?
    http://www.contracostatimes.com/education/ci_19417489

  • NitWit

    Did anyone else see this superintendent update? I didn’t . And what in the heck are all the running references?

    Just as an FYI the most recent information from School Services around possibility that the mid-year budget triggers get pulled.
     
    Sincerely,
    Steven
     

    As we reported on Monday, November 14, 2011, the Department of Finance (DOF) released its November Finance Bulletin showing state General Fund revenues for October were below the 2011-12 Budget estimates by $608 million, a 10.5% shortfall.

    As you can see, this news does not bode well for our Trigger Track runner, who has again fallen behind the starting line in his race to gain the $4 billion in additional revenues included in the final June-adopted 2011-12 Budget Act. The start line in our graphic marks the May Revision revenue estimates-to avoid statutorily mandated Budget cuts, state revenues must exceed the May Revision by at least $3 billion (no more than a $1 billion shortfall.) As of October, actual General Fund revenues year-to-date were $237 million below May Revision and $1.275 billion behind the Budget forecast.

    Despite his coach’s frustration, you can see that our runner still holds an optimistic, can-do attitude. If California’s economic recovery strengthens, then with that wind at his back, there may still be time to make up for lost ground. And, with the first checkpoint in this race now upon us, we will know more about current economic conditions very soon.

    The Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) will release its 2012-13 Budget: California’s Fiscal Outlook report tomorrow, Wednesday, November 16. The report will be available online after 11:30 a.m. at http://www.lao.ca.gov. The LAO’s revised revenue forecast for 2011-12 must show state General Fund revenues of at least $87.5 billion or higher to put to rest the possibility of trigger cuts. If, however, the LAO’s forecast shows weaker revenues, then we must wait until the DOF’s December forecast to know for certain whether or not midyear cuts will be triggered.

    Revenues falling from $1 billion to $2 billion below the Budget estimate ($88.5 billion) can trigger midyear cuts to higher education, including community colleges; child development programs; and other state-funded services of up to $601 million. A revenue shortfall of $2 billion to $4 billion will activate reductions to K-12 programs of up to $1.8 billion and an additional cut to community colleges of $72 million.

    We will report on the LAO’s new fiscal forecast as soon as it is available.

  • Theresa Harrington

    This looks like a report that was copied from School Services of California. The running references are related to a “Trigger Tracker” cartoon that School Services distributes to show how close the state is to pulling the trigger or meeting its budget goals.

  • Theresa Harrington

    FYI, the district is seeking a senior citizen for the Measure C Bond Oversight Committee: http://bit.ly/s770P9
    At the last meeting, the senior citizen rep said she would step down because she refused to fill out the required financial disclosure forms.

  • Theresa Harrington

    FYI, I have heard from Clayton Mayor David Shuey that the Contra Costa County Board of Education expects to hear the charter appeal Dec. 7. I am awaiting confirmation from the county.

  • Theresa Harrington

    FYI, the board will hold a special closed session meeting tonight for the Superintendent’s Evaluation: http://esbpublic.mdusd.k12.ca.us/public_agendaview.aspx?mtgId=334

  • MDUSD WC Resident

    Doesn’t the agenda read that it is tonight not Wednesday?

  • Theresa Harrington

    Yes, I’m sorry, I inadvertently consulted a December calendar when I wrote that. The closed session meeting is tonight at 7 p.m. and public comment is allowed before trustees adjourn to closed session: http://bit.ly/vVupUD

  • Jaded

    So, Lawrence is quoted as:

    “If the financial impact is $2.4 million, that would be about $74 per student, he said. If the district didn’t have to worry about this, he said it could concentrate on the beneficial aspects of the charter.”

    Wasn’t the board directed to NOT consider financial ramifications when rendering their decision? Didn’t Lawrence just confirm that that the financial ramifications were a deciding factor?

    I shall be drafting my letter to the CCBOE momentarily.

  • Doctor J

    Was NitWit’s post #9 a copy of an email from Steven Lawrence ? That’s the only explanation that fits the context.

  • Theresa Harrington

    Lawrence made that comment when talking about his attempts to ask state leaders to change the law.
    He did not say that the board denied the charter based on this. In fact, trustees knew they were not allowed to do that.
    Trustees denied the charter based on Bryan Richards’ determination that the charter didn’t meet the board’s financial conditions.
    I believe Lawrence was saying that the financial ramifications were taking the district’s attention away from positive aspects of the charter by forcing administrators to grapple with how to make up the lost revenues.

  • Wait a minute

    You know what everyone, there is just so much overwhelming evidence that the MDUSD denied the charter based mainly, if not solely on the financial impact that it would be a slam dunk if it ever went to court.

    Stevie Lawrence, Rolen/Cooksey and EberMarsh have absolutely ZERO CREDIBILITY when it comes to explaining their stated positions on virtually everything.

    Basically, if their lips are moving they are probably lying or manipulating the information they are conveying.

  • Doctor J

    Lawrence stirring the pot after the Dec 7 Charter hearing date announced: he posts the “video” and “powerpoint” from the Nov 21 meeting even though it is not properly considered in the Charter decision. I have not watched the video to see if it is unedited, and includes all the Q & A.
    http://www.mdusd.org/NewsRoom/Pages/November21BudgetUpdate.aspx

  • Theresa Harrington

    I looked at the beginning of the video and I’m very pleased the district posted it. I hope the district records all meetings from now on and promptly posts them.

  • Sue Berg

    Jaded, #16: According to Theresa’s report of the Board vote re: the charter, at least one Board member had other reasons than finances for denying the petition. Theresa quotes Linda Mayo as saying”

    “I also have grave concerns about the education program. The charter school application is supposed to present something new and progressive and exciting. There are over 150 course offerings listed in this product that was provided by your charter school applicants. They are the same courses, except for a few, that are currently offered at Clayton Valley High School. This is what your community — your students — will be presented with for courses next year. There is no change in the course offerings. The teachers will be teaching the same subjects and they may even prepare the same Single Plan (for Achievement) that they did prepare the previous year. I don’t know. There are seven courses in this book (referring to the binder) that do not have a CSU or UC approval yet and there are nine courses listed — one that alternates by year — as a class option under ROP (Regional Occupational Program). It is my understanding that the Clayton Valley charter has not contacted the ROP program at the county (Office of Education) to discuss whether or not these ROP programs would be approved. These are supposedly some of the leading programs at Clayton Valley High School that are valued by your students. So, for two reasons, I am going to vote to deny the charter. I don’t believe that there has been sufficient presentation of new and exciting program and I do support staff’s analysis in regards to the fiscal element.”

  • Theresa Harrington

    Sue, I was told by a CDE rep that lack of innovation is not grounds for denying a charter. However, lack of a sound educational program would be grounds for denial.
    Since CVHS is already teaching the same courses that the charter intends to offer, it would be difficult for the district to argue that it’s an unsound educational program.

  • Doctor J

    @Sue Berg #22, I suggest you spend about one hour and a half viewing the California Board of Education hearing Agenda Item 12 — I think I previously attached the link. You will see both of these issues discussed by the State BOE in overruling both the Pittsburg Unified and the CCBOE denial of the Synergy charter. I wish Linda Mayo would watch it too. I hope the CC BOE watches it too before it goes off on another wild hair.

  • Theresa Harrington

    Here’s a link to my story about statewide fitness test results: http://www.contracostatimes.com/twitter/ci_19443679
    In terms of meeting fitness goals in six tested areas including aerobics, flexibility, body composition and strength, MDUSD scored lower than the state and county averages at all grade levels.

  • Theresa Harrington

    The US Dept. of Ed. released school-by-school spending statistics that show the district spent $2,916 per pupil on total CVHS salaries and $3,021 per pupil on nonpersonnel expenses:
    http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/opepd/ppss/reports.html#comparability-state-local-expenditures

  • Just J

    I did not read the report. So what are nonpersonnel expenses?

  • Theresa Harrington

    Nonpersonnel expenses are all expenses not related to personnel.
    The report enables the public to compare expenses by school with a greater level of detail than has been provided by the district during the CVHS charter budget discussions.
    Unfortunately, however, the data is from 2008-09.

  • Sue Berg

    Theresa and Dr J, so I’m confused. I thought the charter petitioners’ primary rationale was to improve the school’s educational program–more choices, more rigor, more teacher training, higher test scores (along with changes in discipline and, for some, the implementation of school uniforms). If the school program is to remain essentially the same, it lends credence to the argument that this charter movement is more about opposing the district leadership than providing new opportunities for Clayton High students. When I quoted Linda Mayo’s statement that she didn’t see those opportunities in the charter’s proposal, you both responded that the rules don’t require the charter offerings to be different. Again, I thought the petitioners’ goal was to reform the school’s educational program for its students. Now I’m told that’s not a necessity. Hence, my confusion.

  • Theresa Harrington

    Sue, I can’t speak for the charter organizers, but my sense is that the reason for the charter is a combination of dissatisfaction with the district administration as well as a desire to improve the culture and curriculum at the school.
    However, I believe the charter organizers want to develop new curricula, etc. with input from the governing board, executive director and the many committees that will advise the governing board. The course offerings for the first year are expected to remain largely the same because the leadership of the school is not in place yet.
    Perhaps the Contra Costa County Board of Education will question the petitioners about this.
    As I have mentioned before, I was very surprised by how few questions the MDUSD trustees asked. At the Flex charter hearing, MDUSD trustees asked no questions and had no discussion, yet rejected the petition 5-0. The Contra Costa County Board, on the other hand, peppered the Flex team with questions.

  • Wait a Minute

    This asking of no (or few) questions towards charter petitioners simply reeks of an illegally pre-determined outcome by the board.

    It is also a hallmark of Stevie Lawrence.
    He and Sue Brothers treated INDEPENDENT charter applicants the same way in their dictatorship of the West Sacramento school district where they eventually throughly wore out their welcome through their incompetent leadership and their mis-treatment of their employees.

  • g

    Theresa, did you hear anything about a Westwood student being beaten up today?

  • Theresa Harrington

    No and our cops beat reporter hasn’t either, but he said he’d ask Concord PD.

  • g

    If it happened during school, on school grounds, it might have been kept on the QT—except there may be medical records for a 7-8 yr old.

  • Theresa Harrington

    I believe that schools are required to keep records of such incidents, which are likely to result in student suspensions.

  • Doctor J

    @Sue Berg #29, I’m sorry Sue but you misquoted me. I just asked you to review the State BOE hearing on the Synergy Charter. I agree with Theresa’s post #30. Its really amazing how much the Trustee’s purport to “KNOW” with a skimpy staff report and virtually no questions. You have to really wonder how much back channel communication is being held. As far as curriculum development, that doesn’t happen in a couple of months, but takes time. You can’t turn an aircraft carrier around on a dime. It takes time.

  • anon

    Please everyone visit the new site set up by the folks at the Clayton “Do the Right Thing” project. It is part of all 3 schools (MDE, DVMS, CVHS) and the city, CBCA and police department.

    Please help them log 1000 acts of kindness in our community during December. Check it out. Theresa maybe you’d like to cover it to give it more traction?

    http://www.ClaytonDTRT.com

  • Theresa Harrington

    Anon: Thanks for the link. Our longtime Concord and Clayton reporter Paul Thissen has been transferred to the Livermore/San Ramon Valley. I will also share this information with the editor of the Concord Transcript.
    Dr. J: Board President Gary Eberhart encourages trustees to ask questions of staff before the board meetings. The problem with this is that the public doesn’t become privy to the same information when staff fills board members in this way.
    Trustee Linda Mayo said she “understood” that the petitioners hadn’t contacted the County Office of Education’s ROP program office. It’s unclear how she understood this. She could have asked them directly. She also could have asked them directly why they hadn’t developed more innovative courses.
    Based on my experience covering several city councils and school boards, MDUSD trustees don’t exercise their ability to ask questions during public meetings as much as elected officials in other public agencies do.

  • Doctor J

    @TH#38, The defect in Eberhart’s encouragement is that it does not give the public the opportunity to refute false or erroneous statements of staff. Thus staff can say anything they want in private without public scruitiny of the statement as to its veracity. It smacks of a violation of the open meeting laws, i.e. the Brown Act. This is exactly why public testimony should be had AFTER the staff report. Eberhart promised openness and transparency, but he practices just the opposite.

  • Theresa Harrington

    I have covered other public agencies where elected officials will ask staff to answer questions that they already know the answers to — because they have asked ahead of time — but they ask again in public so that everyone has the same information.

  • Doctor J

    The closed session agenda has been particularly secretative about legal proceedings and not generally following the Brown Act Section 54954.5 (c) in describing the case “With respect to every item of business to be discussed in closed session pursuant to Section 54956.9:
    CONFERENCE WITH LEGAL COUNSEL–EXISTING LITIGATION
    (Subdivision (a) of Section 54956.9)
    Name of case: (Specify by reference to claimant’s name, names of parties, case or claim numbers)”

  • Doctor J

    From the FAC: School board keeping exorbitant attorney fees in closed session. Read all about it. Could this be happening in MDUSD ? http://www.firstamendmentcoalition.org/2011/11/aa-school-board-keeping-exorbitant-attorney-fees-in-closed-session/

  • Wait a minute

    Dr J,

    Yoy can bet that the citizens of the MDUSD are not getting their money’s worth out of the MDUSD’s legal dpt and I’m sure games are being played at the board level to cover this up.

    Just the fact that Rolen has already cost this district over ONE MILLION DOLLARS in unneccesary transportation costs blows their unsubstantiated argument that the charter is going to “take money away” from the district.

    How about the money that Rolen’s substantiated transportation incompetence has taken away? Why aren’t they complaining or doing something about that?

    Then there is the whole issue of Stevie Lawrence, Rolen/Cooksey and EberMarsh/Mayo squandering huge amounts of district time and money resources in desperately fighting the charter while at the same time neglecting the many serious issues that plague this district.

    The Neros fiddle and distract while Rome burns.

  • Theresa Harrington

    Here is our Times story about the Pittsburg charter, which the state Board of Education approved, after it was rejected by the Pittsburg and County school boards: http://www.contracostatimes.com/twitter/ci_19451963

  • Theresa Harrington

    MDUSD should find out Jan. 11 whether Meadow Homes and Oak Grove MS will receive SIG grants: http://www.cde.ca.gov/be/ag/ag/yr12/agenda201201.asp?print=yes
    The State Board of Education expects to name the award winners in an addendum that hasn’t yet been attached to the agenda (Item 5).