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Archive for November, 2011

Recap of MDUSD vote to deny Clayton Valley HS charter

The Mt. Diablo school board meeting on Tuesday was packed with more than 300 people in the Monte Gardens Elementary multiuse room — with large contingents on both sides of the Clayton Valley HS charter petition debate.

I videotaped portions of the meeting and am posting clips below (with the usual disclaimer that I was unable to videotape the entire meeting due to limited storage space on my phone camera).

Before the board discussed the charter, Superintendent Steven Lawrence reported that the district had posted two items related to the budget on its website: Guidance from the Contra Costa County Office of Education and a letter from the Fiscal Crisis & Management Assistance Team (FCMAT) regarding the estimated financial impact of a Clayton Valley HS charter conversion.

Here is a video clip of his report, along with a report from James Wogan regarding the district’s Foster Youth Services and Homeless Outreach Program for Education (HOPE):

Also before the charter item was introduced, special education Community Advisory Community representative Denise Lambert expressed concerns about the proposed charter special education plan:

Deb Cooksey, attorney for the district, says staff recommends that the board deny the petition:

Cooksey begins outlining staff’s recommendation:

CFO Bryan Richards explains why he believes the charter has not met all the financial conditions:

CVHS teacher Neil McChesney says charter supporters are a passionate group of people who are an asset:

CVHS parent Megan Kommer speaks in favor of the charter and questions the district’s estimates regarding its financial impacts:

CVHS student speaks in support of the charter:

Ygnacio Valley HS student Adam Hastings says he has collected 742 signatures on a petition against the charter:

Speech pathologist Laurie Arbour expresses support for the charter:

Clayton City Councilwoman Julie Pierce says the charter would be open to everyone and that there is no intent to be “elite” or to discriminate against anyone:

CVHS parent Jamie Terry speaks in favor of the charter, saying she believes the special education program would improve:

Chase Davenport, of the Californa Charter Schools Association, says this has been one of the “strangest processes” that he has ever been involved with, with one of the thickest approvals and one of the thinnest denials he has ever seen:

Luke Middendorf, CVHS teacher Pat Middendorf’s son, expresses support for the charter:

Dorothy Weisenberger, vice chairwoman of the district’s special education Community Advisory Committee, expresses concerns about charter plans to contract with the El Dorado County Office of Education Charter SELPA for special education services (partial recording):

Clayton City Councilman Joe Medrano thanks Trustee Lynne Dennler and CVHS teachers for their efforts on behalf of the charter:

Several other people also spoke, whom I was not able to capture on video.

They included CVHS teachers Pat Middendorf, Amber Lineweaver and Misha Safran, parents and students in favor of the charter, along with Barbara Johnson, speaking on behalf of Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez. In addition, Marshall Mayotte, of ExEd, rebutted the district’s concerns regarding the charter’s financial plan.

Others who opposed the charter included Northgate Principal John McMorris and parent Joan Miller, who is president of the Mt. Diablo Music Education Foundation; Ygnacio Valley HS Principal Bill Morones, student services coordinator Socorro Lomas and teachers Steve Accatino, Kelly Cooper and Kara Yu, and a student; Pleasant Hill MS Principal Terry McCormick, Mt. Diablo HS English teacher Dan Reynolds and NAACP East Bay rep Willie Mims.

A few community members stopped short of speaking against the charter, but asked the board to consider the entire district. These included four district parents and Walnut Creek City Councilman Kish Rajan (who is also a district parent).

Due to technical difficulties, I’m unable to link to the videos I shot of the board deliberations at this time. Here is a recap of what happened:

Trustee Cheryl Hansen made a motion to approve the charter without conditions. Trustee Lynne Dennler seconded the motion.

“I would move that we not be afraid of change and approve the charter school without condition,” Hansen said. “I started out this process not the charter school cheerleader. I am open to change. I am open to different systems. I’ve worked with lots of different systems as a school administrator and as a county administrator. And I think what I have come to value and recognize over time is passion, dedication, commitment and the importance of a school culture.”

She said she had previously had a conversation with Lawrence, in which he told her he actually thought it would be a great thing if all of the district’s high schools were charter schools because that would raise the level of competition among the schools and drive some innovation and school improvement.

“I happen to agree with that,” she said. “I don’t think we have to be afraid of something different. I don’t think this is a massive threat to our system. I think it’s been very shameful the way it has divided this community.”

She said discussion about the charter had been obstructed.

“I think it’s one of those issues that should be a public debate and discussion that should bring a community together and not be kind of backroom politics that have gone on.”

She said she didn’t think the charter would be created at the expense of all the other district students.

“I think it is actually for the benefit of all the students that when you raise the bar and when you have passion, dedication and a commitment, we all benefit,” she said. “And that’s what I’d like to see filter through our community. And I’d like to see this actually as a chance to experiment and try some things. And perhaps that contagion will spread because we can always do better and be better. So, that’s why I absolutely support moving forward with this charter school.”

Dennler said she wrote down what she wanted to say, since she is new on the board (she was elected last November).

“I think we have the opportunity to bring resolution to this phase of the Clayton Valley charter and I will be grateful, as a board member — I would hope, as a board member — that I will not ever be faced with another charter in this district, another charter application.”

Many people reacted with surprise and laughter.

“No, it’s not funny,” Dennler said. “I think that it’s a very important question we need to have on all of our minds, is: ‘What led this staff to choose to sever their professional relationship with Mt. Diablo Unified School District?’ That question, I don’t hear being asked at all. Something major happened and we’re not even asking, ‘Why?’ I think, as a board and administration, we need to focus on seeking an understanding of the problems and issues that motivated the Clayton Valley community to make this drastic move to a charter. This is an important issue and it needs our attention.”

She suggested that the district establish a task force to address this.

“I think it’s really important to study the problems and issues that fester in this district among our parents and our teachers. For, the issues are not just at Clayton Valley. I can assure you — from my being in the schools, talking to teachers, hearing parents — this is not a unique problem. They’re just the first ones that did something about it. All is not well in Mt. Diablo. So, we have a choice. We can either choose to ignore the problem and face more charter applications. Or we can honestly examine where we are today and make the changes that are necessary. And then we won’t repeat history.”

The motion failed in a 2-3 vote, with Hansen and Dennler voting in favor and the other three trustees voting against it.

Hansen then moved to deny the charter petition. Trustee Linda Mayo seconded the motion.

Hansen said she approved of passing the charter without conditions, but she expected the board might end up denying the petition.

“I have been trying for the last couple of months to move this forward to closure — not to cut off information, but to get the information to come out more rapidly than what we originally had intended it to be,” Hansen said. “Because I saw the strife and divisiveness that this creates within a community, it’s better to move more rapidly to closure.”

She thanked the other trustees for bringing it to a timely conclusion that allows the charter to move forward.

“The only concern I have is the ongoing resistance I experienced to my requests for open, public discussion around this issue and the repeated incidents of obstruction that occurred in moving this process forward,” she said. “I’ve maintained that the public deserves to participate in open forums on public issues. And the public and the board deserves to receive all information in a timely and accurate manner. Today, we again experienced receiving information only hours before the board meeting, which hinders the process and doesn’t allow for discussion of and reflection on the process. I’ve seen this as a repeated pattern that information is kind of withheld ’til the last minute for whatever reason or explanation. It happened during school closure. It’s happening during the charter school conversion. And my concern is that there’s a lesson here that we need to learn from as a district. And I think Mrs. Dennler’s point is very, very accurate — that we have some symptomatic problems that we need to address. And one of them is around how we share information and how we respect each other — how we respond to open discussion and not be threatened and afraid to share different opinions. And how we can listen to each other and treat each other with respect. I have actually been appalled by some of the undercurrents that have gone on here — some of the backstabbing, some of the pitting of one community against another — and I don’t understand in an educational community why people are afraid to have a difference of opinion and why people have to resort to something personal instead of respecting the differences and trying to work together. I’ve found the withholding of information unacceptable and intolerable. I found it hinders the process. It creates public distrust. And from this, we should have come out stronger, not come out with an additional sense of public distrust. And I’m absolutely appalled by that. So, the district needs to learn from this mistake — and I do view it as a mistake — so we don’t continue on the path of creating more public distrust. We need to err on the side of over-informing. And I’d like to express my admiration for the charter school petitioners, who so passionately believe in their vision to improve student learning — who have actually slogged through the mess that we kind of threw out there for them — and kept on the path of determination and focus and commitment. And, again, I commend that and I think that is exactly what we are missing throughout many of our schools within our district — that passion and commitment. And we talk about Professional Learning Communities, while working toward that, but the core comes from that fire and that passion and commitment to students. And I’m not at all afraid of that. I embrace that and I admire that, so I would like to thank them for their courage in stepping forward and trying to do something. Maybe it doesn’t address all of the inherent issues that we have a district, but I do think it’s a beginning point for us to look at how we might be able to do something differently and better. I do not in any way, shape or form, think this is something to be afraid of and I am stunned that people take it as some sort of threat to all of our students. I actually see it, as I’ve said before, as a way to raise the bar and to encourage better practice. So, I am of a totally different mindset. Since the majority of the community to whom I’ve spoken believe that the charter school petition has merit and that there can be great educational benefit to challenging the status quo, I actually will be voting against my motion to deny. Nevertheless, I’m thrilled that we are finally — and believe me, it’s odd to say this — I am actually thrilled that we’re finally here tonight to bring closure to this issue so that the petitioners can move on.”

She also thanked staff for working on such a short timeline with the petitioners to speed up the process.

“I would have preferred that we approve it here,” she said. “I’m afraid that I saw the handwriting on the wall, when at 3:20 p.m., I got a resolution — just a few hours before the board meeting — saying that staff will recommend denying it. I had no idea until just a few hours ago where that stood. And, to me as a board member, I find that unacceptable and difficult to make really reasoned decisions.”

Mayo thanked everyone for participating in the process and said she did not believe that anyone was denied their rights to participate in it. She also expressed concerns that some people have alleged that she has disrespected and spoken ill of people involved in the debate.

“I would ask that you provide me with an email that I may have made a disparaging remark about one of you about this issue,” she said. “I have maintained my neutrality up until the vote was taken. I did not prepare statements in advance. In coming to this meeting, I have carefully listened to everyone who has provided statements and I have made notes throughout this process.”

She said she had also reviewed a binder full of supplemental material regarding the charter application.

“I also wanted to speak to the fact that I believe that there is much passion, dedication, commitment and courage on both sides of this issue and that both sides deserve to be credited for presenting their views before the Board of Education,” she said. “I am going to vote to deny the charter, based on the fiscal analysis that our staff has provided. At this point in time, that is based on the information that was received from the charter applicants as their final submittal on Friday. The previous analysis that was disputed by some in the Clayton community that was provided by the district has been supported by FCMAT. This leads me to believe further that our district staff does do good work and careful analysis when they are given information.”

She said that perhaps the county Board of Education would allow the charter to submit new numbers.

“But, at this point in time, I cannot accept those numbers that have been submitted for one of the elements in the charter proposal,” she said. “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.”

Board President Gary Eberhart and Trustee Sherry Whitmarsh did not comment before the vote. The motion carried 4-1, with Hansen voting against it.

Eberhart thanked the public for coming to participate in the process.

Do you agree with the board’s decision to deny the charter? Do you think the charter debate exposes larger issues in the district?

Posted on Thursday, November 10th, 2011
Under: Education, Mt. Diablo school district | 47 Comments »

MDUSD staff recommends that board deny Clayton Valley HS charter

Although the Mt. Diablo school board’s agenda released Friday did not state whether staff would recommend approval or denial of the Clayton Valley High School charter conversion petition, the agenda item was apparently changed today.

On Friday, the recommendation stated: “Accept or deny Clayton Valley high school proposal.” There was no attachment at that time.

Now, the agenda item recommendation states: “Deny Clayton Valley charter high school proposal.” A resolution denying the charter has been added. There is no notation on the agenda informing the public that the agenda has been altered since it was originally posted.

Here is what the recommendation says:




WHEREAS, the establishment of Charter Schools is governed by the Charter Schools Act of 1992, as subsequently amended, Education Code sections 47600 et seq. and implementing Title 5 of the California Code of Regulations;

WHEREAS, on or about June 8, 2011, the Mt. Diablo Unified School District (‘District’) received the charter Petition (‘Petition’) proposing the establishment of the Clayton Valley Charter High School (‘Charter School’);

WHEREAS, consistent with Education Code section 47605 subdivision (b), at a meeting on August 9, 2011, the District’s Board of Education (‘Board’) held a public hearing on the Petition, at which time the Board considered the level of support for the Petition by teachers employed by the District, other employees of the District, and parents/guardians;

WHEREAS, the intent of the Legislature in enacting the charter school laws were, among other things, to ‘[e]ncourage the use of different and innovative teaching methods’ and to ‘[p]rovide parents and pupils with expanded choices in the types of educational opportunities that are available within the public school system’;

WHEREAS, approvals of charter Petitions are governed by the standards and criteria set forth in Education Code section 47605 and implementing Title 5 of the California Code of Regulations;

WHEREAS, Education Code section 47605 subdivision (b) prohibits the Board from denying a charter Petition unless it makes written factual findings, specific to the particular Charter School, setting forth facts to support one or more findings, which include:

1. The Petition does not contain the number of signatures required by Education Code section 47605 subdivision (a);

2. The Petitioners are demonstrably unlikely to successfully implement the program set forth in the Petition;

3. The Charter School presents an unsound educational program for the students to be enrolled in the Charter School;

4. The Petition does not contain an affirmation of each of the conditions described in Education Code section 47605 subdivision (d); or

5. The Petition does not contain reasonably comprehensive descriptions of all 16 elements required in Education Code section 47605 subdivision (b)(5).

WHEREAS, the Board convened on September 13, 2011, to consider whether to grant or deny the Petition and conditionally granted the charter provided that the petitioners satisfied all conditions by February 2012;

WHEREAS, the District’s administration, with assistance from legal counsel, met periodically after September 13th with the petitioners and has reviewed and analyzed additional documentation provided by the latter to demonstrate that they had met the above‐referenced conditions; and

WHEREAS, the District’s administration has determined that several of the fiscal conditions have not been met; and therefore, recommends that the Board adopt the Findings of Fact, attached hereto as Exhibit ‘A’ and incorporated herein by this reference, and deny the Petition.

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that Board of Education of the Mt. Diablo Unified School District hereby denies the Petition to establish the Clayton Valley Charter High School and adopts the Summary of Findings of Fact, attached hereto as Exhibit ‘A’.

APPROVED AND ADOPTED by the Board of Education of the Mt. Diablo Unified School District at the regular meeting of November 8, 2011.”

Here are the findings:




Findings regarding Financial Documents (version 6) submitted by the petitioners for Clayton Valley Charter High School on November 4, 2011, in response to the conditions set forth in Board Resolution #11/12 – 14 of September 13, 2011:

On September 13, 2011, the MDUSD Board of Education approved granting the petition for the formation of Clayton Valley Charter High School with various conditions, including several fiscal ones. Staff has reviewed the financial documents submitted by Marshall Mayotte of ExEd on behalf of Clayton Valley Charter High School to determine whether the conditions set by the Board of Education of the Mt. Diablo Unified School District have been met. As the budget is the school’s business plan put to numbers and a tool for reaching its instructional goals, staff reviewed whether the financial statements now submitted support the information provided by the Charter School petitioners as to its operational plan, including the various changes received to the petition in the interim.

The petitioners and their fiscal representative have been most responsive in submitting revisions to the financial documents as they have identified issues and in response to items identified by the District. The petitioners did so during a time when the shifting sands of the State’s financing of schools has been very trying for all in the District. In addition to the changes from the State, the petitioners have changed their intent with regard to the providing of various services during the course of the review of the financial statements. Further details of the changes will be delineated in the detailed section below.

As submitted on November 4, 2011, Iteration #6 of the financial documents for Clayton Valley Charter High School does not meet all of the conditions set by the MDUSD Board of Education on September 13, 2011.

The specific conditions as set forth in the Board’s September 13, 2011, conditional approval are addressed below.

(1) Submit evidence that the Charter School’s budget supports longer instructional days, a summer program, no furlough days, and a comparable benefit package as stated in the petition.

This condition has only been partially met.

During the course of discussion, the petitioners informed us that they would not be offering the summer program or extended day during the first year of operation. Between version 1 and 2 of the documents, Teacher Extra Duty & Stipends were decreased from 16.63 percent of teacher salaries to 10 percent of teacher salaries across all years of the multi-year projection. As various assumptions have changed between versions 2 and 6, the extra pay stipends have remained at 10 percent across all three years. Attached to one of the documents, the petitioners indicated that the 10 percent was for the implementation of longer day and summer program. However, if the costs are going to be incurred during 2012/13, when the program is not being offered, it is apparent that this line item must be covering some other expense. Adding one hour per day to the teacher workday approximates a 14.28 percent increase in time (from 7 hours to 8 hours per day). It may be that the school plans to negotiate a lower rate of pay for the extra hour per day, but this information has not been disclosed. Nor have sufficient details been provided by the petitioners addressing the staffing of the summer program to determine adequacy of the dollars budgeted to pay for the program. There are no additional costs for personnel in the second and third years of the multi-year projection to indicate the expansion of the program. The only increase appears to be step & column and inflation. It is unclear if there is a sufficient financial implementation plan for the elements of longer instructional day and summer program in the documents during any of the three years of the term of the petition. As such, either the underlying elements of the petition need to be modified if necessary, or the budget aligned to fully incorporate them. The cost of benefits projected appears reasonable to the cost of offering a plan similar in nature to the District’s plan.

(2) Submit a budget and multi‐year projections in the State’s SACS or Charter School’s alternative format

This condition has not been met.

While the petitioners have not complied with this element, the multi-year projections that have been submitted have included enough detail for the assessment to be done. As a matter of law, the adopted budget for the first year will have to be in the State’s format.

(3) Eliminate revenue sources that are not applicable to the Charter School from revenue projections as identified in the District’s staff analysis of the petition

This condition has only been partially met.

Many of the funding sources have been adjusted or eliminated pursuant to information provided during the initial review. In other cases, the school was able to show that it would be able to generate certain forms of revenue that the district had requested be excluded, such as a small allotment of Federal Title funding.

However, as mentioned above, the State’s funding model for schools continues to shift. On November 3, 2011, the District received updated assumptions for use in multi-year projections from the Contra Costa County Office of Education with regard to fiscal years 2012/13 and 2013/14. These were shared with the charter school on November 4, 2011. At that time, the petitioners were asked to please review the guidance from the County to be sure that all elements of the updated guidance were included in the final budget submitted. Later that day, the District received an email indicating that all elements of the First Interim guidance had been included. The County guidance included the following changes to the guidance we had previously received:

Assume no State funding for a COLA in 2012/13 or 2013/14.

Assume the mid-year trigger cuts currently in law for 2011/12 will continue as ongoing cuts for 2012/13 and 2013/14.

In reviewing the documents, the petitioners have correctly included no COLA in 2012/13. However, they have continued to include a COLA for 2013/14. Additionally, the midyear trigger cuts at the High School District rate of $300 per ADA have not been included in the revenue assumptions. This equates to overstating revenue by $533,100 in 2012/13 and $838,914 in 2013/14. Because the zeroing of the COLA in 2013/14 affects the baseline for calculating 2014/15 revenues, 2014/15 is overstated by either $314,988 or $848,088 if the trigger cuts also continue as ongoing. Since the county guidance is silent as to 2014/15 at this time, the District will not hold the charter to rolling the trigger cut forward beyond 2013/14 until the Governor’s budget comes out in January and we know more about the specific form it will take, but the petitioners should be aware that it would require an increased level of funding of at least 8.08 percent to remove the trigger cuts and fund the COLA in 2014/15.

Additionally, the charter school informed the District during the course of discussion that they were changing a significant element of their petition with regard to Special Education. Rather than being a school of the District for the purposes of Special Education, they now intend to be a Local Educational Agency (LEA) under the El Dorado County Charter Special Education Local Plan Area (ChELPA). We have received correspondence from the ChELPA with regard to how much Special Education funding the new charter school would receive as a member of the ChELPA and its timing. The ChELPA informs us that the new school will receive $415.65 per unit of P2 ADA. The school will receive its first apportionment at the P-1 Certification in February. While the cash flow effects of this will be discussed further below, the revenue will be discussed here. The petitioners have included Special Education revenue of $826,854. At $415.65 per ADA, the charter will receive $738,610. Therefore, revenue in year one is overstated by $88,244. The charter then assumes a 37 percent increase in Special Education funding between year 1 and year 2 of the multi-year projection with no explanation as to how this increase would come about. Utilizing no COLA for 2013/14 and a flat number of ADA, the revenue would again be $738,610. Therefore, revenue is overstated in 2013/14 by $394,317. In 2014/15 the charter projects a 0% increase, but bases funding on the higher number of 2013/14. Again in 2014/15 this leaves revenue overstated by $394,317.

As a result of the above, revenue is overstated in the following amounts by fiscal year:

2012/13 $621,344

2013/14 $1,233,231

2014/15 $709,305 or $1,242,405 if the mid-year trigger cut problem continues to be ongoing

(4) Submit a financial plan that demonstrates it will have: Adequate cash to meet each month’s operating expenditures, with no months indicating the school will be in a negative cash position

This condition has not been met.

While the documents submitted do not indicate any months with a negative cash balance, and it initially appeared that this condition may be met, upon further analysis, we find that it is not met. As mentioned above in section (3), the school will not begin receiving special education apportionments until after the P-1 certification in February 2013. In analyzing cash for 2012/13, the school has included special education funding beginning in August 2012. Subtracting out those funds that will not appear until February 2013, the school goes into a negative cash position in November 2012 ($61,063), December 2012 ($125,220), and January 2013 ($97,028). This is before taking into account the general purpose revenues and special education revenues overstated as identified in item (3) above. Once those are taken into account, there are also negative cash in the following months: June 2013, July 2013, September 2013, June 2014, July 2014, August 2014, September 2014, November 2014, December 2014, May 2015, and June 2015. This condition shows why the Federal Crisis Management Assistance Team keeps reminding schools and districts that ‘cash is king’. The school is able to have the minimum 3 percent reserve in its projected ending balances in each of the three years of the projection, yet has significant cash issues even when including a multi-million dollar line of credit.

(5) Submit a breakdown of all FTE by job type linking all FTE to line items in the budget

This condition has not been met.

This condition had been met in previous budget submissions, but was not met in the final budget submitted to the District. In the final budget submitted to the District, the petitioners, via Marshall Mayotte of ExEd, indicated the budget had been changed with the following explanation: ‘I added the cafeteria outsourcing option into the scenario, which eliminates the loss we had built in the previous versions of the financials. Please note that no one has decided to outsource cafeteria yet.’

The financial statements submitted indicate the elimination of food services positions, although the positions were still included on the list of FTE. Staff is unable to calculate which positions were eliminated to tie back to the numbers. Staff anticipated an increase in the budget for cost of food in object 4700, as purchasing from an outside source would likely be more expensive than buying raw ingredients and making the food in-house. Staff also anticipated an increase in the budget for Services and Other Operating Expenditures (object 58xx) for the cost of the contract for the outsourced food workers who would serve the students. While the increase in the cost of food was included in the budget, the cost of the outsourced food workers was not. With the FTE eliminated, but no replacement workers incorporated into the budget it is unclear how the food will be served to the students.

A previous iteration of the financial statements indicated that custodial work would also potentially be outsourced. As of this budget submission, the custodians are still included in the FTE and it is assumed by the District that the school will not be outsourcing custodial services at this time. However, the school has indicated they are reserving the right to outsource this at a later date. Such a change will require an update to the financial statements and the school has been advised accordingly.

(6) A fiscal recovery plan to address the cash shortfall in the existing projection and loss of miscounted revenues

This condition has not been met.

While the various iterations of the budget have made progress in meeting this condition, as identified in items (3) and (4) above, this condition is not yet met.”

Do you agree with staff’s recommendation to deny the charter?

Posted on Tuesday, November 8th, 2011
Under: Education, Mt. Diablo school district | 101 Comments »

More details regarding Clayton Valley HS costs

After studying the spreadsheets provided to me by the Mt. Diablo school district, I had some additional questions, which I emailed to CFO Bryan Richards.

Here are the questions and his responses, which I received in an email:

“Q. What was the Base Revenue Limit for 2010-11?

A. The Undeficited Revenue Limit was $6,346.02 per unit of ADA (Average Daily Attendance). The Deficited (and therefore funded) Revenue Limit was $5,206.08 per unit of ADA.

Q. Are the unrestricted expenditures solely funded by the revenue limit, or do they include other revenue sources?

A. They are primarily funded through revenue limit sources, but are funded through other sources as well. At each reporting period one of the pie graphs in the Power Point shows the various sources of unrestricted funding. For the 2010/11 actuals, unrestricted revenue broke down as follows:

a. Revenue Limit Sources 80.92 percent

b. Federal Revenue 0.28 percent

c. Other State revenue 16.76 percent

d. Other Local revenue 2.04 percent

Q. Of the 2010-11 revenue limit, how much per ADA was allocated to Clayton Valley HS last year?

A. Revenue Limit dollars are not allocated by school site. Unrestricted expenditure dollars are allocated by school site.

Q. Of the $6.7 million unrestricted in CVHS expenditures, what amount was spent on: teachers’ salaries and benefits, administrators’ salaries and benefits, and classified salaries and benefits (broken down by each category)? What was the remaining amount spent on?

A. Please note that at this level benefits are not broken down by employee type, but consolidated by benefit type.

SACS fund 01; resource 0000-1999; site 323; object code 1000-7999


** Total 1100 $3,938,112.36 Teachers

** Total 1200 $113,932.35 Certificated Pupil Support

** Total 1300 $355,437.25 Certificated Management

** Total 2200 $284,262.48 Classified Support Salaries (M&O, custodial, etc)

** Total 2400 $246,832.88 Clerical & Technical Support Salaries

** Total 2900 $427.25 Classified Other Salaries

** Total 3100 $353,503.72 STRS

** Total 3200 $70,134.88 PERS

** Total 3300 $106,255.47 Soc Sec & Medicare

** Total 3400 $549,793.45 Health, Dental, Vision

** Total 3500 $34,211.86 SUI

** Total 3600 $140,592.44 Worker’s Comp

** Total 3700 $119,799.55 Post-retirement Health

** Total 3800 $11,232.37 PERS Reduction

** Total 3900 $1,303.88 Other benefits

** Total 4100 $6,041.52 Textbooks

** Total 4200 $3,652.93 Other Books

** Total 4300 $86,032.32 Supplies

** Total 5200 $14,668.02 Travel & Conference

** Total 5500 $259,446.86 Utilities

** Total 5600 $2,027.30 Rentals, Repairs & Maintenance

** Total 5700 $1,013.73 Intraprogram Support (Print Shop, Maintenance, etc)

** Total 5800 $3,712.33 Services & Other Operating Expenditures

** Total 5900 $1,195.45 Communications (includes telephone, postage, etc)

** GRAND TOTAL ** $6,703,622.65

Q. What is included in the nearly $2.2 million allocated for CVHS restricted expenditures?

A. These are the site based expenses in categorical programs.

Q. What is included in the nearly $1.5 million for unrestricted central services?

A. 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.

Q. What is included in the nearly $3.4 million for restricted central services?

A. 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.

Q. Why is the restricted central services allocation higher than the restricted site allocation?

A. Many categorical programs and district wide maintenance services are administered in a central site code for the benefit of all schools rather than by having individual expenses at each school. Expenditures coded centrally must be spread out to the sites via the per ADA calculation described above.

Q. You reported that the district has $7.6 million more in its ending fund balance than anticipated. Could this help buffer the financial impact of the charter?

A. The district’s higher fund balance is primarily due to carryover in various programs at school sites that anticipate spending their funds in the current year. It is not anticipated that the funding would be available for the purpose you describe. Additionally, fund balance is one time funding, like a savings account. Whereas, the revenue losses related to the charter school are ongoing. One time funds cannot cover ongoing costs well as they run dry after one use.”

This explains why the unrestricted per student allocations don’t exactly match the revenue limit. In looking at the spreadsheet, the only schools that received more than the revenue limit amount of $5,206.08 in 2010-11 were the small necessary high schools and Olympic HS.

To give context to the above questions, here is a breakdown of the total Clayton Valley HS budget for 2010-11:

Annual ADA: 1753.82

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

Does this budget seem reasonable?

Posted on Monday, November 7th, 2011
Under: Education, Mt. Diablo school district | 40 Comments »

MDUSD Special education Community Advisory Committee meeting tonight

The Mt. Diablo school district’s special education Community Advisory Committee will meet tonight from 7-9 p.m. at the district office.

Since the district does not post the agenda on its website, I am posting it below. The public is invited to attend and to comment about anything not on the agenda during the public comment portion of the meeting.

DATE: November 7, 2011
TIME: 7:00 – 9:00 p.m.
PLACE: Dent Center – Board Room

1. Call to Order 7:00

2. Introductions (7:02 – 7:05)
Please notify the audience during introductions if you are recording the meeting

3. Adoption of Minutes – October 3, 2011 (7:05 – 7:10)

4. Presentations – Seneca Glenbrook Mental Health Collaborative – Daren Dickson (7:10 – 7:40)

5. Chairperson’s Report – Lorrie Davis (7:40 – 7:50)

6. Celebration of Success Update- Hilary Shen (7:50 – 8:00)

7. Old Business (8:00 – 8:20)

7.1 Assistant Superintendent’s Report – Dr. Mildred D. Browne

7.2 Board of Education Report – Lynne Dennler

7.3 Board of Education Comments – Dorothy Weisenberger and Audra McDonald

7.4 Parent Advisory Committee Report – Tricia Tamura-Li

7.5 Budget Advisory Committee Report – Tricia Tamura-Li

7.6 Equity Advisory Team Report – Dorothy Weisenberger

7.7 EL Master Plan Task Force – Morena Grimaldi


8. New Business (8:30 – 8:45)

8.1 Nurses’ Report – Lori Oxman

8.2 Extended School Year – Carolyn Patton

8.3 Parent Liaison – Hilary Shen

8.4 Sub-Committee Updates

9. Public Comment (8:45 – 8:55)
Public comment is an opportunity to share concerns and comments with the CAC. In the interest of time, speakers are limited to three (3) minutes each with a total of fifteen (15) minutes for all speakers. Please respect student and personnel privacy. CAC members and district staff may not be able to respond to individual concerns in this forum, but will take your contact information and follow-up with you.

10. Information Items/Announcements/Adjournment (8:55 – 9:00)


There is no transportation update scheduled this month.

Do you believe that the district has resolved all of its transportation issues related to special education?

Posted on Monday, November 7th, 2011
Under: Education, Mt. Diablo school district, special education | 6 Comments »

Walnut Creek Councilman suggests Clayton Valley charter consider accepting less funding

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

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

“November 1, 2011

Dear Editor –

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kish Rajan
MDUSD Parent and Walnut Creek City Council Member”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overview of calculations:

School accountability data:

Special education data:

Posted on Friday, November 4th, 2011
Under: Clayton, Concord, Education, Mt. Diablo school district | 113 Comments »