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Clayton Valley High charter appeal hearing is Wednesday at Pleasant Hill Elementary

By Theresa Harrington
Tuesday, December 6th, 2011 at 3:35 pm in Education.

Parents, teachers, students, administrators and members of the public on both sides of the Clayton Valley High School charter conversion issue are gearing up for the public hearing at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at Pleasant Hill Elementary School, 2097 Oak Park Blvd. in Pleasant Hill.

The Contra Costa County Board of Education, which is hearing the petitioners’ appeal of the Mt. Diablo school board’s denial, is meeting in the school’s multiuse room to accommodate an anticipated large crowd. After the public hearing, the board will recess and reconvene in the Contra Costa County Office of Education board room, according to the agenda.

The county has posted the entire petition and board packet online at

The board packet also included two letters that were not posted online. Although these are part of the public record, it has come to my attention that the authors may not have realized that their letters were available for public review. Therefore, I have removed the letters that were previously posted.

The county board expects to hear a lot of public comment and intends to limit speakers to 2-minutes each. However, anyone is free to email comments to the board ahead of the meeting or to submit written comments after making their public comments. Board email contact information is at

According to the agenda, Bill Clark, county associate superintendent of business services, will introduce the petition. Then, petitioners and district officials speak.

Although the agenda states that Clark’s comments would include “analyzing the petition,” county spokeswoman Peggy Marshburn told me that he will not offer any analysis or recommendation. Staff expects to recommend that the board approve or deny the appeal at its Jan. 11 meeting.

MDUSD attorney Deb Cooksey and CFO Bryan Richards expect to speak on behalf of the district.

In an email, Superintendent Steven Lawrence wrote: “We will focus on the reasons for the board’s denial of the petition.”

I pointed out that the district’s agenda report for Nov. 8 shows that the MDUSD board voted 4-1 to approve the following motion: “Deny Clayton Valley HS charter proposal.” The motion did not mention anything about adopting staff’s resolution to deny, or adopting staff’s factual findings.

Yet, Cooksey said she believes that the board did adopt the resolution, as well as staff’s factual findings. The charter supporters also appear to believe that the board adopted the resolution and factual findings, according to their appeal letter.

Here is the appeal letter:

“NOVEMBER 15, 2011

Joseph A. Ovick, Superintendent VIA HAND DELIVERY
Contra Costa County Office of Education
77 Santa Barbara Road
Pleasant Hill, CA 94523

Re: Clayton Valley Charter High School Charter Petition Appeal to the Contra Costa County Board of Education

Dear Superintendent Ovick:

This letter is to inform you that Clayton Valley Charter High School (the “Charter School” or “CVCHS”) hereby submits an appeal of the denial of its charter petition by the governing board of the Mount Diablo Unified School District (the “District”) to the Contra Costa County Board of Education (the “County”), as provided for in Education Code Section 47605(j)(1) and the California Code of Regulations, Title 5, Section 11967(a).

As you may know, on November 8, 2011, the District governing board voted 4-1 to deny the Charter School’s petition. Following is a timeline of pertinent events:

 June 8, 2011: The Charter School petitioners submit the charter petition to the District.

 August 9, 2011: The District holds a public hearing on the charter petition, where an overwhelming number of teachers, staff, parents, and community members express their support for the Charter School.

 September 13, 2011: The District board unanimously approves the Charter School’s petition, subject to the Charter School’s satisfaction of 56 conditions by February 2012. While CVCHS did not agree to a conditional approval, CVCHS immediately begins work on addressing the 56 conditions.

 September 22, 2011: CVCHS outlines a detailed plan to submit proof of meeting all of the 56 conditions no later than October 12, 2011, so that the MDUSD Board could consider the matter at its meeting on October 25, 2011. From September 14 through October 12, 2011, the Charter School submits responses and supporting information and documentation to satisfy each of the District’s 56 conditions.

 October 18, 2011: During a meeting with the MDUSD staff the CVCHS petitioners received word that they have met or negotiated a resolution of each of the 56 conditions, but that staff is waiting for an analysis of the fiscal documents.

 October 21, 2011: CVCHS receives word that it will not be on the MDUSD Board agenda for the meeting of October 25, 2011. During the October 25, 2011 meeting, MDUSD Board member Cheryl Hansen requests that the matter be placed on the agenda for November 8, 2011.

 November 8, 2011: An initial motion to approve the Charter School’s petition without conditions fails by a vote of 2-3. A second motion to deny the Charter School’s petition and adopt Resolution 11/12-25, including the District’s factual findings to deny the petition, passes by a vote of 4-1 (footnote: One of the Board members that supported the approval without condition voted for the denial so the petitioners could move on with the appeal to the County Board of Education). The District finds the Charter School did not meet four fiscal conditions out of the 56 original conditions placed on the District’s approval of the charter petition.

We note that the Charter School has garnered extraordinary support from teachers, staff, parents, community members, and political leaders throughout Contra Costa County. The Charter School’s petition was signed by over 80 percent of the permanent status teachers at Clayton Valley High School and is supported by more than 1200 signatures gathered from local community and business members. The Charter School is also supported by the City of Clayton, the City of Concord, the California Charter Schools Association, and respected political leaders including Congressman George Miller, State Senator Mark DeSaulnier, and State Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla.

Enclosed herein and described below are the required documents for an appeal of the denial of the Charter School’s petition by the District. The California Code of Regulations, Title 5, Section 11967(b) and County Board Policy requires that a charter school whose petition has been denied and that wishes to appeal its petition to the County Board of Education must send the following information within 180 days after the denial action:

(1) A complete copy of the charter petition as denied by the District, including the signatures required by Education Code Section 47605. In this matter the charter petition that was denied by MDUSD is the original petition and appendices (conditionally approved by MDUSD), attached under Binder Tab 1. All of the additional information and documentation submitted to MDUSD in response to the conditions, as well as all related correspondence, is attached under Binder Tabs 1(a)-1(ff). (Please see enclosed Table of Contents for detailed list of enclosures.)

(2) Evidence of the District governing board’s action to deny the petition (e.g. meeting minutes) and the governing board’s written factual findings specific to the particular petition, when available, setting forth specific facts to support one or more of the grounds for denial set forth in Education Code Section 47605(b). (A copy of the District governing board’s agenda for November 8, 2011, indicating the final vote for denial of the charter petition, is attached under Binder Tab 2. The District governing board’s Resolution 11/12-25 and written findings of fact for denial of the charter petition are also attached under Binder Tab 2(a). Finally, the Charter School’s response to the District governing board’s findings for denial is attached under Binder Tab 2(b).)

(3) A signed certification stating that petitioners will comply with all applicable law. (Attached under Binder Tab 3.)

(4) A description of any changes to the petition necessary to reflect the County as the chartering entity as applicable. (A detailed list of changes to reflect the County as the Charter School’s authorizer is attached under Binder Tab 4.)

The District Board voted to deny the Charter School’s petition on November 8, 2011. This appeal is therefore well within the 180 day limit for submission of an appeal of a charter petition.

According to Education Code Section 47605(b) and California Code of Regulations, Title 5, Section 11967(d), no later than 60 days after receiving a complete petition package, the Contra Costa County Board of Education shall grant or deny the charter petition. Because of the short time remaining to appeal to the State Board of Education we would respectfully request that the County adhere to this timeline during its consideration of the charter petition. Further, we respectfully request that the County Board hold an initial public hearing on the charter petition at its regularly scheduled meeting on December 7, 2011.

We look forward to working with your office and the County Board of Education as it considers the charter petition. Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions.

Neil McChesney and Pat Middendorf, (Co-Lead Petitioners)”

Middendorf told me she plans to present a Powerpoint that will go into greater detail about why the charter organizers want to separate from the district than the presentation they made to the MDSUD board.

“Now,” she said, “we feel a little bit more free to say more things.”

Do you think the public comments to the county board will be different from those to the district board?

4:53 P.M. UPDATE: As noted above, I have deleted two letters that were included in the board packet. Therefore, I have also edited the first comment below to delete references to those letters.

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139 Responses to “Clayton Valley High charter appeal hearing is Wednesday at Pleasant Hill Elementary”

  1. anon Says:

    [NOTE: This comment was edited to delete references to two letters provided to the County Board in their agenda packets.]

    … And lastly, given that the only measurable and vocal opposition is from OUTSIDE the feeder pattern, I hope that people/ the county BOE and others can see that for what it is… I don’t know one fellow CV parent against this. Not a ONE. Not one community member. Not one local politician. Not one local teacher.

    Let us be. Let us create our community school. Let us use innovation, resources and the momentum to create something great – something beyond just “settling for” the status quo of what public education has become. I do hope others WILL follow suit. Our kids deserve better. And the smear campaign and tactics the district has leveled against this effort is further proof that they want everyone to wallow in the pit… the pit of indifference, lack of funding, lack of will and inferior programs. It’s not working. Let us go.

  2. Doctor J Says:

    Theresa, I am really confused why you would delete the two letters and references to them as under the Brown Act, once those letters are provided to the Board, there is no question that the public is entitled to review them. In fact, once they are sent to the Board, they become public records.

  3. Theresa Harrington Says:

    One of the letter writers asked me to take it down. Out of fairness, I decided to remove both of them.
    However, I did inform the letter writer that it was a public record available for public review by anyone who requests the board packet. Also, to me, it appeared that she was presenting her email to the board as a form of “public comment.”
    Anyone who speaks during public comment should be aware that his or her comments could be published by a news organization.

  4. Doctor J Says:

    Depending upon who the writer was, it would have been much more fair to just redact the name and leave the content since it will be considered by the Board. However, I now note the entire link is down.

  5. Just J Says:

    Lawrence had the principals at schools except CV and feeder schools send out e mail blast and automated calls to come and oppose the Charter. I have had confirmation from parents of Concord High. This is terrible. I knew he was low but this really takes it to a new level.
    So much for being fair and open.

  6. Wait a minute Says:

    I’m not surprised, Stevie Lawrence is that kind of guy.

    Theresa, any chance you could publish this latest e-mail blast from Stevie?

  7. anon Says:

    GO CV! GO CV!! Every single parent I know in the feeder patterns supports this charter. People from ALL schools have walked door to door, made calls, attended the meetings, signed up to help committees. This is UNprecedented. We couldn’t get even a small fraction of this interest for either Measure D or C, or the 2008 election. This has done more to rally the CV community than anything I’ve ever seen.

    I saw in the petition packet that even key (exec VP) on the Ayers PTA (the Eberhart home school) is supporting the charter.

    The amount of effort the district is putting forth to resist this is more than sad, it is a SHAME. They are not fighting so our kids in the CV community keep their status quo, below basic education – they are fighting for the MONEY! MONEY. MONEY. This, has proven, like nothing I’ve ever seen before that our kids are ONLY about the money to this district.

    They don’t tell other schools to show up and protest the charter for their educational program. Kids from YV don’t come and say “gosh we insist you require those CV students have the same substandard education we’re getting.” No, they say “they’ll take money from US.”

    The district is wasting precious public resources to continue this fight, and all it proves is that they have NOTHING to offer but are instead, afraid of any perceived loss of MONEY!

    MDUSD is broken beyond repair, beyond recognition and has lost every thread of respect left in this community. Let us go.

  8. Not All PTA/PTO's Are Opposed Says:

    I am from a choice school (not in the CVHS feeder pattern) and our pto sent out an email communication specifically stating they haven’t taken any position on the charter, as they want their parents to make up their own minds. The principal also sent out a notice about the public hearing and also didn’t take any position. Having followed this process the whole way through, I frankly have never trusted the district and am glad to see the charter organizers finally getting a chance to go before the CCCOE. It is amazing how many people have been spoon-fed propaganda by their principals and the district and believe everything distributed is fact.

  9. Dan Says:

    Is anyone suprised at this behaivor by Stevie Lawrence? Remember he takes his marching orders from Eberhart ( a man known to be the single chaotic force that ruined our once great district).

  10. School Teacher Says:

    I will agree with others’ comments here that the sole concern on the part of the district is money. If the county is not going to be considering this aspect, I would hope they cut off any speaker that tries to bring it up. What would the district be saying if they didn’t have to supply the cost difference in funds (even though that is where those dollars are supposed to go). I want to hear what objections they would have then. Then we would be talking about more educationally oriented topics.

  11. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I have not received a copy of the alleged “e-mail blast.”
    If someone sends it to me, I could post it, after confirming its authenticity.

  12. Linda L Says:

    Sorry – Change of subject-

    I have applied for the MC2002 BOC and am wondering why I haven’t heard anything to date. Also why has the BOC MC2010 meeting been moved from 7pm to 5pm? It is very difficult for people who work to attend. Where are the MC2002 and MC2010 audit reports – shouldn’t they be completed by now?

  13. Doctor J Says:

    Board packet link still broken. Has it been taken down by CCC BOE and if so, why ?

  14. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Packet is now available:
    However, it looks like some pages were removed. Although the table of contents states that the packet contains more than 847 pages, the pdf icon states that it only includes 828 pages.
    Pages 824-844 have been removed. This includes the rebuttal letter from Marshall Mayotte, along with financial spreadsheet, included under Tab 2: “CVCHS Response to the district board’s written findings of fact for denial of the charter petition from Marshall Mayotte (ExEd), with updated budget and financials in response to district’s findings of denial, dated Nov. 13”
    County spokeswoman Peggy Marshburn said these pages were removed because they were not part of the original petition reviewed by the MDUSD board, so the county board will not review them, since they represent material revisions to the original petition.
    Neil McChesney said he understands that it can’t be considered as part of the denied petition. However, he said the charter committee plans to submit the letter to the county board separately tonight. He said he believes the county board can consider it as additional information.

  15. Doctor J Says:

    @Linda L #12 I think they will spring the audits sight unseen to the public and then get them approved by the Board at the meeting next week.

  16. g Says:

    Theresa; The big question to me is—just exactly when did the Board unanimously decide to send District Staff to make “official statements” to the County on behalf of the District? I must have missed that…!

  17. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Cooksey said the county “invited” staff to speak. However, since the vote was 4-1 and since Trustee Lynne Dennler initially voted to approve the charter unconditionally, it appears that staff intends to speak on behalf of Board President Gary Eberhart and trustees Sherry Whitmarsh and Linda Mayo. Neither Eberhart nor Whitmarsh spoke at the meeting, so there is no official record of why they voted against the charter. Mayo cited financial concerns, as well as her impression that the planned curriculum wasn’t innovative. Lack of an innovative curriculum, however, was not cited by staff as a reason for denial.
    Also, there are no minutes yet from the Nov. 8 meeting.
    Here is my blog recap of the Nov. 8 meeting, which includes comments made by the board regarding the charter:

  18. Linda L Says:

    Doctor J,
    So you think they will be approved on the 13th before the BOC meeting on the 15th? Do you think John Ferrante will present the annual report without BOC input?

  19. Doctor J Says:

    @Linda L. #18 Yes. Rumor has it that Pete has cleared his calendar for the afternoon of the 13th to prepare for the board meeting, and the only reason he would do that is to study up on the audits. There are no more BOE meetings scheduled for this year.

  20. Theresa Harrington Says:

    FYI, I am still hearing of busing problems.
    On Dec. 13, Trustee Cheryl Hansen expects to introduce an agenda item that would require the district to provide “accountability progress reports” on board actions, decisions and projects such as busing.

  21. Wait a Minute Says:

    Of course Theresa is still hearing of busing problems.

    That’s because:
    #1 Greg Rolen is incompetent and caused the problems to begin with (along with Lawrence, Eberhart, Whitmarsh, Mayo and a few others).

    #2 The above mentioned so-called “leaders” are not able to focus on what they consider to be minor problems.

    Problems like spc-ed kids soiling themselves on 2 hour bus rides because they are too busy using all the public’s resources fighting the charter, not to mention squandering over ONE MILLION DOLLARS on their failed busing takeover.

    Why are their priorities so skewed here?

    Because they are happy to ride the publicly-funded gravy train of incompetent school-district mismanagement and the charter school threatens to cut into their gravy and control!

  22. Doctor J Says:

    @TH #20 What this Board needs is more akin to what City Councils have done with large Police Departments in setting up a Citizen’s Review Board so that parents, teachers, administrators, etc can confidentially complaint about improper actions and practices without fear of retribution. These horrible actions on bussing and a number of other Board mandates, need citizen review and accountability totally separate from the Board and from the Administration.

  23. Doctor J Says:

    Theresa’s Twitter updates from the CCCBOE meeting are about as up to date as the World Book Encylopedia. LOL. What is happening ?

  24. Just J Says:

    Dr. J. It was really packed in there. The Pleasant Hill Police were telling people they could not come in due to fire hazard. I had to leave before public comment started. But I did have a wonderful conversation with 2 North Gate boys. When I left they had CV shirts hung on their shoulders.

  25. ray t Says:

    There are a lot of people making unsubtantiated allegations on this blog about an alleged “E-mail blast” by Lawrence. Maybe people should check their facts and lay off the personal attacks. They add nothing to the debate. I know, personally, that a lot of the opposition was generated by parents without input or assitance from the District.

  26. Doctor J Says:

    Good job Just J. Police? Where was the Fire Marshall ??

  27. Linda L Says:

    I think the meeting went well for the charter tonight.

  28. Concerned Parent Says:

    I am a concerned parent in MDUSD. I am strongly opposed to this charter move. I speak on behalf of many families in my community that feel the same way. We are just getting organized, and we are going to be heard whether it pleases the oppostion or not. Inspite of all claims to the contrary, the district has not e-blasted us. We’ve had to rely on diligant parents getting the word out. We are still living in a democratic society, where all sides will have their say and should be heard.

  29. Clayton Squirrel Says:

    Thank you for your wonderful comments at the meeting, Linda. You were awesome as was Jim. I assume that Jim is the Jim who writes such intelligent comments on this blog.

    I think that it went well too. There were many good speakers. Since the MDUSD Board denied the charter based on the chance that the charter might not have enough money to survive, I don’t see how they can follow through on the suggestion that the charter take reduced funding to placate the opposition from other schools. It was good that the County Board of Education asked questions and sought to understand both sides.

  30. Linda L Says:

    Tonight there was a respectful display of support and opposition at the CCCOE. Everyone was heard regardless of their opinion. Did you attend and speak?

  31. Linda L Says:

    I meant to address CP#28 not #10 sorry.

    Clayton Squirrel,
    Yes that was the Jim, one of the most brilliant people I know. He has fabulous ideas about education and is a big supporter of choice.
    I think you will get approved by the County and if not I would be surprised if you did not get approved by the State.

  32. Doctor J Says:

    Linda, you have always been a champion of Edudcation. Those mean things that were said of you by Paul were totally ridiculous. Keep the faith. Doctor J.

  33. Jim Says:

    Great presentations tonight from all of the CVCHS supporters, and it was particularly good to hear from the students there. It took an incredible amount of work, I can see, to bring the petition to this point. And I also want to commend the courage of the CVHS teachers who have spoken out for the charter. They may well be taking career risks in this district. Although LAUSD has continued to work with, and accept, teachers from their conversion charters down south, MDUSD gives every indication of leaning toward retribution, rather than future acceptance.

    As far as the supposed “cost” to other schools in the district, which seems to be the only sticking point for people outside the CVHS attendance area, CVCHS supports have to keep reminding people that: 1) high school funding is ALREADY inequitable under current MDUSD practices; 2) if giving a high school its full ADA funding is “costing” the district, it can only be because MDUSD is already NOT funding high schools at the appropriate higher levels recommended by the state (as Linda pointed out in her comments to the board); and 3) whenever MDUSD or their apologists cite “numbers”, we have to point out, again and again, that MDUSD has not, and perhaps cannot, even produce the figures showing what it costs to run CVHS currently. If any more evidence were needed to show the shambles at Dent Center, point #3 ought to provide everyone with the necessary clarity.

  34. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Here is my short online story about the meeting:
    Dr. J: It’s very difficult to videotape, take notes and tweet at the same time. So, I am not always able to tweet as it happens.
    Superintendent Steven Lawrence told me in an email that the district is experimenting with videotaping board meetings. If they start recording and posting meeting videos, then I’ll have more time to tweet! But until then, I feel I must videotape as I’m able to. I’ll post some clips tomorrow.

  35. Doctor J Says:

    Love the “stark contrast” from TH article; were any MDUSD Board members there to get a lesson in how to run a Board meeting ? And Theresa, as far as videotaping, notetaking, and tweeting at the same time, we expect a lot from our heroes. :-) Keep up the good work. Friends, lets chip in for a headcam for Theresa, so she doesn’t have to hold the camera. LOL.

  36. NitWit Says:

    Doctor J, it was a stark contrast of epic proportion! I’ve never seen our mdusd board ask for that level of detail or to show so much interest . They quite frankly should be ASHAMED of themselves after sitting in the meeting last night. They should be embarrassed!! I am actually more disgusted than ever with our board and while I used to want the charter for the kids, I now, want it just as much for me so I can get out of this district once and for all.

    I’m still shaking my head at what I witnessed and really thank the CCBOE for their efforts and time last night. It only proved our board has no ability to think for themselves, no interest in the issues and instead will just roll over for whatever staff says and the Supt directs.

    I was absolutely horrified when I realized how vindictive the district is being, can anyone explain how the district can claim ownership to equipment (music specifically) if the booster bought them? I have donated to CVHS boosters and what WE buy belongs to our students. The district has hit the sludge on the bottom on that one, clearly a new low even for them.

  37. Anon Says:

    three highlights, or low points:

    the county asked supt lawrence about cvhs changes with new principal brothers and all he answered is after-school math tutoring with juniors and seniors but problem no funding source . . .

    yv principal lectured the county about charter schools-totally pointless because hullo the county is totally knowledgeable about the success of charters . . .

    the county asked will cvhs equipment go to the charter-deb cooksy answered that the district may keep booster donations like marching band eqmt and pat middendorf was shocked the district would stoop so low . . . deb cooksy is researching this and how the heck much is the district paying her . . . what will mdusd do with two eagle mascot costumes . . . district alert: your retribution, retaliation, vindictiveness, and pettiness is showing . . .

    mt diablo jester: time for a new video to music adele singing “rolling in the mud”

  38. Just J Says:

    Perhaps all the band equipment will go to North Gate. They seem to gat everything. While other schools suffer with outdated science labs, not enough computers, no library to speak of, not enough text books North Gate got new computers and science labs. 2 students sitting next to me said they didnt need them and said they should give them to cv and other schools that do need them.
    So if the district will retain booster money then perhaps they shoul pool all the money and divide it? Not. The district is wrong and by making a statement like that they are now making so parents will not want to give anymore. This is a sad time in MDUSD! Where is the 43 mm in surplus?

  39. Jim Says:

    NitWit #36 — You may also have noticed that when CBoE President Pamela Mirabella asked the district for reactions to the questions she had emailed to them last Friday, the MDUSD people all stared at each other with blank looks and confessed that they knew nothing about them. Well, how about the additional questions she emailed to them on Monday? And the last ones she sent on Tuesday? Still blank looks. They were supposedly preparing for this hearing all last week, and yet no one noticed questions sent in by the board president who would be presiding over the hearing.

    Ms. Mirabella, welcome to our world.

  40. Anon Says:

    Just J 38-
    lay off north gate. three ng parents spoke for the charter last night. they have boosters just like cv to buy computers. check your info-ng is like cv with problems like outdated labs, not enough textbooks and all that-not even enough toilets for the number of kids.

  41. Wait a minute Says:

    Lets face it,
    the MDUSD operates like the Mafia or even more, like one of the old political machines.

    They dispense favors to those schools and principals that support their devious actions and they dispense threats and retribution towards those that question their stupid actions and judgements.

    Thanks to this debate over the charter, they have now been throughly exposed for what they are,
    largely unaccountable politicians and bureauacrats that care nothing for fairness, equity or their charges but rather are all about themselves and their power (and the money of course).

    So let me make this perfectly clear:
    Stevie Lawrence, Sue Brothers, Gary Eberhart, Sherry Ebermarsh, Linda Mayo, Greg Rolen, Debra Cooksey

  42. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Anon: At the very end of the public hearing, one Northgate student stood up and said: “I don’t even know why I’m here. My principal has left me.” He noted that the throng of Northgate students who had come to get credit for their government class had also left. Then, he said he supported the charter. He said that as a student assistant last year, he was delivering passes to classrooms and saw about five teachers showing films in class. “That is not teaching,” he said.
    Also, I have heard that Northgate Principal John McMorris made a lengthy announcement over school loudspeakers to all students during classes yesterday, informing them about the meeting and his objections to the charter.

  43. Just J Says:

    Anon #40. I think you mis-understood what I was trying to say or maybe I said it in way that was negative to the parents. I don’t have any problems with Noth Gate parents and the money they raise. They should be proud of what they do. I was using NG as an example for the exrtra district money they get. I can’t use YV or Mt. D because they get more money because of the title 1 and program inprovemnet.

    When I said perhaps all the booster money should be split up I have a NOT after that. If the district wants to take booster money and band equipment from CV when the boosters funded it it is just Wrong. I am sure NG whould parents would feel the same.

    I am very proud of the students for and against the Charter for using their thinking skills to come to a conclusion. I was listening to kids from other schools have some very healthy converstions. This is what it should be about. I also listened to kids who didn’t care and were there just to get extra credit. I can’t blame the kid for wanting extra credit but that was wrong in my book too (unless the extra credit is given for reporting back and learning a lesson)

    I am in support of All of our students! I think they all deserve a quality education. Again I am sorry if what I said came out wrong. It really was against the District not NG parents. In fact when NG wanted to leave the district I was in support of it. My support was based on it making sense not how will it benefit me.

  44. Walnut Creeker Says:

    They do their best but don’t think everything is perfect at Northgate. The site admin is good but understaffed, the district has huge delays hiring and ordering, and the school has solar panels but not enough toilets. Because Northgate is in the wrong district, they can’t pay teachers what they deserve and every year they lose good teachers. There are major equity questions between the five school districts in Walnut Creek. Northgate still wants to join Walnut Creek and Acalanes districts. In Acalanes they pay teachers more and have less turnover.

  45. Mary G. Says:

    What can I say? Villifying the district does nothing to facilitate a rational dialogue about any of the facts. As a concerned parent of 3 kids not in the CV attendance area, and as a taxpayer like everyone else, can anyone tell me, factually, that funding and programs will NOT be taken from our students? I have not heard anyone addressing the impact to non-CV students AFTER the charter goes through.

  46. Anon Says:

    Just J 43-
    check your info because we don’t know why ng gets more than cv. the screwy district accounting might include ng parent funds that ng pays the district for more class sections a.k.a. teacher time. we don’t know-lets ask bryan richards LOL

    ng kids weren’t there for extra credit. the principal said a public meeting is required for govt class. sounds like the only ng kid who spoke was for the charter.

    the infighting is wrong. everyone wants better than this district. united we stand . . .

  47. Doctor J Says:

    Hey friends, take it easy on Deb Cooksey. She is just your normal shark lawyer, but this time her prey is Greg Rolen. Like a Great White Shark, she is circling her prey She knows he is “short” on his time left in MDUSD — with his divorce, his credit problems, and biggest is is failure as the head of transportation and M & O. She took over the opposition to the CVCHS Charter — while she won’t be successful, she is showing to Eberhart, Whitmarsh, and Mayo loyalty, and that is all they need to make the change. What for the change in the next six months, as soon as the Board can ease Rolen to another job. They have to be careful — he knows where the bodies are buried.

  48. Linda L Says:

    Just J #38

    The new computers were paid for by Measure C funds (Measure A, Measure C 2002, whichever pot they pulled from). Every high school received $1.5 million from the District. One of the items Northgate purchased was computers. The computers were needed for implementing a new engineering program that is part of Northgate’s strategic plan.

    No high school would have the $1.5mil approved yet if a group of dedicated parents at Northgate hadn’t sat down with the District and asked for this commitment. Northgate wanted to make sure funds were allocated by school and not just at the will of the District.

  49. Jim Says:

    Re Theresa #42 — about those videos… The parents among us know how hard it can be to pry information from our students at the end of the school day. We ask them “How was school today?” and often just get a shrug, or an “OK”. So I would encourage all MDUSD parents to ask their students specific questions, such as the following:
    “Did you watch any movies today?” We found that, at the peak, our son was watching up to 7 movies per week at Northgate.
    “Has your teacher handed any assignments back?” That’s how we discovered that an English teacher had not returned a single writing assignment during an entire semester. (Somehow, students were supposed to know how well they were writing, and how they could improve, without seeing a single paper returned.)
    “Was your teacher there today?” That’s how we learned that a teacher was missing half of more of her classes, requiring a revolving door of last-minute substitutes. We also learned that another teacher (not our son’s) routinely showed up 10-15 minutes late to every class after lunch.

    Those are just a few examples. I have more. In another thread, Theresa asked whether students should be allowed to evaluate their teachers. The fact is that they already do, although few people inquire to find out what they know. I wouldn’t want to rely soley on student evaluations of teachers, but as we heard last night, there is valuable feedback to be had from students, if anyone cares to ask them.

  50. Anon Says:

    Doctor J 46-
    good luck deb cooksey. the tomes of budget iterations showed that her tactic is to “paper” the petitioners. her presentation was all about meetings and phone calls every day-omg who has the time. it was the worst cya. and stealing the mascot costumes. cannot believe thats how the district wants to present before the county and the public.

  51. DVAL WATCHER Says:

    Unbelievable..been in the district for 40 years student / parent. You folks have hit an all time low. The boosters, athletics, band really ? You would not have sports at all if it were not for Pat @ CV! NG you seriously need to be quiet. NG folks getting nervous a lot of parents talking about applying for lotto spots for the Charter. Mark my words traffic will be going in the reverse up and over the hill.

  52. Walnut Creeker Says:

    Jim #49,
    You speak the truth.

  53. Anon Says:

    DVAL 51-
    excuse me. do you want the ng parents who spoke in favor of the charter to be quiet? they were applauded by cvchs last night. you should lay off ng. seriously

  54. School Teacher Says:

    The final comments from the county mentioned 50 negative emails concerning the charter from different cities evidencing what they considered to be a division among cities. First, I hope that charter supporters will take the time to send the CCCBOE some supportive emails so they can see how much support there is. And secondly, I hope that the CCCBOE can see this divisiveness has been stoked by the actions and attitudes of the district. Their only objections are about funds they claim they will be losing, and they’re not even sure how much (if any) that might be. So they have brought in these threatening accessory topics (teachers must resign from the district forfeiting their years of service- no leave of absence option even though a teacher going to another district to teach would most likely get that leave of absence, donated items and booster funded items are technically district property and can be removed from the site if they want to do that) to attempt to curb this movement. In a very simplistic way, CVCHS is simply asking for the funding that they are supposed to get as a high school. I think every high school in the district should get that. They have no serious arguments that point to anything they have done that has really improved things, and they are now trying to put out fires by bringing in people to try and straighten things out. I think it is a little too late for that.

  55. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Anon: Richards also told the board that the district gave the charter committee the financials in September. However, he said the district wasn’t required to give the information to them in a format that they could understand.
    Yet, in his presentation, Richards criticized the charter committee for not providing its financials in the format the district wanted.

  56. Anon Says:

    oh yeah one more thing-middendorf and mcchesney rock

  57. DVAL WATCHER Says:

    I believe NG Principal and Admin. need to be quiet now. Parents @ NG were not pleased to receive district talking points a few months back from NG. Then they are giving extra credit to students to attend last nights meeting. Again, with district talking points. Yeah, I think NG should be quiet. Jim’s right NG’s got more problems than you know. I’m glad there were NG parents at last nights meeting supporting the Charter. That’s how the majority of parents and students feel !

  58. Walnut Creeker Says:

    Mary G #45,
    Were you there last night? CVCHS gave a super powerpoint and had an experienced charter accounting guy and addressed this many times, to rebut the district propaganda. After months of requests MDUSD has not provided the fiscal information about actual CVHS costs. But the CVCHS accountant estimates there will be zero impact on the MDUSD budget.

  59. Anon Says:

    Walnut Creek #58

    You did not answer #45’s question. This is a fundamental problem with all of the rhetoric and opinion that is being generated by the charter proponents and their apparent refusal to acknowledge that the rest of the district exists.

  60. Walnut Creeker Says:

    Dval Watcher #51,
    You’re right on. MDUSD will lose sports and probably music. Rich Northgate families will move to Clayton. We know rich families have been moving to Lafayette. Northgate will have with fewer families (the ones who can’t afford to move) and more seniors – it’ll be like Rossmoor East. Do you think WC City Hall cares about the families here and will renew the petition to combine the school districts?

  61. School Teacher Says:


    I agree with you totally. I think this perception of NG being anti-charter is more of a fabrication being pushed by the administration there (which rumor has it has this being pushed on them from the district). I would not be surprised if all goes well for CVCHS, NG might not be too far behind.

  62. John Q Says:

    It’s not surprising. The CBE conducted thorough questioning before approving their solar project. Unlike MDUSD Trustees like Linda Mayo who last night confirmed she’ll rubber-stamp any staff report.

    BTW Theresa, is there a notice for the BOC meeting, is it Dec. 15 at 5:00? The Public would like to calendar its happy holiday meeting schedule.

  63. Linda L Says:

    John Q,
    The public would also like the BOC meeting returned to 7pm.

  64. John Q Says:

    Linda L – if it’s 5:00 then will there be a buffet dinner? The Public gets hungry

  65. Jim Says:

    To all of the people who keep referring to the possibility of Northgate joining WC schools, I’m sorry, but you need to put that idea to rest. It was never a possibility. Small district boundary adjustments sometimes happen, after long delays and much bureaucratic finagling, but a big territory transfer like that could NOT happen unless BOTH districts fully supported it. In the absence of such agreement from MDUSD (and I think we all know how likely that is), it would be career suicide for any administrator in WC schools to speak at all positively about it, let alone do anything to make it possible; he or she would be black-balled forever. When you are a lifer school administrator, your only job prospects are with other public school districts, most of whom have their own monopoly interests to protect. No education administrator touches the third rail of district boundaries and lives to tell about it. City Hall has nothing to do with it. School districts are independent entities run by boards who are accountable to no one except the vendors, contractors, consultants, (and often unions) who get their business, and in turn, get them re-elected. They could not care less what any elected official outside of education thinks.

    A key step in making any positive change is to distinguish between what is possible and what is mere fantasy. As much as I would like to see the Northgate area become part of the WC school district, it is not going to happen. If we want better educational opportunities for our children, we have to focus on adding more choices to the menu we have — either by “charterizing” MDUSD schools where communities want that, and/or by allowing more new independent charters into the district. Without more choices, residents are trapped in the schools that MDUSD provides, with no systematic way to incent that monopoly to become accountable. I would hate to think that anyone is holding back on supporting school choice because they believe that their schools can someday become part of WC schools. That is as much of a fantasy as expecting MDUSD suddenly to become “accountable”, when it has almost no incentives to do so.

  66. Mary G. Says:

    #58, All I asked was “can anyone tell me, factually, that funding will NOT be taken from any other MDUSD students in the district? And, that there will be no other negative impacts?” Still waiting for an answer.

  67. Walnut Creeker Says:

    School Teacher,
    Northgate is ready to renew its petition to unite WC school districts. Last night speakers said the CVHS problems are because MDUSD is too large. MDUSD needs to be divided and Northgate is primed to spin off and join the rest of the city.

  68. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Mary, Have you watched the video of the Nov. 21 budget meeting and looked at the PowerPoint? Although the district posted those online, it did not post the spreadsheet that was passed out at the meeting, which showed the wide differences in funding at each school, along with the large amount of money the district takes directly from student revenues and allocates to other programs districtwide.
    Some opponents last night said the charter could cost each school about $73 per student. But, the difference in funding between schools is already more than $73 per student in many cases.
    County Board Trustee Pam Mirabella suggested that she might like to modify the charter petition so that the district would “fund the charter at the same level as all other high schools in the district.” It’s unclear how that would be determined, since all the high schools are funded at different levels.
    MDUSD received $5,261.50/ADA for each high school last year. Yet, it gave Ygnacio Valley HS 96 percent of the funding its students generated, but only gave College Park and Concord high schools 85 percent of the funding their students generated. CVHS received 90 percent of the funding its students generated.
    The district is already taking more from some schools than others to help subsidize programs. It is unclear whether it would divide any new cuts equally among schools or whether it would continue to give more to some schools than others.
    Meanwhile, MDEA is asking for pay raises and no furlough days, saying the district has $43 million in reserves. Given the large reserve amount, it’s unclear whether any cuts would be necessary in the near future, even if the charter is approved.

  69. Walnut Creeker Says:

    Now you’re the one saying there’s no choice! I say never say never. The CDE Handbook says “Most people see school districts as stable or even permanent governmental entities. School district boundaries, however, do change.“ Large-scale school district reorganization has been successful in Pleasanton.

    But what about money to motivate? Now we know about FCMAT and they can prepare a report on whether the districts would get higher revenue per student if they agree to reorganization? This FCMAT report for Escondido shows the revenue limits could increase –

    Actually MDUSD might want to request a FCMAT report on this.

  70. Just J Says:

    Jim, You are 100% right!
    I would think that instead of fighting we would all join together let the Charter take place and UNITE once again to change what we have for the rest of the kids in the District. I for one will not stop fighting for ALL kids to make sure they get what they need and deserve to one day be leaders. We need to stop fighting eachother and go for the Greater good of all!

    I hope NG does something to bring more choice! We need to be strong together and send an even BIGGER message to the District and Board!

  71. John Q Says:

    You’d think MDUSD would be motivated by something else besides money. Let Walnut Creek go and they’d have no more Linda L attending BOC meetings and asking pesky questions!

  72. Helll Freezing Over Says:

    Mary G. #66 Says:
    December 8th, 2011 at 11:33 am
    #58, All I asked was “can anyone tell me, factually, that funding will NOT be taken from any other MDUSD students in the district? And, that there will be no other negative impacts?” Still waiting for an answer.

    Mary, this is my opinion, and I base it on what I’ve read from district and heard in meetings over the last year. No matter what from this point on, any funding cuts regardless of true reason, will be blamed on a charter.

    I wonder why no one is crying foul at Flex… they said they had over 350 students sign up – over half what they expected – when they got approved and were waiting for a site from MDUSD. When they do open, what will the district tell everyone then?

  73. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Some speakers also said that many of the district’s “high-achieving” students and their involved parents are already leaving the district to attend private high schools. They estimated the charter might attract some of these students and parents back to their local public school.

  74. David "Shoe" Shuey former Mayor of Clayton now just councilperson :) Says:

    Mary G – The short answer to your question is that the question cannot be answered at this time. The charter steering committee has been asking since April for the costs to run CVHS but have not gotten complete information. Theresa and the CCTimes have asked for this information and gotten the same incomplete information. Congressman Miller asked for this information and got the same incomplete information.

    In order to properly determine any negative impacts to the District one would have to know 1) how much money they will lose in funds that used to go to them but in the future would go to the charter; 2) how much money they would save from not having to “run” CVHS, including salaries, maintenance, electricity, etc.; 3) how much money they will get from the charter for rental of the facilities, cost of oversight (although that may now go to the county), etc. So far, the district has come up with at least 4 (YES I SAID 4 DIFFERENT AMOUNTS) different amounts of how much money they would lose based on student funding, but have not given the cost savings or money that would come back in facilities, etc.

    Assemblywoman Bonilla, Senator DeSaulnier and WC councilmember Rajan indicated the District should hire an independent auditor to conduct and independe review and determine the actual costs. The district then said they had hired FCMAT and FCMAT supported their findings. But at a budget meeting the FCMAT rep indicated they conducted a management review and not an independent review and the number they supported was that the District would lose the student funding, without confirmation or analysis of cost savings or facilities rental, etc. We were told that our elected’s would be telling the district they were disappointed that an independent review was not done and should be done but that was not said at the meeting last night.

    the charter consultants say that generally a charter is cost neutral to a District but without specific and verifiable numbers it is impossible to state at this point. What is clear is what Theresa and others and the district itself have admitted: the high schools in the district are being underfunded from what they should be getting as a result of state funding.

    I am sorry that there is no quick and easy answer for any of us on this topic but we must look to the district to stop the gameplaying and allow an independent auditor to come in and figure out which of 4 different amounts of lost funding from the district is correct (or perhaps none are), the costs to run CVHS which will be saved by the district, the money that will come back from facilities rental, etc.

    I urge you and anyone else who still has questions to email me directly at and I will do the best I can to answer. :)


  75. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Just to clarify, I am not saying that “high schools in the district are being underfunded from what they should be getting as a result of state funding.”
    I am, however, pointing out that the district is taking between 4 and 15 percent off the top from revenues each high school gets from the state to help pay for “other programs,” along with another $826/ADA for “central services.” (This is unrestricted funding and doesn’t count “restricted” funding for special programs, such as Title 1.)
    It’s up to the public to decide whether this constitutes “underfunding” or whether the district’s funding allocations are justified.

  76. David "Shoe" Shuey former Mayor of Clayton now just councilperson :) Says:

    Fair enough I am saying the district’s methodology is skewed. Sorry Theresa. :)

  77. Clayton Squirrel Says:

    Thank you David Shuey!

  78. Doctor J Says:

    I know that everyone would did not attend last night would love a “play by play” recap, but it was a very long meeting. I would like to pose a few questions that may give some insight into how the CCC BOE viewed the appeal:

    Did the CC Board “get” that the district has NOT provided the full expense accountings of CVHS as Shoe explained ?

    Which MD Board members were present and did any of them speak or were questions asked of them ?

    Did Supt. Lawrence speak — about what, and what kind of questions were asked of him ?

    Did CFO Bryan Richards explain why he has not provided full accountings of the expenses of CVHS ?

    Any references made to the Synergy Charter approval by the State Board ?

    How was the whole confusion about the findings resolution handled and did the CC Board have any questions about that ?

  79. Anthony C. Says:

    Theresa, last night the principal from Northgate, John McMorris, stated that Northgate was able to accomplish many great things while operating on funding of $5k+ while the neighboring Walnut Creek high school was receiving $9k+ in funding (I don’t remember the actual figures or the name of the school he mentioned). Was I hearing this correctly? If so, that is a pretty drastic difference in funding for two schools in the same city but not the same district.

    It was nice to hear from the two mothers of students at Northgate come out in support of the Charter.

  80. Anthony C. Says:

    Did the CC Board “get” that the district has NOT provided the full expense accountings of CVHS as Shoe explained ?

    I can answer a few of these.

    Which MD Board members were present and did any of them speak or were questions asked of them ? I saw all of them except for Lynne Dennler (she may have been there). Gary kept leaving and coming back throughout the night. Linda was one of the first speakers and she did a good job of painting a scary financial impact for those against the Charter. Cheryl was sitting front and center. I’m not sure if her and the other members that were present spoke as I had to leave at 9:00 and the public was still commenting.

    Did Supt. Lawrence speak — about what, and what kind of questions were asked of him ? He did, I’ll leave what he spoke about to Theresa or anyone else that was there.

    Did CFO Bryan Richards explain why he has not provided full accountings of the expenses of CVHS ? Not that I heard.

    Any references made to the Synergy Charter approval by the State Board ? Yes, from Laura Hoffmesiter at the end of her comment but they muted her mike as time was up, so it was hard to hear.

  81. anon Says:

    Anthony you have to realize that Northgate is doing so well because they have phenomenal parental backing. Parents (the parent club) FINANCES multiple sections of classes. They fund more than a 160k of EXTRAS. So the 5k figure is NOT 100% accurate. See how Northgate does if parents pulled back their purses.

  82. Doctor J Says:

    Any word on the Budget Advisory Committee tonight ?

  83. School Teacher Says:

    What type of funding was Mr. McMorris referring to as to the $5k? The district has NG’s unrestricted funding per ADA listed at $4903.59, which qualifies as just under $5k. But, if that is the number he is referring to, that is the second highest in the district for the unrestricted per ADA, so I don’t think that indicates they’re hurting. Their combined per ADA (which includes the restricted funding) is $8043.11. The only schools getting more combined funding are MDHS and YVHS (which I understand receive more due to grants), and CHS (I don’t know if they have grants to increase their overall funding). Both CVHS and CPHS have combined ADA numbers a few hundreds of dollars less than NG. And I don’t think that parent contributions/donations fall into any of these district numbers (somebody please correct me if I’m wrong). Maybe Mr. McMorris could chime in here and clarfiy exactly what $5k number he was referring to. That would really be helpful.

  84. Walnut Creeker Says:

    School Teacher,
    Walnut Creek’s Las Lomas HS is in the Acalanes district, which has about the same State revenue as MDUSD. The difference is that Acalanes has a big parcel tax! That is how they are able to pay teachers $25,000 more than Northgate, and they have much less teacher turnover than Northgate’s revolving door. If Northgate joined Acalanes district, then we would be automatically added to the parcel tax and could pay teachers at the Acalanes rate and retain them. That is a huge equity issue within City of Walnut Creek. That is why hundreds of parents (other than Jim) are fighting to unite the Walnut Creek schools.

    You may recall that Northgate voted for MDUSD’s Measure D parcel tax but we were outvoted in this district. That parcel tax ($7 million per year?) would have saved MDUSD a world of hurt, if they had allotted it wisely. But would they have invested at the elementary level to return K-3 CSR or more prep time, or would they have invested at high school level for 9th grade CSR or 7 period days or athletics? I bet it would have gone to elementary, but if MDUSD had invested in high schools instead of underfunding then CVHS might not be going charter.

    Another priority for Northgate has been a district strategic plan, which CSBA says is a top priority and necessity for the school board. Lawrence said at his Northgate meet-and-greet community meeting that the district is “too busy putting out forest fires.” But now the district is still trapped in a Catch-22 with no strategic plan to figure a way to put out this blazing inferno. CSBA provides districts information such as “Strategic Planning in an Era of Fiscal Crisis.”

    Adding to Anthony C, apparently after he left Sherry Whitmarsh spoke. Her concluding remark was that the district would have to adjust school boundaries. Well, that is not impossible, districts do it all the time, and MDUSD should have done that years ago! Supt McHenry asked the board to consider it in about 2005, but instead Crystyl Ranch still goes to Northgate and Montecito goes to CVHS. In MDUSD it takes a crisis to force the board kicking and screaming to even consider doing what all the successful districts do on a regular basis. Weren’t they supposed to change a school boundary this year as a result of school closure, and has it been done?

  85. Alicia M. Says:

    The BOC was notified that our meeting begins at 7pm on Dec. 15th. There was a typo on the website.

  86. School Teacher Says:

    Does someone know the per ADA funding (restricted, unrestricted, and combined) for the Acalanes district high schools? I would like to see those to compare to the MDUSD figures.

  87. Doctor J Says:

    @WC#84 Once again we circle back to no Strategic Plan. As a result of lack of planning and review, we have school populations with a very wide disparity. Demographics change over time and there needs to be periodic review. This becomes a financial issue too, because of economies of scale. Finally we had a school closure committee whose work was shrouded in secrecy. It made some recommendations, but none of them was the one the was touted by Supt Lawrence upon his arrival to the district and when he tried to imposed his mandate through the committee after their work was nearly completed, it was rejected by the committee. Then we all know how our Board President injected himself by making shoot from the hip recommendations. Lastly, even after two schools were closed, why didn’t the committee continue its work to review school boundaries and potential future closures ? Well Lawrence and Eberhart realized that they “lost control” by having parental involvement, and so they reeled in that committee and now have it close to the vest. Yet nothing has been done because of the self created “forest fires” described by Lawrence. Sadly Lawrence and Eberhart have been trying to put out forest fires with a garden hose. CVHS got tired of it. Many others have tired of it. Meanwhile, they accumulated a $43 million dollar reserve two years in a row that was essentially hidden from the public and the unions. Just remember that whatever raises Lawrence gives to the Unions, he gets also. The dog and pony show continues.

  88. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Walnut Creeker: Yes, the district was supposed to change school boundaries for Meadow Homes and Bay Point schools as part of the $1.5 million School Closure savings plan. The district was also supposed to convene a committee to look at consolidating necessary small high schools and I don’t believe that has been done either.
    Although the district has spent a lot of time calculating how much it could lose if CVHS becomes a charter, it still hasn’t figured out how much was actually saved by closing the schools. Its failure to redraw the boundaries is resulting in more “overflow” busing costs for students because their neighborhood schools can’t accommodate them.
    Dr. J: I wasn’t able to attend the Budget Advisory Committee meeting.
    And to others asking about who spoke, etc., I videotaped many comments – including those of Northgate Principal John McMorris and Trustees Linda Mayo and Sherry Whitmarsh – and will try to post links to them late today.

  89. Doctor J Says:

    Maybe our CFO really doesn’t know how to calculate how much was saved in closing the schools, just as he can’t over the last 7 months figure out how much it costs to run CVHS — seems to be a common theme. Can you imagine the CFO of Safeway not being able to tell the Board of Directors how much it costs to run any particular store and if that store were to close, what its financial impact would be. Its mind boggling.

  90. Doctor J Says:

    Which MBA school teaches that “management by crisis” is a preferred form of management style ? Mark my words, now that people are asking, you will see an emergency meeting of the alleged Boundary committee — crisis brings the appearance of doing it. Is there even a Committee for consolidation of small high schools ? Oops, another crisis. You will see one quickly. Any parental involvement in either committee ? What has happened in the last ten months to these committees ?

  91. Theresa Harrington Says:

    The district hired a consultant with Measure C money to explore the idea of expanding Bay Point schools and building a new school, so maybe the district is holding off on redrawing boundaries there. Bryan Richards was tasked with redrawing boundaries around Meadow Homes Elementary, as I recall. And Superintendent Steven Lawrence told me months ago that he was holding off on the small high school committee because he thought it would be addressed as part of the strategic plan.

  92. Doctor J Says:

    @TH#91 No parental involvement ? The September 26 draft of the Strategic Plan was all about involving all stakeholders in major decisions, especially parents. Perhaps I missed it, but I didn’t see one word about realignment of small high schools in the Strategic Plan. Here we are, another 3 months down the road and no further action on the Strategic Plan.

  93. Theresa Harrington Says:

    When I asked Board President Gary Eberhart about the strategic plan a few weeks ago, he said the district was busy trying to deal with the charter petition.
    Now that the board has denied the petition, perhaps the strategic plan will get back on track.

  94. anon Says:

    TH #93, I know you know how silly that sounds , LOL

  95. Linda L Says:

    The strategic plan is not a priority for the district and because of this they should not waste their time.

    The Superintendent does not believe in strategic planning and Sherry Whitmarsh made it clear there would be no community advisory committees where resources of time, money, and expertise could be leveraged. Gary Eberhart felt it was important to reflect on the difference between honest and accurate.

    This will simply be a “bookshelf” document. A real strategic plan would be championed by the district leadership not accommodated. A real strategic plan would be a document that would guide every decision.

    We were way too optimistic to think this was possible here. I believe this is the single most important thing this District could, and should, do but it would have to be the real thing.

  96. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Eberhart also pointed out that Trustees Cheryl Hansen and Sherry Whitmarsh have taken the lead on strategic planning, so he seemed to think it was up to them to push forward with it, time permitting.

  97. Walnut Creeker Says:

    School Teacher,
    Here’s a link to the Acalanes district budget

    The budget lists parcel taxes in the amount of $10,450,000, which for 5,281 students (estimated actual attendance), equals almost $2,000 per student.

    This is a district that follows its strategic plan, which is referenced in the budget, to develop the public trust necessary to pass parcel tax measures. There are two parcel taxes and one of them is for an indefinite period, and thus a permanent source of revenue.

  98. Theresa Harrington Says:

    As I have previously mentioned, Superintendent Steven Lawrence suggested at the Nov. 21 budget meeting that the district might want to seek a parcel tax to help close the projected deficits (which may materialize as a result of ongoing trigger cuts, no furlough days, no COLA and the CVHS charter).

  99. The Observer Says:

    The current board majority – Eberhart/Whitmarsh/Mayo – along with the superintendent have no interest in moving the Strategic Plan forward. It would require that they
    interact and listen to the community along with the added burden of being accountable. Until there is a new board majority and superintendent the Strategic Plan will have no advocates with the exception of one board member – Hansen.

  100. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Trustee Lynne Dennler also sought accountability when she suggested that the district establish a committee to address concerns raised by CVHS charter advocates, along with similar concerns that may exist at other schools.
    At the Contra Costa County board meeting, Trustee Pam Mirabella asked the district what it has done to address these concerns. Superintendent Lawrence cited changes made by the principal. When I asked him in an email if he intended to establish the committee that Dennler suggested (and which Trustee Cheryl Hansen, Board President Gary Eberhart and Walnut Creek City Councilman Kish Rajan said they support), he replied:

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

  101. Linda L Says:

    Theresa #98,
    All I can say is REALLY?


    Did the Superintendent propose a time frame for the parcel tax campaign?

  102. Theresa Harrington Says:

    No, he mentioned it as one of several ideas that had surfaced at the last budget reduction meetings held last year.

    Since Mirabella is looking for accountability, it will be interesting to see if the district decides to create the committee Dennler suggested after all.

  103. Just J Says:

    Hey Everyone Just found out a math teacher at Diablo View was arested.

  104. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Here’s our story so far:

    We are looking for reactions from DVMS parents. Please contact me at 945-4764 or

  105. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Here are more details about the arrest from WCPD:
    NOTE: Includes sexually explicit information.

  106. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Agenda for Tuesday’s MDUSD meeting is posted:
    Includes policies for equity and disproportionality on consent agenda, SunPower change order, SASS job descriptions and four items from Trustee Cheryl Hansen seeking timely distribution of board mins, composition of agenda, protocol for action items and a proposed “Board Action Accountability Progress Report.”

  107. Doctor J Says:

    My heart greives for the victim and hopes she will be provided the necessary professional counseling to overcome these incidents. As for the alleged perpetrator, school teachers convicted of sex crimes don’t fare well in prision. I don’t sanction that, but it is reality of our “correctional system”.

  108. Theresa Harrington Says:

    The teacher has confessed to the crimes.

  109. Just J Says:

    He was a horrible teacher not to mention a slime ball!
    Last year he started his back to school night with parents saying if your son or daughter says they are having problems in math because of the teacher don’t believe them because they lie at this age. It took me months to have my child moved from his class. I hope Mrs. Bannister startes listening to parents complaints now!
    I am just sick over this.

  110. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Do you think other parents had complained about him?
    Was the principal responsive to your complaints?

  111. Doctor J Says:

    Agenda: 1. Why is Lawrence being evaluated again ?
    2. The Agenda items on Equity and Disproportionality state they are adopting the April 19 draft — not true. Parents and families have been removed from the current draft but were included on April 19. The Strtegic Plan draft is to include parents and families.

  112. Doctor J Says:

    @Alicia M. & Linda L: Have these Measure C substantial increases even been discussed before the Measure C committee ?

  113. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Here’s a post about the arrest:

  114. Flippin' Tired Says:

    The board wants a parcel tax? They have a better chance of being hit by a bus in the middle of the Bay – as long as it’s not a bus under the supervision of Rolen.

  115. Just J Says:

    Theresa, I know other parents complained about him. I had many ask me how I got
    My son moved. I am loud and I do not back down. I was told that I should back off and let my child figure it out. That irrited me so much I just got louder. My issue was not with sex it had to do with the fact that he was a horrible teacher. You can go back every year and I am sure you will find many kids and parents to come forward. Things from lack of teaching to looking down girls tops.
    I was told in the beginning of the process that if my child was moved then there would be a line of parents to request a move.
    I am so sad for the student that was taken advantage of and raped by this monster.
    I hope and prey she will be able to move on and they put this guy in general population.
    I also feel so horrible for his wife and child.

  116. Doctor J Says:

    @Just J, you are rightly indignant as we all are. With a full confession, he likely will never get out of prision during his lifetime — all judges these days give the max for sex crimes against children. But all lousy teachers are not sexual predators. We don’t know how these incidents came to light. We just hope that we don’t have a Penn State type incident where there were known sexual predator issues, and they were properly reported and not followed up. If some of these issues were reported, but not acted upon you never know just how high it can reach — Penn State fired a legendary football coach and its President. In the meantime, we are facing some tough issues in this district. Lets get back to those !

  117. Linda L Says:

    Dr. J,
    Are you talking about the 3rd change order to the solar project? Yes, it has been known for quite awhile. The stated reason for the increase was primarily the addition of A/C at quite a few schools however the A/C projects were known at the time the contract was signed.

    I find it interesting that the four solar company bids did not all include the same size project and in fact Sun Power proposed the smallest project at 11.1. If it cost $10 mil more now to bring it up to 12.1 then I suspect their under estimation was to their advantage since they originally had the second highest price tag.

    Also if you go back to the June 2010 solar presentation the District estimated the solar project size at 12.6. This was just three month before the contract was awarded.

    Lowest energy producing project at time of bid
    Second highest priced
    $10 mil in change orders for A/C that has been planned since Measure C 2002.

    Also $223mil in projected savings. Who is doing this math, Gary doesn’t even quote these numbers anymore.

  118. g Says:

    Alicia: I would like to find some sort of bid process that was done for the “lights” under the solar panels. They’ve already spent over $100,000.00 to IJK Company for them (so far). Was the cost of that extra electricity built into project performance guarantees–and added electric cost versus savings?

    Also, I noticed they have added Alves Ranch into the December Quarterly report. Although it is not listed in this 2010 budget, please keep in mind going forward that they already spent $35,000.00 to Kleinfelder Inc. for Geotechnical Investigation Reports back in Sept and Dec 2006. Hopefully we won’t have to pay to duplicate those reports now 5-6 years later. I think Seeno has used that area as a dirt dump sight for the last several years while they built out the Ranch property. Who knows what is in there now?

  119. g Says:

    Linda L: As for you applying for the NEW 2002 BOC clean-up team—good luck with that. I think if Pedersen had seen Alicia coming he would have never allowed her to be on the 2010 Committee.

    You are already a “known”, and I doubt you have a snowball’s chance of ever having a really close look at the 2002-2009 books!

  120. g Says:

    Dr J: You ask why Lawrence is being evaluated again? HaHa. Do you really think the July and November sessions were strictly for evaluation? I suspect there was more than a little bit of discussion about what to do with CVCHS, and even Cheryl would be forbidden from revealing it if they did use those sessions to discuss CVCHS. It is a criminal offense for a board member to disclose what goes on in a closed board meeting—unless asked by a Grand Jury….

  121. Just J Says:

    I may not know that much about school finances but a bid should always be apples to apples
    Did we really think that they wouldn’t add millions to the order.

    G good point on the closed session. Is there something that says if the business handled in close session is not what was on the agenda is ok to change? Or maybe the board will have an excuse on why they could not finish their business and say it is just a continuation.

  122. Doctor J Says:

    @G #120 There must a way for an honest Board member to object and bring to the light of day improper discussions made in closed session. For example, I suspect the two MOU’s with MDEA on the SIG grants, 1 and 2, were discussed and approved in closed session, because they never made it to the open session, and weren’t even specifically noticed in closed session. I would believe that is a Brown Act violation. Just like the example from the First Amendment Coalition about the exhoribant attorney fees being approved in closed session at some unknown school district.

  123. g Says:

    Alicia: Also–is there any way to tell if they are combining 2002 and 2010 Measure C money??? I notice that they just paid Christy White Accountancy a total of $26,745.00 to “Correct Program Codes”. That doesn’t sound like the contracts to “Audit” the two Measures that were approved.

    Just J: No. They are not supposed to do anything in closed session except exactly what is posted on the Agenda, but they only have to “report out” to us if/when a vote is taken. We would never be told what they may have discussed.

  124. Anon Says:

    good luck getting a parcel tax. a campaign requires a united district. mdusd has divided the district-mirabella said so. mdusd principals are attacking clayton valley and not aiming to raise revenue. cue adele “rolling in the mud”

  125. Doctor J Says:

    @G Does Christy White identify the dates of work ? Not sure where you found this info. Sounds like work they are having to do to fix the books for the audit, but not sure ?

  126. Doctor J Says:

    I found it interesting that the “new” job descriptions — over a year and a half after they formed the SASS department — Agenda Items 16.14-.17, don’t mesh with the fiscal categorical “realignments” set forth in Agenda item 10.15. If the personnel in SASS are really doing the work as described in 10.15, shouldn’t it be in their job descriptions ?

  127. g Says:

    I have figured out the reports and payable codes a bit better. The warrant reports (in the Agenda) show two separate payments to Christy White “to correct program codes”, but the amounts, when broken down equal the amount of the Audit contracts, and one is coded to 2010 Measure C and the second is coded to 2004/2006 Series Measure C. Interesting description. Hopefully the “Audits” will be published soon, since they’ve apparently had them for quite a while now.

  128. Doctor J Says:

    If the audit reports are produced next week, perhaps its time for another Public Records request for the Audits and Management letters. 2004/06 is a very curious description.

  129. Doctor J Says:

    An amazing number of vacancies on the Budget Advisory Committee approval list. Most of the Board members have not appointed anyone, neither have most of the local “Chambers”.

  130. g Says:

    Not really curious. There is still money in the 2002 Measure C accounts. The original Audit reports were taken from “selected samples” of expenditures and only went up to 2008. They only asked her to audit spending of the bonds sold in 2004-2006 starting from activity in 2009/10 and 10/11. Then, if they like those audits, they will have her audit the next two years (of that same Measure C).

  131. Doctor J Says:

    Doesn’t that leave gaps in the audits for all of the bonds sold under Measure C 2002 ?

  132. g Says:

    Gaps-a-plenty! 2002 Audits are at

    The last one was just thru June 2008. Her current contract is at

    Note–there is a year of activity missing from 6/08 to 6/09.

  133. anon Says:

    Doctor J, that’s because the committee is an utter joke! They almost never have the meeting on the day they say they will, always cancel or change last minute and really don’t provide any fresh content or information that would be deemed unique. Might as well attend board meetings and save yourself a headache.

  134. Alicia M. Says:

    @#131 Dr. J – There will be gaps in the 2002 Measure C audits for the period from 2002 to June 30, 2009, since the district engaged for “agreed upon procedures” in lieu of the required performance audits.

  135. Anon Says:

    If you want the truth and accountability of the 2002 and 2010 Measure C, write to your senator and and ask them to have the State Controller perform a Proposition 39 audit.

  136. Alicia M Says:

    @#123 – G: It is my understanding that the County Treasurer maintains the 2002 and 2010 Measure C money. In reading the official bond offering statements, it discloses that the bond proceeds will be held with the County Treasurer in the credit of the “Building Fund”. Any proceeds earmarked for bond principal and interest payments, shall be kept in the “debt service fund”, which is also held with the County Treasurer. In order to keep track of bond proceeds receipts and disbursements, the district should be keeping separate accounting records for each bond Measure and the County Treasurer should also be keeping separate accounting records for each Measure.

  137. Doctor J Says:

    @#136 Both the ledgers of the County Treasurer and the District for both Measure C bonds should be Public Records and made available for inspection within the ten day period. Is there a problem getting them ?

  138. Wait a minute Says:

    I don’t know about the County, but if someone requests of the MDUSD any copies of, shall we say Sensitive information, they will likely be charged for it as Alicia was.

    Meanwhile Rolen’s buddy attorney in Chico who was appointed Bond Counsel gets his cut of the public’s money!

  139. Wendy Lack Says:

    The daily news tells us all we need to know about the future of the school choice movement — and why Districts such as MDUSD will likely face more charter petitions:

    “Wracked with frustration over the state’s legions of unprepared high school graduates, the California State University system next summer will force freshmen with remedial needs to brush up on math or English before arriving on campus.

    ‘I’m not at all optimistic that it’s going to help,’ said Sally Murphy, a communications professor who directs general education at Cal State East Bay, where 73 percent of this year’s freshmen were not ready for college math. Nearly 60 percent were not prepared for college English.”

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