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Tale of two schools: both took drastic actions after alleging failed leadership in Mt. Diablo school district

By Theresa Harrington
Tuesday, December 20th, 2011 at 12:59 am in Education, Mt. Diablo school district.

During the past six months, teachers at two out of six Mt. Diablo district high schools have taken drastic actions to remedy problems they perceived in the leadership of their campuses.

In June, Clayton Valley High teachers overwhelminly supported a petition to convert to a charter school, seeking to strike out on their own with an independent governing board that would give the site more control. The school board denied the petition in November and the county Board of Education expects to decide next month whether to approve or deny it. If the county denies the petition, advocates have vowed to appeal to the state Board of Education, in the hopes of opening as a charter in the fall.

Last Monday, teachers at Mt. Diablo High overwhelmingly supported a vote of No Confidence in Principal Kate McClatchy, seeking a response from the district to their grievances, which include the school’s failure to meet requirements for Quality Education Investment Act funding. The school stands to lose up to $4.8 million over three years due to its failure to keep class sizes at the required levels.

The district had the opportunity to prevent both of these occurences. Yet, when teachers approached district officials about their concerns, they felt their words fell on deaf ears. So, the teachers explored other options.

Now, the district is faced with a mutiny of sorts on two fronts. And although each case is different, some parallels can be drawn between the two schools.

Despite the school district’s promotion of “Professional Learning Communities” — which involve rich collaboration between administrators and teachers — such collaboration appears to have been missing at Clayton Valley and Mt. Diablo high schools. Among complaints at both sites, teachers said the administration failed to adequately address student discipline, which led to concerns about safety, school climate and low employee morale.

Although charter advocates have been very vocal about their dissatisfaction with district leadership for months, Mt. Diablo High teachers have been working behind the scenes to try to effect change within the system.

A little over a month ago, McClatchy spoke against the charter petition at the Oct. 25 board meeting. At that time, the public did not know that her own teaching staff was reaching a boiling point due to dissatisfaction with her leadership.

Here’s what McClatchy told the board:

“…I am speaking tonight in opposition to approval of a conversion to a charter at Clayton Valley High School for the following reasons: I serve at a high-poverty, Program Improvement school with transitional and limited funding. Mt. Diablo High is a school on the rise and we are very proud of our hard-earned gains in student achievement over the past few years. We simply cannot afford for some students to attend school at a higher cost to the district than others. Budget cuts have been painful and have contributed to both job loss and annual involuntary transfers for many teachers in our district. The stability of our faculty at Mt. Diablo High School is central to our continued improvement in student achievement. I am very concerned about the potential bumping process that could occur if the charter is approved. And finally, I work and I am pleased and honored to work in the Mt. Diablo High School — or in the Mt. Diablo Unified School District — as a school leader committed to the development and improvement of all our schools. It is not currently my experience that bureaucracy overrides educational innovation or growth in our district. To the contrary, I enjoy great support as a school leader — including district support for many teacher and parent-led programs and projects. I support all of my colleagues — administrators and faculty at Clayton Valley High School — for working to improve our schools and to find creative ways to benefit all students and families in our district. Thank you.”

Here is the video link: qik.com/video/45353427

McClatchy failed to mention, however, that Mt. Diablo High School received far more funding per student in 2010-11 than Clayton Valley High. Mt. Diablo received $10,252.39 per student, including more than $4,862.85/ADA in unrestricted funding and more than $5,389.53/ADA in restricted funding, including QEIA. In fact, QEIA funding of $1.6 million made up more than 11 percent of the school’s $14 million budget, representing about $1,375.09 per student.

In comparison, Clayton Valley received $7,839.78 per student — or $2,412.61 less per student than Mt. Diablo High. Of that, Clayton Valley received about $4,648.57 per student in unrestricted funding and $3,191.21 per student in restricted funds, including money for special education. Clayton Valley was not eligible to receive QEIA funding.

Although the school district has known that Mt. Diablo High would lose its QEIA funding since at least July (when it reported its failure to meet class size requirements to the county), district officials have not informed the public about this loss of funding. Instead, Superintendent Steven Lawrence has sent out numerous “news updates” letting the community know that Clayton Valley’s conversion to a charter could cost other schools about $75 per student. For Mt. Diablo, however, the loss of QEIA funding will actually be a much greater loss than the impact of of a charter conversion.

McClatchy said she worried about “bumping” due to the charter conversion, yet, she failed to mention that the loss of QEIA funding at Mt. Diablo could force the district to lay off 22-24 teachers from the school. In comparison, Clayton Valley expects about four teachers to remain with the district, which could cause minimal bumping at other schools, including Mt. Diablo.

Northgate Principal John McMorris has also spoken against the charter, saying Clayton Valley could emulate the Focus On Learning model that McMorris has implemented at Northgate. But charter supporters say they don’t want to gamble by allowing the district to choose their principal. The Mt. Diablo teachers’ vote of No Confidence shows that teachers can feel stymied or even obstructed if they don’t believe their principal is willing to work collaboratively with staff.

When the school board denied the charter petition in November, Trustee Lynne Dennler urged the district to come up with a process for dealing with problems at school sites.

“I think it’s really important to study the problems and issues that fester in this district among our parents and our teachers,” she said. “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.”

A little more than a month later, history was repeated — but in a different way. Mt. Diablo High teachers fed up with their school leadership voted No Confidence in the principal.

Although the county sent the district a letter Nov. 17 about the loss of QEIA funding, teachers were not informed until Dec. 7, according to teacher Dan Reynolds. This was after the school site council had approved a Single Plan for Student Achievement that detailed the importance of the QEIA funding. Here is a link to the county letter: http://www.docstoc.com/docs/109088082/MDHS-QEIA-Letter.

The district is now trying to find out if it can apply for a waiver from the state board of education, which would allow it to retain QEIA funding. McClatchy has informed her staff that she will address their vote of No Confidence on Jan. 4. So far, district officials and trustees have remained silent regarding the vote and its ramifications.

The school board, which is supposed to provide leadership to district officials and schools, is having its own problems working collaboratively. Trustees plan to participate in a governance leadership workshop on Feb. 4 to help them communicate better with each other.

The board is also working on a strategic plan for the district, which is expected to help guide decisions. However, this was put on hold recently, due to staff’s attention to the charter petition, Trustee Gary Eberhart said.

In the meantime, the public is left with many unanswered questions. These include: how much would the conversion of Clayton Valley High really cost the district? And why did Mt. Diablo High fail to comply with class size mandates for QEIA funding?

Do you think the district should create a new process for dealing with problems at school sites, as suggested by Dennler?

DEC. 20 UPDATE: I followed up with Jennifer Sachs in an email, asking whether she or other district administrators knew that MDHS had not met the QEIA requirements before the end of the school year. Again, she did not directly answer the question.

Here is her response: “The regular monitoring of the Mt. Diablo High School QEIA program did reveal challenges and these challenges were discussed. I need to direct you to Rose Lock, Assistant Superintendent, Mt. Diablo Unified School District, if you require more information about this matter.”

Lock still has not responded to my messages. However, Kate McClatchy did leave a message on my work voicemail today. Unfortunately, I didn’t hear it until this evening, since I’m on vacation, so we have been unable to connect so far. I left her my cell phone number, in case she wants to contact me again.

DEC. 20 9 PM UPDATE: I have just spoken to Lorenzo Galdon, a student rep on the site council, who told me there will be an emergency meeting at 2 p.m. Friday in McClatchy’s office to approve the QEIA waiver application.

Galdon said he has served on the site council since the beginning of this school year. He said he believed McClatchy should have informed the school community as soon as she knew the funding was in jeopardy (by last July) instead of waiting until Dec. 7, when she informed the faculty. Galdon said McClatchy didn’t say a word about losing the funding to the site council during its Dec. 6 meeting. When he asked why, she told him she believed it was the “ethical” thing to do, since it directly affects teachers, Galdon said.

It would have been more ethical, Galdon said, to have told everyone at the beginning of the school year. Some students, he said, didn’t find out until Friday, when McClatchy made an announcement about the funding loss over the loudspeaker just before school got out. Although she also promised to send out a call to parents about it, Galdon said his parents have not received such a call.

Galdon said McClatchy also spoke about the funding loss to his leadership class Dec. 12.

“Really, the way she’s approached it is kind of doing damage control,” Galdon said. “That’s upset me and some other students. What’s really been bothering me is the way she’s been handling it — just kind of secretive and trying to not get bad publicity for herself.”

Galdon said McClatchy appeared to be trying to minimize the loss when she spoke to his class.

“She said, ‘We lost this money, but hey, we were going to lose it three years from now. So now, we’ve got to just move on.’”

Galdon said it was no surprise to him and his classmates that the school was not meeting the maximum class size of 27 in non-core classes. There were 40 students in his leadership class, he said.

As an aside, I saw on the school’s website that Galdon, who is a senior, has been granted early acceptance to the University of Pacific, along with a scholarship.

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  • g

    You can lead that horse all the way to Lake Erie, but…. This District spends over $300,000,000.00 every single year just on the pretence of ‘educating’ our kids. Kids who can’t put together a coherent sentence; much like the first sentence from Principal McClatchy’s speech. Kids who can’t make change for a $10 at McDonalds if the register is broken. Kids who have to have a special school for themselves, and a second school close by for their babies.

    Tons of money is spent each year re-teaching, guiding, hand holding of certificated and tenured teachers –not just helping them to teach their primary subject, but rehashing the basics and fundamentals of teaching! If that’s not bad enough, the Administrators, with Masters degrees (and more)in school administration, need to be coddled and looked after by even more Administrators, and those administrators need to hire other professional school consultants and advisors to show them how to administer to the administrators, even though they’ve been administrators for 20-30 years already.

    School scores prove my point!

    What the district does is what all large districts do: Feed the Education Beast, and hope a few kids get educated along the way.

    The school board has allowed itself to become a rubber stamp facilitator of the feeding machine.

  • Doctor J

    MDHS’s non-compliance with QEIA was not a surprise and both the district and McClatchy refused and failed to fix it. In a mid January 2011 meeting called by CCC Office of Education, Asst. Supt. Rose Lock, Secondary Director Denise Rugani, and others from MDUSD including ALL principals of QEIA — that includes Kate McCarthy — were informed that MDHS was not meeting the requirements of QEIA and likely to lose the grant unless the requirements were met. The next month, the February 2011 non-compliance letter was sent. Yet, NO CORRECTIVE action was taken. Either that was intentional or gross negligence. Either Rose Lock kept the information hidden from Supt. Lawrence or she shared it, and Supt. Lawrence failed to taken corrective action. Its about time we have the truth and those responsible either resign in discrace or are fired by the board for cause. President Whitmarsh, its time to step up if you are strong enough.

  • Teach at Mount

    “Mt. Diablo received $10,252.39 per student, including more than $4,862.85/ADA in unrestricted funding and more than $5,389.53/ADA in restricted funding, including QEIA. In fact, QEIA funding of $1.6 million made up more than 11 percent of the school’s $14 million budget, representing about $1,375.09 per student.”

    I don’t understand….my classes this fall had 21 to 26 students(not QEIA compliant). I complained, but the insinuation was if I did not like that, I could leave. They replaced our big copy machine with a small machine TOTALLY inadequate for such a large school. We don’t have the books we need to teach and have to resort to copying pages for students.

    Yet, they track our copying and chastise us if we make what admin considers too many copies. I wouldn’t do it if we could actually purchase the books we need. Bought my own keyboard for my computer, a printer for school, have to purchase my own ink (which gets expensive because my students don’t have printers at home and they have to print it off my printer). We don’t have any sort of fund that would pay us back for those costs, no way to order books. Where is the $10,252.39 going? Why doesn’t it trickle down to the classroom where it is urgently needed. Maybe I am missing something here.

  • Theresa Harrington

    Teach: Are you on the site council? Presumably, the site council oversees the budget and could answer these questions.

  • Teach at Mount

    No, my impression is that there is very little money at the site. Often at other schools the PTA is very active and if the school cannot help teachers, the PTA donates. Due to the distance our students travel and perhaps language and financial barriers, our parents are unable to participate. I think each department is allotted some funds by site council, but when divided up among so many teachers, the actual amount is very small. I just wonder where the money is going.

  • Theresa Harrington

    Here’s an overview of MDHS funding, based on a spreadsheet passed out at the Nov. 21 special budget meeting. As you can see, 23 percent of the school’s money is spent on “central services” including district administration, as well as “contributions to other programs” such as small necessary high schools and special education:

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

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

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

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

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

    Bryan Richards should be able to provide a breakdown of the direct school expenses, including salaries, benefits, utilities, books, etc.

  • g

    Teach at Mount is so right. When I read comments from people blaming all the ills of the school on poor parenting, and lack of parent participation, I pity them for their ignorance and the arrogant attitudes they are passing down to their own kids.

    I dearly remember Mt Diablo High School when it was a school to love and look up to, both academically and on the sports fields!

    Then one day—the buses started coming from the West, and from the East, and suddenly, literally in just one school term there was very little local pride. It wasn’t because of “who” the kids were! Incoming students didn’t live here, and they felt no kinship to the neighborhoods or to the school. Their day was an hour or more longer than it should have been. They came to school already tired and hungry. Their parents lived and worked 10-20-30 miles from the school–they certainly weren’t going to drop in for a visit or to volunteer, or send donations.

    Most resented that instead of having money spent to fix their own local schools, their kids were just being “farmed out” on buses.

    Many locals yelled “look out, busing, time to move”, and if they possibly could afford to, they abandoned the neighborhood and the flagship school of the district, and convinced the leaders to establish “choice” for their own kids, while buses gave no “choice”!

    Those are the very ignorant/arrogant families who now deride Mount for not having local parent support or personal school pride, and they are being led by the same arrogant district leaders who have systematically, one-by-one been wiping out Mount’s “local” feeder pattern.

    Gone==four of the original 5 Central/North Concord feeder schools, and what now?

    Now, history is repeating itself! They’re busing kids OUT of their local neighborhoods to schools where they will feel no kinship, no pride, where parents won’t drop in or volunteer or donate….

  • Theresa Harrington

    The Superintendent’s Council wanted to combine Glenbrook and MDHS onto one campus, which would have kept local kids local. They also wanted to create a combined middle/high school at Riverview, so Bay Point students could attend school in their own neighborhoods.
    But, the School Closure Advisory Committee didn’t like those ideas. Also, as has been previously noted, the committee didn’t seem to see any problem in “equity,” when it voted to close two schools in the same neighborhood and in the same feeder pattern. The school board didn’t seem to see a problem with this either.

  • Doctor J

    Kate McClatchy told the Board on Oct 25: “The stability of our faculty at Mt. Diablo High School is central to our continued improvement in student achievement.” Really ? In January she attended the meeting where she learned the QEIA funding would be lost due to non-compliance, and that funded 22 teaching positions. In the February meeting, it was reinforced. Before July 15 she signed the report, along with Rose Lock, showing non-compliance with QEIA. Yet Kate McClatchy took no corrective action. Kate, I guess you don’t really value the stability of the MDHS faculty.

  • g

    The entire Closure committee was the most hand picked, Nimby group ever assembled!

    The representatives for the Mt Diablo feeder pattern consisted of one very active Bay Point parent and two school employees from Bay Point. Not one from neighborhoods of Holbrook, Glenbrook, Mt. Diablo! The one who had been from Holbrook moved before meetings even started, and while there were other volunteers from the area–The District decided not to fill that vacancy while, due to board member family and business partner additions to the committee, some other area people ended up with double votes to protect their schools.

    Schreder’s study very carefully did not mention impending expansion in Bay Point, and strangely, I have heard that it was never mentioned–not once–during committee deliberations.

    The Superintendent and Board and at least those same Bay Point representatives did however, already know they were sitting on, and paying for an $11.3 million dollar school site in Bay Point, and would have to either build within two years or start to pay the State penalties for the wasted school land.

    Do not think for a minute that closures in North Concord was not “manipulated”.

  • Doctor J

    @G, I understand the frustration, but do you like any better the current Lawrence Boundary adjustment committee he formed that meets behind closed doors ?

  • g

    Dr J–never heard of them–didn’t know a committee had been assembled yet.

    Heard rumors that under the guise of sliding two or three lines over to ‘fix’ overpopulation at Meadow Homes, that there might also be some sneaky boundary adjustments to try to narrow down the CV pattern in order to preserve a couple hundred ADA if CV does go charter. Just a rumor a couple of months ago, but nothing since then.

  • MDUSD Board Watcher

    Given the past dealings of the Lawrence and company. I can just about guarantee you that #12 is correct.

  • Doctor J

    @G #12 Met for first time end of last week and will meet again first week in Jan. Its pretty top secret. They want to reduce bussing costs. BTW I asked TH to ask you to email me.

  • Theresa Harrington

    I have just posted an update, with a new message from Jennifer Sachs. She continues to refer to “challenges” in meeting the QEIA requirements, but says they were “discussed.” She did not, however, answer my question about whether she or other administrators knew at the end of the school year that they hadn’t been met. Instead, she is referring me to Rose Lock.

    Also, Kate McClatchy returned my call today, but I haven’t been able to connect with her yet. She left me a voicemail message.

  • Doctor J

    Jen’s failure to deny is proof that it is true — “discussed” can only mean she told her immediate superior, Rose Lock, Asst Supt SASS. Jen is trying to skirt the truth. She wants to put Rose on the hot seat — Rose refuses to respond. Why ? Rose knew since January that MDHS was out of compliance and would likely lose the grant because of the refusal of Kate McClatchy to take corrective action. If Rose told Lawrence, it falls on him. If Rose didn’t tell Lawrence, it falls on Rose. If Rose admits she told Lawrence, he will scalp her. Either way she loses. I think an early retirement is on the front burner.

  • Anon

    Ssems like the empire is crumbling. Wonder what the next move will be?

  • Theresa Harrington

    But it was obvious the news would come out this fall, so it seems strange that no one informed the MDHS site council before Dec. 7.

    I have just received an unconfirmed message that the site council plans to hold an emergency meeting on Friday so the district can file an application for a QEIA waiver.

  • Theresa Harrington

    I have just posted another update to this blog, with insights from a student site council rep.

  • g

    Mr.Lorenzo Galdon: You exemplify the North Concord student-citizens that make my heart sing!

  • Theresa Harrington

    When I mentioned that I also saw an interesting after-school garden project on the school’s website, Galdon told me he is a mentor who works with children in the CARES program. It is a joint project with YVHS. I was impressed by Galdon’s commitment to community service — through leadership, site council representation and the garden project.

  • Doctor J

    Lets get one thing straight — McClatchy was informed in JANUARY by the CCCOE in a meeting at MDUSD with Lock, Rugani, Sachs, and all QEIA principals where they reviewed the report that MDHS was out of compliance and would lose funding if not corrected. The letter was delivered in FEBRUARY and then Sachs and Richards met with McClatchy and again it was clear she knew. Then in July she signed the report. Even with all this knowledge, Kate McClatchy never told her staff, nor the parents, that the funding would be lost until Dec 7 — Pearl Harbor Day, kind of ironic, eh. She has had a whole year to take corrective action and failed. If the Waiver request to the State BOE doesn’t tell the WHOLE story and tries to shade the truth, it will be told by others. The best hope for the waiver is to tell the truth, implement corrective action NOW, and get on the right track.

  • Theresa Harrington

    As previously mentioned, it is interesting to contrast the Pittsburg school district’s actions in light of its noncompliance notification compared to MDUSD’s inaction.

    MDUSD kept its Nov. 17 notification letter a secret until Dec. 7 and took no action to remedy the loss of funding. Pittsburg, on the other hand, prepared a waiver request, published a Notice of Public Hearing on Dec. 1 and held a public hearing at its Dec. 14 board meeting, when trustees voted on the waiver request to temporarily allow increased class sizes for grade 6 until the 2012-13 school year, to address overcrowding that will be remedied with new facilities: http://www.pittsburg.k12.ca.us/board-agendasp.aspx.

    Although the MDUSD board met on Dec. 13, district staff did not inform trustees or the public about the loss of QEIA funding. Instead, the public was informed by MDHS teachers when they presented their vote of No Confidence in Kate McClatchy.

    After looking at the Pittsburg waiver request, it will be interesting to see how MDHS proposes to correct the problems — especially since Lorie O’Brien said she believes the school district could have hired more teachers. Can MDHS claim temporary overcrowding, even as it experiences declining enrollment?

  • Doctor J

    None of the MDUSD Board members seemed surprised or asked questions about the MDHS QEIA funding loss on December 13. So presumably they had been told in secret. QEIAgate: Who knew what and when did they know it ?

    Significant events since the Nov 17 QEIA loss notification:
    Nov 21: Lawrence holds special budget impact meeting about CVCHS charter impact, and publishes that MDUSD has for the last two years had reserves exceeding $40 million dollars each year. No mention of QEIA loss.
    Nov 28: Special Board meeting. No mention of QEIA loss.
    Dec 13: Regular Board meeting. No mention of QEIA loss except during Public Comment by MDHS staff who voted “no confidence” in Kate McClatchy. Neither staff nor the Board addressed the issue, and neither staff nor the Board appeared surprised by either the “no confidence” vote or loss of QEIA funding.
    Dec 15: following Meas C meeting, Board Vice-President Linda Mayo has no comment on the MDHS situation telling Theresa she will have to get the other side of the story.
    Dec 16: SASS Asst. Director Lorie O’Brien cancels her vacation to work on applying for waiver but says she does not know why MDHS did not meet QEIA mandates.

    Supt. Lawrence and Asst. Supt. Lock refuse to respond to Theresa’s inquiries.

    The contrast between Pittsburg USD and MDUSD could not be more clear and is most disturbing.

  • Theresa Harrington

    In looking at my notes from the Nov. 21 charter budget meeting, it looks like someone in the audience did reference the MDHS QEIA funding. But Superintendent Lawrence said loss of QEIA funding would be different from the charter, since it wouldn’t affect the rest of the district. He also mentioned that the district had explored a waiver, but decided it wouldn’t qualify.

    I don’t have time to watch the video right now, but this discussion happened after the PowerPoint presentation, when members of the CVHS community were questioning Richards, Lawrence and the FCMAT representative, according to my notes: http://www.mdusd.org/NewsRoom/Pages/November21BudgetUpdate.aspx

  • Doctor J

    Add these to the post Nov 17 time line above:
    Nov 27 MDHS Sitecouncil approves the SPSA. No mention of QEIA loss.
    Nov 30 Chair Dan Reynolds signs the SPSA. No mention of QEIA loss.
    Dec 3 Ricardo Pinzon of the English Learner Advisory Committee signs the SPSA. No mention of QEIA loss.
    Dec 3: Kate McClatchy signs the SPSA. No mention of QEIA loss.
    Dec 7: MDHS teachers first learn of loss of QEIA funding.
    Dec 12: MDHS teachers, through MDEA secret ballot, vote “no confidence” in Kate McClatchy.

  • g

    “…Lawrence said loss of QEIA funding would be different from the charter, since it wouldn’t affect the rest of the district”.

    And yet, one of his threats to the District, if CV went Charter was how there would be a backlash from teacher bumping. How much bumping will happen when as many as 22 teachers “bump” out of Mount after QEIA losses? Chances are the Mount teacher bumping will affect the district more than CV teacher bumping.

    He’s obviously a reactionary slow thinker, and really just doesn’t “get it”.

  • Doctor J

    @TH#25 I viewed the Nov 21 video Q&A and there was no mention of loss of MDHS QEIA funding. The disucssion was about differential funding between different sites. The example of MDHS getting over $10k per student v. CVHS getting several thousand less. Lawrence points out that you can’t compare MDHS because they get QEIA funding. Lawrence was makig the point that paying the CVCHS charter at the higher ADA High School rate vs. the lower ADA Unified Blended rate actually received by MDUSD “takes away” from all the other schools in the district. He did correctly note that QEIA funding does not take away from other schools. The “waiver” comment was about the district applying for a waiver to pay the Charter at the lower unified blended rate and had nothing to do with the QEIA funding. “Loss” and “QEIA” were never connected at that meeting. See time stamp 1:04-1:07. Total meeting time was 1:38.

  • Theresa Harrington

    Dr. J: Thanks for watching the video. Obviously, my notes were somewhat incomplete, since I was also trying to videotape and type at the same time. From my notes, I couldn’t tell if the waiver referred to MDHS QEIA funding or the loss of CVHS revenues due to the charter.

    But, the fact that Lawrence failed to mention the loss of QEIA funding — even when it was specifically questioned — further demonstrates that MDUSD appears to have been trying to minimize that loss while putting much greater emphasis on the potential loss of funding due to the charter, even though the loss to students at MDHS will be much deeper as a result of the QEIA loss.

  • Doctor J

    @TH, Lawrence certainly had the opportunity to mention it if he wanted to. I can understand how difficult it was to take notes and video at the same time. You really have to watch more before and after what I selected to get the whole context. I could not tell who was asking the questions. One more thing, when Lawrence mentioned applying for the waiver to reduce the ADA charter payment he referred to a suggestion by a Mr. Mineat (?) at a meeting “earlier in the month” so clearly it had to be a charter meeting since the QEIA denial letter was not sent until Nov 17. I believe that you reported on that.

  • Theresa Harrington

    Dr. J: Superintendent Lawrence was referring to a suggestion made by charter lawyer Paul Minney. Minney repeated this idea at the County Board meeting, saying he checked with the CDE. So, his information seems to conflict with Lawrence’s.

    G: I asked Julie Braun-Martin if the MDHS bumping would be greater than the possible CVHS charter bumping. Here is her emailed response:

    “We are unable at this time to determine what bumping impacts may occur as a result of CVHS converting to a charter.”

  • Doctor J

    @G &TH: In the Nov 21 video, Lawrence did mention CVHS teacher bumping but said they won’t know the impact until they know the number of teachers leaving. I think he did make an estimate, and the number 4 sticks in my mind but I could be wrong.
    The big difference between MDHS bumping of 22 teachers and CVCHS bumping of a few teachers, is that CVHS teachers don’t have to make a commitment until June 30. MDHS bumping will be known as soon as the CDE approves or denies the waiver in March. Since June 30 is a Saturday, the results may not be known until Monday night July 2. That is really going to impact Julie’s vacation in July, along with some principals, and SASS.

  • g

    I figure if 25% of the teachers at CV chose to stay with the District instead of CV, the bumping numbers will be just about equal to those lost at Mount due to QEIA. Of course, I also have no idea where, who or how the seniority numbers might play out.

    But to quote our Dr. Lawrence from his Oct 7 Newsletter, “We ask for professional courtesy and integrity in this matter”.

  • Gregory Hile

    I am a teacher at CVHS. The number four for teachers who might elect to stay with the district in the event of a charter conversion was based on a survey of teachers. Some in the community were speculating that once all the so-called “facts” were out there that many teachers would elect to stay. To the contrary, an even greater number of teachers in the survey stated their intention to go with the charter than actually signed the original petition. Some teachers will be retiring regardless of whether the school converts to charter or not. Given that all high schools have this kind of natural turnover every year (we had approximately ten new teachers at CVHS this year), the impact of CVHS teachers bumping others is negligible at best.

  • Doctor J

    @TH #23 Why did Pittsburg hold a Public Hearing on the waiver request ? So I checked the CDE website. Just a legal requirement. So the flurry of activity this week to file the waiver request with CDE by Fri Dec 23 is really all for naught — Lorie should have gone on vacation. They will have to catch the May meeting instead and hold a PUBLIC HEARING, not just a Board Meeting.
    From CDE:
    “4. Public Hearing Requirement – General waivers require the local board to conduct a public hearing on the waiver request before the SBE can consider it. A public hearing is not simply a board meeting, but a properly noticed public hearing held during a board meeting at which time the public may testify on the waiver proposal. Distribution of local board agenda does not constitute notice of a public hearing. The notice must specifically invite public testimony. Acceptable ways to advertise include: (1) print a notice that includes the time, date, location, and subject of the hearing in a newspaper of general circulation; or (2) in small school districts, post a formal notice at each school and three public places in the district (modeled after EC Section 5362).”

    Approval of waiver of class size requirements is not particularly easily obtained in large school districts with multiple high schools. See the denial of the Anaheim waiver:
    http://www.cde.ca.gov/BE/ag/ag/yr10/documents/aug10w7.doc

    Good luck. I am going to love to hear Kate McClatchy’s explanation. It should be a doozey.

  • Wait a Minute

    Don’t kid yourself Dr. J,

    Stevie Lawrence knew all along that QEIA funds were going to be lost.

    He is notoriously cheap (West Sac said he had a habit of tracking every dollar) and extremely anti-teacher so he just couldn’t bring himself to bear to hire more teachers.

    There was probably a deal for McClatchy’s to support Stevie against the charter in return for Stevie protecting her from the QEIA fallout.

    To quote Stevie from the above referenced Oct 7 newsletter asking of the charter teachers: “…professional courtesy and integrity…” is ironic of someone like Stevie who has amply demonstrated that HE HAS NONE HIMSELF!

  • So Disillusioned

    Theresa: I just read your above article and all the blog input. Have you, or are you able to publish all these very specific documented details of this blatant irresponsibility on the part of the BOE and Steve Lawrence regarding this loss of QEIA funding? Steve Lawrence talks about the CV Charter (of which i honestly don’t have any preference regarding the outcome)taking funds from all the schools. But, he and his staff and the BOE have taken away all trust from every community member. I am new at this and new to this area, but the above links and the evidence documented in meetings is not just some random bloggers spouting off,it’s appalling and I think every homeowner in the MDUSD should be made aware via an article in the Contra Costa Times. It’s the secrecy and denial that concerns me as a taxpayer. The effectiveness of every school in this district directly affects every homeowner in this district. This is the first that I’ve heard of this. Please consider.

  • Anon Staff

    It should also be noted that MDHS absorbed several long-tenured teachers from the closing of Glenbrook (who are very good teachers). While MDHS will take a huge staffing hit, this will have a serious district-wide impact. Perhaps this is why MDEA was especially interested in McClatchy’s lack of action in avoiding the loss of funding?

  • g

    Anon Staff: That may be the reason Braun-Martin didn’t reply to Theresa regarding Mount, and only said they had no info on possible CVHS bumping. They are probably chewing to the quick over what they suspect will happen when MDHS teachers start their March march.

  • Doctor J

    @G, It will be a very interesting situation when lay-off notices have to be given because of the loss of 22 teaching positions at MDHS. It is unique because those positions are funded by categorical money — QEIA. Under prior “normal” conditions, those with the least seniority in the district were given the layoff notices, and sometimes that would disproportionally affect schools that had less experienced staffs. Or do you layoff all the 22 teachers at MDHS that have lost their categorical funding. Something that will have to be negotiated with MDEA. And that is the rush to get the CDE to hear the “waiver” during the March meeting. But without that required Public Hearing I doubt the CDE will even entertain the waiver.

  • g

    What I question is–did they ADD 22 teachers a couple of years ago because they got QEIA money, or did they just shift expenses for many of those teachers to the QEIA account?

    If they hired new, how can they say they “couldn’t afford to hire more teachers to meet QEIA requirements”? If they just shifted the cost codes to use the funds and relieve the General Fund, I don’t think they have any chance of a waiver. They have put themselves into a catch 22.

    They also used some QEIA funds to offset some costs of adding modular/portable buildings.
    (The Warrant attachments are back online)

  • Doctor J

    @G, My guess is they did both — reduced staff, and then used QEIA funds to rehire, but the result is they didn’t get 22 additional staff. So they can’t really afford to lose 22 teaching positions, because that would put their staffing levels below all other high schools. As Lawrence explained in detail in the Nov 21 meeting — the tape is wonderful — all high schools are “staffed” as the same level, except for MDHS because of QEIA. It appears that once 22 positions are unfunded, the General Fund will have fund some of those positions to bring them to the same level as all other high schools. Using GF money to do that will certainly “take away” from other schools or “central services” to make up the difference. “Another fine mess you’ve gotten us into Ollie.”

  • Theresa Harrington

    SD: I am on vacation this week, but intend to write a news story about this next week. Also, I already wrote about it in my coverage of the last board meeting: http://www.contracostatimes.com/ci_19571007?IADID=Search-www.contracostatimes.com-www.contracostatimes.com

    In addition, an excerpt of my Dec. 15 blog post outlining the vote of No Confidence was published in the Dec. 18 CC Times: http://www.contracostatimes.com/ci_19571007?IADID=Search-www.contracostatimes.com-www.contracostatimes.com

  • Anon

    Theresa, wishing you a happy holiday with your family
    :)

  • Doctor J

    The big story next week will be the “waiver” that Lorie O’Brien is supposedly working on. The rationale for the waiver should be a “whopper” of a story. I still can’t wait to see how they justify filing it without meeting the legal requirement of a public hearing. Its #4 on the application.

  • g

    And, CDE has indicated that the District can only appeal on “incorrect data”, and try as they might, during October reviews by District people, Northern CA QEIA Center people and the CCCO QEIA Monitor, no data discrepancies were found.

    Then again, Steven and Bryan do have a way with numbers ;) so maybe all is not lost….

  • Doctor J

    @G #46 CDE has approved waivers for reasons other than “incorrect data”, and mostly due to circumstances beyond the control of the district. If you read the Anaheim case I linked in my post #35, however, CDE will not tolerate the “we couldn’t afford it” excuse. Remember that MDHS is in declining enrollment and if anything should have been underenrolled. The CDE said this about Anaheim, and it could very well be said about MDHS too: “Anaheim UHSD indicates that it therefore lacks sufficient funding to fully meet the QEIA statutory grade nine CSR target of 20.3 and requests that the SBE establish an alternative grade nine CSR target of 23. Staff recommends denial of this request under EC 33051(a)(1) The educational needs of the pupils are not adequately addressed. The two reasons are: (1) QEIA program requirements were known to the district prior to its decision to apply for program participation; and (2) Anaheim UHSD has seven other comprehensive high schools that serve students in grade nine, therefore alternatives exist to address the QEIA CSR requirement for grade nine at Anaheim HS.”

  • Doctor J

    My sources are telling me that tomorrow’s MDHS Site Council will not be allowed to reveiw the “Waiver” application because the District wants to keep it a secret and have the site council approve it on “blind faith”. And without a Public Hearing. Just the opposite of Pittsburg USD which posted their application for public review prior to the Board Public Hearing. How much worse can this get ? Why is MDUSD so afraid of the truth ?

  • Jaded

    @Doctor J, 48,
    Then the site council should have no choice but to blindly deny the waiver if they can not see it.
    This is getting beyond ridiculous.

  • g

    Dr. J; If that is the case, I suspect it isn’t the truth they are afraid of—but attempts to pass off the something less than the truth to CDE. You know, Gary’s mantra–”accurate but not honest”.