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Mt. Diablo district Parent Advisory Council to discuss budget Wednesday

By Theresa Harrington
Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012 at 8:40 pm in Education, Mt. Diablo school district.

The Mt. Diablo school district Superintendent’s Parent Advisory Council, which did not meet in December, expects to discuss the budget on Wednesday.

Here is the agenda for the meeting, which is open to the public:

“SUPERINTENDENT’S PARENT ADVISORY COUNCIL
Wednesday, January 4, 2012 7 p.m.
Board Room, MDUSD Dent Center (1936 Carlotta Drive, Concord)

I. Welcome and Introductions

II. Budget

III. Other”

It’s unclear specifically what Superintendent Steven Lawrence intends to present regarding the budget.

Do you think the superintendent should explain Mt. Diablo High School’s Quality Education Investment Act (QEIA) waiver application, which could help the district retain $1.8 million a year over the next three years for teachers, staff and training at the site?

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  • g

    I think the Superintendent and his PAC could-not-care-less what happens at Mt Diablo unless; 1) maybe one of them has a kid that goes to Mount right now, or 2) their school might have favorite teachers bumped.

  • Theresa Harrington

    Do you think the board cares what happens at Mount?

  • g

    Does the Board care? Only in political ways. They know Mount is the Flagship school and still has a friend or two in high places. It sits on the cheapest, yet most valuable land in the district, so they should not let the roof cave in just yet.

    Will tomorrow’s board care when the population falls in half as the buses stop rolling in from over the hill? Will they be willing to sacrifice one of the ‘valley’ schools to save the matriarch school? That is the bigger question, and it would take an equally ‘big-minded’ board to do that.

  • Theresa Harrington

    Do you believe the district provides enough support and oversight to principals such as McClatchy, who are promoted to bigger schools with larger staffs, diverse student bodies and complex funding streams?

  • g

    Does lip service count? ;)

  • g

    But seriously Theresa, I don’t know if backup and District support would be enough. McClatchy probably was not the tiniest bit ready to be thrown, almost blindly, from a tiny, highly financed, alternative school into one of Concord’s biggest, toughest, poorest schools. Similarly, unqualified, Lawrence was hired from, what? a half dozen school district with a few thousand kids? What were they thinking? Combine an unqualified leader with an unqualified team of people and you have the disaster that we now have.

    As to Dent caring or supporting school staff?We only have five high schools. At how many of them has Lawrence spent a working day, un-announced, just walking around, being accessible, making himself at home, looking in cupboards and at what’s stuck under tables, spend an hour seeing what, if anything, goes on in the library, smiling and talking mano a mano to an occasional staff member and small groups of kids in the lunch room, or on the ball court?

    He’s had two years. Five days it would cost him! Five days! Are Superintendents to uppity to do that these days? …They are ‘his’ schools, after all–maybe he should try it. Five little days out of 180!

    If he survives, next year he could go try to inspire someone at the Middle schools!

  • http://www.k12reboot.com Jim

    G — Excellent suggestion regarding visiting high schools(this isn’t happening now?!?), but I’d offer one small correction…”5 days out of 180″ is presumably referring to the number of student days. I would expect, and hope, that Lawrence works more days than that. The correct ratio to refer to the time commitment required from Lawrence to visit 5 high schools ought to be more like “5 days out of 240″ (or 245, or whatever).

    I know it’s a small nit, but we all need to remind ourselves that school administration ought to be considered a full time job.

  • Doctor J

    I think the headline needs to read: Supt to Tap Dance at PAC over QEIA Grant Loss of $5.4M While Fighting CVCHS Charter
    Link to Timeline, Comment 4: http://www.ibabuzz.com/onassignment/2011/12/29/mt-diablo-district-to-seek-waiver-for-mt-diablo-high-state-funding/

  • Theresa Harrington

    G: Right now, the district has six comprehensive high schools: MDHS, College Park, Concord High, Northgate, Ygnacio Valley and Clayton Valley. Of course, if the CVHS charter petition is successful, that would reduce the number to five. And if small necessary high schools are consolidated (as promised as part of the the superintendent’s plan to save $1.5 million from school closures), then the number of alternative campuses would be reduced as well.

    I know that the previous interim superintendent Dick Nicoll used to visit campuses regularly. He frequently shared stories with me about his visits (and also shared them during his superintendent’s reports to the board). He sometimes recommended stories to me based on what he saw (such as one about a peer tutoring program at College Park HS).

  • Disillusioned

    @ Theresa: sounds like interim superintendent Dick Nicoll was a person of integrity and actually cared about what was happening at schools. Unlike Dick Nicoll, the current Supt., Greg Rolen, and certain Board Members are on a mission to support their egos and perceive that their power and intellect is far above the employees and the communities in MDUSD. To all bloggers on this thread: what do we do to prove this perception is incorrect?
    I believe another Grand Jury investigation is necessary; how do we proceed? Constituents hire Board Members, and the Board Members hire the Supt; BUT, there’s far more constiuents than there are 1 Supt., 5 board members, and 1 Greg Rolen. I think as home owners and community members we deserve a Dick Nicoll.

  • Theresa Harrington

    Yes, Dick Nicoll was well-respected as a man of integrity. Trustees gave him glowing accolades when he retired.

    Regarding the community’s response to district and board actions: Surprisingly few members of the community ever speak publicly at board meetings about what is going on. The district does not appear to hold itself accountable to anonymous blog posters. But, it must be accountable to the voters.

  • Doctor J

    Dick Nicoll spent 32 years serving the district, the parents and students. He knew the district inside and out, and survived a number of supts. He was always willing to discuss issues. But he never stuck his neck out very far either, but that isn’t always bad.

  • Theresa Harrington

    When Nicoll was interim Superintendent, he made it very clear to me that he was acting on the instructions of the board. He knew he was a lame duck and had no intention of making waves.

  • g

    I wonder how many people showed up today for the PAC meeting at 10am, per what was posted on the District calendar.

  • Theresa Harrington

    According to the agenda provided to me by the district, the meeting starts at 7 p.m.

  • Anon

    The PAC meeting has always been at 7pm. Theresa, did you go? It was always a complete waste of time. I stopped attending last year when it was very clear it was a joke. Worthless 2 hours.

  • Theresa Harrington

    Yes, I attended it and I did not consider it to be a waste of time. In fact, I’m surprised how few parents attend this meeting, where they have direct access to the superintendent and could demand accountability, if they were so inclined.

    Instead, however, most parents who attend are school site reps who listen to the superintendent’s report and ask few questions. When given the opportunity to ask about anything and/or to report on what is going on at their schools, most chose to report on their school activities.

    At the very end, however, one parent asked about the MDHS vote of No Confidence and QEIA waiver. I will do a separate blog post about that.

    Also, one parent asked about union negotiations and furlough days. Superintendent Steven Lawrence said it looks like there may be no furlough days this year after all. He explained in his budget presentation why the district has accumulated a reserve of $43 million. I videotaped his presentation and will post a link later.

    Also, Board President Sherry Whitmarsh and Trustee Lynne Dennler attended the meeting. I was able to chat with them at length after the meeting, which makes it very worthwhile for me. Whitmarsh said she was wondering whether it might be a good idea to start board meetings at 7 p.m. instead of 7:30 p.m. She also said she was wondering whether it might be possible to only meet once a month, instead of twice a month — with the option of adding special board meetings as necessary. She said agendas will now be posted on Thursdays, since meetings have been moved to Mondays.

    I also spoke to Whitmarsh and Dennler about the Vote of No Confidence and QEIA waiver. I will write about their comments in a separate blog post.

    It is unclear based on the PAC agenda whether public comment is allowed, since it is not listed. If a parent who is not designated as a member of the council wants to ask questions, I’m not sure whether the superintendent would allow that.

  • g

    Yes Sherry, you can change the meetings to once a month. But all of you have to cut your pay and benefits in half. That would include Lawrence’s $40K of ‘Other’ and ‘misc’ pay too.

  • MDUSD Board Watcher

    Teresa #17,

    I can guarantee the following: if it is a question lawrence views as favorably it is allowed. If he veiws in unfavorably you get the McClatchy QEIA written statement no questions treatment.

  • Theresa Harrington

    Most of the parents were sitting around the table and they took turns asking questions or reporting on their school activities.
    Lawrence also invited one parent who was not seated at the table to ask questions (I’m not sure if he is an official member of the site council, but he may be).
    No other parents attended the meeting, so it’s unclear whether Lawrence would have entertained questions that were not solicited.

  • Hell Freezing Over

    Regarding PAC – most parents in the district probably think this is an “assigned” or “selected” group of parents based on the description located in the “parents” section of the MDUSD website:

    Superintendent’s Parent Advisory Council
    Parent repsentatives from each school meet monthly with the Superintendent and senior staff. Notes for each meeting are available.

    There is no other information available regarding PAC and its purpose, that I can find on the site. The link goes to the calendar for the meetings and the last notes attached are from early December 2009 – two years ago.

  • Doctor J

    Good news/Bad News: CDE has just recommend to the SBE awarding SIG grants to Meadow Homes, Oak Grove, and the district. Bad news is they slashed the request by $186,000, of which $118,000 was from the district SASS budget. CDE said they thought funding for five district administrators for two schools was “excessive”, $30,000 was over the total amount permitted by SIG, and $70,000 for consultants and trainers was duplicative and included in a previous expenditure. Oak Grove was cut $5000 for expenditures not allowed under the SIG program, and cut $63,000 for a duplicative FACT coach when two were already hired at the district level. Meadow Homes received its full request of $2,000,000.

  • Doctor J

    Bel Air Elementary’s SIG Grant by itself has $2,000,000 plus in SIG grant money available to spend by June 30. That’s $4,500 per student. How are they going to spend it ? After reading their SIG grant application, I have no clue. Here we are nearly half way through the school year. Some limited funds are being used to increase the instructional time. What else is being done with this taxpayer money ?

    http://www.cde.ca.gov/sp/sw/t1/documents/sig10mtdiablo.pdf#search=SIG%20MDUSD&view=FitH&pagemode=none

  • Not Surprised….

    by the District’s numbers as stated above by Dr. J. It’s consistent with the shell game that Lawrence, Richards and crew perpetrated on the Charter petitioners.I guess all the double-talk and shady accounting caught up to them this time.

  • Theresa Harrington

    Not surprised: It’s surprising that Rose Lock does not know whether the district’s three-year first interim budget submitted to the county includes QEIA funding for MDHS next year and beyond.
    When so few administrators know what’s in the budget, Lawrence and Richards can highlight numbers they want the public to know about — such as revenues generated by CVHS students — while failing to address other critical elements of the budget that may also greatly impact students, such as QEIA funding.

  • Doctor J

    Just a month now from the annual February Asilomar Moneterey extravaganza and no Board agenda items for authorization for anyone, including the Supt, to attend overnight for the multiday event. How many MDUSD personnel are going ? From Dent ? From schools ? What is the estimated costs for each in terms of travel expenses [car pooling ?] lodging [Asilomar or hotels?], meals, registration. I wonder how many days of golf Lawrence will get in with other “Supts” ? Pebble Beach ? Spyglass ? Who pays for that ?