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MDUSD trustees differ on approach to county charter vote

By Theresa Harrington
Tuesday, January 10th, 2012 at 7:14 pm in Contra Costa County Board of Education, Education, Mt. Diablo school district.

The Contra Costa County Office of Education staff is recommending that its Board of Education approve the Clayton Valley High charter tomorrow.

But Mt. Diablo district board president Sherry Whitmarsh and Trustee Gary Eberhart — who both voted to deny the charter in November — are taking different approaches to the county vote.

Whitmarsh said she plans to oppose the charter, while Eberhart said he’s willing to concede that the county board will likely approve it.

“I am going to speak against the staff recommendation,” Whitmarsh told me.

She said there are three points she wants to make: (1) regarding the financial viability of the charter, (2) special education, and (3) the Mt. Diablo school district’s potential loss of funding.

“Even though this year the governor has not done the trigger cuts as bad as we thought they would be, next year it could be up to $350 per student,” she said.

In addition, she said the legislative analyst said today that the governor may have overstated the amount of income that could be raised through taxes, which could impact next year’s budget.

Secondly, Whitmarsh said she would like the charter to take responsibility for all special education students in the school’s attendance area, to reduce the district’s costs.

Third, Whitmarsh said the charter could cost the district more than $3 million.

“So 6 percent (of students) will be getting the money versus 94 percent (that wouldn’t),” she said.

Eberhart, on the other hand, said he does not plan to speak against the charter.

“I would be shocked it the county board didn’t approve the recommendation of staff,” he said. “I just think that they probably rely on their staff to provide them the information necessary and their staff has come to the conclusion that — based on some financial forecasts and the like — that they feel the charter should be granted. I just don’t know on what basis someone on the board would stand up and say their staff didn’t do the analysis correctly.”

Instead of fighting the charter, Eberhart said he wants to help the students affected.

“The time for me to talk about whether or not the charter should be approved or denied is kind of passed,” he said. “It’s time to talk now about how students are going to be supported.”

Do you think the county board will approve the charter?

FEB. 1 UPDATE: Here is a link to the minutes of the meeting, in which the county board unanimously approved the CVHS charter petition with conditions: http://www.cccoe.k12.ca.us/supe/12mtgs/m120111.pdf

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