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Live blog of MDUSD Governance Workshop

By Theresa Harrington
Saturday, February 4th, 2012 at 9:48 am in Education, Mt. Diablo school district.

During public comment, Walnut Creek parent Linda Loza urged the board to adopt the accountability progress reports — or at least second the motion so trustees can discuss the idea on Monday.

Facilitator outlined CSBA effective governance system:

“I, the trustee – individual’s attitude:

I keep learning and achievement for all students as the primary focus.

I value, support and advocate for public education

I respect differences of perspective and style on the board and among staff, studenrs, parents and the community.

I understand that manner and behavior make a difference.

I keep confidential information confidential.

I commit the time and energy necessary to be an informed and effective leader.

I understand the role and responsibilities of the board.

I understand that authority rests with the board as a whole.

I work hard to build and sustain an effective governance team.”

Video is at\tharrington.

Trustees and superintendent are introducing themselves to each other.

Trustees together have 147 years of direct experience with district and Superintendent Steven Lawrence has 24 years of education experience. Trustees have more experience in community and Lawrence brings “fresh eyes.”

Facilitator told trustees they are elected to represent the people. Employees have accountability. She asked how trustees are held accountable.

Board President Sherry Whitmarsh said that happens at election time.

Facilitator said respect includes body language, the way we talk, tone, incorporating other peoples ideas into what we say, and identifying common ground. She stressed the importance of Keeping remarks brief and to the point.

Trustees shared why they ran for elected office:

Whitmarsh: To ensure that our students have the best education possible using the resources available.

Trustee Linday Mayo: To bring a parent voice or parent perspective to the board table and to honor the work that administration, classified and certificated staff do in the district.

Trustee Cheryl Hansen: To ensure that student learning is the primary focus and to ensure that the community has a real voice in guiding our work around student learning.

Lawrence agreed with what others said.

Trustee Gary Eberhart agrees with others and said he wants to motivate students to be there because he didn’t feel that he got that when he was a student in the district.

Trustee Lynne Dennler said that as a teacher in the district, she had always felt that things were very top-down. “I really want to make sure that the voices of the staff are heard. I really enjoyed teaching and wanted to offer my students the best education possible and I want to be sure we continue to do that and not get distracted with fads.”

Trustees shared their greatest wishes for the future:

Eberhart: To help students achieve goals.

Dennler: See that students have a balanced education, including arts and sports, to educate the whole person.

Lawrence: That the state of California makes education a funding priority that is competitive with the national average and creates a plan to get us there.

Hansen: I’d like to talk about what is possible rather than what we don’t have, to improve morale. Focus on what is possible in terms of enhancing resources and focus on the public to help us. Mt. Diablo should not be seen as a victim.

The facilitator admonished Hansen not to editorialize and said it is important for school boards to advocate for more money.

Mayo: Include families and staff around the importance of the work. Stop the blame game that a particular school or district can’t achieve and support programs districtwide. I feel like we’ve lost a sense of family. I undertstand that there are factors. MDUSD does great work, even though we have schools that are high-performing and low-performing.

Whitmarsh: That we would attract and retain highly-qualified staff in all areas.

Dennler: Added that district and staff should embrace changes necessary for students and staff as we move into the future.

After a break, trustees talked about the work of a school board.

Eberhart said it brings the concerns of citizens to the act of governance. But the facilitator pointed out that citizens aren’t all in agreement. They agreed that work is complicated by the structures above the district at a state and local level.

Facilitator said the public has the right to believe that the work is happening at the board table. “Make sure you do you work in the public’s eye,” she said.

Mayo said it’s important to carry integrity from the campaign into the board.

Dennler said she didn’t initially view the board as a team.

Facilitator: Your authority is as a body. She joked that trustees could have a bumper sticker that says: “Board members do it in public.”

She said individual board members do not have authority to fix problems. She said trustees should not step out of their roles and are not represented by legal counsel as individuals.

11:10 a.m. I have to leave and will not be able to cover the rest of the meeting. However, the facilitator said she would write up a draft plan based on the feedback from the board, which she is writing on large sheets of paper.

I invite anyone else who attended the meeting to comment on what else happened.

FEB. 6 UPDATE: Here are video clips of the portion of the meeting I attended.

Facilitator explains the role of the board: (A portion of this is dark because I thought I had turned off the recording, but it was still going.)

CSBA Governance brochure:

Facilitator explains what the workshop will include:

Facilitator talks to trustees about stakeholders and tells them the public has the right to believe that the board is doing its work at the board table:

Trustees introduce themselves to each other, telling about their experience in the district, in education and something the others may not know about them:

Trustees tell each other why they wanted to serve on the board:

Next, trustees talked about their greatest hopes and wishes. Unforunately, I didn’t get Eberhart’s comments on video. Here’s video of Dennler and Lawrence stating their hopes and wishes:

Trustees Cheryl Hansen and Linda Mayo share their greatest wishes, followed by Board President Sherry Whitmarsh: The facilitator asks Hansen not to editorialize, then says she will editorialize.

Trustee Lynne Dennler adds that she would like the district to embrace the changes necessary for students and staff in the future (ie technology):

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63 Responses to “Live blog of MDUSD Governance Workshop”

  1. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I have just posted the video of the trustees sharing their wishes, along with the facilitator’s responses.

  2. Anon Says:

    Theresa thank you. The truth will out.

  3. Anon Says:

    A MDEA officer said last year that one of the the worst mistakes MDEA ever made was supporting Gary Eberhart and
    Sherry Whitmarsh in the 2008 board election.He described Eberhart as someone you shook hands with and then counted your fingers before washing your hand. He said that neither Eberhart nor Whitmarsh would get MDEA support if they chose to run again.

  4. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Unfortunately, my last video is longer than 10 minutes and I didn’t realize that exceeds the YouTube limit, so I can’t upload it right now. I’ll see if I can shorten it tomorrow.

  5. g Says:

    I’m pretty sure KVHS did not broadcast the last couple of regular meetings. Does anyone know if they will tonight?

  6. g Says:

    All these complaints about lack of open/working restrooms at Mount, and yet on down the Agenda comes the completely zero issue Williams report on facility maintenance.

  7. Doctor J Says:

    @G, remember the female student that spoke, I think at last meeting, about how she was about to prepare a Williams complaint about the restrooms.

  8. Theresa Harrington Says:

    That student said she was about to file a Williams complaint about no teacher in her French class, not the inadequate access to restrooms.

  9. g Says:

    Since this Williams report is for last quarter, maybe we can impress on Mount and others the importance of filing complaints now, and in a timely manner. If they only complain at board meetings, they will accomplish nothing. They must put issues in writing and send them out of, and above the district for any assistance and for a permanent record.

  10. g Says:

    Ah, yes. 14.10–putting that $100K price tag on it was the deciding factor so far. In other words, they will have to report on very very little each month, since they break all those contracts and purchases down into smaller bits and pieces and bring them back for multiple amended cost increases.

    At least they are willing to actually consider some accountability.

  11. Doctor J Says:

    1st Amend Coalition sues for emails. We all know the roadblocks that the District has put up in responding to many Public Record Requests. Finally the FAC took action in seeking emails against the City of Sacramento and one of its committees. Now if we could just get the FAC to do the same in MDUSD, perhaps the coverups would stop.

  12. Doctor J Says:

    Compare Strategic Plans; Which do you like better ? :

    Mt. Diablo USD:

    San Juan USD:

  13. Doctor J Says:

    Homepage of MDUSD: “The Board of Education invites the community to attend and provide input regarding teh Strategic Plan.” Input #1 Use spell check. 🙂

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