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Archive for February, 2012

CVHS charter registration/MDUSD transfer information

The district has sent the following letter to families in the Clayton Valley attendance area, informing them that Clayton Valley High will convert to a charter school in the fall. A letter from the charter was also enclosed. I have posted it below the district’s letter, along with some other information from the charter’s website.

“February 7, 2012

Dear Clayton Valley High School Families,

On January 11, 2012 the Contra Costa County Board of Education approved the conversion of Clayton Valley High School to a charter school.

Effective June 30, Clayton Valley High School will close and convert to Clayton Valley Charter High School. As a result of this conversion, parents will have the option of which high school they would like their child(ren) to attend in fall 2012.

We are pleased to announce that on February 6, 2012, the Board of Education approved the option for Clayton Valley High School students to attend any Mt. Diablo Unified School based on space and program availability. Once the high school is selected and approved, the high school becomes the student’s resident school. They will remain at the school for the remainder of their high school career.

Our District’s Student Services Office established a new open enrollment transfer period February 9 – March 9 to accommodate the Clayton Valley High School students. Enclosed are the Option Transfer Form and Question & Answer sheet. I strongly encourage you to consider your option of having your child(ren) attend one of our high schools.

Option Transfer Forms are due March 9 and must be submitted to your child’s school office or the Student Services Office located at 1936 Carlotta Drive, Concord 94519. Parents will be notified by April 30 of their child’s new resident school.

Thank you for considering the educational options for your high school child(ren).

Sincerely,
Steven Lawrence, Ph.D.
Superintendent”

Along with the letter, the district included a Frequently Asked Q & A. Here is the link: http://www.mdusd.org/Departments/SpecialEducation/Documents/FAQ%20CVHS%20Transfers%202012.pdf.

Here is the letter from the Clayton Valley Charter High School:

“Clayton Valley
Charter High School
Date: January, 2012

To: Current and Prospective Clayton Valley Families
From: CVCHS Governing Board

Re: Enrollment for the 2012-2013 Academic Year

Dear CV Students and Families:

At their January 11, 2012 meeting, the Contra Costa County Board of Education approved the conversion of our school to a charter school. Admission to Clayton Valley Charter High School is governed by the California Education Code, and, by law, all students in California are entitled to attend a charter school. No student is required to attend CVCHS, however, and enrollment should be an informed, carefully considered decision.

This letter and the attached Enrollment and Authorization to Release Information form indicates your intent to attend CVCHS for the 2012-2013 school year and beyond to graduation. Upon receiving the Enrollment and Authorization to Release Information form, current CVHS students will be automatically enrolled in the new CVCHS for the 2012-2013 school year. Enrollment will be complete upon receipt of a full registration packet by April 19, 2012. Failure to submit the full registration material may result in a forfeiture of your space.

In addition, upon receiving the Enrollment and Authorization to Release Information form, all incoming freshmen from the current CVHS feeder pattern schools and living within the CVHS attendance area will be automatically enrolled in the new CVCHS for the 2012-2013 school year. Students new to CVCHS for the 2012-2013 school year residing in the attendance area will need to fill out registration forms in the front office of Clayton Valley High School. Proof of Residence is required. Enrollment will be complete upon receipt of a full registration packet by April 19, 2012. Failure to submit the full registration material may result in a forfeiture of your space.

We hope you are as excited as we are about this change. If you have questions or concerns about the enrollment process, please go to our website at claytonvalley.org/enrollment. You may also email questions to admissions@claytonvalley.org.

Completed and signed forms may be dropped off no later than February 24, 2012, in the front office of Clayton Valley High School, 1101 Alberta Way, Concord, CA. Forms may also be faxed to 925-825-7859.

Sincerely,
CVCHS Governing Board

CVCHS does not charge tuition and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, creed, sex, ethnicity, sexual orientation, mental or physical disability, age, ancestry, athletic performance or any other characteristic described in Education Code section 220. CVCHS is nonsectarian in its programs, admission policies, employment practices and in all other operations.”

Here is the CVCHS proposed calendar information, which is posted on its website:

“The CVCHS Governing Board is soliciting community input on the following school calendar for the upcoming 2012-2013 school year.

Under the proposed calendar, school would begin for students on Wednesday, August 15, with the fall semester ending with Christmas break on December 21, 2012.

The spring semester would begin January 14, 2013 and end on May 31. The calendar also includes mandatory summer transition for incoming 9th graders and sessions for those students needing remediation before the school year begins and just before the spring semester begins.

The proposed calendar, as outlined in more detail below, can be found here. The Governing Board will be soliciting input at the CVCHS Celebration on Saturday, February 11 and will make a final decision at a special meeting that evening. Comments on the proposed calendar can also be directed here.

M‐TH July 23 ‐ 26, 2012 Mandatory 9th Grade Summer Transition
M‐TH July 30 ‐ Aug. 2, 2012 Remediation
W‐Th Aug. 8 ‐ Aug. 9, 2012 Registration
Wednesday August 15, 2012 First Day of School for Students
Monday September 3, 2012 Labor Day ‐ No School
Monday November 12, 2012 Veteran’s Day ‐ No School
Th‐Fri Nov. 22 ‐ Nov. 23, 2012 Thanksgiving Break
T‐Fri Dec. 18 ‐ Dec. 21, 2012 Fall Finals
M‐F Dec. 24, 2012 ‐ Jan. 11, 2013 Winter Break
M‐F Jan. 7 ‐ Jan. 11, 2013 Remediation
Monday January 21, 2013 Martin Luther King Holiday ‐ No School
Monday February 11, 2013 Lincoln’s Birthday ‐ No School
Monday February 18, 2013 President’s Day ‐ No School
M‐F Apr. 1 ‐ Apr. 5, 2013 Spring Break
Monday May 27, 2013 Memorial Day ‐ No School
T‐F May 28 ‐May 31, 2013 Spring Finals
Friday May 31, 2013 Last Day of School”

Here is a link to information about the CVCHS Governing Board meetings: http://claytonvalley.org/governing-board/

The district board will vote Feb. 27 on a proposal to allow the school to keep equipment purchased by boosters and other parent organizations.

Are you satisfied with the information you have received from the district and the charter committee regarding the transition of Clayton Valley High from a district-run school to a charter campus in the fall?

Posted on Thursday, February 9th, 2012
Under: Education, Mt. Diablo school district | 41 Comments »

Campolindo retains title as county Academic Decathlon champ

Two Academic Decathlon teams from Campolindo High in Moraga again bested their competition during the annual Contra Costa County competition, sponsored by the Contra Costa County Office of Education.

Since the Alameda County Office of Education doesn’t put on a similar event, Contra Costa also hosted two schools from that county in its competition, with Irvington High from Fremont winning.

Both the Campolindo and Irvington teams will advance to the state competition representing Contra Costa and Alameda counties, respectively.

Here’s more information about the competition from a news release I received today:

Campolindo High School Returns as Contra Costa County’s 2012 Academic Decathlon Champion

PLEASANT HILL, Calif., February 9, 2012 – Last night, during an exciting awards reception, it was announced that Campolindo High School (Moraga) Red Team successfully defended its title as the overall team winner of the 2012 Contra Costa County High School Academic Decathlon. Along with Campolindo Red Team’s triumphant return, the school’s Blue Team also repeated its second place standing from last year, as well. This year’s third place team went to Acalanes High School (Lafayette). The Campolindo Red Team will now represent Contra Costa County at the California State Academic Decathlon, to be held in Sacramento, March 15-18. (This year’s National Academic Decathlon will be held in Albuquerque, N.M., April 26 – 28.)

Also noteworthy, of the two Alameda County participating schools, Irvington took first place; the school will represent their county at the California State Academic Decathlon. (Alameda County Office of Education does not produce a county-wide Academic Decathlon.)

Directed by the Contra Costa County Office of Education (CCCOE), and with the assistance of community volunteers, the county’s Academic Decathlon provides an opportunity for high school students to compete as individuals and teams in a series of ten academic tests and demonstrations. The curriculum includes art, economics, language and literature, mathematics, music, science, essay, interview, speech (prepared and impromptu), and the Super Quiz™. More than 155 participating high school students had been studying and preparing for this event with their coaches since September. This year’s Academic Decathlon theme was The Age of Empire, and the Super Quiz™ will focus on the topic of The Age of Imperialism: The Making of a European Global Order. The Super Quiz™ included readings on such topics as mercantile empires, the Atlantic economy, motives for imperialism, the role of technology in the age of imperialism, New Imperialism, tactics of colonial rule, and decolonization and postcolonial immigration.

This year’s participating teams represent the following high schools: Acalanes (Lafayette), Antioch (Anticoch), California (San Ramon), Campolindo (Moraga), Dublin (Dublin), Freedom (Oakley), Irvington (Fremont), Las Lomas (Walnut Creek), Miramonte (Orinda), and Pittsburg (Pittsburg). Acalanes High School has won the past four years. High school teams are made up of nine students, grades 9-12, with a maximum of three students in each of the following divisions: Honors (3.75-4.00 GPA), Scholastic (3.00-3.74 GPA) and Varsity (2.99 GPA and below). High schools that have more than nine students who want to participate in Academic Decathlon, can field more than one team, e.g., Campolindo’s Red and Blue Teams. The teams can also bring guests or alternate participants from their school.

During the awards ceremony, many individual awards were also given out. (All Academic Decathlon statistics will be posted on the CCCOE’s website in the very near future.)

The Academic Decathlon was first created by Dr. Robert Peterson, former Superintendent of Schools in Orange County, California. Firmly believing that everyone’s learning potential can be maximized through competitive challenge, Dr. Peterson set in motion the contest that has since come to be recognized as the most prestigious high school academic team competition in the United States. The program spread rapidly throughout the states due to the success and excitement it engendered. USAD was founded in 1981.”

Do you think this competition is a worthwhile event for the Contra Costa County Office of Education to organize?

Posted on Thursday, February 9th, 2012
Under: Alameda County, Contra Costa County Office of Education | 4 Comments »

Friday is deadline to comment on MDUSD’s draft English Learner Master Plan

The district is accepting comments on its draft English Learner Master Plan through 3 p.m. Friday.

I visited Meadow Homes Elementary this week to hear a presentation about the plan and see some bilingual classes in action.

The presenters stressed that Chapter 2 regarding instructional programs is the most important part of the draft plan — for those who may not be able to read the entire document. I am posting the beginning of that chapter below, along with a link to the entire draft plan and the online survey.

“K-12 Instructional Programs

Mount Diablo Unified School District offers the following program options to English learners:

(1) Structured English Immersion (SEI),
(2) English Language Mainstream,
(3) Bilingual Alternative Programs.

Each of these options is designed to ensure that students acquire English language proficiency and to prevent and/or address any academic deficiencies that they may have developed in other areas of the core curriculum. All options contain the following required components:

 Well-articulated, research-based, standards-aligned, differentiated English Language Development (ELD) instruction, specifically designed for ELs.
 Well-articulated, research-based, standards-aligned, differentiated instruction in the core curriculum.
 Primary language support and/or Specially Designed Academic Instruction in English (SDAIE) when instruction is in English.
 Structured activities designed to develop cultural proficiency and positive self-esteem.

All English learners, regardless of the program option in which they are enrolled, are expected to make adequate progress in English proficiency and in mastery of grade level standards.

Guidelines regarding the definition of adequate progress are listed in Chapter 6, Evaluation and Accountability.

It is the intent of the district to ensure that the core instructional program is standardized across the district, so that all students, no matter what school they attend, have access to a researchbased, high quality program for English learners that is designed to meet their individual needs. This includes English Language Development and content support.

K-12 PROGRAMS MUST MEET THE NEEDS OF ENGLISH LEARNERS

There are five distinct groups of English Learners in the Mount Diablo Unified School District:

1. Newly arrived English Learners with uninterrupted formal schooling
2. Newly arrived English Learners with limited or interrupted formal schooling
3. Long-term English Learners (more than 6 years as English Learners)
4. English Learners with less than 6 years who are not meeting benchmarks and/or not making expected progress toward language and academic goals
5. English Learners who are meeting benchmarks and making expected progress toward language and academic goals

Programs will be adapted to meet the needs of students in each of these groups as discussed below.

Newly Arrived English Learners with Uninterrupted Formal Schooling

These students may or may not have had some exposure to the formal study of English. However, they have had a formal educational program in their native country, and many have the knowledge background that supports them in their content instruction in English. At the elementary school level, these students are likely to have an adequate background in the core academic subject areas, with the exception of English Language Arts. The most advantageous placement might be in a bilingual classroom with an approved parental exception waiver (especially for students at CELDT levels 1-3), where they will be assisted in transferring their primary language literacy and core academic skills to English (see Francis, Leseaux and August, 2006; August and Shanahan, 2010). In the absence of an approved waiver, these students will be placed in a Structured English Immersion or English Language Mainstream setting, depending on their CELDT level. Such programs can be effective if they provide “good instruction with appropriate scaffolding” (see August et. al., 2006).

At the secondary school level, students functioning at CELDT levels 1, 2 and the lower half of the 3 range (low 3) will typically benefit from an alternative bilingual program that may be provided with an approved parental exception waiver, if there are sufficient students in the language group to make a bilingual alternative class available. They also might be candidates for placement in a newcomer program as determined by student enrollment and population needs.”

An alternative bilingual program would provide the following:

• Year-long leveled ELD – 2 periods (students at ELD levels 1 and 2 should not be mixed for instruction, due to differences in language development needs).
• Core academic classes (i.e., language arts, history/social science, mathematics, science) taught in the primary language.
• Electives that are non-language dependent.

Students scoring in the upper half of the CELDT 3 range (high 3) in secondary schools are likely to need:

• Year-long leveled ELD and/or ELA with accommodations for language proficiency level.
• Core courses taught through SDAIE with primary language support.
• Electives (choice not normally limited by language proficiency level).

Newly Arrived English Learners with Limited or Interrupted Formal Schooling

Immigrant students with little or no prior schooling typically score at the beginning level of reading and writing in their primary language, and have low skill levels in other subject areas as well. Many students arrive with interrupted schooling in their native country and lack the background knowledge necessary for success in a grade level academic program. These students need an academic program that will address their primary language literacy needs. At the elementary school level, appropriate grade level placement with appropriately leveled ELD is critical. SEI will be generally preferable to a mainstream English setting. Placement in a bilingual program (with an approved parental exception waiver) is optimal for many of the students in this group.

In secondary schools, students in this category are likely to need an academic program with the following features:

• Year-long leveled ELD – 2 periods
• Primary language literacy
• Mathematics taught in their primary language
• Other content classes taught in the primary language
• Electives that are less language dependent in the beginning years

The above assumes that the student has an approved waiver for participation in a bilingual program, and there are sufficient students (20 or more at the same grade level) in the language group to justify such a program. Every effort will be made to provide needed primary language content classes when the number of students is sufficient to justify the class.

Long-Term English Learners

These students have more than six years of uninterrupted schooling in the United States. Longterm English Learners often have high oral fluency in English, but have not yet achieved the academic criteria to qualify for reclassification.

In determining program placement, it is important to first identify the student’s academic and linguistic needs and then consider the following in regards to the student’s educational history, in order to determine if the student’s performance is related to his/her level of ELD, or to other issues that affect academic performance:

• The student’s number of years in U.S. schools
• The quality and consistency of ELD instruction the student has had
• The consistency of the student’s instructional program
• Patterns of language usage in the home

At the elementary school level, these students should be on English Learner Catch-Up Plan [see Chapter 3]). As part of these plans, most will be assigned to formal interventions that address both language and academic needs.

Secondary school students in this category are likely to need the following:

• Focused efforts to motivate and engage the student who has spent a number of years struggling to master both language and content
• Accelerated ELD, either through an English Language Arts class with accommodations for the student’s level of ELD, or an intervention class that addresses both language and literacy skills
• English Language Mainstream or SEI instruction in the core academic subjects, provided by an appropriately credentialed CLAD or BCLAD teacher
• Academic advising and monitoring to ensure that the student is enrolled in appropriate classes meeting secondary school promotion/graduation requirements
• Intervention support (before, during or after the school day and summer school if available)
• If not already on a catch-up plan, these students should be given one English Learners with Less than 6 years who are not meeting benchmarks and/or not making expected progress

These students have two to five years of uninterrupted schooling in the United States. Their level of English language development is variable, depending on their level of English upon entry to U.S. schools, the quality and consistency of their program in past years, and the pace of their year-to-year progress. At both the elementary and secondary levels, these students will need catch-up plans with interventions designed to accelerate their language and academic progress (see Chapter 3 for a detailed discussion of catch-up plans). Implementation of these plans needs to be carefully monitored to ensure that the student is showing accelerated progress.

English Learners who are Meeting Academic and English Language Development (ELD) Benchmarks

These students are typically showing expected growth on the CELDT, at least at the rate recommended by the state, and are scoring proficient or close to proficient on the California Standards Tests (second grade and up), or meeting benchmarks on district established literacy and numeracy benchmarks in Kindergarten and first grade. In the elementary grades, these students should move along a pathway leading to reclassification. Some will begin in Structured English Immersion, with reclassification and assignment to English Language Mainstream before promotion to middle school. Others will begin in a bilingual alternative program and will typically remain in that program after reclassification.

Each ELD level is flexible with respect to duration, in order to allow a student to move to a higher level during the year, when assessment results indicate the student is ready. Students who master the course content standards are promoted to the next level or exited from the program. Students may need to repeat a level until they meet requirements for transition to the next level.

Secondary master schedules should allow for fluid and flexible movement throughout the year. In order for students to develop proficiency in English as rapidly as possible, they must be able to develop at their own pace, and must be able to move up ELD levels whenever necessary. They should not have to wait until the end of a semester/trimester or course in order to move levels.

Change in ELD levels will be based on the following:

• CELDT progress
• ELD benchmark assessment results
• Classroom performance
• ELD curriculum-embedded assessments
• Teacher recommendation

Students who meet or exceed benchmarks as evidenced by semester/trimester reviews and/or teacher recommendation should be encouraged to accelerate to higher ELD levels.”

The chapter goes on to describe the programs available. Here is a link to the entire plan: http://www.mdusd.org/Departments/sass/Documents/elp/master-plan-for-english-learners-draft.pdf.

Here is a link to the survey: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/DDLX65R.

The English Learner Master Plan Task Force will review the comments and refine the plan before forwarding it to the school board for approval.

The public is invited to attend the task force meetings, which will be held from 4-7:30 p.m. Feb. 23 and March 15 at the Willow Creek Center, 1026 Mohr Lane in Concord.

More information is avaialable by calling 925-682-8000 ext. 4026 or by visiting http://www.mdusd.org/Departments/sass/Pages/elp.aspx.

Some notable changes in the plan include extending mandatory English Language Development instruction from 30 minutes a day to 45-minutes a day and extending bilingual classes from K-3 to K-5.

What do you think of the plan?

Posted on Thursday, February 9th, 2012
Under: Education, Mt. Diablo school district | 3 Comments »

Live blog of Feb. 7 CAC meeting

CHAIRPERSON REPORT:
Chairperson Lorrie Davis reported that the CVHS charter will serve special ed students.
Special ed director Mildred Browne said teachers must notify the charter and the district if they want to stay with the charter. If not, they have to apply for a position, she said.
Davis said the charter hasn’t yet finalized its plans with the El Dorado SELPA.
Browne said the El Dorado SELPA won’t decide which schools to take on until March. CVHS may also contract with the county SELPA, she said.
A parent said a union rep at the school said that seven special ed employees were going to be laid-off, but that was not corroborated.

Felicia Stuckey-Smith said her office was sending out two mailings to students in the CVHS attendance area: one for all 1,800 students and one for special ed and section 504 students. Browne offered to give the letters to the CAC blog committee so they could post them.

Davis also announced that MaryAnne Talbot is leaving March 2, so this is her last CAC meeting. Davis and vice-chairwoman Dorothy Weisenberger praised Talbott’s service to the special ed community.

CELEBRATION OF SUCCESS UPDATE:
Parent liaison Hilary Shen said the “You make a difference” awards ceremony is coming up March 28. It celebrates community members, staff, parents, teachers or other students who aren’t in special ed who have gone out of their way to support children with special needs. She has nomination forms.
Past award-winners include the Walnut Festival, Buddy Play, teachers, office staff, behaviorists, students, a bus driver and a custodian.

ASSISTANT SUPERINTENDENT REPORT:
Browne reported that outside counsel Matt Juhl-Darlington wrote a summary of opinion regarding reports and opinions for children with disabilities as they relate to report cards and transcripts.

She passed out a list of Legislative bills currently proposed in the state that may be of interest.
Brown also announced that parent reps would be attending two conferences.

She invited parents to participate in the legislative advocacy day May 2 in Sacramento, when they can meet with legislators regarding issues they’re concerned about. She also mentioned that Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla is cosponsoring legislation that could help districts regarding charter schools. (She didn’t mention that the legislation would allow financially strapped districts to deny a charter based on financial impact.) Brown urged CAC members to read over the proposed legislation and decide what they would like to talk about with legislators.

CAHSEE: Brown said it was a shock to learn that the CAHSEE exemption for special ed students ends June 30. Some districts have been piloting an alternative that has been determined to be too difficult, she said. So, Brown said there either needs to be emergency legislation to extend the exemption or else special ed and section 504 students will have to pass the CAHSEE to graduate.

MOE: Brown said the state did not make its Maintenance of Effort requirement, which could cost about $8.6 million in federal funding. She said it’s still unclear how the state is going to make up for it. Special education in the state of did not spend what they needed to in order to meet their Maintenance of Effort, she said. So that will impact the amount of federal funds the state gets, she added. So, she said, the question is: Will that be passed onto school districts as far as a deficit of some kind?

Mandated reporting: Brown said the governor’s budget would eliminate all mandated reporting, which could impact incident reports related to the Hughes bill. These involve incidents where a student has to be restrained, she said. “Will we no longer document that? Will we no longer be able to do restraints?” she asked. She said the Hughes bill would be repealed, if the Legislature approves the governor’s plan.

Transportation: Brown said that funding for special education transportation is also proposed to be eliminated in the governor’s budget. If the Legislature approves this, it would increase the general education contribution to special education to pay for federally mandated transportation for district students.

BOARD OF EDUCATION REPORT:
Trustee Lynne Dennler reported on the Monday board meeting and Trustee Gary Eberhart mentioned the governance workshop and upcoming strategic planning meeting on Feb. 22, along with the CVHS charter waiver vote.

Board of Education Comments: Parent Vi Ibarra reported on recent board meetings she had attended.

Parent Advisory committee Report: Parent Tricia Tamura-Li said the PAC discussed EL Master plan. She urged parents to submit comments or concerns by Friday. Browne said there is not much in it for special ed.
Tamura-Li said the number of parents participating in the PAC is dropping and that most parents were from CPHS or Sequoia MS.

Budget Advisory committee Report: Parent Tricia Tamura-Li said the meeting got postponed to March 14. This committee is also looking for new members, she said. Members are wondering about their roles in their advisory capacity.

Equity Advisory Committee: Parent Dorothy Weisenberger reported that the next meeting is Feb. 28. She expressed concerns that the draft strategic plan doesn’t appear to include anything about equity.

EL Master Plan Task Force: Parent Morena Grimaldi said the draft plan is being presented to the community and the community can comment online. Schools also have hard copies in English and Spanish and some groups have received presentations. After information is gathered, the committee will meet Feb. 23 and in March to discuss it and decide whether or not to incorporate it. The final draft will be sent to the board in May.
She said she has pushed for a few things for special ed specifically, but asked for CAC members’ input.

This was followed by more discussion of the draft strategic plan, a nurse’s report, parent liaison report and subommittee updates. There was no extended school year report because the parent rep was absent.

Public comment: Davis read a letter from a parent who was concerned about bullying at Valle Verde Elementary.

Information/Announcement: A special ed teacher informed the group that Johnny Applegate, a wonderful special ed teacher at MDHS, died last week. Many people asked about memorial services and agreed that he will be greatly missed.

Posted on Tuesday, February 7th, 2012
Under: Education | 18 Comments »

CVHS Charter Party on Saturday

The Clayton Valley Charter High committee is inviting supporters and those interested in the school to a party on Saturday, according to a flyer I received today.

Here’s what it says:

“Please join us!

Clayton Valley Charter High School Approval Celebration

Saturday, Feb. 11, 2012

3-6 p.m. Clayton Valley Gym (1101 Alberta Way, Concord)

The entire community is invited to celebrate the historic approval of the Clayton Valley Charter conversion. Come enjoy food & fun. Charter Board and Committee members will be on hand to answer your questions. The mission of this charter is to unite the community to raise the bar for the education of our children. Refreshments will be sold.

Please join us!

Visit www.claytonvalley.org or email info@claytonvalley.org for more details.”

Here are a few more details from charter board member Alison Bacigalupo:

“We’ll be serving hamburgers or hot dogs, chips and a cookie for $5 with drinks being an additional $1,” she wrote in an email. “Donations will also be gladly accepted!

We hope the whole community can come out and help us celebrate since we couldn’t have done it without them!!”

Do you think the charter will succeed in its mission?

Posted on Tuesday, February 7th, 2012
Under: Education, Mt. Diablo school district | 12 Comments »

MDUSD Special Education Community Advisory Committee meeting is tonight

The Mt. Diablo school district’s special education Community Advisory Committee will meet tonight. Since the district doesn’t post the agendas on its website, I am posting it below:

“COMMUNITY ADVISORY COMMITTEE AGENDA
DATE: February 7, 2012
TIME: 7:00 – 9:00 p.m.
PLACE: Dent Center – Board Room

1. Call to Order 7:00

2. Introductions (7:02 – 7:05)
Please notify the audience during introductions if you are recording the meeting

3. Adoption of Minutes – January 10, 2012 (7:05 – 7:10)

5. Chairperson’s Report – Lorrie Davis (7:10 – 7:20)

6. Celebration of Success Update- Hilary Shen (7:20 – 7:30)

7. Old Business (7:30 – 7:50)

7.1 Assistant Superintendent’s Report – Dr. Mildred D. Browne

7.2 Board of Education Report – Lynne Dennler

7.3 Board of Education Comments – Vi Ibarra

7.4 Parent Advisory Committee Report – Tricia Tamura-Li

7.5 Budget Advisory Committee Report – Tricia Tamura-Li

7.6 Equity Advisory Team Report – Dorothy Weisenberger

7.7 EL Master Plan Task Force – Morena Grimaldi

NETWORKING BREAK

8. New Business (8:00 – 8:35)

8.1 Strategic Plan – Lorrie/Mildred

8.2 Nurses’ Report – Arlene Matteucci-Para

8.3 Extended School Year – Carolyn Patton

8.4 Parent Liaison – Hilary Shen

8.5 Sub-Committee Updates

9. Public Comment (8:35 – 8:45)
Public comment is an opportunity to share concerns and comments with the CAC. In the interest of time, speakers are limited to three (3) minutes each with a total of fifteen (15) minutes for all speakers. Please respect student and personnel privacy. CAC members and district staff may not be able to respond to individual concerns in this forum, but will take your contact information and follow-up with you.

10. Information Items/Announcements/Adjournment (8:45 – 9:00)

DON’T FORGET – - BRING A FRIEND TO THE MEETING!!”

Do you think the district does a good job of letting the community know about these meetings?

Posted on Tuesday, February 7th, 2012
Under: Education, Mt. Diablo school district | 11 Comments »

Live blog of Feb. 6, 2012 MDUSD Board Meeting

Board President Sherry Whitmarsh reported that trustees discussed litigation, negotiations and the readmission of one student during closes session.  She said the board did not discuss the general counsel’s evaluation or the superintendent’s evaluation, but they hope to go back into closed session at end of tonight’s meeting.

Consent calendar

District resident John Parker objected to the contract amount of item 9.,11, saying it was excessive. Trustee Gary Eberhart pulled this from the consent calendar and Trustee Cheryl Hansen pulled item 9.2, the minutes of the Jan. 23 meeting.

Trustees approved other consent items.

9.11 Mitchell Stark talked about the scope of the Ygnacio Valley High gym project. Said additional info could be brought back. Superintendent Steven Lawrence suggested not to exceed contract. Motion for contract with Hamm and Associates not to exceed $20,522 if it goes to DSA and commensurate reduction in fees if it doesn’t. Carries 5-0.
Video clips of meeting are streaming live at www.qwik.com.

9.2 Hansen asked that minutes be more comprehensive. Eberhart said it would need to be brought back as an agenda item.

Public comment:

1. John Parker: moment of silence for former teacher Johnny Applegate, who passed away.

Several students, teachers and a parent addressed vote of no confidence in MDHS Principal Kate McClatchy.

District Organizations: A classified union rep asked district to restore the hours that were cut, in light of the district’s reserve of $38 million above what is required.

Superintendent’s Report:
Superintendent Steven Lawrence reported that another bond refunding will come at the next meeting and that more 2010 Measure C bonds may be sold. He also reported that the board would likely hold a special meeting Feb. 21 or Feb. 22 to act on a waiver for the Clayton Valley HS charter’s financial impact. Whitmarsh reminded Lawrence the board plans a Strategic Planning session Feb. 22 and he suggested that both meetings could be held on the same evening.
Lawrence also pointed out that MDEA President Mike Langley will retire at the end of the school year and commended him for his service.

14.1 Walnut Creek Sister Cities International Program: unanimously approved

14.2 New board policy – Transitional Kindergarten: unanimously approved

14.3 Revision to Administrative Rule 5111 – Admission: unanimously approved

14.4 Resolution determining district needs for 2012-13 and adopting criteria for determining order of seniority for those certificated employees with the same date of first paid probationary services. Unanimously approved.

14.5 Williams QAuarterly Summary Report.
No complaints filed.
Unanimously passed.

14.6 Clayton Valley HS attendance area
Unanimously approved as presented.

14.7 Public Input and Informational Meetings for Board and Superintendent
Board unanimously agreed to hold one meeting at each of the district high schools and in Bay Point by May 15.

14.8 School calendar
Unanimously passed.

14.9 Gifts and Bequests – Trustees agreed with policy change. It will be brought back for a vote.

14.10 Progress Report: Trustees agreed with idea. It will be brought back for a vote.

14.l1 Graduation requirements: Trustees had a lengthy conversation about this item, which was raised by Hansen. Lawrence said district saved $1.1 million with lower grad requirements and elimination of summer school. Hansen said she is hearing horror stories about the impacts and wants more discussion in the future. Trustees agreed to discuss again in March, after staff gathers more information.

Trustees reported on their recent activities, then meeting was adjourned in memory of Applegate.

FEB. 7 UPDATE: Here is a link to the audio recording of the meeting: http://www.mdusd.org/boe/Documents/audio/2012/February%206%202012%20-%20amplified.mp3

Posted on Monday, February 6th, 2012
Under: Education | 129 Comments »

Live blog of MDUSD Governance Workshop

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 www.qik.com\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: http://qik.com/video/47874482 (A portion of this is dark because I thought I had turned off the recording, but it was still going.)

CSBA Governance brochure: http://qik.com/video/47874658

Facilitator explains what the workshop will include: http://qik.com/video/47874726

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: http://qik.com/video/47876300

Trustees introduce themselves to each other, telling about their experience in the district, in education and something the others may not know about them: http://qik.com/video/47874863

Trustees tell each other why they wanted to serve on the board: http://qik.com/video/47875302

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: http://youtu.be/xrAqguL_Vv0

Trustees Cheryl Hansen and Linda Mayo share their greatest wishes, followed by Board President Sherry Whitmarsh: http://youtu.be/Rns8t_jUYXs. 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): http://youtu.be/Oaysc_gHJgY

Posted on Saturday, February 4th, 2012
Under: Education, Mt. Diablo school district | 63 Comments »

Some Mt. Diablo HS teachers are not satisfied with district’s response to vote of No Confidence

After a majority of teachers at Mt. Diablo High voted No Confidence in Principal Kate McClatchy last month, the district responded by allowing teachers to express their concerns in small groups at the school.

Teacher Dan Reynolds, a teacher’s union rep for the site, said district administrators compiled these concerns into five major areas: leadership, facilities, discipline, professional development and McClatchy’s proposed plan to convert the school to an “all academy” model, which would require every student to choose one of four areas of intense study.

The academies expected to be “scaled up” are the Architecture, Construction, Manufacturing and Engineering academy; Digital Safari Multimedia and Computer science academy; International Hospitality and Tourism Academy; and Medical Bio-Technology Academy.

Teachers broke into groups Monday and listened to administrators present draft plans regarding the areas of concern, then gave feedback, Reynolds said.

“On the whole, many of us came away feeling like it was shallow and they already had a plan and they were showing us a piece of it and they weren’t relay listening,” he said. “The reason is that they take people’s suggestions and then say, ‘We will come back to you when we make a decision about what’s going to happen. Students, parents and teachers haven’t really been involved in the decision-making.”

Reynolds said McClatchy presented a plan regarding the all-academy model on Wednesday and asked teachers to vote on one of two options: convert to an all-academy school in 2012-13 or in 2013-14.

“Those were the only two choices,” Reynolds said. “It was like saying, ‘You can have any flavor of ice cream you want as long as it’s chocolate or vanilla.’”

But teachers refused to accept those narrow options and didn’t vote, he said. Some teachers will likely speak about their concerns at next Monday’s board meeting, he added.

“We are looking at next steps,” he said. “Its important for parents to be involved in our decisions as we move forward.”

I spoke to Pat Ainsworth, assistant superintendent for secondary education in the California Department of Education, about the all-academy model last week. He said academies nationwide have been proven to raise test scores and student engagement, but pointed out that schools have other options.

“The teachers that are typically in these academies throughout the state have opted into them,” he said.

Since academies require groups of students to take several courses together around a theme, they have fewer options for other courses, he said.

“That may put some pressure on the master schedule,” he said. “We do know there are schools that are using or have gone to a career-themed pathways, that may not be academies.”

An academy, he said, is a school within a school. Groups of students are assigned to specific teachers and they move through their courses in a very sequenced way from 10th through 12th grade, he said.

“A career pathway model may not be as rigid,” he said. “A school may have four or five pathways.”

In this model, students could opt to take courses in a variety of career areas, instead of just one. This would allow students to create individualized programs, Ainsworth said.

Do you agree with the school’s plan to convert to an all-academy model?

Posted on Friday, February 3rd, 2012
Under: Education, Mt. Diablo school district | 15 Comments »

MDUSD board to hold governance workshop Saturday

The public can get a rare glimpse of Mt. Diablo district trustees talking with each other less formally than usual during a board Governance Leadership Development Workshop at 9 a.m. Saturday in the district office board room at 1936 Carlotta Drive in Concord.

Although the posted agenda gives virtually no information about the meeting, a more comprehensive overview can be found under Item 16.11 of the board’s Dec. 13 agenda.

Here’s what it said:

“In a continued effort to improve Board governance skills, we are requesting to hold a Governance Leadership Development Workshop on Saturday, February 4 at 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. Attached is the overview of the training.”

Here is the link to the planned California School Boards Association training outline: http://esb.mdusd.k12.ca.us/attachments/ebaef8f1-2b2b-4b29-9c7e-3dd819088b7d.pdf.

When the board discussed the workshop in December, Trustee Cheryl Hansen voted against spending $2,000 for a facilitator. Other trustees, however, voted in favor of the expenditure.

I videotaped most of the discussion using my cell phone, then had to switch to my Flip Video camera when I ran out of storage space.
Here is a link to the first portion of the discussion: http://qik.com/video/46579073.

Here is the second portion of the discussion, including comments by trustees Gary Eberhart and Cheryl Hansen, followed by the 4-1 vote: http://youtu.be/PkUKA0szzr0

Do you agree with the board’s decision to spend $2,000 for a facilitated governance workshop?

Posted on Friday, February 3rd, 2012
Under: Education, Mt. Diablo school district | 18 Comments »