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War of words begins in MDUSD impasse with teachers’ union

By Theresa Harrington
Monday, March 12th, 2012 at 6:28 pm in Education, Mt. Diablo school district.

The gloves are off and both sides are coming out swinging.

In response to the district’s News Update about its impasse with the MDEA teachers’ union, the union has released the following “Fact Check:”

“ District’s comparison of cost is misleading. They project worst case scenario over two years when we are proposing a one year contract. The 2012-2013 costs have not been negotiated.

 District says if there is no drop in BRL, then they will not require reductions, yet in the next breath they say they will count cuts in transportation as if it were a cut in BRL. This negates the 2013 1.36% off schedule payment and makes furlough days likely.

 District complains that MDEA’s refusal to take conditional onetime payments hurts all other employees. They fail to mention that taking furlough days threatens the pay of the units who have closed contracts to a greater extent. Did not the district take money for over six months in 2011-2012 before refunding it without interest?

 MDEA demonstrated in 2010-2011 that they would take reductions if the district really needed them. Even if the cuts to ALL employees resulted in record

Shortly after MDEA sent out this Fact Check, Deb Cooksey and Julie Braun-Martin called me to clarify the district’s position. Cooksey immediately followed up with the email below, which outlines the points she wanted to stress:

“…Here is a follow up of our conversation. Like SFUSD, Elk Grove, Pittsburg, Sac City, Alameda and 2 districts in San Diego County, our District is at impasse with one of our unions. As discussed, the District would like to be able to give all employees a substantial ongoing raise but that is not the fiscal reality in which we are operating. Therefore, the District proposed a solution that would allow all employee groups, even those with closed contracts, the chance to reopen to receive the same increase of up to 3% that teachers would receive.

Last, Best and Final Offers (‘LBFO’)

The financial terms of the District’s LBFO are:

· Guaranteed one-time off-schedule 1.64% payment in 2011/12 which represents reimbursement for the 3 furlough days taken last year;

· No furlough days in 2011/12. In fact, the District has already refunded the money to employee groups who were anticipating furlough days this year and wanted to spread the fiscal impact over as many months as possible;

· Strictly as a precaution, the District would designate “Make No Plans Days” for 2012/13 on which teachers would not plan tests or outings. In the event of a mid-year budget cut requiring furlough days in 2012/13, the “Make No Plans Days” would be the dates on which employees would be furloughed. The idea of designating “Make No Plans Days” in advance is to avoid the repercussions we encountered last year when teachers had to cancel or reschedule long-planned events, sometimes at significant expense;

· One-time off-schedule payment of 1.36% in 12/13 if the budget remains flat or increases; and

· Increases in certain hourly rates for teachers.

The financial terms MDEA’s LBFO is for a one-time guaranteed 3% one-time increase irrespective of what happens with the state budget next year; and increases in certain hourly rates for teachers. Since this is a one year deal no furlough days would be negotiated for next year. They would have to be negotiated after the November election.

Unappropriated Ending Balance (‘UEB’)

The monetary differences in the UEB between the two offers is slight if the taxes pass and there are not mid-year cuts. However, if the taxes fail and cuts are required, the difference in the UEB between the parties’ offers is -$13.1M. Specifically, the UEB at the end of 12/13 under the District’s LBFO would be -$20.4M and -$33.3M under MDEA’s LBFO.

District Budget Status

Equally important, under either party’s LBFO, if taxes pass the District’s budget would be ‘Qualified’ as of June 30, 2014, requiring the immediate identification of -$4.8 in cuts making up for the shortfall. If the taxes fail and trigger cuts are implemented, under the District’s LBFO, its budget would be ‘Qualified’ as of June 30, 2014. If the District had accepted MDEA’s LBFO, its budget would be ‘Negative’ in the amount of -$8M by June 30, 2013 and -$33.3M as of June 30, 2014.”

Cooksey said CFO Bryan Richards planned to present six different budget scenarios tonight, showing what would happen if the governor’s proposed taxes fail or pass, and what would happen if the district’s or MDEA’s LBFO were adopted.

The staff report posted Thursday with the agenda for tonight’s board meeting states: “Approval of the District’s Positive Certification is recommended.”

This is based on the first version of the Second Interim Report, which was online this morning:
Since then, Richards has prepared a second version, which projects a Qualified budget:

As usual, the district did not clearly identify the fact that attachments have been added since the original agenda was posted. I told Cooksey and Braun-Martin that it would be really helpful to the public if Richards would post his PowerPoint presentation before the meeting, so the public could see it. But, Cooksey said she thought Richards was still working on it.

Since I began typing this, the Powerpoint was posted:

Earlier this afternoon, MDEA President Mike Langley called and said the district still hasn’t submitted its declaration of impasse (despite the fact that the district’s March 9 News Update said it would likely be submitted by March 7). Both sides are still trying to hammer out mutually agreeable language so they can submit it jointly.

How do you think the district and teachers’ union should resolve this impasse?

MARCH 13 UPDATE: Here is a link to video of Cooksey’s comments about the impasse:

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155 Responses to “War of words begins in MDUSD impasse with teachers’ union”

  1. g Says:

    They are not in the Board Room. Did I miss something?

  2. Flippin' Tired Says:

    If the Board thinks giving teachers raises at the expense of CST and CSEA is a good idea, they will have made a grave error in judgement. I don’t want to hear the canard that everyone will get this one-time payment. Any surplus was derived from the sacrifices of the classified employees. Restore their hours first. I’m tired of taking the crumbs the teachers leave behind. They already got a regular raise when they were granted money to buy benefits that THEY VOTED AWAY.

    The district should tell the teachers to pound sand.

  3. Theresa Harrington Says:

    They met in Monte Gardens due to large crowd.

  4. Theresa Harrington Says:

    It’s interesting that the board, superintendent and general counsel are so concerned about not violating the Brown Act by having public input meetings. Yet, they allowed Deb Cooksey to give a report about union negotiations, including a Powepoint, which was not on the agenda. It appeared that the report was given under the auspices of “reporting out” closed session items. But, the PowerPoint was clearly preplanned and should have been posted with the report out of negotiations item on the agenda.
    CFO Bryan Richards said the information in Cooksey’s presentation was also presented in his presentation, but you had to look for it. The public shouldn’t have to look for it. If Cooksey gave an abbreviated version of Richards’ Powerpoint, her Powerpoint should be attached to the agenda, as well as his.

  5. MoMx3 Says:

    After reading all of the violations of this board, I guess the Brown Act just doesn’t really mean anything. Nothing happens? Nothing changes? Is the grand jury looking at them anymore? What a mockery they’ve made of the system.

  6. Wendy Lack Says:

    Theresa, can you provide a link to Bryan Richards’ powerpoint presentation? I cannot find it on the District website and the link that he provided to me this morning does not work.

    Every District resident should look at Richards’ presentation and shudder. The combination of factors — ongoing $12M annual deficit, declining enrollment, state funding reductions — are cause for serious concern.

    Richards’ presentation drove home the point that the District’s last, best, final offer to MDEA is unaffordable. Offering employees pay raises and other terms that one cannot afford is nothing short of irresponsible.

  7. Wendy Lack Says:

    Theresa, never mind my request above.

    I found the link:

  8. Anon Says:

    Somebody tell us why MDUSD enrollment is declining while other districts are growing ? Somebody tell us if it’s families scared away by the district administration’s ship without a rudder management style ? Somebody tell us why MDUSD never passed a parcel tax ? Somebody tell us if closing two schools saved the projected amount ? Somebody tell us if MDUSD needs to close or consolidate more schools and how much that will save ? Someone tell us what is the plan ? Anyone . . . ? Anyone . . . ?

  9. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Wendy and Anon, I was also very surprised to see that the district’s own offer would hurt the district financially. Mike Langley told me the district never showed the union the numbers that were presented last night.
    It’s also strange that Richards apparently didn’t create the second version of the Second Interim Report until yesterday, even though the district knew it was going to impasse by March 1. This leads to the question: Why did the district make its offer at all? Could it be because administrators would share in the one-time off-schedule payment?
    Is it possible for a mediator to determine that neither the district’s offer or MDEA’s offer is fiscally prudent? What then?
    It was also odd that Cooksey made comments like: “I don’t know what you’re going to do. I’m not smart enough.”
    This kind of self-deprecating talk appears to undermine her credibility as an authoritative lead negotiator and prompts the question: Who is smart enough?

  10. Doctor J Says:

    @#9 If Deb Cooksey doesn’t think she’s smart enough — she’s not alone. She didn’t last very long at Oakland USD.

  11. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Bond Counsel Meredith Johnson also made sort of self-deprecating comments when she was asked to explain whether it was legal to use bond premiums to pay issuance costs. She basically said the Poway letter was a big mystery and that she didn’t know what it meant because she didn’t know what prompted it. She didn’t appear to have thought of the idea of actually calling the attorney general or Poway district to inquire. Instead, she was content to tell the board it was impossible to figure out and even if she could figure it out, the Poway letter wasn’t legally binding. “I’m just a lawyer,” she said, adding that bond underwriters would probably be able to better explain the complexities of the transactions. In essence, she couldn’t confirm that it was legal. She just didn’t seem to think it was illegal, since it’s a common practice.

  12. School Teacher Says:

    TH @ #9

    Your initial comment about the district’s offer makes me think about a comment made during the NBA’s recent player negotiations. One insider mentioned that no team was actually losing money, but could present numbers that make it look like they were in a financial crisis. The owner’s are regularly complaining about player salaries, but overall all the teams are making money. It isn’t until they get close to having to actually let other people pore over their books that they end up settling so no one gets that actual look so they can see what is really going on. I think the district needs to set up a system that allows better tracking of their funds so someone can really see where the money is going. That also assumes they would allow someone who is truly independent to do this. When are they going to maybe mention cutting salaries at the top of the administration scale? If you look at the last 20 years, the “workers” salaries have constantly been chipped away at, but I think the top salaries have increased disproportionately. “The rich get richer?”

  13. Theresa Harrington Says:

    In the past, across-the-board pay cuts have been on budget cut lists, but have never been seriously considered. However, administrators do share in furlough day cuts.
    Trustee Cheryl Hansen also wants board members to be limited to the capped Kaiser rate for single employees, instead of for entire families.
    Interestingly, the county superintendent makes less than the district superintendent, I believe.

  14. Jim Says:

    Looking at the budget PowerPoint, do you suppose any board member or administrator spends even a minute thinking that maybe, just maybe, the district should have supported the parcel tax that was narrowly defeated a few years ago? Instead they spent ALL of their time and effort on a solar boondoggle of borrowed money taking 42 years and over $1 billion to repay. Of course, the problem with a parcel tax is that all the money gets wasted on teacher salaries, classroom materials, and programs for helping students learn. Nothing is left for big-ticket contractors, consultants, and law firms, nor the kick-backs they provide to help board members get re-elected or help administrators find their next job at a new district.

    But then, a new problem emerges: Is it really worth it to be a board member or senior administrator for a district that is headed for a state takeover? Maybe, just maybe, the district should not have dismissed the possibility of a parcel tax, as Mr. Lawrence did so quickly at the very first meeting I attended with him, when he was brand new on the job and new to the district, but already shilling for the solar project.

  15. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Richards said he was asked to include a slide about solar (second-to-last slide).
    He estimated the district would save $6 million a year for the next five years due to solar and said cuts would be even deeper if the district hadn’t embarked on the solar project.

  16. Anon Says:

    Speaking of meetings, were they scheduling community meetings at each high school by the end of March, or was I dreaming again?

  17. Doctor J Says:

    Why does MDUSD have a lack of credibility ?
    Supt. Lawrence’s “state takeover threat” letter of June 23, 2010 needs to be contrasted with the Actual Reserves on June 30, 2010 [7 days later] $24,791,068
    and June 30, 2011 [one year later] $45,543,431.
    Lawrence June 23, 2010 letter:
    “Although we have already responded to the budget deficit by implementing staff reductions and non-personnel cuts totaling $15.88 million, we regretfully find ourselves in the position of having to ask for additional concessions from all of our bargaining units in order to present a balanced budget to the County Office of Education by June 30.
    In the event we are not able to present a balanced budget in 2010/11 and beyond, there is a very real possibility that the state could take over our District. If there is a takeover and a State Administrator is appointed, your elected representatives (the Board of Education) and by extension you, will have no say in running the District. That is an outcome I know that none of us want to see come to pass.”
    Actual Surplus Fiscal Year End June 30, 2010 : $24,791,068
    Actual Budget Surplus Fiscal Year end June 30, 2011:

    When you add Lawrence’s credibility and Cooksey’s credibility, the sum is still zero.

  18. Anon Says:

    TH#15-was the parcel tax going to raise $7 million a year, or was I dreaming that too?

  19. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Mike Langley spoke very passionately about how he felt when Cooksey said she didn’t want to enter into a one-year contract because she didn’t trust the bargaining process could accomplish cuts needed next year if the taxes don’t pass.
    Langley said this meant she didn’t trust the people, ie. the teachers’ union bargaining team. He reminded the board that that team agreed to the SIG MOUs in a very short time period and said teachers would do what’s best for students.

  20. Jim Says:

    Oh, and now the PowerPoint says that CVCHS will account for $3.65 Million of the district’s deficit! (Bonus points to anyone who can find two places where the district has used the same published figure for the supposed “cost” of that charter conversion.) Reading that bullet on the PowerPoint, one might conclude that there were no COSTS associated with running that high school that the district will no longer bear. It will just lose the “revenue”. Since the district NEVER disclosed the COSTS of running the school, one might be forgiven for concluding that it was actually a sort of “profit center” for the district — that they never spent the high school amount per student that they received from the state and were SUPPOSED to spend on that school under their “blended rate” formula. So after years of shorting those students, MDUSD now has to survive without that “revenue”.

    “Oh the tangled webs we weave, when first we practice to deceive.”

  21. g Says:

    Who would you trust to negotiate with you/for you? Who would you share your secrets with? Certainly I would not trust either of our Attorneys, as I do not believe either is capable of putting their own self interests in a subordinate position to the welfare of the District.

    Dr. J only barely touched on Cooksey controversies. Who chose her–who vetted her?

    Why do you think the District chose Rolen, who left his law firm that had very lucritive contracts with the District? He became the second highest paid person in the District.


    We already know more about Rolen than we ever wanted to know due to public records.

    COOKSEY was hired 1/26/10.

    How much has she changed since her blast at White Males in 1996?

    Would you trust her with “Attorney/Client Priveledge”???—-“He said that Dobbins handed over e-mails from his private Yahoo account at the request of school attorney Cooksey, who assured him that they were protected under client-attorney privilege.” (apparently not protected enough)

    ROLEN worked for Miller Brown Dannis before coming to MDUSD:

    ROLEN’S 2009 SPECIAL ED article in the CC Lawyer Magazine (pages 18-19):

  22. Wait a minute Says:


    The reason Stevie Lawrence was “shilling for solar” is because that is what he was hired to do.

    His wife is from the area and probably was close friends with someone like Eberhart or Strange.

    They hire him and he promotes their boondoggle as well as help get Eberhart a job with the Schreder family, whom Lawrence was also tight with in both West Sac (where he steered contracts to the Schreder empire and Roseville where Schreder has an office!

  23. anon Says:

    Why is enrollment declining, asked anon @#8?
    Well, The crappy economy has a bit to do with it. Families have lost homes, and given the choice of renting a small house in a less desirable part of Concord, or a larger house in a better part of Brentwood or Antioch, they are choosing the latter.

    Also, some families are leaving to private schools, unhappy with the bullying going on at schools, and what can appear to be unfair and unequal treatment. Some kids get at slap on the wrist, others get suspended. Due to privacy administration can not tell you what type of discipline is doled out to the other student, so the victim’s family has no idea how things were handled, and are left wondering if anything is done at all.

    Finally, people are just fed-up with the asinine way this district office runs. Phone calls and emails are not returned regularly, and when they are, responses are often rude.

  24. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Anon: I believe the parcel tax would have raised about $7 million a year, but that’s from memory.
    Regarding the community meetings, they ended up deciding not to have them because Superintendent Steven Lawrence and General Counsel Greg Rolen said the best way to conduct them without violating the Brown Act would be to turn them into strategic planning input sessions.
    Hansen and Dennler voted in favor of this, but the rest of the board voted against it, saying the district already has a good system in place for strategic planning.
    This whole Brown Act argument is very interesting. I recall that when I covered the city of Walnut Creek, the City Council held retreats with agendas that didn’t list any specifics about what they would talk about. Instead, they just said something very generic about city planning. Yet, these agendas were considered to be Brown Act compliant.

  25. Anon Says:

    Anon#22-MDUSD enrollment was declining before the crappy economy. Your latter two paragraphs go more to the point.

  26. Jim Says:

    Theresa, yes the PowerPoint says the solar will “save” $6 million per year over the next five years, but isn’t that the gross “savings”, before considering debt service on the +$300 million of bonds that were issued to pay for the solar in the first place?

    Hey, it’s not 2006, and we’re not in Greece. Most people now realize that when you borrow money you have to pay interest on it. Paying the money back — well, that’s for our kids, grandchildren, or whomever. But most if us now get that interest payments, at least, are a more immediate obligation.

  27. Doctor J Says:

    There is nothing to stop Trustee Cheryl Hansen from sponsoring her own “community meetings” as a member of the school board at the various locations and invite the free press to be there. As a member of the school board she is entitled to use school facilities without charge.

  28. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Speaking of enrollment, Superintendent Steven Lawrence gave a transportation/boundary presentation that suggested moving students in Bay Point and the Monument Corridor to PI schools so they could get NCLB transfers with transportation funded through Title 1: Ironically, though, he said that Rio Vista students might not be eligible for that free transportation if the school improves so much that it gets out of PI.

    When asked if this plan had been shared with parents yet, Lawrence said some Delta View parents had heard about it, but not those in the Meadow Homes area.

    The board was trying to decide if it should just move students around short-term or actually redraw boundaries. It is also exploring discontinuing overflow busing and parent-subsidized busing for Delta View students.
    So, more students may have to walk long distances next year, if they are shifted to different schools and their parents can’t drive them.

    Dr. J: Yes, both Hansen and Eberhart talked about the value of holding meetings with just two board members. But Superintendent Lawrence cautioned that if different board members went to different meetings and heard about the same subjects, that could be construed as serial meetings.

    In the past, trustees Gary Eberhart and Paul Strange held several community meetings, including some in district facilities.

    Regarding credibility, the board agreed that it was more “honest” to approve the Qualified Budget than the Positive Budget. Richards said he hadn’t originally included the information in the Qualified version because the projected reductions would occur after the deadline for submitting the Second Interim report.

  29. Doctor J Says:

    Interesting that Greg Rolen would make his two “special education” needs children part of the public discussion in that Aug 2009 article and discuss his now former wife’s professional representation of school districts. School district funding issues are not foreign to the Rolen’s.

  30. Doctor J Says:

    @#28 So why didn’t Lawrence have parents from these schools on the secret boundary realignment committee ? Isn’t that what the Strategic Plan is for ? Is Lawrence still running the district like the CIA ? How could the board even have an intellectually honest discussion about his unless they had been briefed in secret, violating the Brown Act ?

  31. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Lawrence said he was seeking direction from the board before meeting with other parents. It’s unclear how the whole plan was developed.

  32. g Says:

    A call to Jack Schreder might shed some light.

    Yes, “some” Delta View parents had heard about it. But sticking in (way at the bottom) a previously secret map of what they are looking at for Meadow Homes and surrounding schools was not publicized.

    And for good reason!

    The reasoning around choosing to close Holbrook was that it would only displace those kids and slightly disrupt two schools that they would move to.

    Now look very closely at the Concord schools map. They are looking at shuffling and displacing kids at no fewer than TEN schools. Move kids from a to b, move kids from b to c to make room for a, move kids from c to d to make room for b………!

  33. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Yes, and the maps were so small it was impossible to really see what was being proposed during the meeting.
    Lawrence mentioned several possible shifts, but said Mountain View Elementary could likely accommodate most of the displaced students. He didn’t say if this idea had been discussed with the Mountain View Elementary community, however.
    He also said that some students who live near Bailey Road could shift to Ayers Elementary. El Monte was also discussed for Meadow Homes students, even though Lawrence acknowledged that would be a long walk for students whose parents couldn’t drive them.

  34. Doctor J Says:

    So how could the Board give “direction” to the Supt when it was noticed as “information” and not “action” ? Did the Board given the Supt any “direction” ?

  35. Doctor J Says:

    Whereever Meadow Homes children are displaced to, the SIG Grant money does NOT follow them — that’s against Federal rules.

  36. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Yes, in fact Superintendent Lawrence said the SIG calls for a new science lab and the school needs to reduce its student population to have the space to add the lab.
    However, as I mentioned, he said students can use NCLB transfers to go to other schools. He did acknowledge, however, that most Meadow Homes students want to be there and that when space becomes available, overflowed students usually opt to transfer back.

  37. Theresa Harrington Says:

    In other news, the discussion about grad requirements was cut short because it was late and Trustee Cheryl Hansen asked to carry it over to the next meeting.
    Here’s a website that shows how many high school seniors submitted and completed the FAFSA in the hopes of receiving financial aid at colleges in the fall:
    The data shows that only five students at CVHS completed the forms, compared to more than 170 at Northgate. Does this mean fewer CVHS students will attend college, fewer CVHS students need financial aid, or fewer CVHS parents knew about the March 2 priority deadline?

  38. School Teacher Says:

    That document shows two Clayton Valley High Schools, one in Concord, and one in Clayton. Between both of them, it shows 161 applications completed. I don’t know why they’d do that.

  39. Doctor J Says:

    Wait until the El Monte staffs hears Lawrence’s brainiac idea to have nearly half of the El Monte students pushed out to Mountainview and Woodside, and then “replacement students” from “Meadow Homes”. El Monte staff will be so overjoyed they might actually speak up — but no SIG money for El Monte for the several hundred Meadow Homes replacements. It sounds like Lawrence has never even driven on those streets over there — indeed he hasn’t walked them and his monster stride probably equals three little children’s strides.

  40. Doctor J Says:

    I guess Deb Cooksey wasn’t familiar with Steven Lawrence’s statement to the State Board of Education in November 2011: “MDUSD also has recently developed a positive and collaborative working relationship with its teacher union, Mt. Diablo Education Association (MDEA) as evidenced by an 2011 MOU to implement performance based teacher evaluation and increase instructional time at the three existing SIG Cohort 1 schools.”

  41. Theresa Harrington Says:

    ST: Oh, thanks for clarifying that! I thought five seemed very low!

    DJ: Cooksey did say some nice things about the MDEA bargaining team, I believe. I am posting an update with a link to the video of her comments:

  42. g Says:

    Cooksey also spoke very highly of the collaboration and understanding she had with CV Charter organizers, and how close they were to coming to agreement and completion of the bully requirements. She is a manipulator, not a negotiator.

  43. Doctor J Says:

    I don’t ever remember seeing a “Science Lab” included in the Meadow Homes SIG grant application or any SIG money allocated in the $6,000,000 over three years. Where is Lawrence coming up with that idea ?

  44. Theresa Harrington Says:

    The principal also told me she planned to have some sort of science center, so I assumed it was in the grant.

  45. Doctor J Says:

    I thought the SIG Grant was written to accomodate Meadow Homes’ current students and population — not replacement students from other schools. Theresa, you have mentioned several times about the Science Lab — maybe you can ask for a copy of the Cohort 2 SIG Grant and budgets and take a look. Its all public record.

  46. Theresa Harrington Says:

    DJ: There wouldn’t be any replacement students from other schools. Meadow Homes would serve fewer students.

    I have requested copies of the SIGs. Here’s the report the board received, which gives very little detail about the specifics:

  47. g Says:

    So, when they send at minimum 24% of the students from Meadow Homes to other schools, as planned, will they lose 24% of the SIG grant?

  48. Theresa Harrington Says:

    No, unlike QEIA, SIGs are not based on a per student calculation. They are based on planned expenditures. Meadow Homes plans to spend $2 million a year on a variety of extras, including a science center, performing arts program and lots of professional development.
    Here’s what the principal told me (which was included in my SIG story):

    New Principal Mary-Louise Newling said the extra $2 million a year will be spent on hands-on science and math activities, computer technology, high-quality literature, social studies and visual and performing arts programs, which will help the school’s kindergarten- through fifth-graders become independent thinkers. She also plans to allocate funding for teacher training in literacy and instructional strategies.
    “I really want this to be a lab school where people can hone their craft and be a showcase for the district,” she said, explaining that focusing solely on rote math and English skills would not meet students’ needs. “In my opinion, that’s why children get turned off. They remember the hands-on stuff.”

    Interestingly, this is a complete reversal of the School Improvement Plan previously approved for Meadow Homes by the board, which eliminated most extras in favor of more time for English language instruction. Some parents complained about that plan at the time, but Lawrence defended it, saying if students couldn’t read English, they wouldn’t be able to read Social Studies texts. Newling, on the other hand, wants to engage students in science, social studies and the arts to turn them on to learning.

    The El Monte principal once told me that school didn’t qualify for Title 1 funding. With an influx of Meadow Homes children, it might.

  49. g Says:

    Considering the plan seems to be to move about 210 kids OUT of El Monte in order to move about 270 Meadow Homes students IN, I would say it is very likely El Monte will qualify for SIG in the future.

  50. Doctor J Says:

    24% or more of current Meadow Homes students will lose out on the benefits of the $2 Million per year SIG grant which was designed to increase their learning opportunities as evidenced by their “persistently low performance” —

    24% or more of the “persistently low performing” students will NOT have increased class time of about one hour per day — which is the greatest predictor of increased learning and performance.

    24% or more of the “persistently low performing” students will NOT have the benefit of $2,000,000 per year at Meadow Homes to impliment the six strategies identified in the SIG Grant:
    Strategy #1 Refine instruction in ELD, mathematics and language arts. This would include providing all teachers with training in best teaching practices, in the use of new materials, and in improved content area knowledge.
    Strategy#2 Support for intervention to enrichment structures, including training, hiring of additional staff, and acquiring new materials.
    Strategy #3 Working with a leadership and data coach to provide in depth training for coaches, leadership support, and in depth training about how to make data based instructional decisions for targeted groups of students as mandated by level of proficiency.
    Strategy #4 Parent education and partnerships. Provide workshops and educational meeting for parents about how to help their students and how to access and negotiate the educational and health services in the area.
    Strategy #5 Provide Increased learning time. SIG teachers are paid 14% more per day for the extra time.
    Strategy #6 Access to enrichment curriculum and electives. Hire six additional teachers who will provide enrichment and additional core instruction in mathematics, responding to literature, social studies, visual and performing arts, environmental science, science and computer technology. The current prep offerings of music, library and physical education will continue.

    Lawrence is essentially arbitrarily sentencing 24% or more of the “persistently low performing” students to continued academic failure in order to save bus costs. Shame on him.

  51. Theresa Harrington Says:

    It seemed like part of the rationale was to transfer them to higher-performing schools under NCLB.
    This is similar to the board’s decision to close Glenbrook MS, abandoning the SIG to send most of the students to higher-performing schools (with the exception of those who transferred to Oak Grove MS).

  52. Doctor J Says:

    @G#49 SIG will expire before El Monte qualifies as a “persistently underachieving school”. You don’t get that moniker without years of poor performance.

  53. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Plus, the state hasn’t recalibrated its persistently lowest achieving schools list since it was created about three years ago. A researcher from Monterey has said that many of the schools in this category probably don’t deserve to be there anymore because of recent improvement.

  54. Doctor J Says:

    Putting a child who is “persistently low achieving” next to a brainiac, does not usually improve the performance of the underperforming child. That strategy is not one proved to be successful.

  55. Anon Says:

    TH#51-weren’t MOST of the Glenbrook students reassigned to lower-performing Oak Grove MS, or was I dreaming that ? If reassigning to a higher-performing school was the rational for closing Glenbrook then Houston there’s a problem . . .

  56. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I think most Glenbrook students were reassigned to El Dorado MS and Valley View MS, which are higher-performing. Some, however, were reassigned to Oak Grove MS. However, they were eligible for NCLB transfers and I believe some attend Sequoia MS.

    There are lots of theories about why schools are low-performing. Some say it has to do with school climate. Some may believe that sending students to a school with an improved school climate could make a difference. Obviously, teachers make a huge difference.
    But, teachers and principals at Glenbrook said the counseling the SIG proivided was also helping, because students who are troubled about things going on in their lives outside of school have trouble learning no matter where they are.

  57. Anon Says:

    Hmmm, can’t find the early 2011 new boundary map, but remember about 150 were going to be reassigned to Oak Grove. Before that however the January 19, 2011 powerpoint shows “6-8 Transfer Matrix” shows Oak Grove had only 572 students, but El Dorado had 868, Sequoia had 892 and Valley View had 735. Of 919 students residing in the Glenbrook area, only 484 went to Glenbrook, and 141 went to Sequoia Middle, and 121 went to Oak Grove. It would be interesting to compare this data to the enrollment vs. capacity at each school now

    This is background to the pressing question in light of the district’s budget and declining enrollment can more schools be closed or consolidated ?

  58. Theresa Harrington Says:

    They seem to be focusing on Bay Point right now, with no plans for closures, but reconfiguration in the works.
    if they do convene another School Closure Advisory Committee, the rubric and voting should be public and transparent. The process used last time still has people wondering how the committee made its decisions.

    Here’s my story about last night’s meeting:

    Regarding CVCHS, Richards also pointed out that the 1 percent oversight fee noted in his Powerpoint presentation will go to the County Office of Ed., not the district.

  59. Doctor J Says:

    Eberhart willingly gave up the 1% oversight fee by orchestrating the Board into denying the CVCHS charter. He should have considered that in making his vote. MDUSD now has zero control over the charter. Another bad choice by Eberhart.

  60. anon Says:

    @Dr J, #54
    You are correct, all that does is force the teachers to teach to the lowest common denominator.

  61. El monte teacher Says:

    Fyi Theresa-El Monte is already Title 1 funded as of this year with or without Meadow Homes students. Please check your facts more closely.

  62. Doctor J Says:

    Why did CFO Richards suddenly manipulate the books ? Eberhart was “p o” that Richards had recommended a “positive certification” which was killing the MDEA negotiations and demanded a change in typical explosive explicative rhetoric. Having both sets of numbers makes it easy to see where Richards quickly can “cook” the books to go from a “positive certification” to “qualified” in a few clicks of the keyboard. Makes me feel all warm and fuzzy and confident about the accuracy of the accounting records in MDUSD. Causes me to reflect on the work pedigrees of Richards and Lawrence.

  63. vindex Says:

    The district is being financially very conservative. I actually do not disagree with this approach. The MDUSD bargaining team is also being fairly financially conservative. However, in the past, the district has burned the unions by claiming poverty and in reality they were in an okay position. The raises to the five district administrators continues to haunt them. Trust is a key factor in any negotiation and due to past district actions, trust is wanting. If the district wants to regain crediblity, they will immediate take back the raises they issued to the district administrators and come back to the table. If they don’t do this, impasse is a natural consequence. I’m very proud of the MDUSD bargaining team and the teachers for their insistence of a fair contract. The other unions should have stood up more for their members. I’ve followed this closely and at this point I believe the union is correct on this one. I’m not a CTA hack and I believe that the CTA is mostly full of loons, but on a local level I agree with the MDUSD union on this one.

  64. Theresa Harrington Says:

    EMT: I’m sorry about that. I was basing that comment on what the principal told me a few years ago. Thanks for the updated information.

  65. Doctor J Says:

    @EMT & TH: Being a Title I funded school and a “persistently low achieving” school are different animals — I think many schools get Title 1 money, even Delta View who has API over 800. One reason Lawrence is scrambling so much now, is because he allowed the District to be named a PI District, one of the “penalties” is that 20% of the Title 1 money must now be spent on teacher improvement, and that is dinging his “Title I transportation” funds he has been relying upon. This is a prime example of Lawrence’s myopia in not looking forward to the future consequences of today’s choices. Two years ago, he could have taken decisive action to avoid getting named a Program Improvement District — his only action was to lower high school graduation requirements which “avoided” the problem for one year, but did not solve the real educational issues. Instead he shuffled LeBoeuf from Mount and replaced her with McClatchy, who was in failure mode by the vote of “no confidence”, but had “political capital” to play to keep her job — and then she gained a second no confidence vote from a second faculty in just two years. Yet, we see no change. No change = no leadership.

  66. Doctor J Says:

    Wow, check out the job postings since Monday night’s Board Meeting. New Elementary Principals being sought — who is on their way out ? Another SASS School Support Administrator. Guess we can’t spend that categorical money fast enough.

  67. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Actually, Superintendent Lawrence said the district isn’t spending as much as it could from Title 1 on transportation. That’s why he was advocating for NCLB transfers, so kids could use Title 1 funds for busing.

    Regarding the impasse, I find it interesting that the amount that would need to be cut is almost exactly equal to the amount of the offer.
    $4.7 million is not a small amount to cut. In the past, the board has agonized over cuts of this size, by reducing hours of employees and closing schools.
    As everyone knows, the superintendent has repeatedly complained about the loss of $1.7 million from the CVHS charter conversion, saying that would hurt students. So, why did the district make an offer to the union that would cost more than twice that amount?. $4.7 million is equal to closing seven schools.

  68. Jack Weir Says:

    Here are answers to some questions posed above:
    Q#1. Why didn’t MDUSD pass a parcel tax?
    A#1. Because a handful of district residents mounted a successful campaign against the Measure C parcel tax proposal, showing that the district had consistently mismanaged its finances under Superintendent McHenry, and could not be trusted. We wrote strong ballot arguments and waged a powerful letters-to-the-editor campaign. However, the district learned its lesson, and immediately went into stealth mode, planning the Measure C bond proposal. Virtually all of its terms and numbers were kept secret until after the deadline for ballot arguments had passed. Because we couldn’t discover the terms of the proposal, there were no ballot arguments against the bond. Now taxpayers are learning just how outrageously costly the bond program will be, and many who voted for it wish they had not.
    Q#2. Does the Brown Act inhibit open public meetings of the board?
    A#2. No. The Brown Act merely restricts officials from doing business in secret. There is no reason why the board cannot hold open sessions to solicit public input, as long as the meetings are properly agendized and noticed. Other jurisdictions do this sort of thing routinely and successfully. This administration continues to do everything it can to avoid public scrutiny and participation, going so far as charging a member of its bond oversight committee for copies of records she needs to meet her public watchdog responsibilities. More on this issue after we see the oversight committee’s overdue annual report.
    Meantime, residents should show up, stand up and speak up – our kids and our community really need us to do so.

  69. Doctor J Says:

    @#68 — Wait until Theresa posts the Nov 17, 2011 Cohort 2 SIG Application — you can see a real live Brown Act violation attached to the application ! Attachment 5-Page18, at page 52 shows a job description approved by the Board in “Closed Session” as stated on the handwriting !

  70. g Says:

    Some SARC reports are out for this year, some are not.

  71. Theresa Harrington Says:

    JW: Do you have examples of agendas for these types of meetings? I know the city of Walnut Creek held “Community Conversations” in the past, followed up by a council study session to go over what was said. It seems MDUSD could do something similar.

  72. Doctor J Says:

    Correction: Being a Program Improvement District only requires 10% of Title I funds be spent on “high quality professional development”. What is MDUSD spending its 10% Title I professional development on ?
    What about the involvement of parents as stated ? Seems like everything lately is leaving out parents.

  73. Jim Says:

    Jack — You are right that some residents opposed the parcel tax because of past mismanagement of MDUSD funds. Nevertheless, the measure got over 60% of voters to approve it WITHOUT ANY support from the district. No media interviews from district administrators, appearances at rallies, email blasts from principals, organizational help — no indication whatsoever that the district even WANTED the measure to pass. (MDEA was also sadly missing in action as well, although many teachers at individual schools supported the measure.) Frankly, I’m surprised that over 60% of voters voted for it, when MDUSD acted like they didn’t even care whether they got the money or not.

    Now admittedly, district officials have to be careful how they participate in these campaigns, but compare their behavior on the parcel tax measure with their intense lobbying efforts around the solar initiative — rallies in front of the schools, emails from principals, co-ordinated letter-writing campaigns, interviews with the media, a visit with the CC Times editorial board, multiple direct mail pieces sent to residents. Isn’t it quite possible that such robust efforts on behalf of a parcel tax could have brought in a few percent more votes? We’ll never know.

    Obviously, the big money for these campaigns comes when there are big construction projects and bond issues at stake. That’s when all of the donations from construction interests, consultants, vendors, and legal firms come into play. Personally, I think that the district board and administrators thought that if they got a parcel tax approved first, that the voters would be less willing to approve their beloved solar deal, with all of the lucrative contracts, preferences, favors, and glad-handing that such a project entails. So they sacrificed a plan to help put the district on better financial footing long-term in exchange for a boondoggle that would help secure their personal political and professional futures.

    And now all of those voters who didn’t trust the district with their tax dollars have more ammunition than ever before.

  74. Wait a minute Says:

    Well said Jim.

    The parcel-tax would not have led to a job for Eberhart with Schreder construction as a so-called “solar expert”.

  75. Doctor J Says:

    Theresa, is the district still stalling on giving you a copy of Lawrence’s contract ? What is the status of Trustee Hansen’s request for an agenda item to prohibit renegotiation of Lawrence’s contract until after the election and seating of the new Board ?

  76. Wait a minute Says:

    Dr J,
    I’m sure the EberMarsh/Mayo plan is to extend Stevie Lawrence’s contract before the elections as part of their deal with hiring him because he knows and has participated in all the dirty tricks they are involved in.

  77. Theresa Harrington Says:

    DJ: The district provided me with a copy of the contract, which I will post later. Hansen said she doesn’t know why the agenda item hasn’t appeared and she wants to see it on the March 26th agenda.

  78. Doctor J Says:

    I wonder if the El Monte staff is sweating bullets yet ? They can’t be happy with their principal for keeping from them the secret boundary changes for a couple of months. Kind of breeds a lack of trust between staff and the principal. Staff starts to wonder what other secret actions are being kept from them, and if they can trust what the principal is saying to them. But it seems to be Lawrence’s Mt. Diablo way !

  79. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Regarding trust, Mike Langley told me that he thought Deb Cooksey may have deceived MDEA’s bargaining team by saying the board was insisting on a two-year contract.
    After hearing Cooksey’s remarks Monday night, Langley said it appeared that it may have actually been staff that was pushing for a two-year contract.
    I remember she kind of hedged that in her remarks and I wondered why.

  80. Doctor J Says:

    Wasn’t Julie with Deb before the Board in closed session ? So they would both have had to deceive the MDEA Bargaining Team — Deb by stating, and Julie not correcting her.

  81. **anon Says:

    Did Hansen ever get the bus inventory from rolen?

  82. Doctor J Says:

    What’s more annoying on the Board audiotape ? Listening to staff and Board member whispers to each other ? or Listening the keyboard clack clack of staff or Board members sending emails during the meeting ? At least the whispers are interesting when you get the voices isolated — someday I will publish those comments. It will be a good laugh — for us — and quite embarassing for them; maybe more than embarassing.

  83. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I got a call from CSEA vp Annie Nolen, who said she never heard a thing about the district’s plan to offer a one-time payment to other unions until she read it in the paper.
    After the last contract negotiations, which revealed a $43 million surplus after cuts were made, she’s pretty skeptical about the district’s claims. So far, it doesn’t look like that claim is pitting unions against each other. Instead, it appears to be building distrust and suspicion.
    It’s unclear why Cooksey would have made that statement publicly, without first informing the other unions.

  84. g Says:

    She’s showing signs of being a runaway, just as she has in the past. Somebody should rein her in.

  85. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Langley said that if Cooksey continues to publicly state: “I’m not smart enough,” people may start to believe it.

  86. MDUSD Board Watcher Says:

    Let me assure you that Cooksey is not that smart. Eberhart, Whitmarsh, and Cooksey could probably all give each other a run for the money in the biggest dummy in the district contest.

  87. Theresa Harrington Says:

    On a very serious note, I have just posted information from Northgate’s crisis counselors that offers advice to parents for talking to teens about the recent suicide attempt at YVHS, as well as several resources:

  88. Anon Says:

    @TH #11 – Ms. Johnson is riddled with conflicts and had no business advising the Board on why it may be legal for the district to essentially steal $1.7 in bond premium from the taxpayer. (She was paid with bond premium that belongs to the taxpayer.) Ms. Johnson mentioned that it is common practice for schools to take bond premium away from taxpayers…so with that logic, would it be okay to rob a bank if everyone else does it?

  89. Theresa Harrington Says:

    The Bond Oversight Committee meeting is tonight:

  90. Theresa Harrington Says:

    MDEA membership expects to vote on whether to allow CVCHS teachers to remain in union:

  91. Theresa Harrington Says:

    The district has scheduled drop-in sessions for pink-slipped teachers:

  92. Theresa Harrington Says:

    The board expects to discuss capping trustee benefits on Monday:

  93. Theresa Harrington Says:

    FYI, we have received the 2011 salary data from MDUSD.
    Hansen received no medical, dental or vision benefits; Dennler received $174.46; Whitmarsh received $1,560.08; Mayo received $14,341.52; and Eberhart received $14,661.06.

  94. Doctor J Says:

    @#93 Doesn’t that figure also include “other” expense reimbursement ? When will the 2011 Salary information be placed in the database and made available to the public ?

  95. MDUSD Board Watcher Says:

    No surprise that Eberhart wins the award for biggest leech off the district board member. Somewhat surprising to see Mayo right behind him. I would have suspected Whitmarsh to take that spot.

  96. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Whitmarsh told me that she has tried to opt out of benefits, but was told that she had to accept vision and dental because they are part of the district’s group plans. If that’s the case, it’s unclear how Hansen was able to opt out.
    There is also a separate “miscellaneous benefits” category, which includes FICA and other benefits. Here’s how trustees stack up on those:
    Dennler: $125.61; Mayo: $407.43; Eberhart: $425.84; Whitmarsh: $660.22; and Hansen: $662.77.
    The amount trustees received in base pay was slightly higher for Mayo and Hansen than for the other three.
    Mayo and Hansen each received $8,664.00 in base pay. Dennler, Eberhart and Whitmarsh each received $8,630.57 in base pay.
    Here is the total amount that each trustee cost taxpayers in 2011:
    Dennler: $8,930.64
    Hansen: $9,326.77
    Whitmarsh: $10,850.87
    Mayo: $23,412.95
    Eberhart: $23,717.47
    The total cost for all five board members was $75,698.70.
    If Hansen’s proposal to cap trustees’ medical benefits at 2010 single employee Kaiser rates is approved, it is likely that Mayo and Eberhart might have to pay more toward their medical benefits, or else forfeit some. However, I still need to find out what the single employee Kaiser rate is to verify this.
    As you know, the board voted to eliminate medical benefits for part-time employees who work less than four hours a day.
    For comparison purposes, a special ed assistant who earned a base salary of $8,599.47 in 2011 received $3,534.50 in medical, dental and vision benefits, or more than $11,000 a year less than Eberhart and Mayo.
    We hope to post this data online in the next month, after we receive more information from other agencies.
    Overall, employees who received the most in medical, dental and vision benefits (about $20,000 a year) were psychologists, who earned base pay ranging between $64,000 and nearly $79,000 a year.
    Also for comparison purposes, Superintendent Steven Lawrence, General Counsel Greg Rolen, Measure C Project Manager Timothy Cody and MDHS Principal Kate McClatchy each received $19,617.86 in medical, dental and vision benefits.
    McClatchy received the highest amount of total compensation of all principals, at $137,938.94. She was the 16th highest paid employee in the district, in terms of total compensation.
    Employees who received about the same medical, dental and vision benefits as Eberhart and Mayo included a few adult ed teachers, the director of personnel, two special ed assistants, a senior account clerk, and a school secretary.

  97. Theresa Harrington Says:

    MDEA is looking for a new president to replace Mike Langley after he retires, as well as for new exec. board and state delegates:
    Deadline to file candidacy forms is 5 p.m. April 5.

  98. Doctor J Says:

    2012 Health Care Premiums for 12 Month Employees

  99. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Based on this info, it looks like the single rate is $6,390.72, 2-party is $12,781.44 and 3+party is $16,615.92 per year. It looks like Mayo and Eberhart may have the 2-party plans.

  100. Doctor J Says:

    Board Meeting Report ? Agenda shows spending report pulled from consent cal but not voted on ? Discussion about Board benefits ?

  101. Mdusd Employee Says:

    Can you post your video/audio for those of us who can’t be there?

  102. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I arrived a bit late and they were discussing some damaged solar panels that had been replaced. Alicia Minyen questioned whether it was appropriate for the district (or Measure C) to pay for that if there was insurance.
    Since the meeting was full when I arrived, I wasn’t able to videotape the first part because I was in the lobby and had to charge my phone.
    However, I did shoot video of the meeting after the public comment. Here is the link to the Qik videos:
    I also shot some video on my Flip camera, which I will upload to YouTube later.
    There were several notable moments.
    A group asked the board to consider exceeding the tax rate so the district doesn’t have to issue capital appreciation bonds, which would cost more over the life of the bonds. The board expects to discuss this at its next meeting. In a departure from its usual silence after public comment, trustees actually discussed this a bit (see Qik video).
    Also during public comment, several MDHS teachers complained about the science facilities and Principal Kate McClatchy’s insistence on “scaling up” the biotech academy. One said McClatchy treated an “industry partner” unprofessionally and essentially lied to the person by saying the school wouldn’t get its CPA grant if it didn’t include freshmen. The industry partner said it couldn’t accommodate any more students, according to the teacher.
    Mona Ricard, a Sequoia Elem. teacher, was honored as the district’s Teacher of the Year.
    The board approved the Cyber High online learning program for credit recovery, but Mike Langley stressed the need for proper oversight by a credentialed teacher.
    The board approved two charter facilities agreement offers, but referred to a letter from Neil McChesney that expressed concerns about another agreement, which will come back to the board in May. Deb Cooksey said the district will charge for indoor facilities and is still trying to determine if it can charge for outdoor facilities as well.
    The board voted 4-1 to vote “No” on the Clean Water initiative, saying it couldn’t afford the $65,000. Trustee Linda Mayo voted against this motion, saying she thought it was important to support the initiative, in part because cities often support school district measures. She also said clean water was an important issue.
    Trustee Cheryl Hansen called for two Points of Order, saying that board bylaws were violated when Board President Sherry Whitmarsh made committee appointments by email. She asked that the committee assignments be agendized and that last year’s committee assignments stand until new appointments are approved by the board.
    Greg Rolen, Sherry Whitmarsh and Gary Eberhart said this couldn’t be discussed because it wasn’t on the agenda.
    Hansen also raised a Point of Order saying board bylaws were violated when an item she asked to be included on the agenda was omitted — the request that no offers to extend the contracts for the superintendent and top administrators be made until after the election. Again, Rolen and Whitmarsh said this couldn’t be discussed since it wasn’t on the agenda. Rolen said he would meet with Hansen, Lawrence and Whitmarsh to discuss this.
    When Hansen brought up her idea for capping trustees’ medical benefits, no one else commented.
    During board reports, Eberhart said he wants to change the process for trustees submitting items for the agenda so that staff can add recommendations or other research.
    During the discussion about the minutes, Mayo alleged that staff had been prohibited from adding other information to the report. When questioned by Eberhart about this comment, she apologized and said she shouldn’t have said that because she was merely speculating and had no knowledge of that.

  103. Doctor J Says:

    By Hansen raising “Point of Order” and alleging By-law violations, it clear she has “lawyered up” and is ready to fight the battle publicly. Go girl ! The obvious conspiracy against Hansen by Lawrence, Whitmarsh and Rolen [and probably Eberhart too] will only call more attention to Lawrence’s contract. Lawrence and Eberhart did not support spending $65,000 for the Clean Water Act since it is a “teaching position” — will they apply this same thinking process to reducing the outrageously expensive Board medical benefits ? I loved it when Cheryl called it “unethical” for the part time board to get more benefits than part time classified employees.

  104. Doctor J Says:

    Why is Meas. C paying for damage caused by MDUSD employee’s negligent driving — shouldn’t that come from insurance or the Gen Fund ?

  105. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Dr. J: That is the question raised by Minyen. Should taxpayers be footing that bill?
    Regarding Hansen, yes, it’s very clear she wants this out in the open. Eberhart and Rolen said it would be a Brown Act violation to discuss the items, so Hansen asked that they be placed on the next agenda. Rolen said it hadn’t been established that the bylaws were violated. Hansen insisted it wasn’t a Brown Act violation to bring up a point of order and she pressed Whitmarsh to make a ruling, but Whitmarsh refused.

  106. Doctor J Says:

    @#105 Rolen is the lawyer for all the Board members, and its wrong for him to take sides. I hope that Hansen makes public her meeting with Rolen and Whitmarsh on this issue. It must be made public. The exchange between Mayo and Eberhart was weird, and Mayo backed down quite quickly after Eberhart spoke up. Must be more to that story.

  107. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Yes, then at the end of the meeting, Eberhart brought up the idea that staff couldn’t add its own recommendations or research. It appeared that there could have been behind-the-scenes discussions about this.

  108. Anon Says:

    Isn’t it the role of staff to provide both research and recommendations? Every Board, City Council, Planning Commission meeting I have ever attended has a staff recommendation for each item. If the staff isn’t providing research who is?

  109. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Yes, it is staff’s job to provide research and recommendations. But Mayo and Eberhart appeared to be implying that Hansen had asked staff not to change her agenda item in any way. It’s unclear how they knew this or whether it’s true.

  110. g Says:

    Creation of the meeting agenda is (supposedly) a joint agreement made by the Board President and the District Superintendent–period. Once they have decided the agenda, I suppose it would be proper to ask counsel for correct wording.

    However, is there anyone here who actually believes that Eberhart is not still being included in that decision making process? Does anyone actually believe that there is never some serial consensus being sought from Mayo?

  111. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Previously, Mayo told me that she was not involved in those discussions.
    Hansen told me that she had previously decided to meet with Superintendent Lawrence instead of with Whitmarsh regarding her items, because she overheard another trustee talking about one of her agenda items after a meeting and feared there could be serial discussions occurring.

  112. g Says:

    While I don’t generally find cause to disagree with Hansen, I do believe her Points of Order were out of place because they were not timely.

    On the other hand, every one of their meetings itself is out of order if the very first Item is not “Approve the Agenda” of the day. No meeting should start without voting an approval of the Agenda!

    When the Agenda is brought up for approval, and a member feels that there is something wrong with that agenda, for example–their properly requested item was not included–right then is the proper time for a “Point of Order” and the Chair is required to immediately act upon that point, and ask for discussion and consensus. I also believe that if the consensus is to agree with the Point, they can right then alter the agenda and add/include the item, as long as they properly note the cause (a Point of Order) for last minute changing of the agenda in the minutes.

  113. g Says:

    There have been some major changes and additions to the Measure C website.

  114. Doctor J Says:

    Trustee Hansen has an absolute right to have matters placed on the agenda, without censorship by the Supt or other Board members. Both the MDUSD By-laws and Ed Code require this. MDUSD Board Bylaw 9323 allows Board trustees to respond to the public. It says in part: “3. Without taking action, Board members or district staff members may briefly respond to statements made or questions posed by the public about items not appearing on the agenda. Additionally, on their own initiative or in response to questions posed by the public, a Board or staff member may ask a question for clarification, make a brief announcement, or make a brief report on his/her own activities. (Government Code 54954.2) The Board or a Board member may provide a reference to staff or other resources for factual information, ask staff to report back to the Board at a subsequent meeting concerning any matter, or take action directing staff to place a matter of business on a future agenda. (Government Code 54954.2)”
    Are serial communications in violation of the Brown Act happening ? It appears so. Here is a potential scenario: Hansen’s requests for an Agenda item are communicated to President Whitmarsh — and she communicates with one or more of the Board members [if more than one, there is a Brown Act violation]. If she communicates with just one, lets say for example Mayo, and then Mayo communicates, as an example, with Dennler about the agenda item, you then have a serial communication in violation of the Brown Act. Personally, I think it is happening frequently, and may have been going on for years. Its not just wrong, its illegal. To stop it, Trustee Hansen may have to lawyer up at District expense and get a court to order the law to be followed.

  115. Theresa Harrington Says:

    FYI, I have just uploaded my YouTube videos at:
    These include the Points of Order and Eberhart’s comments about changing the way trustees place items on the agenda.

  116. Theresa Harrington Says:

    The board had no qualms about discussing increasing the Measure C tax rate, although that wasn’t on the agenda. Yet, when Hansen raised her Points of Order, Eberhart claimed it would be a misdemeanor violation of the Brown Act to discuss it.
    Regarding the Measure C site: the draft annual report has been posted, along with Minyen’s emails.

  117. Doctor J Says:

    More shell games by Pedersen on Meas C — what is new, what is changed ? What is the date of Pedersen to Minyen letter ? Where are the prior answers Pedersen alludes to ?

  118. Doctor J Says:

    Its worth watching Trustee Hansen’s two “Points of Order” and the conspiracy by Whitmarsh, Rolen, Eberhart and Lawrence to keep items off the agenda and then hide behind the fact that they were not placed on the agenda as an excuse not to discuss the Government Code violations — a circular argument of epic proportions. Obviously Trustee Hansen had some excellent legal advice headed into that meeting. Sounds like the April 23 meeting will be a showdown at the OK Corral [figuratively only].

  119. g Says:

    Dr. J: The “prior answers” would be the August 22 Special Meeting Power Point. She requested information and discussion, and to appease her (shut her out), they bombarded the meeting with a power point, and left little room open for further discussion. Typical treatment when anyone questions authority in this District.

  120. g Says:

    Theresa, we cannot thank you enough for the videos! To be able to watch Rolen and Eberhart holding their own little private discussions, right down to Rolen rushing to write down what Eberhart’s retort should be—un-blanking-believable!

    One would almost wonder if there might be a more “personal” relationship or legal agreement between those two–something greater than just backroom board collaboration.

    What is obvious to me is that Rolen needs to be placed in a different position in the room where he can–strike that–where he MUST speak up publicly to make recommendations or corrections when, and only when necessary! I believe that positioning is the responsibility of the Superintendent. Board and/or counsel “ganging up” against another board member by whispering privately and jotting notes at an open meeting is really VERY despicable.

  121. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Here is the link to the district’s audio of the meeting:
    As I mentioned, I was unable to videotape the first portion, which included the public comments regarding replacing damaged solar panels, increasing the Measure C tax rate and complaints about MDHS science facilities and Principal Kate McClatchy’s plan to “scale-up” the biotech academy.

  122. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Here is my story about the meeting:
    I didn’t have enough space to include the MDHS complaints, so I plan to write separately about that.

  123. g Says:

    If they can’t bring themselves to provide us with comprehensive written minutes of public comments, I wonder if they might at least be able to make sure the mic that sits next to the POUNDING keyboard is turned off! My head is POUNDING from trying to hear speakers over the POUNDING keyboard!!!

  124. g Says:

    and…if I mute the recording, it stops entirely and will not restart without starting back at the beginning. Is it just me??? This has happened every meeting. This time it happened at 1hr 23min in. Very frustrating! I have never actually managed to hear the entire audio of a meeting.

  125. Doctor J Says:

    @G save the recording in Windows Media Player and then you can play with it. One of the staff is sending emails during the meeting and that makes the click clack of the keyboard.

  126. g Says:

    Thanks! I’ll try that. I thought maybe the clacking keyboard was the secretary taking minutes. Whomever it is needs to turn off the mic–if it’s a staff member, maybe someone needs to remind them they are being paid overtime to be there, and to pay attention!

  127. g Says:

    “The minutes shall also include an accurate summary of the public speakers’ comments made
    during the course of the Board meeting, including the speaker’s name, title, and key comments.”

    Or, the board could just continue to treat the public and their opinions with even less interest than they pay to something stuck on the bottom of their shoe.

  128. Doctor J Says:

    I was really outraged by Rolen’s hiding behind the Agenda excuse when Trustee Hansen asked him as Director of Transportation about the repair payments for Agenda item of increased expenditures for Measure C. I guess Mr. Rolen would rather deal with a PRA request for all accident reports, insurance claims, and payments for all damages. The stockpiling of replacement panels for damage and vandalism is crazy since the technology of the panels will improve over time. Also, I seem to remember that when the issue of vandalism was questioned during the contracting process that Pete Pedersen said that Sunpower had contractually agreed to assume all of that responsibility — or was I mistaken ?

  129. g Says:

    And we’re “training district employees” to do the repairs and installations of replacement panels? Where does that fall in under the provisions of Measure C and performance warrantys? Like those same employees will be around forever.

  130. Doctor J Says:

    @G#129 I think that violates the “no administrator” Measure C provision since those district administrators are under the supervision of the Supt and his administrators per union contract. Plus we will never know the true cost of vandalism since it will be hidden in the panel stockpile and regular employee costs. Rumor is there already has been considerable vandalism that is being covered up — cover up in MDUSD ? So what else is new.

  131. g Says:

    Why did all of this just come up now? Not even a slight mention of these problems or costs at the CBOC meetings of multiple truck accidents, vandalism, building on swampland, stockpiling, employee training, warranties, etc.

    At one early meeting someone did ask why the posts were not encased in concrete to protect them, and that person was assured that ours didn’t need that. Every example of what carport solar looked like showed the posts encased, but, no, ours would be different…!

    All those architects, designers, engineers, contractors and inspectors, not to mention the incomparable leadership skills of Sir Pedersen and his adopted son from Vanir acting as Right Guard, and no one noticed they were too close to driveways and turn arounds for big trucks?

  132. Doctor J Says:

    That’s what happens when MDUSD hires “unlicensed construction managers” you get sub-standard work and no one to hold responsible. Another “Gary approved” idea that has turned to s#@&. BTW, did those Delta View trees cut down in error by MDUSD employees get replaced with “l;ike kind and size” as promised by Jeff McDaniel and charged to the M&O budget, not Meas C ? Interesting that when you look at Meas C website, and then go to schools, Delta View, the first satellite view is WITH the trees cut and then it eventually switches to before the trees are cut !

  133. g Says:

    Take a tour up the Street view to see all the stumps and only two trees left from the long row, then switch out from Satalite to Earth View. You’ll see the Solar structures and how they sit either too close or even over the bus loop and rear driveway entrance, and hardly any trees left.

  134. Doctor J Says:

    Did Board Pres Sherry Whitmarsh get bad legal advice from District Counsel Greg Rolen ? Watching Trustee Hansen’s first Point of Order charging Whitmarsh with violating By-law 9140 in appointing Board committee representatives without Board approval, Whitmarsh immediately turns to District Counsel Rolen and says: “Looking at Mr. Rolen, I do not believe there is anything in our by-laws that the Board must approve the Board committee appointments?” Rolen then dodged the question, refusing to answer it. What Rolen failed to tell the Board President is that Board By-law 9140 does require the Board to approve board committee representative appointments: “The Governing Board may appoint any of its members to serve as its representatives on district committees or advisory committees of other public agencies or organizations.” Clearly Whitmarsh acted in excess of her authority in making those appointments without Board approval and the other requirements of the by-law. Do you think District Counsel Greg Rolen gave Whitmarsh bad legal advice ?

  135. g Says:

    She relied on “serial meeting” via email to make and advise finality of her assignment decisions.

    This board majority is more than willing to take the chance of being prosecuted for Brown Act violations, (as well as their own Bylaw violations) if it ultimately serves the purpose of squelching Hansen by removing her from any official duties or influence.

  136. Anon Says:

    We are making this issue one of our rally cries for our upcoming campaign kickoff. What campaign you ask?

    The VOTE NO on Eberhart and Whitmarsh campaign.

  137. Doctor J Says:

    @G#135 Would love to see Sherry’s emails and have them posted, especially if Rolen was cc on them ! Nothing like a smoking gun that can be forwarded to the Grand Jury !

  138. g Says:

    I’m pretty sure Eberhart tried to teach her to put nothing in writing. Remember “It can be subpeonaed”?

  139. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I have asked for a copy of the emails. Linda Mayo said assignments have been made this way as long as she has been on the board and no one has complained before.
    “It’s not secret information,” she said.

  140. g Says:

    Ms. Mayo, “But, we’ve always done it that way” is no excuse! Shame on you!

    It’s been 36 years since Howard Beale shouted,

    “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore”.

    While he spoke mainly about street crime, I believe he spoke also to the crimes against the people that take place behind the curtain of elected office and cronyism.

    Somewhere along the way we let a whole new generation forget how to be vigilant and this school district, for one, took great advantage of that complacency.

    But now we’re watching again. It’s time for people living off the public taxpayer to straighten up, and fly right!

  141. Doctor J Says:

    Linda Mayo was on the Board when the By-laws were adopted. Didn’t she read them in the last 15 years ? It is ironic that Linda Mayo states at Monday’s Board meeting the gratuitious comment that the “in house management of Meas C” has saved lots of money — Linda you have absolutely no FACTS to back that up except for your blind faith in staff and unbending willingness to repeat the party line without investigation. And Lynne Dennler, you need to get engaged or move aside — you are obviously uninterested in what Board members are really supposed to do as evidenced from your statements from Day 1.

  142. g Says:

    Hopefully as the Times is compiling the Public Employee Salaries, they will also get those of Pedersen and Co. for us. I can’t even keep track of his employee list or their pay promises.

    Theresa, did you get a copy of the “staff packet” he handed out at the BOC meeting? If so, would you publish it, please?

  143. MoMx3 Says:

    Would MDEA even back Gary or Sherry anymore? Nothing good has happened in this district since 2008 and I’m ashamed at this point I thought it would.

  144. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Tonight, I attended a very moving ceremony for “Making a Difference” awards, in which district staff and community members were honored for making a difference in the lives of special ed. students. This showed that there are good things going on in the district, thanks to the personal caring and integrity of individuals. I will try to do a separate blog post about this tomorrow (and hopefully a story later).
    Trustee Gary Eberhart helped pass out the awards. I also saw Board President Sherry Whitmarsh there, as well as Trustees Linda Mayo and Cheryl Hansen. I didn’t see Trustee Lynne Dennler, but she may be out of town (since she participated in the Monday board meeting via telephone).

  145. Anon Says:

    I would agree there are good things going on in this district in some ways for some students but not for everyone. I know special ed students who are not receiving the assistance they need and others who were not identified in elementary school in time to receive assistance. I know students who are failing and there’s no parent notification and no remediation. I know high school students who have too many teacher absences and too many movies during class. These students cannot learn the curriculum unless every teacher is actively teaching every day. Congratulations on the awards but the district needs to spread the success around to every student.

  146. MoMx3 Says:

    We’ve had a challenging year in this district, starting off with bad schedules, and changes and wrong classes. Seeing the ugliness of the charter fight, the school closures, the super low graduation standards, the busing issues, the special ed issues, the budget, the ongoing “gates,” loss of (or almost) funding/grants, no confidence votes, teacher/staff arrests for horrible crimes, and things I can’t even remember – I’m glad to know something good might be going on somewhere.

  147. Anon Says:

    The challenges continue. MDEA negotiations have stalled and Langley is retiring without a ready successor. Lawrence is talking about bankruptcy. Anyone know whatever happened at his Rotary presentations?

  148. Wait a minute Says:

    Stevie Lawrence talking about Bankruptcy is like the kettle calling the pot black.

    The only thing bankrupt in the MDUSD is the sorry “leadership” of Stevie, The Gary, “Chevron” Sherry, Mayo, Greg Rolen and Cooksey and Pete Pederson and their enablers and apologists.

    They have captained the ship onto the rocks and soon they will be the first ones to leave like that Italian cruise ship captain who abandoned his ship.

    The MDUSD, “Where Bankrupt Administrators and Board Members come first.”

  149. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Regarding transportation, one of the award recipients last night was Mickey Pawar.
    “I’m sure you all remember the transportation problems at the beginning of the year,” said Melody Royal, who nominated him.
    She praised Pawar’s understanding of the importance of communicating with parents and students to ease their anxieties.

  150. Just J Says:

    I am happy to hear that Mickey Pawar won an award. He has been a very helpful blessing in transportation.

    I think that with all the bad that is happening in our sorry district it is important to recognize that there is some right. I have seen teachers work extra hard to help a struggling student. I have heard them speak up to the parents and tell them exactly how to get what the child needs. I have seen people behind the curtains reach out and do what they can to help!

    What Anon 145 says is the truth…..We need everyone to look at the ones that are doing it right take stock and change the system. All students need to be educated.

    Theresa, I hope you are doing a story on this and report all the people that got awards.

  151. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Just J: Yes, I do plan to do a story and blog post.
    I also shot video of the awards, but unfortunately, I wasn’t able to capture all of the awards due to technical difficulties.
    You can see what I was able to get at and
    One of the most moving awards was a posthumous presentation to the parents of MDHS special ed teacher Johnny Applegate, who died recently due to cancer. His father said he appreciated hearing all the wonderful things his son had done, which he never even knew about.

  152. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Here’s a US Dept. of Ed. blog post with ideas for keeping great teachers:

  153. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I just heard from MDEA exec. director Mark York that the district never sunshined the union’s proposal in the latest round of bargaining.
    He said attorney Deb Cooksey told the union: “It was a regrettable oversight.”

  154. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Valley View teacher Anita Johnson and Northgate HS teacher Guy Moore are vying to replace retiring Mike Langley as president of the MDEA teachers’ union:

  155. g Says:

    Deb Cooksey is a regrettable error. But she has to share the spotlight with lots of folks on that title!

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