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Two MDUSD campuses plan to spend nearly $12.5 million in School Improvement Grants

By Theresa Harrington
Friday, March 16th, 2012 at 1:31 pm in Concord, Education, Mt. Diablo school district.

The California Department of Education recently awarded nearly $12.5 million in federal School Improvement Grants to Meadow Homes Elementary and Oak Grove Middle School in Concord.

The school board gave district staff approval to submit the applications, without ever publicly reviewing them.

Since they are not available on the district’s website, I am posting a link here:–Meadow-Homes_

Here are the improvement strategies each school has committed to in its application.

Meadow Homes:

1. Refine instruction in ELD, mathematics and language arts.

2. Support for intervention to enrichment structures.

3. Working with a leadership data coach.

4. Parent education and partnerships.

5. Provide increased learning time.

6. Access to enrichment curriculum and electives

Oak Grove:

1. Implementation of interventions for students not at grade level proficiency

2. Increased learning time and creating a community-oriented school that supports academic, social and emotional needs of students.

The complete plans are outlined in the application.

Do you agree with these plans?

[You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.]

55 Responses to “Two MDUSD campuses plan to spend nearly $12.5 million in School Improvement Grants”

  1. Doctor J Says:

    Theresa, you reported Lawrence said the MH SIG grant “required” a Science Lab, which is why the student population needed to be reduced by shifting students to other schools, is Lawrence telling us another “fib” ?

  2. Theresa Harrington Says:

    As I previously said, the principal also told me that some students needed to be moved to other campuses to make room for some sort of science center, which was to be funded with the grant.
    Unfortunately, I haven’t had a chance to read the entire application yet to find a reference to this.

  3. g Says:

    “…creating a community-oriented school that supports academic, social and emotional needs of students”.

    Aren’t they even a little bit embarrassed to say that?

    I remember a time when every school in the district could proudly say it already WAS community-oriented, and supported academic, social and emotional needs of students.

    Today, the students come last–and then only if there’s some crumb left over–after the machine takes what it wants!

    They should be ashamed to admit that the reason they need ‘extra money’ is to simply bring back some hint of the nature of what school used to be.

    Nearly all of these moneys will go to feed the “machine”– out of the district to hire someone else to teach “teachers” how to teach, “admins” how to administrate, “coaches” how to coach; and what isn’t spent bringing in all the outside help will go to send those “teachers”, “admins” and “coaches” on mini vacations, but we’ll call them seminars and conferences. How else can we keep the education employment machine well fed?

    Only when the machine is satiated, and after all of that money is spent, if there is anything left over, we’ll throw a pizza party for the kids to make them “feel good” about themselves.

  4. Doctor J Says:

    @TH#2 Why don’t you just email both Lawrence and the principal and ask them to identify in the grant and the grant budget where the science lab is described as “required by the grant”.

  5. anon Says:

    At G,
    Have you seen the documentary, “The Cartel”?
    Definitely worth watching. If you have Netflix, you can stream it online.

  6. **anon Says:

    CHECK THIS OUT FOR A GOOD LAUGH and unfortunately, a GOOD CRY: “…creating a community-oriented school…”

    1)go to the district website
    2)click on PARENTS
    3)scroll down to “select language”, select “espanol” and click the arrow
    4)go to the Recursos Adicionales heading and click on Paquette de Informacion para Parientes (which in English is Parent Information Packet)
    5)go to Pagina 10 (but, don’t be confused that there are two page numbers on the page-look to the right for Pagina 10)Note that the columns of info overlap and are blurred.
    6)Now here’s the fun part: on Pagina 10, there are a list of elementary schools and they’ve been translated into Spanish. One of my personal favorites is: “Salida del Sol” (Sun Terrace)- now if you’re a Spanish-speaking in the Sun Terrace attendance area and you’re trying to enroll your child in school and you’re looking for a sign that says: “Salida del Sol” and can’t find it-wouldn’t you be just a tad confused?
    7)Another fun part: the principal’s name at Hidden Valley has also been translated into Spanish. In the English version of the Parent Information Packet, it indicates her name is: Sandy Bruketta. But in the Spanish version, it indicates her name is Playa Bruketta (and my high school Spanish tells me that this translates to: Beach Bruketta). I wonder how Mrs. Bruketta feels about this.
    8)now, NOT FUNNY AT ALL PARTS: Paginas 13-20 are blurred and Paginas 24-52 are not translated into Spanish.
    9)Paginas 53, and 55 thru 63 are completely blank. The English version has 62 pages of non-blurred and non-blank information. In addition, the English version contains several forms for parents to fill out and return to school; the Spanish version has none.
    And if I recall, the Board voted to increase Advanced Interpreting Services (AIS-Marisol Padilla) contract from $35,000 to $83,900 in June (or July?), 2011.

    How does this very important document for Spanish-speaking parents whose children are attending a school with a predominatly Hispanic population make them feel a part of a “community-oriented school”?

  7. g Says:

    Anon–yes, it is also available on Hulu with just a couple short commercials:

  8. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Anon: This reminds me of the people who complained that the Bay Point Master Plan meeting was not well-publicized and that the presentation and survey were not translated into Spanish.

    I see that the Powerpoint has been posted, along with the student projections:

    However, there is no mention of any other meetings, as promised. Also, the materials are all in English.

  9. Doctor J Says:

    @#6 **Anon ; !Que abusrdo! Maybe we got a free translation from the SASS EL folks ? It just such a huge insult to the Spanish speaking community — just as much as requiring them at Board meetings to bring their own translators and they only get half the time because every sentence is repeated twice– once in English and once in Spanish. It probably also violates a number of Federal and State laws.

  10. Doctor J Says:

    Theresa, why don’t you post the SIG spending reports on Cohort 1 so our friends can really get upset ? :-)

  11. **anon Says:

    @ TH (#8) and Doctor J (#9): the MDUSD website also indicates that 26.7% of its students are Hispanic. It’s a huge insult to Hispanic parents and more of an insult to this superintendent and his staff when 1 out of every 4 children’s parents have no voice and no information. Wasn’t ongoing communication with Hispanic parents a part of Norm Gold’s recommendations in his Power Point to the board?
    And I’ve never heard that Spanish-speaking parents are responsible for bringing their own translators should they want to participate during the Public Comment session at Board Mtgs; is Norm Gold aware of this?

    and @TH (#8): I can’t even fathom how I would feel as an English-speaking parent if the district held a community meeting regarding a change in my children’s future high school placement, and I was only given a short notice to attend the meeting and the information provided was in Spanish. And since there’s been no talk from the district since this community meeting, I would be so on edge not knowing my children’s future and would be reluctant to call the district office because I would assume that no one there spoke English. I’m sure this violates Federal and State laws; but, it also violates a public servant’s moral obligation to embrace and educate 26.7% of mdusd students.
    And…I’d also be interested in viewing the SIG spending reports on Cohort 1.

  12. g Says:

    @ **Anon: Please do not give any credit to the district where it is not due. Our District website is just one of many that have not been updated in at least 4 years. I believe the district is now closer to 35+% Hispanic.

    We have plenty of interpreters making ReallY good money for what you or I could do with a quick and free copy/paste into Google Translate. Go figure.

  13. anon Says:

    That’s great news. The students deserve and need this additional funding. I’m not surprised that there are already a bunch of snide comments on here. After all, that’s all that you get out of this blog site. Make no mistake, this student population needs this funding and the additional help. Thank goodness that the district staff are hard at work doing everything they can to serve students, despite the steady onslaught of bitter and degrading comments from this blog. dr. j sure hates when the district wins one for the students.

  14. **anon Says:

    i was not aware that the district’s website hasn’t been updated in 4 years. But it does list that a Joe Estrada is a manager in Tech Support-does he still exist? and if he does, why isn’t the website up to date?
    Since you mentioned it, the Spanish translation of the Parent Information Packet must be a free copy/paste through Google Translate…how else would a principal’s first name be changed from “Sandy” to “Playa”? An $83,900 contract with AIS? and Google Translate is free? Go figure….

  15. Jim Says:

    #7 G — Great reminder for everyone. “The Cartel” documentary may be primarily about New Jersey (with around the highest K-12 spending in the U.S.), but the questions it raises ought to be discussed in every school district.

  16. Doctor J Says:

    @#14 Joe Estrada is the “Director of Technology and Information” whatever that means.

  17. Anon Says:

    It’s appalling the district information isn’t updated for years. Obviously 36,271 K-12 students is ancient history and doesn’t match Bryan Richards declining enrollment numbers. Assume many of those 3,743 employees have been laid off? And get ready to switch High Schools from 6 to 5 . . .

    Individual schools updated their SARCs and more recent demographic data is there for anyone who can add up all the school sites . . .

  18. Doctor J Says:

    @#17 The SIG Cohort 2 application says “over 34,000” students and its signed by Lawrence on Nov 17, 2011.

  19. Doctor J Says:

    Enrollment graph 1996-2011 from CDE. Its free ! Unless you want to pay Jack Schreder to look it up !

  20. Hell Freezing Over Says:

    TH @ #8 – would be interesting to see side-by-side comparisons of the school closure docs showing the then touted declining student projections of these same BP schools, against this new document provided by the same company which conveniently now shows projections of increasing student populations.

  21. Doctor J Says:

    School enrollment by grade in MDUSD, again courtesy of CDE, this is year 2010-11. Much more information available on the website ! And its free !–MT.%20DIABLO%20UNIFIED&TheCounty=&cLevel=District&cTopic=Enrollment&myTimeFrame=S&cType=ALL&cGender=B

  22. Doctor J Says:

    Individual school enrollment by gender, grade & ethnic. You can switch to various other reports, like school enrollment by graph. Again, its free from CDE. Why are we paying Jack Schreder $100,000 for “free” information ?–MT.+DIABLO+UNIFIED–0761754-6004295&cChoice=SchEnrAll

  23. MoMx3 Says:

    Dr. J @14, why does this district feel the need to create their own titles, there has been the word “IT” forever which means information technology… is that different than technology and information? WEIRD!

  24. xcelveye Says:

    The creation of titles allows the ‘powers that are’ to shuffle personnel and award pay increases to employees that would not otherwise not be qualified for them through the competitive system nor allowed by either union agreements or California ED Code. This is a dodge that has been happening here at M&O through L1 for years.

  25. Theresa Harrington Says:

    The US Dept. of Ed reports the SIGs are making a difference after one year:

  26. Doctor J Says:

    @TH #25 That article highlights the “Turnaround” model, which is NOT what MDUSD is using, which is called the “Transformation” model. If a school uses the “turnaround” model, the principal is replaced along with at least 50% of the staff. Turnaround schools also must implement a revised instructional plan that emphasizes intervention for students in need, purposefully recruit, retain, and develop staff that can meet the needs of the students at that school, increase learning and work time for both teachers and students, and provide wrap-around community services to meet the social-emotional and other needs of the students there.
    As recited in the MDUSD grant applications, there is no agreement, and apparently no effort to seek one, to allow staff to be involuntarily transfered in and out of a SIG school.

  27. Theresa Harrington Says:

    It looks like MDUSD has been recruiting educators from Sac State, saying there are math openings:

  28. Doctor J Says:

    @#27 Good luck Nicole — wonder who told you there were math openings at MDUSD ?

  29. MDUSD Board Watcher Says:

    Not to nitpick but how does these “Math Openings” jibe with the doom and gloom story Gary and Stevie tell about massive district bumping that will occur if CV is granted charter status?

  30. g Says:

  31. Theresa Harrington Says:

    The board approved laying off .34 math teachers:

  32. Doctor J Says:

    Another feather in the cap of Trustee’s Eberhart, Mayo, Whitmarsh, and of course the fantastic leadership of Supt. Lawrence. Take a bow ! This will make a great campaign poster for Eberhart and Whitmarsh. I dare you — double dare you — send a copy home with every student in English and Spanish. The parents of children should feel warm and fuzzy they entrust their children’s education to you ! Check last year’s report card — NO IMPROVEMENT ! What is SASS doing ?

  33. Doctor J Says:

    Forgot link:

  34. Doctor J Says:

    Compare Districts. Note that MDUSD is third from the bottom, and the worst in CoCo County. Also note in the narrative that Washington Unified [Lawrence’s former District] since his departure [and that of Sue Brothers] posted the greatest gains in low income students — 32 API points. Should be a clue what will happen when Lawrence and Sue Brothers depart MDUSD.

  35. Doctor J Says:

    Can’t wait to see how Lawrence “sugar coats” the EdTrustWest Report Card — D. Two years and no turnaround and no progress. How much longer will the Board wait before it takes “decisive” action ? How much longer can Mildred Browne, Rose Lock, SASS, and the principals survive the lack of progress ?

  36. Dan Says:

    Wait a minute, isn’t this the kind of thing that Mildred Browne and her entourage were allowed to take a three day MDUSD paid mini vacation at THE MARIOTT in Sacramento a year ago?

    The story then was that they had done such a good job managing the inequality issues in the district that they deserved a three day stay at an expensive hotel for a 1 day conference within driving distance (~60 miles)

  37. Theresa Harrington Says:

    The “F” in the achievement gaps between whites and African-Americans and whites and Latinos relates to the district’s new Equity policy and disproportionality with respect to African-American and Latino students being overly identified for special ed, suspensions and expulsions. Mildred Browne and some of her colleagues went to Sacramento for a presentation regarding this issue.
    College readiness is directly related to graduation requirements, which have been relaxed in the district. Perhaps the board will address this on Monday, as Trustee Cheryl Hansen has suggested. Oakland, which I believe has more rigorous grad requirements, did much better in this area. Could it be that low expectations don’t motivate students, while higher expectations prompt students to challenge themselves?
    The Latino-white achievement gap also relates to the ELL Master Plan, which hasn’t yet been adopted by the board.

  38. Doctor J Says:

    @Dan #36 Spot on — Mildred Browne and her entourage’s Sacramento junket at the Marriott was obviously a failure since no improvement in a year, and some decrease. Here is a quote from Mildred’s email as quoted by Billy Bob nearly a year ago in the blog: “Sue Peterson, James Wogan and Felicia Stuckey Smith and I attended this meeting. Dr. Mary Bacon also attended. The meeting and presentations provided training to districts to assist districts in developing strategies so the districts will not be cited as being ” significantly disproportionate”. If we are found to be ” significantly disproportionate” then we will be subject to the loss of 15 percent of our special education funding. . . . Our presentation was well received. We all left the training better prepared to continue our work in this area.
    Thanks Mildred
    Mildred Browne, Ed.D.
    Assistant Superintendent”
    What were the results ? MDUSD again this year was named as “Significantly disproportionate”. MDUSD scored worse in the EdTrustWest report card than last year, worse than any district in CoCo County and third from the very worst.
    Board Trustees, what are you going to do about this ? Sugar coat it ? How much longer will you tolerate incompetent leadership of Lawrence, Browne, Lock and SASS ? Would Chevron tolerate this Sherry ? Would Steve Jobs have tolerated this at Apple ? Would Bill Gates tolerate this at Microsoft ? The writing was on the wall a year ago. How much longer must the children of MDUSD suffer ? Its time for resignations, and if they won’t resign, then terminate them.

  39. Doctor J Says:

    What are Lawrence, Eberhart, Mayo, Whitmarsh, Browne, Lock and SASS saying in response to the Ed Trust West report card that shows “NO PROGRESS” and in fact worsening of the crisis ? I hope Theresa gets some quotes from them. Their silence is deafening.

  40. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Here’s the link to last year’s report card, for comparison purposes:

  41. Doctor J Says:

    @TH#40 On last years card, 8 of the 9 districts worse than MDUSD improved to bypass MDUSD on this years card, including WCCUSD. Instead MDUSD fell to third from the bottom. Theresa, I trust still no response from Lawrence, Eberhart, Mayo, Whitmarsh, Browne, Lock and SASS in response to the disasterous Ed Trust West report card.

  42. Theresa Harrington Says:

    So far, no response from Lawrence, Browne, Lock or Duarte-Armas. Next, I will try contacting board members.

  43. Realia Says:

    I thought Mildred Browne’s twelve year contract was up this year – and extended for an additional year. I guess that’s how the district rewards failure. And not to worry – I’m sure she’ll be back on a post-retirement contract even after that.

  44. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I just heard that Superintendent Steven Lawrence will be speaking to the Concord Rotary tomorrow.

  45. Doctor J Says:

    Lawrence finally found a friendly audience with fellow Rotarians — powder puff questions at best. Too bad the “report card” doesn’t hit the front page tomorrow morning, and Lawrence can be “fined” by fellow Rotarians for making the front page !

  46. Theresa Harrington Says:

    It will likely be on the front page tomorrow morning.

  47. Wendy Lack Says:

    Dr. Lawrence was the speaker at today’s Pleasant Hill Rotary Club. Guess he’s making the rounds.

    With a “D” average on Mt. Diablo Education Trust-West report card, it looks like remediation is in order:

  48. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I have spoken to Trustee Linda Mayo about the report and have received a written response from Superintendent Lawrence, which I will post later.

  49. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Agenda for Monday’s meeting is posted:
    Note: early start time at 6:45 pm.

  50. Theresa Harrington Says:

    The board expects to look at online learning:

  51. Doctor J Says:

    Lawrence and Eberhart’s plan to eliminate summer school and reduce the school year has failed English Learner children — Ed Trust West spanked Torlakson a year ago for promoting such ideas. Lawrence and Eberhart ignored the welfare of the children of MDUSD.

  52. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I asked Lawrence whether the relaxation of grad requirements impacted the report. Here is his response, from an email:

    “According to the report card the UC a-g data is from 2010 which would be prior to any changes being made. Last year’s report card would have been 2009 data. Therefore, it is an area the district needs to focus our efforts to improve, but I don’t believe the conclusion that you make is a valid one.”

    Actually, I wasn’t making a conclusion, I was just raising the question.

  53. Doctor J Says:

    So far no response backing up the alleged claims that the SIG Grants will fund a new Science lab at Meadow Homes: where are the responses from Drs. Supt. Lawrence and Principal Newling backing up their claims ? Either Lawrence doesn’t read what he certifies or he thinks he can pull the wool over our eyes or he thinks we can’t read, which is it ?–Meadow-Homes

  54. g Says:

    Dr. J: Did the district contract with RDA, as the doc indicates on page 29, to assist with “monitoring, analysis, and implementation of goals?

    Are we getting our money’s worth?

  55. Doctor J Says:

    @G#54 Yes, but the District refuses to produce the Annual Report for Cohort 1 that was prepared — Theresa requested it and hit a brick wall. I believe that in the last couple of months, the Board just approved the annual contract for Cohort 2. Evidence that we didn’t get our money’s worth was during Cohort 1, when the Feds audited MDUSD along with many others and then stopped the funding until a “Corrective Action Plan” was filed and approved — why ? Because MDUSD, as were many other districts, not following their SIG plans. So why wasn’t RDA telling the district this ? Or were they and the District ignored them ? Lots of unanswered questions for a lot of money paid to RDA. And of course, remember, that RDA had contracted to write about 4 schools, but with one closing, they only had to do 3/4 of the work !

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