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MDUSD to hold forums regarding proposed property tax increase

By Theresa Harrington
Wednesday, April 11th, 2012 at 5:13 pm in Education, Mt. Diablo school district.

In response to a request from a coalition of community members that the district consider raising property tax rates to accelerate 2010 Measure C bond sales, the district has sent out the following message to the community:

“Mt. Diablo USD News Update
Where Kids Come First
April 10, 2011

As we approach the middle of the spring fundraising season, I want to thank parents, staff, and local businesses for all that you do to enhance our children’s educational program. Your efforts make a real difference in the quality of our children’s education at a time when we must do more with less. We are truly grateful that you choose to invest your time and energy to benefit our children.

Measure C Update
In June 2010, voters in our District approved Measure C, a $348 million bond measure, to renovate and upgrade schools throughout the District. This successful election followed an earlier bond measure approved by voters in 2002. At the time of the 2010 election, voters supported maintaining a combined tax rate of $60 per $100,000 of assessed value between the 2002 and 2010 Measure C bond issuances.

Recently, a district‐wide group of community members requested the Board consider increasing the combined tax rate above the $60 per $100,000 of assessed value in order to avoid issuing more costly Capital Appreciation Bonds and having to prolong the completion of construction projects. Increasing the combined tax rate above $60 would also allow the district to take advantage of current historically low interest rates, more stable construction prices, and to accelerate the completion of projects so our current students would see benefits sooner.

Based on this request, the Board held a study session on April 2nd. The first question was whether the Board has authority to go above a combined rate of $60 per $100,000 of assessed value. Each time a unified school district passes a Prop 39 bond measure, the local School Board has authority to issue bonds that increase the tax rate to $60 per $100,000 of assessed value. Therefore, the Board can legally increase the combined tax rate above $60. From the study session Board members agreed that taking advantage of historically low interest rates, stable construction costs, and selling bonds now allowing the District to get projects done significantly sooner makes financial sense. However, they believe it is important to ensure that the broader community has more information and an opportunity to give input. To view the Power Point that was shared at that meeting, visit http://esb.mdusd.k12.ca.us/attachments/162e8255-a090-4517-8df7-30b7b632a526.pdf.

The purpose of this newsletter is to provide you with information in response to five key questions:

1. How has the District been financially responsible over the past two years with bonds that voters have approved?

2. What projects have been started and completed to date?

3. What are the advantages and fiscal impacts of accelerating the bond sales?

4. What are some possible bond issuance options?

5. How can parents and other community members get their input to the Board?

1. How has the District been fiscally responsible over the past two years with voter approved bonds?

Since Measure C passed in June 2010, the District has issued $121 million in bonds. Advance planning by the board and District staff led to MDUSD to become one of only 40 school districts nationwide to receive federal Clean Renewable Energy Bonds. These construction bonds provided $59.5 million in federally subsidized bonds for our 12.1 megawatt solar project, creating a greener California and saving local taxpayers over $29 million in interest payments.

As interest rates have declined over the past two years, the District has wisely sought opportunities to refinance bonds from the Election of 2002 authorization. Three series of refunding bonds have been issued saving property taxpayers $13.6 million in interest payments.

The District will continue to seek ways to save taxpayers’ money as well as issue the remaining $227 million Measure C bonds in a fiscally responsible manner.

2. What projects have been started and completed to date?

Due to the state budget crisis, a majority of the initial bond sales have focused on projects that positively impact the School District General Fund. Measure C allowed us to positively protect our bottom line by:

 Retiring General Fund construction debt that cost the district $1.4 million annually

 Implementing a 12.1 megawatt solar project that will:

 Result in annual savings of $3 million on utility costs

 Raise $3 million a year for five years through the California Solar Initiative

Measure C, along with additional facilities funds, has allowed us to begin additional construction projects:

Technology

 Computer network upgrades to increase school site and classroom bandwidth and speed

 New Smartboards, LCD projectors, and document cameras for Concord and Ygnacio Valley HS

 Equipment for Project Lead the Way Engineering program at Northgate HS

Site Upgrades

 New heating and air conditioning systems (first phase of 8 sites to be completed by September)

 Window replacement at College Park HS

 Water, sewer, and electrical to football stadium at College Park HS

 Paving at Concord HS

 Stadium Lights at Northgate and Ygnacio Valley HS

New construction

 Science laboratory classrooms for Clayton Valley and Mt. Diablo HS

3. Why accelerate the timeline for bond sales, and what is the financial impact of accelerating the timeline?

As mentioned earlier, a group of community members with ties throughout the District recently requested that the Board consider increasing the combined tax rate above $60 per $100,000 to avoid issuing more costly Capital Appreciation Bonds. This would also allow the district to take advantage of the historically low
interest rates, stable construction prices, and to accelerate the completion of projects so our current students would see benefits sooner. To do so, however, would require an increase to the tax rate that property owners are currently paying.

Increasing the combined rate above $60 per $100,000 of assessed value enables the district to:

1. Avoid more costly bonds known as Capital Appreciation Bonds (CABs) and sell Current Interest Bonds (CIBs), which will greatly save property owners on overall interest costs.

2. Take advantage of historically low interest rates. In January 2012, the bond market hit an all‐time low at 3.60%. Interest rates have never been lower for school districts looking to make facility improvements through bond financing. Over time, these low rates will save taxpayers tens of millions of dollars in interest.

3. Take advantage of current stable construction costs. Since the 2010 low, construction costs have increased a modest 2.75%. When the economy was strong between 2005‐2008, the district regularly saw annual increases above 15.0% on construction projects.

4. Accelerate the completion of school projects to provide our children with new classrooms and facilities upgrades now.

As the Board considers accelerating the issuance of 2010 Measure C Bonds, the Board is weighing several factors:

 The tax rate and length of the bonds

 How soon funds are available to complete bond projects

 The types of bonds being sold (CABs vs. CIBs) and the associated interest costs

4. What are some possible bond issuance options?

Current Interest Bonds vs. Capital Appreciation Bonds – Current Interest Bonds (CIBs) are bonds where investors receive regular interest payments throughout the life of the bond. These might be the type of bond you would invest in during retirement to ensure that you received a specific amount of income on an annual basis. Total debt service, principal plus interest, is lowest with CIBs.

Capital Appreciation Bonds are bonds where regular payments are forgone during the life of the bond and only paid at maturity. In exchange for deferring all of the interest, Capital Appreciation Bonds bear a higher interest rate. An example of this is a home loan where the homeowner only pays interest costs for the first five or ten years of the loan. At the end of the interest only time period, the homeowner would see a significant increase in their monthly mortgage. These types of loans general have higher interest rates than a 30 year fixed interest loan. Capital Appreciation Bonds allow school districts to keep their combined tax rate at a lower level, but still issue bonds based on assessed value growth of their community in the outlying years.

Recently, Acalanes HSD issued $30 million in Capital Appreciation Bonds. Their total debt service on these bonds will be approximately $120 million, but using Capital Appreciation Bonds allowed them to maintain their $30 tax rate since they don’t have to make any current payments. If Acalanes sold Current Interest Bonds, their total debt service would have been below $60 million. Put another way, Acalanes HSD property taxpayers are paying an additional $60 million in interest costs because the District did not want to increase the tax rate above the $30 rate.

This is the question our school Board is grappling with: Increase the annual tax rate above the combined rate of $60 and save more than $400 million in interest payments, or maintain the existing combined tax rate of $60 and pay more than $400 million in higher borrowing costs?

Current Option MDUSD is Following

Currently, our bond program focuses on maintaining a combined tax rate for the 2002 and 2010 Measure C of $60 per $100,000 assess value.

Based on the current path and today’s interest rates, the District could issue approximately $50 million in bonds in 2012 followed by a subsequent bond sale in 2015 for $23 million. The remaining balance of $155 million could be issued in 2026. In order to maintain the estimated $60 tax rate approved by voters in June 2010, the District would issue some combination of CIBs and CABs which would bring the total borrowing costs to an estimated $908 million. This would be similar to the Acalanes example where they issued $30 million in bonds and have a principal and interest payback of $120 million.

It is important to keep in mind that there are several variables that can influence bond sales including assessed value growth, interest rates, bond terms, and types of bonds sold. Any change to these variables can accelerate or postpone the timing by which the District might receive funds as well as determine the final borrowing costs.

New Options Under Consideration

Sell the remaining $227 million today – There are two options to consider in regard to selling the remaining $227 million today:

Option 1 would increase the tax rate to $89.53, have a 30‐year term, and use some CABs in order to maintain a lower tax rate. Under Option 1, the total borrowing costs would be an estimated $603.8 million.

Option 2 would have lower borrowing costs totaling $417.8 million in principal and interest (nearly $200 million less than Option 1), but requires an increase to the tax rate to $110.29. The term on Option 2 would be 25 years.

Options 1 and 2 demonstrate the fundamental relationship between tax rates and borrowing costs. If the district increases the tax rate, it will save property taxpayers nearly $200 million in this scenario. If, however, the District wants to keep a lower tax rate (in this case $89.53) and issue bonds, it comes with a higher overall cost of borrowing.

Sell a portion of bonds today with the balance to be sold in the future – Another consideration is to sell bonds in two or more issuances. While these options would delay receiving all bond proceeds by a few years, it could be a less expensive alternative allowing for a more modest tax rate increase but also lowering the overall cost of borrowing.

Under Option 3, the District increases the combined tax rate to $89 in 2012 followed by an additional increase to $95 per $100,000 of assessed value starting in 2015. Option 3 does not use any CABs and has a 25‐year term, so the overall Total Debt Services is low at $385 million.

The following table presents the different options that the District is considering in light of the recent community members’ request to accelerate the bond sales:

Current Path: Bonds with CIBs and CABs
Issue Dates: 2012, 2015, 2026
Bond Structure: CIBs & CABs
Financing Term: 25 years
Bond Issuance Amount: $49 M, $23 M, $155 M
Total Interest: $681 M
Total Debt Service: $908 M
Tax Rate per $100K of assessed value(1): $60.00

Option 1: One Bond sale, some CABs
Issue Date: 2012
Bond Structure: CIBs & CABs
Financing Term: 30 years
Bond Issuance Amount: $227 M
Total Interest: $376 M
Total Debt Service: $603 M
Tax Rate per $100K of assessed value(1): $89.53

Option 2: One Bond sale, no CABs
Issue Date: 2012
Bond Structure: CIBs Only
Financing Term: 25 years
Bond Issuance Amount: $227 M
Total Interest: $190 M
Total Debt Service: $417 M
Tax Rate per $100K of assessed value(1): $110.29

Option 3(2): Bonds sold next 3 years
Issue Dates: 2012, 2015
Bond Structure: CIBs Only
Financing Term: 25 years
Bond Issuance Amount: $150 M, $77 M
Total Interest: $158 M
Total Debt Service: $385 M
Tax Rate per $100K of assessed value(1): $89.00, $95.00

Note: All the above analyses are based on market interest rates and subject to change due to variations in actual interest rates, bond terms, and types of bonds sold at the time of the sale as well as the District’s construction schedule.
(1) Combined 2002 & 2010 Election tax rate
(2) In order to keep a CIBs only structure and access all remaining bond funds in 2015, tax rate would need to be increased to $95.00

5. How can parents and other community members get their input to the Board?

There are significant benefits to accelerating the bond issuances, but there are multiple variables that go into informing that decision and selecting a path. The ‘best path’ will be determined by which variables people believe are most important:

 getting facility improvement projects completed as quickly as possible to maximize lower construction costs

 minimizing overall borrowing costs by increasing the amount above the combined rate of $60 per $100,000 assessed value and utilizing lower interest rates

 maintaining the current combined tax rate of $60 per $100,000 assessed value, but having higher borrowing costs due to higher interest rates and a longer project timeline

If you would like clarification around any one of the many issues addressed in this newsletter or would like to provide your feedback and opinion, please feel free to drop by one of the public forums being held the week after spring break. Below are the dates, times, and locations of the public forums. The forums will be
facilitated by staff and be appropriately publicized so that Board members can attend to listen to the dialogue. The format of the public meetings will be a Power Point presentation followed by a question and answer time. At the end of each public forum, we will pass out and collect a survey similar to the random
phone survey that we will be conducting to gather community input. The results of the survey will be shared with the Board at the April 23 Board meeting.

Date, Location, Time:

Monday, April 16 Riverview MS Multi Use Room 6:30 p.m.

Tuesday, April 17 College Park HS Multi Use Room 6:30 p.m.

Wednesday, April 18 Ygnacio Valley HS Library 6:30 p.m.

Thursday, April 19 Monte Gardens Multi Use Room 6:30 p.m”

Unfortunately, the options presented in the newsletter differ slightly from those presented to board and are numbered differently.

Most surprisingly, the district has revealed that it would not be able to complete all the projects in seven years, as originally planned, if it continues on its current path. Instead, the district now estimates it would need to delay issuing $155 million until 2026.

If voters had been asked in 2010 whether they would approve a $348 million tax measure that wouldn’t see 45 percent of the projects completed for more than 16 years, do you think Measure C would have passed?

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  • Alicia M.

    #38 – Dr. J. Have you seen a copy of the CREB application? You can see that Chevron only signed the site certifications and not the application itself.

  • Theresa Harrington

    Alicia, Thanks for that clarification. Yes, Chevron signed the engineering portion, but district officials including Pedersen and Nicoll signed the actual application. There was no board approval.

    Regarding the QSCBs, the board-approved resolution states: “SECTION. 8 Reimbursement of Qualified Project Expenditures. The District hereby declares it intent to use proceeds of the QSCBs to reimburse itself for expenditures made on Qualified Projects prior to the issuance of the QSCBs (the ‘Reimbursable Expenditures’).”

    So, the district did disclose that it had already virtually completed the projects for which it was applying for the QSCBs (with Prop. 55 funds). Perhaps this was a loophole the district was able to take advantage of, instead of actually identifying new projects to fund with the money.

  • Alicia M.

    Theresa, It is interest that QSCB was a state program, so the application had to be submitted to the CDE. Click on “application” at
    http://www.cde.ca.gov/ls/fa/qs/2010qscboverview.asp

    I wonder what project was designated on the QSCB application, and whether the completed application was subsequently reviewed by the Board.

    CREB applications had to be submitted to the IRS, not the CDE.

  • Alicia M.

    Theresa,

    I just noticed Section . 8 regarding using QSCB for reimbursement of qualified projections. This is really interesting. In reading the QSCB application, it appears these bonds are to be used for a new and future needed project, and asks for estimated costs. I’d really like to see this application to see if the district really disclosed to the CDE that QSCBs would be used for project already completed. I wonder which project QSCB paid for and why the district didn’t use this money for a new future project.

  • Theresa Harrington

    The district disclosed the project list when it requested to sell the bonds in February, 2011: http://esbpublic.mdusd.k12.ca.us/public_itemview.aspx?ItemId=3640&mtgId=298&mtgType=No
    The district stated that it would reimburse itself for expenses already paid: “SECTION 12. Reimbursement of Qualified Project Expenditures. The District hereby
    declares it official intent to use proceeds of the QSCBs to reimburse itself for expenditures made on Qualified Projects prior to the issuance of the QSCBs (the ‘Reimbursable Expenditures’). All of the Reimbursable Expenditures covered by this Resolution were paid not earlier than 60 days prior to the date of this Resolution and reimbursement of such Reimbursable Expenditures will occur not later than 18 months after the date such Reimbursable Expenditure was made.”
    Here is what the district said it planned to do with the money:
    “Projects to be Financed with the Proceeds of the Bonds
    The District intends to apply the net proceeds of the Bonds to construct new classrooms at College Park High School and Concord High School, to renovate the swimming pools at College Park High School and Mt. Diablo High School and to undertake repairs to the multi-use facilities at certain District elementary schools.
    [In addition, the District intends to deposit a portion of the proceeds of the Series D Bonds into
    the Debt Service Fund to pay a portion of the interest on the Bonds through _______, 2011.]”
    All of the projects listed were already underway before Measure C was approved — paid for with Prop. 55 funds.

  • Alicia M.

    Theresa, does “reimburse itself” mean that QCSB money was or will ultimately be deposited into the general fund? I’ll have to inquire. Thanks!

  • Theresa Harrington

    Alicia, My impression was that the district was reimbursing itself for Prop. 55 money.

  • Alicia M.

    Perhaps because I’m sleepy, it’s not making any sense to use QCSB money to reimburse Prop. 55. I’ll have to look at my financial records from the County Treasurer to identify any transfers of QSCB money.

  • Alicia M.

    Theresa, Just another thought…Prop. 55 is State matching funds for 2002 Measure C, and according to DSA, the Prop. 55 money should be used on projects listed for 2002 Measure C since they are connected. So a 2010 Measure C QSCB bond should not be used to reimburse a 2002 Measure C project, and I simply do not understand the rational. I’ll have to do some research to determine if there is a problem.

  • g

    Good Mornin’ Pete; I see the “C” website has had the two missing sections and the dozen or so missing items replaced. Problem is the links are dead, so we can’t open the files to see if they’ve been changed in any way.

  • Theresa Harrington

    Alicia, Even though the QSCB projects appear to have been underway before the 2010 Measure C was approved, the district claimed they were on the 2010 Measure C projects list (since the list was so general).

  • g

    The ‘C’ site seems to be fixed now.

  • Theresa Harrington

    Yet, based on past experience, the public has no assurance that documents won’t disappear again.
    Perhaps the Electronic School Board site could be expanded to include the BOC.

  • Theresa Harrington

    A reliable source tells me another person may soon announce a run for the MDUSD board, in part, based on a desire for more transparency in the district.

  • g

    Give me a couple of candidates that will follow the letter of the law(s)–all of them, both internal and external, even when it is very-very hard to do! And please, someone who is volunteering to do the job because it’s the right thing to do, not someone who is in it for the mdv “in lieu” cash and retirement plan—please!

  • MDUSD Board Watcher

    TH @ #64,

    Wow. That news is not going to sit very well with Gary and Sherry.

  • Doctor J

    Lawrence did not get the Sacramento Supt job. What was important to the 47,000 student district in suburban Sacramento [compare with MDUSD at 34,000 students] ?? Quote from the Board President: “Throughout the search process we heard students, teachers, parents, principals and community members tell us that the number one priority in selecting a superintendent was to ensure that the work of our community-developed strategic plan continued,” said Board President Richard Launey.
    “Mr. Thompson has been a leader in implementing our strategic plan and we need his strong voice to provide leadership as we build upon the work underway in our schools to close achievement gaps and educate and inspire each student to contribute to our radically evolving world.”

    Significantly, the new Supt took a pay cut [$225,000] from the prior Supt [$261,000]. http://www.sanjuan.edu/news.cfm?story=12548

    Here is the search they performed as cited in their Closed Session Minutes of Nov 15 [yes, unlike MDUSD, they follow the law and publish minutes on the closed sessions -- reporting the action taken in the closed sessions and detailing a summary of public comments]: Barry Reed from the executive search firm Dave Long and Associates. Mr. Reed led the Board in a discussion regarding the parameters, process, and timeline for the superintendent search. The Board discussed their desired qualifications, experience, and contract terms, as well as the extent of the stakeholders’ input. Mr. Reed emphasized that, in order to attract a successful pool of candidates, confidentiality is of utmost importance. He urged the Board to consider limiting the number of stakeholders on the Superintendent Search Advisory Committee to ten. After much discussion, the majority of the Board agreed that the committee would include five employee group representatives – one from CSEA, SJTA, Teamsters, SJAA/SJPEC (combined), and Confidential/Supervisors (combined), one representative from the Curriculum and Standards Committee, one representative from the Facilities, Transportation, and Finance Committee, and one “at-large” representative from each board member – for a committee total of twelve. Mr. Reed will distribute a revised timeline based on the Board’s feedback.

    So much different from MSUSD’s “board driven” search . . . and disasterous result. An important lesson for new board members. It starts with T R A N S P A R E N C Y !!!!

  • MoMx3

    Dr. J, are you saying Lawrence is right now, actively looking for a new job? Is this recent then?

  • Theresa Harrington

    An El Dorado MS student reported this morning that a man tried to lure her into his car: http://bit.ly/HOPHFr

  • Doctor J

    @#68 Final selection interviews took place on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The Board decision was announced today. See my link above and you might want to look at their Board agendas, minutes, etc. to see what quality agendas and minutes look like in a School District. Here is the minutes agenda — notice they do minutes for “Closed Sessions” as required by law. http://www.sanjuan.edu/files/filesystem/March%2027,%202012%20Minutes.pdf

  • Theresa Harrington

    Here is a blog post about the message sent out by Superintendent Steven Lawrence: http://bit.ly/J7tpjg

  • MoMx3

    Dr. J, doesn’t anyone think that is strange? The “LEADER” of the district is looking for a job? In the corporate world doesn’t that raise huge red flags? What is going on ? Must be hard trying to find a job after running this district into the ground. Unbelievable!

  • Theresa Harrington

    Dr. J has not presented any proof that Lawrence was looking for a job. Is this speculation on your part, Dr. J?

  • MDUSD Board Watcher

    I don’t know if he is or isn’t looking for a job, but he should be. When Gary and Sherry are successfully voted out of office this Nov. he will shortly be needing one.

    You know what they say Steve, “the early bird gets the worm”. If I were you I’d get that resume out in your network now.

  • Doctor J

    @#72&73 I don’t think its strange at all and very common in the business world — and the education world — that executives “jump ship” frequently to improve their status. The average tenure of a school Supt in the last 10 years is only about 2-3 years. He has 9 1/2 months left on his contract, in just over 6 1/2 months there will be an election which may swing the Board majority which could jeopardize a renewal of his contract. Trustee Hansen’s attempts to place a motion on the Agenda to postpone consideration of renewal of Lawrence’s contract until after the new board has been seated after the election has been thwarted by Eberhart and Whitmarsh, and Rolen, all “partners” with Lawrence. In addition, that suburban District in Sacramento was just a few miles from Lawrence’s home in Roseville where he lived until February 2010, is a larger district [47,000 compared to MDUSD's 33,000], and the prior Supt made more money than Lawrence. Plus Lawrence was able to wrangle support from State Supt. Torlakson ostensibly vis-a-vis Eberhart. My source is telling me that Lawrence scored high on the Meas C bond passage, but scored low on public communication, a pathetic “strategic plan” he didn’t really support, failure to implement an academic turnaround plan with results [one point API gain], and ironically the issue of “toiletgate” actually surfaced and raised red flags about his leadership over high schools he directly supervised. There was also concern about his performance in West Sac, and jumping from a very small district to a large district without much experience. Let’s remember that Lawrence is a relatively young by age Supt with many years left in Education circles. But he needs a few more “bright spot” accomplishments on his resume to be marketable. These executive search firms do a thorough review of all potential candidates and keep it on file. All you have to do is compare Agendas, Minutes, Community Committees like PAC, Strategic Plans, etc to see the difference between quality leadership at the helm of a school district. I invite everyone to do the comparison. We ought to be demanding better performance. Oh, and when you read their Board minutes, you actually know what went on in the meeting, unlike MDUSD’s chicken scratch minutes. Has Lawrence denied being considered for the San Juan USD job ?

  • Doctor J

    Lawrence is stuck in neutral on a hill and his brakes are failing him. Example: Teacher Evaluations. This Ed Week article highlights innovative steps being taken by San Juan USD. The teacher’s union is full partners with them to promote better teaching. MDUSD is light years behind as a result of poor relationships with the MDEA and lack of leadership. It takes leadership to accomplish this. http://tinyurl.com/3ftngyx
    Wouldn’t such a program be beneficial to MDUSD ? Ever hear any discussion about it at a Board meeting ?

  • Theresa Harrington

    The district is piloting new teacher and principal evaluations at SIG schools as part of the grant requirement. But, to my knowledge, this has not been discussed at a board meeting.

  • Doctor J

    @TH#77 That was in the MOU nearly a year ago, but has any real “ACTION” been taken to implement it ? Are those “new evaluations” taking place “this spring” in the SIG Cohort 1 schools ? Verify for yourself, but I think you will find the answer to both questions is a capital NO. Certainly the Board has not approved it or even discussed it. Just another ruse in the Cohort 1 “Corrective Active Plan” to “get the money”.

  • Doctor J

    Has MDUSD met its MOU commitments which cover school years 2011/12 and 12/13 for the three SIG Schools under Cohort 1, Bel Air, Shore Acres and Rio Vista ? Lets take a look a few of the MOU provisions required to be implemented in 2011/12:

    “1. The SIG requires districts to utilize a teacher evaluation tool that ties the results of student learning to the performance evaluation of the teacher. Teacher performance evaluation at SIG sites will include a formula which considers student progress as a significant element in the existing evaluation tool. ” “The District will utilize the Formative Assessment for California Teachers (FACT model) as a formative assessment tool.”

    Question: HAS MDUSD MET THIS REQUIREMENT AT BEL AIR, SHORE ACRES AND RIO VISTA ?

    “The SIG will provide each site with a trained (in FACT) Instructional Coach (TSA) during the first year of implementation to guide teachers through the inquiry process. ”

    Question: HAS MDUSD MET THIS REQUIREMENT AT BEL AIR, SHORE ACRES AND RIO VISTA ? Who are they ? When were they hired ?

    “All teachers at SIG sites will be evaluated annually.”

    Question: IS MDUSD IN THE PROCESS OF MEETING THIS REQUIREMENT AT BEL AIR, SHORE ACRES AND RIO VISTA for the current school year 2011/12 ?

    “Teachers will meet with the site administrator for an initial conference, an interim conference and a final conference to review the multiple measures of data collected in 1. (a) iii above, and assess growth in the teacher’s professional practice towards meeting the selected evaluation goals.”

    Question: IS MDUSD IN THE PROCESS OF MEETING THIS REQUIREMENT AT BEL AIR, SHORE ACRES AND RIO VISTA for the current school year 2011/12 ?

    For you doubting Thomases, here is the MOU http://mtdiabloeducationassoc.org/pdf/11_08_17SIGMOU.pdf

  • Theresa Harrington

    On another note, our San Jose Mercury News education reporter would like to talk to East Bay high school seniors or their parents for an upcoming story: http://bit.ly/HNZnD9

  • Anon

    So what ever happened to Special Ed. Bussing? I hear they are still messed up. Has anyone followed up on the story? is Rolan still responsible? Shouldn’t Mildred Brown the Super. of Special Ed be held accountable? Is she accountable for anything? Does she have a contract with an end date so we can get rid of her or does she just get to stay and keep the status quo?
    Has anyone heard if Mildred is going to leave our district?
    I so hope she leaves with Stevie Lawrence!

  • Doctor J

    @#23 MD-BW Gary only has one campaign available to him this year — MDUSD Board, which could put him over 20 years ! County Supervisor & Co. School Board are not open to him this year. He must keep himself in public office in order to have a chance to leap to a new office — despite his dismal past efforts. He probably expects a building to be named after him — I would vote for a fire hydrant next to the public sidewalk.

  • http://www.k12reboot.com Jim

    Re #75 — I agree with Dr. J that it is not at all unusual for Superintendents to move quite often from district to district. This is especially true for supes from larger districts, where public dissatisfaction is widespread. Most of the Supes I have met over the years were always in “job search” mode, and I am sure that Lawrence is smart enough to know that he should be too. Since there is little or no accountability at any level in so many public school districts, performance seldom drives the superintendent recruitment or evaluation process. Once they are hired, superintendents must often react to the whims of boards of education that have very little understanding of how students learn and are preoccupied with political considerations. There is little reliable knowledge among administrators or boards of ed on what actually “works” in education, so supes and districts tend to chase one fad after another. You see this in the near-random curriculum changes, the organizational deck chair shuffling, and in teacher training trends — throughout the entire system, really. Being a superintendent is much more of a political position than an executive one. Fortunately for the people in that profession, even when a superintendent is judged “unsuccessful” in one position, it really doesn’t impede that person from finding a new job, often at a higher salary. Even the ones who get driven out of town with pitchforks still seem to have little difficulty finding their next gig before the severence in their prior contract runs out.

    Being a superintendent can be a miserable job — trying to get an incompetent board, intransigent unions, discouraged staffs, and frustrated parents to pull together for students’ benefit. But there are some definite positives to being a supe: 1) it pays well; 2) the required educational preparation (PhD in Ed) is time-consuming but not particularly rigorous; and 3) best of all, job performance doesn’t relate to career outcomes. A lot of people would hate that kind of work life, but enough people prefer it to keep the creaky machine sputtering along.

  • Theresa Harrington

    For the first time ever, I have just been told by a school employee that she wouldn’t take a message for the campus administrator and that I had to send an email.
    Perhaps district employees should read the draft strategic plan, specifically Goal 4, which states:
    “4 Respectful, Responsive Service and Communication
    MDUSD district and site staff will be responsive and respectful while providing outstanding service to co-workers, students, parents, and community members.
    District and site staff will proactively seek opportunities to improve communication and customer service. Every person who interacts with MDUSD should be treated with dignity, respect, courtesy, and cultural sensitivity.
    4.1 Proactively assess, adopt, and improve practices that encourage respectful, responsive customer service, both internally and externally.
    4.2 Strengthen communication systems to ensure that community members, parents, students, and employees receive information, responses to inquiries, and services in an open, courteous, and timely manner.
    4.3 Clarify and expand methods of and access to communication systems for staff, parents, and community/business groups.
    4.4 Celebrate and consistently communicate successes and innovations to community and staff.
    4.5 Diligently monitor and report progress on strategic plan initiatives.”
    I was calling to try to help the district achieve goal 4.4, but have been hitting a brick wall in my attempts to get access to a school to write about a positive behavior program. I have sent an email, as requested, but may end up having to go to a different district if I don’t hear back in time to do the story at an MDUSD school.

  • MDUSD Board Watcher

    After the recent debacle by Gary Eberhart on the Claycord blog, he probably made the edict that all media is verbotten.

    How about that for transparency? The whole lot of them in Dent need to be fired. They have forgotten that they work for us.

  • Theresa Harrington

    I attended a meeting at a high school yesterday, after being invited by some participants, and was instructed not to record the meeting since it wasn’t a public meeting.
    Later, when one community representative was saying a lot of really positive, exciting things about the program, one person said: “Too bad no one is recording this!”

  • Doctor J

    School sites are under tremendous “spend before the end” pressure from Bryan Richards’ edict to have all purchase orders turned in tomorrow [more than 60 days prior to end of fiscal year], and some even have to call emergency site council meetings to authorize the spending.

  • Theresa Harrington

    Northgate HS will host a “Turn on the Sun” event May 1: http://bit.ly/J5jF7s

  • Doctor J

    Which costume will Gary wear on May Day at Northgate ? VP Solar for Schreder ? Board Member ? Candidate for re-election ? Despite not being Board President, you can bet he will be there struting like a banty rooster.

  • Theresa Harrington

    Here is another federal program the district could pursue to help improve low-performing schools: http://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/obama-administration-opens-together-tomorrow-school-improvement-challenge

  • Theresa Harrington

    Contra Costa Board of Ed. to appoint rep to CVCHS governing board tonight: http://bit.ly/INQJ1L

  • Doctor J

    @#90 MDUSD can’t spend all of the SIG money now — they don’t know what to do with the low performing schools. One of these days Theresa will publish the SIG spending reports.

  • g

    Dr. J: I admit I have not kept up with the Sig performance. Wasn’t there a commitment for extra hours of instruction time and to put a 4hr x 4 week “early in” (or something like that) in place. Did they do all of that at the three schools this year? If so, and if it was voluntary attendance, did enough kids show up to justify the cost of paying for extra coaches teacher training and giving Sig teachers the increases in pay?

    Are there student performance assessments tied directly to teacher performance assessments?

  • Doctor J

    @G — The SIG funding to MDUSD and others was suspended after the first year because of non-compliance, including the increased learning time. The Feds required a Corrective Action Plan to be proposed and the increased learning time to be in place by day one of this year, 11-12, even though the CAP’s were not approved until November. The increased learning time caused MDEA to negotiate a 14% pay increase for the daily extra time of the students. More SIG money is being spent this year, but as I reported earlier as an example, Bel Air with about 400 children has about $2 Million of SIG money to spend this year. Do the math — they could have hired a daily tutor for each individual child in the school.
    The performance assessments negotiated with MDEA require tutors for the teachers — I don’t think those were hired. It doesn’t appear those performance assessments tied to student performance are in place as called for by the SIG. I am not sure all three schools have their early return programs in place. When you read their plans and what they have done, there are large gaps. Its unclear if their SASS coaches understand what each school is supposed to be doing.

  • g

    Dr. J: Thanks. I do remember this all going on earlier this year, and then later that the MDHS QEIA seemed so reminiscent of the SIG problems–get the money, promise them anything, ignore the rules, when you get caught just go back and plead ignorance, say you’re sorry, and then promise to do better next time if they’ll just give you one more chance. But here we are, with this year nearly over.

    But then, saying all that, it seems like everything the district does. Get the money…promise them anything…ignore the rules…oops.

  • Doctor J

    @G#95 I think the Feds are using telephone SIG audit teams again. It will depend if they go beyond the increased learning time requirement, as to their effectiveness. The irony of the SIG is that it was “competative” so when MDUSD doesn’t use all of its grant money, that is grant money that another district could have used, but was denied.

  • Doctor J

    Three nights of “forums” by Lawrence to discuss property tax increases, and not a single comment. That uneventful ? I know it was horribly poorly publicized, but nothing to report ?

  • Theresa Harrington

    I attended the first meeting in Bay Point, which was very poorly attended. I have been meaning to do a blog post. I also shot some video of the presentation.
    The survey does not give an apples-to-apples comparison showing how much a typical homeowner would pay under each scenario, so I intend to provide that.
    The biggest point from the audience Monday was Linda Loza’s comment that she has received emails from several of the people who signed the original proposal who adamantly oppose the option that would include Capital Appreciation Bonds.
    Also, it was noted by John Parker that none of the estimates provided by the district include the bond debt that has already been issued (in terms of total debt service and total interest). I intend to include that in my upcoming blog post as well.

  • Doctor J

    Slam on Lawrence, Brothers and MDUSD: Only 33 Current CVHS students chose to move to different high schools and not go with the CVHS charter. How embarassing.

  • Theresa Harrington

    Do you know if any of them were special ed students (since Lawrence claimed that would cost the district more)?
    Also, do you know how many students outside the CVHS boundaries have opted to transfer out of the district and into CVCHS?