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MDUSD board meeting and budget study session tonight

By Theresa Harrington
Monday, May 7th, 2012 at 6:13 pm in Education, Mt. Diablo school district.

The Mt. Diablo school board will hold a short meeting tonight at 6:30 p.m. in the district office to approve layoffs and other personnel actions, along with a resolution honoring Classified Employees Week.

Here is a link to the agenda:

Following that meeting at around 6:45 p.m., the board expects to begin a budget study session.

Here is the link to that agenda:

The public will be given the opportunity to comment on any item not on the agenda at each meeting.

One item that may interest Sun Terrace Elementary parents is the elimination of a half-time librarian and part-time ESL teacher at the site: The agenda item says the positions are no longer necessary and the monies are needed elsewhere.

However, Sun Terrace parent Katherine Friedman told me that the PTA has repeatedly said it wanted to keep the librarian, even though Principal Gretchen Jacobs has suggested the position was no longer needed. Often, similar decisions have been accompanied by a copy of site council minutes showing a vote regarding the elimination of positions. No minutes are attached to this agenda item, however.

The board also expects to approve layoffs for several positions at elementary, middle and high schools due to lack of funds:

Here is a link to the budget presentation, which includes cuts suggested in the past but not yet approved:

Do you think the board should approved the recommended personnel changes?


Public Comment: Sun Terrace parent Jean-Pierre Muzac praised Principal Gretchen Jacobs for bringing grants to the school.
Here are video links to his comments (sorry, ran out of space on my Flip cam, so it’s in three chunks):

Part 1:
Part 2:
Part 3:

Board unanimously approved all consent calendar items.

Trustee Lynne Dennler pulled item 10.3 and Trustee Cheryl Hansen pulled items 10.7 and 10.8 for discussion.

Dennler asked Julie Braun-Martin to explain the layoff process. Braun-Martin said some people who receive preliminary layoff notices may not receive final notices, in part due to the district’s receipt of the MDHS QEIA funding.
The board unanimously approved item 10.3.

Hansen asked about the funding source for positions to receive layoff notices in item 10.7. Braun-Martin said these were positions that were site-funded.
The board unanimously approved item 10.7.

Hansen also asked about the layoffs related to the conversion of CVHS to a charter. Braun-Martin said those who resigned have opted to work at the charter. The others want to remain in the district and may be able to bump people at other sites, if they have more seniority.
The board unanimously approved item 10.8.

The board also unanimously approved the resolution proclaiming May 20-26 Classified Employees Week. Hansen apologized to classified employees for agreeing to lay them off, then thanking them for their hard work.


Public Comment: Sun Terrace parent Elizabeth Borgen said her son fractured his wrist during first recess today and she wasn’t told about it until 3 p.m. when he went to the after-school program. She was very angry.

Here is a link to video of her comments:

Superintendent Lawrence went over the budget presentation, including projections, past budget cuts and previously suggested budget cuts that haven’t yet been approved. He asked the board for direction.

Trustee Linda Mayo said she thinks the board needs to factor in the deficit and look at furlough days.

Trustee Gary Eberhart said he wants to be sure money is expended in the best way possible to educate the students. He said he wants to establish spending criteria to make sure that each expense is critical “and something we can’t live without and more important than what we’re looking at cutting.”

“I want to be able to report out to the community that these dollars are being spent in the best way to educate students,” he said.

In addition, he said he wanted to give more flexibility to sites and to give them incentives to save money by cutting costs, then keep the savings for their own use. He also wants the Budget Advisory Committee to advise the council regarding budget cut recommendations.

Board President Sherry Whitmarsh said she would like more information about site-based spending decisions.

“I do believe we need to work hard to stop deficit-spending,” she said.

She supported the idea of cutting transportation costs and said she preferred furloughs over program reductions.

“We have to make some tough decisions on overflow and home-to-school (transportation),” she said, adding that she leaned toward eliminating the Delta View busing, but keeping busing for MDHS students from Bay Point.

Trustee Cheryl Hansen said the district should take on more transportation itself and consider selling Willow Creek Center.

I don’t recall Trustee Lynne Dennler stating any recommendations.

Do you agree with the recommendations made by the other four trustees?

MAY 8 UPDATE: Here is audio from the meeting:

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231 Responses to “MDUSD board meeting and budget study session tonight”

  1. Doctor J Says:

    Do you like TV reruns ? Here is a MDUSD rerun from last year’s annual Administrator Shuffle — enjoy ! Just like an old time movie,’Bout a ghost from a wishing well.

  2. Doctor J Says:

    Does MDEA have the courage to strike ? SF teachers vote 97% to authorize a strike. The comparisons between MDUSD & SFUSD are surreal. “stalemate in contract negotiations with the district”; “The school district. . . is seeking . . .million in cuts from teachers’ salaries and benefits over the next two years, and preparing to issue more than 200 pink slips affecting teaching positions by the May 15 deadline.”
    “Union officials have said they do not trust the district’s budget numbers.” “It is time for the district to stop seeking unilateral cuts and sweeping program changes, and to start treating the teachers and paraprofessionals with respect and to recognize what we have done to keep this district afloat,”

    However, I don’t see where the SFUSD Board extended any administrator contracts with automatic pay increases, and step increases like MDUSD did. Nor did I see where the SF School Board was taking “full family medical, dental, and vision” when district employees were not receiving the same.

    Maybe its time for MDEA to show the courage to stand up to the Eberhart political machine. He keeps his benefits and cuts everyone else’s — except for the Big5. Hypocrisy can be overcome by courage.

  3. Fly on the Wall Says:

    Other MDUSD staff should take a look at MDHS where principal McClatchy has divided her staff including the other administrators. It is apparent who is privy to her plans. Obviously she likes “yes” people who go along with her plans, no matter how detrimental and absurd they are. There are also favored teachers who can do just about anything or nothing and not fear reprisal in the form of negative evaluations. Despite the vote of no confidence, she has not changed from her original course and appears to have the backing of the superintendent.

  4. Theresa Harrington Says:

    During the board’s governance workshop, Trustee Sherry Whitmarsh said her highest priority is attracting and retaining high quality employees in all areas:
    However, I don’t believe the board has actually discussed its definition of a high-quality employee.

  5. CG Says:

    Apparently, the quality administrators don’t want to come to MDUSD. I wonder why (sarcasm)

    This district could hire quality administrators from a talented pool of teachers currently working in this district.

  6. Doctor J Says:

    @CG#155 Was it Eberhart or another Board member who claimed that in the last Supt hire [Nov 2009] the pool of applicants was small and lacked qualifications ? Yet, the pool of applicants to take Lawrence’s place a few months later in West Sacramento was very high, and touted to be very high quality. Has the thought ever crossed Eberhart’s mind that his dictator micromanaging style of Board leadership might be the primary factor in the difference ?

  7. Theresa Harrington Says:

    CG: The district has hired quality administrators who are former teachers, such as Connie Cirimeli at Sequoia MS. John McMorris, principal of Northgate HS, is also a former teacher (although from another district). I heard that a teacher applied for the position of principal at Sun Terrace, but was not selected.
    Liane Cismowski, vice principal at MDHS, was a National Board Certified Teacher and was on the NBCT board, I believe. She has mentored teachers seeking National Board Certification.
    MDEA President Mike Langley has told me that he doesn’t understand how principals can effectively coach teachers if they’ve never been teachers themselves.
    But, I have also heard that some people think teachers may decide to become administrators because they don’t enjoy teaching or may not be effective teachers.
    So, there appear to be different schools of thought on whether former teachers necessarily make the best administrators.

  8. Fly on the Wall Says:

    Why doesn’t the principal at MDHS seek the advice of vice principal Cismowski, who appears to have the educational and intellectual advantage on her?

  9. @155 Says:

    Yes, quality administrators can sometimes be found in teachers looking to move up if those teachers have their admin credential (most do not). But, in this particular case, no one applied internally, so they had no choice but to hire someone from the outside and select someone from the limited pool of candidates.

  10. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Are you referring to Sun Terrace? I heard there may have been an internal candidate. However, I do not know that firsthand.

  11. Doctor J Says:

    As we approach the two year anniversary of NugentGATE, obviously Julie Braun-Martin still has not got down the job of background investigation on candidates. A simple google of Gretchen Jacobs easily uncovers some questions about her background — even Katherine found these. BTW, has Nugent ever been approached to explain his side of the story ? Maybe he would feel free now.

  12. Ayers Parent Says:

    Trust me, we are keeping VERY CLOSE TABS on our next principal search!

  13. sun Terrace Says:

    #160 Yes a long time CEP teacher applied for the principal position but did not get it. She is well liked & respected at Sun Terrace.

  14. School Teacher Says:

    Anon @146

    I totally agree with Been Down That Road @147. Any parent, and for that matter, teacher input is meerly window dressing for the district. They have their own agenda, and the “input” in my opinion goes ignored (unless it happens to agree with their agenda).

  15. anon Says:

    Of course it’s difficult to attract the best and the brightest administrators to mdusd. With the witch hunt, bully mentality of this web site and the low pay offered by mdusd as compared to other districts, that’s not likely to change anytime soon.

    I did like the comments by that board candidate regarding sun terrace. He didn’t seem to be in a hurry to attach himself to the mob. The last thing this board needs is someone else who is going to grandstand and patronize the 12 people on this blog site. Maybe there is hope.

  16. Doctor J Says:

    Theresa, please don’t forget post #13. And Happy Mother’s Day. 🙂

  17. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Thanks and Happy Mother’s Day to everyone!

    Regarding the SBE hearing, I was also surprised when Lawrence said the district is deficit-spending about $9 million a year. Yet, the budget numbers distributed during last Monday’s study session show a deficit of about $16 million this year, followed by $10.8 million next year if the governor’s proposed taxes pass:
    It’s unclear to me where he got the $9 million figure.

  18. Doctor J Says:

    My post #102 demonstrates that where schools have huge amounts of “additional funding” they do not know how to get those funds into the classroom to benefit children’s education. The SIG schools filed a detailed grant AND when they weren’t in compliance, were required by the Feds and CDE to file a “Corrective Action Plan” and still almost at the end of year 2 of a 3 year grant, still haven’t figured out how to spend the money they said was “vital” to the education of the worst performing schools in the district. Even the district is not spending the money to benefit children’s education — unless you consider SASS’s new IPads and custom cases, as benefiting the sutdents. Just throwing money into a pot, does not mean it will be spent wisely or even according to the written plan. MDUSD’s SIG grants should be cut to actual spending and redistributed to other needy schools who lost out in the SIG competition because MDUSD’s SIG grants were “better on paper” but only partially implemented.

  19. Doctor J Says:

    @TH#167 My wise grandfather said: “When you tell the truth, you only have half as much to remember.” Lawrence has told so many different versions of the budget and Richards has so many different versions on his computer, neither of them can keep the truth straight from lies.

  20. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Although the district has continued to argue that the CVCHS charter’s impact would result in equal cuts to other schools across the board — or in deeper cuts to schools in the CVCHS charter feeder pattern — no one raised this idea during the budget study session. Instead, it appears that cuts will be made based on the total amount of the deficit, with the CVCHS charter impact lumped together with everything else that is contributing to it.

  21. Doctor J Says:

    If the Eberhart/Lawrence threats to punish the CVCHS charter “feeder pattern” with deep cuts were carried out, it would result in “teacher triggers” in the middle schools and elementary schools, essentially cutting out the heart of the district, and becoming a paradise in the middle of a desert. But the threats accomplished their purpose — divide the hearts of the parents.

  22. Doctor J Says:

    Anyone fudging on their resume should be fired ! Google CEO is out.

  23. Doctor J Says:

    Excuse me: yahoo ceo !

  24. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Regarding the fractured wrist: I just spoke to Elizabeth Borgen and her son and they stand by their original statements.
    However, it is true that her son fell a second time and re-injured his wrist.
    He said he asked the principal if he could call his mother and she told him to go get in line and go to class. He then saw Jacobs speak to the substitute, but could not hear what was said.
    He says he was in pain all day and asked the substitute repeatedly if he could call his mother and was told “no.”
    Jacobs did meet with Borgen and told her there had been miscommunication and that she didn’t understand what the boy had asked her. She also said the substitute must have misunderstood what she told her.
    Borgen said Jacobs apologized and told her she had called other schools to find out what their policies were regarding student injuries. Now, Jacobs is implementing a new policy to call parents when students are injured, Borgen said.
    Jacobs has not responded to my interview requests. Rose Lock sent me a very general response regarding actions the district is taking to remedy issues at Sun Terrace, which did not address student injuries.
    However, she said a parent survey has been distributed to all Title I schools.

  25. Elizabeth Borgen Says:

    My personal comments regarding my son’s injury. My son fell and injured his wrist during his first recess and then fell again at the end of school. I was never notified by Sun Terrace Elementary. It was the after school program that called me because he was clearly in pain. As for the comment about him putting pressure on his wrist that is wrong, what he did do was move his wrist around to see where the pain was worst.

    The bottom line is that my child was injured while school was in session and I was never notified. He asked repeatadly to call me but the teacher refused to let him call me because she “misunderstood” what Mrs. Jacobs told her. No matter what the injury is, when a child is injured it is the parents right to make the decision weither the child is ok to stay at school or if the child should be picked up.

    I have not filed a formal complaint because I simply don’t know how to.

  26. Doctor J Says:

    @TH#174 Lame leadership at the school and at Dent.

  27. Sun Terrace Says:

    What a lame excuse. Neither the principal or substitute understand “I want to call my mother”? Was the child speaking greek? I doubt it!

    It looks like the district is sweeping this under the rug. There are excuses for everything; everything is just a mistake or misunderstanding or unfortunate turn of events.

    As for the survey, I hope it’s not the survey they expect to get 50% participation on in less than 2 weeks….

  28. Sun Terrace Says:

    @175 Elizabeth Borgen, I hope your son heals quickly!

    Make sure everything is in writing! Email the district and also complete their complaint forms (send an email stating you’ve submitted the complaint so that it is documented). All email address’ are on the MDUSD website. You may have to get the official complaint forms from the district.

    Some of the parent complaints can be easily ignored, but not yours. There is absolutely no misunderstanding a child wanting to call home when they’ve injured themselves and are in pain. Just like ASP noticed your son was in pain, Gretchen Jacobs noticed as well.

    Your story has not changed from day one. Lets see how many times Jacobs changes her version of events. You should also file a police report! And as someone else suggested, call Child Protective Services.

    Your son is not the first child to be injured and Jacobs failed to notify parent. Gretchen Jacobs is only implementing a new policy because the district has gotten involved. Jacobs could care less about our children.

    I hope you follow through Elizabeth.

  29. Doctor J Says:

    How many schools has Gretchen Jacobs been an administrator at ? And never had a policy about notifying parents of an injured child. Jacobs statements are simply disingenuous.

  30. Doctor J Says:

    @Mrs. Borgen, please read post 29 above, and there are links to the forms.

  31. Sun Terrace Says:

    Gretchen Jacobs will do as she please with no remorse for as long as she can get away with it.

  32. anon Says:

    Mrs. Borgen,
    Please look here as well:

    As the legal caretaker of your child during the school day, she failed miserably to obtain proper medical care for your child.

  33. MDUSD Board Watcher Says:

    At what point should we attempt to get CPS involved at Sun Terrace. It sounds like a very unsafe place for children, with the “adults” in charge failing to provide proper medical care.

  34. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Here is what Rose Lock told me in an email regarding the parent survey and SASS coaching:

    Parent survey: “The Title I parent survey is already in progress. Each school has a survey coordinator, most of them are parents. Parent can participate online or request a hard copy version. It is also translated. The survey closes on June 1.”

    SASS coaching: “School Support Administrators meet with their principals on a regular basis. The support is tailored to the needs of the individual principal and school.”

  35. Doctor J Says:

    @#184 What was the question to Rose ? The School Support Administrators [Principal Coaches] report directly to her, not to the Directors of Elementary or Secondary. Her quote is not taken from the current Job Description she put forth Dec 13, 2011 and approved by the Board on Jan 9, 2012. Read duties 1, 2 and 3.

  36. Doctor J Says:

    Title 1 Survey:

  37. Theresa Harrington Says:

    This was the question, as it relates to Sun Terrace: “Can you please tell me how SASS is working with the principal according to the coaching model?”

  38. Sun Terrace Says:

    The problem with the survey is the short period of time (less than 2 weeks) for the survey coordinator to get parents to complete the survey. I haven’t seen parents being asked to participate or a notice home regarding the survey.

  39. Doctor J Says:

    @TH#187 Rose, as the direct supervisor, clearly did not know the answer to “how” Susan H. was working with the Principal. Shameful. Rose even gets a weekly activity report from each SASS administrator. She should have known when SH & GJ met, for how long, the issues and what they were working on. But apparently she didn’t. Trustee Gary Eberhart, who says he has a BS in Business Administration from St. Mary’s, would even know that a supervisor has to know what the employees are doing for proper supervision, and provide guidance and direction where necessary. If Gary ran his own construction business like Rose runs SASS, Gary’s business would go under. Supervision 101.

  40. Itsgettingold Says:

    EB#175 and all who have jumped on the bandwagon – Contrary to what you want to believe, not only was your child shaking his wrist back and forth and twisting it at the wrist, he DID put downward pressure on his hand. He pressed his palm down on the countertop as well as place the back of his hand down on the countertop putting pressure on his wrist both times. There were several witnesses when this occurred and all saw the same thing. And to Theresa Harrington: I used to enjoy reading your column. But, after all of your reporting on the wrist incident, I will not be able to believe the accuracy of anything you publish.

  41. Theresa Harrington Says:

    IGO: My reporting is based on what Elizabeth Borgen and her son told me. Gretchen Jacobs has not responded to an interview request. The after-school program personnel also declined to comment. I would be happy to speak to you or any of the other witnesses. Please call me at 945-4764.

  42. Tired Says:

    It is amazing how issues get so out of hand(no pun intended). The majority of staff members at Sun Terrace are caring parents and NO ONE would make an obviously injured or sick child stay at school and keep them from calling home.

  43. Elizabeth Borgen Says:

    To post #190 since you claim to know so much about what happened does this mean that you are a staff member at Sun Terrace and that you saw first hand what was going on? Were you one of the staff members that refused to let him call me when he asked to and by doing this violated his rights? And can you please explain to me why after my son asked to call me multiple times he was refused? Also please explain to me why when I went in and spoke with Mrs. Jacobs myself she did not once mention or ask him about twisting and putting pressure on his wrist outside of him feeling where the pain was which is exactly what he did in the emergency room with a medical professional?
    Your comment sounds to me like the you and the school are trying to invalidate the seriousness of my sons injuries.

  44. Elizabeth Borgen Says:

    To post #192 I will agree that there are staff members that are caring but the facts are the facts. My son was injured and weither or not the staff members believed him he did have a serious injury and they outright refused to let him call me. How would you or even poster #190 feel if you were in my position? Also this is not the first time one of my children was injured and I was not notified by phone or even a note. This is unacceptable on many levels.

  45. Doctor J Says:

    Sounds like Rolen is trying to poison the jury pool. It really doesn’t matter whether the wrist was or was not broken — any time a child who has injured himself at school asks to call his mother, that request should have been granted. No excuses.

  46. Doctor J Says:

    Sun Terrace did not have a medical professional evaluate the injured boy — school is not a prison. Sounds like #190 and other staff went way beyond first aid and were practicing medicine without a license, and then kept the injured boy incarcerated against his will.

  47. Tired Says:

    It really doesn’t matter what anyone else has to say at this point. The mom felt she had a point to make and it has been made. Hopefully her son has a speedy recovery!

  48. MDUSD Board Watcher Says:

    Tired, You are incorrect. It does matter what I have to say, it could have been my kids subjected to this gross mistreatment.

  49. #190 Says:

    As #192 stated the “majority” of staff are caring (weather parents or not) but unfortunately there are the #190’s. #190 clearly is missing the point and sounds as if they are taking it personal maybe because they had something to do with the bad choice (not allowing the child to call his mother) or 190 is now part of the cover-up as obviously Gretchen Jacobs is cracking down on staff. There is no valid excuse for that situation. If 190 is a parent, they need to think if there child asked to call home how they’d feel if their child was dinied. Regardless if the child looked hurt or not, it’s not up to the principal, noon supervisors, or any other unqualified personel (medically unqualifiied).

  50. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Kudos to MDUSD Teacher of the Year Mona Lisa Ricard at Sequoia Elementary:
    “The teacher at Sequoia Elementary School in Pleasant Hill has created a classroom recipe for success, where good manners are emphasized, and where her students feel affirmed, respected and safe,” according to our story.

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