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MDUSD State Board of Education waiver request raises questions about current laws regarding charter conversion funding

By Theresa Harrington
Friday, May 11th, 2012 at 7:03 pm in California Board of Education, Clayton, Concord, Education, Mt. Diablo school district.

The financial impact of Clayton Valley High’s charter conversion on the Mt. Diablo Unified School District has become a test case for the California State Board of Education.

With a never-before-tried waiver request, Superintendent Steven Lawrence and supporters asked California trustees Wednesday to cover $1.7 million in costs the district must pay to the charter, which are above and beyond revenues Mt. Diablo expects to receive from the state for Clayton Valley students. Lawrence argued that current law unfairly penalizes low-wealth unified districts such as Mt. Diablo by requiring them to pay high school charter conversions a higher per student rate than the district receives for the rest of its students.

The district receives about $5,208 per student, but would have to pay Clayton Valley about $6,187 per student. This means Clayton Valley would get nearly $980 more for each of its approximately 1,776 students than other district students, Lawrence said.

“This is a critical issue for our district,” he said. “Currently, our district is deficit-spending $9 million a year. This will push us closer to being bankrupt.”

California Department of Education staff recommended denying the waiver request, saying it would substantially increase state costs and would have the same effect as changing statutes that govern district revenues, which cannot be waived. If the board were to grant the waiver, it could set a precedent that might prompt 13 other unified districts that are paying additional costs for conversion charters to ask for similar relief, which could cost $8.4 million a year for all 14 districts, Department of Education staff said.

State trustees appeared to agree that the current system is unfair, but they disagreed about whether they have the authority to do anything about it.

“I reviewed this with a great deal of interest and concern,” said Trustee Patricia Rucker. “They’re not overstating their financial risk.”

However, she agreed with staff that the revenue apportionments did not appear to be waivable. She said the board was up against the wall and had two choices.

“You can choose to be brave and make a precedential decision and approve the waiver request,” she said. “Or, we can be a Debbie Downer and deny the waiver, knowing we’re creating a great problem for the district and great joy for the charter, which would be better-funded than other schools in the district.”

Board President Michael Kirst said the Legislature should fix the problem. Approving the waiver, he said, would force the state to pay the extra cost and the board doesn’t have authority to apportion money.

Rucker agreed that the Legislature should change the current law.

“Whether we approve this waiver at all, the district is still going to be in the position to rob Peter to pay Paul,” she said. “These are the unkindest of cuts.”

Richard Zeiger, Chief Deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction, said the district’s analysis was correct, but his staff didn’t see any legal way to remedy the problem.

“This is one of those unfortunate circumstances where the person coming in is right,” he said. “But, we can’t help them. So, this really hurt us too.”

Trustees voted 4-2 to deny the waiver, but Kirst said there were not enough votes in favor of the motion to sustain it, so the waiver will come back for a second vote in July. If a motion to deny fails to get enough votes at that time, the waiver would automatically be approved for one year, according to board policy.

Lawrence said AB 1811 proposed by Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, D-Concord, could help alleviate the current inequity. Bonilla’s bill — which is set to go into effect in 2013-14, if approved — would require a charter conversion high school in a unified district to receive essentially the same allocation it received per student in the previous year, adjusted annually for inflation and state funding increases or decreases.

But the bill exempts charter conversions established between Jan. 1, 2010 and Dec. 13, 2012, including Clayton Valley Charter High, which will open in the fall under supervision by the Contra Costa County Office of Education. Instead, the bill says it would not preclude a charter school established during that time to agree to an alternative funding formula with the district.

Do you think the state board should approve the district’s waiver?

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  • g

    Before offering an opinion, let’s ask Ms. Bonilla if there is even one other conversion charter that falls into that exemption timeline; or did she choose that timeline specifically to corral Clayton Valley?

    Also, what exactly is the current K-12 student population at MDUSD? The CDE waiver request states it as 34,650. The District 2nd Interim 11-12 budget states it as 32,537. That 2100 difference could represent a bucket of money. Who’s figure does the state use when calculating the ADA funding? Has the state been over allocating to the district?

  • g

    Theresa, my first question of course assumes that no one at the district has thrown up a heavy hand to instruct Bonilla to keep mum with the press.

  • Theresa Harrington

    Student population is different from ADA, which is Average Daily Attendance.

  • Doctor J

    The SBE might create a Constitutional collision by either approving the waiver or allowing it to become effective by not denying it. Then the Controller would refuse to pay CVCHS and so would MDUSD — who loses ? The kids. Lawrence and Eberhart should have thought about this when they stole from the high schools to pay the district overhead. What the SBE was NOT told was that MDUSD trustees just enabled themselves to collect full family Medical, Dental and Vision for themselves, while most of the district employees do not receive the same benefits. And Board Trustees just voted the Supt’s Big5 contract extenstions with automatic raises and step increases. The Board, Supt and Big5 sure know how to be first in line at the feeding trough.

  • Theresa Harrington

    The board was also not told about the planned bonuses for the entire staff.

  • Theresa Harrington

    g: I certainly don’t think the MDUSD could prevent Bonilla from speaking to the press! She has always been very responsive when I have requested to speak to her.

  • Doctor J

    SBE President Michael Kirst called approval of the MDUSD waiver “irresponsible” and predicted it would lead to a “parade of districts” seeking waivers for more money. Member Patricia Ruker, a CTA Lobbyist, said regardless of the approval or denial of the waiver, Districts are “robbing Peter to pay Paul.” It was clear the newly appointed State Board did not understand that the Unified ADA is a blend of Secondary and Elementary ADA amounts — never intended to allow a Unified district to underfund its high schools compared to high school districts.

  • g

    Thanks Theresa, I think I knew that, but expected the figures to match when they were talking about district income/expenses. Which number is the District using when it talks $1.7million? Registered students or ADA?

    So, even with all the so-called big hitters at Dent with their expensive and ongoing professional training, RSOs, Truancy assistance through CPD, and a dozen etc’s (free/reduced meals twice a day, grants for extra assistance, seminars/coaches to upgrade education of teachers, Admin conferences), the district loses about $10,937,000.00 (6% of possible income) per year to simple absenteeism.

    Is this 6% absenteeism on par with most large districts?

  • Doctor J

    @G#8 Bingo. That is why Mildred has been hit two years in a row with being a “disproportionality” district because MDUSD is suspending its minority and socioeconomically deprived students at astronomical rates compared to the rest — a child suspended is lost ADA. The child truancy law in Concord is working, but that was not the real problem.

  • Just a Parent

    [This comment was edited to delete an inappropriate remark.]

    Hold on, I thought the Clayton Valley Charter wouldn’t have an impact on the district? Was that a lie? OMG. How shocking!

    Not.

    Yet you all seem to just forget all that and go on Googling and regurgitating thinking you actually can make sense of this. Hey, even if you could, what are you doing about it?

    Nothing.

    Our kids deserve better than your verbal …

  • g

    Just a Parent: I don’t recall anyone ever saying CVC would have NO impact on the district. Hopefully it will have a PROFOUND impact, whereby other schools can learn how a school should be run–since it is clear that the district has failed miserably in that regard. The fact that we have a handful of happy, successful schools is a miracle, with thanks due to the parents and a luck of the draw on teachers and administration.

    If it turns out that the district comes up short on funds, who do you think will take the brunt of the shortage; Big Daddy Dent or the kids?

  • Doctor J

    @J.A.P. Remember Lawrence refused to provide the true numbers on how much it cost to run CVHS — the District took a disproportionate amount of money from the high school ADA for Clayton Valley and used it to fund Dent and other pet projects in the District. Lets also remember that CVCHS is a “Teacher Trigger Charter” started by disgruntled teachers tired of the crap from Dent and their administrators. MDEA and CTA better get behind the CVCHS teachers and support them, or MDEA might find that CVCHS bolts the union. Right now Lawrence is playing Langley to try and divide and conquer on both fronts. Langley needs to “man up” for his last month.

  • Theresa Harrington

    The numbers in the waiver were higher than the numbers originally provided to the community (and provided to Bonilla for her bill). The district originally estimated it would lose $941 per ADA, but that got pushed up to around $980 per ADA for the waiver.

  • g

    But, then again, there are the Aug 2011 figures:

    “…Will the District cover the shortfall by taking funding away from other schools?”

    “Yes. The charter will be funded at the charter high school rate, which is higher than the unified funding rate the District currently receives. The Board will have to determine how to cover the shortfall. The difference is about $800.00 per student at the charter school. There are currently about 1900 students at the school, so the district would lose about $1.52 million dollars each year the charter was in operation”.

    Kind of like Flopsie–the numbers just grow’d and grow’d.

  • g

    The more I read, the more confused I am. I have read Bonilla’s Bill, again and again. At first I was convinced that by excluding charters that converted during the 2010-12 time frame, it was setting Clayton Valley up to be funded at the current district rate of $5,208.00 or whatever it happens to be. Now, I’m convinced that by exempting within those dates, she is allowing CV to be the “exception”, and get the full High School District rate. Help!

  • Theresa Harrington

    I agree it’s unclear. Part of the confusion stems from the fact that the language of the bill differs from the explanation at the end.
    The language says that the school would be funded at about the same rate as it was funded the prior year — not the year before it converted — but the year prior to 2013-14. If this is the case, then CVCHS would continue to be funded at the higher rate that it expects to get in 2012-13.
    But the explanation at the end says it would be funded at essentially the same rate as it was funded before it converted. That’s different — since that would mean it would be funded at the same rate as it is now being funded in 2011-12.
    It’s possible the exception is being made so that CVCHS may not be locked into getting the higher rate that it will get in 2012-13.
    The other thing that’s confusing is the wording regarding the allocation the school receives. It’s unclear whether this refers to the base revenue limit the district receives from the state ($5,208) or the amount the district actually allocates to the school (which is less than that).

  • School Teacher

    Would it be possible to get Susan Bonilla to clarify her bill, and the intent of the extra portion that seems to be relevant to CVCHS?

  • Theresa Harrington

    Yes, I will ask.

  • http://www.k12reboot.com Jim

    Just A Parent’s question in #10, and the whole discussion at the SBofE hearing, presume that MDUSD is ACTUALLY SPENDING ONLY THE DISTRICT’S BLENDED ADA AT CVHS CURRENTLY. But the district has NEVER clarified what they actually spend per student to operate CVHS. It might be the “blended” district rate. It might be a lot more.

    Lawrence et al kept referring to their “blended” district funding rate in the hearing, but no board member was smart enough to ask them if that is actually what they spend at CVHS. They are SUPPOSED to be spending MORE. The blended rate was set by the state to reflect the lower costs that unified districts have for elementary and middle school students and the HIGHER costs that unified districts incur with high school students.

    The district’s “loss” can only be the difference between what they are spending NOW per student, and what they will have to reimburse the charter per student. Duh! If MDUSD were spending the higher amount per high school student that the state intended with the blended rate, then the spending WOULD NOT CHANGE with the charter, and there would be no loss to the district. It would be a pass-thru of funding reflecting the district’s savings in no longer paying to run the school. The charter basically gets what high schools are supposed to receive in California, including students in high-school-only districts like Acalanes, which receive funding at a higher high school rate.

    Unfortunately, it appears that even the State Board of Ed cannot figure out the simple ruse that MDUSD was carrying out. Someone should have asked, “Mr. Lawrence, you keep referring to your blended rate for the district, but is that actually what you spend at CV now? Aren’t you supposed to be spending a lot more per student there already? If you aren’t, why are you short-changing the high school students in your district? If you ARE spending more, then what is the REAL gap between what you are spending now and what you will have to give the charter? Or is there not really any gap at all? And if there is NO gap, why are you here seeking this waiver?”

  • Doctor J

    I believe that the Lawrence Six at the SBE was really orchestrated by State Supt Tom Torlakson, and it is likely he had already talked to one or more of the Board members. Ironically this issue won’t be revisited until the July meeting and CVCHS will officially begin on July 1, 2012. Was Jane Shamieh, Controller for CCCOE really authorized to speak for the County Supt and Board ? Did she take a “day off” to attend or was she paid by the County to attend ? Great questions to ask the County Board at the next County Board meeting.

  • Doctor J

    Likewise, were the MDUSD employees “paid” to attend the SBE meeting and speak their political views ?

  • anon

    You people seem to take pride in advocating that the district not receive the additional funding. That says a lot about your motivations. We can disagree about how well the district functions, but we should all be united in trying to get additional funding that will benefit all children in the mdusd. For any member of this community, including the newspaper, to advocate for anything other than the district getting the funding that they are going to lose due to the charter is an atrocity. It’s no wonder that the CC Times is losing readers.

  • Theresa Harrington

    Jim, Superintendent Lawrence argued that it doesn’t really cost much more to educate students in a comprehensive high school. Instead, he argued, high schools receive a higher rate to educate at risk students, such as those at alternative high schools. He argued that CVCHS would not be facing those additional costs, but the district would.
    I have previously reported about a spreadsheet the district distributed in November that showed there is a dispartity even among comprehensive high schools. Here is the breakdown I previously reported in my Nov. 26 blog post:

    The entire blog post is at http://www.ibabuzz.com/onassignment/2011/11/26/recap-of-mdusd-clayton-valley-hs-charter-cost-meeting/

    “Here’s a breakdown of high school revenues, costs and “contribution toward encroaching programs” from 2010-11, including direct and indirect central services expenditures per student, according to the SARC data. (Note: ADA calculation for revenues is slightly different from ADA for expenditures because they are taken from two different years.)

    CLAYTON VALLEY: Total budget: $13,749,565.25 ($7,839.78/ADA)

    Total unrestricted revenues generated: $9,053,648.90 ($5,261.50/ADA)
    Total deducted for contributions to other programs: $900,896.52 or $523.55/ADA (about 10 percent)

    Unrestricted school budget: $8,152,757.39 ($4,648.57/ADA)
    Direct unrestricted costs: $6,703,622.65 ($3,822.30/ADA)
    Unrestricted central services: $1,449,129.74 ($826.27/ADA)
    Contribution to other programs: $900,896.52 or $523.55/ADA
    Total unrestricted central services/other programs: $2,350,026.26 (approx. $1,349.82/ADA)

    Total Restricted: $5,596,812.86 ($3,191.21/ADA)
    Direct restricted costs: $2,199,586.91 ($1,254.17/ADA)
    Restricted central services: $3,397,225.95 ($1,937.04/ADA)

    Total direct costs: $8,903,209.56 ($5,076.36/ADA or 65 percent of school budget)
    Central services costs: $4,846,355.69 ($2,763.32/ADA or 35 percent of school budget; not including contribution to other programs)

    COLLEGE PARK: Total budget: $13,888,043.58 ($7,549.24/ADA)

    Total unrestricted revenues generated: $9,764,639.60 ($5,261.50/ADA)
    Total deducted for contributions to other programs: $1,442,341.58 or $777.18/ADA
    (nearly 15 percent)

    Unrestricted school budget: $8,322,336.02 ($4,523.84/ADA)
    Direct unrestricted costs: $6,802,279.22 ($3,697.57/ADA)
    Unrestricted central services: $1,520,056.80 ($826.27/ADA)
    Contributions to other programs: $1,442,341.58 ($777.18/ADA)
    Total unrestricted central services/other programs: $2,962,398.38(approx. $1,603.45/ADA)

    Total Restricted: $5,565,707.56 ($3,025.40/ADA)
    Direct restricted: $2,002,205.78 ($1,088.36/ADA)
    Restricted central services: $3,563,501.88 ($1,937.04/ADA)

    Total direct costs: $8,804,484.90($4,785.93/ADA or 64 percent of school budget)
    Total central services costs: $5,083,558.68($2,763.32/ADA or 36 percent of school budget)

    CONCORD: Total budget: $12,133,551.14 ($8,400.82/ADA)

    Total unrestricted revenues generated: $7,402,848.17($5,261.51/ADA)
    Total deducted for contributions to other programs: $1,132,773.06 or $805.10/ADA(about 15 percent)

    Unrestricted school budget: $6,270,075.11 ($4,341.17/ADA)
    Direct unrestricted: $5,076,667.83 ($3,514.89/ADA)
    Unrestricted central services: $1,193,407.38 ($826.27/ADA)
    Contributions to other programs: $1,132,773.06 or $805.10/ADA
    Total unrestricted central services/other programs: $2,326,180.34(approx. $1,631.37/ADA)

    Total Restricted: $5,863,476.03 ($4,059.65/ADA)
    Direct restricted: $3,065,745.73 ($2,122.60/ADA)
    Restricted central services: $2,797,730.30 ($1,937.05/ADA)

    Direct school costs: $8,142,413.56($5,637.50/ADA or 67 percent of school budget)
    Total central services costs: $3,991,137.68($2,763.32/ADA or 33 percent of school budget)

    MT. DIABLO: Total budget: $14,098,055.42 ($10,252.39/ADA)

    Total unrestricted revenues generated: $7,222,799.08($5,261.51/ADA)
    Total deducted for contributions to other programs: $535,889.19 or $390.37/ADA(about 7 percent)

    Unrestricted school budget: $6,686,909.89 ($4,862.85/ADA)
    Direct unrestricted: $5,550,705.32($4,036.58/ADA)
    Unrestricted central services: $1,136,204.50($826.27/ADA)
    Contributions to other programs: $535,889.19 or $390.37/ADA
    Total unrestricted central services/other programs: $1,672,093.69(approx. $1,216.64/ADA)

    Total Restricted: $7,411,145.53($5,389.53/ADA)
    Direct restricted: $4,747,516.76($3,452.48/ADA)
    Restricted central services: $2,663,361.88 ($1,936.85/ADA)

    Direct school costs: $10,298,222($7,489.07/ADA or 73 percent of school budget)
    Central services school costs: $3,799,566.38($2,763.12/ADA or 27 percent of school budget)

    NORTHGATE: Total budget: $11,436,253.68 ($8,043.11/ADA)

    Total unrestricted revenues generated: $7,374,278.14($5,261.51/ADA)
    Total deducted for contributions to other programs: $402,005.87 or $286.82/ADA(about 5 percent)

    Unrestricted school budget: $6,972,272.27($4,903.59/ADA)
    Direct unrestricted: $5,797,423.03($4,077.32/ADA)
    Unrestricted central services: $1,174,849.25($826.27/ADA)
    Contributions to other programs: $402,005.87 or $286.82/ADA
    Total unrestricted central services/other programs: $1,576,855(approx. $1,113.09/ADA)

    Total Restricted: $4,463,981.40($3,139.51/ADA)
    Direct restricted: $1,709,757.10($1,202.47/ADA)
    Restricted central services: $2,754,224.30($1,937.04/ADA)

    Direct school costs: $7,507,180.13($5,279.79/ADA or 66 percent of school budget)
    Central services school costs: $3,929,073.55($2,763.12/ADA or 34 percent of school budget)

    YGNACIO VALLEY: Total budget: $10,221,560.38 ($8,661.39/ADA)

    Total unrestricted revenues generated: $6,141,083.95($5,261.51/ADA)
    Total deducted for contributions to other programs: $234,628.75 or $201.02/ADA(about 4 percent)

    Unrestricted school budget: $5,906,455.20($5,004.92/ADA)
    Direct unrestricted: $4,931,348.59($4,178.64/ADA)
    Unrestricted central services: $975,106.70($826.27/ADA)
    Contributions to other programs: $234,628.75 or $201.02/ADA
    Total unrestricted central services/other programs: $1,209,735.54(approx. $1,027.29/ADA)

    Total Restricted: $4,315,105.18($3,656,47/ADA)
    Direct restricted: $2,029,141.82($1,719.42/ADA)
    Restricted central services: $2,285,963.35($1,937.04/ADA)

    Direct school costs: $6,960,490.31($5,898.07/ADA or 68 percent of school budget)
    Central services school costs: $3,261,070($2,763.12/ADA or 32 percent of school budget)

    The above calculations show that the district is consistent in charging $826.27/ADA for high school unrestricted central services costs and about $1,937.04/ADA in restricted central services costs, for a total of about $2,763.12/ADA going toward central services costs.

    However, there is great inconsistency between high schools related to the amount that the district skims off the top of the unrestricted revenues generated by students at each school for other programs, from a low of $201.02/ADA or 4 percent from Ygnacio Valley to a high of $805.10/ADA or about 15 percent from Concord High.”

    Anon: The CC Times is not arguing that the district should not get additional funding.

  • Doctor J

    @Anon#22 Under the Eberhart/Lawrence political machine, additional funding does NOT trickle down to the classroom and children — but skimmed off for the Big5 and Eberhart’s full family Medical, Dental and Vision, and other Dent “wants”.

  • Anon

    TH#23-Did Lawrence say why high school central service costs would exceed the amount the district should be spending on extra elementary programs like Gregory Gardens and special needs services? Can we compare MDUSD to areas that are split into elementary and high school districts such as Acalanes or Liberty to compare what is spent on central services at the different grade levels? Has MDUSD ever produced a breakdown by school of central service costs like the amount for substitutes at each school?

    There are a lot of issues here that Bonilla & Sacramento should be addressing.

    And Happy Mother’s Day x5!
    :D

  • Theresa Harrington

    Anon: No, he did not really explain why central services costs were so high. Richards said he wanted to better identify costs such as substitutes, to show a more accurate picture of school site expenditures. Now, substitutes are lumped into central services costs. This means the district is likely spending more on each high school than it appears to be, since it doesn’t break out every cost.

    And thanks for the Mother’s Day greeting. Same to you (if you are a mom) and all the other moms out there!

  • Doctor J

    #25 Substitute costs are out of control and excessive — Richards cannot tell you school by school the substitute costs. Nor can he tell you what the substitute costs are for — illness, school trainings, district trainings, etc. But Julie Braun-Martin can. Substitutes were so out of control that MDUSD was leaving classrooms without teachers because all of the substitute requests were not being filled. Even after Lawrence issued his edict that no trainings on Mondays and Fridays, there have been days when 25 or more classes were left “uncovered” because of excessive substitute requests — Asst. Supt. Julie Braun-Martin knows the details for every single day. Julie keeps the numbers close to the vest, but I would guess that at least 25% of the substitute requests are for training and maybe closer to 50%. That is a lot of money “unaccounted” for when experienced and qualified substitutes can cost nearly $175 per day, and less expereienced and qualified about $125 per day. You can look up the substitute schedule if you want. It would be an interesting PRA request to get the daily records for substitutes and the reasons for the substitutes, including subs requested but unfilled. If we eliminated substitutes for “training” we might be able to save $3 or $4 million.

  • Doctor J

    Speaking of substitutes, I have heard that the Meadow Homes principal has been out ill for about 3 weeks, but no Principal substitute was called in and the school has been “run by” the Instructional Program Specialist. Not sure how “kosher” that is, but it has saved a few dollars, and a speedy and healthy return to the Principal is hoped for.

  • Theresa Harrington

    Matt Lovett, a College Park HS parent who spoke before the SBE, sent me an email that included an update he has sent to his school community about the hearing. With his permission, I am posting his update below:

    “On May 9th, the State Board of Education took up Mt. Diablo Unified School District’s charter waiver request. As the law currently stands, Clayton Valley Charter High School, as a conversion charter high school, is now entitled to an additional $1.74 million in revenue limit funding annually, and this money must come directly from the district’s general fund. Spread across the district’s five remaining, regular high schools, that amounts to an average funding reduction of about $340,000 per year for each school, including College Park High School. The waiver, if approved, would shift the burden of paying these funds from the district to the state.

    Superintendent Steven Lawrence, along with his associate general counsel and several parents and staff representing various high schools in MDUSD (including myself and fellow College Park parent Mary Gray) traveled to Sacramento to speak at the hearing. After a wait of over seven hours for the item to come up, the superintendent and counsel presented the district’s case while the rest of us testified as to the financial impact this will have on the remainder of the district, the inherent inequality it creates, and how this outcome was never the intent when the funding formula for conversion charters in unified districts was changed in 2010.

    The board members were, on the whole, both sympathetic and understanding of our position. However, it was the opinion of the SBE staff that the board probably did not have the legal authority to grant the waiver because making such changes to funding allocations was not in the scope of their mandate as a board. Of course, this is painfully ironic since the district argued precisely that to the County Board of Education at last fall’s charter appeal hearing in response to the charter advocates’ (and the board’s own counsel’s) suggestion to obtain a waiver as a solution to the problem (which, of course, the charter advocates were reluctant to admit even existed). The state board also expressed concern that granting the waiver would set a precedent and “open the floodgates” to such waiver requests in the future.

    In the end, the board voted 4-2 to deny the waiver; however, in order to deny a waiver, there must be enough votes as a percentage of their quorum, and they needed five to deny it outright (they did not have all eleven board members present as there are three current openings on their board and some other members were absent). This means that the waiver request is being held over until their next meeting in July.

    The fact that two members were open to granting the waiver is somewhat encouraging. By holding the request over, it allows the district time to marshal arguments as to why the board does in fact have the authority to grant the waiver and why, because MDUSD’s situation is unique, it would not create much of a precedent (very few, if any, other under-funded unified districts created a conversion charter high school since 2010). Whether the district’s effort in July will be successful or not, I don’t know. I do know that the district’s legal team has put in many hours and hard work on this and that the superintendent and his staff deserve thanks from the community for pursuing this on behalf of our kids.”

  • Doctor J

    @Matt, so you are willing to cause a Constitutional crisis because Eberhart/Lawrence have threatened now to cut all the high school fundings across the board [a shift from just punishing the feeder pattern] ? Don’t you realize that CPHS has been underfunded by MDUSD for years ? Please Matt, tell us who bought the lunches and dinners in Sacramento for the Lawrence Six ?

  • Doctor J

    The new Eberhart/Lawrence terror threat: “Spread across the district’s five remaining, regular high schools, that amounts to an average funding reduction of about $340,000 per year for each school, including College Park High School.” Thanks Matt for giving us the missing piece.

  • http://www.k12reboot.com Jim

    Anon #22, nobody “takes pride” in any of this. How could they? I realize that political tactics and rhetoric in this bankrupt state have deteriorated to the point where everyone just wants to “grab what they can, while they can”, but there are important issues here that transcend this waiver.

    I still have a child in MDUSD, and the value of my home is still at risk due to what happens with the schools here, so I care a great deal about this situation. But I believe that there’s a bigger picture, with more at stake. One of the reasons we got to this point was that we too often limp from compromise to compromise without thinking about overall objectives.

    Families in this district desperately need more choices in public education, and I would argue, the district ITSELF needs more examples of successful public schools within its boundaries, to get beyond the excuses that this monopoly always uses (blaming the budget, the students, the families etc.). They say that they are doing the best that anyone can do, and yet they fight, tooth and nail, to keep “anyone” else from trying.

    The fact is that the so-called “loss” at issue here will be used to fight future charter applications, and the budget dishonesty around the waiver will be used again and again, unless it is confronted now. I would certainly like the district to get more money from the state, but not at the cost of transparency, honesty, and the choices that ought to be available to families in this district. I’d like to think that most of us still teach our children that “money isn’t everything”. Besides the fact that the money would probably just go to Dent Center salaries, as Dr. J points out, agreeing to “look the other way” while we cash the check would be a sad Faustian bargain. It just pushes a serious predicament a bit further down the road.

  • Doctor J

    @Jim#22 Spot on. The hypocrisy of Lawrence and Eberhart making this pitch “nearing bankruptcy” just days after THEY assured the BIG5 of Contract extensions with automatic increases and step salary increases, and Eberhart’s “full family Medical, dental and vision” — then Gary gives us the “cock and bull” line that every dollar is important, and only spend on something “we can’t live without”. To add insult to further hypocrisy, Lawrence goads his “Lawrence Six”, including paid employees of the district, one from the CCCOE and parents with the terror threat of if this waiver doesn’t pass, we are going to divide the dollar cost among the “five” remaining high schools. Why don’t they threaten the Dent Center staff next ? Oh I forgot, there are other threats now already working — take away all the buses we just bought, make 5 year olds walk across Treat Blvd during rush hour all by themselves because Eberhart and Lawrence won’t partner with the City of Concord on crossing guards. Its time for the voters to threaten the Board and BIG5: Board cut out ALL of your free medical, dental and vision; Supt: 20% pay cut, Asst. Supts: 15% Pay Cut; Directors: 10% pay cut. Freeze all COLA increases and all Step increases on all administrators — they are on one year contracts so just re-write the contracts. All substitute costs accounted for by school and by reason. Cut out all substitutes for training.

  • Theresa Harrington

    If the district is truly on the verge of bankruptcy, it’s unclear why it has built-in a bonus for all employees this year, which will add to the deficit. According to the district’s logic, should that bonus be equally distributed in the form of cuts to schools?

  • Doctor J

    Theresa, please explain the difference between the “built-in bonus for all employees” this year you describe, and the annual COLA raises, and the periodic step raises.

  • Another Parent

    The bottom line is that The Gary and Sherry and Lawrence were right about the financial impact. And the MDUSD lawyers were right about the impossibility of getting a waiver. The charter proponents and their attorney were wrong.

    No matter how much you hate the MDUSD Board members or the superintendent or any of administrators, admit that they were right. Clayton Valley Charter High School is taking money away from every other student and employee of the District.

    So many of you who post here are so filled with hatred that you can’t admit what is perfectly obvious. It is obvious to the State Board of Education members. It is obvious to the Chief Deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction who testified at the hearing. It is obvious to Susan Bonilla. It is obvious to many parents. Don’t let your hatred blind you to the truth.

    Doctor J, I find it ironic that you post on what you consider wasteful MDUSD spending. I can’t think of anything more wasteful than paying an employee who spends her worktime posting on various blogs instead of doing her job. I agree there must be poor District management somewhere if you are still a District employee. You’d be out the door in a New York minute if you were my employee.

  • http://www.k12reboot.com Jim

    @36 Another Parent, excuse me, but are you reading anything here, or just posting? The “bottom line” is not at all that the board “was right”. The bottom line is that MDUSD short-changes ALL of its high school students with its current funding practices. When Lawrence says “it doesn’t cost much more to educate a high school student” he’s simply saying that MDUSD doesn’t intend to spend more on high schools students. That position flies in the face of what educators all over the country know to be a fact: it DOES cost more to educate high school students, at least if you intend to do it appropriately. The skills required of the teachers, the curriculum tools and materials, the facilities generally — it all costs more. That’s why private high schools in our own area charge more than private elementary schools, and that’s why public districts across the country spend more per student on their high schools. In fact, I have never heard anyone besides Lawrence suggest that it should be otherwise, and he appears to be doing that to justify MDUSD’s existing pattern of short-changing its high school students.

    The CVHS families and teachers were right to leave this district to get the fair share of state funding that MDUSD refused to provide. It will be surprising if more high schools in the district don’t come to the same conclusion.

  • Mother’s Day

    Please everyone, read Jim’s comments. He makes so much sense.

  • Doctor J

    @AP#36, President Mike Kirst called the MDUSD waiver “irresponsible”. Sorry, but none of the MDUSD lawyers ever said that the law prohibited the waiver — only Lawrence ever said he didn’t know they could apply for a waiver. Remember Eberhart has Tomlinson on “speed dial” and he could have asked him to find out. I agree with Jim — CVCHS is just getting what they have deserved the whole time, and what Eberhart and Lawrence have cheated them out of. Lawrence knows. He was Asst. Supt in a High School District in Roseville and every school got its full share of ADA at high school rates, the same rates that CVCHS will get.

  • anon

    Jim #32, There is not a “so called loss”. The loss of almost $2m is very real and every student in the mdusd system will pay that bill. That is not fair and reasonable people who care about all students understand that. Those who use everything, good or bad, as another tool to take a jab at the district have clear motives. All of the bitching here on a blog, but no action from any of you. No speaking out at meetings, no advocating of positive solutions. Just continued rhetoric that is 100% useless to those who are trying to do the work of the district to help all students. And Dr. J is the worst, actually taking an mdusd paycheck and money right out of student programs while spending the day blogging. That to me is the worst offense that I see here. I’ve seen a number of people make that accusation and Dr. J has never addressed it, so using her/his rationale, he/she is a district employee because he/she hasn’t proved that he/she isn’t. Shame on you.

  • School Teacher

    @AP#36, and @Anon#40

    I understand the district’s pitch about the “loss” they are declaring. It sounds logical enough. But, I have not heard from them EVER, about any savings they will get from not having to run CVHS any longer. Plus, CVCHS will have to pay rent for the facilities. Have they mentioned how much they will get from that? And, they have never copped to the fact that they have been underfunding ALL the high schools in the district. So this “loss” they are declaring could also be interpreted as them having skimmed money from the schools for their own purposes, and now it needs to go where it was supposed be all along. And, if you go back and look at how they have handled all budget crises in the recent years, their cuts have been on the backs of people at the site level (classified and certificated staff), and not on the administrative level. So all of you “district supporters”, I hope your criticisms of the anti-district bloggers don’t mean you think the district is doing just fine as it is, and shouldn’t be attacked. They have built up plenty of animosity with the public and district employees because of their own actions, and there has been no indication that it won’t keep right on moving ahead.

  • g

    anon; Let me try to explain this as I see it, and it really is pretty easy. We are not talking about all of the ‘special’ funds that the district takes in for Title this or Title that or Grants for this or that or busing, spec-ed or whatever, although we could get into how they waste, hoard, use and misuse those funds as well.

    We are talking about the basic apportionment from the State. I will do some fuzzy math, and round numbers to make it easier, but the end result is accurate.

    The state says our basic high school needs (and is apportioned) about $6,100 for each high school student. Then, the state says a middle school needs about $4000.00 per student, and primary students need about $3500. So, they count heads, they do their own fuzzy math and end up sending the district their “average” of $5300.00 per head. We know they “short’ us all around but “that’s the breaks”.

    The problem everyone is trying to point out here, and a major reason for CV pulling out is that the District does not give the high schools, middle schools or primary schools their fair allotment. They give the high schools far less, some far-far less, than the fair high school rate. None of the other schools want to give up the “extra” that they have been getting off the backs of those high schools. We understand that.

    The current law says, “too bad you’ve been shorting the high schools all this time, but now you have to give CV what you should have been giving them all along”. This is NOT “extra” money being robbed from the other kids. Each high school should be getting that amount NOW. Unfortunately, the middle and especially the grammar schools should have been getting less all along.

    If the district were being well run, it would: (A) Rework their personal agendas, HIRE AND SPEND WITHIN THEIR MEANS, and expend the funds the way the State intends they should; (B) Well, there is only (A).

  • Theresa Harrington

    The governor’s May revise includes more information about education funding: http://www.dof.ca.gov/documents/2012-13_May_Revision.pdf
    Page 38 says: “Add grade span adjustments: Base grants, and concentration grants are revised to provide grade span differentials to reflect the cost of educating students in grades K-3, 4-6, 7-8 and 9-12 respectively.”
    The summary does not elaborate on why the state appears to believe it costs more to educate students at some grade levels than others.

  • Doctor J

    Theresa, that’s big news ! Wait until both the MDUSD high schools and middle schools realize they are supposed to be getting more money than the elementary schools ! As I posted some time ago, his whole funding revolution proposal comes from an article co-authored by current State Education Board President Michael Kirst a few years ago. Can’t wait to watch Lawrence try and tell Kirst something about funding. I can envision it now — Lawrence twists and turns the funding mechanism, and argues with Kirst. Kirst smiles and says: Dr Lawrence, sorry but you are wrong — I wrote it. And the best part is that it will be on line — we won’t need a new parody.

  • Theresa Harrington

    Trustee Cheryl Hansen wants to create clearer goals and objectives for the superintendent.
    She would like the superintendent to communicate the budget to employees and the public in a user-friendly way that is comprehensible, unbiased, and accurate.
    Do you think the district is currently doing that?

  • Theresa Harrington

    Just found out about this opportunity:

    “Luncheon with Superintendent Dr. Steve Lawrence
    Date: May 15, 2012 Time: 11:30 AM – 1:00 PM Register Online
    Event Description
    Learn about all the wonderful programs and academies in Mt. Diablo Unified School District’s high schools as the schools prepare the students to be the workforce of tomorrow. Visit with students firsthand and hear about their accomplishments.
    $25.00 per person
    Reservations required”
    http://bit.ly/JctmWO

  • Doctor J

    @TH#46 Hopefully it will be mostly students speaking. @TH#45 It would be nice if the Board actually followed the Supt’s contract language for “evaluations” which seem to have become thinly veiled smokescreens for Brown Act communication violations as a result of the multiplicity of alleged “evaluations”. The Board just completed one and gave him a contract extension — now it gets another.

  • Theresa Harrington

    Tom Barnidge column gives kudos to local ROP programs and students, including Dana Lund, of Concord High, who said: “When I started the biotech program, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. Through the year and my wonderful teacher Dr. (Ernie) Liu, I learned what I want for my career.”
    http://bit.ly/KnXais

  • Mdusd Employee

    Did anyone hear what the superintendent’s evaluation was? It wasn’t announced anywhere that I know of. I thought the board has to make it public.

  • Theresa Harrington

    I don’t believe it has to be public. However, Hansen would like it to be more public than it is now. She would like him to deliver a written and verbal “State of the District” report to the general public based on his goals and action plans.
    Former Superintendent Gary McHenry used to deliver a State of the District report to the staff leadership conference (which may be eliminated due to furlough days) and to the Concord Chamber of Commerce.
    Interim Superintendent Dick Nicoll also prepared a written district annual report. But, I don’t think Superintendent Steven Lawrence has prepared anything similar.
    Most Mayors or City Managers also deliver annual State of the City addresses.