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Second time a charm for MDUSD charter waiver?

By Theresa Harrington
Tuesday, July 17th, 2012 at 6:38 pm in Clayton Valley Charter High, Education, Mt. Diablo school district.

Once again, several representatives of the Mt. Diablo school district plan to trek up to Sacramento tomorrow, hoping to persuade the state Board of Education to approve their request to waive the financial impact of Clayton Valley Charter High on the district.

“I am going to the SBE meeting tomorrow and plan on addressing the SBE,” Superintendent Steven Lawrence wrote in an email. “It is important to the district because of the drastic cuts the state has made to our budget and the limited amount of funding provide(d) to educate the children of California. Any further loss of funds will negatively impact the educational opportunities for students in the district.”

District board President Sherry Whitmarsh said she doesn’t intend to go to the meeting because she believes the state board would be more likely to listen to parents than to district officials. Several district parents will attend, she said.

If the board denies the waiver, the district will have to shell out about $1.7 million more to the charter than it will receive from the state for the charter’s students. This is because the high school rate of funding is about $978 more per student than the unified school district rate.

The state Department of Education recommends denying the waiver because it would increase state costs and could set a precedent that would lead other districts to seek waivers. In addition, the board may not have the authority to grant the waiver, since school funding is granted by the Legislature.

Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, D-Concord, has proposed AB 1811 to try to help remedy the financial impact of charter conversion high schools on unified school districts.

But in looking more closely at her amended bill, which is in the Senate, it appears it would not apply to Clayton Valley Charter High.

Subdivision B of her proposed bill states:

“This subdivision shall not apply to a charter school that is
established through the conversion of an existing public high school
within a unified school district on or after January 1, 2010, but on
or before December 31, 2012, which instead shall receive
general-purpose funding pursuant to Section 47633. This paragraph
does not preclude a charter school or unified school district from
agreeing to an alternative funding formula, including the formula
specified in Section 47633.”

Section 47633 is the existing law, which would require the district to pay the charter high school rate. So, it appears that the bill is intended to remedy any future disparities that could arise if more high schools convert to charters in unified districts.

Here is the link to the state Department of Education agenda:

The district’s waiver request is Item W-25.

You can watch the action unfold online at:

Do you think the state Board of Education should approve the district’s waiver request?

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

100 Responses to “Second time a charm for MDUSD charter waiver?”

  1. g Says:

    Remind us again how much of that $40million or so reserve was it that they kept under the mattress until the last minute. How much of that reserve was ‘given away’ in bonuses to managers, and employee ‘refunds’; and how about adding or “renaming” several existing positions for the sole purpose of increasing the pay grade.

    Explain to me how much of that $40million came off the backs of families from schools that closed because the district was broke–and they had to close schools “immediately.” Families from the poorer neighborhoods that now have to spend more than they have on transportation and baby-sitters while looking out their windows at their shuttered award-winning neighborhood school.

    Ask me if this district needs another “break”. How are they doing on the break they got for CIG, or for QEIA, or…!

  2. Doctor J Says:

    I posted this earlier this morning, but some may have missed it. I will edit it so its not moderated ~

    The State Board of Education is soliciting public comments on its agenda items. Last night I received an email which included: “Members of the public wishing to send written comments about an agenda item to the board are encouraged to send an electronic copy to, with the item number clearly marked in the subject line.
    In order to ensure that comments are received by board members in advance of the meeting, materials must be received by 12:00 p.m. on the Monday before the meeting.
    Carol K. Gorman
    Executive Assistant to Susan K. Burr
    California State Board of Education
    (916) 319-0705″
    The meeting is tomorrow, but any comments would probably be reviewed if received before noon.

  3. Doctor J Says:

    Don’t forget the Steven Lawrence Six who performed before the State BOE on May 9 — must have cost the district more pencils for children to pay their way to Sacramento and feed them all day. Remember Matt Lovett’s, a College Park High parent, rendition of the 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.” 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 ? Watch the Steven Lawrence Six perform before the State Board of Education ! Note when State Board President Michael Kirst calls it “irresponsible”. The best part is a couple of speakers before Lawrence where you can see the twitch in his leg as he awaits his turn to speak.

  4. Mom to you Says:

    It would be nice if the state BOE approved the waiver, but they won’t. Based on what they said the last time, it’s clear that they realize how unfair the current law is to MDUSD and its students and they are very sympathetic to MDUSD’s plight. But they also realize they don’t have the authority to make things right. It’s up to the Legislature to change the law to lessen the impact on unified districts.

    When the Clayton Valley teachers started the conversion process they were very upfront about the fact that they were doing it because they could get more money that way. Converting to a charter should NEVER be about getting a larger share of the district’s money for yourself. It should be about having new and innovative ideas about how to provide a better education for our children. That’s the purpose of a charter school. Unfortunately, as the law stands now, there will be more charter conversions like Clayton Valley, where the driver is money, not education.

    G, CVCHS is using its additional money to do exactly the same things MDUSD does. They’re changing people’s titles, then giving them raises. The teachers are creating work for themselves, then paying themselves extra to do it. They’re promoting themselves into administrative positions. As the saying goes, “Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

  5. anon Says:

    At Mom To You,
    I was not in on the initial discussions to convert to a charter school, so I do not know if what you say is true. I do know that the many changes in store for the CVCHS that I have heard about, I like.
    Having watched the video from the previous state board hearing, I am really bothered about the woman from YVHS blasting “those kids” from the CVCHS for being greedy and selfish, stating that they already live in the wealthiest part of MDUSD. So not true! We are underwater on our house, barely making it from paycheck to paycheck. From what I have read, lower income area schools seem to have so much additional Title 1 funding, QEIA funding, etc., that they either don’t know what to do with it, or don’t bother with the paperwork to continue getting the funding.
    The reality is that the board will not approve this waiver, as it is beyond their scope of duties and abilities.
    Every school has a different overhead. Teachers are paid according to education and experience, as are admins. Would you be happy if every school were given the exact same amount? Would schools with a higher paid staff have to work with less supplies, as there won’t be enough in their “budget” to cover them?
    The Charter is a reality, and I expect great things from them.

  6. Anon Says:

    On a related note-tonight the county board considers whether to eliminate its board representatives to charter schools.

  7. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Thanks for noting that Anon. In addition, the county board expects to get a report about board benefits, after one trustee requested that due to some questions raised on June 20 about the cost of benefits.
    MDUSD, on the other hand, is not publicly discussing its response to the grand jury regarding benefits, which is due by Sunday.

    g: It is true that the district will not need to immediately cut $1.7 million, since it has built up reserves. It may not need to make the cuts until 2014-15, which is when it will have exhausted its reserve fund. It is also somewhat ironic that the board agreed to give a 3 percent bonus to all employees last month that cost about $5.7 million. So, it would appear that it is not as cash-strapped as it claims.

  8. Doctor J Says:

    @Momtoyou; you may not have been following the California school budget saga closely, but the state funding of school districts is changing from the current mode to a flat amount per student, with increases for percentages of English learners and socio-economic status which is being phased in over a multi-year period. This will have a much more dramatic impact on funding of school districts than the charter anomoly which according to the CDE report cuts both ways with school districts. MDUSD chose to fund its elementary schools at higher rates than if it was an elementary only district; and chose to fund its high schools at lower rates than if it had been a secondary district only. It was a choice — Board members for years had been making that choice.

  9. Anon Says:

    The county board also will consider changing the form of their minutes-which is a shame because their minutes are delightfully comprehensive and their clerk doesn’t look too exhausted

  10. Doctor J Says:

    Today you will hear and see Steven Lawrence crying “poor mouth” to the State Board of Education after giving himself and every administrator and every employee a 3% bonus, which is more than THREE times the amount of the CVCHS anomoly. This is after concealing a $40 million surplus for three years.

  11. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Anon: I was also sorry to see that they will consider streamlining their minutes, which are more comprehensive than any I have ever seen. Since the county board doesn’t regularly post its entire agenda packet, it’s helpful to have such comprehensive minutes. It would be helpful, however, if the blocks of text were broken into paragraphs to make the minutes easier to read.

    Dr. J: Yes, the bonuses last month definitely raise questions about whether the charter’s financial impact is as dire as the district claims. It especially calls into question the waiver’s suggestion that some say the CVCHS feeder pattern schools should take the hit instead of schools in the rest of the district. Obviously, the district had an extra $5.7 million for the bonuses, so there should be no reason to cut funds to CVCHS pattern schools.
    Regarding the surplus, it was not specifically concealed. It was always in the budget. But, most people don’t scrutinize the budget, so they weren’t aware of it. The thing that has consistently upset classified employees is that they took cuts in hours and benefits to build up those reserves.
    Some of the problems in special education now are a direct result of those cuts — specifically the reduction in hours and benefits of special education assistants. These cuts are now resulting in the district having a difficult time recruiting and retaining special ed. assistants, which is affecting the quality of education received by special education students.
    I have heard of some parents who have requested NPS placements because the district wasn’t providing adequate instruction. Those NPS placements could end up costing the district more than it would have paid to provide the assistants in the first place.

  12. Doctor J Says:

    @TH#11 — Typical Eberhart myoptic budgeting — cut the help, and give raises to the bosses — instead of taking the a broader view. Have you ever received any of the preliminary or full FCMAT reports ?

  13. Theresa Harrington Says:

    No, I haven’t gotten the FCMAT reports yet.

  14. Doctor J Says:

    I guess the maximum ten days is up on the PRA requests for the FCMAT reports — will the Times enforce their rights ?

  15. g Says:

    Mom To You: Let’s look at it another way. The funds that CVCHS has are not “extra”. They are simply “what they have”. They can distribute as they wish.

    Other schools (supposedly) get some equitably disbursed funds. The questions are, do they spend them–wisely? How do they account for those funds. Perhaps you should question your Site Council or PTSA.

    Today’s example: Supposedly, out of Measure A (Mello Roos), there is $800,000.00 available annually. Per a recent Q&A the district said Meas.’A’ money is distributed to each school based on the number of students at the school. Unfortunately, it doesn’t say if it includes Adult or NPS, so my figures are just for an assumption of k-12. If we use 33,000 students, that means about $24.00 per student at each school; if you have 1000 students, your school gets $24,000.00 to spend.

    In the entire fiscal year through May 31, 2012, only $228,933.70 has been spent out of the supposed $800,000.00—are the schools getting all of those funds? Why isn’t that money being spent, instead of using General Fund, or Measure C for individual school wish-lists for new or extra camera’s computers, printers, projectors etc?

    Are unspent ‘A’ monies being co-mingled at the end of the year by the district, and used for purposes other than what is allowed? I suggest you ask around at your school and find out!

  16. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I didn’t actually do a PRA for them, but have sent an email to the superintendent asking for them.

  17. Theresa Harrington Says:

    g: The money CVCHS will be getting will be “extra” in the sense that it is money that it has not been getting in the past. In part because of this, the charter can afford to hire two counselors, offer a mandatory freshman summer transition program and hire a Dean of Students, who will oversee discipline. The charter is also offering online learning opportunities to students during the summer.

    Although MDUSD fought the charter and some claimed it did not appear to be “innovative,” it will be interesting to see if anyone in the district will watch what the charter does to see if any of the new programs or staff members it decides to fund might be worth implementing at other schools. Charter supporters argued that their efforts could be viewed as pilots for new ideas. They also said they would be willing to share these with the district as a way to collaboratively try to improve all schools. But, since the district denied the charter and is now overseen by the county, it’s unclear whether any such collaboration will actually occur.

  18. g Says:

    Yes, I agree. With more equitable allocations based on formulas built by people that, I would hope, are smarter than what we have here, the high schools would have been getting more all along.

    If I am correct about Measure ‘A’, that is a perfect example. Tons of money come from the General fund for equipment that could be charged from ‘A’, freeing up general funds for counselors, summer advanced learning programs, online courses, etc.

    Frankly, I don’t believe those funds are being strictly allocated to the schools, and spent directly by the schools, as was stated in:

    It would be interesting to hear directly from schools about that. Several schools spend a smallish amount; I see that Foothill spent what I would call their full allotment, and College Park spent $25K on projection equipment in May. That is great.

    But I also see the Maintenance Department spending $1,000. from Measure ‘A’ for payment to the Labor Relations Board??? How does that fall under Facilities maintenance and equipment? Maybe it was just a keystroke error that they will fix with a funds transfer.

    Then going off course—Measure C was charged for over $6,000.00 for Trash Can Liners at YVHS? Measure C?

    And speaking of YVHS and the Field Lights that are going ‘back to the drawing board’ as Sherry indicated–Prop 55 has already paid more than a ton of money on that boondoggle! I haven’t added it up yet, but it’s well over $100K so far. Hopefully all of that isn’t just ‘down the drain’.

  19. Theresa Harrington Says:

    State Board denied waiver but Trustee Williams asked district officials not to be at odds with charter and to work together for all the kids in the district.

  20. Mom to you Says:

    Theresa, I was sad to see your comment that the county BOE will be removing its representatives from charter boards over concerns about legal liability. I hope state officials or whomever has the authority can find a way to fix this. In theory, the representative of the county BOE ought to bring valuable administrative experience to the table, make sure the school is on track to meet its obligations as laid out in its charter, as well as provide a vote that has no interest other than doing what is best for the students. The boards of conversion charters such as CVCHS tend to be dominated by employee interests while other charters, such as the Flex Academies, are dominated by the corporate interests that make money off the school. Or course finding a representative by asking for a members of the public to apply for the position wasn’t the best way to get a good appointee, but at least it was something. Is there any chance this will be remedies?

  21. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Mom to you: The minutes of the June 20 meeting shed some light on this in the discussion of the Making Waves Charter:

    Apparently, the county sought the advice of an attorney regarding the appointment of voting and non-voting members to the board of directors of charter schools and the County Superintendent recommended that the County Board not appoint a board member to the Making Waves’ board of directors. The minutes note: “…however, the County Board may appoint a member of the public at large who would attend Making Waves’ board meetings, take notes, and make reports to the County Board.”

    So, perhaps someone will still attend the CVCHS meetings and report back to the County Board. Only one person applied for the CVCHS rep position.

  22. Theresa Harrington Says:

    To those anxiously awaiting STAR and API results, there has been a delay due to a security breach at 12 CA schools:

  23. Flippin' Tired Says:

    So the state wants MDUSD to work with the charter? How about the charter not taking money from district students? How about the charter instigators work for all the students and not just their chosen well-heeled brats? I said the charter would take money, and I was right. Next, watch them recruit athletic students for their teams, and start dumping special ed and misbehaving students. They already stole the football coach from YV High, just the start of their low-down and dirty tactics. I know the gang that started this heist swear up and down they did it For The Children, and we can see already that they did it For The Money.

  24. Anon Says:

    Is every Mdusd school given similar funding by the district? Do all schools get extra funding such as title 1, etc? The fact is no two schools in this district receive the same funds. This district chooses to underfund high schools. I’m tired of hearing how much cvchs is taking from other students. Im tired of fundraising just so my kids can have one smartboard at their site while other sites have them in every classroom. How is that fair? Cvchs is taking what the state intended to fund high schools at, so glad were almost done with Mdusd schools.

  25. Doctor J Says:

    Theresa, please give us the blow by blow of the SBE hearing today, and what would prompt Vice-President Trish Williams to say that ?

  26. Theresa Harrington Says:

    It was in response to Walnut Creek Mayor Pro Tem Kish Rajan, who talked about how divisive the money issue has been in the community. I’m writing my story now, which should be posted online soon.

  27. Anon Says:

    correction-the divisiveness is one sided-from small minded people who don’t care about a district that is failing the kids and don’t want anyone to do anything to improve.

  28. Doctor J Says:

    Divisiveness was created by Lawrence and Eberhart who exploited the money issue and threatened to punish other schools: the 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.”

  29. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Here’s my story:

  30. anon Says:

    Dr. J, or anyone else who may know,
    Is there a way to figure out the real average “income” per student at the various high schools?
    With so much argument over the “wealthier” families at CVCHS getting “more” than the other area high schools, I would love to see a real cost analysis.
    I would love to see all the ADA, Title 1, QEIA, and every other source of income, including free lunch, busing, parent reimbursements for driving students to and from (non-home)school, and any other cost associated with said school, all added up, and divided amongst the students from each school to see the real amount.
    Theresa, in your article, Jane Shameih states that “no one intended for one group to take money away from another group”, but this happens all the time! Where did elementary music go? Money went somewhere else. Where did athletics money go? Somewhere else? Where did GATE funding go? Yes, somewhere else?
    Right now I am pretty pissed that so much of it went to raises and bonuses.

  31. Doctor J Says:

    Who paid for Dr. Shameih to attend yesterdays meeting ? Why would she attend if she was “neutral” ?

  32. Anon Says:

    Flippen. You are a bully! Well heeled brats really?? You are actually going to bring the kids into this? How dare you! You are worth nothing. Your words are doing so much damage
    I urge you to leave the kids out of it. This issue is between adults not kids. You are creating a dangerous damaging way of life.
    CVCHS didn’t take the YV coach. It was the coach who made the decision to go. Clayton valley can’t force anyone to make that move. By the way they also can’t recruit athletes. This is not a private school.

  33. Doctor J Says:

    @Flippin How do you explain ALL the boy’s basketball coaches at Northgate quitting in unison ? I have brought this up several times, and no one is willing to tell the truth.

  34. Mom to you Says:

    Theresa, thank you for writing the followup article about the state Board of Education’s denial of the waiver. I know that when the Clayton Valley teachers started the process to convert to a charter, they had no idea that the additional money they would receive would come out of MDUSD’s budget. They thought the additional money would come from the state. To the teachers’ discredit, when the district publicly pointed out that the money would come from MDUSD’s budget, the teachers choose to accuse the district of lying about the finances. I think it is clear for all to see that the district was telling the truth.

    I don’t know if it’s still available online, but for many months the Clayton Valley teachers had posted online the original presentation that the teachers leading the charter effort had prepared to convince the rest of the CV teachers to sign on to the effort. It’s the same presentation that they used in their first meeting with the public. In that presentation, they made it very clear that their primary motivation for the conversion was to get more money for Clayton Valley HS. They had a slide where they stated that they wouldn’t have to take any more pay cuts due to furlough days or have their benefits cut if they converted to a charter. It clearly laid out that MDUSD received less than the state average for unified districts and that MDUSD teachers were paid less than the state average. It then explained how much more CVHS would get in funding if it converted to a charter. In the teachers’ initial draft of the charter documents, they stated that they intended to eventually be paid more than MDUSD teachers. I think someone had enough sense to remove that line from later versions, but it was there to start with and reflects their true motivations and intentions.

    I went back and reread your earlier reporting on the bonuses, Theresa. From the comments here I was under the impression that the board just up and decided to award their administrators big bonuses while the rest of the employees were left to suffer. But that’s NOT the case. The bonuses were actually negotiated as part of the new contract with the teachers union. The teachers were repaid for three furlough days last year in exchange for agreeing to take up to nine furlough days if the governor’s tax plan fails at the polls. It was clearly not a case of the board saying “We’ve got lots of money. Lets throw some at the employees.” It was part of a hard fought union contract negotiation.

    Considering the fact that pay/benefits issues were a huge part of why the CV teachers choose to convert to a charter and how much of a financial hit to the district the charter conversion is, I can see that the MDUSD Board was between and rock and a hard place. They must balance their budget in the face of declining revenue from the state. Employees costs make up the bulk of their budget. Yet if they push the teachers too hard financially, the high school teachers can convert their schools to charters and get a bigger piece of the pie for themselves at the expense of the rest of the district employees and students. There’s nothing anyone can do to stop them from making the money grab as the law is currently written. It’s unfair and it’s wrong, but, as the state Board of Education pointed out, thats the way the law is written and it’s up to the legislature to fix it.

  35. Anon Says:

    MTY-no, not so clear for all to see. Mdusd never gave an accurate accounting, and FCMAT was ill informed. What is clear for all to see, because Lawrence told us, is two-fold: 1. mdusd underfunds the high schools and 2. mdusd charged some high schools more for central services. What is clear for all to see is the difference should come from central services and not from the other high schools. What is clear for all to see is the dent center has less schools and less students, requiring dent center cuts.

  36. anon Says:

    Any candidates declare yet for the board?

  37. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Here’s Lawrence’s response to my request for the FCMAT reports, in which I asked for the reports that it was my understanding the board had received:

    “That’s interesting because I have not received a draft or final report from FCMAT,” he wrote in an email. “I will have to check with Board members to determine where the reports they have received came from because to my knowledge no one at the district has received copies of the draft or final reports.”

    I responded that Carolyn Patton told the board on June 25 that the district had already seen the preliminary results and that the board has received a letter from herself and Greg Rolen explaining three components of the recommendations. That is what I have requested.

  38. MDUSD Board Watcher Says:

    Anon @36,

    We stand ready to launch our ANTI Gary and Sherry campaign as soon as they declare. We will be doing massive media buys. Signage the scale of which has never been seen in an MDUSD board race. Whole page ads in the CCTimes, just to name a few.

  39. Doctor J Says:

    @Momtoyou, The Administrators, including the BIG5, did not “negotiate” their bonuses — MDEA negotiated the bonuses with Lawrence and his team, and then because of a secret agreement with DMA [Diablo Managagers Association] every administrator at Dent, including Lawrence and his team, gets the “same” bonus they just “negotiated” with MDEA. You can see there is no real incentive to “negotiate” hard as you suggest since the bigger the bonus or raise to the teachers, the bigger the raise or bonus to the negotiators. As for the Charter funding issue, you are correct, your, and mine, elected represenatives wrote the law, and PURPOSEFULLY chose the current state of the law, which as the CDE staff points out, cuts almost equally, favoring 13 districts, and cutting against 14 districts. The CDE said: “The loss (or gain) in school district apportionment as a result of this law is not an unintended consequence.” Mom, under your suggestion, MDUSD could convert ALL of its high schools to charters controlled by the District, and receive higher funding than the USD rate — which is something the Legislature purposefully sought to prevent. The CDE further explained: “Pursuant to EC Section 47660, conversion charter schools that are sponsored by unified school districts (USDs) are funded in a manner different than most other charter schools. The purpose of this provision of law is to prevent USDs from converting their district schools to charters and receiving additional funding at an increased cost to the state. While these conversion charter schools receive the same block grant funding from the state as new start-up charter schools, the sponsoring USD’s funding is adjusted either up or down due to the conversion charter. This adjustment does not occur for start-up charter schools or conversion charter schools that are sponsored by elementary or high school districts.” It only occurs to prevent USD’s from exploiting the system and the Legislature purposefully prevented it.
    So my suggestion to you is to read the CDE staff report carefully and understand its implications.
    The Dent salaries are so bloated compared to the teacher salaries, and the Dent administrators are so happy when the teachers get a bonus or raise — so do they, but in MUCH GREATER proportion. Is it any wonder they don’t negotiate too hard against the union ? Talk about a conflict of interest. The GAP between Dent and the teachers gets larger, not smaller.

  40. Mom to you Says:

    Theresa, I’ve heard that CVCHS is going to withdraw completely from the United Mt. Diablo Athletic Foundation and that they are going to take back their portion of funds already raised. Is that true?

    I thought Pat Middendorf was the driving force behind UMDAF. What is its future now that Middendorf and CV will not long be involved in it? What’s the status of sports funding in MDUSD?

  41. Doctor J Says:

    I heard that Dent Center is bulging at the seams despite their whole cloth claims of “shrinking” — half of the ever expanding SASS — more like the mythical Hydra — is moving out to WCC. Is the district down to 32,000 students yet ? What number will trigger the larger percentage of reserves required ?

  42. Doctor J Says:

    @TH #37 ROFLMAO. Lawrence really should listen more carefully during Board meetings. :-) BTW, I wonder if Lawrence bought lunch and dinner again for his entourage after getting waxed by VP Trish Williams ? She saw right through the BS — “its a choice for district” on how to treat the Charter.

  43. Doctor J Says:

    MTY is sounding sooooo very much like Sue Brothers. I am going to have to send her confirmed writing styles and these posts to the “profiler” SSA Aaron Hochner.

  44. g Says:

    Dr J@42: I believe all USPS mail specifically addressed to the board is first received and then disseminated “through the clerk of the board.” For Lawrence to tell Theresa that he has not seen it would indicate it was probably presented in person or mailed directly to Rolen–especially if FCMATs Ms Patten speaks of a letter being written by him.

    Did Rolen lie to Carolyn Patten? Is he covering up the report?

  45. Mom to you Says:

    Doctor J, I understand why the state wrote the law the way they did. They wanted to encourage charter school formation, but they didn’t want to shell out more money when a school converted to a charter. So they made the district pay up instead. It’s good for the state’s budget, but it’s bad for MDUSD’s budget. I also understand why the state BOE denied the waiver request. They didn’t have the legal authority to approve it. The law is what the law is, and if it’s to be changed, the legislature has to do it.

    I think it’s also important to point out that MDUSD is funded at less than the state average for unified districts. But my understanding is that the law requires that the charter be funded at a set rate that is the average of the high school funding rates. So MDUSD gets funded at a below average unified rate, but must shell out to CVCHS based on the average high school rate. Once again, unfair.

    It’s also important to note that most high school conversions have taken place in the LA school district, which has over half a million students. When an individual school converts, the financial impact on the district is much less per student than when a high school converts in a 30,000 student district. Again, it’s unfair, but that’s the way it is.

    So we’re left with the situation where group of teachers can decide to convert a school to a charter and take with them a larger portion of the district’s funding pie. The rest of the parents and employees in the district cannot stop them. The elected school board cannot stop them. It’s not fair, but that’s the way the law is written. I hope Bonilla’s bill passes so the impact on the rest of the district can be taken into consideration when deciding whether to approve a charter. That’s the right thing to do. We should be looking at what’s best for ALL of the district when making such decisions. Right now, what’s best for the district and its students as a whole cannot be taken into consideration. That’s wrong.

  46. Doctor J Says:

    @G#42 Time for your Abe Lincoln quote again. Keep it on a shortcut key. :-0 Rolen wears two hats and speaks out of both sides of his mouth under both identities. As Director of Transportation, he reports to Lawrence — as “General Counsel to the Board of Education” he reports directly to the Board, and not to Lawrence. Clearly a conflict of interest.

  47. Mom to you Says:

    Typical, Dr. J. If someone disagrees with you, accuse them of being Sue Brothers or The Gary or Laurence. No, I am not Sue Brothers. As hard as it is for you to believe, there are many of us who disagree with you.

  48. g Says:

    “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” ~ Abraham Lincoln

  49. Doctor J Says:

    @MTY, while you are pointing out what is “unfair” — don’t forget that underfunding the district’s high schools while overfunding the elementary schools is also unfair which is the whole purpose of the unified rate — and please remember the reasons that MDUSD is funded at a “unified rate” that is “below average” for the state — which districts are funded at a “unfied rate” that is “above average” and why ? “Parent trigger” and “teacher trigger” charter conversions are also a creation of the Legislature — are they unfair when parents and teachers feel they are being governed unfairly ? Remember, “When in the course of human events . . . ” Independence is what this country was founded upon. While you are at it, take a look a how MDUSD has been on serious declining enrollment for TEN YEARS and ask yourself, why should we keep paying the BIG5 and Dent administrators as if they were governing 50,000 students instead of 32,000 ?

  50. Doctor J Says:

    @MTY, so do you believe that the BIG5, including Lawrence, and every other Dent administrator, and site administrator, including those who retired, deserved a 3% bonus that was not negotiated individually ? Or should it have been negotiated out individually based on performance and accomplishment, and approved name by name by the Board ?

  51. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Here’s the video in which Carolyn Patton talks about the preliminary FCMAT findings which the district has received:
    At 1:20 she says: “We’ve already seen preliminary findings….”
    At 1:50, she says: “As I think you have all seen, the FCMAT study identified….”
    At 2:35, she talks about the letter from herself and Greg Rolen that outlines three components of the FCMAT recommendations.

  52. Mom to you Says:

    Doctor J, saying that elementary schools are getting too much money is one of the stupidest arguments to have come from the charter supporters. I have never, in all my time, as a MDUSD parent and taxpayer, heard anyone argue that elementary schools were getting more money than they should have. It’s a ridiculous argument and I haven’t heard one single charter supporter come up with examples of how elementary education in their feeder schools should be cut to provide more money for their charter high school. Not one.

    As far as raises go, I would like to see every district employee given raises and promotions based solely on performance. Every secretary, every janitor, every teacher, every administrator. Period. But school district employees are heavily unionized and they have chosen to have salaries set by group contract rather than individual performance. So be it. Perhaps that same attitude carries over to the top. It doesn’t alter the basic facts of the financial impact of the charter school. Teachers at Clayton Valley High School found a way to get a larger piece of the pie for themselves at the expense of everyone else.

    As to why MDUSD gets less than the average unified rate, well, that goes back into ancient history, doesn’t it? As I recall, schools used to be funded by local property taxes, not the state. But a lawsuit was filed – back in the 1970’s I think – arguing that it wasn’t fair that students who lived in areas with high property values had a lot more funding for schools than students who lived in areas with low property values. As a result of the lawsuit, property taxes were sent to the state, who would then send them back to local school districts based on some convoluted formula that would fairly distribute the money. But of course it wouldn’t be fair to the wealthy districts to immediately reduce their funding, so equalization of funding was to be done gradually. But along came Prop. 13 and it changed everything. So funding was never equalized and MDUSD gets the short end of the stick. That’s the abbreviated version, from memory, but I think I have it more or less correct. And lets not forget that there’s some other piece of the school funding puzzle that allows wealthy areas to keep their “excess” (I think that’s what it’s called) property tax payments to the state and use them for their schools on top of what the funding formula gives them. So some districts have a lot more money than MDUSD, more than the funding formula provides for. It’s unfair and it’s not the fault of the MDUSD board or the superintendent. It’s just the way it is until the legislature decides to change it.

  53. Doctor J Says:

    @MTY#52 – Its reality: Look at the ADA amounts for pure “high school” districts [higher ADA] v. elementary districts [lower ADA] — the underlying philosophy being that it is more expensive to educate high schoolers than elementary children. Indeed, in MDUSD, except for the Title 1 schools and some other exceptions, an elementary principal is solo at the school without a vice-principal, sometimes with over 700 children. Yet high schools and middle schools have a plethora of vice principals and other administrators. The Unified ADA amounts are a blend of the two and thus fall in between. Yet in MDUSD, the balance between the two was allowed to turn upside down so that a larger percentage of the ADA is spent on elementary than on high schools, turning the funding model on its head. Lawrence has admitted this but without Board sanctification is powerless to change it. The “below average” Unified ADA for MDUSD is complicated, but what every district deals with, some being above average but the ADA is NOT based on wealthy districts getting more. All of this is going to change with the current budget revamping the whole ADA concept and calculation under a model proposed by Dr. Mike Kirst, SBE President, and a current California Supreme Court justice, with some modifications, that sets a base amount for every student regardless of age. MDUSD will not fare nearly as well as WCCUSD who will be rewarded for its high EL population and high disadvantaged socio-economic population. This was previously discussed on these blogs a couple of months ago and there were projections published. Of course there will be tinkering by the legislature. Ultimately MDUSD will suffer because it burned its bridges with the taxpayers for a parcel tax that will be needed. Part of the myopia of Eberhart and Co.

  54. g Says:

    Listening and watching that You-Tube video. Wouldn’t it be great if someone with the right equipment could “take down” the public mic, and “bring up” the side conversation that went on between Eberhart and Rolen throughout the presentation? I bet that would be a real eye-opener!

    Jester and team–are you listening?

  55. Mom to you Says:

    Doctor J, if the parents in the Clayton Valley attendance area – all of the parents, not just the high school parents – feel that too much money is being spent on their elementary schools and not enough on their high school, I’d love to hear what they think should be cut from THEIR elementary schools. I haven’t heard one parent propose specific cuts to any of the elementary schools that feed into Clayton Valley HS.

    I’m not familiar with the proposal to change ADA calculations, but it sounds like it is just a proposal for now, yes? “Of course there will be tinkering by the legislature” says it all. Any legislator whose school district stands to lose will vote against it and there’s no money to implement it without some districts gaining at the expense of others. It’s a zero sum game these days.

  56. Doctor J Says:

    @MTY, I suggest you go back to some of Lawrence’s power point presentations on comparing the average teacher salaries between elementary and secondary to show the out of balance — I am guessing February. Try the search engine on the blog. The current budget started July 1 starts the “phase in” over several years. This link should get you started.

  57. g Says:

    Rewind the tape–Patton asks the Supt if he wants her to go over the three points in the transportation plan—Rolen shakes his head at Lawrence with enough force that it gets her attention. You can see her glance over at Rolen, who then looks at her and directly answers the question for Lawrence, saying “Stick to the Power Point.”

    Was there some “legal” reason that Rolen was allowed to give direction to a speaker at a public session?

    Remember when Eberhart told Cheryl that she could not ask Rolen to “look into” something?

    Cheryl, I wish you had thought quickly enough to have said “now that the three transportation plans have been mentioned publicly–the public and I want to hear what they are.”

  58. Doctor J Says:

    @TH#51 Do we have the Patton/Rolen letter identifying the three FCMAT recommendations ?

  59. Doctor J Says:

    @MTY, here is a comprehensive projection of how the per pupil funding would work and be phased in. You can quickly compare all the Contra Costa County school districts.

  60. g Says:

    Just a quick glance at the Pawar Contract figures that were being presented to the board when the FCMAT report was brought up:

    I did some math–had a good time!

    673756.00 416850.00 254552.00
    62000.00 30000.00 160000.00
    ========= ========= =========
    735756.00 446850.00 414552.00 (totals using my calculator)

    713756.00 455350.00 414552.00 (totals the district presented)

    My grand total of the Pawar Contract:

    District’s grand total:

    Oh, but so what? The difference is a measly: $13,500.00

    I’m sure Pawar is happy – and that is why the folks at Dent make the big bucks!

  61. g Says:

    sorry–this system screws up columns–but they’re almost lined up 😉

  62. Doctor J Says:

    So what will Steven Lawrence do in response to State Trustee Trish Williams admonition to do what is right and work “with the charter” and not be at odds with it ?

  63. g Says:

    Well, apparently he’s decided to start by pulling the plug on KVHS. “We’ve only loaned you the equipment per the current one-year facility lease agreement–but the district will control the FCC license–do you want to buy it from us?”

  64. MDUSD Board Watcher Says:

    I’m still trying to figure out which blogs caused a principal to resign.

    Gary shut his down, Sherry never really posted anything, MDUSD Parents blog hasn’t been active for a while. It must be this “blog”. Hmmm…. must be the toliet lady.

  65. Theresa Harrington Says:

    There are other blogs in the community.

    On a positive note, here’s a new blog post about Cindy Gershen, who is working with the International Hospitality and Tourism Academy at MDHS to change the way students and teachers eat:

  66. g Says:

    Both Gary’s and Sherry’s blogs were illegal under the Brown Act. Posting their opinions of issues that were coming up on the Agenda–if read by other board members, could be considered “serial meetings.”

    “A majority of members cannot:
    Use a telephone, fax machine, e-mail, a chat
    room, an intermediary or other devices to develop consensus, agreement, or a decision.”

  67. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Trustee Linda Mayo expressed concerns about the Brown Act and blogs at the time, especially since Eberhart and Strange shared their blog and Whitmarsh sometimes commented on it. Perhaps this is partially why Mayo decided not to read blogs.

  68. g Says:

    On the other hand Theresa, your blog presents a lot of information that board members would be better off reading in order to be well informed.

    Commenting-NO. Reading-Most definitely!

    Yes, they might have to develop tough skin to go along with their massive egos to get through some of them, but they would frequently get a decent leg up on issues.

    To ignore both the good and the bad in the press is dereliction of duty.

  69. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Trustee Cheryl Hansen has told me she finds out more about what’s going on by reading my blog than from the district.

    I don’t know if Board President Sherry Whitmarsh and Trustee Gary Eberhart read my blog. However, they have occasionally contacted me about items in it, saying that someone else brought something to their attention.

    I also don’t know if Trustee Lynne Dennler reads blogs. As previously noted, she was initially advised not to.

    I do know that candidates Brian Lawrence, Attila Gabor and Ernie DeTrinidad have read my blog. I don’t know if Debra Mason does.

  70. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Clayton Valley Charter HS has a wikipedia page:

  71. Parent @ CVCHS Says:

    Clayton Valley Charter HS is a joke. My son, who got an A in advanced math at Pine Hollow, is not getting any credit for a years worth of work. I was told that his teacher wasn’t teaching up to the standard, so he did not pass the placement test. Thats a bunch of B.S. CVCHS is using my son, and many other children to boost their scores this first year. These idiots will be congradulating themselves at the end of the year at the expense of my child. Nobody at the school can give me a straight answer. It’s the most unorganized administration I have ever seen. My son and many others have now been denied advanced Math as seniors because they are retaking algebra as freshman. This is the problem with Charter schools in general, there is no district to watch these rookies. The teachers who started this have all taken raises by giving themselves an extra period off for Charter work. There goes any extra money for the students. This is wrong and parents are starting to get upset. Other schools in the district, don’t go charter, the district cannot be as bad as these jokers.

  72. g Says:

    Parent @ CVCHS said: “I was told that his teacher wasn’t teaching up to the standard, so he did not pass the placement test. Thats a bunch of B.S. CVCHS is using my son, and many other children to boost their scores this first year.”

    Placement test was tough, huh?

    What do you suppose the chances are that MDUSD doesn’t keep a strict eye on “teaching up to the standard” in order to “boost the district’s rotten scores?”


  73. Parent @ CVCHS Says:

    G, When you score above grade level in math on the star test, score advanced in math on the entrance exam at De La Salle ( we could not send for financial reasons)it seems the teachers at Pine Hollow are doing their job.I spoke to my sons 8th grade math teacher,and yes the test was set up for them to fail. The test had geometry problems in it, not algebra.They have not learned geometry yet? I know you are a MDUSD basher,like most in this blog, but you have to admit this is wrong. A 7 ranked school has no business giving a test like this, unless you want to boost scores. Diablo View is a high ranking school and even those kids did poor. MDUSD might have its problems, but I can not longer trust the Charter.

  74. Anon Says:

    Parent @ CVCHS,

    Can you provide any proof? A copy of the completed test perhaps?

    If this is true, this is really damaging to the reputation and mission of CVCHS. If this is not true, and in reality the district is the one that has been dogging it, then lawsuits might be in order.

  75. Parent @ CVCHS Says:

    Anon, I should be getting his star test results next week and then I will bring the results to his current teacher.I have spoken to other parents with the same concerns and once the results are in, we will fight to have our kids in advanced classes. The party line at the Charter is that the Middle School teachers are not doing their job, we will prove that wrong with Star results.

  76. Clayton Squirrel Says:

    For the CVCHS parents who want their kids farther ahead in math. Be careful. Some really good GATE students who took Geometry as freshmen crashed and burned in Geometry at CVHS and had to retake it. Those grades affected their ability to get into the college of their choice. Make sure your student has a really good grasp on the whole year of Algebra 1. At another private school (not De La Salle)the math placement test is also quite hard because they want the kids well prepared to move on. A friend’s son who had been in “Algebra 2” at a private school found himself back in Algebra 1 as well.

  77. Theresa Harrington Says:

    One of the complaints that parents had before the school converted to a charter was about math instruction there.
    Even Board President Gary Eberhart commented during the board’s strategic planning session that his own daughter had not received adequate math instruction at CVHS.
    Former Principal Sue Brothers made it a top priority of hers to try to improve math instruction. She wanted to improve professional development for the school’s teachers and she also instituted a student peer tutoring program, which I understand is continuing at the charter.
    At some of the early charter meetings, some parents expressed concerns about the fact that the charter agreed to allow all teachers to work for the charter, if they wanted to. Some parents were hoping to “weed out” teachers they did not believe were good instructors.
    I don’t know how much staff turnover there has been in the math department in the past two years (since parents voiced concerns about instruction to former Principal Gary Swanson). It’s possible this may still be a challenge for the school.
    New Executive Director Dave Linzey has brought some online programs to the school to help students get caught up or even boost their skills.

  78. mtzman Says:

    Well, Parent, it will indeed be interesting to see those STAR results. If you look at 2011 data, 35% of Foothill MS students taking algebra tested advanced, and 42% at Sequoia. Both schools had 70% or higher advanced and proficient in algebra. At Diablo View, only 10% tested advanced and at Pine Hollow the number was 12%. Combined advanced and proficient numbers were in the 40-50% range.

  79. Doctor J Says:

    @Mtzman#78 Thanks for quoting data — trends are hard to dispute and the 2012 results should be telling. Many parents unfortunately are fooled by the bricks and mortor, and rah rah of staff, instead of proven test results year after year. These are the kinds of things that SASS, Asst Supt Rose Lock, and Supt Lawrence should have concentrated on in the last two years, instead of some of the utterly ridiculous issues they spend their time on. Focus on quality instruction — why isn’t the principal being the “instructional leader” as Lawrence claimed two 1/2 years ago would happen ?

  80. Parent@formercvhs Says:

    Clayton Squirrel you are wrong about those GATE students crashing and burning in geometry as freshman. My daughter was one of those students and she shut down because the teacher was terrible, rude, and not student friendly at all. This teacher went page for page out of the book and lost most of the class. My daughter recieved an F. I complained to the principal many times. She then repeated next year with one of the best teachers in the school, got an A, and loves math again. Hard to believe the Charter allowed this teacher to remain.

  81. Theresa Harrington Says:

    As I mentioned, any teacher who wanted to remain was allowed to under the charter.
    It is now up to the new leadership to visit classrooms and ensure that students are getting the rigor, relevance and relationships that have been promised.

  82. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Here’s how CVHS sophomres fared on the High School Exit Exam in 2012:
    And here are the results from the previous year, which show improvement:

  83. Anon Says:

    @Theresa 77
    Every teacher at CV knew that the only reason Gary proposed and lobbied so hard for dropping math requirements from three years to two years was the fact that his daughter was struggling in math.

  84. Doctor J Says:

    @83 Gary never could play poker very well.

  85. Anon Says:


    If what you claim is true, that is really, really sick. Why would the other board members allow such a thing?

  86. Theresa Harrington Says:

    The reason given by the Superintendent was to save money by eliminating the need for summer school.
    Trustee Linda Mayo and then-Trustee Dick Allen voted against reducing the math requirement. But, they were overruled by Eberhart and trustees Sherry Whitmarsh and Paul Strange.
    However, Trustee Cheryl Hansen has asked the superintendent to consider reinstating the math requirement and boosting graduation requirements overall.
    I believe CVCHS has the same requirements as the district, but could change them.

  87. Anon Says:

    March 9, 2010, Eberhart moved, Whitmarsh second, 3-2 vote ( Mayo, Allen – no )

  88. Clayton Squirrel Says:

    Yes, Former CVHS Parent, I agree with you that there was a huge difference in teaching styles and effectiveness among math teachers at CVHS. I have yet to find a school, public or private, where I haven’t heard of parents with legitimate math teacher complaints. That is a very good reason to make sure that your student is well prepared and ready for the subject in case he or she doesn’t get the fabulous one. I am just saying be careful if there is a question of student readiness (performing poorly on a placement exam is a warning flag if many other students passed).

    I have high hopes for CVCHS and their student and teacher support programs. They have hired several new math teachers this year as well because some from CVHS have left or retired. It will not be perfect and it will be a work in progress but I know that having a great math department is one of their main goals.

  89. David "Shoe" Shuey - Clayton City Council Says:

    #71 Parent@cvchs – I read your comments on the math issue at CVCHS and I would be happy to talk with you on your issue and see whether or not there is any assistance I can offer. Admittedly, I believe the Board and Admin at CVCHS are doing an excellent job and I am excited for the future of our charter. However, as the Council and me in particular took an active role in establishing and executing this charter for our children, I have a vested interest in ensuring that it is run correctly and fairly. I have heard about issues with the math scores but had not heard about your particular issues. If you desire, please email me at and I will be happy to talk with you and help if I can. This offer applies to anyone at the charter so please feel free to email me.

  90. Parent @ CVCHS Says:

    Thanks for the offer Mr Shuey but I need a real educator to look at this, not a politicion. When I find one at the charter,I will let you know.
    Clayton Squirrel: When you recieve an A in alegabra and score advanced on Star, that means your well prepared. I wonder how many students who are taking algebra 2 would pass this test? Maybe this warning flag test should apply to all students if the middle schools are so bad.

  91. Theresa Harrington Says:

    According to this spreadsheet, only 26.4 percent of Clayton Valley HS students scored proficient in math last year:

    Here’s the summary report for CVHS:

  92. Anon Says:

    None of the MDUSD high schools scored over 50% in math, MDHS was 10% and Northgate was 46%, then someone please explain how the district scored 53.10% ?

  93. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I was wondering the same thing. We got this chart from Liberty USD (to show that other high schools scored low too), but it does seem odd that you could get a higher overall score than any of your individual high schools. Same thing with Antioch, WCCUSD, and Pittsburg. I will have to double-check this.

  94. g Says:

    Whomever ran, double checked and approved all of the averages must be products of MDUSD math departments. None of them are correct. All are high, and math average is just about double. Either something got left out or someone needs a new job.

  95. g Says:

    They must have thrown in entire district’s on the average line? How else could the districts with just one high school (PUSD, MUSD) be off between the school line and the district line?

    I want my taxes back.

  96. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Yes, that’s the point. The Liberty Union High School District is pointing out that the scores for unified districts such as Martinez and Pittsburg would be much lower if they were based solely on the high school scores. It is the elementary and middle school scores that give them their higher average scores.
    This chart is a comparison of the high school scores (with the elementary and middle school scores left off), but it includes the district averages that are reported in my story.

  97. Anon Says:

    We should not be celbrating 50% scoring proficient or above. The other 50% are not! This is terrible

  98. anon Says:

    TH: i tried to get the scores of individual schools and wasn’t successful. Doesn’t appear that API scores are yet available. But, is there away to compare the scores of 2011 to 2012 in regards to students at proficient and above?

  99. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Yes, but it’s time-consuming and cumbersome because you have to look up each school individually by year on the CDE website:

  100. Anon Says:

    Liberty made a good point. it’s a sad state of affairs that math proficiency declines in the upper grades. the goal is students should be proficient by high school graduation. this failure-seen at low-scoring schools like MDHS and Kennedy-should be addressed by the cde

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