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MDUSD is accepting input on draft strategic plan tonight

By Theresa Harrington
Monday, September 24th, 2012 at 6:02 pm in Education, Mt. Diablo school district, Uncategorized.

Last Wednesday, Mt. Diablo district Superintendent Steven Lawrence issued an automated phone call to parents inviting them to “drop-in” to the front area of the district office tonight from 6-7:30 p.m. to give input into the draft strategic plan: https://asp.schoolmessenger.com/m/?s=8kyYgzXE5PM

Surprisingly, though, the district never issued any written announcement about this. I spoke to Board President Sherry Whitmarsh and she said people can place dots on large pieces of paper next to the goals they think are most important, but there will not be a public meeting about the plan tonight.

In fact, the regular board meeting will be going on starting at 6:30 p.m., while the public continues placing dots on the draft plan in the lobby area.

The board expects to finalize the plan in October.

Here is the draft plan: http://www.mdusd.org/Community/Documents/strategic-plan/strategic-plan-update-02-22-12.pdf

What do you think the board’s top priorities should be?

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  • Anon

    Um, is it just me or shouldn’t we be doing all of this already? This is a no brainer to me. Why in the heck do we need to place red dots under what is most important? They are all important Steve and sherry! See this is why I can’t stand being in the board room with these people.

  • Doctor J

    Anyone show up ?

  • Anon

    Talk about simple minded- what if I don’t want red dots, I want blue dots? Do green dots count more? Can I bring my own dots? What if there is dot shortage? Does a black dot automatically eliminate any item?

    This is probably as complex a thinking process that Sherry can deal with.

    The board should postpone any action until after the two new board members are seated so that it will have a chance to be done well.

  • Anon

    Anon1-Um, we did it already. There were feeder pattern meetings was it Spring 2011? We’re in a time warp like “Groundhog Day” repeating over and over and over again… They also had two count-em two CSBA board workshops where they were told a strategic planning is a top priority. Doctor J cited CSBA “School Board Leadership” http://www.csba.org/~/media/51E3FBB839504700825CB16B7265F3C4.ashx:

    “1. Setting the direction for the community’s schools
    Of all the responsibilities of governing boards, none is more central to the purpose of local governance than ensuring that a long-term vision is established for the school system. The vision reflects the consensus
    of the entire board, the superintendent and district staff, and the community as to what the students need in order to achieve their highest potential. The vision should set a clear direction for the school district, driving every aspect of the district’s program.”

    A better question is WTF has the board majority been doing the last year and a half?

  • Theresa Harrington

    I haven’t seen many people in the lobby placing dots on paper. But, I’m in the board meeting. I’ll look at the dots when I leave.

  • Anon

    What’s happening at the meeting

  • Theresa Harrington

    There was a powerpoint, but it wasn’t online and there were no copies given the the crowd.

  • Anon

    The average fifth grader in MDUSD has a higher operative IQ than four of the five board members. It’s frightening that Whitmarsh, Eberhart, Mayo, and Dennler have control over a $300,000,000 organization. There is no business owner in existence who would entrust their business to any of them to run their business? Their only qualification is that they are over 18 years of age and thus eligible to run for office.

    If there is not a major change in the board majority come November then the only hope for the MDUSD community would be a state takeover. A takeover would sweep the board out along with the superintendent and begin a rebuilding process which is impossible with the current board majority, superintendent, and various minions.

  • Anon

    The first step in changing the board is getting rid of the vile, evil leader.

    Isn’t it time to “wrap it up” Sherry?

  • SR

    I attended the Board Meeting tonight. Hansen was the only member actively listening and asking questions of the presenters. I know at least one BOE member who I am voting for this election.

  • SR

    BTW. A number of SPED parents spoke tonight on the FCMAT report, and not all of them were CAC members. Nice to see more of our community getting involved!

  • http://www.k12reboot.com Jim

    What should this board’s top priority be?

    Shrink this district, as quickly as possible:
    – Invite charter organizations and parents in to take over as many existing schools as possible, if families in the attendance area approve of such a conversion.
    – Announce to the world that, going forward, any competent charter organization with a viable plan to operate a new school in MDUSD will be encouraged to enter the district to improve the school choices available here.
    – Allow any student to attend any school outside the district that will accept them.

    In other words, admit that running this district is completely beyond the capability of this board.

    I know I’m dreaming, but seriously, if it were really “all about the kids”, and not “all about the monopoly”, then that’s what they should do.

  • Theresa Harrington

    Several members of the audience were complaining that the PowerPoint wasn’t on the website and that no copies were provided to the audience. During the break, Lynne Dennler offered to make me a copy of her paper copy of the PowerPoint. But others in the audience were wondering why they weren’t also given copies. If this district is serious about wanting to build public trust and demonstrate transparency, one easy way to start would be to post PowerPoints before the meetings begin and to provide paper copies of last-minute PowerPoints to the public — especially for something as controversial as the FCMAT recommendations.

  • Doctor J

    Would you vote for this Board Candidate ? “As your board member I will help facilitate positive change for this district. I will champion a strategic plan which extends out 3 – 5 years. This plan needs
    to be developed through collaboration among all members of the MDUSD community. Administrators, teachers, school staff, students, and parents
    need to have a seat at the same table to help develop a plan that will guide us through times of economic growth and crisis.” That was Sherry Whitmarsh’s 2008 Candidate Statement. Here is Sherry’s 2012 Candidate Statement: “As your Board member I have helped facilitate positive change in the District. … I have championed strategic planning and provided the leadership necessary to bring about needed change.”
    Did Sherry Whitmarsh tell the truth ?

  • Doctor J

    @TH#17 The PUBLIC is entitled to copies AT THE MEETING of the Powerpoint distributed to Board members. Lawrence shows total disdain for the Brown Act — what a poor example of obeying the law and he holds himself up as “the example” of what our children should be learning. Its simple Brown Act compliance. Right from the Government Code Section 54957.5: “(b) (1) If a writing that is a public record under subdivision
    (a), and that relates to an agenda item for an open session of a regular meeting of the legislative body of a local agency, is distributed less than 72 hours prior to that meeting, the writing shall be made available for public inspection pursuant to paragraph
    (2) at the time the writing is distributed to all, or a majority of all, of the members of the body.”
    What is so difficult about the English language that Lawrence doesn’t understand what “SHALL BE MADE AVAILABLE FOR PUBLIC INSPECTION . . .AT THE TIME THE WRITING IS DISTRIBUTED …” ? Steven Lawrence does not uphold his OATH to obey the law.

  • Doctor J

    Why doesn’t the electronic agenda report what happened on Items 15.4, 15.5 and 15.6 ? Also, noticed the vote on approval of the “revised” minutes was split. Must have been some fascinating discussions on these items. How about a report ?

  • Theresa Harrington

    Actually, I arrived a bit late, so I missed the discussion of the minutes. But I heard that Trustee Cheryl Hansen asked for some revisions, but didn’t get a second.
    Similarly, on items 15.4 and 15.5, Hansen moved to approve as presented, but there were no seconds.
    Item 15.6 was for info only and will be brought back for action in two weeks. Dan Reynolds spoke against Prop. 32.
    Regarding strategic planning, I interviewed Whitmarsh yesterday about that and other issues for my election coverage and I’ll post her responses later.

  • Doctor J

    It would be enlightening to get all communications, which include emails, to and from Board members, and the Supt on strategic planning since Jan 1, 2012. The real problem is that we never know if they really produce all of them, or deep six the ones they don’t want the public to see.

  • Hell Freezing Over

    So since the public were not provided copies of the document as directed / required during the 09/24/12 board meeting – what is our recourse? How do we get copies without being charged for them? Who do we formally complain to and how?

  • Doctor J

    The Brown Act provides your recourse: District Attorney [inept] or you use the courts as individuals or groups. Remember how effective the Special Education court order was [it was the "Consent Decree" forced upon the School District rather than go to trial and lose] ? Lets get a similar one for the Brown Act.

  • Sue Berg

    Theresa, what was the subject addressed in the Power Point you reference? Strategic Planning? FCMAT Report? Your article is about the plan, but comments are about the report. I do see a link to a Power Point on the FCMAT Report on the electronic board agenda for last night’s meeting.

  • Theresa Harrington

    Sue, I was referencing the FCMAT PowerPoint. Thanks for pointing out that is now posted: http://esb.mdusd.k12.ca.us/attachments/1daf91d3-17c8-412d-b709-2688239c4b45.pdf

    My point was that it should have been posted BEFORE the meeting, so the public could see it and comment on it. Since it wasn’t posted before the meeting, paper copies should have been provided to the public — just as they were provided to the board. It was very difficult to see the PowerPoint from the back of the room. Also, the FCMAT report should be attached to the agenda item. Although it is on the district’s website, some members of the public were wondering why it wasn’t part of the agenda report. Instead, it was merely referenced by Rolen, who didn’t explicitly say where the public could find it. Since it was omitted from the agenda report, it will not be part of the official public record.

  • Doctor J

    @SB/TH The PP was not posted earlier this morning, and now gives the false impression it was posted 72 hours prior to the meeting. More importantly, the Board was given photocopies of the Powerpoint, and when that occurred, it was incumbant upon the Board Secretary, Supt. Lawrence, to also have copies available for the public and press to distribute AT THE MEETING. He had them copied for the Board, and could just as easily run off more copies for the public and press — not just as a convenience, but because the LAW REQUIRES IT !

  • Theresa Harrington

    Lawrence hadn’t even given a copy to his secretary. When I asked her for it during the break, she said she didn’t have it. That’s when Lynne Dennler offered to copy hers for me.
    Also during the break, Debbie Hickey asked Sherry Whitmarsh why the PowerPoint wasn’t online. Whitmarsh thought she was referring to the FCMAT report and she said it was online.
    Then, when Hickey reiterated that the PowerPoint should be online, Whitmarsh said she would have to look into that.
    Hickey also addressed the board during the meeting, saying the public should have been provided with the PowerPoint.
    I even suggested to the superintendent’s secretary that she could make copies for the public during the break, but she said she couldn’t, since she didn’t have a copy herself.
    In the past, Willie Mims has repeatedly told the board that this information is required to be made available to the public. But, Mims hasn’t been coming to meetings lately, so it appears that someone else needs to remind the board about its obligation to provide the public with the same information it receives.
    After the Measure C presentation, Board President Gary Eberhart enthusiastically encouraged Pete Pedersen to post the updated information as quickly as possible. But, he never directed Greg Rolen to do the same thing with the FCMAT presentation.
    A special education parent said she wished the district was as thorough in its presentation about FCMAT as it had been in its presentation regarding the solar projects.

  • Wait a Minute

    Theresa,

    Nobody needs to remind these highly-paid so-called “leaders” to follow the law and do their jobs, after all they are supposed to be PUBLIC SERVANTS.

    Kind of says it all. They are supposed TO SERVE THE PUBLIC!!!

    Because they so misreably fail to follow the law here and keep the public informed it behooves us as the public to replace them with public servants who will perform this mission-critical duty correctly.

    Please tell everyone you know to VOTE NO ON WHITMARSH!

  • Doctor J

    The Rolen PowerPoint is so “loaded” its hard to recognize from the FCMAT report — its drunk with misstatements. The differences are mostly subtle but hugely misleading — typical Rolen lifestyle. As I read the PP, I was wondering if there was a different version of the FCMAT other than the “Final” report of Sept 4, 2012. Here is just one example: (1) The FCMAT report, page 22, says: “Approximately 26% of the special education student population receives specialized transportation. In most school districts that FCMAT has reviewed, approximately 10 percent of special education students receive specialized transportation.” Rolen, in the PowerPoint, takes OUT all the qualifiers and erroneously states “Most districts through out the state transport approximately 10% of their special education
    population. MDUSD transports approximately 26% of
    their special education population.” There is a huge difference between FCMAT’s “districts it has reviewed” [a small percentage of the 1000 California districts] AND Rolen’s unfounded and unsupported statement of “most districts throughout the state” which FCMAT admitted there was NO STUDIES to confirm this speculation. No wonder Rolen doesn’t want a comparison of his PowerPoint with the actual FCMAT report. Greg, your pants are on fire again !

  • Theresa Harrington

    Rolen did clarify that he meant districts FCMAT had studied instead of all districts in the state. But, when Whitmarsh asked if he had a list of the district’s, Rolen said: “No.”
    Special ed parents were adamant that they wanted better information about the comparison districts. They also said they wanted to see the third party analysis.
    The question now is: Will the district respond to their requests?

  • Doctor J

    Rolen only “clarified” after being “cross-examined” about his mis-statements — he didn’t correct his PP before posting it this morning. Sherry is right — you need a list of the so called “comparison districts” to see if you are comparing apples to apples or apples to raisins. Did anyone ask why Lawrence has not authorized FCMAT to publish the report on its website consistent with its policy ? When will FCMAT show up to “defend” its poor excuse for a report ?

  • MDUSD Board Watcher

    It is time to step up and get rid of these morons.

    VOTE NO ON WHITMARSH!

  • Anon

    Hearing discussion this morning that Lawrence is gloating about his ability to keep the official FCMAT report under wraps.

  • Theresa Harrington

    Perhaps that is why it was not attached to the agenda report and therefore not part of the official record.

  • Anon

    Where is the Special Ed FCMAT report?

  • Theresa Harrington

    That is a good question. No one said when that would be released. But, the special ed parents urged the board to release it as soon as possible.

  • Theresa Harrington

    Please note that Lorrie Davis’ comments regarding the FCMAT report are at: http://qik.com/video/54637807.
    I am now also uploading other videos from the meeting to my YouTube/tunedtotheresa account.

  • Anon

    This deserves a Times story or editorial. I assume they won’t put it in the next “Good News” newsletter . . .

  • Theresa Harrington

    Are you referring to Davis’ statements? No, I don’t think they will show up in the Good News letter.
    Other parents were equally critical of the FCMAT report.

  • Theresa Harrington
  • Anon

    So I thought that Lawrence was backing off of the cluster model? Also doesn’t Lawrence and Rolen report to the board? How are they able to make these changes without board approval?

    Another question, why did the district use measure c money to replace working newer air conditioning units that pfc and local business groups paid for? Shouldn’t the money be spent on things that are really needed.

  • Theresa Harrington

    Apparently, Lawrence is still collecting data regarding the cluster model. Lawrence said it’s possible the district could wait until next school year to implement it.
    Yes, Lawrence and Rolen report to the board. But, Trustee Linda Mayo said that there is no policy governing the current special education transportation practices. So, she didn’t seem to think the board needed to approve a new policy. Still, if the board objected to implementing the FCMAT recommendations, it could direct staff not to.
    Regarding air conditioning, you raise a good question. I know other schools have said the same thing. For some unknown reason, the leaky roofs and windows – that Measure C mailers insisted were desperately needed – were a lower priority than solar and air conditioning.
    Also, today I received a call from someone questioning the use of Measure C funds for the Northgate Aquatics Center. He said that was never disclosed with ballot materials. But, the district’s bond counsel has said it’s okay to add items that could be categorized generally as school improvements, since the project list was very vague to begin with.

  • Flippin’ Tired

    Then YV, Concord and CVCHS had better get pools too.

  • Theresa Harrington

    Each school gets to choose how it wants to spend its Measure C money.

  • Anon

    I hear Claycord has the district’s new “Good News” newsletter http://claycord.com/2012/09/23/mdusds-september-good-news-letter

    I wonder about the district’s distribution because my copy is lost in transit

  • Theresa Harrington

    Here’s another interesting news tidbit featuring Trustee Gary Eberhart talking about the district’s solar projects: http://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/episode-75-gary-eberhart-discusses-sol-56318/

  • Doctor J

    @TH#43, That’s not news; its advertising.

  • Theresa Harrington

    Speaking of which, I see that SunPower is running ads promising to donate up to $500 to MDUSD on behalf of homeowners who purchase or lease SunPower home solar systems, based on project size.

  • Doctor J

    Trustee Cheryl Hansen put forth a brilliant proposal for the SP to be considered at the Oct 8 Board meeting: all school stite councils vote on the priorities of the SP and the SP not be adopted until the December meeting, taking it completely out of the political process. Sherry Whitmarsh immediately dissed that proposal by falsely claiming — with no supporting documentation — that the “Board direction” at the Feb workshop — was to proceed by waiting in silence for 7 months and then rush to judgment before the election. She also falsely claimed that the PAC at the May meeting considered the priorities of the the SP — not on their agenda, and thus a Brown Act violation — and bootstrapping the Supt’s sudden “dot sticking” plan as part of the undiscussed plan. Steven Lawrence didn’t even publicize it sufficiently to get more than a handful of people to particiapate, and then half of them his “inner staff” who I am sure did it under “direction”. Such despseration by Lawrence and by Whitmarsh.

  • Flippin’ Tired

    Theresa @41, I don’t think so, or we’d have air conditioning in every school by now, and CHS would definitely have a pool. Someone at district is feeding false information, or the site admins are fabricating. Do you really think Mt. Diablo High asked for their pool, which they never use, to be renovated? If so, why isn’t even the right dimensions for water polo? What a colossal waste of money.