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Archive for October, 2012

Contra Costa Times editorial board endorses Lawrence and Mason in MDUSD race

Since many blog readers appear to be interested in commenting on the Times’ endorsement of Brian Lawrence and Debra Mason, I am reposting the editorial below. Please note that I am not on the editorial board and did not write this editorial. As a reporter, I do not endorse candidates.

“Contra Costa Times editorial: Lawrence and Mason for school board in Mt. Diablo Unified

© Copyright 2012, Bay Area News Group

As voters select two Mt. Diablo school trustees on Nov. 6, they should reflect on recent years of district leadership plagued by arrogance, deception, secrecy and ethical lapses.

In 2010, trustees and Superintendent Steven Lawrence misled voters about the long-term costs associated with an ill-conceived $348 million bond issue. They also promised a cap on the resulting tax rate for property owners. After voters approved the bonds, trustees reneged and exceeded the cap by 50 percent.

Meanwhile, during the election, the superintendent held private meetings with Chevron at his home. The oil giant was vying for a $66 million solar installation to be paid from the bond proceeds. The company was also treating him to drinks and he was soliciting golf discounts from the firm.

After the election, the district was headed toward awarding the contract to Chevron without competitive bidding until this newspaper started asking questions. When Chevron actually had to compete with other companies, it didn’t bother.

Then, in 2011, disenchantment with administrators at Clayton Valley High sparked the largest teacher-led conversion to a charter school in Northern California. While district officials complained about the extra cost, they ignored that they brought it on themselves by being tone-deaf to the concerns of teachers and parents. District trustees rejected the charter, but the county Office of Education overturned that decision, allowing the school to open in July.

Meanwhile, parents seeking information, as well as this newspaper, have been repeatedly stonewalled by administrators, including school district attorney Greg Rolen, who deny or delay access to public information.

This circle-the-wagon mentality must end. And that must start at the top with the removal of one of the intransigent board members, Sherry Whitmarsh, who happens to work for Chevron, sees nothing wrong with Lawrence’s cozy relationship with the firm and spearheaded early contract renewals for Lawrence and Rolen. She also tries to perpetuate the fantasy that the district is open and responsive to the public.

Whitmarsh is the only incumbent seeking re-election in the Nov. 6 election for two board seats. We urge voters to instead support Brian Lawrence of Walnut Creek (no relation to the superintendent with the same last name) and Debra Mason of Bay Point.

The fourth candidate, former principal Barbara Oaks, didn’t understand the bond program nor realize most of the money was to go for school construction. It was a stunning admission.

Lawrence and Mason understand the program. Both regularly attend school board meetings. Lawrence brings financial expertise while Mason brings the experience of 22 years as a district instructional assistant and would add much-needed geographic diversity to the board.

(A fifth candidate on the ballot, Ernie Detrinidad, dropped out of the race.)

Lawrence and Mason argue for district transparency and question the cost of the bond program. The district was antagonistic to teachers and parents during the charter school review, Lawrence says. Mason says she was appalled by how they were treated.

It’s time for responsive leadership that’s open, honest and ethical. Elect Lawrence and Mason.”

It’s my understanding that the editorial board interview conducted by Dan Borenstein will eventually be posted online at http://www.contracostatimes.com/video.

Do you agree with the Times’ editorial board’s endorsements?

NOV. 1 UPDATE: Here is a link to video of the Times’ editorial board interview: http://youtu.be/ak9H7-AMpK0

Posted on Monday, October 29th, 2012
Under: Education, Election, Mt. Diablo school district | 114 Comments »

MDUSD teachers’ union president and superintendent issue joint statement in support of Prop. 30

I received the following joint statement in support of Prop. 30 from Guy Moore, president of the Mt. Diablo teachers’ union. I am posting it below, with his permission. It was drafted and signed by both Moore and Mt. Diablo district Superintendent Steven Lawrence.

“Teachers and Administrators say vote YES on Proposition 30

Over the past four years, K-12 education, community colleges, California State University, and University of California systems have suffered the effects of over $20 billion in cuts. During this same period of time, over thirty thousand teachers have been laid off, class sizes have increased and essential programs and services have been eliminated.

In the Mt. Diablo Unified School District (MDUSD) we have: significantly increased the number of students in each class; reduced the number of administrators, counselors, librarians, custodians, maintenance, and other support providers; reduced our elementary music and art programs; and relied on voluntary contributions and fundraising to keep our high school athletic programs going.

This November, voters have an opportunity to stop the reductions in education funding by passing Proposition 30. Prop 30 temporarily raises the income tax rate on the top 2 percent of wage earners in the state. Individuals who earn more than $250,000 per year, and couples who earn in excess of $500,000, would see their taxes increase by 1 percent over a seven year period. The state sales tax would also increase by ¼ of 1 percent for four years. This amounts to a twenty-five cent increase in sales tax per hundred dollars spent.

If Prop 30 fails, it will result in an estimated $440 per-student loss to the current year MDUSD budget, or the equivalent of $13.5 million in lost revenue between January and June of 2013. In order to address this possible financial catastrophe, district employees have agreed to shorten their respective work years by an amount equivalent to a 6 percent pay cut, which would mean upto eleven less instructional days for students if Prop 30 fails. As a result, the 2012-13 school year could end by May 30, 2013.

The choice for education is clear. Voting Yes on Prop 30 will stabilize education funding in the short term ensuring that our students will receive a full 180 days of instruction this school year. The MDUSD School Board passed, along with Acalanes, Antioch, Lafayette, Martinez, Orinda, Pittsburg, Pleasanton,and Walnut Creek school districts, resolutions supporting Proposition 30.

In order to be ready for college and have the skills necessary to compete in a global economy, our children simply cannot afford to take any further reductions in programs or services. Doing so will not only limit our children’s future opportunities, it will continue to erode the business and economic development in California.

Please join teachers, education support personnel, and administrators across California and vote YES on Proposition 30 on November 6th. California’s students and economic future need a strong pre-school through university educational system.

Guy Moore                                                 Steven Lawrence, Ph.D.
President                                                   Superintendent
Mt. Diablo Education Association                  Mt. Diablo Unified School District”

Does this message persuade you to vote in favor of Prop. 30?

Posted on Friday, October 26th, 2012
Under: Education, Mt. Diablo school district | 66 Comments »

MDUSD 10-22-12

I was unable to attend Monday’s board meeting, but am posting the agenda below, in case anyone who was there would like to comment on what happened:

1.0 Call to Order
1.1 President will call the meeting to order Info

 

2.0 Announcements
2.1 In closed session, the Board will consider the items listed on the closed session agenda. Info
3.0 Public Comment
3.1 The public may address the Board concerning items that are scheduled for discussion during closed session only. These presentations are limited to three minutes each, or a total of thirty minutes for all speakers or the three minute limit may be shortened. Speakers are not allowed to yield their time. Info
4.0 Adjourn to Closed Session at 6:00 p.m.
4.1 Expulsion Info
4.2 Anticipated Litigation Info
4.3 Public Employee Discipline/Dismissal/Release/Complaint Info
5.0 Reconvene Open Session
5.1 Reconvene Open Session at 6:30 p.m. Info
6.0 Preliminary Business
6.1 Pledge of Allegiance and Roll Call Info
7.0 Report Out Action Taken in Closed Session
7.1 Anticipated Litigation Info
7.2 Public Employee Discipline/Dismissal/Release/Complaint Info
8.0 Expulsion Recommendations
8.1 Expulsion Recommendation – Student #06-13 Action
9.0 Consent Agenda
Action
9.1 (Item #1) Items listed under Consent Agenda are considered routine and will be approved/adopted by a single motion. There will be no separate discussion of these items; however, any item may be removed from the consent agenda upon the request of any member of the Board and acted upon separately. Action
9.2 (Item #2) Recommended Action for Certificated Personnel Action
9.3 (Item #3) Request to increase Full Time Equivalent (FTE) for the 2012-2013 school year Action
9.4 (Item #4) Recommended Action for Classified Personnel Action
9.5 (Item #5) Classified Personnel: Request to Create Positions for the 2012-2013 Fiscal Year Action
9.6 (Item #6) Fiscal Transactions for the month of September 2012 Action
9.7 (Item #7) Final Change Order: Bid #1599-HVAC Renovations at Ayers Elementary, Mt. Diablo Elementary and Foothill Middle Schools Action
9.8 (Item #8) Final Change Order: Bid #1600-HVAC Renovations at Loma Vista Adult and Concord High School Action
9.9 (Item #9) Notice of Completion for Bid #1599/Contract C-903, HVAC Renovations at Ayers Elementary, Mt. Diablo Elementary and Foothill Middle School Action
9.10 (Item #10) Notice of Completion for Bid #1600/Contract C-904, HVAC Renovation at Loma Vista Adult Center and Concord High School Action
9.11 (Item #11) Notice of Completion for Bid #1613/C-912, Asphalt Paving Play Yard Improvements at Pleasant Hill Elementary, Walnut Acres Elementary, Meadow Homes Elementary and Cambridge Elementary Action
9.12 (Item #12) Award of Design Services Contract: Renovation of Science Wing at Ygnacio Valley High School Action
9.13 (Item #13) Award of Design Services Contract: Renovation of Shop 1300 Wing at Ygnacio Valley High School Action
9.14 (Item #14) Filing of Amended Certificate of Signatures Action
9.15 (Item #15) Approval of Contract with Exploring New Horizons (ENH for Strandwood Elementary School) Action
9.16 (Item #16) Clayton Valley High School Attendance Area Action
9.17 (Item #17) Approval of Resolution #12/13-16: Native American Heritage Month Action
10.0 Consent Items Pulled for Discussion
11.0 Student Representatives
11.1 Student representatives will report on activities at their schools. Info
12.0 Recognitions
12.1 School Improvement Grant (SIG) – Cohort 1 Report Info
12.2 Recognition of Improvement on the Academic Performance Index (API) Info
13.0 Public Comment
13.1 The public may address the Board regarding any item within the jurisdiction of the Board of Education of the Mt. Diablo Unified School District that is not on this agenda. These presentation are limited to three minutes each, or a total of thirty minutes for all speakers, or the three minute limit may be shortened. If there are multiple speakers on any one subject, the public comment period may be moved to the end of the meeting. Speakers are not allowed to yield their time. Info
14.0 Communications
14.1 District Organizations – At regular Board meetings, a single spokesperson of each recognized district organization may make a brief presentation following the Consent Agenda. Items are limited to those which are informational. Info
15.0 Superintendent’s Report
15.1 Superintendent’s Report Info
16.0 Business/Action Items
16.1 Approval of Adult Education Course Titles for 2012-2013 Action
16.2 College Park Attendance Area Action
16.3 Meeting Extension Action
17.0 Board Member Reports
17.1 Board reports – two minute time limit Info
18.0 Closed Session
18.1 Items not completed during the first Closed Session will be carried over to this closed session. Action
19.0 Adjournment
19.1 Adjourn Meeting Info
Print

What was most interesting about this meeting?

OCT. 24 UPDATE:

Here is a link to audio of the meeting: http://www.mdusd.org/boe/Documents/audio/2012/102212Board%20Meeting.mp3

Posted on Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012
Under: Education, Mt. Diablo school district | 120 Comments »

MDUSD superintendent informs community about Props. 30 and 38

I have just received an email with the following “news update” from Mt. Diablo school district Superintendent Steven Lawrence. Since it is not yet posted on the district’s website, I am posting it below:

“Mt. Diablo USD News Update
Where Kids Come First
October 18, 2012

District staff and site administrators have been asked questions by parents and community members about the impact of Propositions 30 and 38. By-law district personnel cannot advocate for any Proposition or candidate utilizing district resources. However, in the case of a Proposition we can provide the facts about the Proposition and the impact it would have on our school district.

The following information about Proposition 30 and 38 is directly from the Official Title and Summary prepared by the Attorney General.

Overview of Proposition 30

State Taxes and Revenues

Increases sales tax rate by one-quarter cent for every dollar for four years.

Increases personal income tax rates on upper-income taxpayers for seven years.

Raises about $6 billion in additional annual state revenues from 2012-13 through 2016-17, with smaller amounts in 2011-12, 2017-18 and 2018-19.

State Spending

If approved by voters, additional revenues available to help balance state budget through 2018-19.

If rejected by voters, 2012-13 budget reduced by $6 billion. State revenues lower through 2018-19

Local Government Programs

Guarantees local governments receive tax revenues annually to fund program responsibilities transferred to them by the state in 2011.

Overview of Proposition 38

State Taxes and Revenues

Increases personal income tax rates on annual earnings over $7,316 using sliding scale from .4% for lowest individual earners to 2.2% for individuals earning over $2.5 million for twelve years.

During first four years, allocates 60% of revenues to K-12 schools, 30% to repaying state debt, and 10% to early childhood programs. Thereafter, allocates 85% of revenues to K-12 schools, 15% to early childhood programs.

Provides K-12 funds on school-specific, per-pupil basis, subject to local control, audits, and public input.

Prohibits state from directing new funds.

Net State and Local Government Fiscal Impact:

Increase in state personal income tax revenues from 2013 through 2024. The increase would be roughly $10 billion in 2013-14, tending to increase over time. The 2012-13 increase would be about half this amount.

In each of the initial years, about $6 billion would be used for schools, $1 billion for child care and preschool, and $3 billion for state savings on debt payments. The 2013-14 amounts likely would be higher due to the additional distribution of funds raised in 2012-13.

From 2017-18 through 2024-25, the shares spent on schools, child care, and preschool would be higher the share spent on debt payments lower.

Two nonpartisan organizations California Budget Project and EdSource have each created a side by side analysis of the two propositions. You can view the California Budget Project analysis at http://cbp.org/ , and the EdSource analysis is available at http://www.edsource.org/assets/images/misc/graphic/edsource-californiaschoolinitiatives-10-15cs4.pdf .

Under the current State budget that was signed by Governor Brown in July 2012, if Proposition 30 passes we will not see any additional funding; however, if it does not pass K-16 education funding will receive an immediate mid-year reduction. For most K-12 unified school districts the estimated amount of this reduction would be $440 per student. For Mt. Diablo Unified School District this would result in an on-going annual reduction of approximately $13.5 million. This type of reduction would be equivalent to permanently shortening the school year by fifteen days.

If Proposition 38 passes it will not prevent the mid-year reduction of state funds for K-16 education. However, it will provide significant new preK-12 funding that comes directly to local school districts. If you would like to get an estimate of the amount of funding that will be provide for the Mt. Diablo schools, please Google “Proposition 38 school funding calculator.”

If both Proposition 30 and 38 pass, the Proposition with the most votes will be implemented and the other Proposition would not take effect.

Another informative article by the California Budget Project that analyzes school funding in California and discusses the disinvestment in California schools is School Finance Facts, October 2011. This article can be found at http://www.cbp.org/pdfs/2011/111012_Decade_of_Disinvestment_%20SFF.pdf .”

Do you support Props. 30 and/or 38?

Posted on Thursday, October 18th, 2012
Under: Education, Election, Mt. Diablo school district | 84 Comments »

MDUSD Bay Point mystery meeting explained

When I heard after-the-fact from a district parent that a Bay Point master plan meeting was held last week, I contacted Pete Pedersen to find out what it was all about.

In an email, he responded, in part:

“On Wednesday, October 10th we convened the first meeting of the committee exploring the Bay Point master planning exercise. This is not a Board-appointed committee but rather, is a committee that was formed at the request of the audience attending the last public master planning meeting at Riverview last year. The meeting was not publically noticed. All Bay Point sites as well as Mt. Diablo High have designated volunteer committee representatives and each of these participants was individually contacted/noticed…”

Pedersen added that the PowerPoint presentation from the meeting should be added to the Bay Point Master Planning website soon.

As of now, it still has not been posted on the site: http://www.baypointmasterplan.com/

The previous Bay Point meeting, held May 15, also was not publicly noticed. And although the PowerPoint from that meeting is posted on the website, there are no minutes from the meeting posted, so there is no public record that this committee was formed.

The website assures readers: “Your opinion matters!” But, if only a select group of people are informed about the committee and its meetings, it appears that many people who might have opinions about the Bay Point Master Planning process could be left out of the loop.

Do you think these meetings should be publicly noticed and that minutes should be posted on the website?

Posted on Monday, October 15th, 2012
Under: Bay Point, Education, Martinez school district | 24 Comments »

MDUSD superintendent feeder pattern meeting dates revealed

After widespread confusion related to Mt. Diablo Superintendent Steven Lawrence’s decision disband the Parent Advisory Council and instead hold feeder pattern meetings, I requested a list of meeting dates and times from him.

I also asked for a copy of the notification/request for topic suggestions that he sent to the Northgate feeder pattern, since it appeared that very few parents were aware of the meeting that took place Oct. 10 in the Northgate HS staff lounge.

In an email, Lawrence wrote, in part:

“Requests for topics has gone through the principals. Also, the principals were asked to identify parent leaders to attend the meeting.”

He advised parents interested in getting involved to contact their principals and get involved in School Site Council or PTA/PFC groups.

For the Northgate feeder pattern meeting, he said his secretary collected the following topics before the meeting:

“Teacher retention efforts

Plans to expand classroom space at NHS

Technology plan for NHS

Furlough Days

Proposition 30 and 38

Does money come back to sites for field use

What can we do to get parent volunteers fingerprinted quicker

Does PTA have to pay for teacher CPR training”

In addition, he informed me that no official meeting minutes are being taken.

Below is the list of meeting times and dates, along with feeder patterns. Lawrence said locations will be determined by principals who volunteer their sites.

Concord HS Feeder Pattern: September 12, October 24, January 23, and April 10
Includes: El Dorado MS, Westwood EL, Monte Gardens EL, El Monte EL, Mt. View EL, Wren Avenue EL, Sun Terrace EL

College Park HS Feeder Pattern: September 19, November 7, January 30, April 17
Includes: Valley View MS, Pleasant Hill MS, Sequoia MS, Hidden Valley EL, Valhalla EL, Gregory Gardens EL, Pleasant Hill EL, Sequoia EL

Mt. Diablo HS Feeder Pattern: September 26, November 14, February 6, April 24
Includes: Riverview MS, Rio Vista EL, Shore Acres EL, Bel Air EL, Delta View EL

Diablo View/Pine Hollow Feeder Pattern: October 3, December 5, February 13, May 1
Includes: Ayers EL, Mt. Diablo EL, Highlands EL, Silverwood EL

Northgate HS Feeder Pattern: October 10, December 12, February 20, May 8
Includes: Foothill MS, Valle Verde EL, Walnut Acres EL, Bancroft EL

Ygnacio Valley HS Feeder Pattern: October 17, December 19, February 27, May 15
Includes: Oak Grove MS, Fair Oaks EL, Cambridge EL, Meadow Homes EL, Woodside EL, Ygnacio Valley EL

Do you think all parents should be invited to these meetings?

Posted on Friday, October 12th, 2012
Under: Education, Mt. Diablo school district | 87 Comments »

A look at how two Contra Costa County districts self-reported their state test results

In this country and state, school accountability is a moving target, with goals getting increasingly tougher to meet, as students are pressured to show proficiency on tests.

When test scores come out, school and district officials naturally want to celebrate their successes, while downplaying their failures.

This was very apparent Thursday, when the state released its Academic Performance Index, or API scores, along with data showing whether schools and districts met federal No Child Left Behind requirements.

The API data showed that the state and most districts made progress overall, with more than half reaching California’s proficiency goal of 800 on a scale of 200 to 1,000.

But the same data analyzed under the requirements of No Child Left Behind results showed that some children were still being left behind. This was news that the San Ramon Valley and Mt. Diablo school districts preferred not to highlight.

Both districts issued news releases to their communities that failed to mention they were identified for federal Program Improvement because some of their students did not make adequate yearly progress on standardized tests. Instead, they focused on the achievements of their top-performing schools, as well as those that made impressive gains from 2011 to 2012.

San Ramon’s message, which touted its very high API score of 921, stated, in part:

“These results continue to place SRVUSD as the 8th highest unified school district in the state and the highest among unified districts with more than 9,000 students tested.”

Superintendent Mary Shelton did, however, hint that some students were still struggling.

“It is amazing that a high-achieving district like ours can continue to improve,” she said. “While I am pleased to see that many of our subgroups improved again, a few did not, and we will continue to make that a primary focus in our classrooms.”

What Shelton didn’t say was that students in the following subgroups failed to meet federal requirements: African-Americans, Hispanics or Latinos, socioeconomically disadvantaged and special education students. Instead, San Ramon’s news release pointed out that the district’s English learners and African American students showed improvement, with API scores of 920 and 824, respectively.

But this improvement wasn’t enough to push African American students above the federal requirement that about 78 percent score proficient in English language arts and math. Even with their impressive API score, only 68.5 percent of African Americans in the district were proficient in English language arts, while 59.5 percent scored proficient in math.

Similarly, a community news release from Mt. Diablo schools Superintendent Steven Lawrence emphasized the district’s 7-point API improvement from 786 to 793. But, it didn’t mention that the district was entering its second year of Program Improvement for failing to meet 18 criteria related to adequate yearly progress. Lawrence did note, however, that about 61 percent of students districtwide scored proficient in English language arts and math, which was below the 78 percent federal requirement.

“While an achievement gap still exists for some of our subgroups,” he said, “our schools are committed to providing necessary support to ensure that every student achieves at the highest level.”

He did not say which subgroups he was referencing or reveal how they fell short.

While it’s commendable that the San Ramon and Mt. Diablo districts distributed some information about test scores to their communities, it’s unfortunate that they shied away from telling the whole story. A district’s Accountability Progress Report is similar to a student’s report card.

If your child’s teacher highlighted his or her accomplishments, while glossing over weaknesses, would you believe you were getting a balanced progress report? And would you feel you received the information necessary to help your child overcome weaknesses?

Although many educators criticize the No Child Left Behind law as being onerous, I haven’t heard any educator say that its ultimate goal isn’t one that every school should be working toward — ensuring that really, truly, NO CHILD should be left behind.

The only question, it seems, is: How can this best be accomplished?

Posted on Friday, October 12th, 2012
Under: Education, Mt. Diablo school district, San Ramon Valley school district | 5 Comments »

MDUSD superintendent unveils test scores, but doesn’t mention district is in second year of federal Program Improvement

Since test scores are a hot topic in the Mt. Diablo school district, I am posting Superintendent Steven Lawrence’s message to the community about student achievement in district schools below, to allow blog readers to comment on it.

“Mt. Diablo USD News Update
Where Kids Come First
October 11, 2012

The California Department of Education has released the 2012 Accountability Progress Reports for California public schools. According to the reports, students in Mt. Diablo Unified School District continue to show improved academic achievement indicated by the Academic Performance Index (API) and the Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP).

API

In the newly released Academic Performance Index (API) rankings, most Mt. Diablo schools are performing at increasingly higher levels. The goal of all California schools is to achieve an API score of 800. 34 of our 47 schools met school wide growth targets and 27 of them met all school wide and subgroup growth targets. 17 schools made double digit gains. Overall, the district API improved 7 points from 786 to 793.

All three elementary schools with the School Improvement Grant (SIG) made substantial growth: Bel Air improved 58 points, Rio Vista improved 26 points, and Shore Acres improved 61 points.

Besides the SIG schools, we are especially proud of the following schools which made over 20 points of growth from their 2011 base API. El Monte improved 24 points from 800 to 824. Fair Oaks improved 31 points from 722 to 753. Mt. Diablo Elementary improved 29 points from 902 to 931. Pleasant Hill Elementary improved 25 points from 869 to 894. Valle Verde improved 21 points from 926 to 941. College Park High improved 29 points from 786 to 815. Concord High improved 41 points from 709 to 750.

District wide, 8 elementary schools scored above 900; 10 elementary schools, 5 middle schools, and 2 high schools scored between 800 and 900. Below is a list of all schools/programs and the API growth from 2011-2012 (Due to technical constraints, I am not able to reprint the chart in this blog. Please see the chart at http://www.mdusd.org/NewsRoom/Pages/accountability-progress-report.aspx.)

AYP

The California Department of Education also released the 2012 Federal Accountability Measures, Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP). AYP reports on percentage of students scoring proficient and above in English Language Arts (ELA) and Mathematics on the California Standards Test (CST). For 2012, federal target in ELA is set at 78.0% and 78.2% in mathematics. District wide, 61.0% of our students met the ELA target and 61.1% met the mathematics target. These represent a gain in both ELA (58.7%) and mathematics (60.6%) from the previous year.

While not all of our schools met these federal targets, the following results show some continuing promising trends. At grades 2-5, 73% of our students scored proficient and above in Mathematics, surpassing state averages. Notably, 40% of 2nd graders, 49% of 3rd graders, 51% of 4th graders, and 44% of 5th graders scored advanced in mathematics.

As a district, we are committed to high expectations and outcomes for all of our students with the goal of ensuring every MDUSD graduate will be college or career ready. Administrators and teachers work collaboratively analyzing student achievement data in order to implement teaching and learning strategies that support all students in mastering critical skills and knowledge embedded in state standards. While an achievement gap still exists for some of our subgroups, our schools are committed to providing necessary support to ensure that every student achieves at the highest level. We are proud of our teachers’, support staff members’, and administrators’ commitment to improving student learning opportunities to ensure their future success. It is with the ongoing support of our School Board, parents and community that our schools and district continue to move in a positive direction.

For the complete California Accountability Progress Report, go to www.cde.ca.gov/ta/ac/ar/

[END OF SUPERINTENDENT'S MESSAGE]

It is interesting to note that Lawrence did not mention the fact that the district is in Year 2 of federal Program Improvement for failing to meet No Child Left Behind requirements. In addition, he did not mention that 10 district schools are in Program Improvement for failing to make Adequate Yearly Progress on tests, including nine that are in Year 5 and Sun Terrace Elementary in Concord, which was newly identified for Program Improvement this year.

Here is a list of schools in Program Improvement:
Bel Air Elementary in Bay Point
Cambridge Elementary in Concord
Fair Oaks Elementary in Pleasant Hill
Meadow Homes Elementary in Concord
Rio Vista Elementary in Bay Point
Shore Acres Elementary in Bay Point
Sun Terrace Elementary in Concord
Ygnacio Valley Elementary in Concord
Oak Grove Middle School in Concord
Riverview Middle School in Bay Point

As Lawrence noted, the three elementary campuses that received School Improvement Grants made great gains in their API scores: Bel Air, Rio Vista and Shore Acres.

Meadow Homes Elementary and Oak Grove Middle School have been awarded School Improvement Grants for the next three years. Both schools got new principals last year as a requirement for receiving the grant.

Under Principal Mary Louise Newling, Meadow Homes exceeded its API growth target of 5 points, jumping from 701 to 707. Under Principal Lisa Murphy Oates, Oak Grove posted the biggest drop in its API score of all the district’s regular (non-alternative) schools, falling 37 points from 639 to 602. It was the second-lowest-scoring middle school in the county, just behind Lovonya DeJean Middle School in the West Contra Costa district, which scored 599.

Although Lawrence didn’t mention the district’s PI status in his community news update, the district was required to send a letter explaining PI to every parent. The letter, dated Sept. 21, states, in part:

“…our district must continue to implement our addendum to our LEA (Local Educational Agency) Plan, use 10 percent of Title 1 funds to provide professional development for teachers and administrators, and continue to provide assistance to schools identified for PI.”

The letter also informs parents that they can “ask about school choice options to transfer your child, with paid transportation, to a public school in Mt. Diablo that is not identified as a Program Improvement school.”

In addition, parents of children in all the PI schools except Sun Terrace can request “supplemental educational services,” which are available to students in schools that have been in PI for two years or more.

Finally, the letter encourages parents to contact Rose Lock, assistant superintendent of Student Achievement and School Support, at 925-682-8000 ext. 4015 for more information or to become involved in the district’s PI efforts.

This letter, however, does not appear to be posted prominently on the district’s website. It also does not inform parents that the transfer application period has already begun. Parents must apply to transfer their children betweeen Oct. 1 and Jan. 15, according to the district’s website: http://www.mdusd.org/Departments/studentservices/Pages/OpenEnrollmentTransfers.aspx

Do you think the superintendent should have included information about Program Improvement in his message to the community?

Posted on Friday, October 12th, 2012
Under: Education, Mt. Diablo school district | 28 Comments »

MDUSD 10-8-12

The Mt. Diablo school board meeting will start early tonight at 6:30 p.m. in the district office at 1936 Carlotta Drive in Concord.

Here is the agenda:

1.0 Call to Order
1.1 President will call the meeting to order Info
2.0 Announcements
2.1 In closed session, the Board will consider the items listed on the closed session agenda. Info
3.0 Public Comment
3.1 The public may address the Board concerning items that are scheduled for discussion during closed session only. These presentations are limited to three minutes each, or a total of thirty minutes for all speakers or the three minute limit may be shortened. Speakers are not allowed to yield their time. Info
4.0 Adjourn to Closed Session at 6:00 p.m.
4.1 Negotiations – The Board may discuss negotiations or provide direction to its representatives regarding represented employees, pursuant to EERA (Govt. Code Section 3549.1) Agency negotiators: Julie Braun Martin and Deborah Cooksey. Agencies: MDEA, CSEA, Local One M&O, Local One CST, MDSPA, and Supervisory. Action
4.2 Readmission Action
4.3 Anticipated Litigation Info
4.4 Existing Litigation Action
5.0 Reconvene Open Session
5.1 Reconvene Open Session at 6:30 p.m. Info
6.0 Preliminary Business
6.1 Pledge of Allegiance and Roll Call Info
7.0 Report Out Action Taken in Closed Session
7.1 Negotiations Info
7.2 Readmission Info
7.3 Anticipated Litigation Info
7.4 Existing Litigation Info
8.0 Consent Agenda
Action
8.1 (Item #1) Items listed under Consent Agenda are considered routine and will be approved/adopted by a single motion. There will be no separate discussion of these items; however, any item may be removed from the consent agenda upon the request of any member of the Board and acted upon separately. Action
8.2 (Item #2) Minutes of the meeting of September 24, 2012 Action
8.3 (Item #3) Recommended Action for Certificated Personnel Action
8.4 (Item #4) Request to increase and decrease Full Time Equivalent (FTE) for the 2012-2013 school year Action
8.5 (Item #5) Recommended Action for Classified Personnel Action
8.6 (Item #6) REVISED Classified Personnel: Increase in Hours for an Assistant to the Hearing Impaired Position Action
8.7 (Item #7) Award of Professional Services Contract for the Preparation of Updated Enrollment Projections/Demographic Analysis and Boundary Study for the Northeast Area of Mt. Diablo Unified School District Action
8.8 (Item #8) Award of Design Services Contract:Interim Housing for Measure C Portable Replacement Program Action
8.9 (Item #9) Award of Design Services Contract: Stadium Improvements at Clayton Valley Charter High School Action
8.10 (Item #10) Contract Amendment: PHd Architects: Modification to Incorporate Additional Classrooms at Concord High School (Nueva Vista/Summit)and Pleasant Hill Middle School (Prospect/Horizon) Action
8.11 (Item #11) Contract Amendment: LSA Associates, Inc.: Provision of Requisite Environmental Consulting Services Related to the Revised Stadium Improvement Project at Ygnacio Valley High School Action
8.12 (Item #12) Amendment to the Bylaws of the 2002 and 2010 Measure C Citizens’ Bond Oversight Committees Action
8.13 (Item #13) Award of Bid #1618 to provide Structured Cabling, Adding Ethernet Drops in Classrooms with Fiber Optic Backbone at Secondary Schools Action
8.14 (Item #14) Professional Services Agreement For Legal Services: Measure C Facilities Improvement Program Action
8.15 (Item #15) Independent Services Contracts with John F. Kennedy University Action
8.16 (Item #16) Request to Approve Independent Services Contract for Events to the “T”, Inc. Action
8.17 (Item #17) 2012-13 Contract for Sierra Pacific Tours Action
8.18 (Item #18) 2012-13 Contract for Michaels Transportation Services Action
8.19 (Item #19) Increase purchase order with Non-Public Agency Ed. Support Services Action
8.20 (Item #20) Certificate of Adopting Resolution 12-13-14 to comply with Heroes Earnings Assistance and Relief Tax Act of 2008 (HEART Act) and Worker, Retiree, and Employer Recovery Act of 2008 (WRERA) Action
8.21 (Item #21) Board Action Progress Report Action
8.22 (Item #22) Proclamation of October 23 – 31, 2012 as “Red Ribbon Week” Action
9.0 Consent Items Pulled for Discussion
10.0 Public Comment
10.1 The public may address the Board regarding any item within the jurisdiction of the Board of Education of the Mt. Diablo Unified School District that is not on this agenda. These presentation are limited to three minutes each, or a total of thirty minutes for all speakers, or the three minute limit may be shortened. If there are multiple speakers on any one subject, the public comment period may be moved to the end of the meeting. Speakers are not allowed to yield their time. Info
11.0 Communications
11.1 District Organizations – At regular Board meetings, a single spokesperson of each recognized district organization may make a brief presentation following the Consent Agenda. Items are limited to those which are informational. Info
12.0 Superintendent’s Report
12.1 Superintendent’s Report Info
13.0 Business/Action Items
13.1 Public Hearing regarding Sufficiency of Textbooks and Instructional Materials for 2012/2013 for Pupil Textbook and Instructional Materials Incentive Program and Williams Settlement Instructional Materials Funds. Action
13.2 Resolution 12/13-08 Against Proposition 32 Special Exemptions Act Action
13.3 Board Resolution in Support of Proposition 30 Action
13.4 Adoption of AP English Language Textbooks Action
13.5 Adoption of AP English Literature Textbooks Action
13.6 Strategic Plan Process – Final Steps Action
13.7 Adoption of Strategic Plan Action
13.8 Amendment to BP 2140(a) Evaluation of the Superintendent Action
13.9 Meeting Extension Action
14.0 Board Member Reports
14.1 Board reports – two minute time limit Info
15.0 Closed Session
15.1 Items not completed during the first Closed Session will be carried over to this closed session. Action
16.0 Adjournment
16.1 Adjourn Meeting”

Most notably, the board is revisiting whether to endorse Prop. 30, after no trustee made a motion to endorse it last month. The board endorsed Prop. 38 in a split vote, 3-1-1, with Hansen against and Dennler abstaining.

Also, Whitmarsh and Hansen are proposing two very different alternative ideas for moving forward with the strategic plan.

Under item 13.6, Hansen proposes an approach that would allow site councils to weigh in, with board approval in December.

Under 13.7, Whitmarsh proposes adopting the strategic plan tonight as presented.

Which strategic plan proposal do you support?

OCT. 9 UPDATE: Here is a link to audio of the meeting: http://www.mdusd.org/boe/Documents/audio/2012/10.8.2012.mp3

Posted on Monday, October 8th, 2012
Under: Education, Mt. Diablo school district | 148 Comments »

UMDAF 5k and Blue Angels this weekend

Blue Angels Lt. Cmdr. CJ Simonsen flies over boats in SF Bay during Fleet Week.

Runners needed:

With lots of activities to choose from this weekend, don’t forget that the United Mt. Diablo Athletic Foundation is counting on hundreds of runners to show up to its annual 5k race Sunday morning to help keep sports alive in the district.

As of Friday, foundation President Kevin Hennessy said the nonprofit organization was far short of meeting its goal of 2,000 runners, with less than 700 signed up. That means the foundation needs another 1,300 people to sign up before the races start at 9 a.m. Sunday in Newhall Park at Ayers and Turtle Creek roads in Concord.

The foundation is hoping to raise $80,000 this year, which is $20,000 more than it raised last year, Hennessy said. If it doesn’t meet this goal, he said athletic boosters, sports teams and athletes’ families may need to make up the difference.

“We’re going to have to keep the pressure on for other fundraising mechanisms to keep sports going in the high schools,” he said.

The funds raised support after-school sports at College Park, Concord, Mt. Diablo, Northgate, Ygnacio Valley and Clayton Valley Charter high schools. To sign up online, visit www.unitedmtdiabloathletics.org.

The cost is $30 the day of the race, with registration starting at 7:15 a.m. The competitive race is at 9 a.m., followed by a “fun run and walk” at 9:45 a.m. and a kiddie race at 10:30 a.m.

What does it take to become an elite aviator?

Jockeying for attention this weekend — and expected to draw far larger crowd — are the Blue Angels joined by other hot shot aviators including the Air Force F-22 Raptor in San Francisco’s Fleet Week Air Show over Crissy Field and the bay this weekend from about 1-4 p.m.

Although the high-flying aces are well-known for their fantastic feats, they also take pride in the excitement they spread among kids in the communities they visit, inspiring students who may want to follow in their footsteps.

At the United Airlines maintenance hangar at SFO On Thursday, I asked the Blue Angels’ lead solo pilot, a female crew member and an Air Force Raptor crew member what advice they had for such future aviators.

Blue Angels Navy Lt. Cmdr. C.J. Simonsen encouraged students to study math, science and technology to stay competitive with students around the world.

“Those are the three things that are really going to make this country better, even if you don’t get to the ultimate goal of being a Naval Aviator,” he said. “What we need is kids to be really smart to keep us on the up and up as a country.”

Simonsen said he was an aerospace engineer major, but those with other college majors can also enjoy military careers in the military.

“We’ve got English majors,” he said. “We have tons of different majors that are spread over the Blue Angels and over Naval aviation in general.”

His parents, he said, instilled in him the desire to set high goals.

“Just always do your best,” he said. “That’s what I tell kids every week. You’ve got to stay out of trouble, listen to your parents and you can do anything you want in this world. This country is an unbelievable country in that you have that opportunity to do anything you want to do as long as you keep working hard and achieving those goals.”

The military also offers the option to continue your education, said Aviation Ordinance Petty Officer 2nd Class Breanna Gorski. She said she is pursuing a criminal justice degree online through Liberty University in Virginia.

Although there are only 14 women on the Blue Angels’ maintenance and support team, she said she doesn’t feel intimidated in the male-dominated environment.

“The guys treat the women like a brother-sister relationship and we are all respected on the same level,” she said. “Nobody feels like they’re a prima donna over anyone else.”

Although there haven’t been any women pilots in the Blue Angels yet, Simsonsen said he’s sure it will happen as more women apply. In the Air Force, on the other hand, there are three F-22 Raptor pilots, said Master Sgt. Bo Brewer.

Like in the Navy, he said Air Force personnel have a variety of educational backgrounds.

“You can be anything you want to be,” Brewer said. “Education in general is important.”

Here is a link to my story, which includes video interviews with Simonsen and Brewer: http://www.contracostatimes.com/ci_21701502/navy-blue-angels-and-air-force-f22-raptor?IADID=Search-www.contracostatimes.com-www.contracostatimes.com

Do you think the Navy Blue Angels are good role models for youths in this country?

Posted on Saturday, October 6th, 2012
Under: Education | 1 Comment »