Part of the Bay Area News Group

MDUSD 11-5-12

By Theresa Harrington
Monday, November 5th, 2012 at 7:17 pm in Education, Mt. Diablo school district.

Tonight’s board meeting appears to be very light on agenda items, with only two easement dedications listed under action items.

But there are a few interesting items on the consent calendar:

Item 8.8: Recission of bid for ethernet cabling (bidder says it’s too risky at $70,000 per day on a $1 million contract):

Item 8.9: Award of same bid to another contracter, who apparently accepted the risk (although the attachments don’t spell that out):

Item 8.10: Inspector fees of more than $8,000 to be paid from developer fees for IHTA gourmet kitchen at MDHS:

I had a call from a Bay Point/Pittsburg resident today who alleged the district is spending developer fees from new homes constructed in that area on schools on the “other side of the hill.” In this case, MDHS does serve Bay Point students, but this resident argued developer fees should remain on the other side of the hill to accommodate overcrowding there by building a new school.

Item 8.11: College Park Measure C improvements:

It looks like the school is finally getting the paving and drainage improvements that former Principal Barbara Oaks asked for back in March, 2010.

Items 8.12 are is also for College Park improvements.

Item 8.13 is for interim housing (but doesn’t say that on the agenda).

We’re back to College Park again with Item 8.14, for environmental services related to athletic facilities improvements.

The board also plans to approve more YVHS improvements related to the controversial field expansion in item 8.15:

Item 8.16: Leasing interim housing (as opposed to the other interim housing item at 8.13).

Item 8.19: Translator support:

The district intends to contract with Marisol Rolen (Greg Rolen’s wife, among other contractors)

I will try to do a live blog and videotape the proceedings.


I got here a bit late and didn’t hear the complete report out of closed session, but I believe I heard that trustees intend to go back into closed session after the meeting is over.

I believe the board approved all of the consent calendar items except 8.19, which was pulled. (I will confirm this after the meeting is over.)

NOV. 6 UPDATE: Here is a link to the meeting audio:

Per the audio, Board President Sherry Whitmarsh announced that the board voted in closed session to send one student to Diablo Day School. She also said trustees would go back into closed session after the meeting to discuss employee discipline/release/complaint.

Trustee Cheryl Hansen pulled item 8.19 from the consent calendar and the board unanimously approved the rest of the consent calendar.

Here are video clips of the discussion and votes regarding translator services:

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

Part 4:

The board voted 3-2 to negotiate contracts with three of the four vendors presented by staff (Eberhart and Whitmarsh against).

The board then voted 3-2 to also negotiate with AIS (Hansen, Mayo against).

Deb Cooksey said the second vote put the board right back where it was before the first vote, with all four vendors in the running for contracts.

Student reports:

Superintendent’s Report:

College Park HS easement:
Board unanimously approved easement.

Sun Terrace Elementary easement:
Board unanimously approved easement.

Trustee Cheryl Hansen’s board report:
Hansen reported on an upcoming Iron Chef competition Wednesday at Concord High School, which she will help judge.

Trustee Lynne Dennler’s board report:
Dennler reported on an autism task force meeting she attended.

Trustee Gary Eberhart’s board report:
Eberhart thanked staff and the community for the support he has received over the years and wished the board well as it tackles difficult decisions in the future.

Trustee Linda Mayo’s board report:
Mayo thanked Eberhart for his years of service and reported on her recent activities.

Board President Sherry Whitmarsh’s board report:
Whitmarsh reported on what she is thankful for, then called for a break before the board went back into closed session to discuss employee complaint/dismissal/release.

Interestingly, no one mentioned the election. Whitmarsh is up for re-election and the board has endorsed Props. 30 and 38.

Do you agree with the board’s decision to allow AIS to renegotiate its contract bid to retain a portion of MDUSD’s translation services work?

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

127 Responses to “MDUSD 11-5-12”

  1. Doctor J Says:

    For those of you who want to research other charities, especially those affiliated with MDUSD, here is the search from the California Attorney General website:

  2. Clayton Squirrel Says:

    Our middle school PFC had it’s own Tax ID number and we had a CPA file our own annual non-profit tax returns with the IRS. When we held events after hours we had to pay MDUSD custodian overtime fees just like the Boy Scouts did when they used the MUR on a weekend.

  3. Jim Says:

    @99 Dr J — As far as I know, the Walnut Acres PFC is an independent non-profit with its own tax ID#. They could not use any PTA organization’s status, because they are not affiliated with the PTA. (As you may know, many parents across the country have objected to the close ties between PTA and the traditional education establishment, including the unions, which may account for the declining membership in PTAs generally.)

    If Linda Mayo got her way and all fundraising were pooled, it would have to be done in an entirely voluntary way. So far, the SCOTUS still interprets the First Amendment as protecting the right of freedom of association, which means people can voluntarily join organizations and raise funds for any legal purpose. I suspect that if Ms. Mayo’s suggestion were adopted, you would see a dramatic decline in parent contributions at the more affluent schools, and a much smaller pool of funds, spread very thinly. Of course, having everyone be poorer, but more equal, is gaining popularity as an ideology in the U.S. (alas, just as it is losing its appeal almost everywhere else), but whether it would actually help our students is another matter. Perhaps instead, Ms. Mayo and other board members could actually support a parcel tax, which would raise money strictly for this district and WOULD be spent equitably. Oh wait. I forgot. Mayo and Co. have already squandered the credibility that such an initiative would require.

    Ms. Mayo, without any help from you, the Walnut Acres parents have instituted their own “parcel tax” on themselves. They are just trying to survive MDUSD. Haven’t you done enough damage? For Pete’s sake, let them be.

  4. Doctor J Says:

    @Jim#103 Once I saw the 990, it was clear there was a separate tax id #. I agreed with your prior post that while WAPFC may be the Mercedes of PFC’s, other PFC’s could strive to do better. What I really found interesting when I looked up the UMDAF was that the “address” of UMDAF with the California Attorney General was listed: THE@UNITED MT DIABLO ATHLETIC FOUNDATION
    CONCORD, CA 94521-4064

  5. Anon Says:

    @ Dr. J #82

    Or another way of looking at the scores, Northgate ranks 88th out of 100 schools of similar demographics, qualities, and characteristics. its lowest ever, and not even in the neighborhood of the top 50. It also failed for the first time in years not to be in the top 10 percent of California high schools.

  6. Doctor J Says:

    Brief comparison between just a few of the parent clubs in MDUSD that shows the great disparity:

    Northgate High PFC
    Address & Telephone number of PFC is the High School
    Principal is listed as a Vice-President
    Schedule A lists last 5 years of revenue.
    2010 Total Revenue $613,522

    Northgate Parent Action Team
    Mental Health Care and Counseling
    Address is High School
    2010 total Revenue $63,280

    Concord High PFC
    Address & Telephone number of PFC is the High School
    2010 Total Revenue $20,416

    Mt. Diablo High Parent Club
    appears to have been established 1980
    No records available at Calif Attorney General since at least 2001
    School website says: “A PTSA unit in good standing is required to have a president, secretary and treasurer; sumbit dues for a minimum of 15 members and pay annual insurance premium. The Mt. Diablo High School PTSA has not met any of these requirements this year. In order for the PTSA to continue, these items must be addressed immediately.

    Ygnacio Valley High School PTSA
    No listing found as registered charity with Calif Attorney General
    Information on School Web site:
    Sherry Whitmarsh listed as 2011-12 Treasurer and 2010-11 President

    Ygnacio Valley High School Athletic Boosters
    Address listed is High School
    2009 Total Revenue $35,042

  7. Theresa Harrington Says:

    The district has decided to postpone “clustering” of special ed students until August, instead of implementing in June:–s5snhuQ&a=gp&filename=Transportation+Letter+Eng+Sp+111612.pdf&nonce=5u7vjng3i96j6&user=AGZ5hq8qwfRFszUjrfxNeN-N6Dhi&hash=ujnj2emojm0rtndc8fof1p264s3ab24n

  8. Doctor J Says:

    anyone else have trouble with the link in #107 ?

  9. Theresa Harrington Says:

    It works for me. But, here is a link to the CAC blog, which posted the link to the district’s letter to parents:

  10. Doctor J Says:

    Interesting that the Rolen/Mills letter is dated Nov 16 and “just going out” two weeks later. The key here is that IEP teams were instructed to “document the specific level of transportation support needed” AND “determine if students are able to travel . . .in a similar manner as their same age, non-diabled peers.” Who will make the determination of the KIND and MANNER of transportation ? Carolyn Patton or Angie Goakey. Greg Rolen and Kerri Mills are counting on parents to just roll over on the transportation. The goal of the district is to reduce transportation costs. I hope parents are heads up at the IEP and don’t permit any vagueness in the transportation issues to the detriment of their children.

  11. anon Says:

    Dr J @106,
    pretty sure this is YV:

    New Search
    755 OAK GROVE RD
    CONCORD, CA 94518-2801
    Available 990s
    No Records Found
    IRS Business Master File Information
    The following information comes directly from the IRS and is posted here without any changes. If information for your organization is not right, please contact IRS Customer Account Services at 1-877-829-5500 to correct it.
    EIN: 943025789
    Ruling Date: 11/1943
    NTEE: –
    Group Exemption Number: 0646
    SubSection: 03 – Charitable Organizations
    Affiliate: 9 – Subordinate – This code is used if the organization is a subordinate in a group ruling.
    Classification: 5 – Association
    Deductibility: 1 – Contributions are deductible.
    Foundation: 16 – Organization that normally receives no more than one-third of its support from gross investment income and unrelated business income and at the same time more than one-third of its support from contributions, fees, and gross receipts related to exempt purposes.
    Filing Requirement: 02 –
    Activity Code(s):
    059 – Schools, Colleges and Related Activities
    035 – Schools, Colleges and Related Activities
    000 –

  12. Doctor J Says:

    @Anon#111 using that tax id #, they [I guess that includes Sherry] have been soliciting donations but not filing the required IRS 990 tax returns.

  13. Doctor J Says:

    Looks like Steven Lawrence shot blanks on this job too.

  14. Doctor J Says:

    Why wasn’t MDUSD mentioned in the article on CAB’s by school districts ?

  15. Anon Says:

    Doctor J, MDUSD was mentioned

  16. Doctor J Says:

    What I meant was that MDUSD didn’t make the bullet points of those with CAB’s in their portfolio.

  17. Theresa Harrington Says:

    The terms of the CABs issued by MDUSD were not as outrageous as the terms of those mentioned in the bullet points.
    Here are the MDUSD CABs listed by the LA Times:
    Nearly $3 million issued in 2010 with a repayment cost of $9.7 million over about 12 years, or 3.2 times the amount financed.
    And $943,582 issued in 2011 with a repayment cost of about $1.8 million over 7.3 years, or 1.9 times the amount financed.
    According to analysts interviewed by the LA Times, repayment periods of 25 years or more with costs that are 4 times the amount issued are the most alarming.
    While MDUSD hadn’t issued any of those types of CABs before the board agreed to raise tax rates and limit itself only to current interest bonds, it could have issued them in 2012 and 2015.
    I plan to do a blog post later today that goes into more detail about CABs in Contra Costa County and the Tri-Valley area.
    Here is the link to my story, which quoted Linda Loza against CABs and Jon Isom explaining why they are sometimes useful:

  18. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Back on the subject of effective principals, here’s a US Dept. of Ed. blog post that sheds light on how one self-described “rebel” principal turned around his low-income school:

  19. Theresa Harrington Says:

    As an aside, if anyone knows of any weather-related issues at local schools, please let me know. We’re planning another weather story and could use anecdotes about how the storm is affecting the community. Thanks!

  20. Jim Says:

    @118 — Here’s another way to look at how principals can add value. If you look at house values in central CC County, the difference in the prices of identical median-priced houses between those in a “good” school district and a “not-so-good” school district is about $100,000. At higher price levels, the differential can easily exceed $200,000. (This is based on my own sampling, but y’all are free to poll your realtor friends.) Looking at the Northgate section of Walnut Creek, there are, I think, about 15,000 dwelling units (a little less than half of the 32,000 DUs in WC). That means there is a $1.5 – 3 BILLION difference in the aggregate value of those homes, depending on whether they are regarded as having “good” schools (a la Lamorinda, Alamo, etc.) or “not-so-good” schools as in (fill in the blank). In Prop 13 terms, that extra value, over time, represents $15-30 million per year in property tax revenue (which, admittedly, would go mostly into a black hole in Sacramento, but still…)

    And yet the delivery of public education in that area is in the hands of just FIVE public school principals — 3 elementary, one middle school, and one high school. Imagine the impact on property values that just one principal could have, especially if he/she were a high school principal whose “territory” covers the entire community!

    Some may regard this analysis as crass, overly simplistic, etc. And the estimates may vary. But for the majority of residents — who btw do NOT have children in K12 public schools — these might be interesting numbers. The differential can be significant at all price levels, wherever you see a “better” district adjacent to a “not-as-good” district.

    There’s no question about the basic conclusion. If principals and teachers in MDUSD could truly run their own schools, without interference from their incompetent district, and if they were truly doing a good enough job to be considered “good” by the public, they could overcome the MDUSD stigma that destroys value, rather than creating it. And in the process, they would be producing a significant economic value for the community, over and above the important mission of preparing the next generation of students for the 21st Century.

  21. Doctor J Says:

    What happenens to former MDUSD administrators who “early retire” ? Check out Nancy Baum’s desire: “After spending my entire professional career as an educator, I have stepped away from direct public school service with a clear purpose. I am now looking to move my deep commitment to public education to an appropriate position at a private foundation. I believe that our public school system needs active advocacy and support from public organizations and private foundations to sustain and enhance children’s growth. My resume documents a wide variety of professional experiences within the public school system, including community outreach and the development of successful partnership programs that support children’s academic, social and emotional growth. I look forward to the opportunity to transfer my relevant skills to a position at a foundation. ”*1_Nancy_Baum_*1_*1_*1_*1_*2_*1_Y_*1_*1_*1_false_2_R_*1_*51_*1_*51_true_G%2CCC%2CN%2CI%2CPC%2CED%2CL%2CFG%2CTE%2CFA%2CSE%2CP%2CCS%2CF%2CDR_us%3A0_*2_*2_*2_*2_*2_*2_*2_*2_*2_*2_*2_*2_*2_*2_*2_*2_*2_*2_*2&pvs=ps&trk=pp_profile_name_link

  22. Doctor J Says:

    Any board members attending ? California School Boards Association Annual Conference

    Date(s):11/29/2012 – 12/01/2012
    Location:San Francisco, CA

  23. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Jon Isom was there, along with many other financial advisors and board members from around the state, I learned, when I called him for comments regarding CABs. Here’s a blog post about the cautionary tale that MDUSD provides to other districts regarding lack of transparency in bond financing:
    WCCUSD Board President Charles Ramsey told me he was also there and that he planned to give a presentation on CABs yesterday morning. I don’t know if any MDUSD board members were there. The Dublin district superintendent and Acalanes superintendent were also there, we were told when we tried to reach them for our CAB story.

  24. fly on the wall Says:

    #77, 78, 120

    Don’t know where the MDHS principal is getting her make over advice, but acting unusually friendly is fairly transparent. Same old policies and ideas. Sad to see the overly ambitious VP following in her principal’s footsteps

  25. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Jessica Preciado also told me that sometimes the principal was very nice to her. That was part of the reason she was so surprised when the principal failed to respond at all to her request to switch to part-time after her son’s illness and by the principal’s failure to respond to her request for a letter of recommendation, when it became clear to her that she would not be able to return to work part-time at MDHS because she had received no response to her suggestions regarding making slight modifications to the master schedule. She said she thought she had been on good terms with the principal.
    When I was talking to Skip Weinstock about how to motivate students, he said that students who like you will do anything for you. He said he was discussing this with district consultant Mary Bacon, who is training teachers and administrators in cultural responsiveness. Weinstock said he asked, somewhat tongue in cheek, why staff wasn’t being trained in how to be likable. Weinstock’s practice of listening and taking an interest in students, which makes them feel heard and valued, provides a good lesson for all teachers and administrators in how to motivate others.

  26. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Not surprisingly, it looks like SFUSD board members are at CSBA, based on this tweet by SF Trustee Rachael Norton: “Ron Bennett CSBA board, led by Jill Wynns, provided great advocacy this year. #csbaaec #proudofmycolleague”

    I wonder if any MDUSD leaders are receiving similar kudos at the conference.

  27. Theresa Harrington Says:

    In response to new USDA school lunch regulations, MDUSD and other districts nationwide are cooking up new recipes and offering more fruits and veggies at lunchtime:

Leave a Reply