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MDUSD superintendent to hold feeder pattern meetings tonight and next week

By Theresa Harrington
Wednesday, December 5th, 2012 at 1:11 pm in Education, Mt. Diablo school district.

As a reminder, Superintendent Steven Lawrence plans to hold meetings with parents in three feeder patterns this month:

Tonight at 7 p.m. at Ayers Elementary in Concord: The Ayers, Highlands, Mt. Diablo Elementary, Silverwood, Diablo View, and Pine Hollow feeder pattern meeting will meet.

December 12: Northgate HS Feeder Pattern:
Includes: Foothill MS, Valle Verde EL, Walnut Acres EL, Bancroft EL

December 19: Ygnacio Valley HS Feeder Pattern:
Includes: Oak Grove MS, Fair Oaks EL, Cambridge EL, Meadow Homes EL, Woodside EL, Ygnacio Valley EL

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

Concord HS Feeder Pattern: 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: 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: February 6, April 24
Includes: Riverview MS, Rio Vista EL, Shore Acres EL, Bel Air EL, Delta View EL

At the Pleasant Hill Education Advisory Commission meeting, several commissioners discussed the CPHS feeder pattern meeting that was held Nov. 8. Here’s a rundown of what they discussed, based on minutes taken by one of the parents. Items in quotes are exact quotes from the minutes. The rest is paraphrased.

1. Attendance: six schools were represented and five were not (no mention of whether parents in the schools not represented were informed about the meeting).

2. Common Core: District will spend $12 million in Measure C money on new computers for assessments.

3. No Child Left Behind (NCLB): Parents were concerned about large number of NCLB students being sent to Pleasant Hill MS.
“District is grappling with sending NCLB students to Pine Hollow as those students will be inclined to attend Clayton Valley Charter in their future causing funding challenges.”

4. Staffing ratios:
Parents were concerned that CPHS, which has a very large enrollment, has only one college and career adviser. Yet, much smaller schools also have one person filling this role.
“Dr. Lawrence stated that the district has never had ratios for this staffing, yet it would be good to take a close look atw this when our district has more money.
Several parents were not satisfied.”

5. Evaluation of PAC meetings vs. the new Feeder Pattern Meeting Model:

Lawrence said he had more success with feeder pattern meetings and planned to test the model for one year.
“When questioned on a perception of exclusion (as attendees are on an email guest list) Dr. Lawrence suggested that people bring a friend and that the meetings are not meant to exclude. To that end, he is considering hosting a High School across district meeting so that parents from the high schools can join a conversation with Dr. Lawrence and begin sharing best practices.”

6. Unions/Contracts
Lawrence said five union contracts are up for renewal next year.

7. GATE
Lawrence talked about differentiation for accelerated learning.
“He mentioned something about ‘framing and regrouping’ but that was not clear. He noted that extending learning opportunities for all i his belief.”

Do you think the district should keep feeder pattern minutes and post them?

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  • g

    Re: #3. When Holbrook and Glenbrook were closed, it was stated emphatically that when that community’s students reached high school they would automatically be reverted back to their original feeder pattern high school—in that case, Mt Diablo High.

    How is NCLB different? Assuming that the NCLB transfer students still have a “home” high school, why wouldn’t they also automatically revert to their original high school pattern, and then have to apply under something other than NCLB if they want an inter-district transfer, or apply to CVC for any ‘open’ space for students that do not live in the CVC feeder pattern?

  • g

    And…Did the “Glenbrook” 8th graders that were disbursed to OG or El D have to automatically revert to Mt Diablo High this year?

  • Theresa Harrington

    I believe that you are correct. Perhaps the superintendent is worried that Pine Hollow MS students would want to stay with their peers, many of whom will go to CVCHS.

  • Doctor J

    After all of the “evaluations” by the Board of Steven Lawrence, why hasn’t the result of the vote on his evaluation ever been made public like it is in Fresno ? http://www.fresnobee.com/2012/12/05/3090479/divided-fresno-unified-board-gives.html

  • Wait a Minute

    Well, first of all–the evaluations have been BS.
    Secondly–because of the culture of secrecy and incompetence/corruption.

    The onus is on the new board members to work with Cheryl (and hopefully the others cooperate) to put a complete stop to the secrecy, incompetence, and corruption.

    Furthermore, they need to start holding these so-called “leaders” accountable for their actions past and present and make the necessary changes and corrections.

  • Theresa Harrington

    I am hearing rumors that new evidence of secrecy, incompetence and corruption in the district may come to light soon.

    Regarding the superintendent’s evaluation, I am part of an Education Writers group that shares information about superintendent searches and compensation. One reporter said the board in her district conducts public superintendent evaluations. So, it looks like Trustee Cheryl Hansen’s suggestion to publicly discuss the superintendent’s performance goals wasn’t as off-base as some other trustees said it was.

  • Doctor J

    @TH#6 I am all for “new evidence” — but I will believe it when I see it. As far as Steven Lawrence’s evaluation, his contract provides for the manner and method of evaluation — which Gary Eberhart and Sherry Whitmarsh never followed. When is “soon”?

  • MDUSD Board Watcher

    I’ll pop my popcorn TH, this new evidence should be good.

    Unfortunately, some of us have been imploring those in power to follow the money all along.

  • Theresa Harrington

    The imploring continues. The question is: Will people in power will take action?

  • Theresa Harrington

    I have received the updated contracts. Interestingly, all of them were only signed by Eberhart, Whitmarsh and Mayo. Just in the nick of time! I will try to upload them later.

  • Brian Lawrence

    Improving transparency is one of my top priorities for the Board. I do believe that portions of the Superintendent’s evaluation should be presented to the public. We should be celebrating success and identifying areas for improvement.

    Systematically the District needs to become better at sharing information with the public. In the interim, I will personally share as much info as possible. I’ve set up an account at http://www.scribd.com/briantlawrence where I will be posting documentation. I’m looking at having a blog with a calendar to share district wide events as well.

    I’m open to other suggestions.

    I attended last night’s feeder pattern meeting. There was some good discussion and I enjoyed it, but I’d like to see greater participation. I was a bit late in arriving, but only counted five parents there.

  • Doctor J

    @TH#10 Signed by 3 but voted for by 4. Please compare them line by line with the originals.

  • Doctor J

    @Brian #11 — I know I took some shots at you — all in the effort to promote transparency. Its not about “improving transparency” — its about “BEING transparent” — a big difference. The Dent administration needs to get rid of this “them vs. us” mentality. Tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. We can disagree about whether we prefer red or blue, but the truth should be told. There are a lot of decisions made that were cloaked in darkness — those should be revisited with the truth exposed — whether or not the decision will be different will remain to be seen. Brian, I know you can “talk the talk” but I want to see you “walk the walk”.

  • Anon

    Brian, I had planned on going but decided that spending time with my kids would be more important then listening to the Superintendant lie again. I am happy to hear that there was a good discussion. I am hopeful that the district can turn around but after having kids in the schools here for 10 years I am a bit reluctant to believe that it will turn around.
    Time will tell if our new Board will get on board.

  • MDUSD Board Watcher

    Thank you for your comments Brian. I think we can all agree that it appears new transparency is on the horizon. Please continue on the full transparency path.

    I would encourage Brian to not get sucked into the evil trappings of Lawrence, Rolen, and Pedersen, that Eberhart and Whitmarsh were too happy to join, and which surprisingly ensnared Mayo these last two years.

  • Doctor J

    @TH#6 “new evidence of secrecy, incompetence and corruption in the district” should cause quite a stir — and those involved should be quivering in their boots — time to fess up before its published. Could be career enders both in the public and private sector. As TH points out, “Will they take action ?”

  • Brian Lawrence

    Increase transparency vs be transparent- minor difference in words but an important distinction. Point well taken.

    Shakespeare wrote: “Tis well said again; And ’tis a kind of good deed to say well: And yet words are no deeds.”

    The voters and community members will judge me by actions and that is the way it should be.

    I’m looking forward to being sworn in on Monday evening and getting started.

  • Doctor J

    Brian, you are correct — we are looking for deeds. Have you seen the agenda yet ? Should all Board members be allowed to place items on the agenda ?

  • Brian Lawrence

    No, I haven’t seen the agenda yet. Yes, all Board members should be allowed to place items on the agenda.

  • Hell Freezing Over

    @TH #10

    What are the dates by each of the 3 signatures?

  • g
  • fly on the wall

    Transparency at MDHS would be a novelty.

  • The Observer

    Transparency, Brian? You are the one who claimed to be an “Educator” on your ballot designation for political gain. When did you get religion about transparency? Actions matter and your actions so far have been quite clear – And, they are not positive actions.

  • Theresa Harrington

    There are not dates by the signatures on the contracts.

  • Doctor J

    Two swearing ins ? It will be interesting to see what impact the new members make on public disclosure of the actions [votes] in closed session and more descriptions in the agendas of what is being considered. Specifically, “Anticipated Litigation, 3 potential cases” but no descriptions of the cases, and in the past no disclosure of Board action. Note the Fresno USD I cited the other day — the public knew the general nature of the cases and the Board action taken in closed session. Not in MDUSD. Time will tell if Brian Lawrence and Barbara Oaks will actually speak up in open session and demand more “transparency”. Will Sherry Whitmarsh be present Monday or leave it up to Linda Mayo to initially lead the meeting ? Linda Mayo conducting the “reorganization” will be interesting. I think that Cheryl Hansen will be nominated for Board President. The big question is whether Brian Lawrence will be nominated for Vice-President.

  • Doctor J

    Check out all the classes CSBA offers to Board members and staff. http://connect.csba.org/isgweb/Events/CalendarEventsListView.aspx

  • Doctor J

    I wish the turnover rate was higher.:-) Steven Lawrence beat the state average with dysfunction and political interests showing up in about 3 months. “The “honeymoon” with the school board lasts between 12 and 18 months, he said, before “political interests and dysfunction show up.” ” Its time to make the move, even if it costs some money. Lets bring in Michele Lawrence of Berkeley who cleaned up Steven’s mess in West Sacramento. he’s made another one in MDUSD. http://www.edsource.org/today/2012/survey-finds-high-superintendent-turnover-in-large-california-districts/23877#.UMGwPoN9IVR

  • Doctor J

    I wish the new Board members would straighten out WHEN the Board meetings start. The Agenda 8.6 lists the Board meetings scheduled to start next year at 7:30 pm just like last year– instead, the Board starts their meetings at 6:00 pm in closed session. What Steven Lawrence and Rolen don’t seem to understand is that the “closed session” is part of the Board meeting [Board By-law 9320], and public comment is allowed prior to exusing themselves to closed session [which is properly on the agenda]. However, its not correct to list the “Board Meeting” as starting at 7:30 pm when in fact it starts at 6:00 pm, then after public comment, excuse themselves to Closed Session. I suggest they list a 6:00 pm start for the Board meeting, excuse themselves to Closed Session at 6:05 and then also list a 7:30 pm start time for “reconvening to Open Session.” Lets start doing things according to the law and to the Board By-laws. It would be refreshing.

  • Theresa Harrington

    Here’s an interesting article that questions whether MDUSD tries hard enough to find fully qualified bilingual teachers to work with English learners: http://www.nctimes.com/news/state-and-regional/state-considers-shorter-service-for-under-prepared-teachers/article_f66e8211-44bf-5bce-b2e8-dbd9b53d259a.html

  • Wait a Minute

    Dr J@27
    Gotta love this quote from the article:
    “Board members also want to micromanage, Wood said. He recalls when a board member asked him to hire a friend. “Every smart superintendent makes sure he has a strong and confident labor relations attorney who makes sure the contract gives the superintendent the right to recommend hiring and termination of employees so the board doesn’t become a personnel director,” he said.”

    We all know that corruption and nepotism has plagued the MDUSD under Stevie, Greg, The Gary, and “Chevron-Sherry”.

    Time to clean it up new board!

  • Doctor J

    @TH#29 Did you just catch Steven Lawrence in another lie or two ? Steven Lawrence’s “Declaration of Need” to State of California Commission of Teacher Credentialing said he certified: “The governing board of the school district specified above adopted a declaration at a regularly scheduled public meeting held on 5/25/10 certifying that there is an insufficient number of certificated persons who meet the district’s specified employment criteria for the position(s) listed on the attached form. The attached form was part of the agenda and the declaration did NOT appear as part of a consent calendar. >Enclose a copy of the agenda item. With my signature below, I verify that the item was acted upon favorably by the Board. . . . Signed: Steven Lawrence, Superintendent”.
    Hey Steven, one slight problem. The Board meeting on May 25, 2010 was cancelled. Ok, so you lied about that. Ultimately, it was on a subsequent agenda but on the “consent calendar” — you lied about that too.

  • Doctor J

    Once again, where is the Mildred Browne “disposition” ? What was the Board action on that and when did it happen ? Sounds like more Watergate style cover-up to me.

  • g

    District employees lie? Say it isn’t so. How about this?

    Theresa, remember your question (#151) back on March 31 under Bond Oversight Committee Meeting: Who authorized Pedersen to pursue the IHTA at Mount, and what money would be used?

    I continue to complain about Lease/Leaseback arrangements–. We have available Measure C funds sitting in the bank. Normal rates of inflation says that money will buy less tomorrow than it could today!

    But we don’t buy the things we’re building, we Lease them, and pay back over time. What is the reason for such a plethora of Lease/Leaseback deals that have been put through lately?

    Why does Pedersen seem to avoid the “lowest bid” at every turn? I’ll tell you why.

    **So the Measure C and Prop 55 money can sit in the bank earning interest for the General Fund Kitty!**

    We pay more for the Lease/Leaseback than the job would actually cost if we paid cash today. Every contractor that deals in lease/leaseback understands the Time Value of Money, and they aren’t agreeing to put their money up front today to get today’s cash value years from now.

    Then we ALSO continue to pay inflated taxes for the interest on the bond funds–Everything is costing us more than it needs to.

    Well now, (supposedly) because there is only this one board meeting this month, and we must RUSH to get jobs done–ha ha–Pedersen is asking to have the authority (for Lawrence or his “designate”) to be allowed to sign construction contracts before board approval, which would then give the board NO choice but to ratify them “someday” in the future!

    Which contracts—and for what—is NOT stated.

    However, there is another item being brought forward that should be looked at very carefully–not so much for the amount of money–but for the methods used. Perhaps they’re connected….
    —–
    Week of Oct 15, 2012–MDUSD Posted “NEW” Request for Bids with Builder’s Exchange for: “Interior Renovation of the IHTA at Mt. Diablo High School.”

    Engineering and Hazardous Materials assessments had been completed a few weeks prior to Oct 15.

    Engineers Estimate of total cost: $410,000.00 (not sure what the Engineer and Hazard assessment costs were–but not cheap!

    http://www.beac.com/sites/default/files/weekly_10-15-12_3.pdf
    “Specs not available yet”

    Required pre-bid Meeting date posted as: Oct. 17. Bids scheduled to be opened on 11/14.
    —–
    However, on Oct 23 the Request for Bids was CANCELLED on the MDUSD site, and Builder’s Exchange published “Project Cancelled” on their site the week of Nov 9.
    —–

    Builder’s exchange publishes both straight construction bids as well as Lease/Leaseback RFQs.

    RE: This week’s (quicky/sticky) Consent Agenda Item 9.27: If anyone can show where a “10/24 RFQ for a “Lease/Leaseback” was published, as Pedersen claims, I’ll eat my hat and yours too!

    When the original RFQ went out, Spec V3 (Measure C PlanRoom) for the job included the Environmental/Hazardous Materials abatement Specifications Report done by SES (Oct. 1, 2012 SES Project No. 12-086) and the IHTA report mentions asbestos, lead paint, etc. and that the contractor that does the job must have the correct licenses.

    Pedersen’s back-door Lease/Leaseback arrangement with S & H Construction, who does NOT have proper licensing to do hazardous material abatement, is estimated at $453,000.00 ($43K higher than the original bid estimate) and if anything in the S & H contract includes a penny for Hazardous Material Abatement–I’ll eat my socks!

    In Fact— the Lease (attachment on Agenda) clearly says in item 15.9: “Hazardous Materials. District is not currently aware of any contamination to the Project Site by Hazardous Materials….”

    SAY WHAT?

    Will the board members please stand up and ask a question or two? Like: Why is $453,000.00 practically hiding out in the Consent Agenda? Why all the lease/leasebacks? Why burden the people AND their grandchildren out of even more money than is already committed?

    Please; Mount is ‘my’ high school. I want them to have all of the upgrades they can get. I just want the money to be spent fairly and honestly and the job done for the least possible costs to me and my grandchildren. Please; Someone, anyone,get Pedersen Inc. under control!

  • Theresa Harrington

    Pedersen told the BOC that “lease-leaseback” agreements allow the district to circumvent the law that requires them to go with the lowest bidder and instead choose whoever they want. I believe he presented this as a good thing, meaning the district could hire quality contractors. But, it certainly leads to questions about the possibility of favoritism — and, and you point out — additional costs over the long term. I don’t know if anyone on the BOC other than Alicia Minyen has asked for any indepth rationale for why the district enters into so many of these agreements.

  • Doctor J

    @G Nice work. Agenda 15.4 should NOT be approved. The Board needs to retain its authority to review and approve BEFORE not after. There is no reason for leasebacks under the current funding situtation. Leasebacks are sweetheart deals not subject to bidding rules.

  • Doctor J

    Remember, we are likely to see Gary Eberhart getting some of these leaseback deals or being a subcontractor on them. The highest possible scruitiny is necessary.

  • MDUSD Board Watcher

    UH OH,

    IN MY OPINION, based on G’s expert analysis above, looks like Pedersen will be spending some time in prison along with Lawrence and Rolen.

    Oh the tangled webs they have woven.

  • g

    “…circumvent the law…” MDUSD is really good at that. Bond ‘income’ being used to pad the the General Fund rather than pay down the debt–MDUSD has become expert at that. It’s a round-about way to “find” $40 million extra dollars in the reserves–Not in the bank, just on the books–and then pay it out as salary raises today that our kids pay for in the future.

  • Anon

    Does anyone suppose that the construction manager I job in the consent calendar is being given to Eberhart?

    There must be some reason Eberhart gave up his board seat without a fight.

  • Doctor J

    @Anon#39 He needs a paying job with benefits — but the salary is not high enough.

  • Doctor J

    Where are the campaign donations for the MDUSD Board ? They need to be revealed. NOW !

  • g

    One thing is for sure: Meehleis (for one) has already made back all of their campaign contributions–a hundred fold! Meehleis, by the way, sat on a Torlakson review panel right alongside Eberhart. Hummmm.

    The millions we paid them from 2002 Measure C to turn our campuses into Modular mania, is now being “loaned” back to us under Leasebacks to replace/re-purpose many of those same 6-7 year old modulars. Of course, that necessitates new Engineering contracts, new hazard abatement contracts, new HVAC contracts, new wiring contracts, new….

    Then there is the replacement of all those 2002-C HVAC units that are only 6-7 years old. Sheetmetal Union (etc) contributors love that one. Tearing out and replacing what they just built a few years ago. New Engineering contracts, new Hazardous materials contracts, new electrical….

  • Anon

    I call on Brian Lawrence to take the first step to transparency and reveal ALL of his campaign donations.

  • g

    Also take a look at the latest agreement with Meehleis on Monday’s Agenda (also a Consent Agenda sticky/quicky) Item 9.29.

    It’s for $2,500,000.00! It is NOT for building the new YVHS project. It is for “preliminary oversight” assistance. Then in 2013, we will pay them many-many more million$ (lease/leaseback) to do the actual building.

    “WHEREAS, Developer desires to provide consulting services to the District with respect to other related services in
    preparation for the Project’s development;…”

    CONSULTING SERVICES!?!?

    “ARTICLE 2. CONSTRUCTION
    The Parties expect to enter into the Lease Agreements on or about May 2013. The Parties expect that the Project
    shall be completed on or before October 2013.”

  • Wait a Minute

    Hey G,

    Its now listed at $2,500.

    I guess somebody read your comment!

    I also see that the Sunpower contract is now valued at 75 and 1/2 million dollars.

    I wonder what our 75 and 1/2 million dollars did for The Gary’s career going forward as a “solar expert”?

  • g

    Pedersen got by with giving Meehleis other “Preliminary” service agreement(s), the most recent one, I believe, on Nov. 5, for new YVHS Restrooms. That particular one was for ‘just’ $34,211.00, to do the oversight work that we already pay Pedersen Inc staff to do, and to “present” the work that we already pay Salas O’Brien to do.

    It looks to me like that “deal” to use In-House staff and save money over what it would have cost to hire Outside Management of Measure C isn’t saving much money.

    But then again, you can disguise a lot when presenting data to “oversight” committees and boards with clever general category accounting and reporting practices.

    By the way Pete, how about publishing the E&O documents on the Agenda, instead of just putting up the Insurance documents twice (again and again) and calling them E&O. Do you think no one is interested in Errors and Omissions provisions?

  • g

    Yes WAM! I wish I could print this stuff out before it changes! Broken printer–no $ left after all the special school tax assessments:)

  • g

    Monday’s agenda also provides for a contract addition of $16,400. just for “just” the Architectural work to “prepare” to remove “failing” skylights at Strandwood. Would those be on the modulars that Meehleis just installed in, what was it 2005, 2007?

  • Doctor J

    Its crystal clear that staff reports confuse more than clarify, especially for new board members who need to be brought up to speed on every single agenda item, with a full history of why the specific item is necessary. Who is the construction manager who has been interviewed and “accepteda” ? Where is his resume and qualifications ? The salary level ? Both new board members should object to the marginal information. Board members have a fiduciary duty to independently verify the need for a contract.

  • MDUSD Board Watcher

    I call on Brian Lawrence to vote no on all provisions that he doesn’t have sufficient information to make a decision on.

    That includes hiring this Construction Manager I. What exactly do we pay Pedersen the double dipper for?