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MDUSD extends hours for Tuesday community input meeting regarding superintendent search

By Theresa Harrington
Monday, June 10th, 2013 at 11:01 am in Education, Mt. Diablo school district.

The Mt. Diablo school district has extended the hours for its second community input meeting related to its search for a new superintendent. The meeting, previously scheduled from 4:20-5:30 p.m. has been extended to 7 p.m. to allow more people to participate.

Here is the revised public notice:

“PUBLIC NOTICE – Request for Community Input Superintendent Search – REVISED

The Board of Education of the Mt. Diablo Unified School District is conducting a search for a new district superintendent. Community input about the desired characteristics to be used in recruiting and selecting this person is desired. The trustees are soliciting input to respond to the prompt: What personal and professional qualities for an incoming superintendent will be a match for the Mt. Diablo School District?

Michael Escalante and Sally Frazier of Leadership Associates were selected to advise the Board in this important process. They will be in our district on June 6 and 11 to solicit input that will be used to develop the recruitment criteria. Your input about the desired personal and professional qualities anticipated in the incoming superintendent is valued.

Individual input from members of the community (parents, employees and others interested in our district) is desired. To attend and participate in an open forum, where your ideas will be heard and you may hear about the process, no appointment is necessary. The open forum will be held on June 6, 2013 at the Willow Creek Center, 1026 Mohr Lane, Concord 94518, between 4:20 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. On June 11, 2013, it will be held at the Dent Center, 1936 Carlotta Drive, Concord 94519, from 4:20 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

If you are unable to meet personally with the Board’s advisors, you may send a fax to (760) 771-4277 or an email to lhunt@leadershipassociates.org. To speak by phone to either Michael Escalante or Sally Frazier, you may call (760) 771-4277.”

As previously noted, the district is also inviting public input via an online survey at: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/CQF8VXM

Here are the questions on that survey:

INTRODUCTION

The Mt. Diablo Unified School District Governing Board has contracted with Leadership Associates to assist in the recruitment and selection of the District’s next superintendent. This survey will be used to collect input from all stakeholders about the desired characteristics to be used in the selection process.

All input is welcome, so please take a few minutes to complete this survey!

EXPERIENCE

Because experienced applicants can come from different backgrounds, tell us how you would rank the qualifications below.

1. Rank the following in order of desirability from 1 to 5, where 1 = high and 5 = low

Experience in oversight of school district finances, budgets, and business management.

Experience in management of school facilities.

Experience in California public education, either teaching and/or site administration.

Experience as an assistant superintendent or associate superintendent.

Experience as a superintendent in a comparable district.

A proven track record of strong academic achievement for all students, including special needs children, second language learners, and children of poverty.

LEADERSHIP CHARACTERISTICS

We would like to know which leadership characteristics matter most to you.

2. Rate characteristics to look for in a superintendent based on their importance to you: Very Important, Important, Somewhat Important, Not Important, or No Opinion

Is a strong instructional leader who will maintain and improve the student achievement gains made in the district.

Will bring the entire community together toward a strong vision of student achievement.

Will place the highest priority on safe environments for students and staff.

Has strong human relations skills and is a “people person.”

Will be accessible to parents and staff.

Holds high standards for consistent discipline in schools.

Will be highly visible at our schools and community events.

Is bilingual in English and Spanish.

CONNECTING YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD, YOUR SCHOOLS, YOUR DISTRICT SUPERINTENDENT

What should the next superintendent know about your community and neighborhood schools? Type your responses in the box for each question below.

3. What other desirable professional and personal characteristics would you like to see in the next superintendent?

4. In your opinion, what are some of the outstanding qualities of the Mt. Diablo Unified School District?

5. In your opinion, what are some of the challenges facing the Mt. Diablo Unified School District?

ABOUT YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH MDUSD:

We want to know how the Mt. Diablo Unified School District serves you.

6. My perspective on Mt. Diablo USD comes from being a (check all that apply)

Parent/Guardian
Community Member
Support Staff/Classified Employee
Administrator/Certificated, Classified, or Confidential
Teacher/Certificated Staff
School Volunteer/PTA Member
Business Owner/Operator
Public Official
Student
Other (please specify)

Which of the above items are most important to you?

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68 Responses to “MDUSD extends hours for Tuesday community input meeting regarding superintendent search”

  1. g Says:

    Leadership Characteristics:
    “Is a strong instructional leader who will maintain and improve the student achievement gains made in the district.”

    Please strike the word ‘maintain’. We are in the lowest 10% in the State! Please strike the words ‘gains made’. They have been insignificant at best over the last few years, and well below what they were many years ago.

    That will leave us with: “Is a strong instructional leader who will improve the student achievement in the district.” Now that is a goal we can all agree to!

  2. Anon Says:

    The only way a new Superintendent is going to survive and ultimately thrive in this District is to be a true leader. Not a manager, or a doer of tasks, but someone who has vision and can motivate and inspire others to follow his/her lead.

  3. Theresa Harrington Says:

    At the special board meeting where trustees laid out their wish lists, visionary leadership appeared to be a top priority, along with great communication and motivational skills.

    This type of leadership is evident at Clayton Valley Charter High School, where staff and parents appear to have rallied around Dave Linzey and his administrative team.

    One thing not mentioned on the Leadership Associates list is experience with charters and charter petitions. Does this district want a superintendent who will fight charters tooth and nail or one who might be willing to collaborate with them or seek to solve problems that led to the charter petition?

  4. Theresa Harrington Says:

    The county grand jury has released a report, including recommendations, related to districts with solar installations: http://www.cc-courts.org/_data/n_0038/resources/live/rpt1309.pdf

    Now that Greg Rolen is gone, it will be interesting to see if the board actually puts this on a public agenda and openly discusses it. It will also be interesting to see if the district gives it to the CBOC to discuss as an agenda item. And of course, it will be interesting to see who drafts the district’s response and whether the board publicly votes to approve it.

    Should the district also seek someone with experience openly and transparently responding to Grand Jury reports and recommendations?

  5. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Here’s an interesting discussion of leadership qualities being hosted by the Coro Leadership Network on Thursday: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1qx_Pyptd3nKw7n1sXBg-ZC6xE5pIzsePeeWJGd4BpDo/viewform?pli=1

    Perhaps it would behoove some MDUSD trustees to attend.

  6. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Here’s my “news brief” about the district’s two community meetings tomorrow – one for the supt search and one for the YVHS field improvements: http://www.contracostatimes.com/contra-costa-times/ci_23430963/mt-diablo-school-district-hold-two-community-meetings

  7. fog a spoon Says:

    Audit. Audit. Audit. Now is the time: Now is the time to put enough “safety clauses” in the contract to let the district out if this is another Lawrence. Now is the time to let the workers speak with law enforcement and get some of these people out and prosecuted if necessary. Now is the time to tally up what these inept managers have done and break up the Dent “gang”. Restructure these contracts so they actually benefit the district. If the board felt fine putting caps on our benefits why can’t they put caps on release compensation? Make it a district friendly contract. Bring salaries for management into focus. Get rid of this Dent group that has brought the district nothing but sorrow and a horrible reputation. I, too, have had dealings with “the kid” and I do not trust these people and I am convinced they don’t actually know that much about accounting. I feel like we need an outside, very thorough, audit. Something just does not feel right here.

  8. anon Says:

    TH#4, You say rolen is gone. Is he? Has there been a settlement or is the district continuing to pay two general counsels? I thought we were getting better leadership with this new board, not worse. Wheres the outrage?

  9. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Anon: I will try to find out the status of the settlements. I meant that Rolen is “gone” in terms of no longer being able to respond to Grand Jury reports on his own.

  10. anon Says:

    Anon #8, per the terms of the proposed settlement, which does not appear to have yet been approved, Rolen will be paid through December 31, 2013, so yes, the District is effectively paying for two general counsels. The board decided to just release and buy out Lawrence and Rolen pursuant to their contracts, rather than undergo a protracted release for cause process. We will be paying for two superintendents and two general counsels for 6 months, unless Lawrence gets a new job, which per his MDUSD contract decreases or eliminates his buyout depending on his new salary.

  11. g Says:

    That doesn’t sound so bad, considering we are paying for two Asst. Superintendents of SpEd for 18 months!

  12. anon Says:

    Anon 10 is a board member.

  13. Anon Says:

    They should have cleaned house across the board. Now we wait to see is someone actually comes in and holds those who are still here accountable for what they still continue not to do.

  14. anon Says:

    Anon #12, wow, I am? Then I’ve been missing all the meetings I was supposed to attend. No, I’m just an interested citizen and district resident, like most individuals who post here. By “we” I meant the taxpayers supporting this district. I just read the board agendas and the attached agreements like everyone else, and follow Theresa’s posts.

  15. Theresa Harrington Says:

    FYI, to those who are interested in the YVHS field lighting project, I have received an email from Tim Cody with the following information:

    “Please note 925/682-8000 ext. 85615 or 85612 are the 2010 Measure C number(s) to call concerning the YVHS meeting.”

  16. anon Says:

    Apologists for the current board. It is amusing to watch, I’ll give you that.

  17. g Says:

    anon 12/16 is a former board member.

  18. Theresa Harrington Says:

    FYI, I attended the supt. input session yesterday, as well as the YVHS EIR input meeting. Interestingly, the comments made by YVHS neighbors directly corroborated what was being said at the superintendent input sessions — namely that people in the community don’t trust the district and don’t feel district officials are responsive or communicate well with them. I videotaped the first hour and will post the clips to YouTube.com/tunedtotheresa.

  19. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Here’s a short story about the superintendent search input Leadership Associates has received so far, along with an observation from Interim Superintendent John Bernard about the need for better communication in the district: http://www.contracostatimes.com/twitter/ci_23445834/mt-diablo-school-district-community-wants-inclusive-superintendent

  20. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Here’s columnist Tom Barnidge’s take on the supt. input meeting:
    http://www.contracostatimes.com/twitter/ci_23446054/barnidge-only-thing-expected-mount-diablos-next-superintendent

  21. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Here’s my story on the contentious YVHS field lights and PA meeting: http://www.contracostatimes.com/twitter/ci_23447003/planned-field-improvements-at-ygnacio-valley-high-worry

    Video is posted on my youtube account.

  22. Doctor J Says:

    Did you post a EIR video #7 ? Thank you for doing those. Did anyone ask what will happen at 10:00 pm if the game is not finished ? Will it be lights out with 3,000 people in the stands ? How do the neighbors enforce the EIR if YVHS violates it ? Do they have to hire a lawyer and file a lawsuit ? BTW, I don’t think the City of Concord has a noise ordinance. http://www.cityofconcord.org/pdf/citygov/agendas/council/2009/0105/4B.pdf

  23. Doctor J Says:

    You gotta love Barnidge’s last line of his column on the Supt search. I wish he would give us an update on the document response. Its been total silence.

    Dr. Bernard’s comment, as the commercial says, is “priceless”. He said that after 16 days on the job, he has noticed the district includes many great employees. “But,” he said, “we’re not working well together.”

    That was the culture created by Eberhart, Whitmarsh and Steven Lawrence. It will take real leadership to fix and some time. Actions speak louder than words.

  24. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Regarding the YVHS EIR videos, apparently #7 didn’t post, so I’m uploading it again. Yes, some people did ask what would happen at 10 p.m. and the consultants said questions would be answered in a Response to Comments section of the final EIR. The report said games would last until 9 p.m., but many people were skeptical that lights would be out by 10 p.m. They also wanted to know who was responsible for enforcing the parameters outlined in the EIR, since many said they don’t trust the district to adhere to it.

    Regarding Dr. Bernard, he has agreed to talk to me after every board meeting to see if I have any questions. He said he plans to report on what he has seen so far during his superintendent’s report. Stay tuned. It sounds like he intends to use the superintendent’s report as a vehicle for in-depth communication with the board and public.

  25. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Grand Jury has issued a new report: “Assessing Financial Risk: Who is Minding the Store?” in which MDUSD is highlighted for its recurring audit “material weaknesses/significant deficiencies” and “Single Audit Report (Grant Findings)”: http://www.cc-courts.org/_data/n_0038/resources/live/rpt1311.pdf

    The Grand Jury recommends that school boards remedy material weaknesses and significant deficiencies within 12 months, report audit results to the County Office of Education with performance goal of promptly remedying deficiencies, appoint “a formal audit committee from among their members and provide direct oversight to district operating and financial management to ensure that Internal Control deficiencies are promptly remedied,” and that internal audit groups not report to financial management but instead to the governing board. As has been previously mentioned, MDUSD cut its internal auditor, so there is no one currently performing this function.

  26. Theresa Harrington Says:

    For those interested in improving academic outcomes and fostering critical thinking, this new study of Montessori schools should be interesting: http://us2.campaign-archive1.com/?u=0e28a613cf5e40a5c7a457727&id=32e98d2604

    I’ve often wondered why traditional schools haven’t embraced Montessori methods, which appear to work so well at differentiated instruction, adapting to the various ways children learn, teaching students personal responsibility and social skills: http://us2.campaign-archive1.com/?u=0e28a613cf5e40a5c7a457727&id=32e98d2604

    In MDUSD, Eagle Peak Montessori is one of the top-performing schools. Instead of traveling all over the state and country for professional development, perhaps SASS could pick up a few ideas by visiting that campus.

    On the topic of professional development, the Leadership Associates rep told me that in staff focus groups, some people expressed enthusiasm about the district’s new three-year professional development plan. This was the first I had heard of this plan. Dr. Bernard has quickly picked up on the fact that both internal and external communication in the district is severely lacking. Instead of keeping information about what is going on secret, the district should let the board and public in on the plan.

  27. Sue Berg Says:

    Theresa, the YVHS lighting issue is reminiscent of the concerns voiced when Northgate and Clayton Valley wanted to add field lights. You might check with those communities to find out if the 10 pm “lights out” requirement is working.

    Dr. J, #23: Barnidge’s column left out one major factor in a superintendent’s success: the role of the Board of Education. From what I heard, the Board majority during Dr. Lawrence’s tenure was more hands-on in regard to on-going district operations than Board By-law 9000, “Role of the Board” calls for.

    Board members can and do have different ideas and priorities for the district, but they must be able to work as a team in setting the district’s goals and in letting the superintendent be the “chief executive officer” (Board Policy 2110, “Superintendent Responsibilities And Duties”) who actually manages the organization to meet those goals.

    In hiring a superintendent who meets all the criteria the community has listed Board members must step back into their oversight role and allow that person to be the strong organizational leader the superintendent’s role requires.

  28. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Sue: Yes, one YVHS community member said Northgate and CVCHS both allow use of their fields less than 115 days a year. Hopefully, the board will ask staff to provide a comprehensive report about this project and how it compares to others in the district. The board conducted a meeting at Northgate High about that project, but the board has so far held no meetings about the YVHS project.

    And regarding the board and superintendent roles, Board President Cheryl Hansen specifically asked for a superintendent who understands those roles and is comfortable drawing boundaries. At Tuesday’s community input meeting, it was pointed out that all but one board member has been serving less than four years. The new superintendent will have to understand that with the exception of Trustee Linda Mayo, most trustees are still relative newbies who are learning the ropes themselves.

    At the end of the meeting, when everyone else had left, I asked Sally Frazier about how superintendents share information with trustees. I pointed out that some MDUSD trustees have complained that the previous superintendent shared some information (such as the CVCHS FCMAT report) only with the board president and vice president, but not with the rest of the board. Frazier said the new superintendent would be guided by the board’s protocols. If trustees want the superintendent to share information equally with all of them, they can require that in their protocols. Although the previous board talked about amending its protocols (including a suggestion to add censure by former Trustee Gary Eberhart), the new board has not mentioned the idea of reviewing these. It might be a good idea for trustees to do that before the new superintendent is hired, so he or she will have a clear understanding of their expectations.

  29. Doctor J Says:

    Still can’t find #7 — I thought 7 was a lucky number. :-)

  30. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Oh, I think my computer died while it was uploading, so I’ll try to do it again now.

  31. g Says:

    The Grand Jury: “Who’s Minding the Store?” One of their first recommendations, and generally a requirement of any well managed organization is strict “segregation of duties.”

    Well in our case, apparently on the recommendation of staff, the board recently gave ‘single signer’ check signature priveleges to the same person who controls the books! The same person who allows school personnel and staff to create ‘after the fact’ purchase orders to match incoming invoices. The same person who runs NO inventory check to assure that the items purchased on ‘open order’ are actually needed, or in use, or perhaps have been returned for cash refund.

    The same person who has been called to task for this practice on both the Independent Auditor and FCMAT reports.

  32. Doctor J Says:

    @Sue#27 I agree with you that we need a “strong organizational leader the superintendent’s role requires” but we haven’t had one for a long time. Some of this is due to former Board members micromanaging the Supt. I believe that Dr. Bernard is appalled at what he is finding in MDUSD. Rumor is that one high school principal is going to be gone, and a couple of elementary principals. Lets see what happens on Monday night — next scheduled meeting is in August.

  33. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Hopefully, a strong organizational leader will understand that there need to be checks and balances so one person doesn’t have the kind of unchecked authority over district funds that g describes.

    Regarding Dr. Bernard, he did not say he was appalled, when I spoke to him Wednesday. However, he said he would elaborate on his observations about the need to work together better during his Monday superintendent’s report. FYI, we have a new technology at the CC Times called Tout, which allows us to post 45-second videos quickly. I will try to “tout” some of his comments.

  34. g Says:

    Thank goodness someone had sense enough to speak up regarding Whitmarsh’s suggestion that when counting parking issues, they ‘don’t blame YV for cars from DLS or Carondelet.’

    Right…. Did she volunteer to run up and down the streets and ask every parked car which field they are going to…? Maybe she could hire Cody or Stark to do that for her.

    Neighbors spoke clearly about the lack of cooperation they get from YV’s principal as it is now. So concerns for future consideration is well warranted.

    Did LSA/Pedersen or Cody/Stark even consider, as part of their EIR, the dual impact of the recent City-approved expansion of sports facilities AND field lights at Carondelet and how doing this at YV will exponentially impact the neighborhoods?

    Unlike MDUSD, Carondelet didn’t tell the city to ‘butt out.’ They went through the proper channels to get planning/zoning/CEQA/neighborhood validations.

  35. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I have to admit that I haven’t read the entire 900+ page EIR, but it didn’t sound like LSA had considered the dual impact of the recently approved improvements at Carondelet. In fact, no one in the audience said anything about that either. But, one man also brought up the planned “mega-Safeway” at Oak Grove Road and Ygnacio Valley Road, which he said could add more traffic to the area.

    Since De La Salle and Carondelet are private schools, they are not under the jurisdiction of the state architect and state Board of Education, so they need to get city approvals for their projects. The city routinely informs neighbors about public hearings regarding these projects. MDUSD, on the other hand, was severely criticized for failing to inform many nearby residents about the plan, including some who live on a street that was labeled in the EIR as an outside boundary for the neighborhoods affected. Neighbors also said that LSA failed to address impacts to homes on the other side of a small foot bridge that leads to the school from their neighborhood.

    FYI, YVHS clip #7 is now uploaded at YouTube.com/tunedtotheresa.

  36. anon4 Says:

    Hopefully Dr. Bernard is looking at MDHS where the exodus of administrators is beginning. Unfortunatley, the top dog is still there though her right hand person is leaving.

  37. Doctor J Says:

    No agenda posted for Monday’s meeting again. The Board promised that it would be posted on Thursday, one day ahead of the deadline, when the Board meetings were moved to Mondays.

  38. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Dr. Bernard told me staff is having difficulty getting the agendas done by Thursday and that Friday is more convenient. He also told me that he had mentioned at the last board meeting that he would like to change the day of the meetings to something other than Monday, so the agendas could be done later. He said he plans to bring forward an agenda item about this Monday, so that meeting days could be changed starting in August. As I recall, meetings were originally changed to Mondays to accommodate former Board President Sherry Whitmarsh’s schedule. I recall that Trustee Linda Mayo initially opposed moving the meeting days, since she had already planned her schedule around the Tuesday meetings. I don’t recall Trustees Cheryl Hansen or Lynne Dennler having strong opinions about the meeting day. It remains to be seen whether Trustees Brian Lawrence and Barbara Oaks will have a strong opinion. I also remember that the CAC was a bit miffed that it had to change its Monday meeting days to accommodate the new board meeting days.

  39. g Says:

    Another valid reason for moving the meetings to Mondays was that they had, for many years, conflicted with Concord City Council’s Tuesday meetings. Busy and involved people are just as interested in the dealings of the most populous city in the district.

    Staff complaints of not having time to get agendas ready will not change. They [whiners] have from the end of one meeting to the due date of the next to prepare — regardless of which day of the week it is. It’s not like every issue just appears out of nowhere at the last minute.

  40. Jim Says:

    @26 Theresa — Montessori schools have always presented an intriguing learning alternative, particularly in elementary education. My subjective impression, having spoken to quite a few parents of children in Montessori programs, is that the emphasis on the “whole child” development, coupled with less emphasis on formal reading and math instruction in the early elementary grades, results in very different outcomes. At the risk of over-generalizing, it seems that the students are often more at ease in school, more engaged in learning, and more verbal. But when moved to a traditional school in the upper elementary years, they can appear to be “behind” viz formal math and literacy measures (which is why Montessori schools often see attrition after grade 3).

    That said, the students I’ve known from Montessori programs seem to have taken their early (and unusual!) engagement and enthusiasm for learning into the rest of their academic years, yielding some impressive results. The Montessori programs seem to build a more impressive whole-child learning foundation, even as they “delay” formal instruction in some of the disciplines where parents and state regulators like to measure progress. To adopt Montessori methods widely would mean overhauling our rigid framework of state standards and assessments used to micro-manage schools. Of course, we could decide to tolerate families choosing diverse learning paths for their children. Unfortunately, except for the rare public charter Montessori like Eagle Peak, our whole system of one-size-fits-all school district monopolies is hardly likely to accept THAT.

  41. Doctor J Says:

    @TH#38 The discussion on changing the meeting date occurred on August 23, 2011. It was STAFF that requested the change ! Here is the agenda item #15.23 that also promised that the agenda would be posted on Thursday — now two years later they are complaining ?? Bull manure. “15.23 Change of Board Meeting Nights Every December the Board approves its meeting calendar for the next calendar year. Historically, the District has held its meetings on Tuesday evenings; however, because of other meeting conflicts staff is requesting that the Board consider moving the Board meetings to Monday, Wednesday or Thursday. If the meetings are moved to Monday staff would post agenda and materials by the prior Thursday. ”
    Here are the “approved minutes”: “Board Discussion
    Cheryl Hansen would prefer the Board meetings to be on a Thursday but said any day would be fine as long as there was more time to review the agenda.Gary Eberhart, Linda Mayo and Sherry Whitmarsh would prefer the Board meetings to be on Monday.”
    So which “staff” wanted them on a Monday ? Or was this just another lie by Steven Lawrence who signed the agenda item ?

  42. Anon Says:

    A robot called with a message about the survey. I suggest that Dr. Bernard and anyone else who seeks to improve communications and create a less impersonal atmosphere–next time get a real person to record the message!!!!

  43. g Says:

    Robot call and the survey are both indicative of the Leadership Associates generic service. Next, they will (again) draw some names of applicants from the hat and present them as “best suited” for our district.

  44. Jim Says:

    After receiving my robocall I went to the site and completed the “survey”, which was mostly pathetically generic. I mean, how many people are going to say “Academic achievement is unimportant” Or “No, I don’t want to preserve the gains already made at MDUSD” (whatever that refers to).

    Just go fill it out. Otherwise, they’ll say people don’t really care, which seems to be the conclusion every time a 5-hour board meeting becomes less attended as the clock approaches midnight.

    @43 — Consultants like LA can go back to the same hat because, as with their clients, our beloved public school districts, there is no accountability in the face of failure. They got the contract again. Why alter your approach with repeat business like that?

  45. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I was also surprised by the robocall. On the one hand, it’s good that the district is letting everyone know about the survey. But, on the other hand, as commenters have pointed, it seemed very impersonal to start the message saying it was from Interim Superintendent John Bernard and then switch to a robot voice. The introduction led me to believe I would hear Bernard’s voice, since we have become accustomed to hearing Superintendent Steven Lawrence’s voice on such messages.

    Regarding the number of survey responses, Leadership Associates reps said they thought a district as large as MDUSD might get 300-400 responses. There were only nine people at the “community input session” on Tuesday, including myself and columnist Tom Barnidge. Extending the hours didn’t appear to have helped much. One parent cited parent apathy in the district and said it doesn’t matter how much the superintendent reaches out to people if they don’t respond or attend feeder pattern meetings.

    Regarding getting the contract again, it’s true. However, four out of five board members have changed since then and Frazier said she didn’t work for the firm last time. Also, this time, the board has said it doesn’t want to settle for mediocre candidates and if the right fit doesn’t emerge in the first round, they’ll ask the firm to keep looking. Last time, former Trustee Sherry Whitmarsh told me there weren’t very many qualified candidates who applied. She speculated that the district’s reputation could have discouraged applicants. I asked Frazier about that. She said there are some people out there who like the kind of challenge MDUSD presents, so she didn’t appear to believe the district can’t attract good candidates.

  46. Theresa Harrington Says:

    FYI, we are working on a story about the proposed Middle Class Scholarship program, which may be included in the state budget. Here is initial info about it: http://www.asmdc.org/speaker/middle-class-scholarship/newsroom/middle-class-scholarship/the-middle-class-scholarship-is-back-help-slash-student-fees-by-40

    If you would like to weigh in on the program, which would provide UC and CSU discounts to students whose families earn between $80,000-$150,000, please call me at 925-945-4764 or email me at tharrington@bayareanewsgroup.com.

  47. Anon Says:

    Dr J@ 32,
    Ayers is again without a principal. Next one will be #6 in since 2007. Are qualified Principals that hard to find?

  48. Jim Says:

    @47 — I don’t find myself agreeing with Sherry Whitmarsh too often, but when she “speculated that the district’s reputation could have discouraged applicants”, I can’t help but think, “No joke, Einstein.” The board she was part of played a big role in that reputation. I’m sure it was a deal-breaker for many otherwise suitable candidates.

  49. Jim Says:

    Should’ve typed @45…

  50. Doctor J Says:

    @47 Remember last year they had to reopen the Elem Principals Pool for more interviews. Currently there is still a posting for Elem Principals that was posted on April 5, which is nearly 2 1/2 months ago. @Jim, I think your comment #48 also applied to #47.

  51. Theresa Harrington Says:

    During the community input session, Victor Gomez said the district should proactively promote from within. After he left, I told Frazier that the district eliminated most elementary vice principals due to budget cuts and has since not appeared to have an effective professional development plan to train motivated teachers to become school site administrators. Instead, the district has transferred district administrators and even a high school administrator into elementary principal positions – or hired from the outside. I am curious whether the 3-year professional development plan Frazier mentioned includes any sort of training for teachers who want to become administrators.

  52. Doctor J Says:

    Agenda is posted.

  53. Anon Says:

    Still no names of the candidates for appointment. Still no photos of Brian Lawrence, Barbara Oaks, or the superintendent on the web page.

  54. Doctor J Says:

    Some interesting agenda items: *Tim Cody seeks carte blanche authority to enter into 25 construction contracts totaling appx. $8,000,000 without prior board review — only ratification. What happens if the Board doesn’t ratify ? *Two new elementary principals *5 specifically named existing litigation cases named. *”Notice of Possible Reassignment” of unnamed public employee listed under heading of “Public Employee Discipline/Dismissal/Release”. *Two new bylaw revisions “Board Bylaw 9000 – Role of the Board” and “Board Bylaw 9200 – Limits of Board Member Authority” — no indications if the revisions are the recommended language of CSBA or MDUSD staff ideas. *Request approval of budget — no attachment as usual. *Move board meeting to Wednesdays — posting of agenda has to occur no later than Sunday late afternoon. * Appointment of Administrator of Equity and Disproportionality — new position paid out of General Fund but no mention of salary range.

  55. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Here’s a new blog post showing that the power of the press is alive and well in local schools, including Northgate HS in MDUSD and Hercules Middle-High in WCCUSD: http://www.ibabuzz.com/onassignment/2013/06/14/congrats-to-student-journalists-from-local-schools-honored-with-dean-s-lesher-scholastic-journalism-awards/

  56. Anonymous Says:

    Theresa, in the MDUSD “Departments” Link, Bernard is listed as Superintendent, but General Counsel is listed as Greg Rolen and not Jayne Williams. Do you know why, and if the Rolen separation agreement was ever approved?

  57. Doctor J Says:

    @#56 Its back on the closed session agenda for Monday night — stay tuned.

  58. anon Says:

    Very, very surprised they have not corrected the Brian Richards situation. Everyone is in agreement that this person constructively abandoned his job and is – rightly or wrongly – not trusted. I have never heard a reasonable excuse as to why the laptop was used for another district and why it wasn’t given to Berkeley to “clean” prior to Richards “losing” it. He is simply not a manager, has the need to be surrounded by an overpaid team of personal support, and seems to need a consensus for everything. Very, very bizarre but I think he loves meetings. Meetings, meetings, meetings. I think it is attention but the meeting I went to was odd, to say the least. It was like a little tea party with Richards at the head of the table and he had a stuffed animal he clutched called his “drama llama” and asked us if we wanted to hold it and tell our stories. H-E-C-K NO. He has terrible rapport with colleagues and seems to have some personal plan that did not coalesce with running an accounting branch. Some are blaming Richards for everything but old-timers know Personnel has been a mess for some time, before Richards, but he certainly fell in with the dysfunction.

  59. Theresa Harrington Says:

    For those who have been complaining about the Fiscal and Human Resources depts, it looks like the County Office of Education has assistance available. According to the draft minutes for the June 5 County Board meeting, the county Human Resources dept. holds a “labor law consortium” each month “to help Human Resources Administrators keep up to date on all current legal issues and legislation.” Apparently, the current attorney is leaving and districts are being surveyed regarding a new attorney. Also according to the minutes, WCCUSD has contracted with the county to host their financial system. They will “go live” with accts payable and receivable July 1 and will roll out payroll six months later. Given all the problems reported with MDUSD’s payroll system, perhaps the board might consider looking into contracting with the county for these services.

    Although these minutes haven’t yet been posted, they should be available online after the board approves them Wednesday: http://www.cccoe.k12.ca.us/supe/board.html#meetings. They are also available by contacting Loreen Joseph at 942-3380 or ljoseph@cccoe.k12.ca.us.

  60. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Those interested in ideas for engaging families in student’s education and schools might find this new US Dept. of Ed. partnership interesting: http://www.ed.gov/blog/2013/05/a-new-family-engagement-partnership-with-the-national-center-for-family-literacy/

  61. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Reminder that today is the deadline to submit comments on the Ygnacio Valley HS field improvements EIR: http://169.199.90.240/files/YVEIR.pdf

  62. g Says:

    anon 58— To see how we got into this mess I suggest start looking at who is/was (not) qualified to be in the jobs they have/were given.

    Look at the Who’s Who at the top of the page:
    http://www.mdusd.org/Departments/Fiscal/Documents/Budget/0809adoptedbudget.pdf

    Read the Supt’s message, and pay careful attention to

    “Besides the fiscal issues, the Fiscal Services Department has undergone major changes.
    During the 2007-08 year the Chief Financial Officer retired, the Director of Budget and Accounting position was eliminated, and the Chief Accountant resigned. The Department has been reorganized. Its supervision has transferred from the Superintendent to the Assistant Superintendent, Administrative Services. Despite these changes, we are prepared
    to present a balanced budget to the Board of Education for 2008, 2009, and 2010.”

    Now, keep in mind that within just a very-very short time, McHenry was gone and Nicoll temporarily moved up, and a ‘construction manager’ (Pedersen) was put in charge of financials and still held the invisable reins of M&O where he continued to groom ‘his’ team!

    Then we got Richards, who didn’t even hold a CA CPA, and he has been allowed to continue Pedersen’s methods; cluster and promote his few friends and other dept. clerks and admin’s into management/lead positions (whether qualified or not—so long as they ‘go along-to get along’ with him. That’s his way of ‘circling his wagons’.

    It’s past time decent management steps up to stop the bleeding of the General fund and the absolute vampirism going on with the Bond funds.

    They need to re-organize and clean house while there is still some money in the bank!

  63. Theresa Harrington Says:

    g: Just to fill in the blanks here, after Pedersen left, the board eliminated the position of assist. supt. of administrative services and elevated Richards from Fiscal Director to CFO.

  64. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Here’s the agenda for tonight’s meeting, which includes another reclassification of a secretary to a sr. acct. clerk, two translating contracts including one for CTI, two bid-related consent calendar items with no description of what they are for on the agenda, reports on the role of the board and limits to board members’ authority, action on moving the meeting day, several administrative appointments, a review of the CVCHS facilities agreement for 2013-14, and two lease-leaseback RFQ/RFPs: http://esbpublic.mdusd.k12.ca.us/com/agenda_print.aspx?mtgId=380&view=c

    Also, the board should report out whether or not it approves the final settlement agreements with Steven Lawrence and Greg Rolen. And I expect the Interim Superintendent to report on his impressions of district operations during his report.

  65. anon Says:

    Theresa, do you have an understanding of why it has taken so long for the board to vote on approval of the separation agreements?

  66. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Board President Cheryl Hansen previously told me there was a lot of “back and forth,” but that she didn’t expect the agreements to differ substantially from the agreements that were previously placed on the agenda. So, no, I don’t know specifically what the hold up has been. Steven Lawrence and Greg Rolen have not returned my most recent calls and emails seeking comment.

  67. annon Says:

    #62G Hit the nail on the head. Richards has padded himself with overpaid, power-hungry, clerical staff, bestowing “managerial” status to even the clerk who does “position control” which belongs in Personnel. He moved her because she deals with money. Huh? I don’t call changing someone from a secretary at point A to a secretary at point B exactly financial. About $90,000 for a job that pays basic clerical rates at every other district. Nobody minding the mint. Bryan can never answer a question without getting his security blanket – excuse me – managerial staff and doesn’t seem to know as much as was originally thought. I, too, was baffled by the …..stuff. The taxpayers have no responsibility to overpay or provide moral support at about $100,000 a pop. There is a manager for every 2.5 people in Fiscal and it has gotten so bad in the last few years that we have two choices: strip the management down to the walls or outsource. There is no working with this grossly overpaid, top-heavy, crust. These people must think we don’t remember them when they did the same thing for a reasonable salary and title. Get rid of the 6 or so managers for 15 people and get two who know something, will work, and have actual managerial skill. I, too, am not done with the laptop issue. I find it wholly unbelievable and maybe TH can help with this: what is the Berkeley connection and what was their reaction to having this “theft” happen? Hopefully Mr. Richards no longer has access to a laptop without signing it out and producing it each day. Honestly, get your work done at work, and stop putting everybody at risk!

  68. g Says:

    Theresa @ 63, You are correct, and lest we forget, when Pedersen “left” Dent he didn’t really leave his position of strong advisory influence on what essentially became a 3.5 person board of Eberhart, Whitmarsh and Mayo/Dennler (4.5 if we correctly add Rolen/Pedersen-in-disguise).

    Under that 4.5 board configuration, the less-than-qualified new superintendent and accountant were groomed, and a quick-learning Richards was moved up again to CBO. Now on his own, having not been fired when he should have been, his real talents seem to have blossomed right in tandem with his ego.

    Unfortunately, good business office management does not appear be one of those talents.

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