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Local school districts look forward to more money in 2014-15

By Theresa Harrington
Friday, January 10th, 2014 at 6:30 pm in California Board of Education, Education, Oakland school district, West Contra Costa school district.

School officials around the state will be spending the next several days reading through Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed 2014-15 budget to see how it will directly affect them. For those that have a high percentage of low-income students and English learners, the new funding formula that gives them a greater share of the money is good news.

The West Contra Costa school district based in Richmond, along with the Oakland school district in Alameda County, are both looking forward to receiving additional funding expected to help them narrow the achievement gap.

Charles Ramsey, president of the West Contra Costa school board, said the money for low-income students and English language learners will make a big difference.

“There’s going to be a huge proportion of resources dedicated to assisting them,” he said. “It’s going to be a quantum change in funding for our district. We’re going to see a doubling of funding for those students over time.”

In the next couple of years, Ramsey said funding is expected to increase to $10,600 or $10,700 per student, with an additional $104 million total expected by 2021, after the funding formula is fully implemented.

The West Contra Costa school board has already decided to spend some of its new money on school resource officers, reducing class size in Transitional Kindergarten through third grade and creating “full service community schools” that include health centers. Ramsey said trustees are also considering allocating $1 million to $2 million more to athletics and setting aside additional funding for music and other programs that have been cut in the past.

“We want to be able to provide kids opportunities so they can learn,” he said. “We need to give more of our resources to the kids for the classroom. I give the governor a lot of credit to keep education at the forefront, because California has lagged.”

In addition, Ramsey said he would like to devote more funding to professional development to help teachers implement the new Common Core standards, along with the technology needed for testing. He was also pleased that the district has recently settled a contract agreement with teachers that included salary increases.

“We need to do more to really attract people to the industry and recruit and retain qualified teachers,” he said.

And Ramsey said the district is not shying away from its required accountability. The state Board of Education is fine-tuning guidelines that districts will be required to follow in developing plans for their spending.

“They want to see the kind of improvement we can have,” Ramsey said. “But, they’re not going to hold your feet to the fire right away. They’re going to give you a few years to show that it’s going to be successful.”

During the next month, the district is inviting community members to attend one of six meetings to get more information about state funding and discuss how it can be used to implement goals outlined in a recently-adopted strategic plan.

These meetings are: from 6:30-8 p.m. Jan. 15 at El Cerrito High; Jan. 16 at Ford Elementary; Jan. 21 at Pinole Middle School, Jan. 28 at DeJean Middle School, Jan. 30 at De Anza High, and Feb. 6 at Hercules Middle-High School.

Troy Flint, spokesman for the Oakland school district, said Thursday that he hadn’t had a chance yet to look at the governor’s budget in detail, but he pointed out that Oakland has been a strong supporter of the funding shift that gives more money to districts with disadvantaged students.

“Nothing’s perfect, particularly when you have to satisfy different constituencies in a diverse state,” he said. “This is a huge step forward for equity and for public education. This is the first time in many years, if ever, that funding has actually been aligned with student needs and that the value of equity has been placed front and center, with redistributed funds.”

Flint predicted that this approach would end up benefiting the state as a whole because struggling students will get the resources and help they need to succeed in college and the workforce.

“We’re very pleased with the direction the governor has taken,” he said. “We think this budget is going to produce great results for our kids and for kids around the state.”

Are you optimistic about the governor’s proposed 2014-15 budget?

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  • Doctor J

    Teachers: read this and weep — your retirement is in jeopardy. What is MDEA doing to help you ? Gov Brown says the debate over your retirement will be contentious. “The deficit for the nation’s largest educator-only pension fund is so huge it would cost teachers, local school districts, community colleges and the state budget a combined $4.5 billion a year to bridge. The California State Teachers’ Retirement System says it grows by $22 million each day nothing is done.” “The proposal, which [the Governor] discussed Thursday as he released his annual budget blueprint, is likely to include higher contributions from teachers whose future pension checks might otherwise be in jeopardy.” http://www.insidebayarea.com/news/ci_24897102/gov-brown-vows-start-debate-over-teacher-pensions?source=rss

  • Doctor J

    So who are Dmitry & Natalia Mizin that they get $47,000 on December 19 Warrant #010-1665-11-5890 for “Other Operating Expense” ? Did I miss a Board approval of a contract with them ?

  • Doctor J

    Bad news for MDUSD Budget: Watsonville district to pay $3 Million to settle one teacher molestation suit where district “since other parents and at least one teacher previously had expressed concerns about inappropriate behavior by [the teacher and] were not taken seriously, plaintiffs said.”. MDUSD has 13 victims. 13 x $3 million = $39 Million. The public deserves to know what the potential impact on the budget could be if insurance is insufficient. http://www.thecalifornian.com/viewart/20140113/NEWS01/301130018/School-district-settles-sex-abuse-case

  • g. de la verdad

    010 and 5890 is where the district ‘camouflages’ certain expenses to keep them from showing as debits on the correct budget item(s). In this case legal/SpEd

  • Doctor J

    Another backdated contract ? Rio Vista ELD for $39,100. Claims to be dated October 7, for services to commence September 30, but not signed by service provider until Dec 18. Principal Susan Valdez’s signature in two places is very different — did she sign in both places or did someone else sign her name ? Service provider states: Rio Vista has restructured its ELD to a grammar based ELD to seek accelerated learning. After two years there is a need to assist teachers new to this type of teaching. WTH ? 5 teachers new to ELD grammar based instruction. 2 experienced ELD teacher but who need “additional support”. Only 3 teachers who “demonstrate consistently high in class performance.” Why did it take them 2 1/2 years to figure this out ? Is this consistent with the SIG grant proposal for Rio Vista ? Is this consistent with the EL master plan supposedly in place for the district a couple of years ago ? Why isn’t the English language services department of SASS working with these teachers two years ago ?

  • tmharrington

    According to agenda item 9 on the SBE agenda, MDUSD ranks 36th (with 1 being lowest and 84 being highest) on relative API performance among 84 LEAs in PI Year 3: http://www.cde.ca.gov/be/ag/ag/yr14/agenda201401.asp

    It is the lowest among East Bay districts named. The others are Walnut Creek (ranked 81) and Fremont Union (ranked 80 ). Of 13 Title I schools in MDUSD, only ONE is NOT in PI, according to the report.

  • tmharrington

    According to agenda item 11, the state is seeking authorization for a third cohort of SIGs, but it doesn’t look like MDUSD has any schools eligible.

  • Doctor J

    Email comment to the State Board of Education is allowed !! “Members of the public wishing to send written comments about an agenda item to the board are encouraged to send an electronic copy to SBE@cde.ca.gov, with the item number clearly marked in the subject line. In order to ensure that comments are received by board members in advance of the meeting,” Even though the deadline was Friday, try and submit today or tomorrow morning. I would like to see MDUSD allow such a policy to avoid the circus of limiting comments to one or two minutes.

  • g. de la verdad

    This represents a disproportionate amount of SIG funds going to the same consultant program they’ve used for the last couple years @ $2,000.00/day of ‘teach and coach’. Maybe it will sink in this year?
    I agree. If this program is so worthwhile, why isn’t it being taught to SASS leaders and copied at all under-achieving schools in the district?

  • Doctor J

    I thought it said Shore Acres was eligible ?? Attachment 5. What I didn’t understand was the First Interim Budget report on Dec 11 said that the SIG was “extended” one year — yet I don’t see that in the descriptions by CDE nor have I seen any applications for Board approval of SIG extensions. Since the spending reports have been taken off public domain of the CDE website, it is unclear how Bel Air was spending its $2 million dollars since MDUSD doesn’t publish those reports now submitted electronically — perhaps copies of the SIG electronic spending reports to date would be a good PRA for publication.

  • Doctor J

    How many YEARS has it been since the Board reviewed the “parental involvement” policy of BP/AR 6020 ? Federal law 20 United States Code 6318 requires ANNUAL REVIEW. How many YEARS has it been since the Board reviewed the “student participation”, “extracurricular” and “open enrollment” policies of BP/AR 6145 & 5116.1 ? Ed Code 35160.5 requires ‘ANNUAL REVIEW’. How many YEARS has it been since the Board reviewed its “investing policy” in BP/AR 3430 ? Government Code 5346 requires ANNUAL review. Look what it took to get “mandatory reporter” training on track. How many more years will the Board violate its legally obligated duties ? We had a full time “General Counsel”, we have a full time “Associate General Counsel” who used to be a “General Counsel” of Oakland USD, and we are on our second “interim counsel” — none of which insisted these items be placed on the Agenda for review with the public. Remember Capt. Binghamton in McHale’s Navy ? “Why? Why? Why? Why?”. Its about time the Board insist they follow the law.

  • tmharrington

    Here’s MDUSD’s agenda for Jan. 8, which includes no word about how the district is planning to solicit input for its LCAP: http://esbpublic.mdusd.k12.ca.us/public_agendaview.aspx?mtgId=445

    Meanwhile, WCCUSD’s LCAP input sessions begin Wednesday.

  • tmharrington

    Ooops, I found it mentioned under SIngle Plan for Student Achievement: http://esbpublic.mdusd.k12.ca.us/public_itemview.aspx?ItemId=7945&mtgId=445

  • Doctor J

    LCAP is mentioned but no explanation I could see of how the district is planning to solicit input from the various stakeholders. I suspect Dr. Nellie will give us an “oral” version tonight. Maybe not.

  • Doctor J

    Why isn’t the Local 1 contract back on the Agenda for Wednesday after it was dropped without explanation on December 11 ?

  • tmharrington

    Tonight?

  • tmharrington

    Here’s a new blog post about the intra-district transfer deadline on Wednesday: http://www.ibabuzz.com/onassignment/2014/01/13/intra-district-transfer-deadline-is-wednesday-in-mdusd/

  • tmharrington

    Here’s a new blog post with Wednesday’s agenda, for those who want to comment on it: http://www.ibabuzz.com/onassignment/2014/01/13/mdusd-board-to-get-disproportionality-update-and-appoint-more-admins-wednesday/

  • Doctor J

    Do you trust school districts to spend the extra money on disadvantaged students ? Great editorial summing up the controversy. http://www.sacbee.com/2014/01/14/6069596/editorial-dont-squander-promise.html

  • g. de la verdad

    Maybe it was Local 1 who asked to pull their contract. Why would they agree to the 3/2 contract while MDEA is still negotiating for more? Local 1 has a “Me Too” agreement, and wouldn’t want to shoot themselves in the foot by agreeing to take less than MDEA.

  • Doctor J

    MDUSD’s most recent $89,250 Consultant Pivot Learning has accused Rose Lock and SASS of “misleading them” to believe that MDUSD had a greater knowledge of Common Core than it does ! Lock admitted to Principals in a memo that the ubiquitous “we” misled them “a bit”. Even SASS staffers admit that “the training on January 9th did not go as smoothly as planned”. Some called it “a disaster” and “a waste of time”. Principals are in an uproar about having their teachers who were recruited to be symposium leaders, taken out of class last week for a whole wasted day — and now this week for two more days — to “redo” the Symposiums developed by Lock and SASS. At the last Board meeting on Dec 11, SASS pushed through another “consultant contract” with Pivot Learning for $89,250 with no Board comment or concern. Immediately [that means there had been a plan to do this for weeks even without a contract] a Power Point presentation was given to all principals. At last weeks training for Symposium leaders [teachers chosen from sites to be the 'experts' on Common Core] it became clear very fast that the school staffs had not received the knowledge or training of Common Core that Pivot had been told by Rose Lock and SASS staffers, and that the half day presentations to all staff set for the Teacher preparation day this month, could not go forward. One wasted day, and now two more days this week out of the classroom. Pivot had to redo the December power point — to start from ground zero, and now the Symposium training has to be rolled back to ground zero. MDUSD seems to be behind in everything new: LCAP and Common Core — but that is not the company line you hear from Asst Supt. Rose Lock. She handled the contract with Pivot Learning — she and her staff were misleading Pivot about how knowledgeable the site teachers were about common core. This has wasted about $20,000 of the consultant fee [an increase will surely be asked for down the road], wasted hundreds of teaching hours with substitutes for the children plus those costs, Those of us who saw Chris Holleran’s misinformation presentation to parents by giving them wrong information on what Common Core does, are not surprised by the lack of understanding of Common Core at the highest levels of SASS. More meetings, more meetings, and more meetings — when are they going to get it right ? Rose Lock’s solution is simply that — more meetings. Last week she had the principals out for a long meeting, and now this week principals are being pulled from sites once again. Elementary schools are mostly without Vice-Principals and are left unattended by certificated administrators, How does Rose Lock get positive ratings from her principals ? Simple. She sends out a Survey Monkey of how SASS is doing, but requires principals to identify themselves in the survey. Talk about retaliation. All you have to do is ask Dan Reynolds what happens when you speak the truth. Dr. Nellie is having a hard time driving the Stagecoach when she has a bunch of lame plowhorses pulling in different directions and with different levels of comprehension.

  • tmharrington

    Here’s a letter to the SBE from a coalition of civil rights, community-based, and other organizations seeking changes to the proposed LCFF regs to be discussed Thursday, saying they are overly broad and could allow districts to spend money earmarked for disadvantaged students on the entire student population: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B6mS2O1_NKceeERBS0E1eG1YV0k/edit?usp=sharing

  • Doctor J

    These educators don’t trust the districts to spend the money properly. Do you ? We haven’t heard one peep from MDUSD on a plan to spend the Smarter Balance testing money — will it be spent on technology or Professional Development or what ? Will all 29 Elementary schools and all middle schools be ready to administer the tests by March when they are scheduled to start ? Not according to the construction schedules from Tim Cody. Read this to realize how far behind MDUSD really is. AB 484 passed in October so far has been ignored by MDUSD. http://www.cde.ca.gov/ta/tg/sa/smarterfieldtest.asp

  • tmharrington

    As previously mentioned, WCCUSD is way ahead of MDUSD on its Common Core spending and has already come up with a plan in partnership with the teachers’ union: http://www.wccusd.net/cms/lib03/CA01001466/Centricity/domain/898/2013-2014%20reporters/CCSS_NovDec2013.pdf

    Also, WCCUD’s superintendent CONSISTENTLY posts a new message to the community at the beginning of each month. This month, it’s about seeking input for the district’s LCAP, with community meetings starting TONIGHT: http://www.wccusd.net/site/default.aspx?PageID=1

    Although it’s great that Dr. Meyer issued a December message to the community, only time will tell if she will be committed to consistently issuing a relevant and informative message each month.

  • Doctor J

    Fensterwald quotes Doctor J: “All of the decisions on allocation of funding will be made behind closed doors by school district administrators without ‘real’ public and parental input, and will be packaged by the district like a large Christmas present in a marshmallow PowerPoint that no average college graduate can understand — and Board will rubber stamp after 72 hours of review,” commented an EdSource reader from Mount Diablo Unified. ” http://edsource.org/today/2014/state-board-poised-to-elevate-parents-role-in-setting-district-priorities/56361#.Utbbwk2A3IU

  • Sherry Whitmarsh

    I was at the Mt. Diablo Council PTA meeting on Monday night with Dr. Meyer. She stated that she would be conducting LCAP meetings with each feeder pattern starting at the end of January. She also gave a very information presentation and led a discussion on the Common Core.

  • Sherry Whitmarsh

    At the Mt. Diablo Council of PTA on Monday night, Dr. Meyer said that she would be beginning LCAP discussions with parents at the end of January. She planned on doing this be feeder pattern.

  • g. de la verdad

    And — Navigio’s comment went right to the heart of why we are so skeptical! Why would we expect the State (or the County) to be more diligent on oversight of ‘loose’ regs, when they have been so lax in oversight on ‘tight’ regs.

  • tmharrington

    Thanks, Sherry. The district’s new Facebook page also shows teachers learning about Common Core: https://www.facebook.com/MDUSDnews

  • Doctor J

    Those Facebook pics are of the disaster Symposium Training Jan 9 that exposed SASS’s misleading its $89,250 consultant as to how ill-prepared MDUSD teachers are for Common Core resulting in two additional days of training and redoing a presentation for the Teacher workday. I don’t see any happy faces in those pics — mostly heads down in disgust.