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MDUSD superintendent aims to reorganize central office to improve accountability and support

By Theresa Harrington
Friday, May 16th, 2014 at 4:49 pm in Education, Mt. Diablo school district.

MDUSD Superintendent Nellie Meyer has unveiled a plan to overhaul the district office administrative chain of command.

MDUSD Superintendent Nellie Meyer has unveiled a plan to overhaul the district office administrative chain of command.

Dramatic changes are on the horizon in the Mt. Diablo school district’s central office.

Superintendent Nellie Meyer, who came to the district from San Diego last September, unveiled a reorganization plan Wednesday that would abolish the current chief financial officer position, along with three assistant superintendent positions responsible for personnel, special education and student services, and Student Achievement and School Support, known as SASS.

Her report came two days after the board voted Monday in closed session not to renew contracts for the current administrators who hold those four positions: CFO Bryan Richards and assistant superintendents Julie Braun-Martin, Kerri Mills and Rose Lock.

“It is really a product of the first six months of my going to many different schools and looking at the organization and going through and asking a lot of questions about how things work and how things are organized,” Meyer said. “What I found, which is not atypical, is that after the series of years of budget cuts, there were gaps in the support. And then also there is the age-old perception or reality of central office versus site, which occurs often in very large districts.”

Meyer’s report cited “a strong perception of a disconnect between the students and schools, and the central office referred to as ‘DENT.” The district office’s official name is the James W. Dent Education Center.

“It was unclear who really was in charge of certain departments,” Meyer said. “It was unclear where a school might find support for different things.”

Meyer’s plan includes three new assistant superintendent positions: one each for elementary schools, middle schools and high schools.

“This is the structure by which we will see direct, responsive, clear lines of authority and support,” according to Meyer’s report. “All structures rely on strong staff, and the development and training of staff to these new roles will be ongoing. Staff will be required to think creatively, to problem-solve and to focus on our like mission of serving students.”

The assistant superintendents will be accountable for all academic and operational needs at the schools they oversee.

“This position is responsible for sharing and developing best practices, as well as ensuring equity of service,” Meyer’s report states. “In addition, they will be the point of contact to support the principal and community when resolving conflicts. As we continue to restore student supports, they will be responsible for a smooth implementation.”

Meyer also proposed creating two executive directors — one for operations and one for school support. Along with the general counsel, Meyer wants the executive directors and assistant superintendents to make up her “cabinet.” Now, the general counsel, chief financial officer and current assistant superintendents make up the superintendent’s council.

In the proposal, 10 administrators would report directly to Meyer: three assistant superintendents, two executive directors and five directors — one each for budget and fiscal services; human resources; Measure C bond construction projects; special projects; and college, career and adult school.

Meyer’s report calls for several of these top administrators to “be responsible for ensuring prompt, responsive, direct service” to schools and/or employees and the community.

The complete proposal is at

Although the board appeared receptive to the plan, a special education parent expressed concerns about the elimination of an assistant superintendent level administrator overseeing special education services. Under the reorganization, a director of special education would report to the executive director of instructional support.

Meyer told the parent that she believes all directors should have direct access to the superintendent. She invited those with questions or concerns to e-mail her at

The board expects to vote on the plan May 28.

Do you agree with the proposal?

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139 Responses to “MDUSD superintendent aims to reorganize central office to improve accountability and support”

  1. Doctor J Says:

    I hope you post the BANG supplemental opposition (April 23) and the Order of Mandate (May 13) before Pat’s letter. Hope someone is covering the hearing this morning

  2. Sherry Whitmarsh Says:

    Updated my last statement. We only budgeted the amount we were given and stated in some instances what was suppose to fund the item, eg equity and disproportionality. We also agreed that when we know the actual numbers we will go back and update the plan.

  3. Doctor J Says:

    Sherry, thanks for the update. Having a teacher as SSC president, when the teacher is subject to oversight by the principal, is not exactly the definition of independent. I believe administrators were told to use last years numbers knowing that they would be cut for this year. but again, I applaud the efforts of your school. Unfortunately it is the exception rather than the rule.

  4. g. de la verdad Says:

    Exactly how concernd is the DELAC? Read
    Ed Code says if they already have a committee of similar type, they do not have to create a new committee. Ergo, the handpicked DELAC displaces the required ELPAC, and gets control. The article then states that on May 22 a new PAC [hand picked behind closed doors, apparently] will begin its work providing a forum….

    Note that left hand column. Community Input “coming soon” but it is late May already, and the Draft Plan is……..?

  5. tmharrington Says:

    Here’s a fun project going on at Northgate:

  6. Meg Honey Says:

    Thank you for sharing our event information, Theresa! The students have met with former faculty members (including Northgate’s first Principal, Bill Hansen), analyzed incredible primary and secondary sources, and are actively applying their historical knowledge and skills…project based learning at its best! Go Broncos!

  7. tmharrington Says:

    Sounds like Common Core!

  8. Doctor J Says:

    So what happened today at the BANG hearing ?

  9. Doctor J Says:

    @Sherry, the information you posted on Claycord about challenges to restore music to MDUSD is invaluable. would you mind reporting it here so readers might understand why sports is restored and music is not.

  10. Doctor J Says:

    Local community leaders demand specifics in LCAP instead of generalities. MDUSD should pay attention. I haven’t seen any outreach in the LCAP formation to community leaders.

  11. Sherry Whitmarsh Says:

    Here it is.

    For those asking about 4th&5th grade music.

    I’ve had conversations with several board members and district staff. They want to bring it back but there are challenges. In the past this was a pull out method which was disruptive to the class and to the teacher. For example, 3 trumpet players leave at 1:00 for music and miss part of the social studies lesson. When they return at 1:30, 5 clarinet players leave and miss the math lesson. On days when there was a test, the band/orchestra students couldn’t attend the class because they had to finish the test. Teachers, admin, and staff are trying to figure out how to do this.

    Also funding using local control funding formula (LCFF) to bring back cut items have to defined as how this will increase education. For high school sports, the education increase is that more students will stay in school to play sports. Also to play sports you must maintain a 2.0. This does work because I’ve seen students with a low GPA pull it up during their sport because they wanted to make sure they could play. Trying to tie elementary music to increased learning is more difficult. I know that music increases math scores but having to prove it to the state is another matter.

    Finally there is the concern of AB1575 which states parents cannot be required to pay a fee or make a purchase for a class, etc. This means that the district cannot rent the instrument to parents as they did in the past. If there are 30 students at an elementary school who want to play the saxophone, how will the district fund the instruments and the reeds for the students?

    I am confident that all parties will develop and proposal that will be successful and bring back elementary music in the next 1 -2 years.

  12. Giorgio C Says:

    Hi Sherry,
    Does your SSC alternate with parents and community members for the position of SSC chair? The principal should not be the chair, but parents should have an equal opportunity to chair these meetings. If not, then this is a problem.

  13. Sherry Whitmarsh Says:

    The site council elected the chair and secretary at our first meeting. The chair is a teacher and the secretary is a parent.

  14. Doctor J Says:

    As usual the CDE has some good primers for SSC’s and also preparation of the SPSA. Here is one. There are others.

  15. Giorgio C Says:

    Regarding SSC protocol, I just picked up $21.00 worth of agendas from the WCCUSD office and am reviewing them now. One BIG glaring omission on many (most?) agendas is “public comment.” So, these meetings are barely advertised, and when they are, the public has not been informed of their right to participate.

  16. Giorgio C Says:

    Hi Sherry,

    Just wondering, did your SSC end up batching the meetings for 2013/2014? I was looking at the SSC website and I only see meetings from March onward, and they were held every two weeks. Did you have meetings prior to March? I’m not putting you on the spot. I’m trying to figure out what folks are doing, what works best, and what suggestions I can make to our own school board at WCCUSD. Thanks, Sherry.

    SSC website

  17. Sherry Whitmarsh Says:

    Hi Giorgio,
    The website for minutes started in March. Prior to that the meeting minutes were emailed to the site council members, MDUSD district office, and copies were made available at the meeting.
    For transparency I think they should go on the website and this weekend, I’ll send my past copies of the minutes to the website administrator and get them uploaded.
    I will say our site council has alot of discussion and different opinions on topics. It’s a healthy dialogues with predominately parents, admin, and teachers but the students jump in on occasion with good ideas.

  18. Giorgio C Says:

    Thanks, Sherry. You folks are doing a good job just by having the website and also including “public input” on your agendas. That’s good stuff! I asked if the meetings were batched because your total number of meetings in March, April, and May exceeds the 2013/2014 total for some WCCUSD schools. Although the Ed Code does not spell out a requirement for number of SSC meetings, monthly seems reasonable for meeting the legally intended objectives of the SSC, with the additional benefit of promoting the SSC. Few meetings equals less awareness of these meetings and less buy-in, resulting in difficulty filling positions on future councils. Thanks for sharing and keep up the good work!

  19. Sherry Whitmarsh Says:

    We do meet monthly at a minimum. For the Single plan and safety plan we have had input/development sessions prior to having the meeting for final review and approval.

  20. g. de la verdad Says:

    MDUSD: Snapshot of a Google search is worth a thousand words.

    Mt. Diablo Unified School District
    JAMES W DENT EDUCATION CENTER i936 Carlotta Drive. Concord, California 94519, 1358. (925) 6828000. OFFICE OF. STUDENTACHEEVEMENT
    I’m embarrassed to even share a zip code with them.

  21. g. de la verdad Says:

    Dr. Meyer, Why would we need to “drop the title ‘Interim’ from Director of Measure C,” when we have never had, nor has the board ever approved a “Director of Measure C” position, much less assign an ‘Interim’ ?
    Pedersen talked himself into the title of Project Manager of Measure C as a “contracted” employee on post-retirement. When Pedersen finally did retire, Cody not only took his job, he created a new title for himself — Interim Director.

  22. g. de la verdad Says:

    Why did the ‘Interim’ Dictator of Measure C stop posting RFQ/RFP/Bid Documents on the Measure C site? Where are the Board Reps? Why do Mayo and Lawrence shirk their duty to the taxpayers? Why do the Board President and Superintendent think this is OK?

  23. tmharrington Says:

    Special MDUSD board meeting at 6 pm. TONIGHT to discuss Northgate Unified School District plan:

  24. tmharrington Says:

    Per Joe Estrada, meeting will be livestreamed and archived at:

  25. tmharrington Says:

    Hot items on Wednesday agenda include bringing back instrumental music in fifth-grade, psych contract and anti-harassment policies:

  26. g. de la verdad Says:

    There is also a 2014-15 Budget Hearing set for 6/4. Not posted yet; no budget ready for inspection until (at least) 6/2; no LCFF Draft posted yet….

  27. Doctor J Says:

    Why are some loose lipped administrators privately bragging they have been promised some of the positions on the re-organization ? either the board knows from improper communications or the board is being duped once again. All of these jobs should be put out for interview for “all comers”.

  28. tmharrington Says:

    Linda Loza agreed to post Northgate USD powerpoint on group’s website at:

    Barbara Oaks asked Supt. Meyer to evaluate the proposal, especially the budget. Meyer agreed. Oaks and Hansen said they need more time to evaluate proposal. Lawrence said he’d like to continue looking for ways to improve education throughout the district, including in the Northgate area, even if this plan moves forward. New district could not likely be formed until 2016-17, Loza said. Dennler did not ask any questions or make any comment. Public comment included residents for and against, along with MDEA reps against.

  29. Doctor J Says:

    There is NO plan on what 5th grade music will look like — it just another “rubber stamp” for the board to approve and we will figure it out later.
    Ask the Supt – what are the specifics ? a lot to consider if there really will be a whole new slate of administrators — unless the reorganization is just a ruse to give hidden raises with new titles.

  30. g. de la verdad Says:

    “…’unless’ the reorganization is just a ruse to give hidden raises with new titles.” ??? ROFBNLVM. (Rolling on floor, but not laughing very much.)

    How many of those “new” positions do you think will start out at the starting pay grade, versus those that will start at level 5? Calling boiled cabbage a rose won’t make it smell any better — and that stink lasts a long time.

  31. Doctor J Says:

    Evidence of confusion and disarray : June 4 or 11 ? Listed as both in different places on website. Dr. Nellie does not have control over her district. Poor communication. PPPPPP. Nellie is shooting from the hip just like adding 5th grade music in with no plan. What is the cost ? she has no idea ! if you don’t know the model, how can you project the costs at $296,000 ? That only includes teacher salaries, not costs of instruments under AB 1575. Let’s do this the right way. propose the model, cost out the model, and present to the Board in one package, not a bandaid approach to Linda Mayo’s offhand comment.

  32. g. de la verdad Says:

    Kind of like the agreement with the MDSPA on board for Wed. — Says it is being presented on 5/28, but also says it was already presented and approved by the board on 3/26. Did you see that million dollar raise in two years (for less than 50 employees) fly by? Beam me up Scotty!

    “Total Cost” isn’t Total Cost, it’s the cost of the increase.

  33. Doctor J Says:

    It’s NOT a reduction in personnel — it’s 17 occupied positions for 17 occupied positions at a HIGHER cost. The $88,000 savings is for an unoccupied position that was previously filled for about $115,000. funny how the prior version of the org chart has now erased the position titles. let’s compare the actual 2012/13 salaries and costs with the projected salaries and costs with increased step raises for 2014/15. It’s a significant raise.

  34. Doctor J Says:

    Job openings just posted for principals (high, middle, elem), vice principals elementary. No schools listed. Seems very late for posting. Most other districts gave been posting. Does this mean there is an exodus ? Was the prior search for Concord High Principlal unsuccessful ?

  35. Doctor J Says:

    On for action ! Who are these unrepresented employees ?? “Recommendation: Discussion of salary increases for all Classified and Certificated Employees not Represented by a Bargaining Unit.”

  36. g. de la verdad Says:

    Look at Item 18.3 of the agenda for 5/14/14— It seems this Item was either overlooked or didn’t make it to a vote on the 14th.

  37. Doctor J Says:

    In the draft minutes for May 14 on for approval tonight at 17.13, it says May 14 item 18.3 pulled and to be brought back at a later date for information. Instead it was placed on tonight’s closed session secret agenda. The report out in open session says no action was taken only information. Sounds suspicious.

  38. g. de la verdad Says:

    Could it be the board actually asked to see “how many” and “exactly how much” instead of rubber stamping on the comment that these folks were included in previous amounts? I’d be very encouraged if I knew that was the case—otherwise, not so much. They need to tell us why it went back to closed session, if this is indeed the same issue/item.

  39. g. de la verdad Says:

    Wow, Mount students expose district’s continued failure to comply with SB1413 three years after issuance of Resolution No. 10/11-66, and the subsequent promise to correct that failure. Mayo excuse–no electrical power for water coolers—–! Can you say Measure CCCCCCC????

  40. Doctor J Says:

    I say to Linda Mayo — Balderdash !!

  41. Doctor J Says:

    Raises for the Transportation directors ? ROTFLMAO If Mount has these problems, so do most of the schools. Everyone needs to call the Supts office when there is a transportation issue with buses being late — its the only way to get it fixed !

  42. Doctor J Says:

    So what is the final cost of the “reorganization” ? It was never clearly stated — probably because it results in more raises for administrators. Hopefully, Theresa can give us a “final” number.

  43. tmharrington Says:

    Here’s a new blog post listing National Merit $2,500 Scholarship winners, including one from Northgate High:

  44. Doctor J Says:

    No posting of new jobs after reorg approval ? Why ? Were all of the positions pre-promised ?? Sure sounds like it.

  45. Doctor J Says:

    Is BANG suppressing posting of the 4/23 supp opposition and 5/13 order that Theresa said she would post in the public records suit against MDUSD ? It’s been a long time.

  46. Anon Says:

    Guess you don’t know everything after all. Jobs are posted. Not everything happens in a Star Trek instant.

  47. Doctor J Says:

    Hey annon, only a few jobs posted. Only ONE asst supt and it says only one job open. that is not what was approved by the Board. Description is supervises K-12 which is inconsistent with having three Asst Supt’s, one over high, one over middle and one over elementary. Lots of holes in other places. all new postings are dated today, we’ll after my posting.

  48. Giorgio C Says:

    I am almost done with my audit of WCCUSD Site Councils for the 2013/2014 school year. I am seeing many schools that have only held one or two meetings. The high seems to be 6 to 7 meetings as of last month. Our local middle school has not held any. I’d think the ACLU might be interested in this, yes?

  49. tmharrington Says:

    The first stops are the superintendent and school board. If they’re not responsive, then it makes sense to seek outside assistance.

  50. tmharrington Says:

    No, I’m sorry, I’ve been swamped with WCCUSD bond coverage.

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