Part of the Bay Area News Group

Archive for the 'Concord' Category

MDUSD board to meet tonight with Concord City Council

The Mt. Diablo school board will hold a joint meeting tonight with the Concord City Council to discuss issues of mutual interest.

The meeting is at 6:30 p.m. in the district office board room at 1936 Carlotta Drive in Concord. The public is invited to comment on items on the agenda, which include:

A Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP) presentation by MDUSD Superintendent Dr. Nellie Meyer.

An oral presentation regarding the Family Justice Center by Concord Police Chief Guy Swanger.

An information exchange between the school board and city council including updates on items of mutual interest and a discussion of partnerships and other areas of cooperation. Discussion items may include: district enrollment, student achievement, Common Core State Standards, development and educational opportunities for high school students, school/community safety, shared fields, updates on current and planned improvement projects, MDEA Second Annual Academy Awards and the communication between the district and city council. No formal action will be taken.

Here is a link to the agenda, which didn’t show up on the district’s web site home page until today:

Because the media was not notified in advance of this meeting, I was unaware of it until this morning, so was unable to inform the public about it in today’s Contra Costa Times.

Other items of interest that could be discussed include Clayton Valley High’s expansion plans and De La Salle’s planned middle school academy in Concord.

Do you believe the district adequately informed the community about this meeting?

Posted on Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014
Under: Concord, Education, Mt. Diablo school district | 12 Comments »

News group’s fight to obtain district documents heading to court this month

The jury trial for former Woodside Elementary teacher Joseph Martin — who has been charged with 150 counts of molestation involving 14 former students while he taught at the Concord campus in the Mt. Diablo school district — has been postponed until May.

But, the Bay Area News Group, or BANG, lawsuit seeking district records related to an internal report about suspicions of abuse raised in 2006, along with any other relevant documents, is set to be heard March 19 in Contra Costa County Superior Court.

Attorneys for both sides have been busily trading legal briefs and declarations bolstering their opinions during the past month.

The district is staunchly defending its decision to withhold the documents sought based on a variety of exemptions asserted under the California Public Records Act. The newspaper group disputes these asserted exceptions and is asking the court to require the district to list everything that is being withheld and to review the documents privately, then decide whether or not they should be released.

Here’s a rundown of the arguments by both sides:

The district asserts that every document being withheld is prohibited from public disclosure because it contains identifiable education information for a minor, education records, attorney-client information, and attorney work product information, as well as information protected by individual privacy laws. The district asserts that a 2006 internal report prepared by outside attorney Mark Williams related to alleged improper behavior by Martin is exempt from disclosure because it was provided to police in confidence and police compelled the district to provide it as part of the police investigation of Martin.

BANG attorney Duffy Carolan counters: “It is inconceivable under the strong body of law governing access to records of public employee wrongdoing that all responsive records pertaining to complaints known to Mt. Diablo Unified School District to at least suggest child abuse by Woodside Elementary School teacher Joseph Martin would be exempt from public disclosure in their entirety.”

The district’s “vague and unsupported privacy arguments are patently insufficient to establish that any record it is withholding is exempt,” Carolan says, in a court document filed Feb. 26. In addition, she says the district failed to explain why removing the names of students would not suffice to protect student privacy and she disputed the district’s claim of attorney-client privilege related to the 2006 report.

“In sum,” Carolan wrote, “the district has utterly failed to meet its heavy burden of proof in this case to overcome the strong public interest in access to records that will shed light on the district’s handling of serious allegations of wrongdoing that have already imperiled the well-being of its students and raise legitimate concerns about student safety throughout the district.”

Although the district has not named the documents it is withholding, Carolan asserts that a paper trail leading to the decision to call police in 2013 must exist. She suggests that documents being withheld could include: an April 24, 2013 complaint from the mother of a Woodside Elementary student to then-Principal Jenny Cronan, notification from Cronan to the assistant superintendent for personnel about the complaint, direction to call police, and notification to Martin that he was being placed on administrative leave.

Related to the 2006 incident, Carolan suggests documents being withheld could include: a report received by then-Principal Jennifer Sachs that Martin was “focusing” on some students over others, Sachs’ notification to the assistant superintendent for personnel about this complaint, the conclusion by the district that an investigation was necessary, records relating to an internal investigation into “alleged suspicious behavior” by Martin, writings detailing the suspicious behavior, records showing Sachs was “tasked with conducting the investigation,” and the 2006 letter provided by Williams.

Links to court documents filed by both sides are below:

BANG Request for In Camera Review of MDUSD documents:

Proposed Order for In Camera Review of MDUSD documents:

MDUSD opposition to BANG petition:

Declaration of MDUSD attorney Deb Cooksey:

Declaration of outside attorney Mark Williams:

BANG reply to MDUSD:

Do you think the court should review the documents being withheld to determine whether or not they should be released?


Here is the judge’s tentative ruling:

“29. TIME: 9:00 CASE#: MSN13-1551

Petitioner Bay Area News Group’s petition seeking further disclosure of records is granted. It is premature to rule on the exemptions and privileges asserted by Respondent until a complete list of the specific documents being withheld is produced and correlated with the exemption and/or privilege claimed by the District. By April 2, 2014, Respondent is ordered to create a list of each responsive document or portion thereof being withheld, describing it in detail and for each document being withheld, Respondent must discuss the consequences of disclosing the sought-after information. Conclusory or boilerplate assertions that merely recite the statutory standards are not sufficient. See American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California v. Superior Court (2011) 202 Cal.App.4th 55, 82-85; State Board of Equalization v. Superior Court (1992) 10 Cal.App.4th 1177, 1192-1193.

The court rules on Petitioner’s objections as follows:

Declaration of Deborah Cooksey

Cooksey Decl., paragraph 11: Sustained – hearsay

Declaration of Mark Williams

Williams Decl., paragraph 3, starting with “I” and ending with “appropriate”: Sustained – relevance
Williams Decl., paragraph 3, starting with “One” and ending with “conduct”: Overruled
Williams Decl., paragraph 4, starting with “That” and ending with “privileged”: Overruled
Williams Decl., paragraph 4, starting with “Further” and ending with “communication”: Overruled”

Here are the objections:

Posted on Sunday, March 9th, 2014
Under: Concord, Education, Mt. Diablo school district | 24 Comments »

Mt. Diablo school district interim superintendent responds to arrest of Woodside Elementary teacher on suspicion of child abuse

According to Concord police, Woodside Elementary teacher Joseph Andrew Martin, who taught fourth and fifth grades at the Concord school, has been arrested on suspicion of repeatedly sexually abusing a child. Here is our story about the arrest:

This morning, the Times received the following statement from John Bernard, interim superintendent of the Mt. Diablo school district, about the arrest:

“The Mt. Diablo Unified School District is saddened and disturbed by the recent arrest of a teacher at Woodside Elementary School in Concord.

Our staff has been working with the Concord Police Department since this was brought to our attention in late April 2013.

The teacher in question was removed immediately and has not returned to the campus.

While we cannot comment on the on-going investigation, our prayers and supportive thoughts are with the victims and their families.

We strongly encourage anyone with information about this investigation to contact the Concord Police Department.”

A hotline has been established at 925-603-5836 for those who may have additional information or for any potential additional victims.

Are you satisfied with the district’s response?

Posted on Saturday, June 29th, 2013
Under: Concord, Education, Mt. Diablo school district | 146 Comments »

MDUSD State Board of Education waiver request raises questions about current laws regarding charter conversion funding

The financial impact of Clayton Valley High’s charter conversion on the Mt. Diablo Unified School District has become a test case for the California State Board of Education.

With a never-before-tried waiver request, Superintendent Steven Lawrence and supporters asked California trustees Wednesday to cover $1.7 million in costs the district must pay to the charter, which are above and beyond revenues Mt. Diablo expects to receive from the state for Clayton Valley students. Lawrence argued that current law unfairly penalizes low-wealth unified districts such as Mt. Diablo by requiring them to pay high school charter conversions a higher per student rate than the district receives for the rest of its students.

The district receives about $5,208 per student, but would have to pay Clayton Valley about $6,187 per student. This means Clayton Valley would get nearly $980 more for each of its approximately 1,776 students than other district students, Lawrence said.

“This is a critical issue for our district,” he said. “Currently, our district is deficit-spending $9 million a year. This will push us closer to being bankrupt.”

California Department of Education staff recommended denying the waiver request, saying it would substantially increase state costs and would have the same effect as changing statutes that govern district revenues, which cannot be waived. If the board were to grant the waiver, it could set a precedent that might prompt 13 other unified districts that are paying additional costs for conversion charters to ask for similar relief, which could cost $8.4 million a year for all 14 districts, Department of Education staff said.

State trustees appeared to agree that the current system is unfair, but they disagreed about whether they have the authority to do anything about it.

“I reviewed this with a great deal of interest and concern,” said Trustee Patricia Rucker. “They’re not overstating their financial risk.”

However, she agreed with staff that the revenue apportionments did not appear to be waivable. She said the board was up against the wall and had two choices.

“You can choose to be brave and make a precedential decision and approve the waiver request,” she said. “Or, we can be a Debbie Downer and deny the waiver, knowing we’re creating a great problem for the district and great joy for the charter, which would be better-funded than other schools in the district.”

Board President Michael Kirst said the Legislature should fix the problem. Approving the waiver, he said, would force the state to pay the extra cost and the board doesn’t have authority to apportion money.

Rucker agreed that the Legislature should change the current law.

“Whether we approve this waiver at all, the district is still going to be in the position to rob Peter to pay Paul,” she said. “These are the unkindest of cuts.”

Richard Zeiger, Chief Deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction, said the district’s analysis was correct, but his staff didn’t see any legal way to remedy the problem.

“This is one of those unfortunate circumstances where the person coming in is right,” he said. “But, we can’t help them. So, this really hurt us too.”

Trustees voted 4-2 to deny the waiver, but Kirst said there were not enough votes in favor of the motion to sustain it, so the waiver will come back for a second vote in July. If a motion to deny fails to get enough votes at that time, the waiver would automatically be approved for one year, according to board policy.

Lawrence said AB 1811 proposed by Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, D-Concord, could help alleviate the current inequity. Bonilla’s bill — which is set to go into effect in 2013-14, if approved — would require a charter conversion high school in a unified district to receive essentially the same allocation it received per student in the previous year, adjusted annually for inflation and state funding increases or decreases.

But the bill exempts charter conversions established between Jan. 1, 2010 and Dec. 13, 2012, including Clayton Valley Charter High, which will open in the fall under supervision by the Contra Costa County Office of Education. Instead, the bill says it would not preclude a charter school established during that time to agree to an alternative funding formula with the district.

Do you think the state board should approve the district’s waiver?

Posted on Friday, May 11th, 2012
Under: California Board of Education, Clayton, Concord, Education, Mt. Diablo school district | 85 Comments »

MDUSD superintendent warns community about suspicious man who reportedly tried to lure girl into his car

Mt. Diablo schools Superintendent Steven Lawrence has issued a message to the community warning that an El Dorado Middle School student reported that a man tried to lure her into his car while she was walking to school this morning.

Here is the message:

Lawrence advised parents to remind their children not to talk to people in cars.

Are you concerned about this incident?

APRIL 17 UPDATE: Here is more information:

Posted on Monday, April 16th, 2012
Under: Concord, Education, Mt. Diablo school district | No Comments »

Two MDUSD campuses plan to spend nearly $12.5 million in School Improvement Grants

The California Department of Education recently awarded nearly $12.5 million in federal School Improvement Grants to Meadow Homes Elementary and Oak Grove Middle School in Concord.

The school board gave district staff approval to submit the applications, without ever publicly reviewing them.

Since they are not available on the district’s website, I am posting a link here:–Meadow-Homes_

Here are the improvement strategies each school has committed to in its application.

Meadow Homes:

1. Refine instruction in ELD, mathematics and language arts.

2. Support for intervention to enrichment structures.

3. Working with a leadership data coach.

4. Parent education and partnerships.

5. Provide increased learning time.

6. Access to enrichment curriculum and electives

Oak Grove:

1. Implementation of interventions for students not at grade level proficiency

2. Increased learning time and creating a community-oriented school that supports academic, social and emotional needs of students.

The complete plans are outlined in the application.

Do you agree with these plans?

Posted on Friday, March 16th, 2012
Under: Concord, Education, Mt. Diablo school district | 55 Comments »

Recap of MDUSD Clayton Valley HS charter cost meeting

Since the Mt. Diablo school district never publicly noticed the meeting held Monday to discuss the possible impacts of a Clayton Valley High charter conversion, it’s unclear whether any minutes were taken or will be made public.

I videotaped portions of the meeting and am posting links to the clips below. Unfortunately, the meeting was held in a large multiuse room, so the sound quality on the video is not very good.

Also, the district has not posted the Powerpoint presentation on its website and it is not clearly visible in the video. So, I’ll post excerpts of it in my blog.

CFO Bryan Richards presented the Powerpoint entitled: “The budget, the multi-year projection, and the potential charter at Clayton Valley High”

The first portion of the Powerpoint (which I was unable to videotape) says:

“The state budget….
- Erased the 2.24 percent COLA (Cost of Living Adjustment) with increase in deficit factor
- Did not cut the additional $330 per ADA (Average Daily Attendance) that was believed to be at risk at May revise (and which the district budgeted in its “State Fiscal Uncertainty” reserve)
- Instead, created trigger cuts if state revenues come in below projections, cutting funding mid-year
– Revenue limit up to 4 percent
– Home-to-school and special education transportation approximately 50 percent
- If triggers activated, districts may negotiate up to seven additional furlough days that reduce the school calendar up to a total of 12 days” (from 180 to 168).

Next, Richards presented the district’s assumptions when the board adopted its budget, compared to the unaudited actuals. I have combined the information below, showing the estimates followed by the actuals.

Ending 10-11 fund balance: $33 million; Actual: $45.5 million
Undesignated balance: $23.2 million; Actual: $30.8 million

Projected 2011-12 deficit: ($2.2 million); Actual: same
State fiscal uncertainty ($330/ADA): ($10.7 million) (Reserve)
Unassigned balance 6/12: $10.3 million; Actual $17.9 million

Projected surplus 2012-13: $7.1 million; Actual: $7.1 million
Reduction of 2 percent reserve: ($0.5 million); (Actual same)
State fiscal uncertainty 2012-13: ($10.7 million); Actual same
Estimated unassigned 6/13: $7.2 million; Actual $14.8 million

Projected surplus 2013-14: $8.7 million; Actual $8.7 million
State fiscal uncertainty 2013-14: ($10.6 million); (Actual same)
Unassigned 6/14 balance: $5.3 million; Actual $12.9 million

Richards then explained why the actual ending balance was higher than anticipated with this slide:

“Artificial Ending Balance Inflation
- Full utilization of State Fiscal Stabilization Fund and Education Jobs Fund in 2010-11
- Tier 3 grants remain unrestricted
- Their unspent balances and site carryovers make up large part of ending balance.”

I started videotaping as he went into more detail about this:

Here are the slides he reviewed, with my notes in brackets:

“Fund balance is up $12.5 million. Why is undesignated only up $7.6 million?

- Tier 3 Program Carryovers: $3,178,903
- Site Carryovers: $1,786,820
- Inventory and Prepaid Adjustments: ($27,678)

- [Total] Fund Balance Designation Changes: $4,938,045

- Undesignated is up by $7.6 million due to one-time Special Disability Adjustment plus $2 million Mandated Cost Reimbursement plus $1.4 million, CSR plus $0.5 million, State Fiscal Statibilization Funds used for salaries plus $1.6 million and cost savings efforts”

“The 2011/12 Budget Year Revenue Limit and the Deficit
- Higher deficit factor in 2011-12 (increased from 17.964 percent to 19.754 percent to offset COLA)
- Base Revenue Limit = $6,489.01/ADA
- Deficited Revenue Limit = $5,207.18/ADA
- Deficit also applies to Meals for Needy and Beginning Teacher Salary Adjustment
- Total deficit factor for 2011-12 = $42,055,325
- Equivalent to eliminating 35.6 days’ instruction”

“The Mid-Year Cut Trigger

- State budget calls for graduated mid-year cuts if state revenues miss estimates. If it misses by $4 billion the following occurs:

- Reduction of Revenue Limit (including MFN and BTS) by an additional 4 percent = $261.73 per ADA or $8,515,797

- It will also reduce transportation funding by 50 percent = $1,129,707 or $34.72 per ADA

Total [worst case] trigger cuts $296.45 per ADA or $9,645,504″

“Other MDUSD Budget Adjustments

- Furlough Days: Budgeted at seven days, yet to be negotiated with MDEA [Mt. Diablo Education Association teachers' union] ($6 million)

- $6 million x 3 years = $18 million

- This is greater than the remaining unassigned balance in the three-year term of the projection” [through 6/14 -- however, that projection includes the worst-case trigger, which is $2.1 million more than the LAO projection]

Richards said that each furlough day would save the district more than $858,000.

“How does the future look?

New dartboard: Loss of 2012-13 COLA:
- ($5.4 million) Lose 3.2 percent COLA for 12-13
- ($5.4 million) Loss of 12-13 COLA in 13-14

County Guidance: Loss of 13-14 COLA:
- ($4.7 million) Loss of 13-14 COLA

Clayton Valley Charter High School
- Loss of $11.4 million in revenue (less oversight $0.1 million, facilities use $0.2 million)
- School expenses $7 million if they leave SELPA” [Special Education Legal Plan Area]

Richards then outlined how all these estimated changes could affect the district’s three-year budget projections, projecting “worst-case” estimates (including no teacher furlough days and maximum trigger cuts).

In the slide below, I have noted in brackets possible lower estimates if teachers take furloughs and the district uses LAO trigger projections.

“How do changes affect the budget?

- Actual UGF (Unrestricted General Fund) ending balance: $45.5 million

- Actual undesignated balance 6/11: $30.8 million

- Projected deficit 2011-12: ($8.2 million) [$2.2 million if teachers take seven furlough days]

- Reduction of 2 percent reserve: $0.4 million

- Trigger cuts 11-12: ($9.6 million) [$7.5 million according to LAO]

- Estimated unassigned 6/12: $13.4 million [$21.5 million if teachers take seven furlough days and calculations use LAO trigger]

- Projected deficit 2012-13: ($10.1 million)[Previously estimated a projected surplus of $7.1 million, so this is a difference of -$17.1 million, based partially on $6 million for seven furlough days, $5.4 million for projected loss of COLA and $4.2 million for the maximum CVHS conversion loss]

- Reduction of 2 percent reserve: $0.2 million [previously estimated $0.5 million, so this is $0.3 million less based on a projected lower overall budget]

- Trigger cuts 12-13: $9.9 million [Unclear how this was calculated; Could be about $2 million less based on LAO's 10-11 projection of $7.5 million instead of $9.6 million]

- Estimated unassigned 6/13: ($6.4 million) [Previously estimated $14.8 million, so this is a difference of -$21.2 million, based partially on higher estimated costs due to possible lack of furlough days, loss of COLA and CVHS conversion; could be $1.4 million if teachers take seven furlough days and LAO trigger estimate is used]

- Projected deficit 13-14: ($12.6 million)[Originally projected surplus of $8.7 million, so this is a change of -$21.3 million, based partially on $6 million if teachers don't take seven furlough days, $10.1 million for a two-year loss of COLA and an estimated $4.2 million maximum CVHS conversion loss; could be -$6.6 million or more if teachers take seven furlough days]

- Trigger cuts 13-14: ($10 million) [Unclear how this was estimated; Could be at least $2 million less based on LAO's 10-11 projected trigger cut of $7.5 million]

-Estimated unassigned 6/14: ($29 million)” [Previously estimated $12.9 million surplus, so this is a difference of -$41.9 million if teachers take no furlough days, there is no COLA, the district loses maximum estimate for CVHS conversion and uses higher trigger cut estimates than LAO; could be -$4.7 million or higher if teachers take seven furlough days each of three years and district uses LAO trigger projections]

Richards explained that the $29 million is a worst-case scenario, based on no furlough days, loss of COLA and the maximum charter conversion estimate of $4.2 million, according to the slide below [However, he did not mention that he was using a trigger cut estimate that was $2.1 million more than the LAO's]:

“How from $12.9 million surplus to a $29 million deficit?

- 2011-12 furlough days: $6 million

- 2012-13 furlough days: $6 million
- 2012-13 COLA loss: $5.4 million
- 2012-13 CVHS loss: $4.2 million
[TOTAL 12-13 -$15.6 million]

- 2013-14 Furlough days: $6 million
- 2013-14 COLA loss (2 years): $10.1 million
- 2013-14 CVHS loss: $4.2 million”
[TOTAL 13-13 -$20.3 million]

Richards broke down CVHS expenses as follows:

“How much spent at CVHS?

In 2010-11 the district spent $6.7 million unrestricted and $2.2 million restricted general fund dollars at CVHS

The site generated $9 million in unrestricted revenue limit funding

The site’s unrestricted budget is currently $7 million

The revenue the district must transfer to the charter school under the conversion scenario is $11.4 million

The district can negotiate rent and receives a 1 percent oversight fee calculated on certain revenues of the school”

Richards talked about how the state is falling short of revenue projections, then reviewed the latest LAO trigger projections as follows:

“Mid Year Cut Trigger LAO Update

LAO projects state revenues miss estimates by $3.7 billion. Under their projection the following occurs:

- Reduction of Revenue Limit by additional 2.9 percent +- $189 per ADA or $6,151,289 (less than the prorated percentage due to hitting Proposition 98 floor)

- It will also reduce transportation funding by 51.693 percent = $1,167,958 or $35.89 per ADA

- Transportation may be exchanged for revenue limit cut at statewide average of $42 per ADA or $1,366,953

- Total trigger cuts $231 per ADA or $7,518,242 [which is $99 per ADA or $2.1 million less than the district's estimate of $9.6 million]

- The trigger cuts become ongoing”

Richards then explained how districts spread some costs to all schools in the district, as follows:

“Cost data vs. revenue data

- Why don’t costs track with revenue generated by site?

- Declining enrollment – funded on higher of current or prior year ADA districtwide (not by site)

- Expenditure data based on current year annual ADA

- General education programs support more costly programs such as
– Special Education
– Community Day School
– Continuing Education
– Home and Hospital”

Richards ended with School Accountability Report Card information, as follows:

“SARC data

- SARC collects data on expenditures, both unrestricted and restricted by site

- Not all unrestricted dollars are revenue limit, but most are

- Separate handout, you can see how much revenue limit was generated by each site versus expenditures [spreadsheet]

- Non site-based expenditures are apportioned out based on annual ADA

- Remaining funds contribute toward categorical programs such as special education and transportation”

Here’s a breakdown of high school revenues, costs and “contribution toward encroaching programs” from 2010-11, including direct and indirect central services expenditures per student, according to the SARC data. (Note: ADA calculation for revenues is slightly different from ADA for expenditures because they are taken from two different years.)

CLAYTON VALLEY: Total budget: $13,749,565.25 ($7,839.78/ADA)

Total unrestricted revenues generated: $9,053,648.90 ($5,261.50/ADA)
Total deducted for contributions to other programs: $900,896.52 or $523.55/ADA (about 10 percent)

Unrestricted school budget: $8,152,757.39 ($4,648.57/ADA)
Direct unrestricted costs: $6,703,622.65 ($3,822.30/ADA)
Unrestricted central services: $1,449,129.74 ($826.27/ADA)
Contribution to other programs: $900,896.52 or $523.55/ADA
Total unrestricted central services/other programs: $2,350,026.26 (approx. $1,349.82/ADA)

Total Restricted: $5,596,812.86 ($3,191.21/ADA)
Direct restricted costs: $2,199,586.91 ($1,254.17/ADA)
Restricted central services: $3,397,225.95 ($1,937.04/ADA)

Total direct costs: $8,903,209.56 ($5,076.36/ADA or 65 percent of school budget)
Central services costs: $4,846,355.69 ($2,763.32/ADA or 35 percent of school budget; not including contribution to other programs)

COLLEGE PARK: Total budget: $13,888,043.58 ($7,549.24/ADA)

Total unrestricted revenues generated: $9,764,639.60 ($5,261.50/ADA)
Total deducted for contributions to other programs: $1,442,341.58 or $777.18/ADA
(nearly 15 percent)

Unrestricted school budget: $8,322,336.02 ($4,523.84/ADA)
Direct unrestricted costs: $6,802,279.22 ($3,697.57/ADA)
Unrestricted central services: $1,520,056.80 ($826.27/ADA)
Contributions to other programs: $1,442,341.58 ($777.18/ADA)
Total unrestricted central services/other programs: $2,962,398.38(approx. $1,603.45/ADA)

Total Restricted: $5,565,707.56 ($3,025.40/ADA)
Direct restricted: $2,002,205.78 ($1,088.36/ADA)
Restricted central services: $3,563,501.88 ($1,937.04/ADA)

Total direct costs: $8,804,484.90($4,785.93/ADA or 64 percent of school budget)
Total central services costs: $5,083,558.68($2,763.32/ADA or 36 percent of school budget)

CONCORD: Total budget: $12,133,551.14 ($8,400.82/ADA)

Total unrestricted revenues generated: $7,402,848.17($5,261.51/ADA)
Total deducted for contributions to other programs: $1,132,773.06 or $805.10/ADA(about 15 percent)

Unrestricted school budget: $6,270,075.11 ($4,341.17/ADA)
Direct unrestricted: $5,076,667.83 ($3,514.89/ADA)
Unrestricted central services: $1,193,407.38 ($826.27/ADA)
Contributions to other programs: $1,132,773.06 or $805.10/ADA
Total unrestricted central services/other programs: $2,326,180.34(approx. $1,631.37/ADA)

Total Restricted: $5,863,476.03 ($4,059.65/ADA)
Direct restricted: $3,065,745.73 ($2,122.60/ADA)
Restricted central services: $2,797,730.30 ($1,937.05/ADA)

Direct school costs: $8,142,413.56($5,637.50/ADA or 67 percent of school budget)
Total central services costs: $3,991,137.68($2,763.32/ADA or 33 percent of school budget)

MT. DIABLO: Total budget: $14,098,055.42 ($10,252.39/ADA)

Total unrestricted revenues generated: $7,222,799.08($5,261.51/ADA)
Total deducted for contributions to other programs: $535,889.19 or $390.37/ADA(about 7 percent)

Unrestricted school budget: $6,686,909.89 ($4,862.85/ADA)
Direct unrestricted: $5,550,705.32($4,036.58/ADA)
Unrestricted central services: $1,136,204.50($826.27/ADA)
Contributions to other programs: $535,889.19 or $390.37/ADA
Total unrestricted central services/other programs: $1,672,093.69(approx. $1,216.64/ADA)

Total Restricted: $7,411,145.53($5,389.53/ADA)
Direct restricted: $4,747,516.76($3,452.48/ADA)
Restricted central services: $2,663,361.88 ($1,936.85/ADA)

Direct school costs: $10,298,222($7,489.07/ADA or 73 percent of school budget)
Central services school costs: $3,799,566.38($2,763.12/ADA or 27 percent of school budget)

NORTHGATE: Total budget: $11,436,253.68 ($8,043.11/ADA)

Total unrestricted revenues generated: $7,374,278.14($5,261.51/ADA)
Total deducted for contributions to other programs: $402,005.87 or $286.82/ADA(about 5 percent)

Unrestricted school budget: $6,972,272.27($4,903.59/ADA)
Direct unrestricted: $5,797,423.03($4,077.32/ADA)
Unrestricted central services: $1,174,849.25($826.27/ADA)
Contributions to other programs: $402,005.87 or $286.82/ADA
Total unrestricted central services/other programs: $1,576,855(approx. $1,113.09/ADA)

Total Restricted: $4,463,981.40($3,139.51/ADA)
Direct restricted: $1,709,757.10($1,202.47/ADA)
Restricted central services: $2,754,224.30($1,937.04/ADA)

Direct school costs: $7,507,180.13($5,279.79/ADA or 66 percent of school budget)
Central services school costs: $3,929,073.55($2,763.12/ADA or 34 percent of school budget)

YGNACIO VALLEY: Total budget: $10,221,560.38 ($8,661.39/ADA)

Total unrestricted revenues generated: $6,141,083.95($5,261.51/ADA)
Total deducted for contributions to other programs: $234,628.75 or $201.02/ADA(about 4 percent)

Unrestricted school budget: $5,906,455.20($5,004.92/ADA)
Direct unrestricted: $4,931,348.59($4,178.64/ADA)
Unrestricted central services: $975,106.70($826.27/ADA)
Contributions to other programs: $234,628.75 or $201.02/ADA
Total unrestricted central services/other programs: $1,209,735.54(approx. $1,027.29/ADA)

Total Restricted: $4,315,105.18($3,656,47/ADA)
Direct restricted: $2,029,141.82($1,719.42/ADA)
Restricted central services: $2,285,963.35($1,937.04/ADA)

Direct school costs: $6,960,490.31($5,898.07/ADA or 68 percent of school budget)
Central services school costs: $3,261,070($2,763.12/ADA or 32 percent of school budget)

The above calculations show that the district is consistent in charging $826.27/ADA for high school unrestricted central services costs and about $1,937.04/ADA in restricted central services costs, for a total of about $2,763.12/ADA going toward central services costs.

However, there is great inconsistency between high schools related to the amount that the district skims off the top of the unrestricted revenues generated by students at each school for other programs, from a low of $201.02/ADA or 4 percent from Ygnacio Valley to a high of $805.10/ADA or about 15 percent from Concord High.

Since these figures are not spelled out in the spreadsheet (I had to calculate them myself), they were not apparent when Richards referenced the SARC numbers during his presentation.

Richards, Lawrence and Debi Deal from FCMAT answered several questions from the audience. When Clayton Mayor David Shuey asked about the district’s latest estimate for the financial impact of a Clayton Valley charter, Richards said it would depend on many variables, including special education:

Richards said he estimated the charter would cost about $4.4 million in lost revenues and lost contributions to central services and other programs. But, the district could receive about $100,000 as an oversight fee and about $200,000 for facilities use, according to his PowerPoint.

This would bring the total cost down to $4.1 million [which is $0.1 million less than the $4.2 million estimate Richards used in all of his projections].

He said the range would likely be between $2 and $4.4 million.

“At this point,” he said, “we don’t have enough data.”

Lawrence said the $1.8 million calculation was based on the $941 per student difference in revenue, plus the additional $127/ADA in block grant money the district must transfer to the charter. He and Lawrence said the special education number could vary by about $1.5 million.

Lawrence said that after the end of the first year, the district would know the actual impact. He said the $900,000 in “encroachment” costs that CVHS now contributes to other programs would have to be spread out to other schools.

Deal said a more indepth FCMAT review would take six to eight weeks and cost about $12,000-$15,000.

“The difference is that we start with the district’s numbers and agree those are correct,” Deal said, referring to the letter FCMAT provided to the district.

She said FCMAT verified the district’s assumptions and agreed the impact could be more than $1.8 million, based on the intense special education programs at CVHS. This is partially because CVHS students were generating more revenue than the district was spending to operate the campus and the additional money (about $900,000) was helping to pay for other programs districtwide.

Richards said the district currently spends $7 million to operate the school. He said the charter organizers are still negotiating the facilities fee with the district.

CVHS teacher Neil McChesney pointed out that the facilities fee could range between $520,000-$840,000 not including utilities. [This is $320,000-$640,000 more than the $200,000 the district estimated in its $4.2 million calculation and could reduce the total impact to about $3.5-$3.8 million].

Deal said it would be “mixing apples and oranges” to compare average salaries [yet, this is what Lawrence has done to justify lower expenditures at CVHS and some other high schools than at some elementary schools]. She said it is costing the district less to educate CVHS students than the district receives in CVHS student revenues from the state.

Lawrence said teachers are allocated the same way to all schools, but costs vary because of the difference in salaries. Currently, he said, elementary teachers have higher average salaries than high school teachers.

The district used to have ratios of administrative and support staff on campuses based on ADA, but it has moved away from that due to budget cuts, Lawrence said. So now, staffing is similar at all high schools, even though ADA varies from a low of 1,375.1 at Mt. Diablo High to a high of 1,839.66 at College Park High.

A CVHS parent said the district’s allocation of about $826 per ADA for unrestricted central services is twice as high as what the Los Angeles Unified District spends for those services.

Deal clarified that FCMAT looked at the unrestricted costs and revenues in making its calculations. She said restricted dollars are generated by the campus through a variety of sources, based primarily on the number of students who receive free and reduced lunches.

The district receives $5,207 per student from the state, no matter their grade level, Deal said. Charter high schools receive $6,148 per student, she said.

Lawrence said he would recommend waiting until after the governor releases his January budget, before making cuts. If the governor restores the COLA, the district would have $10.8 million more than it now projects in its three-year budget.

He recommended establishing a committee of principals and parents — similar to a group that met a few times last year — to come up with budget cut and revenue-generating ideas. Last year, he said the group suggested a parcel tax and a shared sales tax with cities.

Lawrence said the district would submit its second interim budget report to the county in March. If it is qualified or negative (meaning the district might not be able to pay all of its bills through June, 2014), the district would have to submit a third interim budget report in May.

He also pointed out that the district has the lowest ratio of administrators to 100 teachers in the county, at 4.52 per 100 teachers. The next highest is Pittsburg, with 5.18 per 100 teachers, he said. Legally, districts can have as many as eight administrators per 100 teachers, including site administrators, he said.

McChesney asked how much per student the district spends on Dent Center central services. Lawrence said he didn’t have that number at his fingertips.

However, the spreadsheet shows the district incurred about $12.1 million in unrestricted costs at the Dent Center in 2010-11, or $371.92/ADA. So, of the $826.27/ADA in unrestricted central services costs at the six comprehensive high schools, about 45 percent pays for Dent Center services and 65 percent goes toward other programs. This doesn’t include the “contribution toward encroaching programs” that the district does not include in the school budgets.

Richards said central services costs also include floating P.E., music and special education teachers, as well as those at Sunrise, Shadelands and the Shearer preschool at Gregory Gardens Elementary. He said many other districts code these positions to school sites, so their “central services” costs appear to be lower.

Costs for substitute teachers are also spread across the district, instead of coded to individual schools. If the district added these costs to the CVHS budget instead of lumping them into central services, the school’s budget would be larger and the estimated financial impact would be reduced.

Lawrence said “Sacramento wrote a bad law,” when it required unified school districts to pay high school rates to charters that convert.

“It’s a shame that in many ways,” he said, “Sacramento has created a system that is pitting program against program.”

Lawrence said he has asked State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson and Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla if they would try to change the funding formula.

If the financial impact is $2.4 million, that would be about $74 per student, he said. If the district didn’t have to worry about this, he said it could concentrate on the beneficial aspects of the charter.

“We have to go back and work with Sacramento and relook at these laws and change these laws,” he said. “Ms. Bonilla wasn’t aware of this. Tom Torlakson wasn’t aware of this.”

Lawrence estimated the district would need to cut about $20 million from its budget, based on Richards’ financial projections.

He said the district is saving $7-$8 million a year from Measure C, including more than $5 million a year in solar savings, in addition to paying of Certificates of Participation and covering deferred maintenance.

Shuey said the FCMAT analysis was not an independent review. Lawrence invited the charter committee to share in paying for a more thorough analysis of the fiscal impact of the charter.

He estimated the financial impact would be $2-$4.4 million, depending on special education costs and the facilities rental agreement.

“When we put our numbers out to the community,” he said, “we wanted to be as conservative as possible.”

Are you satisfied with the FCMAT review and the district’s budget estimates?

Posted on Saturday, November 26th, 2011
Under: Clayton, Concord, Education, Mt. Diablo school district | 45 Comments »

MDUSD to discuss budget and charter’s possible financial impact on Monday

As the Mt. Diablo school district prepares its budget report for December, it expects to take into consideration two possible events that could require cuts — a Clayton Valley High School charter conversion in 2012-13 and state “trigger” cuts due to lower-than-anticipated revenues.

The district has already set aside $330/ADA or $10.7 million in a “State Fiscal Uncertainty” reserve fund for midyear cuts. At the board’s Sept. 27 meeting, CFO Bryan Richards estimated the worst-case $4 billion state budget trigger scenario would be $296/ADA or $9.6 million.

“We are prepared,” he said.

This means that even with the $4 billion trigger, the district would have an extra $1.1 million left over. However, the LAO has projected a much lower trigger of $180 per ADA, which would amount to nearly $5.9 million. With this cut, the district would still have $4.8 million left over in its State Fiscal Uncertainties reserve.

The State Fiscal Uncertainty reserve is part of a $45.5 million ending fund balance that the district had at the end of the 2010-11 year. Richards reported that about $14.7 million of that was set aside for various uses including nearly $6 million in a required reserve for “Economic Uncertainties,” leaving an “undesignated” ending balance of $30.8 million. Richards said this was about $7.6 million more than anticipated.

Yet, district officials say they would need to cut about $1.8 million from other schools across the district if the charter conversion is approved by the county or state boards of education. The district is also pushing the MDEA teachers’ union to agree to seven furlough days this year and next year, including five fewer days of school in both years.

The district has built a savings of about $6 million into its budget for furlough days from all employees, including nearly $4.6 million for teacher furlough days that haven’t yet been negotiated.

Mike Langley, president of the teachers’ union, questions whether the furlough days are necessary at all, given the large ending fund balance. The charter committee, likewise, questions whether the district’s calculations related to costs and expenses for the charter are accurate.

Because of the intense debate surrounding the charter’s financial impact, Walnut Creek City Councilman Kish Rajan — along with Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla and state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier — asked the board on Oct. 25 to seek an independent review of the financial calculations from the Fiscal Crisis and Management Assistance Team (FCMAT). Rajan also suggested that the district convene and independent committee to review the financial data.

That same day (Oct. 25), the district requested a financial review from FCMAT. The independent agency visited the district Nov. 1 and used information available at that time to prepare its report.

However, a lot changed after the FCMAT visit. The next day (Nov. 2), Bill Clark, associate superintendent for business services at the Contra Costa County Office of Education, issued guidance to districts about how to prepare for midyear cuts.

The district asked the charter committee to submit new financial estimates based on this guidance, which the charter submitted on Nov. 4. The board denied the charter petition Nov. 8, based on the charter budget submitted Nov. 4. FCMAT did not review that budget.

Instead, the FCMAT review, based on data obtained Nov. 1, stated that: “Calculations prepared by the district to analyze costs associated with Clayton Valley High School are accurate, reasonable and based on either current year projections or prior year actuals when applicable.”

However, the report went onto state that special education costs had not been adjusted to show the charter’s intention to use the El Dorado County Charter Special Education Local Plan Area (SELPA) or to show revenues the district could receive from the charter for facilities and oversight.

The report concluded: “FCMAT reviewed the district’s cost impact based on a defined set of assumptions. As these assumptions change, so will the costs either positively or negatively, as these findings are based on a particular point in time. The district and the charter organizers have not completed negotiations regarding some major areas such as facility arrangements and serving special education students. In addition, the charter organizers have resubmitted adjusted financial statements since FCMAT’s fieldwork. The financial impact associated with special education and facilities can be substantial. The district is encouraged to clarify these issues with the charter organizers.

The team provided Mount Diablo Unified School District management with suggestions on potential cost impacts associated with the possible conversion. FCMAT verified the source of the data utilized by the district in its calculations but did not perform an in-depth fiscal review or financial audit of Mount Diablo Unified School District, and accordingly, FCMAT does not express any opinion in this regard.”

To try to get a better understanding of how the district’s ending fund balance could possibly soften the need for cuts, I emailed some questions to Lawrence on Wednesday. I also asked him whether he was following up on the idea of convening an independent committee to look at the financials, as well as on Trustee Lynne Dennler’s idea of exploring issues that led to the charter movement.

On Thursday, Nov. 17, I received the following email response from Lawrence:


Q. “I believe you said you would create some sort of independent committee to look at the financial impact of the charter on the district. Have you done that? What is the status of the analysis?

A: I requested that principals attend a meeting next Monday evening along with two parent leaders from their site. The purpose is to review the District’s current budget situation based on the November 2nd letter from the Contra Cost Office of Education providing financial guidance on the 1st interim report, and the possible approval of the charter application at the county or State level. The meeting is from 5-7 p.m. at the Loma Vista center. Debi Deal from FCMAT is also able to attend the meeting. Please feel free to attend.

Q: Lynne Dennler said she thought the district should have a dialogue with the charter committee about its grievances, to try to remedy them and prevent future charter efforts. The day after the meeting, Gary Eberhart told me that he thought this dialogue should begin immediately. Has any dialogue begun between the charter committee and the district regarding grievances that led to the charter?

A: We did have a meeting last spring to learn of the concerns that the charter petitioners have. The District then began working to address those concerns by, among other things, interviewing Clayton Valley staff members to determine what they felt was going well and what needed to be changed. Based on those interviews, we made leadership changes at the school. Though we appreciated the efforts of individual administrators at Clayton Valley, there was consensus that a new leadership team would help move the school forward. Since her arrival, Ms. Brothers has meet with both parents and staff members to identify concerns and address them. We continue to support Ms. Brothers, like our other principals, to meet the needs at their site. If the principal at any site thinks it would be useful to have me attend a site leadership meeting to listen to concerns, I would be happy to do that.

Q. Gary (Eberhart) also said he thought the district would need to identify $1.8 million in cuts in the 2012-13 budget for the first interim report, in case the charter is approved by the county or the State Board of Education. Is this what you are planning?

A: Bryan is at the CASBO (California Association of School Business Officials) conference so I do not have the most updated numbers. The financial impact and how it was arrived at will be presented at the meeting on Monday.

Q. What is your response to some critics, who say the FCMAT disclaimer at the end of its report shows that the agency did not actually verify the numbers provided by the district. Therefore, some people are still skeptical about the district’s estimates of the financial impact of the charter.

A: This is why we are having the meeting on Monday evening because Ms. Deal and Mr. Richards will be there. Between the two of them, we can answer questions about the FCMAT review as well as how the District developed its numbers.”


“Thanks very much for this. Is the public invited to the Monday meeting?”


“The meeting is set up for principals and two parent reps from each school. Given that is 150 people that will fill the room at Loma Vista.”

It was unclear to me whether this meant the public could attend. I followed up with an email to Lawrence on Friday, asking whether a “robocall” had gone out about the meeting and stating that there seemed to be some confusion in the community about whether or not it was a public meeting.

I also contacted Clayton Mayor David Shuey on Friday, who told me that the charter committee had not been invited. After my call, Shuey sent the following email to Lawrence:

“Subject: FCMAT meeting Monday?

Dr. Lawrence,

Theresa Harrington called and asked me about a meeting that is apparently being held on Monday that will include a presentation and update from FCMAT on the charter school issue. I have seen no notice of such a meeting (looked on your website just now) and only learned from Ms. Harrington that it is apparently Principals of each school and two parent representatives. I asked our group if anyone had gotten notice of this and am currently unaware of such notice. I also have not seen anything come back from any of my kids schools regarding parent participation. So as you can see I am a little confused on this meeting.

Please kindly provide me the time, location and agenda for this meeting so that those of us interested can attend.

David “Shoe” Shuey
Mayor, City of Clayton”

Lawrence copied me on his response to Shuey below:

“Mr. Shuey,

The meeting is at the Loma Vista Center from 5:00 – 7:00 p.m. We asked each principal to invite two parents because that would be a group of about 150 people. However, as long as there is room in the room we won’t be turning people away.

Steven Lawrence”

I also called Rajan to find out if a committee comprised of principals and two parent leaders they chose to invite was the type of “independent” committee he envisioned when he suggested the idea of a charter budget review on Oct. 25.

Rajan said he was aware of the meeting, but wasn’t sure at that moment how the committee was selected. He later followed up with the forwarded email below, which was sent to him, along with representatives for Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, Sen. Mark DeSaulnier and Rep. George Miller:

Sent: Monday, November 14, 2011 6:07 PM
To: Kish Rajan; Herbert, Mark; Satinder S. Malhi
Cc: Johnson, Barb
Subject: FW: Budget Meeting e-mail to principals

Good evening,

I wanted to let all of you know that I am following up on the suggestion from Senator DeSaulnier, Assemblywoman Bonilla and Councilman Rajan for a public meeting to review the district budget and loss of funding due to the a conversion charter high school. It would be great if they or their representative could attend the meeting.

Steven Lawrence

Sent: Monday, November 14, 2011 5:59 PM
To: All MDUSD principals
Subject: Budget Meeting e-mail to principals

Good afternoon,

In order to publicly answer questions about the District’s budget and our calculations around the loss of funding that will result if the County or State approves the Clayton Valley conversion to a charter school, we will hold a public meeting at the Loma Vista Center next Monday, November 21, 2011 from 5 – 7 p.m. I know this is the first Monday of vacation, and I completely understand people may have travel plans or other commitments that will not allow them to attend the meeting. We are holding the meeting on November 21 because Debi Deal, who conducted the FCMAT review, is in the area and able to attend at that time. Please invite two of your parent leaders to attend the meeting. If there are specific questions that you or your parents would like to have answered at the meeting, please forward your input to Rose or me so we include the information in the discussion. If people are unable to attend this meeting we will have follow-up evening meetings to address budget concerns. Again, I am sorry that this meeting is during vacation, but Ms. Deal lives in Southern California and happened to be working with another district in our area on November 21st.
Steven Lawrence”

In his email to me, Rajan said (in part): “This was sent to every principal in the district. This is clearly not a ‘hand picked’ group. And there is no effort to exclude or obscure. It appears very consistent with our request for an open transparent meeting on this matter.”

He also asked me if the charter folks were participating and said he hoped they would “participate honestly and not be dismissive of the critical financial facts.”

In addition, Rajan asked how the charter committee felt about the state “triggered” budget cuts and whether they would be insulated from them.

I responded, letting Rajan know that the charter folks were not invited, but that Lawrence told them late Friday they would not be turned away, after Shuey asked to attend. I also said that Lawrence’s decision to allow principals to select two parent leaders could give some the appearance that the committee was “hand-picked”. In addition, I asked whether he thought the meeting should have been publicly noticed, since some people were questioning how open and transparent it really was.

Here is Rajan’s (excerpted) email response:

“I trust the principals to invite responsible parents who have no agenda other than to help the kids at their schools.

I think the charter folks have every opportunity to live up to their statements that they want to know the facts of the financial impact the charter would have on the rest of the district. And given the larger triggered cuts that are looming, I would hope the charter proponents are sensitive to the impact all parents are bracing for.”

To get a better idea of how midyear cuts may affect the district, I emailed some questions to Lawrence on Thursday and received the following response:


Q: “I know that the district set aside $330/ADA in anticipation of the cuts, or $10.7 million. According to Bryan (Richards)’s most recent budget presentation, the district estimated midyear cuts would cost about $296/ADA or about $9.6 million, which leaves a cushion of about $1.1 million. This doesn’t include the extra $7.6 million in the district’s ending fund balance that wasn’t anticipated. Do you agree with this?

A: Bryan is at the CSBO so I can’t run your assumptions by him to validate your numbers. If you review the November 2 letter form CCCOE CBO Bill Clark that is attached to our website the County is recommending that not only do we assume the triggers will be pulled, but we assume they will be on-going, not one time, and we remove any COLA (Cost of Living Adjustment) from our budget for the next two years. Here is the link to the letter

Q: A recent MDEA (Mt. Diablo Education Association) bargaining update says the district is proposing one furlough day for every $42 in per-student funding from the state, which would equal seven furlough days, if the trigger costs the district $296/ADA, as projected. I understand that MDEA wants to propose a counter-offer. Do you agree with this?

A: I can’t speak for MDEA; please contact them.

Q: Another MDEA bargaining update states that the district is asking teachers to agree to ‘Make no plan dates,’ in anticipation of furlough days. It states that teachers don’t want to agree to this unless the furloughs have actually been negotiated.

A: We have received concerns from teachers, high school parents, and principals that they need to know what definitive dates graduation will be held on. They have to reserve dates at the Concord Pavilion and the Concord Center. Parent groups that sponsor grad night need to enter into contracts with vendors. Elementary and middle school teachers don’t want to have to change their plans and lose fieldtrip deposits as they almost did last year when furlough days were agreed to late in the school year. Therefore, the District recommended dates that would not impact holding graduation during the last week of school on the current district calendar. We also want to make sure that furlough days don’t impact AP Testing and STAR testing.”

I also asked Lawrence for quotes the Times might be able to use in a story about midyear cuts.

Q: “Might you be able to tell me in general how you expect the district to cope (will you rely on the reserve you set aside for midyear cuts)?”

A: We set aside a reserve to address one-time, midyear reductions, not ongoing cuts the County is asking us to assume.”

I also asked for a general quote regarding the state budget’s affect on the district.

A: “Children are being minimized and marginalized by the continual reductions to education funding. We are robbing a generation of children of the rich educational experiences that others received in the past. The Legislature and Governor have to stand up and not let the hemorrhaging continue.”

Langley said the district has consistently underestimated its ending fund balance during the past few years, which has prompted the board to make deep cuts to balance its budget. In June, the board cut the hours and benefits of special education assistants — even after Lawrence and Richards said the additional reduction would not be necessary to certify a “positive” budget.

These cuts are hurting students and teachers, Langley said, because the district has been unable to fill many of these positions. He speculated that the district’s inability to fill the positions could be because the district reduced the hours to three per day and eliminated benefits. This was an outcome that many predicted before the board made the cuts.

Trustee Sherry Whitmarsh pushed for the special education cuts, saying they would be necessary if teachers didn’t agree to furlough days. Now, the district has made so many cuts and has such a large ending fund balance that furloughs may not be necessary this year, Langley said in an email.

“The question parents should be asking is: Why is MDUSD proposing to cut out a week of student instruction when they have a $40 million excess reserve?’” he wrote.

In response, I asked Langley if he thought the public should also question whether the district would need to make cuts if the CVHS charter is approved.

“Anytime the district says it has to make cuts, it should be in context of the amount of reserves,” Langley replied. “Although it is important to project the estimates for future demands on reserves, one must remember that the district reserves have been growing during times when their estimates have seriously underestimated the ending balances. This does not bring into question that spending cuts were needed in the past. It does bring into question the severity of the cuts and the areas that were cut. As long as the philosophy of the governing board and top management is focused on pouring resources, time and money, into narrow data-driven goals and starving the human resources that are critical to the education of our children, the public must question every cut and every expenditure. That question must address the basic need: access to a well rounded education.”

Shuey said the charter committee had submitted new financials to the district Nov. 4, which responded to the County Office of Education guidance related to midyear cuts.

“We are as interested as anyone else to find out the complete factual basis and truth of the (charter’s financial)impact on the district,” he said.

In addition, Shuey said he would like to know why each high school gets a different amount of money per student and why some get less than other schools throughout the district. He said he wants the district to explain the methodology it uses to calculate school funding and he wants to know how MDUSD’s methodology compares to other districts.

“There’s a lot of preliminary factual information that I need to get an understanding,” he said. “I’m hoping the meeting on Monday will start that process.”

Are you satisfied with the composition of the committee and the district’s notification to the community about the meeting?


Posted on Sunday, November 20th, 2011
Under: Clayton, Concord, Contra Costa County, Education, Mt. Diablo school district | 100 Comments »

Walnut Creek Councilman suggests Clayton Valley charter consider accepting less funding

Kish Rajan, a Walnut Creek City Councilman and Mt. Diablo school district parent, says the Clayton Valley High School charter committee should consider accepting less money from the district to create goodwill, if the trustees approve the charter Tuesday.

Here’s a letter he submitted to the Times about this idea:

“November 1, 2011

Dear Editor –

On Nov. 8, the Mt. Diablo School board intends to make its decision on whether to grant final approval to the Clayton Valley charter application. The decision they make, and how they make it, has enormous implications to our district that is at a critical crossroads.

It has been well chronicled, perhaps at times overly so, that our district suffers from a myriad of challenges. Persistent state budget cuts have been particularly damaging to large unified school districts like ours that are mandated to serve a large and diverse range of educational needs. Though our district leadership has done their best under increasingly difficult circumstances, to be sure, over the years they have made some errors of commission and omission. Together, these factors have caused frustration among the widely disparate communities tied together by district boundaries drawn decades ago.

Despite this frustration, I believe that the large majority of parents in our District are driven by a yearning to see things improve for our District in general, and certainly for their children in particular. The recent effort by some Northgate parents to explore a transfer of that feeder pattern into a different district was one expression of that. And now, of course, the Clayton Valley charter petition. In each instance, the primary motivation is sincere and understandable. Undeniably, for the MDUSD, some things must change. Indeed I believe the district leadership wants positive change.

The question therefore should turn from whether our districtshould be reformed, to how. Where can we make fundamental improvements in the education program, curriculum, structure, district operations, and district culture? How can we leverage the talented and committed people who abound in our community to participate in that effort, both to create near term reforms and to engage the broader community in supporting our schools for the long term?

But in order to get to that important discussion, we first need a thoughtful, constructive resolution to the Clayton Valley charter application that gets us beyond the vitriolic tone that has defined it to date. To this point, the process has unfolded as a battle between one community and our District (literally described at one point as ‘war’). The matter is also provoking a conflict pitting individual feeder patterns against one another. Should it conclude as such, this will result as a battle in which all sides lose.

The charter proponents (driven by parents, teachers, and community leaders) are raising serious concerns about the state of their campus, e.g. safety, campus conditions and the overall quality of education. They believe strongly that under a new operating structure, with localized leadership, accountability, and flexibility to innovate, they can make substantial improvements. Their community has spoken out with passion and conviction about their commitment to supporting the school, and in so doing is demonstrating the kind of community engagement and commitment we need district wide. The Clayton Valley charter should be used as an opportunity to experiment and evaluate how we canimprove all of our high schools (and all schools for that matter).

The problem with the approval is the potential negative budget impact on the balance of our District. Under the state law that defines this process, it appears that the new charter school would be funded at a higher rate than the other high schools in our district, and that difference must come from our District budget. However, also per the state law, this broader financial impact is not one of the approval criteria the school board may use in making their decision on the application. Nevertheless, it would be unconscionable to take resources away from the balance of our kids to support one school, particularly amidst these brutal economic times.

The solution and the opportunity are clear. There should be an agreement to approve the charter application with an understanding that the new charter school would be funded at the same rate as all other high schools in our district. This would grant the Clayton Valley community what they seek: a new way forward for their school with the local control, flexibility and accountability that they covet. Yet this would be accomplished in a way that is financially responsible, fair and reasonable toward the balance of our district.

Should all the parties involved join in this solution, they would transcend conflict, embrace positive change, and set an example of collaboration. This could also commence a new chapter for our district: one of reform, innovation, and planning that welcomes change while reaffirming our commitment to serving our entire community and all of our kids.

Let’s use this moment to do what is smart, fair and right. And let’s remember our kids are watching.

Kish Rajan
MDUSD Parent and Walnut Creek City Council Member”

I spoke to Clayton Mayor David Shuey about this today. He said the committee would not change its funding proposal before the board vote, since trustees cannot consider financial impact in their decision.

“Once the charter is approved, if the issue of funding comes up, we will meet in good faith on this,” he said. “We are all parents and teachers who recognize that we’re not an island.”

Shuey also said he agrees with a suggestion made by Rajan — along with state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, and Asssemblywoman Susan Bonilla, D-Concord — asking the district for an independent analysis of the financial impact of the charter on the district. The district still has not revealed exactly how much it spends to operate the school, he said.

The district has posted several memos to the public regarding the financial impact of the charter. Each one has stated a different amount:

May 20: $1.65 million
May 26: $1.59 million
Aug. 26: $1.52 million
Oct. 7: $2.4 million

But Tuesday’s agenda report states that the financial impact would be “at least $1.8 million.” It also states: “This amount may be revised based on the FCMAT report.”

However, the staff report does not provide any basis for this latest estimate. It also fails to state what staff’s recommendation will be.

It says: “Accept or deny Clayton Valley charter high school proposal.” There is no report detailing the conditions of approval.

It states: “Prior to Nov. 8, 2011, district staff will have completed its final review and be prepared to present their summative recommendations to the board for approval or denial of the charter petition.” No summative recommendations are attached.

Rajan recommends funding the charter “at the same rate as all other high schools in our district.” However, the district’s school spending reports show that each high school receives a different amount of funding.

The most recent school spending information on the district’s website appears in School Accountability Report Cards. Unfortunately, however, the 2009-10 reports have data that is one year old, from 2008-09.

Here’s a breakdown of what was spent at each high school, according to that data. I am listing the total per student first, followed by a breakdown of unrestricted and restricted funds (including Title 1). Note that the district average unrestricted funding per student was $4,835.41.

CLAYTON VALLEY: Total: $7,849.12
Unrestricted: $4,937.05
Restricted: $2,912.06

COLLEGE PARK: Total: $7,549.24
Unrestricted: $4,523.84
Restricted: $3,025.40

CONCORD: Total: $8,400.82
Unrestricted: $4,341.17
Restricted: $4,059.65

MT. DIABLO: Total: $10,252.39
Unrestricted: $4,862.85
Restricted: $5,389.53

NORTHGATE: Total: $8,043.11
Unrestricted: $4,903.59
Restricted: $3,139.51

YGNACIO VALLEY: Total: $8,661.39
Unrestricted: $5,004.92
Restricted: $3,656.47

According to data provided to the California Department of Education, the district spent $8,199 per student in 2009-10:

In response to a Public Records request, the district sent me the following information related to its 2010-11 per student expenditures:

CLAYTON VALLEY: Total: $7,839.78
Unrestricted: $4,648.57
Restricted: $3,191.21

COLLEGE PARK: Total: $7,503.54
Unrestricted: $4,677.64
Restricted: $2,825.90

CONCORD: Total: $8,011.70
Unrestricted: $4,709.92
Restricted: $3,301.77

MT. DIABLO: Total: $9,551.46
Unrestricted: $5,256.86
Restricted: $4,294.60

NORTHGATE: Total: $8,228.21
Unrestricted: $5,282.71
Restricted: $3,005.50

YGNACIO VALLEY: Total: $8,918.44
Unrestricted: $5,660.51
Restricted: $3,257.92

Here are all the schools that received more unrestricted funding than Clayton Valley in 2010-11, according to data provided to me, followed by the amount per student more they received:

Cambridge Elementary: $4,735.25 (+$86.68)
Fair Oaks Elementary: $4,782.13 (+$133.56)
Gregory Gardens Elementary: $4,675.77 (+$27.20)
Holbrook Elementary: 4,903.61 (+$255.04)
Ygnacio Valley Elementary: $5,049.84 (+$401.27)

Diablo Valley MS: $4,739.57 (+$91.00)
Foothill MS: $4,751.55 (+$102.98)
Glenbrook MS: $4,733.44 (+$84.87)
Riverview MS: $4,765.53 (+$116.96)

Mt. Diablo HS: $4,862.85 (+$214.28)
Northgate HS: $4,903.59 (+$255.02)
Ygnacio Valley HS: $5,004.92 (+$356.35)

Gateway small HS: $7,499.43 (+$2,850.86)
Prospect small HS: $8,940.89 (+$4,292.32)
Summit small HS: $9,366.59 (+$4,718.02)
Crossroads small HS: $17,442.61 (+$12,794.04)
Nueva Vista small HS: $5,362.39 (+$713.82)
Olympic HS: $8,215.00 (+$3,566.43)

The difference between the district’s 2011-12 projected base Revenue Limit of $5,207.18 per student and the charter’s projected base Revenue Limit of $6,148.00 is $940.82 per student. As you can see above, the district spent over $940.82 more per student than it spent at Clayton Valley at nearly every small necessary high school.

It also spent between $27.20 and $401.27 more per student at 12 elementary, middle and high schools.

Do you think the charter should consider operating with less funding than it is entitled to request?

NOV. 6 UPDATE: Below are links to the spreadsheets provided to me by the district to backup the $2.4 million estimated financial impact.

Here is how Superintendent Steven Lawrence explained them to me in an e-mail:

“Attached at the three spreadsheets that Bryan Richards’, CBO, prepared to determine the financial impact of the CVCHS on district finances. The first one is an overview of the calculations we made to determine if there would be a gain or loss in revenue when CVCHS opens next year. The second is our School Accountability Data that shows the cost of each site, and the third is our special education encroachment data. We basically take special ed encroachment data divide it by the number of students in the district. Then multiple that number times the number of students at each school to determine their share of the special education encroachment costs. Basically, columns B and C in the first spreadsheet provide the information you are requesting and the second and third spreadsheets provide the back-up date around some of the calculations in the first spreadsheet. The numbers that were put in the News Update take into account the money saved as well as revenue reductions.”

It’s unclear why the district has now revised the estimated financial impact down to $1.8 million. As you can see, the district did not provide any specifics related to salaries or many other costs related to operating the school. It’s unclear what is included in the unrestricted, restricted and central services costs.

Overview of calculations:

School accountability data:

Special education data:

Posted on Friday, November 4th, 2011
Under: Clayton, Concord, Education, Mt. Diablo school district | 113 Comments »

State Senator, Assemblywoman and Walnut Creek Councilman urge quick resolution to Clayton Valley High charter issue

Today, state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, D-Concord, and Walnut Creek City Councilman Kish Rajan sent the following letter to the Mt. Diablo school board regarding the Clayton Valley High charter petition:

“October 25, 2011
The Honorable Gary L. Eberhart
and Members of the Mount Diablo Unified School District Board
1936 Carlotta Drive
Concord, CA 94519

Dear President Eberhart,

We are writing to urge the Board to take action on the Clayton Valley Charter High School (CVCHS) conversion petition on November 8th so that teachers, parents and students can adequately plan for the 2012/13 school year. We want to applaud the tireless efforts of the CVCHS Steering Committee and District staff as they have met repeatedly to address all of the outstanding issues necessary for approval. We understand that almost all of the conditions have been met and that District staff is finalizing their analysis and preparing to make a recommendation to the board.

As elected officials representing many students throughout the Mount Diablo Unified School District, we also encourage the Board to request a district wide financial impact analysis by a respected independent organization, such as the Financial Crisis Management Assistance Team (FCMAT), independent of the approval of the CVCHS conversion process, so that the Board and the community better understand how to prepare for the financial future of the District.

We are proud of how passionately our community continues to support our teachers and students. We know that this has been a difficult process and have been encouraged by the work completed by the CVCHS Steering Committee and District staff.

As we all work together to support the teachers, parents and students in our community, we believe that a transparent district wide conversation regarding the future of the entire community is essential to a responsible way forward.

Mark DeSaulnier, Senator, 7th District
Susan Bonilla, Assemblymember, 11th District
Kish Rajan, City of Walnut Creek, Councilmember”

Do you agree with the letter’s recommendations?

Posted on Tuesday, October 25th, 2011
Under: Clayton, Concord, Education, Mt. Diablo school district, Walnut Creek | 53 Comments »