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Proposal to rename Portola Middle School generates controversy

Some El Cerrito residents are raising questions about a proposal to rename Portola Middle School in El Cerrito after Fred J. Korematsu, the late Japanese American civil rights activist.

Supporters faced off against opponents Tuesday at the second of four community meetings focused on the proposal, according to a story by correspondent Rick Radin.

Several Japanese-Americans spoke in favor of the name change at the Fairmont Elementary School meeting, while some other residents favored keeping the current name or renaming the school after El Cerrito benefactor Sundar Shadi or Spanish pioneer Don Victor Castro. The new Portola Middle School is being built on the site of the former Castro Elementary School.

District resident Ray Dennen called our newspaper to elaborate on concerns he expressed at the meeting. He questioned the neutrality of a committee evaluating the proposal, which includes Board President Charles Ramsey, a strong supporter of the name change.

Ramsey suggested the name change and the board voted to refer the proposal to a three-person committee on May 14. The board could vote on the proposal next month.

But Dennen said he and some others who think the district is moving too fast may ask the board on July 25 to postpone the decision until the fall, since many area residents are on vacation during the summer.

District spokesman Marcus Walton said Ramsey supports the proposal to educate students about standing up to injustice. But Dennen says he’s not satisfied that the district has made a compelling case to rename the school. And, if there is a community consensus to rename the school, he said the community should be able to choose between several options, instead of just one.

Portola is currently housed in portable classrooms on the site of the original 61-year-old campus, which was torn down in 2012. It is bordered by Navellier Street, Portola Drive and Moeser Lane. The new school will be located at 7125 Donal Ave. in El Cerrito.

You can weigh in at two remaining community meetings: at 7 p.m. June 26 at Harding Elementary, 7230 Fairmount Ave. in El Cerrito; and at 7 p.m. July 1 at Stege Elementary, 4949 Cypress Ave. in Richmond.

More information is available by calling 510-231-1151 or by visiting The district has posted 26 pages of comments received so far, but omitted those without names, due to the abusive nature of some calls.

Do you think Portola MS should be renamed for Korematsu?

Correspondent Rick Radin contributed to this report.

Posted on Friday, June 20th, 2014
Under: Education, El Cerrito, Walnut Creek School District | 3 Comments »

Northgate High senior projects help others

After reading about group research projects presented by eighth-graders at Foothill Middle School in Walnut Creek, Northgate High parent Mark Hearn contacted me to spread the word about intensive senior projects presented each year by students at that Mt. Diablo district school.

Here is what he wrote in an e-mail:

“As a local parent of three kids all in the Mt. Diablo system, Valle Verde, Foothill and Northgate, I cannot begin to express how valuable and special the Northgate Senior project is. For the past 15 years (as I understand) Northgate seniors have been required in their second semester to participate in this event as part of their English class.

“Not only have all three of my kids participated but thousands of other students and yes, us parents get sucked into this amazing process. Each student is required to ask a question, and then over the course of the semester write a paper and develop a project around their question with a final conclusion.

These range from how to raise awareness of human sex trafficking in young girls to why do doctors only want to medicate kids with ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) versus using cognitive psychology.

“I am proud that our son Kyle raised over $4,750 for the Agape International Mission, whose charter is to prevent, rescue, restore and re-integrate those affected by sex trafficking. He not only spoke at the local St. Matthew church, but also Walnut Creek Presbyterian, and was recognized at Industrial Light and Magic’s (Lucas Films) recent screening of ‘The Pink Room’ — an Emmy-nominated documentary about this horrific yet huge issue.

“Right in our own backyard on Monument Boulevard is one of the largest hubs in Northern California and California is one of the largest regions in the U.S.,” Kyle stated during his presentation to the congregation.

“I mention all of this because for the fourth year in a row I judged with other parents, businessmen and even (Walnut Creek) Councilman Bob Simmons to hear some great presentations and thought you might want to raise awareness of this great program.”

More information about Agape International and The Pink Room is at

I have previously written about Northgate senior Anna Waletzko, whose senior project was to put on a benefit concert to raise money for the Mt. Diablo Education Foundation. She and other music advocates spoke passionately to the school board about the need to reinstate elementary music, which was cut several years ago.

Based partially on this advocacy, the school board has decided to bring back instrumental music instruction in the fifth grade.

I also attended a benefit concert put on by another senior to raise money for The Eliminate Project, sponsored by Kiwanis International, to eliminate maternal and neonatal tetanus worldwide by providing vaccines. The sale of concert tickets and related merchandise raised $1,806.

“That ends up being a total of 1,000 mothers and their future children that we’ve saved,” said the student, while the audience stood and cheered.

A Kiwanis rep said UNICEF started Project Eliminate in 2000, when 59 countries were facing epidemics of neonatal tetanus.

“A baby is dying every nine minutes from this dreaded disease,” the rep said. “We don’t hear about it in the United States.”

He thanked the Northgate High community for helping to solve this global problem.

“Tonight, all of you who are here and bought a ticket saved three-and-a-half or four-and-a-half lives,” he said. “And as Kiwanian, I salute all of you.”

How are students in your community making a difference?

Posted on Friday, June 13th, 2014
Under: Education, Mt. Diablo school district | No Comments »

Did your school district seek your input into its accountability plan?

WCCUSD parents hold signs asking trustees to listen to their concerns.

WCCUSD parents hold signs asking trustees to listen to their concerns.

Time is running out for local school districts to adopt new plans for the future showing the public how they will spend state money to meet student goals. School boards must adopt the plans by July 1.

This month, districts throughout the state are holding public hearings to review their draft plans before finalizing them. School districts were required to seek input from parents, staff and community members regarding their priorities for meeting the needs of students, especially low-income students, English learners and foster youth.

Now is the time to look for your districts plan on its website and to e-mail your superintendent and school board if you have questions or suggestions. You can also attend school board meetings where your plans will be discussed and speak directly to trustees about your concerns.

Every plan must address eight state priorities. These are:

1. Basic services: Including appropriately assigned and credentialed teachers, availability of appropriate instructional materials, facilities in good repair.

2. Common Core standards: Implementation for all students including English learners.

3. Parental involvement: Including seeking input and improving parent participation.

4. Student achievement: Including test scores, English learner reclassification rates to proficiency, college-readiness and Advance Placement courses taken.

5. Student engagement: Including attendance, absenteeism, dropout and graduation rates.

6. School climate: Including suspensions, expulsions and other data.

7. Broad course of study: Including student access to all required curriculum areas.

8. Course of study outcomes: Other indicators of student performance

The Education Trust-West student advocacy group has developed a Local Control and Accountability Plan Evaluation Checklist to help parents and other community members review their district’s plans to be sure they meet legal requirements and clearly communicate district goals and plans for achieving those goals.

It includes guiding questions aimed at ensuring your district is developing its plan in a transparent and coherent way.

Here are some sample questions from the checklist, broken into categories required to be included in the plans:

1: Stakeholder engagement

Legal requirements

— Is a parent advisory committee reviewing the draft plan and providing written comments? Is the superintendent answering in writing?

— Did the district consult with parents, students, teachers, principals, administrators, other school employees and local bargaining units?

Beyond minimum requirements

— Did the district explain how it planned to incorporate community input into the plan?

— Are the advisory committees comprised primarily of parents?

2: Goals and progress

Legal requirements

— Did the district specify to which student groups each goal applies (e.g. all students, English learners, etc.)

— Did the district incorporate school-specific goals from school site plans?

Beyond the minimum

— Are the goals specific enough that the district can measure progress toward achieving them?

— Does the district have a clearly stated vision for how it plans to improve student success?

3: Goals, actions and expenditures

Legal requirements

— Is it clear how much money has been budgeted for each action? Does the amount seem reasonable?

— Did the district describe how it arrived at the amount of spending it is required to use to increase and improve services to high-need students?

Beyond the minimum

— Are the proposed actions likely to help the district achieve the related goals?

— Are the listed actions or services specific enough to convey exactly what the district will be doing or implementing?

The entire checklist is available by visiting Click on “View Checklist.”

How do you rate your district’s plan according to the check list?

Posted on Friday, June 6th, 2014
Under: California, Education | 63 Comments »

MDUSD board on Wednesday to appoint new administrators, unveil Local Control Accountability Plan

Now that the Mt. Diablo school board has approved a reorganization plan presented by Superintendent Nellie Meyer, it is ready to start appointing people to fill the newly created positions. On Wednesday, the board expects to appoint two new assistant superintendents, an executive director of operations, interim director of budget and fiscal services, director of College/Career/Adult School, director of Measure C, director of School Support and Accountability, director of special projects and five school support administrators.

Here is the complete agenda for the meeting, which begins at 7:30 p.m. in the district board room:

“TYPE: Regular Board Meeting
DATE: 6/4/2014 TIME: 7:30 PM CODE:
LOCATION: School District Board Room-1936 Carlotta Drive, Co

1.0 Call to Order
1.1 President will call the meeting to order Info
2.0 Announcements
2.1 In closed session, the Board will consider the items listed on the closed session agenda. Info

3.0 Public Comment
3.1 The public may address the Board concerning items that are scheduled for discussion during closed session only. These presentations are limited to three minutes each, or a total of thirty minutes for all speakers or the three minute limit may be shortened. Speakers are not allowed to yield their time. Info

4.0 Adjourn to Closed Session at 6:00 p.m.
4.1 Adjourn to Closed Session Info

5.0 Closed Session Agenda
5.1 Negotiations – The Board may discuss negotiations or provide direction to its representatives regarding represented employees, pursuant to EERA (Govt. Code Section 3549.1) Agency negotiators: Julie Braun Martin and Deborah Cooksey, Agencies: MDEA, CSEA, Teamsters M&O, Local One CST, MDSPA, and Supervisory. Info/Action
5.2 Conference with Negotiators – Unrepresented Employees – Diablo Managers Association. Negotiators: Dr. Nellie Meyer and Larry Schoenke, Interim General Counsel Info/Action
5.3 Conference with Legal Counsel – Anticipated Litigation (Gov. Code Sec. 54956.9(b) Significant Exposure to Litigation: 1 case Info/Action

6.0 Reconvene Open Session
6.1 Reconvene Open Session at 7:30 p.m. Info

7.0 Preliminary Business
7.1 Pledge of Allegiance and Roll Call Info

8.0 Report Out Action Taken in Closed Session
8.1 Negotiations – The Board may discuss negotiations or provide direction to its representatives regarding represented employees, pursuant to EERA (Govt. Code Section 3549.1) Agency negotiators: Julie Braun Martin and Deborah Cooksey, Agencies: MDEA, CSEA, Teamsters M&O, Local One CST, MDSPA, and Supervisory. Info/Action
8.2 Conference with Negotiators – Unrepresented Employees – Diablo Managers Association. Negotiators: Dr. Nellie Meyer and Larry Schoenke, Interim General Counsel Info/Action
8.3 Conference with Legal Counsel – Anticipated Litigation (Gov. Code Sec. 54956.9(b) Significant Exposure to Litigation: 1 case Info/Action

9.0 Recognitions and Resolutions
9.1 Recognition of the Northgate High School Jazz Band Info

10.0 Board Member Reports
10.1 Board Member Reports Info

11.0 Superintendent’s Report
11.1 Superintendent’s Report Info

12.0 Reports/Information
12.1 Annual Report of the 2010 Measure C Citizens Bond Oversight Committee Info

12.2 Final Report – 2002 Measure C Citizens Bond Oversight Committee Info

13.0 Public Employee Appointment
13.1 Appointment of Assistant Superintendents (2) Action

13.2 Appointment of Executive Director, Operations Action

13.3 Appointment of Interim Director of Budget and Fiscal Services. Action

13.4 Appointment of Director of College/Career/Adult School Action

13.5 Appointment of Director, Measure C. Action

13.6 Appointment of Director, School Support and Accountability Action

13.7 Appointment of Director, Special Projects Action

13.8 Appointment of School Support Administrator, – 5 Positions Action

14.0 Consent Agenda Action
14.1 (Item #1) Items listed under Consent Agenda are considered routine and will be approved/adopted by a single motion. There will be no separate discussion of these items; however, any item may be removed from the consent agenda upon the request of any member of the Board and acted upon separately. Action
14.2 (Item #2) Recommended Action for Certificated Personnel Action
14.3 (Item #3) Recommended Action for Classified Personnel Action
14.4 (Item #4) Classified Personnel: Request to Increase and Decrease Full Time Equivalent (FTE) for the 2013-14 and 2014-15 School Year Action
14.5 (Item #5) Declaration of Need for Fully Qualified Educators Action
14.6 (Item #6) Approval of Variable Term Waiver for CBEST Request for 30-Day Substitute Teacher Permits for the 2014-2015 school year. Action
14.7 (Item #7) CIF North Coast Representative for MDUSD High Schools 2014-2015 Action
14.8 (Item #8) Adjustments to NPS Contracts/Purchase Orders Action
14.9 (Item #9) Approve Increase to Purchase Order for Contra Costa County Office of Education (CCCOE) to Provide Temporary One-to-One Assistants for Special Education Students during the 2013-2014 School Year Action
14.10 Item #10) Request approval of independent service contract with Laurie Gulutzan, MFT, to provide counseling services to the students at Crossroads High School Action
14.11 (Item #11) Approve contracts with DataWorks Educational Research for services provided at Bel Air Elementary during June and July 2014. Action
14.12 (Item #12) Approval of new text for Economics course, “Economics: Concepts and Choices”, Holt McDougal Action
14.13 (Item #13) Procurement of Technology upgrades, Installation and Wiring for Bel Air Elementary Action
14.14 (Item #14) Award of Bid #1676: Theatre Audio Equipment at College Park High School Action
14.15 (Item #15) Award of Bid #1677: Theatre Drapes and Curtains at College Park High School Action
14.16 (Item #16) Award of Bid #1678: Theatre Lighting Fixtures and Controls for College Park High School Action
14.17 (Item #17) Notice of Completion for Bid #1645: Sports Field Lighting at Ygnacio Valley High School Action
14.18 (Item #18) Approval of Final (deductive) Change Order to Taber Construction, Inc. for Bid 1645 – Sports Field Lighting at Ygnacio Valley High School Action
14.19 (Item #19) Minutes for the Board of Education Meeting held on August 14, 2013 Action
14.20 (Item #20) Minutes for the Special Board of Education Meeting held on August 21, 2013 Action

15.0 Consent Items Pulled for Discussion

16.0 Public Comment
16.1 The public may address the Board regarding any item within the jurisdiction of the Board of Education of the Mt. Diablo Unified School District that is not on this agenda. These presentation are limited to three minutes each, or a total of thirty minutes for all speakers, or the three minute limit may be shortened. If there are multiple speakers on any one subject, the public comment period may be moved to the end of the meeting. Speakers are not allowed to yield their time. Info

17.0 Communications
17.1 District Organizations – At regular Board meetings, a single spokesperson of each recognized district organization may make a brief presentation following the Consent Agenda. Items are limited to those which are informational. Info

18.0 Business/Action Items
18.1 Mt. Diablo Unified School District’s Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP) Info

18.2 Public Hearing on the Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP) Info

18.3 Request to Approve Tentative Agreement between Public Employees Union Local I (CST) and the Mt. Diablo Unified School District (MDUSD)Regarding Articles 41 and 42. Action

18.4 Salary Increase for all Classified and Certificated Employees not Represented by a Bargaining Unit Action

18.5 (Item #8) Increase purchase order with Speech Pathology Group. Action

18.6 Mt. Diablo Adult Education Memorandum of Understanding with Contra Costa Community College District. Action

18.7 Mt. Diablo Adult Education Memorandum of Understanding with Monument Impact. Action

18.8 CAC Membership Renewal Recommendation for Community Advisory Committee (CAC). Action

18.9 Contra Costa County Employment and Human Services Department contract with Mt. Diablo Adult Education. Action

18.10 Approval of the Course of Study for AP Physics C: Mechanics Info/Action

18.11 Public presentation of an additional proposal to sunshine from Teamsters Local 856. Info

18.12 MDUSD Graduation Requirement Board Policy & Administrative Regulation Info/Action

18.13 Meeting Extension Action

18.14 Adoption of the Mt. Diablo Unified School District Special Education Local Plan Area (SELPA) Annual Budget Plan and Annual Service Plan for the 2014-2015 School Year. Action

18.15 Adoption of Multimedia I Course of Study Info

18.16 Adoption of Multimedia II Course of Study Info

18.17 Adoption of Multimedia III Course of Study Info

18.18 Memorandum of Understanding with the City of Concord for the Restoration of School Resource Officers at 3 MDUSD High Schools Info

18.19 Revision of BP 5141.32 Child Health and Disability Prevention Program Info

18.20 Revision of BP 5141.31 Immunizations and AR 5141.31 Immunizations Info

18.21 2014-2015 Single Plans for Student Achievement (SPSA) Info

18.22 Title I Schoolwide – Diablo Community Day, Sunrise Elementary, El Dorado Middle, Mt. Diablo HS, Ygnacio Valley HS, , Gateway Continuation High, Crossroads Continuation High and Olympic Continuation High. Info

18.23 Public Hearing for the Adoption of the 2014-15 Proposed Budget. Info

19.0 Future Agenda Items
19.1 Future Agenda Items Info

20.0 Closed Session
20.1 Items not completed during the first Closed Session will be carried over to this closed session. Action

21.0 Reconvene Open Session
21.1 Reconvene Open Session Info

22.0 Adjournment
22.1 Adjourn Meeting Info”

The district is currently advertising to fill the third new assistant superintendent position, along with the director of personnel and director of special ed positions. Do you believe this reorganization will improve the district?

Posted on Monday, June 2nd, 2014
Under: Education, Mt. Diablo school district | 56 Comments »

National Merit $2,500 Scholarship Winners announced

Congratulations to East Bay National Merit $2,500 Scholarship winners, named earlier this month by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation!

Nastionwide, 2,500 Merit Scholars were chosen from among more than 15,000 finalists in the 2014 National Merit Scholarship Program. Those selected were judged to have the strongest combination of accomplishments, skills, and potential for success in rigorous college studies in their state, according to a news release. The number of California winners is proportional to the state’s percentage of the nation’s graduating high school seniors.

These winners were selected by a committee of college admissions officers and high school counselors, who reviewed information submitted by the finalists and their high schools, including academic records, standardized test scores, leadership and other contributions to school and community activities, a student essay, and a high school recommendation. Semi-finalists were chosen based on their Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test scores from their junior years.

Winners can use their scholarships at any regionally accredited college or university in the country.

The National Merit Scholarship Corporation urges the public not to compare high schools based on their numbers of Merit Scholarship winners, stressing that the program honors individual students who show exceptional academic ability and potential for success in rigorous college studies. The program does not measure the quality or
effectiveness of education within a school, system or state.

Here are the East Bay winners, listed by county and city of residence, school and probable field:


Alameda: Cari Noelle Ebel Hartigan, Alameda High, Architecture
Albany: Catherine H. Li, Albany High, Neuroscience
Berkeley: Jasper Phillips Burget, Head-Royce School in Oakland, Writing
Berkeley: Thomas Woolsey Peterson, Head-Royce School in Oakland, Acting
Berkeley: Katherine I. Reed, Berkeley High, Computer Science
Castro Valley: Amanda C. Leung, Castro Valley High, Medicine
Dublin: Christine Xu, Amador Valley High in Pleasanton, Biomedical Engineering
Dublin: Kimberli C. Zhong, Dublin High, Engineering
Fremont: Adarsh N. Battu, Harker School in San Jose, Business
Fremont: Krishna S. Bharathala, Mission San Jose High, Computer Science
Fremont: Shivani Chandrashekaran, Harker School in San Jose, Medicine
Fremont: Adrija K. Darsha, American High, Medicine
Fremont: Emon Datta, Irvington High, Biomedical Engineering
Fremont: Christopher D. Fu, Harker School in San Jose, Biomedical Engineering
Fremont: Arnav J. Gautam, Mission San Jose High, Computer Science
Fremont: Rosemond L. Ho, American High, Law
Fremont: Vivian Jair, Mission San Jose High, Business
Fremont: Michael Ju, Irvington High, Computer Science
Fremont: Lucy Chaolu Li, Washington High, Patent Law
Fremont: Levina J. Lin, American High, Pediatrics
Fremont: Yixin Lin, Washington High, Computer Science
Fremont: Jenny Z. Lu, Irvington High, Biomedicine
Fremont: Amal Rohit Nanavati, Mission San Jose High, Computer Science
Fremont: Yuming Qin, Washington High, Healthcare Administration
Fremont: Kerrie Wu, Mission San Jose High, Engineering
Fremont: Patrick Zeng, Mission San Jose High, Engineering
Oakland: Francesca Paris, Head-Royce School, Journalism
Pleasanton: Bryce P. Hwang, Foothill High, Molecular Biology
Pleasanton: Aditi N. Newadkar, Amador Valley High, Medicine
Pleasanton: Brian K. Shimanuki, Amador Valley High, Computer Science
Pleasanton: Jennifer R. Teitell, Amador Valley High, Law


Alamo: Charlotte M. Lawrence, College Preparatory School in Oakland, Public Policy
Concord: Sohyeon Hwang, Northgate High in Walnut Creek, International Relations
Danville: Lance A. Chou, San Ramon Valley High, Medical Research
Danville: Lia L. Dawson, San Ramon Valley High, Chemical Engineering
Danville: Ariana N. Moghbel, San Ramon Valley High, Medicine
Kensington: Rebecca L. Shoptaw, Head-Royce School in Oakland, Film Production
Martinez: Shreyas A. Bhave, Monte Vista High in Danville, Computer Science
Moraga: Marina S. Han, Campolindo High, Psychology
Moraga: Dhruv A. Suri, Campolindo High, Undecided
San Ramon: Katherine A. Camenzind, California High, Engineering
San Ramon: Sarah R. Hay, Dougherty Valley High, Biochemistry
San Ramon: Flora Z. Wang, Phillips Exeter Academy in NH, Undecided
San Ramon: Christine H. Zhang, Dougherty Valley High, Medicine
San Ramon: Brian L. Zhong, Dougherty Valley High, Chemical Engineering
Walnut Creek: Vishank Jain-Sharma, Monte Vista High in Danville, Academia
Walnut Creek: David Simon Shif, Las Lomas High, Mathematics

The complete list of California winners is at:

Posted on Thursday, May 29th, 2014
Under: Alameda County, Contra Costa County, Education | No Comments »

Closed session item related to employee discipline, dismissal or release at Wednesday’s Clayton Valley Charter HS meeting raises concerns

The Clayton Valley Charter High School governing board will meet Wednesday to vote on 6 percent raises for staff and a proposal to increase school capacity in the fall.

The board will also hold a public hearing regarding its state-required Local Control Accountability Plan, which is expected to show how the campus will spend its money to meet school goals.

But a closed session agenda item related to employee discipline, dismissal or release is also creating buzz in the community. Some, including Clayton Councilman David Shuey, believe the item could be related to complaints by teachers about the school’s Executive Director David Linzey and/or other employees.

Shuey, who is not on the school board, said he has no direct knowledge about the planned closed session.

“But I am very well aware of complaints made by the staff against the executive director and I’m also aware of discussion surrounding all of that and what to do,” he said.

The public may comment before the closed session at 5 p.m. in the school’s multiuse room, 1101 Alberta Way in Concord.

“It’s my understanding that there will be people from both sides ready to speak at that time if allowed by the board,” Shuey said. “And if not, people will speak during public comment at 6 o’clock.”

The regular meeting is at 6 p.m. in the same location. The board expects to report out any action taken during closed session, before accepting public comments on its regular agenda.

“Regrettably, I do believe that it will be a somewhat contentious meeting,” Shuey said. “But I am hopeful that the public is respectful and lets the board make its decision after careful consideration.”

Here is the complete agenda:

Wednesday, May 21st, 2014 5:00 PM CVCHS Multi-use Room
1101 Alberta Way, Concord, CA 94521

Meeting agendas and minutes available at:


In compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and upon request, Clayton Valley Charter High School may furnish reasonable auxiliary aids and services to qualified individuals with disabilities. Individuals who require appropriate alternative modification of the agenda in order to participate in Board meetings are invited to contact the Executive Director’s office.

1.0 OPEN SESSION (5:00 PM)

1.1 Call to Order, Roll Call, Establishment of Quorum
1.2 Board Chair Announcement Regarding Closed Session Items
1.3 Board Member Recusals From Participation in Closed Session Items, If Any.
1.4 Public Comment, If Any, on Any Closed Session Items: See applicable rules for public comment below.


2.1 Conference with Labor Negotiators
Agency Designated Representatives: Dave Linzey, Executive Director
Jim Young, Legal Counsel
Employee Organizations: CVEA, CSEA

2.2 Public Employment
2.2.1 Certificated
2.2.2 Classified
2.3 Public Employee: Discipline/Dismissal/Release
2.4 Conference with Legal Counsel: Anticipated Litigation
Significant exposure to litigation pursuant to paragraph (2) or (3) of subdivision (d) of Section 54956.9: One Case


2.5 Pledge of Allegiance
2.6 Report on action taken in Closed Session

If you would like to participate in oral communication with the Governing Board, please complete a speaker card and submit it to the Vice President. Public comment for items of interest to the public and within the scope of the CVCHS Governing Board (non-agenda) shall be no longer than two (2) minutes. Speakers may not yield there time. In accordance with the Brown Act, no discussion or action may occur at this time but it is the Board’s prerogative to respond or give direction to staff.

NOTE: Public comment for agenda items shall be no longer than three (3) minutes and will be heard at that point in the meeting. Speakers may not yield their time.

NOTE: Items listed under Consent Agenda are considered routine and will be approved/adopted by a single motion. There will be no separate discussion of these items; however, any item may be removed from the consent agenda upon the request of any member of the Board and acted upon separately.

4.1 Consider approval of meeting minutes from 4/9/2013 regular meeting and 5/1/14 special meeting.


5.1 Consider final Board approval/ratification of initial collective bargaining agreement between CVCHS and CVEA. This would enact a 6%
(retroactive to July 2013) salary increase for all CVCHS employee
5.2 Consider adopting updated complaint procedures as recommended by
legal counsel.
5.3 Consider increasing school capacity beginning in the 2014-15 school year.



7.1 CVCHS financial report for March 2014 (financial reports will be made at the regular board meetings one month in arrears in order to give ample time for the site fiscal manager and the accountants at CSMC to reconcile and prepare financial reports).

8.1 Curriculum and Instruction
8.2 Operations
8.3 Student Services


9.1 Public Hearing – Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP) presentation to be made by the CVCHS administration.

NOTE: From time to time, the board has topics of interest that they would like to share with the community. These are informational in nature and do not require action.


Next Board Meeting: Wednesday, June 11, 2014, 6:00PM, CVCHS Library”

Here is a link to the agenda packet:—2014/05_May/Board%20Packet%205_21_14.pdf

Do you believe the board should take any action related to Executive Director David Linzey?

Posted on Tuesday, May 20th, 2014
Under: Clayton, Clayton Valley Charter High, Concord, Education | 7 Comments »

Congrats to Campolindo HS on its National Academic Decathlon championship title!

Campolindo HS Academic Decathlon team named National Champion for medium-sized schools 2nd year in a row!

Campolindo HS Academic Decathlon team named National Champion for medium-sized schools 2nd year in a row!

Congratulations to the Campolindo High School’s Academic Decathlon team, which has been named a National Champion for the second year in a row for medium-sized schools!

Campolindo placed 10th overall at the 2014 State Competition in Sacramento last March, competing against much larger schools several times its size. The overall winner went to the national competition, while the winners in the small and medium-sized categories competed online for their national titles, along with the second-highest scoring large schools.

Here is more about the accomplishment as described in a news release from the Contra Costa County Office of Education.

“Medium schools in this completion are high schools whose student population is between 650 and 1,300. Campolindo (California) was followed by New Jersey, 2nd place and Wisconsin, third place.

‘When I found out we won Nationals for the 2nd year in a row, I was incredibly excited,’ says Campolindo’s Academic Decathlon coach Paul Verbanszky. ‘The team has worked very hard to accomplish this. An opportunity like this does not come often in a lifetime. These are some of the finest students I have ever worked with in my 13 years of education!’”

Here is a link to final medium-school team and individual results:

Campolindo students were top-scorers in these categories as well. The students and team will be awarded trophies and medals, as well as scholarship money. Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, presented the team with Congressional Recognition last week.

“I am really proud of how far our school’s Academic Decathlon has come in the three years I have been in it, and how successful it has become,” said Campolindo Academic Decathlon member Christoph Steefel, in a news release.

Teammate Graham Wade said, “I did not believe it at first, but I was really excited and happy that all of our hard work had paid off.”

Verbanszky teaches AP psychology and government/economics. He has been Campolindo’s Academic Decathlon coach since 2005.

The Academic Decathlon team is an after-school club with funding from donations and other fundraising.

“I am very proud of my students,” Verbansky said. “And, our team gives a big thank you to the Contra Costa County Office of Education for all of their support and hard work with Academic Decathlon, so that the students can have such a positive experience.”

The East Bay Regional Academic Decathlon is coordinated by the Contra Costa County Office of Education with the assistance of community volunteers. It provides an opportunity for high school students to compete as individuals and teams in a series of 10 academic tests and demonstrations.

The curriculum includes art, economics, language and literature, mathematics, music, science, social science, essay, interview, speech (prepared and impromptu), and a Super Quiz™. About 170 high school students from 10 schools participated in the regional event.

The theme for this year’s Academic Decathlon was World War I. The Super Quiz™ focused on the subject areas the participating students had been studying, such as science, art, economics and literature.

The Academic Decathlon was created by Dr. Robert Peterson, a former Superintendent of Schools in Orange County, who believed that everyone’s learning potential can be maximized through competitive challenges. The contest that has since become recognized as the most prestigious high school academic team competition in the United States, according to a news release. The U.S. Academic Decathlon was founded in 1981.”

Do you think more schools should send teams to the Academic Decathlon?

Posted on Monday, May 19th, 2014
Under: Acalanes school district, Contra Costa County Office of Education, Education, Moraga | 1 Comment »

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

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?

Posted on Friday, May 16th, 2014
Under: Education, Mt. Diablo school district | 139 Comments »

MDUSD board to meet tonight to vote on layoff, hold closed session regarding top district administrator contracts and reorganization

The Mt. Diablo school board will hold a special meeting at 6 p.m. tonight to vote on the layoff of one PE teacher at Concord High, then a closed session to discuss the release of unspecified public employees, the contracts of the CFO and three assistant superintendents, and future reorganization.

The open session is in the district office board room at 1936 Carlotta Drive in Concord. Here is the agenda:

“1.0 Call to Order
1.1 President will call the meeting to order Info
2.0 Preliminary Business
2.1 Pledge of Allegiance and Roll Call Info

3.0 Public Comment
3.1 The public may address the Board regarding any item within the jurisdiction of the Board of Education of the Mt. Diablo Unified School District regardless of whether or not it is agendized on the Open or Closed Session agenda. These presentations are limited to three minutes each, or a total of thirty minutes for all speakers or the three minute limit may be shortened. Speakers are not allowed to yield their time. Info

4.0 Business/Action Items
4.1 Implement Staff’s Recommendation to Decrease the Number of Certificated Employees Due to a Reduction or Elimination of Particular Kinds of Service Action

5.0 Adjourn to Closed Session

5.1 Release of Public Employees Action

5.2 Conference with Negotiators – Unrepresented Employees – Diablo Managers Association. Negotiators: Dr. Nellie Meyer and Larry Schoenke, Interim General Counsel Action

6.0 Reconvene Open Session
6.1 Report Out Action Taken in Closed Session Action
7.0 Adjournment”

The agenda item for item 5.2 states: “Discussion of Superintendent’s Council Contracts and future reorganization.”

The superintendent’s council consists of: CFO Bryan Richards, Assistant Superintendent for Personnel Julie Braun-Martin, Assistant Superintendent for Student Achievement and School Support Rose Lock and Assistant Superintendent for Pupil Services/Special Education Kerri Mills. Although it also includes the general counsel, Braun-Martin has informed me that the current general counsel is on a post-retirement contract, so I don’t believe his contract is up for discussion at this time, especially since he will be meeting with the board along with Superintendent Nellie Meyer to discuss this agenda item.

Normally, the district webcasts the open portions of the meeting live and later archives them at:

Do you believe the board should renew the contracts for members of the superintendent’s council?

Posted on Monday, May 12th, 2014
Under: Education, Mt. Diablo school district | 5 Comments »

A closer look at graduation and dropout rates in Contra Costa County

The state released dropout and graduation rates for districts throughout California last month, showing that on average, 80.2 percent of students in the class of 2013 graduated in four years after starting as freshmen in 2009-10. This was up from just under 79 percent in 2012.

Meanwhile, the statewide average dropout rate fell from 13.1 percent in 2012 to 11.6 percent in 2013. In Contra Costa County, seven districts surpassed the state average graduation rate, while two fell below it. County dropout averages were not quite as stellar, with five districts posting lower dropout rates, three higher and one mirroring the state.

Here’s a rundown of the countywide results, showing the 2012 graduation and dropout rates followed by 2013 graduation and dropout rates.

2012 Grad. Rate 2012 Dropout Rate 2013 Grad. Rate 2013 Dropout Rate

State 78.9 13.1 80.2 11.6
Contra Costa County 83.9 10.1 85.8 8.3
Acalanes 97.7 1.1 97.8 0.9
Antioch 74.4 16.8 77.6 11.6
John Swett 87.7 8.5 88.8 7.2
Liberty 86.3 3.5 86.4 4.5
Martinez 87.2 6.7 88.4 9.7
Mt. Diablo 81.2 14.2 82.6 12.4
Pittsburg 70.2 21.6 71.3 2.5
San Ramon Valley 97.0 1.6 98.4 0.4
West Contra Costa 75.7 18.2 79.9 13.2

The San Ramon Valley district had the highest graduation rate and lowest dropout rate in 2013, inching past Acalanes, which held that honor in 2012. More than 98 percent of San Ramon Valley seniors graduated on time last year, while less than 1 percent dropped out during their four years in high school.

San Ramon Valley spokesman Terry Koehne said his district’s impressive numbers were the result of “a quality teaching staff that truly cares about kids and a very engaged parent community.”

The tiny John Swett district also made gains, increasing its graduation rate by more than 1 percentage point to 88.8 percent, while reducing its dropout rate by about the same percentage to 7.2 percent. Superintendent Rob Stockberger credited the growth to teachers and administrators at John Swett High as well as alternatives for students who need more support.

“I think staff does a good job working with teens, but if the student becomes at risk, Willow Continuation High School becomes a really viable alternative,” he said. “And in some extreme cases, we work with the county’s Golden Gate Community School to come up with other viable options for students who are struggling in a larger environment.”

The Liberty Union district saw slight improvement in its graduation rate, growing by one tenth of a percentage point to 86.4 percent. But, its dropout rate for students in the class of 2013 compared to the class of 2012 rose 1 percentage point to 4.5 percent.

Superintendent Eric Volta said these percentages don’t tell the whole story because the class of 2013 was larger than the class of 2012. Even though more students dropped out, he said, more students graduated. In the class of 2012, 1,487 students graduated after four years and 60 dropped out. In the class of 2013, 1,573 students graduated on time, while 82 dropped out.

“For whatever reasons, we lost more seniors last year,” he said. “Had we kept the same number of seniors, our dropout rate would have gone down.”

Most of the students who dropped out were enrolled in independent study or continuation high schools, he said.

Although the Antioch district’s overall graduation rate fell below the state average, it showed significant improvement from 2012-2013, growing more than 3 percentage points. Its dropout rate plummeted more than 5 percentage points to 11.6 percent, equaling the state average.

“It’s been a real concerted and focused effort,” said Superintendent Donald Gill.

State, county, district, and school graduation and dropout rates are available by visiting

Staff writers Joyce Tsai and Paul Burgarino contributed to this report.

How do you think schools could improve graduation and dropout rates even more?

Posted on Friday, May 9th, 2014
Under: Antioch school district, Education, John Swett school district, Liberty district, San Ramon Valley school district | No Comments »