Part of the Bay Area News Group

Archive for the 'Mt. Diablo school district' Category

MDUSD board to consider approving YVHS field project and contract for Northgate HS aquatics center

The Mt. Diablo school board on Wednesday expects to vote on several items of interest, including the district’s 2012-13 unaudited actual financial report, accepting the Environmental Impact report for the Ygnacio Valley HS field lighting project, approving the field lighting project, awarding an $836,430.00 contract to Taber Construction for the project, awarding an $8,160.00 project inspection contract for the project to Alisha Jensen, a lease-leaseback preliminary services agreement with Kenridge Builders, Inc. for the Northgate HS aquatics center, the extension of Local One union contracts and a Northgate HS volleyball team trip to the 5th annual Nike Tournament of Champions in Phoenix, Ariz.

Here is the complete agenda for the meeting, which begins at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday in the district board room at 1936 Carlotta Drive in Concord:

“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 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, Local One M&O, Local One CST, MDSPA, and Supervisory. Action
4.2 Readmission of four (4) students to Mt. Diablo Unified School District. Action
4.3 Admission of Student #A-14 into the Mt. Diablo Unified School District. Action
4.4 Admission of Student #B-14 into the Mt. Diablo Unified School District. Action
4.5 Anticipated Litigation – Conference with Legal Counsel regarding amicus curiae participation in litigation in one (1) matter pursuant to Gov’t. Code Section 54956.9 (c). Action

5.0 Reconvene Open Session
5.1 Reconvene Open Session at 7:30 p.m. Info
6.0 Preliminary Business
6.1 Pledge of Allegiance and Roll Call Info

7.0 Report Out Action Taken in Closed Session
7.1 Negotiations Action
7.2 Readmission of four (4) students Action
7.3 Admission of Student #A-14 Action
7.4 Admission of Student #B-14 Action
7.5 Anticipated Litigation Action

8.0 Consent Agenda Action
8.1 (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
8.2 (Item #2) Recommended Action for Certificated Personnel Action
8.3 (Item #3) Request to increase Full Time Equivalent (FTE) for the 2013-2014 school year Action
8.4 (Item #4) Ed. Code 44623 (Teacher Consent Form) Action
8.5 (Item #5) Recommended Action for Classified Personnel Action
8.6 (Item #6) Classified Personnel: Request to Increase and Decrease Positions Action
8.7 (Item #7) Board Bylaw 9000 – Role of the Board Action
8.8 (Item #8) Board Bylaw 9200 – Limits of Board Member Authority Action
8.9 (Item #9) Increase purchase order with Non-Public Agency Community Options for Families and Youth (C.O.F.Y.) for Mental Health Services for the 2013-14 School Year Action
8.10 (Item #10) Approve adjustments to Non-Public School Contracts/Purchase Orders for the 2013-14 School Year Action
8.11 (Item #11) Agreement with Center for Human Development to provide parent education and counseling services at no cost to the district. Action
8.12 (Item #12) Agreement with La Clinica De La Raza, Inc. to continue providing free dental services in district schools. Action
8.13 (Item #13) Agreement with Youth Homes, Inc to provide counseling and support services for foster youth students in district schools. Action
8.14 (Item #14) Resolution # 13/14-14 – Authorizing District Representative for the School Facility Program Action
8.15 (Item #15) Notice of Completion for MDUSD Project #1637 Paint Package #1 Action
8.16 (Item #16) Notice of Completion for MDUSD Project #1648 Paint Package #2 Action
8.17 (Item #17) Final Change Order for LLB Project # 1648 for painting at various school sites (Meadow Homes & Oak Grove). Action
8.18 (Item #18) Final Change Order for LLB Project # 1637 for painting at various elementary school sites (Shore Acres, Bel Air & Rio Vista). Action
8.19 (Item #19) Contract Amendment: Verde Design, Inc. Action
8.20 (Item #20) Notice of Completion for MDUSD Project #1639 Strandwood Skylight Infill and Re-roof Action
8.21 (Item #21) Award of Design Services Contract: Interim Housing to Support 2014 Measure C Portable Replacement Program. Action
8.22 (Item #22) Approve of contract with Exploring New Horizons (ENH) for Mt. Diablo Elementary School Outdoor Ed Program Action
9.0 Consent Items Pulled for Discussion

10.0 Recognitions
10.1 Recognition of Improvement on the Academic Performance Index (API) Info

11.0 Public Comment
11.1 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
12.0 Communications
12.1 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

13.0 Reports/Information
13.1 Update on District Pest Control Procedures Info
13.2 New and Revised Technology Policies – BP 3513, BP/AR 4040, BP 6162.7 Info
13.3 Board Bylaw 9323 – Meeting Conduct Info
13.4 Board Bylaw 9323.2 – Actions By The Board Info
13.5 Board Bylaw E 9323.2 – Actions By The Board Info
14.0 Superintendent’s Report

15.0 Business/Action Item
15.1 (Item #8) Pilot Program Regarding the Procedure for Biographies for DMA Employees Being Recommended for Positions. Action

15.2 Approval of Resolution – Hispanic Heritage Month Info/Action

15.3 National Adult Education and Family Literacy Week – September 23-29, 2013. Action

15.4 Approval of Adult Education course titles for 2013-2014 Action

15.5 Resolution #13/14-08 Adopting the District’s 2012-2013 GANN Appropriations Limit Action

15.6 Certification of the District’s 2012-2013 Unaudited Actual Financial Report Action

15.7 Authorizing Investment of Monies in the Local Agency Investment Fund Action

15.8 Adoption of Resolution Accepting Final Environmental Impact Report for the Ygnacio Valley High School Sports Field Lighting Project Action

15.9 Approval of Ygnacio Valley High School Stadium Lighting Project Action

15.10 Award of Bid for Bid #1645 Action

15.11 Award of Inspector of Record (Project Inspector) Contract for Sports Field Lighting Project at Ygnacio Valley High School Action

15.12 Preliminary Service Agreement for Project #1643 – Northgate High School Aquatic Center buiding and site work Action

15.13 RFQ/RFP 1658 – Approval of a Preliminary Services Agreement with Kenridge Builders, Incorporated to Support a new Aquatic Center, New Buildings and Site Work at Northgate High School. Action

15.14 Local One CST and M&O Contract Extension Action

15.15 Northgate High School’s Varsity Girls Volleyball Team Competing in the 5th Annual Nike Tournament of Champions in Phoenix,Arizona Info/Action

15.16 Meeting Extension Action

16.0 Future Agenda Items

17.0 Board Member Reports
17.1 Board reports Info

18.0 Closed Session
18.1 Items not completed during the first Closed Session will be carried over to this closed session. Action
19.0 Adjournment
19.1 Adjourn Meeting Info”

It is interesting to note that item 15.10 fails to name the project or the vendor who is to be awarded the contract. Yet, in the past, the board has asked Measure C staff to add this important information to agendas. It’s unclear how this lack of transparency was allowed to continue. The item is an $805,620.00 contract to be awarded to Taber Construction for Sports Field Lighting at Ygnacio Valley High School. This is a very controversial item, which the board and district staff know is of interest to the public. Although the new board majority has promised more transparency, this lapse shows that it may not be implemented unless trustees adopt a policy that demands that projects and contractors be listed on agendas.

Unfortunately, I won’t be able to attend the meeting. However, I plan to report on the outcome. Comments before, during and after the meeting are welcome on this blog post.

Which items interest you and why?

Posted on Tuesday, September 24th, 2013
Under: Education, Mt. Diablo school district | 23 Comments »

A closer look at MDUSD’s plan to increase graduation requirements, without bringing back summer school

At its Sept. 11 meeting, the Mt. Diablo school board unanimously agreed to phase in more stringent graduation requirements, partially restoring cuts made more than three years ago. When the district cut requirements from 230 to 200 units in 2010, the rationale was that it would save money because it wouldn’t need to offer summer school to students who failed previously required classes, including a third year of math.

But even though the district will soon expect students to add 20 units to their courseloads — including a third year of math — it does not plan to bring back summer school.

I spoke to a few outside experts about whether this is a sound idea and received a variety of responses. As quoted in my story about the increase, Contra Costa County Office of Education’s Associate Superintendent for Educational Services Pamela Comfort said the district should look at ways to help students meet the new requirements.

“Summer school would not be the only way you could do that,” she said, “although there’s been research showing that well-designed summer school programs help students to achieve.”

She stressed the importance of trying to ensure that students are successful the first time they take a class, but added that districts should offer alternatives, if students fail.

Similarly, Bruce Fuller, a professor of education and public policy at UC Berkeley, said in an e-mail that the value of summer school may depend on its quality.

“The evidence is unclear as to whether it motivates restless adolescents to require more hours tied to desks in conventional classrooms, as opposed to facilitating internships and real-world experience,” he said. “If the old option of summer school was mainly remedial, forcing more seat time could backfire, undercutting their motivation. But if students are challenged with higher level or innovative classes, this could advance learning, even their readiness for college.”

Michael Kirst, professor of education at Stanford and President of the state Board of Education, said the district should look at its priorities across the board as it reinstates cuts.

“My guess is they’ll put the summer school in as (the requirements) hit,” he said. “You’d have to know what all their priorities are on the ground. But it seems that they know that it’s related to summer school and you have to be able to make up credits.”

Rose Lock, assistant superintendent for Student Achievement and School Support, explained in an e-mail that the district has devised other ways to help students succeed with the stricter requirements. Here’s what she wrote:

“As you heard the Board discussion at the last Board meeting, we have to begin with high expectations for all our students. For the past two years, our district has been strategically focused on developing a comprehensive system of support for all students to achieve at the highest level. Our staffs are continuing to refine their practice as professional learning communities where our shared values are collaboration, powerful first instruction, use of common assessments, and directed intervention.

During the 2012-13 school year, principals and teams of teachers from all of our schools participated in 4 full days of Response to Intervention (RTI) professional development. They gained information and learned strategies that are helping them to formulate and implement a systemic process to ensure every student will receive the time and support needed to learn at high levels. Many of our schools have identified time during the school day for students to access additional support. In addition, teachers are using benchmark and formative assessments to determine what skills and concepts students are not mastering so the support is targeted. This response system will help us focus on students specific needs immediately and not wait until they fail.

Also in 2012-2013, we provided training in an overview of the Common Core for every district teacher in the district. We also had ongoing training throughout the year on the Common Core for secondary math and English teachers as well as elementary teacher leaders. Almost 1200 teachers took courses in our district’s Summer Learning Academy this past summer. Many of the 52 courses focused on implementation of the Common Core.

For this school year, we are preparing to expand the professional development for all teachers in Common Core. The goal, of course, is to ensure that our teachers are prepared to implement the CCSS and shift instructional practices that support more rigorous content and higher and deeper level thinking for our students.

This past August, the district’s RTI professional development continued for all principals and their school teams with a focus on behavior interventions and maintaining a positive learning environment. During this school year, all secondary and many elementary school teams will participate in the next phase of the district’s professional development plan focusing on the best first instruction. The training is based on Dr. Robert Marzano’s research on the most effective instructional strategies.

Hundreds of our high school students are enrolled in academies in all five of our high schools. We continue to explore adding academies and strengthening the existing ones. Students in academies have shown to achieve at higher levels including higher graduation rates. MDUSD is part of the AB790 Linked Learning Pilot Program that will help to strengthen our academies and increase participation.

We will continue to provide Cyber High for students who need remediation and to make up credits. We will also continue to explore other online curriculum for our students. Our adult school has also been able to offer limited summer school classes for some seniors and juniors to make up credits for graduation.”

When I interviewed incoming Superintendent Nellie Meyer about the district’s plan to increase graduation requirements, she said students need need someone who pushes them, someone who monitors what they are doing, and a relationship with an adult who cares, in order to succeed. She was surprised MDUSD does not have academic counselors who meet regularly with students to guide them through their four years in high school.

If students fail to thrive under Lock’s plan, they could end up transferring to alternative high school programs to make up credits, which are far more expensive than comprehensive high schools.

Do you believe MDUSD students will be able to meet the increased graduation requirements under the district’s plan, as outlined by Lock?

Posted on Monday, September 16th, 2013
Under: Education, Mt. Diablo school district | 14 Comments »

Positive vibe at Mt. Diablo school board meetings, as leadership shifts

Dr. John Bernard, Interim Superintendent of MDUSD

Dr. John Bernard, Interim Superintendent of MDUSD

There’s a shift in the mood at Mt. Diablo school board meetings. The acrimony of the past has given way to a more collegial and optimistic spirit as trustees work together to improve the district.

At Wednesday’s meeting, board President Cheryl Hansen attributed much of the change to Interim Superintendent John Bernard, who was hired in May to work through September, while trustees searched for a permanent superintendent to replace Steven Lawrence. Before Bernard was hired, the board was rarely united, and it was divided in its decisions to fire Lawrence and the general counsel.

But since Bernard took over, Hansen has been downright bubbly as she leads meetings, sometimes cracking jokes and often complimenting Bernard as a “problem solver” who has helped direct the board’s focus. Recently elected trustees Barbara Oaks and Brian Lawrence have grown into their positions, asking thoughtful questions and considering items carefully and deliberately.

Trustees Linda Mayo and Lynne Dennler, who were often at odds with Hansen before Oaks and Lawrence joined the board, now appear to be getting used to Hansen’s leadership and to working alongside two new board members.

Although this is just the beginning of the leadership transition in the district, it is a hopeful sign to some who were frustrated by the old way of doing things, which included staff giving some board members more information than others.

One change being pushed by Lawrence is more transparency about who will be appointed to administrative positions in the district. Currently, the public gets no advance notice of the candidate’s name, and the board has often received little information about prospective employees before voting on their appointments.

“I’m aware there has been inconsistency, and we are going to remedy that,” Bernard assured trustees on Wednesday.

After listening to each board member’s concerns, he promised to bring back a recommendation at the next board meeting. Later, Bernard showed his sense of humor when he proudly announced that the district would soon be providing PSA tests to every sophomore.

He then realized he had mistakenly referred to a Prostate-Specific Antigen, or PSA test for prostate cancer. So, he corrected himself by saying the district would offer the PSAT, or Preliminary SAT.

He then looked directly at me and said, “I already know what you’re going to write tomorrow. Bernard can’t read.”

Later, when he made an announcement highlighting the district’s after-school programs, Lawrence quipped: “Do they get PSA tests there?”

Bernard quickly replied: “Only the adults.”

At the end of the meeting, Lawrence pointed out that it was Bernard’s last night to sit on the dais with trustees, since newly appointed Superintendent Nellie Meyer will start Sept. 23.

“I just wanted to say thank you and it has certainly been an educational and enjoyable few months,” Lawrence said. “I appreciate you stepping in and helping us out and really helping accentuate some of the really good things going on in the district and helping fix some of the things that weren’t.”

Hansen presented Bernard with a Tommy Bahama gift card, saying she wanted him to enjoy some rest and relaxation after he leaves at the end of the month.

“He’s been an amazing trooper,” Hansen told the audience. “The way we went through this transition was just really amazing to me — that we went into a mode of actual really strong leadership grounded on solid values, constantly focusing on our schools and our students, constantly focusing on how to break down some of the walls and rebuild some of the trust.”

She said Meyer has also expressed appreciation for the tone that Bernard has been set.

“We couldn’t have asked for anything more, because it could have been an extremely tumultuous, bumpy road,” Hansen said. “Dr. Bernard came in and hit the ground running, brought a sense of calm, a sense of purpose and a knowledge base. To me, that’s called leadership. And it’s just been impressive and really, really nice.”

Have you noticed any changes in the district since Bernard took over?

Posted on Friday, September 13th, 2013
Under: Education, Mt. Diablo school district | 80 Comments »

New MDUSD superintendent discusses funding priorities, community involvement and charter schools

Incoming MDUSD Superintendent Nellie Meyer brings 30 years of experience in San Diego to her new job.


Incoming MDUSD Superintendent Nellie Meyer brings 30 years of experience in San Diego to her new job.

Mt. Diablo school district’s incoming Superintendent Nellie Meyer is bringing 30 years of experience in education from the San Diego school district, in positions ranging from teacher to deputy superintendent.

On Friday this newspaper published an excerpt of a discussion I had with Meyer about her priorities. Here are some more details from that interview, as we dug into the move to Common Core curriculum standards that emphasize problem-solving and deeper understanding of concepts, her opinion of charter schools, and parent and community engagement.

Q What should the district’s budget priorities be under the state’s new Local Control Funding Formula?

A As we go into the Common Core, we’re going to have to work with teachers to support them as we change our teaching strategies. Moving away from some of the rote memorization to some of the of the critical thinking I’m sure is already occurring will be an emphasis, particularly in the early grades, with early literacy. There are a lot of strategies we could employ, such as smaller class sizes and an extended day. We know there are proven strategies that work. How we make them work within the system will be my challenge.

Q The district is implementing a Master Plan for English Learners. What is your experience with that student population and what direction can you provide?

A I taught (English language learners in San Diego) and have a credential. And that was certainly under my purview (as an administrator in San Diego) and will be here. I’ve trained staff and secondary teachers in strategies, including English language development strategies. It should be more hands-on. It’s a really good match with the Common Core. I’m going to be curious where we see the shift in our English language development standards to Common Core and what strategies we will need to fill in. It’s a critical part of any district, particularly Mt. Diablo, so I’ll be spending a lot of time studying that.

Q The board has discussed holding town hall style meetings in the community, but hasn’t yet done so. Would you support that?

A In San Diego, we had meetings at the high schools for the entire cluster (schools that feed into the high school). There were times when parents and community members would come to speak to specific concerns they had about their elementary or middle school experience. Also, they could hear information and respond. It was a ‘we come to you’ philosophy. The goal was that it would be reciprocal. We would go out and talk about changes such as making a campus a Chinese immersion school. They were interactive and they occurred on a regular basis within each of the clusters. They were open meetings, not by invitation. Sometimes the board would attend, sometimes it would not. I would like to speak to the board about this.

Q The former superintendent disbanded the districtwide Parent Advisory Council and instead held parent meetings at high schools. Can you talk about your experience involving parents in the schools, and how you plan to involve Mt. Diablo parents?

A We had a Parent Advisory Council and a District Advisory Council in San Diego. Staff would come and present information to the parent group. This was another body that reviewed budgets. They would take information back to their schools and school site councils. It was a formalized group that would advise, but their advice was strongly listened to. I think I need to look at every district committee and see how they work. I believe that parents are experts in what their students need. I’ve found the budget advisory group is a very useful tool and I’d like to know the makeup of that here and how it works.

Q There was divisiveness in the district when Clayton Valley High converted to a charter last year. What’s your opinion of charters?

A I’m not philosophically opposed to charters in any way. I supervised charters in my former capacity. We had 49 in San Diego. At one time about 10 years ago, there were several district-sponsored conversions. Many of the charters that I’ve worked with were interested in participating in our professional development and they were welcome to do so. They also had ideas they brought to our department on what they were doing. In my experience, it was very collaborative. So I’m curious to see what is working (at Clayton Valley) and I’ll have a lot of questions.

What’s your reaction to Meyer’s comments?

Posted on Friday, September 6th, 2013
Under: Education, Mt. Diablo school district | 45 Comments »

A closer look at Academic Performance Index scores in Contra Costa County districts

Students work quietly in a Richmond College Prep classroom. The school received an API score of 828 this year, soaring 33 points.

Students work quietly in a Richmond College Prep classroom. The school received an API score of 828 this year, soaring 33 points.

When it comes to test scores, the Academic Performance Index, or API, is considered by many to be the most important rating a California school receives. Based on standardized tests scores taken by students in grades 2-11 in the spring, the API is a composite number between a low of 200 and a high of 1,000 that shows how schools throughout the state compare to each other.

Since the scoring system was created, schools and districts have tried to reach a score of 800, considered by the state to mean most students are working at grade level. This year, 11 Contra Costa County districts achieved this goal.

But the federal government’s No Child Left Behind law measures schools according to a harder-to-reach bar. This year, 90 percent of students were required to score proficient on math and English language arts tests to meet this standard.

Those who fail to meet the standard for two years in a row are placed in federal Program Improvement and required to implement interventions. This year, 10 Contra Costa districts were in Program Improvement.

Here’s a side by side comparison of county district API scores in 2012 and 2013, showing growth or decline:

DISTRICT 2013 2012 CHANGE PROGRAM IMPROVEMENT
Acalanes 904 908 -4 No
Antioch 740 746 -6 Yes
Brentwood 861 859 +2 Yes
Byron 846 836 +10 No
Canyon 874 876 -2 No
John Swett 745 751 -6 Yes
Knightsen 816 840 -24 No
Lafayette 934 938 -4 No
Liberty 794 785 +9 No
Martinez 836 844 -8 Yes
Moraga 955 964 -9 No
Mt. Diablo 791 794 -3 Yes
Oakley 799 816 -17 Yes
Orinda 958 967 -9 No
Pittsburg 733 738 -5 Yes
San Ramon 923 928 -5 Yes
Walnut Creek 906 915 -9 Yes
West Contra Costa 717 715 +2 Yes
CALIFORNIA 789 791 -2 N/A

Districts that failed to meet the state API score of 800 were Antioch, John Swett, Liberty, Mt. Diablo, Oakley, Pittsburg and West Contra Costa. Stephanie Anello, associate superintendent of educational services in Antioch, said the district’s dip in scores came as a surprise, after teachers had been assessing students every six weeks throughout the year and principals increased classroom observations.

“It’s very disappointing, we felt we were headed in the right direction,” she said. “We’re trying to look for patterns to see what happened, but we don’t see one. For now, we are just going to have to use it to strengthen our resolve and focus on the quality of teaching that happens every single day.”

No schools in the John Swett district surpassed the state’s target of 800. In the Liberty district, one of four comprehensive high schools met that goal.

Mt. Diablo’s API score dropped three points to 791. Interim Superintendent John Bernard sent a message to the community saying the district is continuing to train teachers and administrators in the new Common Core curriculum standards, which focus on critical thinking and problem-solving.

Oakley’s API score dropped 17 points and nearly all schools in the district also saw double-digit declines, with the exception of Vintage Parkway Elementary, which posted a 14-point gain to 831. Anne Allen, Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services, said the district has assigned a second teacher to work as a full-time math coach at elementary grades and another to serve as a part-time middle school literacy coach.

The Pittsburg district’s score fell five points to 733, with only three of 12 comprehensive schools reaching the state’s proficiency target. The West Contra Costa district was one of four in the county to improve its API score, rising two points to 717.

“We’re happy to show improvement,” said Nia Raschidchi, assistant superintendent of educational services.

Here’s a link to the Contra Costa Times’ searchable database of API scores for all schools and districts in the state: http://www.contracostatimes.com/data/ci_23965432/2013-school-ratings?source=pkg

Staff writers Paul Burgarino and Rowena Coetseee contributed to this report.

What do you think lower-performing districts should do to improve student achievement?

Posted on Friday, August 30th, 2013
Under: Contra Costa County, Education, Liberty district, Mt. Diablo school district, Oakley district, Paul Burgarino, Pittsburg school district, Rowena Coetsee | 63 Comments »

MDUSD expects to appoint superintendent, three vice principals on Wednesday

The Mt. Diablo school board will likely appoint Nellie Meyer, deputy superintendent of the San Diego school district, as its new superintendent on Wednesday. In addition, the board expects to appoint three high school vice principals and to extend for three months the contract of Interim General Counsel Jayne Williams. If the board approves Meyer’s contract, she will take the helm of the district Sept. 23.

A final Environmental Impact Report for proposed Ygnacio Valley High field improvements, expected to return to the board on Wednesday for approval, is not on the agenda.

Here is the agenda for Wednesday’s meeting, which will begin at 7:30 p.m. in the district office board room at 1936 Carlotta Drive in Concord:

“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 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, Local One M&O, Local One CST, MDSPA, and Supervisory. Action
4.2 Conference with Labor Negotiators pursuant to Govt. Code Section 54957.6 Designated District representatives: President Cheryl Hansen, Interim General Counsel Jayne Williams; Unrepresented employee: District Superintendent Action
4.3 Public Employee Appointment pursuant to Govt. Code Section 54957 (b) (1): District Superintendent Action
5.0 Closed Session Agenda

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 Report of Special Closed Session – August 21, 2013 Info
8.2 Negotiations Info
8.3 Conference with Labor Negotiators Info
8.4 Public Employee Appointment – District Superintendent Info

9.0 Consent Agenda Action
9.1 (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
9.2 (Item #2) Recommended Action for Certificated Personnel Action
9.3 (Item #3) Request to increase Full Time Equivalent (FTE) for the 2013-2014 school year Action
9.4 (Item #4) Approval of Variable Term Waiver Request Action
9.5 (Item #5) Recommended Action for Classified Personnel Action
9.6 (Item #6) Classified Personnel: Request to Increase and Decrease Positions Action
9.7 (Item #7) Approve contract/purchase order with My Therapy Company for bilingual Speech and Language services at Meadow Homes Elementary for the 2013-14 School Year. Action
9.8 (Item #8) Renewal of Memorandum of Understanding between Seneca Center for Children & Families and Mt. Diablo Unified School District (MDUSD) Action
9.9 (Item #9) Approval of master contract between Mt. Diablo Unified School District (MDUSD) and Progressus Therapy Services to provide District-Wide Occupational/Physical Therapy Services for the 2013-2014 school year and 2012-2013 Extended School Year Program. Action
9.10 (Item #10) Increase purchase order with Non Public Agency Ed Support Services Action
9.11 (Item #11) Contract between Mt. Diablo Unified School District (MDUSD) and Maxim Healthcare Services, Non Public Agency (NPA) for the 2013-2014 school year. Action
9.12 (Item #12) Alignment of Updated Editions/Copy Write Years of Currently Adopted Instructional Materials Action
9.13 (Item #13) Approve submission of the Cleveland Foundation grant to expand technology labs at El Dorado Middle School. Action
9.14 (Item #14) Approval of contracts with Exploring New Horizons (ENH) for Pleasant Hill Elementary School and Hidden Valley Elementary School Outdoor Ed Programs Action
9.15 (Item #15) Approve Contract with Marin County Office of Education (COE) Outdoor School of Walker Creek Ranch for Walnut Acres Elementary School Action

10.0 Consent Items Pulled for Discussion

11.0 Recognitions

12.0 Public Comment
12.1 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

13.0 Communications

13.1 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

14.0 Superintendent’s Report

15.0 Business/Action Items

15.1 Approve Contract for District Superintendent Action

15.2 Appointment of Vice Principal, High School Action

15.3 Appointment of Vice Principal, High School Action

15.4 Appointment of Vice Principal, High School Action

15.5 Legal services contract with Meyers Nave to provide specialized litigation services Action

15.6 Extension of Legal Services Contract with Latisha McCray, Contract Attorney Action

15.7 Three month extension of contract with Meyers Nave to provide Interim General Counsel services Action

15.8 Independent Contract with Document Tracking Services for the 2013-2014 school year Action

15.9 Renewal of Independent Service Contract with David H. Costa for Courier Service for Food Services and site pick-up to financial institution. Action

15.10 Solar Renewable Energy Credits/Certificates (REC’s) Info

15.11 Mandated Costs Action

15.12 Meeting Extension Action

16.0 Future Agenda Items

17.0 Board Member Reports

17.1 Board reports Info

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

19.0 Adjournment
19.1 Adjourn Meeting”

What impact do you think a new superintendent will have on the district?

Posted on Tuesday, August 27th, 2013
Under: Education, Mt. Diablo school district | 110 Comments »

MDUSD interim superintendent urges community to ensure students are in school

As students, parents and local neighborhoods gear up for another school year, Mt. Diablo school district Interim Superintendent John Bernard sent a message to the community via the Contra Costa Times, reminding everyone about the importance of getting to class.

Here is his message, which was published last Sunday. I am posting it below to allow for blog reader comment.

“Making Sure Kids Stay in School is Everyone’s Business

When you are absent in the workplace, you could miss important training that might allow you to perform more efficiently and to advance yourself.

It is the same for students in our schools.

When a student is absent from school, regardless of the reason, important learning can be missed. In the early grades, being absent could mean missing the experience of writing a class story about, for example, observing how steam cools and collects on a mirror to become water droplets.

In the middle grades, being absent could mean missing the important lesson on short cuts in dividing fractions. At the upper grades, it could mean missing the class discussion about Jane Austin’s book, ‘Pride and Prejudice,’ or learning about the unique biological differences between two similar reptiles.

The learning a person acquires during important lessons often serves as building blocks of knowledge for future comprehension, understanding and success in school.

Educators and parents are not the only persons concerned about student attendance and its impact on student achievement. In the cities and communities that make up the Mount Diablo Unified School District (MDUSD), civic leaders, religious leaders, business owners, and community individuals are concerned as well.

While teachers and principals focus their energies on educating the student, it is next to impossible to ensure that the knowledge has been acquired if the student is absent from school.

Following are some ideas on how parents, schools and the community can support student attendance and positively impact student achievement.

Parents can help by:

• Monitoring bedtime to ensure that your child is well rested.

• Helping your children develop a morning routine so they arrive at school on time ready to learn.

• Monitoring study time and provide assistance with homework when necessary.

• Helping your child develop a positive attitude about school, include good study habits, a love of books and reading, and respect for those who lead and teach them.

• Showing an interest in your children’s learning to help make school a place where children want to go.

Schools in the districts can help by:

• Acknowledging and rewarding students and their parents when students have good attendance.

• Reminding parents of the importance of attendance and encouraging parents to use independent study when their child will be absent for five days or more.

• Developing intervention programs to work positively with families whose children are truant.

• Showing an interest in each student’s learning to help make school a place where children want to be.

• Informing parents of how much district revenue has been lost based upon the number of absences the previous month ($52.31 per student per day in MDUSD).

Community and businesses also can help:

• Doctors and other medical professionals – please schedule routine medical appointments for school-aged children outside the school day.

• Law enforcement officers – please investigate school-age children who are observed not being in school, and not accompanied by their parent/guardian.

• Judicial officials – please insist that parents take responsibility for their child’s attendance in school.

• Retail businesses – please do not sell to school-age children during the school day unless they are high school age and it is during lunchtime.

• General businesses and community – please contribute “incentive awards” to schools for students who have good attendance.

Additionally, quite a few years ago, State legislation no longer allowed school districts to include excused absences for attendance reporting toward reimbursement.

The State only provides funding for school days when a student is physically in attendance. Therefore, not attending school because of a doctor or dentist visit, funerals, court appearances and being ill will penalize school funding at a time when there is already limited money.

Through a concerned community effort, supported by parents, schools and the community working together to improve student attendance, the Mount Diablo Unified School District goal of increased student achievement will be realized.

Dr. John Bernard, a Bay Area native, serves as the interim superintendent for the Mt. Diablo Unified School District. He has more than 43 years experience in public education, with 19 years as a superintendent or a state administrator.”

Do you think improved attendance rates in the district would boost student achievement?

Posted on Tuesday, August 20th, 2013
Under: Education, Mt. Diablo school district | 46 Comments »

MDUSD appointments/assignments for 2013-14

Because the Mt. Diablo school board and superintendent tend to make administrative appointments and reassignments over a period of months, I am compiling a list of the appointments and reassignments made thus far for 2013-14 (that I know about), along with who was replaced (if I know) and current vacancies:

BOARD-APPROVED APPOINTMENTS:

SCHOOLS:

Cambridge Elementary Principal: Jose Espinoza (8/14) (Promoted from YVHS vice principal, replacing Liane Cismowski, who was appointed Principal of Mt. Diablo HS by interim superintendent)

El Monte Elementary Program Specialist for Categorical Programs: Jennifer Molino (8/14)

Meadow Homes Elementary Program Specialist for Categorical Programs: Margo Peckham (8/14)

Mt. Diablo HS: Vice Principals Akilah Byrd and Christopher Beischel; and Student Services Coordinator Heather Morelli (8/14)

Pleasant Hill MS: Vice Principal Jane Abell

Shore Acres Principal: Cathy Chan (6/17) (Replacing Elizabeth Block, who retired)

Ygnacio Valley Elementary Principal: Linn Kissinger (6/17) (Replacing Christine Richardson, who was promoted to SASS)

DISTRICT OFFICE:

Interim Superintendent: John Bernard (5/20) (Replacing former Superintendent Steven Lawrence, whose contract was terminated a year early April 25 in a 3-2 board vote)

Interim General Counsel: Jayne Williams (5/6) (Replacing former General Counsel Greg Rolen, whose contract was terminated a year early April 25 in a 4-1 board vote)

Assistant Superintendent, Pupil Services and Special Education: Kerri Mills (ratified 6/3) (Replacing Mildred Browne, who retired with a board-approved separation agreement that included a paid leave of absence during the last year of her contract)

Administrator of Equity and Disproportionality: Jonathan Roselin (promoted 8/14 from Assistant Director of Student Services)

Educational Consultant/Behavior Management Specialist: Karen Miller (8/14)

Food and Nutrition Services Supervisor: Deanna Robles (6/17)

Interim Transportation Coordinator: Tom Bishop (8/14)

Measure C Assistant Construction Manager: Rhonda Abreu (8/14)

School Support Administrator: Chris Holleran (6/24)

School Support Administrator: Christine Richardson (5/6)

School Support Administrator: Juliana Sikes (6/17)

Special Education Program Specialists: Avrilio Moumoutjis and Cynthia Remis (8/14)

OTHER RETIREMENTS (not mentioned above):

SASS: Administrators Linda Hutcherson and Helena Postrk

Special education program specialists: Hunt Lin, Berry Murray and Melody Royal

Crossroads Continuation High School Administrator: Pam Neudecker

Ygnacio Valley HS Principal (later transferred to Gateway): Sue Brothers

APPOINTMENTS/REASSIGNMENTS APPROVED BY INTERIM SUPERINTENDENT:

SCHOOLS:

Ayers Elementary Principal: Susan Petersen (transferred from Director of Elementary Education position, which was eliminated to create another SASS administrative position)

Crossroads Continuation HS: Kate McClatchy (transferred from principal of MDHS, replacing Pam Neudecker, who retired)

Oak Grove MS English Language Arts Program Specialist: Jenny Cronan (transferred from principal of Woodside Elementary)

Mt. Diablo HS Principal: Liane Cismowski (transferred from Principal of Cambridge Elementary to replace Kate McClatchy, who was transferred to Crossroads Continuation HS)

Sequoia MS Interim Principal: Vivian Boyd (replacing Connie Cirimeli, who was hired as principal of a San Mateo MS)

Woodside Elementary Interim Principal: Ava Suddath (replacing Jenny Cronan, who transferred to Oak Grove MS)

Ygnacio Valley HS Principal: Stephen Brady (promoted from Northgate vice principal, replacing Sue Brothers, who was transferred to Gateway and then retired)

VACANT POSITIONS:

DISTRICT OFFICE:

Superintendent (Finalist Nellie Meyer may be appointed Aug. 28)

General Counsel (interim general counsel contract runs through Sept. 9)

Assistant Director of Student Services (vacated by Jonathan Roselin’s promotion)

SCHOOLS:

Northgate HS: Vice Principal (vacated by Stephen Brady’s promotion to YVHS)

Sequoia MS: Principal (Vacated by Connie Cirimeli, who was appointed Principal of Borel MS in San Mateo)

Woodside Elementary: Principal (vacated by Jenny Cronan’s transfer to OGMS)

Ygnacio Valley HS: Vice Principal (vacated by Jose Espinoza’s promotion to Cambridge Elementary)

I realize this may not be a complete list of current openings. District jobs are posted at: http://www.mdusd.org/personnel/Pages/default.aspx

Are you concerned about the number of administrative jobs that still need to be filled 12 days before school starts?

Posted on Friday, August 16th, 2013
Under: Education, Mt. Diablo school district | 22 Comments »

Woodside Elementary principal takes administrative position at Oak Grove Middle School and is replaced by retired principal as interim leader of scandal-rocked school

I have received a copy of a message sent to Woodside Elementary families by former Principal Jenny Cronan about her decision to take an administrative position at Oak Grove Middle School, which is also in Concord. Here is her message:

“Dear Woodside Families:

I hope this communication finds all of you well and enjoying the final weeks of summer vacation. This past year has been a transitional and challenging one for the Woodside community. It has also been a revealing one for me, as leading Woodside has helped bring me to my true calling as an instructional leader focusing on common core standards in English Language Arts. Consequently, I have requested, and was granted a transfer to Oak Grove Middle School, in a co-administrator role as Program Specialist of English Language Arts. Despite my excitement at this new opportunity, it is somewhat bittersweet as I will be leaving those within the Woodside community who have been steadfast at supporting my efforts throughout the year. I thank all of you who partnered with me during this transitional year. Nevertheless, I leave you in good hands, as Mrs. Ava Sudduth, an accomplished retired Principal from Mt. Diablo Unified, will begin the year at Woodside as your Interim Principal. Please help make Mrs. Sudduth feel as welcome as you have made me here at Woodside. Again, thank you all for the opportunity, to be a part of your community, and I wish you all a fruitful school year.

Most Sincerely,
Jen Cronan”

I called the school to find out more about Sudduth and learned that she sent a letter to teachers detailing her 30-year history in the district. She taught fourth- and fifth-grades at Shore Acres; taught third- through sixth-grades at Diablo Vista Elementary, which preceded Sequoia Middle School; became an administrator in 1989 and worked at Bancroft , Walnut Acres and Wren Avenue elementary schools; and was a principal at Bel Air and Sun Terrace elementary schools.

Cronan’s decision to transfer to Oak Grove comes on the heels of the arrest of Woodside fifth-grade teacher Joseph Martin, who has been charged with 109 sexual abuse charges involving 13 former students between 2006 and April of this year, when he was arrested. A lawsuit filed July 8 against the district alleges that administrators ignored complaints against him and that his classroom was an isolated, single portable unit with windows blocked by children’s pictures and other items, making it impossible to look inside. In addition, the lawsuit alleges Martin had little outside supervision or accountability.

A claim filed July 31 against the district alleges that Martin was allowed by district officials to return to his classroom to “say goodbye” to his students the day he was placed on administrative leave. The claim alleges Martin took this opportunity to corner one of his victims and try to dissuade the boy from reporting fondling incidents. This claim contradicts Interim Superintendent John Bernard’s statement that “The teacher in question was removed immediately and has not returned to the campus.”

The claim names Martin, former Woodside Principal Jennifer Sachs, former Woodside Principal Michele Batesole, Cronan, former Superintendent Steven Lawrence and former General Counsel Greg Rolen as employees who failed to report suspected child abuse to police or Child Protective Services.

Although Sachs is Bernard’s daughter, he told me that would not influence the investigation and that the district is participating fully with police. Sachs is now Director of Categorical Programs in the Pittsburg school district.

The same day Martin was arrested — April 25 — the school board held a closed session and “received information relative to a personnel matter,” then voted 3-2 to release the superintendent from his contract without cause and 4-1 to release the general counsel from his contract without cause. A majority of board members had expressed an interest in replacing the superintendent and general counsel since the November election, due to a perceived lack of trust in the district and low employee morale. Trustees held their first closed session to discuss possible dismissal of Lawrence and Rolen on March 25 — one month before Martin’s arrest.

In a closed session Wednesday, trustees discussed potential litigation based on facts and circumstances in one matter related to a claim filed on behalf of “J. Doe.” Afterward, Board President Cheryl Hansen reported that the board gave “some direction to staff on how to proceed with that potential litigation.”

Although school starts Aug. 28, the Woodside Elementary website still lists Cronan as principal and Martin as one of two fifth-grade teachers at the school: http://www.mdusd.k12.ca.us/woodside/Woodside_Elementary/Faculty_%26_Staff.html

How can the district help the Woodside staff, students and community get off to a good start this school year?

Staff writers Malaika Fraley and Matthias Gafni contributed to this report.

Posted on Friday, August 16th, 2013
Under: Education, Mt. Diablo school district | 33 Comments »

Mt. Diablo school board names superintendent finalist from San Diego

I received an e-mail from Mt. Diablo school board President Cheryl Hansen this afternoon that names Dr. Nellie Meyer, who is a Deputy Superintendent in San Diego, as the finalist for the superintendent position.

Hansen said she sent the following letter to district staff updating them on the appointment process and she wanted to make sure that I also received the information, which she said I could share with the public. Here is Hansen’s letter:

“August 7, 2013

TO: Mt. Diablo Unified School District Staff

FROM: Cheryl Hansen, Board President

RE: Update on Appointment of New Superintendent

The Mt. Diablo Unified School District Board of Education is pleased to announce that we have unanimously chosen Dr. Nellie Meyer as the finalist for the position of Superintendent. Currently, Dr. Meyer is Deputy Superintendent in San Diego Unified School District.

Final negotiations for a contract are in progress. As part of the final process, the board will conduct a validation visit within the next two weeks to Dr. Meyer’s district and hold teleconferences between MDUSD and SDUSD stakeholder groups. The Board expects that ratification of the appointment of Dr. Nellie Meyer as our district’s next superintendent will occur at our regular board meeting on August 28, 2013.

Based on the feedback received from our parents, staff, and community
members and, after a rigorous screening and interview process, Dr. Meyer was chosen from an outstanding field of candidates as the best match for our district needs.

Dr. Meyer’s experience and credentials are exactly what we need in our district.

She has developed strong connections among community, district, schools, and classrooms and worked to ensure that schools are positive learning environments that are supported and focused on improving student achievement and preparing students for college and careers. She has engendered trust, fostered collaboration and communication, built and maintained relationships while raising expectations and increasing student success.

Dr. Meyer, a native San Diegan, began as a teacher’s aide at Jackson
Elementary while she attended San Diego State University, where she earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology. She also received her Master’s Degree in Administration and her Doctoral Degree in Education from SDSU. Dr. Meyer holds teaching credentials in Social Science, English, and Language Development. She has taught everything from fifth grade literacy to eighth grade Algebra to twelfth grade Economics.

Dr. Meyer has presented at national conferences on topics including school turnaround, dropout prevention, and school system best practices. She has also led and served on numerous community task forces designed to further student achievement at all grade levels, partner with universities, and support at-risk youth.

Prior to her current position, Dr. Meyer served as a middle school teacher, high school teacher, dean of students, vice principal, principal, Assistant Superintendent of High Schools, Chief High School Improvement Officer, Executive Director of Dropout Prevention, Interim Chief Elementary School Improvement Officer, Interim Deputy Superintendent, and Deputy Superintendent of Academics.

The Board of Education made our decision with input gathered from key
stakeholder groups in Mt. Diablo USD regarding the qualities desired in the next superintendent. Dr. Michael Escalante and Dr. Sally Frazier, consultants from the firm of Leadership Associates, assisted us in our search.

Dr. Meyer is honored to have been chosen and excited about serving our community. She looks forward to the opportunity to share successes that she has implemented as well as to support programs that are successfully in place in our district.

The Board of Education is equally excited and optimistic about the positive leadership that Dr. Meyer will bring to our school community.”

Do you agree with the school board’s decision?

Posted on Wednesday, August 7th, 2013
Under: Education, Mt. Diablo school district | 185 Comments »