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Governor revs up state Board of Education during funding discussion

By Theresa Harrington
Friday, January 17th, 2014 at 12:44 pm in California Board of Education, Education, Gov. Jerry Brown

When Gov. Jerry Brown popped in on the state Board of Education meeting Thursday, the public speaker at the microphone said: “I’ve never been more perfectly interrupted.”

Brown showed up to rally those on both sides of a debate over funding regulations around the idea that no matter who would win small victories in language that will guide school districts in spending new money — the real winners will be the students. He reminded the board that the Local Control Funding Formula they were discussing was based on the principle of subsidiarity, or “focusing authority where it can be most effectively exercised … at the lowest, most competent level.”

The family, he said, is the primary institution in society. From there, Brown said, authority goes up to a parish, a city, a school and to other agencies.

“I think we always have to keep in mind when we sit around here, we’re not omnipotent,” he said. “A little humility is in order.”
Brown said regulations created by the board don’t really matter much when a teacher shuts a classroom door and works directly with students.

“And if the parents aren’t doing the right thing, if the teacher’s not doing the right thing, if the principal’s not doing the right thing, if the superintendent at the local school district isn’t doing the right thing and if the elected school board members are insensitive, then it’s highly dubious to think that the people around this table are going to be able to make up for it,” he said. “At the end of the day, we do depend on families, teachers, principals and people spread out throughout the entire state who have responsibility for our 6 million students.”

While acknowledging that the regulations and guidelines to be approved were important, Brown said they should not be “prescriptive commands from headquarters.” Instead, he urged flexibility to allow for different perspectives, with the overall goal of improving student achievement, directing more money to schools with greater challenges and establishing a mechanism for accountability. However, he cautioned that accountability is most effective at the local level.

“The further you get from the classroom,” he said, “the less effective your instruction, your conversation or your command.”

Drawing applause, Brown praised school leaders, education advocates and the California Teachers Association for helping to pass Proposition 30, which he said made the debate over funding regulations possible.

“If we didn’t have the money,” he said, “we wouldn’t even be here fighting over the regulations.”

Brown also received a few chuckles, when he added: “This is not the New Testament. It’s not the law in the prophets. This is just some mundane regulations that are much better because of the participation of the equity groups and others.”

Calling this “a great opportunity to fashion a more effective learning environment,” Brown said he didn’t want to lose sight of the students.

“They have responsibility as well,” he said. “It isn’t like just pouring this noun called ‘education’ into the heads of students. It’s an intransitive verb: I learn. And the ‘I’ that can learn is the student. The teacher can facilitate. The teacher lights the fire. The superintendent, the (local) board, the politicians, the state board here — we create environments, (and) some incentives. But we don’t want to micromanage. We want to give a wide latitude to teach and to explore and to light that fire in every student. And to the extent that teaching becomes a menu and a recipe, we lose that.”

Brown closed by asking the board to simultaneously embrace imagination and rigor.

“If you only have imagination, you have chaos and insanity,” he said. “If you only have rigor, you have paralytic death and rigor mortis. But if you combine rigor and imagination — if you combine flexibility with guidelines and some reasonable accountability — we’ll get the job done. So good luck. And I’m very excited. I’m bullish on California schools.”

Hours later, the board approved the emergency funding regulations, allowing the flexibility that many districts lobbied for, while trusting local officials to do the right thing for their students.

Do you agree with Brown’s statements?

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State Board of Education Takes Action on New School Funding Formula

By Theresa Harrington
Thursday, January 16th, 2014 at 5:16 pm in Education

Here’s a news release I just received from the state Board of Education regarding passage of Local Control Funding Formula regulations today:

“SACRAMENTO – The California State Board of Education today approved regulations to help implement Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr.’s landmark education initiative, the Local Control Funding Formula.

‘I thank parents, students, teachers, school district personnel, board members and advocates for their continued interest in improving California’s schools,’ said Michael W. Kirst, President of the State Board of Education. ‘I applaud Governor Brown and the Legislature for their commitment to improving K-12 education for California’s six million students. This is a historic change.’

Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. also appeared at the State Board meeting during public testimony and took a few moments to address members of the State Board and audience members. ‘We have a great opportunity in our state to fashion a more effective learning environment,” said Governor Brown. “I’m bullish on California education.’

The regulations approved today will guide school districts spending – targeted at low-income, English learner, and foster youth – as education funding increases throughout the implementation of the Local Control Funding Formula. School districts will also be required to produce Local Control and Accountability Plans, illustrating how increased resources are tied to meeting student needs.

The Local Control Funding Formula replaced California’s overly complex finance system for K-12 schools. Districts have already started to receive funding based upon the number of students they serve, including the numbers of English learners, students from low-income families and foster youth. In tandem, the Local Control Funding Formula and the Local Control and Accountability Plans increase local decision making authority while also enhancing transparency and accountability.

The board agenda item, including the regulations, can be found at: http://www.cde.ca.gov/be/ag/ag/yr14/agenda201401.asp.

The State Board of Education is the governing and policy-making body for public K-12 education in California. The President of the Board is Michael W. Kirst. Board members are appointed for four-year terms by the Governor of California and are confirmed by the State Senate. For more information, please visit http://www.cde.ca.gov/be/

Do you agree with the board’s decision?

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MDUSD board to get disproportionality update and appoint more admins Wednesday

By Theresa Harrington
Monday, January 13th, 2014 at 6:25 pm in Education, Mt. Diablo school district

The Mt. Diablo school board will meet at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at the district office at 1936 Carlotta Drive in Concord. Here is the agenda, which includes a report on disproportionality, a resolution regarding the interim general counsel and other appointments:

“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. Info/Action
4.2 Existing Litigation – Conference with Legal Counsel pursuant to Gov’t. Code Section 54956.9 (d)(1) regarding matter of D. Reynolds v. MDUSD Info/Action
4.3 Existing Litigation – Conference with Legal Counsel pursuant to Gov’t Code Section 54956.9 (d)(1) regarding Chester C. Lehmann Co., Inc. v. MDUSD, CCC Super. Ct. No. MSC 13-06811 Info
4.4 Anticipated Litigation – Significant exposure to litigation or claims made pursuant to Gov’t. Code Section 54956.9 (d)(2) Info
4.5 Anticipated Litigation – Significant exposure to litigation or claims made pursuant to Gov’t. Code Section 54956.9 (d)(2) Info
4.6 Anticipated Litigation – Significant exposure to litigation or claims made pursuant to Gov’t. Code Section 54956.9 (d)(2) Info
4.7 Public Employee Discipline/Dismissal/Release/Complaint – Dismissal of Classified Employee 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 Info/Action
7.2 Existing Litigation – Conference with Legal Counsel pursuant to Gov’t. Code Section 54956.9 (d)(1) regarding matter of D. Reynolds v. MDUSD Info/Action
7.3 Existing Litigation – Conference with Legal Counsel pursuant to Gov’t Code Section 54956.9 (d)(1) regarding Chester C. Lehmann Co., Inc. v. MDUSD, CCC Super. Ct. No. MSC 13-06811 Info
7.4 Anticipated Litigation – Significant exposure to litigation or claims made pursuant to Gov’t. Code Section 54956.9 (d)(2) Info
7.5 Anticipated Litigation – Significant exposure to litigation or claims made pursuant to Gov’t. Code Section 54956.9 (d)(2) Info
7.6 Anticipated Litigation – Significant exposure to litigation or claims made pursuant to Gov’t. Code Section 54956.9 (d)(2) Info
7.7 Public Employee Discipline/Dismissal/Release/Complaint – Dismissal of Classified Employee Action

8.0 Student Representatives
8.1 Student representatives will report on activities at their schools. Info

9.0 Board Member Reports
9.1 Board reports Info

10.0 Superintendent’s Report
10.1 Superintendent’s Report Info

11.0 Consent Agenda Action
11.1 (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
11.2 (Item #2) Recommended Action for Certificated Personnel Action
11.3 (Item #3) Recommended Action for Classified Personnel Action
11.4 (Item #4) Classified Personnel: Request to Increase Positions Action
11.5 (Item #5) Request to Increase and Decrease Full Time Equivalent (FTE) for the 2013-2014 School Year Action
11.6 (Item #6) Fiscal Transactions for the month of December 2013 Action
11.7 (Item #7) Approve contracts with Kevin Clark Consulting and Training for coaching services provided at Rio Vista Elementary. Action
11.8 (Item #8) Approval of contracts with Camp SEA Lab for Ayers Elementary School and Westwood Elementary School Outdoor Ed Programs Action
11.9 (Item #9) Approval of contracts with Exploring New Horizons (ENH) for Silverwood Elementary School and Woodside Elementary School Outdoor Ed Program Action
11.10 (Item #10) Approval of contracts with the YMCA at Camp Arroyo for Meadow Homes Elementary and Rio Vista Elementary Outdoor Ed Programs Action
11.11 (Item #11) Independent Services Contracts for The Event Group, Inc. and Northgate High School Action
11.12 (Item #12) Increase contract with Document Tracking Services (DTS) to include Spanish translation of Single Plan for Student Achievement for Ygnacio Valley High School. Action
11.13 (Item #13) Adoption of Abriendo Paso (Pearson Publishers) and Azulejo (Wayside Publishers)for AP Spanish & Temas (Vista Higher Learning Publishers) for Honors Spanish Textbooks Action
11.14 (Item #14) Approve submission of the After School Education and Safety Renewal Grant for fourteen elementary and middle schools and a new ASES grant for Westwood Elementary School. Action
11.15 (Item #15) Request to increase Purchase order for VeCare Health Services Action
11.16 (Item #16) Request to increase Purchase Order #87733-14 to Sabah International Inc. Action
11.17 (Item #17) Notice of Completion Bid #1638: Weight Equipment Procurement at CVCHS Action

12.0 Consent Items Pulled for Discussion

13.0 Recognitions

14.0 Public Comment
14.1 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

15.0 Communications
15.1 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

16.0 Reports/Information
16.1 Update on revised Corrective Early Intervening Services (CEIS) Plan Info

17.0 Business/Action Items

17.1 Resolution No. 13/14-28 in the matter of employment of retired classified employee Lawrence M. Schoenke. Action
17.2 Classified Personnel: Appointment of Educational Consultation and Behavior Management Specialist Action

17.3 Appointment of Vice Principal, Middle School – Sequoia Middle School Action

17.4 Award of Inspector of Record (Project Inspector) Contract for MDUSD Project 1663 Portable Replacements & MDUSD Project 1664 MS General Science Buildings. Action

17.5 Approval of Extension of 2012-2013 Single Plans for Student Achievement (SPSA) through May 2014 Info

17.6 Meeting Extension Action

18.0 Future Agenda Items
18.1 Future Agenda Items Info

19.0 Closed Session

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

20.0 Adjournment
20.1 Adjourn Meeting”

I’m happy to see the Powerpoint for the disproportionality report is already attached to the agenda. However, as usual, there are no meeting minutes to approve.

Do you think the board should require the superintendent, as secretary of the board, to produce minutes of the meetings (or to ask her staff to produce them)?

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Intra-district transfer deadline is Wednesday in MDUSD

By Theresa Harrington
Monday, January 13th, 2014 at 6:16 pm in Contra Costa County, Education, Mt. Diablo school district

The deadline is Wednesday to submit applications for transfers outside neighborhood school attendance areas in the Mt. Diablo school district for students in grades 1-12 in 2014-15.

Applications are available at district schools or from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. in student services wing D in the district office at 1936 Carlotta Drive, Concord. Applications are also available on the district’s web site at http://www.mdusd.org/Departments/studentservices/Pages/14-15Transfers.aspx.

Intra-district applications for incoming kindergartners may be submitted on or after the student is registered at his or her school of residence from Feb. 4-28.

Inter-district transfer applications for students who want to transfer to schools outside the Mt. Diablo school district will be accepted beginning Feb. 15.

More information is available by calling 925-682-8000 ext. 4069 or by e-mailing smithf@mdusd.org.

Here is an audio message from Student Services Director Felicia Stuckey-Smith about the Wednesday deadline: https://msg.schoolmessenger.com/m/?s=HQgd57zk-JI

Do you think the district does a good job of informing parents about the different types of transfers available?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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De Anza High teacher’s words of wisdom resonate after death

By Theresa Harrington
Friday, January 3rd, 2014 at 5:53 pm in Education, West Contra Costa school district

Retired De Anza HS teacher Karen Mason in Washington DC for President Obama's inauguration with former student Anka Lee.

Retired De Anza HS teacher Karen Mason in Washington DC for President Obama’s inauguration with former student Anka Lee.

During the past two months, I have been working on a Hometown Hero story about Karen Mason, a retired English teacher who worked at De Anza High in Richmond for 35 years and touched the lives of hundreds of students, their families and the surrounding El Sobrante community. Mason died Dec. 31, after battling cancer.

Although I only met Mason twice, I was touched by her selfless concern for others. In November, I interviewed Mason in her El Sobrante home. I saw her again Dec. 2 at a West Contra Costa school board meeting, where she spoke out against bullying.

On both occasions, I was impressed by Mason’s warmth and ability to connect with people. Her story will appear Tuesday in this newspaper, including quotes from many who knew her.

Below are excerpts from our interview that I couldn’t fit into the story, which reveal Mason’s caring spirit and determination to do what was right for her students and the world.

ON OPENING HER HEART TO OTHERS:
“You get to ‘adopt’ all kinds of people in your life if you’re open to it. My husband and I shared a mutual feeling that there were kids who needed safe places to come. One of the greatest gifts you can give is to listen.”

ON INTERPERSONAL COMMUNICATION:
“I don’t go on Facebook. I want personal communication. I’ve never texted. I think if you want to talk, come on by.”

“The gift of communication — the gift of humanity — is exchanged when you really can look somebody in the eye and say something truthful.”

ON THE DEATH OF HER SON, REID:
“The saddest story that my husband and I have is 12 years ago, our son was killed in an auto accident. There’s no milestone day when you lose a child. Grief is for the rest of your life. We feel blessed we had our son for 25 years. We’ve talked to other parents who have lost children to say, ‘You can get through it. But that doesn’t mean there won’t be great days of pain, and lots of it.’”

ON A POSITIVE ATTITUDE
“I’ve led my life saying, ‘Be positive today. Get up and reach out to others and stay focused on what’s really, really the best thing for you and for everybody else.”

ADVICE TO NEW TEACHERS;
“I taught a classroom management course for student teachers. I would say, ‘If you love your subject matter more than your students, don’t teach. You’d better walk into that classroom and say, no matter what, I love those kids.’”

ON STANDING UP FOR STUDENTS:
“I used to get up in the morning and say, ‘What are you going to do today that’s going to be good for kids?’ And if grown-ups got in the way, ‘Oh, well.’”

ON BEING VIEWED AS A ‘MOM’ OR ‘GRANDMA’ BY OTHERS:
“I feel really privileged that people would let themselves be vulnerable. What humanity needs more than anything is to recognize that we’re pretty much born vulnerable and it’s okay to walk your path with others — reach out to others.”

ON RELATIONSHIPS WITH STUDENTS:
“I would say, ‘I know this is hard. You can’t pass if you give up on yourself. I can invest in you, but if you don’t invest in yourself, then what’s going to happen?’”

“You never get more pressure than when you’re a teenager because everybody thinks they know what’s best for you — your teachers, your parents, your siblings — and they’re going to tell you. So, spend a little time figuring it out yourself. That’s hard work.”

ON HER LEGACY:
“I like to think that maybe God’s gift was to be open. My mom cultivated plants. I said, ‘Maybe I have the ability to cultivate people.’”

“When the end of life comes, I hope my legacy is that people always felt and knew that they were loved and that they could trust me that I had integrity. I like to think that — having stayed in the same old duck pond — that some of my fellow ducks remember that.”

“I don’t have a bucket list. I just pretty much tried to do stuff that was important. I’m really at peace. I’m going to get to the other side of the clouds and the view will be just as fantastic.”

It’s easy to see why Mason was so dearly loved.

To those who knew Mason: What memories of her stand out most for you?

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Guest post regarding MDUSD Bond Oversight Committee

By Theresa Harrington
Sunday, December 22nd, 2013 at 12:39 pm in Education, Mt. Diablo school district

The following guest post was submitted to me by g. de la verdad regarding the Mt. Diablo school district’s Bond Oversight Committee. Please note this post is the opinion of the guest poster.

“The board is due in January to assign board members to their committee assignments.  As it is, without minutes we cannot tell if those assigned last year have even attended the meetings of their assigned posts.

To Brian Lawrence, Linda Mayo:
RE: Bond Oversight Committee(s) 2013.

Knowing how difficult it is to find volunteers, it is not too soon to start recruiting (and installing) new members for our Bond Oversight Committee(s).  ALL original 2yr (X two terms) member Terms will expire in AUG 2014.

Question:   Of those recruited after June 2010, (who actually attend) whose seat did they fill – which should determine their official ‘term’ of membership? Please don’t tell me “no one kept track of that.”

Bylaw:  ’5.4 Term. Except as otherwise provided herein, each member shall serve a term of two (2) years, beginning August 10, 2010. No member may serve more than two (2) consecutive terms. At the Committee’s first meeting, members shall draw lots to select a minimum majority for an initial two (2)-year term and the remaining members for an initial one (1)-year term.’

That Bylaw is NOT to be interpreted by the ‘needs’ or ‘wants’ of either staff or the existing members on any given day, for any given cause. Either follow the Bylaws, or hold a public hearing and then ask the Board to vote to change them. Keeping those Terms in mind, please note:

Some members held themselves to their initial 1 or 2 year terms, and have stopped attending. However, possibly to ‘by-step’ Prop 39 mandates, some names are being kept on the roster long after they stopped attending, and some far beyond their legal term, and some without attending for two or more years.

Some with a 1 yr term, automatically extended for another 1 yr but, in fact, are still on the committee 3.5 yrs later. Some were placed on the committee, by ‘staff’ recommendation to the board, only to fulfill certain Prop 39 criteria — but have attended, at best, one meeting a year, if ever at all.  Some may have never actually attended more than one meeting in over three years. This is NOT the intent of the law.

Board Member(s) assigned to the BOC are to, on a regular basis, report back to the board – and taxpayers – on the activities of the BOC – Not the bond, but the committee!  That is especially important when dealing with Measure C Staff who seem not only reticent, but in fact rebellious in adhering to the Prop 39 requirements. In this case, that minutes be posted in a timely manner. It is not enough to have the BOC Chair annually regurgitate a STAFF engineered PowerPoint, spilling out data that is more than a year – or two – old, just to ‘fulfill the requirement’ and ‘fill the allotted space on the board calendar.’  That too, is not the intent of the Prop 39 law.

NINE months:  On 12/13/2013, at 3:05 pm, the minutes of March 2013 were posted for the 2010 measure. None for 2002. With that, we are still waiting for June and Sept minutes, and fear that they too will take nine months to post for the public/taxpayer benefit.

Please take the time to read, carefully, the March minutes. Please go back and read the older ones too.  You will see a pattern. A pattern that is often repeated when questions are asked at Board Meetings.  Then, ask yourself: ’If I were the person asking staff these questions, would I be satisfied with these answers, or in many instances, non answers.’

Example: You/the board recently asked Tim Cody if Alisha Jensen carried insurance on any workers she might hire as subs or assistants. His answer was: ’I don’t think she will need that on this project.’

Was that really an answer to the question?  Not even close. But the board accepted it – as if it had come from some higher authority. I remind you that the board didn’t hire or even ratify Tim Cody’s position. Pedersen ‘bequeathed’ the job to him.

With this new board I had hoped that the dogmatic Staff control – and the board’s lax oversight - of the mandated requirements of G.O. Bonds-Prop 39 would be addressed and corrected when needed.  That has not happened. Specific to this problem, I hoped the BOC would, as mandated by Prop 39, be given a proper ‘secretary/clerk’ to handle quarterly minutes and upkeep of the BOC’s portion of the Measure C website. Sadly, after a full year of waiting, I and many other taxpayers are very disappointed.

That takes us back to the huge dilemma. We have a scant handful of dedicated volunteers on the BOCs). How shall we handle their mandatory departure in just a few months?

Aug, 2010 ORIGINAL BOC MEMBER and TERMS:
Jay Bedecarre -1 yr
John Burke    -1 yr
Rick Callaway -2 yrs
John Ferrante -2 yrs
Brent Hayes   -1 yr
Pat Howlett   -1 yr
Bonnie McDonald-2 yrs
Faye Mettler  -1 yr
Susan Noack   -1 yr
John Parker   -2 yrs
Jenney Reik   -1 yr
Tina Seagrove -2 yrs
Mark Weinmann -1 yr
Jack Weir     -2 yrs
Marc Willis   -1 yr
Larry Wirick  -1 yr

Evident that they either chose 1 or 2 yr terms incorrectly, or minutes were typed incorrectly—and should have never been approved. There should have been a ‘simple majority’ of the initial ’2 yr’ members.”

Do you share g’s concerns?

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State Superintendent of Public Schools outlines some plans for 2014

By Theresa Harrington
Friday, December 20th, 2013 at 2:56 pm in Bay Point, California, Education, Pittsburg, Tom Torlakson

Tom Torlakson, state Superintendent of Public Instruction, speaks at his inauguration at Mt. Diablo High School in Concord.

Tom Torlakson, state Superintendent of Public Instruction, speaks at his inauguration at Mt. Diablo High School in Concord.

Tom Torlakson, state Superintendent of Public Instruction, is already gearing up for his re-election run next year.

“It’s the toughest work I’ve ever done, but the most rewarding work,” said the Pittsburg resident, who is a former Mt. Diablo school district science teacher and cross country coach. “I love working with students. I’m a teacher and a coach and this gives me a chance to work on a large scale to help students across the state — not only help them, but be inspired by them. I am just amazed at what students are doing and what a great future they have and what potential we could have helping them get their education.”

During an end-of-the-year interview, we discussed several issues, including the new Common Core standards and the state’s school funding formula, which will appear in a story in this newspaper. In this blog, I am excerpting another portion of the interview related to Torlakson’s emphasis on student absenteeism and career technical education.

“Q. What can be done to cut down on student absenteeism and why is that important?

A. On the big focus points for next year, including absenteeism, we have to have parent involvement. We recently had a chronic absenteeism symposium in Orange County. We called it ‘Keep kids in school and out of court.’ It’s the whole idea of turning off the faucet on the school-to-prison pipeline with intervention — more counselors and on-campus suspensions, instead of sending them off to their neighborhood. We’re looking at disproportionate suspensions of African Americans and Latinos. How can we help diffuse situations, help with problems in their lives, implement more effective restorative justice programs and provide more counselors to help these students?

In some areas like Oakland, Richmond and Los Angeles, 20 percent of kindergartners are chronically absent. Once that starts, students get farther behind. We already know low-income an English learners come into kindergarten with one-fifth the vocabulary of students who come from homes where parents read to them. You can’t learn if you’re not there, even if you have the best teachers and best facilities. We need services and interventions to help parents, get kids to school and knock down absenteeism. That’s a moneymaker for the districts as well as the right thing to do with kids. Once the kids are in their seats, the school gets funding for them.

Q. What kinds of interventions do you have in mind?

A. I did some of this when I was a teacher in Pacifica High School in the community of West Pittsburg — everything from calling parents to sending someone out. I used to go out to neighborhoods in Bay Point, which was then called West Pittsburg. I would go out and sometimes I interrupted the family’s dinner and I said, ‘I’m your son’s teacher and we have some issues we want to work out.’

Some students are being left at home because they have an elderly grandparent in a wheelchair and no one to watch them. Or, mom says, ‘I don’t have money to pay for day care for 3-year-old sister Sally, you take are of her.’ We sent social workers out and helped find where they could get elderly care or child care.

Some parents need a wake up call from the district. Attorney General Kamala Harris has worked on this — to inform parents not only of their moral, but legal responsibilities.

We also have a model SARB (School Attendance Review Boards) program that deals with kids who are truant and missing school, sharing best practices. So, those are things we’re already doing and could expand on, along with involving parents.

Q. What’s another priority for you?

A. Career Technical Education is a new emphasis. There are nearly 500 Partnership Academies in the state. They link learning in all curriculum areas at high schools to career pathways, to the real world. My department will be issuing requests for grant proposals in January for the new $250 million Career Pathways Trust fund.

I created a Career Readiness Initiative three years ago. It ties into the goals of the new Common Core standards, with relevancy, workplace readiness and 21st Century skills, which employers want. They want team work. They want communication skills. They want critical thinkers and problem-solvers.”

What do you think the state should do to cut down on absenteeism and prepare students for the workforce?

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MDUSD Board to approve new general counsel, Local 1 contract tonight

By Theresa Harrington
Wednesday, December 11th, 2013 at 6:48 pm in Education, Mt. Diablo school district

Tonight, the Mt. Diablo school board expects to appoint a new general counsel and to approve a bargaining agreement with the Local 1 Maintenance and Operations workers that appears to mirror the agreement with the Clerical, Secretarial and Technical unit.

Here is the agenda for tonight’s meeting, which is at 7:30 p.m. in the district office 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 The board may discuss or provide direction to its negotiators regarding unrepresented employee, pursuant to Government Code section 54957.6. Agency negotiator: Dr. Nellie Meyer. Unrepresented employee: General Counsel. Public Employment. Title: General Counsel. Action
4.3 Expulsion of student #02-14 from all regular schools of Mt. Diablo Unified School District. Action
4.4 Pending Litigation – Conference with Legal Counsel pursuant to Gov’t Code Section 54956.9(1) in the matter of OAH Case #2013100126. 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 Report out of Closed Session Info

8.0 Organizational Meeting
8.1 Annual Board of Education Organizational Meeting Info
8.2 Elect Board President Action
8.3 Elect Vice President Action
8.4 Appoint Secretary Action

8.5 Establish Regular Meeting Dates, Time and Location Action
8.6 Adopt Certificate of Signatures Action

9.0 Student Representatives
9.1 Student representatives will report on activities at their schools. Info

10.0 Board Member Reports
10.1 Board Reports Info

11.0 Superintendent’s Report
11.1 Superintendent’s Report Info

12.0 Consent Agenda Action
12.1 (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
12.2 (Item #2) Recommended Action for Certificated Personnel Action
12.3 (Item #3) Request to Increase and Decrease Full Time Equivalent (FTE) for the 2013-2014 School Year Action
12.4 (Item #4) Community Engagement Memo of Understanding between Saint Mary’s College of California and Mt. Diablo Unified School District Action
12.5 (Item #5) Recommended Action for Classified Personnel Action
12.6 (Item #6) Classified Personnel: Request to Increase and Decrease Positions Action
12.7 (Item #7) Independent Services Contract for Events to the “T” Inc. Action
12.8 (Item #8) Approve submission of the 21st Century Community Learning Center (21stCCLC) and ASSETs grant for two high schools, one middle and five elementary schools. Action
12.9 (Item #9) Fiscal Transactions for the month of November 2013. Action
12.10 (Item #10) Budget Transfer and/or Budget Increases/Decreases for the month of October 2013 Action
12.11 (Item #11) Contract for Maintenance of District’s Phone Systems and Voice Mail Action
12.12 (Item #12) Request for Purchase Order for A to Z Bus Sales Action
12.13 (Item #13) Request to issue Purchase Order to Sabah International Action
12.14 (Item #14) Board Bylaw 9200 – Limits of Board Member Authority Action
12.15 (Item #15) Approval of increase to Exploring New Horizons Outdoor Ed Contract for Mt. Diablo Elementary School Action
12.16 (Item #16) Award of Bid #1652: South West Parking Lot Overlay Expansion Project at Clayton Valley Charter High School Action
12.17 (Item #17) Award of Lease/Lease-back Agreement with Taber Construction, Inc. to support RFQ/RFP 1664 – Middle School General Science Classroom Buildings 2014 Project Action
12.18 (Item #18) Design Service Contract Amendment Salas O’Brian – security system replacement Action
12.19 (Item #19) Design Service Contract amendments for Smith, Fause & McDonald(SFMI) – technology improvements de-scope of work Action
12.20 (Item #20) Award of Inspector of Record (Project Inspector) Contract for Aquatic Center Project at Northgate High School Action
12.21 (Item #21) Amendment to Cal-Air (Johnson Control) Phase 2 Energy Conservation Project Action
12.22 (Item #22) Notice of Completion for L/LB#1616: Construction and Finishes for 2013 Chemistry/Science Buildings at Concord High School and College Park High School Action
12.23 (Item #23) Notice of Completion for LLB #1626: Elementary and Pleasant Hill Middle School Technology Improvements Action
12.24 (Item #24) Notice of Completion for LLB 1640: Modernization of S Wing, Shop Building at YVHS Action
12.25 (Item #25) Notice of Completion for LLB #1641: Science Center Remodel, Building 100 at YVHS Action
12.26 (Item #26) Resolution#13-14/25 Authorization for submittal of Bus Retrofit Grant to Bay Area Air Quality Management District Action
13.0 Consent Items Pulled for Discussion

14.0 Recognitions
14.1 Announcements/Awards Info

15.0 Public Comment
15.1 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

16.0 Communications
16.1 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

17.0 Reports/Information
17.1 Information Provided to Board and Community Info

18.0 Business/Action Item
18.1 Appointment of General Counsel and Resolution to designate specified position as senior management of the classified service, appoint an employee and set a salary Action

18.2 Appointment of Program Specialist, Special Education Action

18.3 Appointment of Social Work Specialist Action

18.4 Classified Personnel: Appointment of Educational Consultation and Behavior Management Specialist Action

18.5 Appointment of Vice Principal, High School – Concord High School Action

18.6 Appointment of Coordinator, Student Services 6-8 – Sequoia Middle School Action

18.7 Approval of Independent Service Contract with Center for Human Development for $50,000. Action

18.8 First Interim Report 2013-2014 Action

18.9 Budget Development Calendar 2014-2015 Action

18.10 Request to Approve Tentative Agreement between Public Employees Union Local 1 (M&O) and the Mt. Diablo Unified School District (MDUSD) Action

18.11 Approval of Textbook Adoption for AP Physics, Physics for Scientists and Engineers with Modern Physics, Pearson, 4th edition by Douglas C. Giancoli Action

18.12 Independent Services Contract with Pivot Learning Partners Action

18.13 Sole Source Authorization and Consent Form– APPLE, INC. Action

18.14 New and Revised Technology Policies – BP 3513, BP/AR 4040, BP 6162.7 Action

18.15 Award of Contract with DecoTech Systems for the Middle School Laptop Order, through the 2010 Measure C Facility Improvement Program, as part of the Classroom Technology Enhancements Project. Action

18.16 Award of Inspector of Record (Project Inspector) Contract for MDUSD Project 1663 Portable Replacements & MDUSD Project 1664 MS General Science Buildings. Action

18.17 Award of Lease/Lease-back Agreement with Taber Construction, Inc. to support RFQ/RFP 1663 – Portable Classroom Replacement 2014. Action

18.18 Award of Lease-Leaseback Agreement to Kenridge Builders, Inc. Construction of New Aquatics Center at Northgate High School Action

18.19 Final Change Order for LLB #1616 – Taber Construction Inc. for Chemistry Classrooms 2013 at Concord/Nueva Vista and College Park High School. Action

18.20 Contract Amendment: Salas O’Brien Engineers, Inc. Ygnacio Valley High School Stadium Lighting Project Action

18.21 Final Change Order for LLB #1641 – Landmark Construction, Inc. for Modernization of Science Center, building 100, at Ygnacio Valley High School Action

18.22 Final Change Order for LLB #1640 – Landmark Construction, Inc. for Modernization of S-Wing, Shop Building 1300, at Ygnacio Valley High School Action

18.23 Meeting Extension Action

19.0 Future Agenda Items

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 Adjournment
21.1 Adjourn Meeting Info”

Due to a greater emphasis on regional stories at Bay Area News Group, I will not be attending tonight’s meeting. However, I will try to watch portions of it online and will report on the general counsel appointment, Local 1 agreement and reorganization.

Do you agree with the recommendation that the general counsel be designated as senior management of the classified service?

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Do you know the code? If not, learn it next week!

By Theresa Harrington
Friday, December 6th, 2013 at 6:03 pm in Education, Livermore

By the year 2020, the United States could be short 1 million computer programmers, according Code.org, a nonprofit that wants to bring computer science instruction to every K-12 school.

To raise awareness of the dire need for more computer programmers and help celebrate Computer Science Education Week from Dec. 9-14, Code.org is organizing “a massive campaign to recruit 10 million students to try one hour of computer science.”

Called “Hour of Code,” the campaign revolves around the concept that every student should have the opportunity to learn computer science, which builds creativity problem-solving skills.

Jobs in computer programming are growing three times faster than the number of students entering the field, according to Code.org.
Exacerbating the problem, only 10 percent of schools in the country teach computer science, which is fewer than taught it a decade ago.

To encourage more teachers and schools to teach programming skills, Code.org has prepared free self-guided activities for students at all grade levels available at http://hourofcode.com. Tutorials will include lectures from Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates, along with artwork from the popular Angry Birds and Plans vs. Zombies games.

Nearly 34,000 teachers and others had signed up to host The Hour of Code by Friday, according to the website. Of those, about 11,570 planned to involve their entire schools. Overall, participants expected to teach computer code to more than 4.5 million students in 167 countries during the week.

In the Bay Area, dozens of schools plan to join the fun, including Granada High in Livermore, where Computer Science and Technology teacher Carol Kinnard will teach The Hour of Code after school to anyone who wants to check it out.

Kinnard got turned onto computer programming in high school in 1979, when the course was brand new at her school.

“We had a math teacher who wanted to play around with the computers and teach it to us,” Kinnard said. “I saw it as this wonderful puzzle that I had to solve and this very cool mystery. I was engaged.”

Kinnard worked as a computer programmer in Silicon Valley for several years before deciding to bring her skills and knowledge to classrooms. This year, she said her program has grown from two programming classes to nine.

“I’m thrilled,” she said. “We have an AP (Advanced Placement) computer science class where the kids are delving deep into the job of programming language and a case study where they have to learn it and modify it.”

At the other end of the spectrum, she said, is Exploring Computer Science, where students learn about the Internet and basic programming language. Kinnard also teaches a midlevel course called computer science and software engineering.

“That goes deep into a lot of the ideas that computer science either generates or works with,” she said. “We do a lot of programming in that course, but we do it in a lot of different languages instead of in-depth Java.”

The course also includes data simulation, genomics, and analyzing “big data,” which involves the collection of data that is so large and complex it can be difficult to process. For example, Kinnard said the class might talk about how to analyze the all the birthrates for the entire planet and how meaningful that would be.

As the gap between computer programming jobs and qualified candidates grows, Kinnard and others participating in The Hour of Code are hoping to excite more people about pursuing programming careers.

“The divide is going to be getting worse,” Kinnard said. “It’s going to really escalate in 2014-15.”

The Hour of Code campaign is backed by Apple, Microsoft, Google, Amazon, the Boys and Girls Clubs, the College Board, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and more than 100 other individuals and organizations. Computer Science Education Week starts Dec. 9 on the birthday of Admiral Grace Murray Hopper, a computing pioneer born in 1906.

“I think it’s going to make a difference,” Kinnard predicted, “especially if we can get teachers more educated on the value of computer science and get parents and kids to explore computer science.”

Do you think more schools should offer computer programming courses?

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