Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Let's talk about the New MDUSD Superintendent

Today, starts the behind the scenes search for the new MDUSD Superintendent. Today, in a special session of the board (3pm), they will begin to work together in forming the criteria for selection of a new Superintendent. There will be public input meetings held, and all are encouraged to contact board members if you have input.

What do you think is important in the selection process?

What do you want the board to know?

Should it be someone from within?

Share your thoughts here, and if you're interested in this process stay tuned for public meetings about this, remember the goal is to have someone in place by the end of this year.

Here is agenda starting with the 3pm meeting today: AGENDA special meeting. Public comment is on the agenda, so go and voice your opinions, concerns, wants and needs for a new Superintendent.


  1. Today at 3:00pm is a public meeting.

  2. Thanks Linda for clarifying that, I had heard thru a board member that today was closed, but I should've looked more closely at the agenda as it clearly notes public and that they're welcoming public comment.

  3. The new Superintendent needs to be from outside the district, if for no other reason than to rebuild public trust in the competency of the MDUSD leadership (note: leadership extends beyond the Superintendent).

    I'd like to see a proven "traditionalist" that can bring the district back to solvency and restore the core operating practices to a rationale modle.

    We don't need a "reformer" or "creative leader". We need to get grounded in solid operational practices and get back to succeeding with the basics. Once we've proven our compentency again we can become progressive and experiement with new educational and student support methods.

  4. I blew it. I for some reason read special as closed.

  5. The new superintendent needs to be willing to address problems at Oak Grove Middle School

  6. If you don't have the guts to put your name, then you shouldn't be posting such an inflammatory statement! What problems are you talking about? We have just finished my daughter's 6th grade year there and it was fabulous! She made some great friends, from feeder schools like Cambridge and Bancroft, got straight A's in a VERY rigorous academic program (including pre-algebra by the way), got to perform in Annie Jr. under the direction of YV High School's fabulous music director Geoff Carter, and took part in a great Leadership class which allowed her to get to know some wonderful 7th and 8th graders.

    So I ask you "anonymous" who wants to make sure the next superintendent is "willing to address problems at Oak Grove Middle School", what on earth are you talking about?

    Ilana Israel Samuels,
    Parent volunteer at her children's NEIGHBORHOOD schools

  7. This is in response to Anonymous 6-16-09 3:46 p.m.

    First, I wonder why you won't leave your name? You also don't specify which problems you are referring to.

    I am an Oak Grove parent who understands that the school has a ways to go in achieving its full potential, but I attest that over the past four years, I have witnessed significant positive change there. Here are several specific instances:

    First, four years ago, approximately 60-70% of the students wore their uniforms. Now the number is much closer to 90-95% on a regular basis. This does not count the occasional exceptions (who usually get busted thanks to our awesome uniform patrol parents) but the spirit of the uniform code is being followed if not the letter.

    I have walked on campus unannounced on many occasions at different times during the school day. I have never been treated disrespectfully by any students I came across, even when I kindly but firmly admonished a few to hurry on to class, or not run in the halls, or to pick up some garbage, etc. I have found that when treated with respect, young people anywhere usually respond in kind.

    My daughters walk to and from school almost every day. They have never encountered any trouble or felt unsafe there.

    Oak Grove Middle School has continued to work very hard to improve its test scores, and has maintained its 7 period day, giving students multiple chances for enrichment or extra help. OGMS has steadily increased the rigor of its class offerings as well, including GATE core classes open to all students who can handle them. My daughter promoted this year having completed Geometry, ready for Algebra II/Trigonometry as a freshman. My other daughter will be taking Algebra as a 7th grader. Additionally, we must be one of if not the only MDUSD middle school to successfully stage a musical theater production for the past two years.

    In the interest of full disclosure, I must say that I count Terry McCormick as one of my personal friends, but that has developed over the past three years; when I first arrived, I had never met her. When I learned what her vision was, I decided to do what I could to help her realize it, especially since her own children attended the school.

    Terry has a heart of gold and a spine of steel, with an unwavering commitment to cultural competence, equity, and academic success for all. It wouldn't surprise me to learn that you, Anonymous, have been one of the people she has spent hours reaching out to, listening to your concerns, and addressing them as appropriate. I personally know of many occasions where she reached out in this way.

    I also know that she is quite philosophic in understanding that not everyone will be happy with the pace or the procedure for achievement, and that is o.k. She treats everyone with the same respect and care, regardless. This is truly one of her strengths.

    I heard a district administrator tell me once that he had been told, "No school is as bad as people say it is, and no school is as good, either." I know we can do better at Oak Grove, and it is my commitment to achieve that. I personally am aware that other middle schools in this district also have more than their fair share of problems and situations they are not happy with. However, with hard work and a spirit of togetherness, we can overcome anything, regardless of the district school we attend. So, don't give up, Anonymous; join with us to assure that Oak Grove once again assumes its place with other California Distinguished Schools in our district.

    Debbie Heinzmann
    1580 Whitman Road
    Concord, CA 94518

  8. Dear Anonymous,
    You are so, off base. Oak Grove HAS and always will be a GREAT school. Reason being PARENTAL involvement, the school has always had great support from the community. I see some ignorance in your post. Maybe some frustration. Reach out to Debbie and Linda. They are not so, angry with you as they are with this GREAT school with GREAT KIDS and GREAT PARENTS being taken down.

    Alumni w/ a name LAURA class of 1977

  9. Hopefully,

    They will choose to close Oak Grove in order to save some money.

  10. Glenbrook has problems. Maybe even more but I don't hear about that much.. probably because the feeder elementary schools are not as "vocal" and "involved" as those feeding to Oak Grove like Bancroft and Woodside. Oak Grove has done a good job the last few years of recruiting those parents and students. I know OGMS isn't the only middle with a theater production. I thought Foothill had one??? I'm sure Diablo View did.. either way... I really wouldn't be worried to send my kids there if I was zoned there.

  11. At the meeting yesterday the board was asked to list the qualities they would like to see in a Superintendent candidate. Here are their responses. Please note that they all may support certain attributes but in the interest of not repeating what someone else said, it may not be on their individual list.

    Open and honest communicator
    Works with bargaining units
    Able to work with diverse cultures
    Ability to analyze data
    Understands schools
    Experience moving schools out of program improvement
    Technology competent

    Understands instructional leadership, policies and practices
    Has a financial background
    Ability to achieve acceptance of all parents
    Values each employee
    Promote parent engagement
    Able to analyze assessment data
    Understands curriculum development and training
    Inclusion – awareness of outreach to improve student performance
    Meet with students, listen to student input
    Experience with facilities and maintenance
    Experience with collective bargaining and negotiations

    Visionary leader
    Has a great presence
    Track record and success in strategic planning
    Understands business systems
    Proven track record for fiscal
    Open and Honest – full explanations / transparency
    Understands customer service skills
    Proven track record in important areas
    Consistent and high quality evaluation of staff
    Bridge builder
    No status quo excuses – “that is how it has always been done”
    Lives in the community

    Would consider non-traditional Administrator who possess leadership skills
    Work with the board as a team
    Analyze organizational structure and make recommendations
    Active and engaged with the sites, has the disposition to be visible
    Truly cares about students and the district
    Bilingual good but should not be required
    Values technology as a learning tool

    Ability to facilitate consensus building amongst the staff
    Possesses the ability to foster strong community relations in a diverse community
    Strength and character when relating to the board
    Experience with Parcel Tax elections
    Develop relationships with community service organizations
    Strong oral and written skills

    As a parent I would like to see a Superintendent who is a visionary, a leader and courageous. I would like someone at the helm of this district who could inspire all of the stakeholders. I would like to see a Superintendent who's personal mission statement is, "every decision I make must be in the best interest of the student, even if it is difficult, unpopular, not the way it is done, and against the beliefs of other stakeholders." A Superintendent candidate should understand that the decisions he/she makes, or does not make, will affect a generation of students. As far as I am concerned all of the detailed items can be covered by hiring competent staff. This district needs a genuinely courageous leader.

  12. I would like to comment about the negative statements on Oak Grove Middle. I AM a parent of a student at Oak Grove and I go there weekly and help out wherever I can. I have worked at the elementary, and some at the high school and if anyone thinks Oak Grove currently has serious problems, they are crazy.

    My son is one of maybe 3 red-headed kids at Oak Grove. He's had no problems, he enjoyed his experiences there this year...as much as a kid will admit to. No one likes homework.

    I enjoyed the kids, doing uniform patrols, helping with the play, going on field trips, and on field day. I also just survived graduation of my oldest from YV High. I had no problems with anyone at that school either. If I needed answers, they were more than happy to take the time.

    This person that is saying Oak Grove is bad needs to fess up and tell what they have done to make school a better place. If you don't like something, get in there and make the difference, otherwise we don't want you there. Take your comments to go to another school and harass them.

    I have watched Oak Grove come back from the depths of hell and I am excited to see how high it can go. Terry McCormick is patient, positive and full of energy. The kids really respond well to her. I was completely impressed with everyone in the office and the teachers my son had this year.

    Now, all the budget cuts aren't going to help test scores, etc, so we really need to get in there and help whenever we can. Stop wasting air and internet time bad-mouthing Oak Grove. Spend your time caring for YOUR child and helping at whatever school you send them to instead.

    Kelly Hickerson
    Parent Volunteer at
    YVE, Oak Grove and YV High

  13. Oak Grove may in fact be the worst school in the nation. Thank god my kids do not have to go there.

  14. I cannot believe you would go so far with this comment "anonymous". It scares me that you are so sheepish that you would say something bad about a school your children don't even attend. Why don't you take a look at my letter to the editor in today's Contra Costa Times. You have a very cold heart if you think it is in the best interest of our community and school district to be so bigoted and downright mean. I could say something equally as callous about the school your child likely attends, but I am better than you. You should be ashamed of yourself.

    Ilana Israel Samuels, a parent and human being just like "anonymous"

  15. Hey crazy llana,

    Are you being serious about Oak Grove? Cause it really is one of the worst schools in the area. I hope MDUSD shuts it down.

  16. Dear Anonymous,

    I am a parent of 3 children in this district and I feel about my children the way that you do. I love them and know that they will grow up to be wonderful human beings that change the world for the better. They are bright, talented, and thoughtful. They are college bound and multi-talented. They go to Oak Grove and have grown as human beings in their outlooks and world views. I am the mom of 3 and of 700. I personnally invite you to visit me and talk to me about the wonderful multi-cultural, student-centered, academically rigorous community that we have created for all of our students and families. I live my belief in our students, our families, and our community. Join me.

  17. So much needs to change still in MDUSD and the times are tough. I am sure there are some better candidates than in the district. Admin still needs retrained to work with parents instead of against parents. They tend to tell so many tales they often get caught when parents like me record all meetings. I do remember most of all conversations and I also remember vividly when I am lied to and that has been too often having a special ed child.

    We still need help and the old district was not the way. We need to start new.

    If the district decides to go from within there will be many more public records requests in process. Just make sure the reputation is not part of a scam or previously investigated by the grand jury.