Monday, December 14, 2009

Community Meeting Tonight 7pm: Making the Best of a Tough Situation

Remember the Local Community Meeting tonight.

7pm at the Willow Creek Center at 1026 Mohr Lane in Concord.

You'll view a presentation (also available HERE), and hear why a new funding measure will help protect academic programs in the Mt. Diablo School District. You'll also hear, as part of the presentation, the recent poll results related to the possibility of a new funding measure. There will also be an opportunity for break out sessions with your local high school feeder patterns.

This really is an important meeting. Voice your concerns, join your neighbors. What are we going to do to protect basic education in our district? It seems we are past restoring anything that was cut, we are fighting for the survival of very basic core academics. Every district near us has a parcel tax. The district needs to restore trust and perhaps, our new Superintendent will do just that. These issues are statewide. This is not our current board's fault. It is an impossible situation for them. It's not how to make cuts that won't hurt, at this point, we're already looking at cuts at the core of what is best for our students. How will our district survive this next round?

I hope that we can all be adults. Stop the blame and finger pointing and let's get down to how we're going to keep this district providing a quality education for our children? People get bogged down in the blame, the past and their own priorities that we seem to sometimes forget the big picture - that is that our children deserve the best education possible. How are we going to get there? How are we going to keep this district solvent? If there is an idea you have other than a parcel tax - get involved, and voice it! The same old arguments (cut at dent, cut admin, blame the board, blame the superintendent, cut the teachers, etc etc) don't cut it. We need real solutions. This is a statewide issue, that will require a local "roll up your sleeves" solution. The question is, what's the answer?

Here's a new Fact Sheet Flyer, also available at this LINK:

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Say No to Teacher Contract (GUEST OPINIONS)

I received the following email regarding the vote at tonight's Board meeting, and below it, some excerpts from another:

Do parents know what is at stake tomorrow? If the board of education votes yes on the teacher contract tomorrow night, then it will ascertain that only the teachers will not feel the hits of the coming budget cuts and the coming years. Is that fair? I don't think so. In the same meeting they will be discussing more cuts that will impact the students, and then will vote to keep status quo for the teachers? Other districts around the state are going to have to impose pay cuts across all employee groups and even mandatory furloughs, shortened school years and more. (link to LA Schools proposal and LA Times article: LA Unified asks union to ok furlough days)

How can MDUSD justify this vote for the teachers in light of another upcoming round of MILLIONS in budget CUTS? I think Strange, Eberhart and Whitmarsh are being "too" loyal to the teacher union that no doubt helped at least two of them be elected. They voted for the pay raises last month. They are now going to vote to freeze salaries too? While the students will suffer with possible school closures and more program cuts, not to mention the sports, music, electives and class sizes - they now get to bear the brunt of more. All while the teachers get a guarantee.

State workers, and other corporations are reducing pay, enforcing furloughs, freezing bonuses and pay raises, instituting closures of major entities for days every month (DMV, courts, etc), and we want to guarantee nothing will happen to the teachers salary? I say STOP. We love our teachers. But even the union is throwing a segment of their own teachers under the bus. Who gets laid off when schools close? Yes, but not as many as will benefit from the freeze. Or maybe they are banking on the fact that fewer schools will have to fit more students and therefore absorb the teachers? Again, who gets hurt there? Families, students and communities.

I just wanted to voice that to you as I love our teachers, but as a parent it would be impossible for me to go public. My husband has been forced to take furlough days. We've lost all his overtime. I'm having to get a part time job. Companies, the State and others have to make hard choices to keep the entire entity solvent. How can a district so large as MDUSD look to guaranteeing anything for anyone at this point? So I hope that you will post this to educate others, as to what this vote really means. And a parcel tax? Are they nuts? The paper said that a parcel tax will avoid some of the upcoming cuts. But what about the cuts already done? Will my son be able to play his last year of football next year at CHS? Will my daughter still be able to try out for soccer as a freshman? What about special ed? Spending a million to learn where to cut even more? Oh, but the teachers get to maintain, while the rest of us take it for the team... no thanks.

And another:

Committing to the current contract for an additional three years will tie the hands of this district to cut everything from the students while maintaining a hands off approach to salary cuts. No one wants to cut salaries but when people all over this state are out of work, taking furlough days, and facing salary cuts, employees in this district can not be guaranteed business as usual. The district salaries make up 82% of the unrestricted budget…. Tonight we will be talking about closing schools and cutting programs on top of the items ... that have already been cut. Again cuts on the backs of the students. In Los Angeles they are looking at 4 furlough days this year for every employee and a 12% across the board pay cut next year. rolling over the contract the teachers will still receive their stepped increases.

... by approving this contract the teachers will only be affected if we are faced with receivership, everything else goes first. Also please note that it is not just the teachers, I understand this will set a precedent for all bargaining unit contracts.

Parents should email the board before Tuesday's meeting, and plan to attend if they can and speak during public comment:

You can view the budget cuts that are being proposed tonight on the Board Agenda. There is both a powerpoint and an excel spreadsheet you can click and view at Item #17.7. Some of the items on the next cut list are:
  • Eliminate 4 FTE remaining middle and high school librarian positions (impact: libraries will close)
  • Eliminate 3.6 librarian FTE associated with Elementary Reduced Class Size
  • Reduce all Special Education services that are not mandated by state or federal law or included in the student's Individual Education Plan (IEP).
  • Close schools. Cost savings would result from the consolidation of administrative and classified positions and in utility savings if the campus is not used. At Elementary Schools, following positions would be reduced: Principal, Office Manager, Elementary Head Custodian, PM Custodians, Elementary School Secretary.
  • Eliminate Parent Subsidized Busing Program (Impact: Busing to Mt. Diablo High School and Delta View Elementary would continue, all other home to school busing would cease.)
  • Reduce Custodial Substitute Policy (Impact: Some basic classroom cleaning would not be completed)
  • Increase minimum class size to 28 students or 80% of contractual maximum. (Impact: May eliminate AP or other low enrollment courses)
  • Delay purchase of textbooks and materials for language arts adoption for one year. Transfer funds to unrestricted fund balance. (Impact: May have budget impact in later years.)
  • Reduce unrestricted material and supply budgets (Impact: Reduced funding for paper products, landscaping supplies, and instructional supplies.)
There are several other items on the agenda, some require negotiation with the various employee entities and others are being further investigated. So take a look and be educated as to what is to come in our district. If you disagree with it, step up and let the Board know.