Monday, December 13, 2010

The votes are in, they may shock some of you

The committee has recommended to close..... This from Theresa Harrington of the Times tweeting during the meeting:

(be sure to read her blog, linked below, for full details, how the votes were tallied and what happens next)

TunedToTheresa #MDUSD school closure committee recommends closing Glenbrook MS, Silverwood, Holbrook, Wren, Sequoia MS, Sequoia Elem and Monte Gardens
4 minutes ago

Follow Theresa here :

Stay calm people... Do the right thing and write your letters to the board with constructive alternatives and tact. Remember, the board is the deciding body....

Be sure to read her blog and the comments for other reader commentary before you react, there is more to the story....

These are not the final recommendations according to Theresa's report at her blog, . See how the votes landed by reading at her site.

School closure committee is voting.... Tonight

Just in from Theresa Harrington. The committee is voting on their recommendation now (6:15pm). Hope someone will report in soon with the results. Health has prevented me from attending tonight myself, but anxiously awaiting word.

As you all have probably also heard, the Board study session has been postponed until January. I assume this will mean Simeon concessions will have to be made for intradistrict transfer students if transferring in or out of a school on the list. Until it ia finalized, much will remain in flux.

Remember the committee will vote, but the board can come up with their own solution. They are an 'advisory' committee, the board is the ultimate decision making body. You will have time for public comment.

We should thank the committee for their hard work... This cant have been easy.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

School closure options, as the decision draws near

Soon, the School Closure Committee will be voting on their recommendation to take the board.  Since our last topic covering school closures got heated and garnered almost 150 comments, I thought I'd start fresh here, and be sure that people get themselves up to speed.

REMINDER:  There is a School Closure Committee Meeting Monday, December 13th. 
REMINDER:  Agendas, Minutes and Presentations are all available ONLINE
REMINDER:  Any scenario may be chosen, and all schools were evaluated based on criteria set forth
REMINDER:  There is a public comment period at the closure committee meetings

Did you read the Times article whereas Theresa Harrington outlined the committee proposals to be voted on?  You can see that online here

Everything listed is on the table folks.  But please don't just get hostile, and think your school shouldn't be closed because it's "best."  These school closures will impact many, and no one wants THEIR school closed.  It will surely impact the intradistrict transfers, and it will impact neighborhoods.  It may require some re-drawing of school boundaries and it may require some outside the box thinking.  So instead of getting hostile, help come up with a better solution.  Take your anger to Sacramento. 

Someone said something in a previous thread that parents should be able to have their voices heard even this early in the process - folks - this is NOT early.  This is nearing the end.  Again, with everything else, and I know I know - it's my pet peeve - but with everything else, no one pays attention until it might impact them. I guess it's human nature, but I hope it's a wake up call that these budget cuts are very real.  They will hurt across all schools, all demographics and many families.  School closures are happening across the state, we aren't the only ones.  But be part of the solution, not a problem.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Local student, Stephanie Cudd, still missing

Stephanie, who is 15 years old, hasn't been seen in several days now, and we hope you're helping to spread the word of her disappearance. Someone must know something.

Here's a few places you can get more information:

And from the facebook page:
If anyone has any information on Stephanie's location, they can contact the Contra Costa Sheriff’s Department at 925-646-2441, case # 10-21998.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

School closure committee sort through recommendations

The Times brings us details today of which schools are being looked at for possible closure recommendations.

The list is quite large, and interestingly the article notes that beside the recommendations of the committee itself, the Superintendent's Council of district administrators prepared a scenario of their own. The official school closure Committee is expected to vote on their recommendations on Monday. Details below.

For the full Times article :

Be sure to read he detailed list of options here:

The list is :

Ayers Elementary, Concord; Bancroft Elementary, Walnut Creek; El Monte Elementary, Concord; Fair Oaks Elementary, Pleasant Hill; Glenbrook Middle, Concord; Gregory Gardens Elementary, Pleasant Hill; Holbrook Elementary, Concord; Monte Gardens Elementary, Concord; Oak Grove Middle, Concord; Rio Vista Elementary, Bay Point; Sequoia Elementary, Pleasant Hill; Sequoia Middle, Pleasant Hill; Shore Acres Elementary, Bay Point; Silverwood Elementary, Concord; Wren Elementary, Concord.

The school closure committee expects to vote on proposed recommendations at 5:30 p.m. Monday in the Willow Creek Center, 1026 Mohr Lane in Concord. Information is available by calling 925-682-8000, ext. 4015, or by going to Click on "community," then select "School Closure Committee."

6.5 million in fed jobs bill $$ to MDUSD salaries

According to the Times today, Contra Costa school districts struggle to stay afloat, Teresa Harrington tells us that the MDUSD will likely use the 6.5 million dollars from the Federal Jobs Act to pay a portion of employee salaries and benefits.  This money would normally be paid from the general fund per Brian Richards, our district's CFO.

The article provides some more detail about this expenditure, as well as the requirements (per the County's conditional approval of the MDUSD 2010-11 budget) that districts, including MDUSD, create a "fiscal recovery plan" and revised three year projections by December 15th.

I don't know what would be happening right now if this 6.5 million was not available?  Does anyone know?

Within the article:

Five Contra Costa County school districts are struggling to stay fiscally solvent in the next three years as they grapple with state budget cuts, declining enrollment and failed tax measures.

"We're advising districts that they need to conserve their cash," said Peggy Marshburn, spokeswoman for the Contra Costa County Office of Education. "The budget picture at the state level is much more bleak" than anticipated.

Going from bad to worse...  how much further can we go?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Superintendent's Parent Advisory Council meeting cancelled

Next week's PAC meeting has been cancelled. See the message below:

The PAC meeting scheduled for December 1 has been cancelled.   Our next meeting will held on Wednesday, January 5, 2011 at 7:00 p.m.  We will be back in the Board Room at the Dent Center.
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!  See you in 2011.
Loreen Joseph
Administrative Assistant to the Superintendent
Mt. Diablo Unified School District
925-682-8000 ext. 4000

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

MDUSD Celebrate Dick Allen and Paul Strange

Celebrating Richard "Dick" Allen and Paul Strange

See invite

Please join the MDUSD Board of Education in honoring and celebrating Dick Allen and Paul Strange for their "Years of Service" on the Board of Education. November 29, 2010 4:30 p.m. - 6:00 p.m. Dent Center, Board Room 1936 Carlotta Drive, Concord

You may RSVP or enter messages for the outgoing board members HERE.

Questions: Contact Loreen Joseph at 925.682.8000 ext. 4000

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Recap of MDUSD's Superintendent PAC meeting

Thank you to Sherry Whitmarsh for providing the following recap of the meeting last night:

Here are my notes.  Please feel free to ask my about any questions.  I've also attached the handout that was given about school closure data.  There is one mistake.  Criteria #4 - substitute facility for family . Here is link to file.
The Curriculum Associates assessment is being used at all of the elementary schools and four middle schools with another middle school expressing interest.  The assessment is a tool for teachers to gauge how the students are progressing toward mastering the state standards in English Language Arts (ELA) and Math.  The assessment is giving three times a year with an option to do a fourth assessment at the end of the year.  The end of the year assessment is more like the test because it shows which how the students have done for all of the standards.  It is more like the STAR but gives immediate feedback to the teacher instead of waiting all summer for the results.  By using a standard assessment between all schools, feeder pattern schools as well as the district can look at the trends that are developing and set specific goals to help students master the standards.
For each assessment cycle, the teachers take thirty minutes each day for three – four days for ELA and then another thirty minutes each day for three or four days for Math.  For the first and second grade many schools have resources that are bubbling in the scantron.  In first grade the teacher reads the entire assessment to the students.  
The district is having data sessions with teachers to assist them in understanding how the data can be used to help them modify their lesson plan.  For those students who have mastered certain standards the teachers will look at how to enrich their learning.  For those who have not mastered a standard that has been taught, the teachers look at what needs to be reviewed and strategies for teaching it.   

Different schools are using different strategies.  One school has created academies that will work with the students at the different learning levels, other schools develop small groups and divide the groups between the teachers, and others are working within their own classroom.
In schools were the assessment has been given in previous years, teachers discussed how they meet to share the results of the assessment.  Teachers who students have mastered areas of the assessment can do professional training with the other teachers to demonstrate how the standard was taught.

Examples of the results of the assessments were shown.  Sample letters that could be sent home to parents about the assessment were also shared.  The letters allow parents to see how the student is progressing towards the end of year grade level standard.
For students who have accommodations, the schools are meeting those.  Examples were presented where resource teachers were bubbling the scantron for students, students were using a typing device to record their answer, and students were verbally saying their answer.
Parents were concerned with the assessment creating a heavy focus on ELA and math and not enough time being spent and science and social studies.  The teachers stated that the assessments allowed them to have focus, targeted instruction in ELA and math and actually allowed them to spend more time in science and social studies.  Last year both teachers stated that they were able to get further in science and social studies than in past years.  Curriculum Associates does have assessments for science and social studies but the district is not using those at this point.
Does the assessment mean teachers are instructing to the test?  The assessment allows the teachers to focus their assessment on what standards the students have not mastered for the grade level.  It allows them to individualize their teaching based upon where the students are.
There were comments about how the assessment make the students feel inadequate, especially the early assessments.  The teachers and principals present stated that it is their responsibility to ensure that students understand that the assessment is a tool to help the teachers know how to target the instruction.  It is not a test to grade the students.  Students become excited about learning and eagerly wait to see how much they have learned from the previous assessment cycle.

The cost of the material is approximately $60,000.
School Closures
The demographic study was also discussed.  The attached material was reviewed.  The school closure committee is meeting every week and is preparing to meet present a recommendation in December to the board of education.  The board of education will then have a study session to review the data and ask questions. 
The district is looking at saving about $1.5 million from school closures.  The savings is a result in centralized staff – principals, office managers, secretaries, custodians, food services – and not teachers.  Closing an elementary school saves about $300,000 and a middle school saves about $700,000.  Closing a middle school may not save quite as much as thought because a vice principal may be needed at schools that the children are being sent.
The school closure committee has reviewed all of the data and divided into groups based upon the eight criteria.  Each group ranked all schools on a scale of 1 – 20 based upon the criteria.  The groups have now reconvened into the large group and the discussions have begun.  These are not easy discussions.

The committee is also looking at how the closures will affect school boundaries and how those may need to be changed.

Remember, you can find committee information, minutes, meeting schedule etc at

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

MDUSD's Superintendent PAC meeting is tonight

So they rescheduled the Superintendent Parent Advisory Council meeting. Last week it "might have been" a World Series Game, so they changed it to tonight. Weds, November 10th, 7pm AT WILLOW CREEK. All are welcome. I encourage ALL of you to start attending these meetings. If you have a complaint, and I know MANY of you do if I look at the blogs, then why not go to a meeting where you can actually TALK TO the Superintendent and Administrators? Just do it.

I believe one of the items on the agenda is the Curriculum Associates testing that some people have been discussing around the blog-o-sphere locally. Some people feel it's too much testing, too soon. Some feel it is a great way to gauge student progress and to help shape where the teachers may need to spend some more time in their instruction. It can also perhaps help in the differentiation between students who "get it" and those who still need some time. A biggie for administrators it seems is test scores. There appears to be some data to support it does increase the STAR test scores.

Anyway, I saw someone else posted in the comments on another thread that there may be something controversial on the agenda, and I do not believe that to be the case, unless you consider the above, controversial.

The PAC members were polled regarding this change just in case you have some conspiracy theory brewing for this date change. They've said it was a "landslide" decision that wanted this changed, but I do question the attendance tonight due to the 4 day weekend . I guess we'll see.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010 7:00 p.m.

Willow Creek Center
1026 Mohr Lane, Concord

I. Welcome and Introductions

II. Assessment Data

III. Demographics Data

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Free vaccine clinic

In these difficult economic times, this represents a $35 savings or more, as well as good health in the future. Promoted by MDUSD nurses and CCHealth Services. :)

Contra Costa Health Services will hold a free one-day, flu vaccination event in nine Contra Costa cities. 
The Public Health Division of Contra Costa Health Services plans to hold the free flu clinics from 1:00 to 7:00pm on Wednesday, November 10 to "Vaccinate Contra Costa." Only one vaccine is needed this year to protect against H1N1 and two other flu strains expected to be circulating this year, said Contra Costa Health Services Immunization Coordinator Erika Jenssen. People need this vaccine even if they received seasonal and H1N1 flu vaccine last year, and some children will need two doses, she said. 
Clinics in our area will be held in Concord (5298 Clayton Road), Martinez (30 Muir Road), Lafayette (952 Moraga Road), and Pittsburg (200 Marina Boulevard). 
Flu vaccine is also available from health care providers, local pharmacies, grocery stores, and community clinics. A podcast and video answering commonly asked flu questions is available on the CCHS Web site: 
To find out more about the flu or to locate a clinic near you, visit or call the CCHS Health Emergency Information Line at 1-888-959-9911 for information

Friday, November 5, 2010

Drug use on high school campuses

So who thinks drugs aren't a problem in our high schools?

I say they're a huge problem.  Kids that say they not only smell drugs being smoked in corners at school, to shutting down wings because the teachers smell it - is a problem.  I say that kids smoking pot out in the open BEFORE school - is a problem.  I say that kids posting photos of themselves drinking and doing drugs - is a problem.

Now to the facebook issues of posting their photos.  Now, these are photos/statuses I have seen. And I am not "friends" with these kids, which means their profiles are completely public.  I have to ask - parents, when is the last time you looked at your kid's profile?  Ever?  Some kids talk about can't wait to get f&#$ed up this weekend.  Where are we going to get the sh#&?  And guess what folks, these aren't just at one high school.  They're at all of them.  Oh, and guess what more... these are also cheerleaders and kids in sports.  Not just the "thugs" or "trogs" as we used to call them in my day...

So, it's just a question.

In a day that not much gets done around campus because administrators are all so "overwhelmed" with budget cuts and other BS, it seems it's just easier to turn the other way on drugs.  Is it a victimless crime?  No way.  Smoking pot before school can't possibly be good for the attention and care needed later in the school day.  Hearing of middle school kids drinking vodka out of water bottles during PE does not instill too much confidence that today's kids, despite all the education, are any smarter than the kids of yesterday (or my day).

More young people are now in treatment for marijuana dependency than for alcohol or for all other illegal drugs combined.

I know, I know, I'm looking at this TOTALLY differently now that I'm a parent.  But isn't that a normal progression?  I hope so.

And believe, GREAT THINGS HAPPEN at the high schools every single day.  There is no denying there are more good things than bad, BUT I'm not going to be quiet about the bad just because it makes the school look bad.

THE SCHOOLS NEED TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT.  They have the power to EXPEL any kid caught with drugs.  They have the power to SEARCH lockers if it smells like POT!  

Parents , you need to be watching homelink.  Are your kids tardy to school each day when you KNOW you dropped them off on time?  Or that they left home early enough?  Are you checking in?  Are there consequences?   Just asking.  Do you know where the local "hang outs" are for the perpetually late? 

So, there, I'm done with my rant.  But there's a story I've been dying to do, but I'm not a reporter and I don't get enough readers to do it justice, so I sent some info to the Mayor of Claycord - hopefully he'll shed the light. 

Parents, what can we do ?  I ASSUME most parents aren't ok with kids smoking dope on school grounds.  So if that's true?  What are we going to do about it?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Our New MDUSD School Board

With 133 of the 197 precincts reporting, it's a close race. So far it is Linda Mayo in the lead, with Cheryl Hansen literally on her heels. Lynne Dennler is starting to pull away ever so slightly from Brian Lawrence.

So if these numbers hold, it will be Mayo, Hansen and Dennler. What do you think?

11:30pm update. Still the same 3 leaders, however, Cheryl Hansen has emerged as the current leader. 165 of the 197 precincts reporting. Its still very close though the three are pulling away.

See for up to the minute results.

Friday, October 22, 2010

MDUSD Superintendent Newsletter #6

October 22, 2010
Mt. Diablo USD News Update
Where Kids Come First
Fifth Annual Day at the Races for Literacy
Raising Funds to Raise Readers -- On Saturday, October 30, 2010 the Central Contra Costa Literacy Coalition and The Rotary Club of Concord are working together to benefit the literacy programs in Central Contra Costa County.  The event, scheduled from 8:30 a.m to 2:00 p.m., is being hosted by the Hilton Concord and 100 percent of the $20 entry fee will be donated to fund literacy projects.  The entry fee provides an opportunity to participate in a 1K, 5K or 10K race, and enjoy a spaghetti and meatballs lunch and free concert.  School teams are encouraged to enter to raise funds for their school’s literacy program.  For information about the event call 925-349-2654 or register online at .
Budget Update
Although the State budget restored the $275 per-student reduction from the Governor’s May budget proposal, and we will receive $6 million in new one-time Federal dollars, we are being very cautious about the District’s budget.  In a Los Angeles Times article dated October 10, 2010, by Evan Halper, Mr. Halper asserts that come January, a new governor and a new crop of lawmakers will have to confront the $19 billion deficit that the current governor and legislature failed to address.  Quoting the Los Angeles Times:  
The most optimistic projections show that the spending plan Schwarzenegger signed will produce a shortfall of at least $10 billion – more than 11% of state spending – in the next fiscal year.  Many experts predict it will be billions more.  The leaders mostly papered over this year’s gap, punting many tough decisions forward.
We have read many analyses of the State budget that reach similar conclusions.  A commensurate 11% reduction to California’s education budget would be approximately $5.5 billion.  This would translate into an additional $20 million reduction to our District budget!  Consequently, there is a high probability of mid-year cuts.  Therefore, it is imprudent to allocate or spend the $6 million in one-time Federal dollars until the new governor’s January budget is released.   We want to ensure that the District has adequate funding in place to prevent mid-year reductions in programs and personnel.
Shining the Light on Solar
Solar Update -- This Tuesday, October 26, 2010 the Board of Education will consider approving the contract with SunPower.  Once the contract is approved, the design and State approval process begins.  Our goal is to break ground in early spring 2011 and have the solar project completed by mid spring 2012.  Once the installation of solar shade projects begins, we will post updates and pictures on the District webpage.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Times endorses Hansen, Adams and Larkin, how about you?

Not too much talk about the upcoming board election. Thoughts? Have you seen or attended any candidate forums? Will you attend on the 20th in Pleasant Hill?

Here's the article from the Times:

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

MDUSD Intradistrict Transfer Procedures 2011-2012

Well, I have to say, nothing frustrates me more than a "time sensitive" issue for many parents in our district, to have ZERO information available online at the district website.  At least I can't find it. Can you?  If you use their drop down menu of "How do I?" or the "Parents" tab on the main page, I get LAST YEARS information but still, no links to forms or their new Q & A.  So I figured I'd help you out.

I've uploaded the information, Q & A and forms you need to apply for a transfer here

Important points:
  • Intradistrict applications for grades 1-12 are available starting October 1st, and are due on or before January 15, 2011.
  • Forms are available at the District Office (Dent Center) at 1936 Carlotta Drive, Concord
  • This year you will have three choices in your transfer designation and therefore, there are three different forms - you need to know which one to use - this is vital.
  • Kindergarten students must register at their home school on District Kindergarten registration day, February 1, 2011.  Then, on or after that day, you may request a transfer.  Those requests are due no later than February 26th, 2011.
Three choices this year (each is described in more detail below and the Q&A is available at the link above), be sure you use the right form as which transfer to apply for is important to know:
  • School Choice (another MDUSD School) - star at top left of transfer form
  • NCLB Transfer (No Child Left Behind) - square box at top left of transfer form
  • Open Enrollment (SBX5 4) - diamond box at top left of transfer form
What is the three options?
  • School Choice provides parents with an opportunity to apply for another MDUSD school other than their residence school (i.e. you live in Concord, but want to have your child attend a Walnut Creek school)
  • NCLB Transfer (No Child Left Behind) provides parents whose student's residence school is identified as "Program Improvement (PI)" to apply for attendance at a non-Program Improvement school (must be on the list below).  Program Improvement (PI) is a formal designation for Title 1 funded schools that do not make Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) for two consecutive years.  The Program Improvement Schools are listed below.
  • Open Enrollment SBX5 4 provides parents who student's residence school has been identified as a Persistently Low Achieving school to apply to a school anywhere within or outside the district.  The receiving school must have an API (Academic Performance Index) score that is higher than that of the resident school.  Persistently Low Achieving schools are listed below.
Once assigned to a school per a transfer, can your student be displaced?
  • Students on School Choice K-12 transfers can be displaced prior to September 15th of EACH SCHOOL YEAR (my emphasis) by students who reside in the school's attendance area.
  • Students on NCLB Transfers can be displaced prior to September 15th of the FIRST school year only by students who reside in the school's attendance area.  After that first year, these students become residents of the school and are not subject to bumping.
  • Students on Open Enrollment SBX5 4 transfers can be displaced prior to September 15th of the FIRST school year only, and as with NCLB, become school residents after that first year and are not subject to bumping.
Clear as mud?  An important distinction if you are contemplating between a NCLB and a Open Enrollment SBX5 4 transfer is that TRANSPORTATION IS ONLY PROVIDED for NCLB transfers.  Each of the other options will not provide transportation and parents are responsible for all transportation to/from school.  For NCLB transfers, transportation is provided to /from the home school to the new school.

Another important note.  You can ONLY submit one transfer request.  If a transfer request is denied, you may appeal, but you are assigned back to your home school.  So be careful.

Ok, so which schools are on which list?

NCLB Elementary Schools/Middle Schools and your NCLB school choice options are listed below:

Bel Air
Fair Oaks
Meadow Homes
Rio Vista
Shore Acres
Ygnacio Valley

Your Elementary Options are:  
Hidden Valley
Mountain View
Sun Terrace

Oak Grove

Your Middle School options are:
Diablo View
Pleasant Hill

Schools eligible for Open Enrollment SBX5 4 (remember you can go to any other school that has a higher API) are as follows:
Bel Air Elementary
Meadow Homes Elementary
Shore Acres Elementary

Glenbrook Middle
Oak Grove Middle
Riverview Middle

Remember, Monte Gardens, Sequoia Elementary and Cornerstone Family School have separate admissions procedures and you should contact those schools directly for admission information and to be put on their waiting lists.

Schools noted as "over enrolled" will not accept transfer requests, those schools in 2010-2011 were/are Meadow Homes Elementary and College Park High School.  Over enrolled designation for this 2011-2012 transfer cycle will be determined by the board this month.

  • When more requests are received than there is space available to attend a specific school, the Student Services Office will conduct a public lottery among the applicants to fill any vacancies.  The lottery will be February 11, 2011, parents will be notified by April 15th, 2011 for 6th - 12th grade and August 16th, 2011 for K-5 grades of approval or denial of transfer request (nice bit of notice for those elementary students huh? Not knowing where they'll start school until a week or two before?)
To contact Student Services:  925-688-8000 x 4068.  Felicia Stuckey-Smith (email in this department may be able to help you.

At last weeks PAC (Superintendent's Parent Advisory Council), Dr. Lawrence committed that the School Closure committee will either be done by this January 15th date, or will allow more time for those families impacted by any school closures.  Note that the choices under NCLB are several of the most underenrolled schools in our district.  So I have a feeling there will be some stress come January. 

Friday, October 8, 2010

MDUSD Superintendent Newsletter - info about bond sale, sports fundraiser, measure c, solar and more

Mt. Diablo USD News Update
Where Kids Come First

On Your Mark, Get Set, Go…
To the Second Annual 5K Run to Benefit MDUSD Sports

Great thanks, in advance, to the United Mt. Diablo Athletic Foundation (“UMDAF”) for hosting the second annual 5K Run and Walk to benefit District high school sports.  Athletics are just one of many victims of the state’s budget cuts.  UMDAF stepped up to the plate to ensure our students are not denied the invaluable experience of team sports.  Studies confirm that students who participate in organized school sports are less likely to experiment with dangerous behaviors, including drugs and alcohol.  Please support UMDAF to achieve their goal of raising $50,000 from this event.

Sunday, October 10
9:00 a.m.
Newhall Park, Concord
Food. Fun. Entertainment.

Support a great cause – support our student athletic programs.  Log on to to sign up and/or get additional information.

Bond Sale

On September 20, 2010, the District sold the first allotment of the bonds approved by voters under Measure C. The amount of the sale was $110 million, almost a third of the $348 million authorized by Measure C.  The District is pleased to announce that it was able to sell approximately half of the first allotment ($59.5 million), as Clean Renewable Energy Bonds (“CREBs”).  CREBs are very beneficial to the District because most of the interest is paid by the Federal Government.  The interest paid by the District itself is minimal, only about 1.7%. The District was able to qualify for the CREBs program because it applied early, over a year ago. Lower interest costs result in greater energy savings because the bond payoff cost is substantially lessened.

The remaining $50.5 million in bonds were issued as General Obligation bonds.  These bonds have an interest rate of about 5.7% and have a term of 25 years.  If you would like more information about the bonds and the exciting projects they will finance, we invite you to attend the October 12, 2010 Board meeting, where there will be a formal presentation during the Superintendent’s Report. We will keep you regularly informed on project developments as we build a new District!

Measure C Update

The aforementioned $110 million will be used for the following projects:
  • District wide solar installation
  • District wide technology infrastructure improvements
  • Paying off $14 million in Certificates of Participation (“COPs”) and lease purchase payments which will relieve the District of $1.4 million annual debt payments through 2024
  • Begin the process of equalizing HVAC enhancements throughout the District
Shining the Light on Solar

After a rigorous selection process the District selected SunPower to design and build its solar projects.  SunPower is a local, established and nationally recognized designer and builder of solar power systems. The initial timeline had the Board considering the SunPower contract at its October 12, 2010, meeting.  In order to allow the parties to finalize their discussions, the contract will now be presented at the October 26, 2010 Board meeting.

Pete Pederson, Bond Program Administrator, is visiting each District school site to determine the most appropriate location for each solar facility.  Solar structures can often serve as shade structures and rain covers as well as energy generators. 
K to College School Supply Program

The K to College School Supply Program (“SSP”) provides free canvas tote bags filled with school supplies to students who are at or below 200% of the federal poverty level. Their mission is to promote equal access to higher education by ensuring every student has the resources and tools to learn from kindergarten to college.  K to College was founded in 2008 by UC Berkeley students and alumni. K to College's founding members reached out to community leaders experienced with low-income education, including educators, local, state and federal representatives, faith-based leaders, and other education-based nonprofit leaders.  The SSP is funded by the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (“ARRA”) and allocates funds to pay for $70 tote bags for low income students. Every student at the participating schools was given a tote bag containing supplies and a dental kit.  Nearly 10,000 students in the District received tote bags.  For more information:

Rising Cost of Health Care to Be Discussed at
October 12 Board Meeting

Mirroring discussions being held by employers throughout the nation, the Board is trying to manage the spiraling cost of health care benefits for all District employees.  Currently, full coverage is provided to administrators, confidential and classified employees.  Several years ago teachers negotiated benefits into their salary schedule and have recently received funding towards medical benefits.  The simultaneous trends of increasing benefit costs and diminishing state education funds forced the District to consider capping its health care contribution.  As discussed in previous Board meetings, if we cannot cap the District’s benefit contribution, we will be forced to implement more layoffs to pay for health care cost increases.  Administrators, supervisors and confidential employees have accepted a benefit cap.

The Kaiser rate for medical insurance increased 6.84% from the 2010 rate and if it remains uncapped, the District will pay $23,027,792 in 2011 and approximately $27,224,287 by 2013.

Monday, October 4, 2010

KTVU Game of the Week: Vote for Clayton Valley vs Concord High

Want to see Clayton Valley vs. Concord High as Game of the Week on KTVU?  Well start voting!

As you can see our local game needs all the help it can get at the moment.

Go to now!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

MDUSD candidate forum October 20th in Pleasant Hill

Below is a message received from Jenny Reik in Pleasant Hill.

I thought you might be interested in the following information about the Pleasant Hill Education Commission's School Board Candidate Forum that will be held on October 20th. Five of the candidates will be participating (I did contact all of them): Linda Mayo, Brian Lawrence, Cheryl Hansen, Roy Larkin, and Jeff Adams.

Information is below and a flyer will be coming out and distributed soon, mostly to schools within the Pleasant Hill feeder pattern, although of course, everyone is welcome! And I'll forward information in the next couple of days about the two planned re-broadcasts as well on comcast.

Pleasant Hill Education Commission presents
2010 Mt Diablo Unified School District
Board of Education Candidates Forum
Wednesday, Oct 20, 7-9 pm
Pleasant Hill City Hall
Council Chambers
100 Gregory Lane
Meet the candidates running in the upcoming November election for MDUSD Board of Education and get answers to your questions regarding their positions and qualifications in this discussion moderated by Contra Costa Times Political Editor Lisa Vorderbrueggen.
Questions chosen to be posed to the candidates by the moderator at the event will be a mix of those prepared in advance from community input and those submitted that evening.  
To send your question in advance for consideration, please email:

There is a Monday, October 4th 6pm candidate forum too, at the Dent Center sponsored by the special education Community Advisory Committee.

Monday, September 27, 2010

MDUSD School Closure Advisory Committee

You can find information about the School Closure Advisory Committee on the district website.  It's not easy to navigate to if you just showed up at the district website, and the only link I could readily find takes you to a page showing only those appointed to the committee. Committee members link.

However, at this LINK you can find meeting dates, presentations and minutes.  (thanks to Sherry Whitmarsh for providing this link)  

The presentation linked from this page, dated September 14th, is a presentation by the Consultant (Jack Schreder & Associates).  This appears to be a very detailed Demographic study of our district and provides some very interesting information about enrollment, projections and some visuals showing the population of each school site.  I am no expert, but it almost seems you can see which schools they may be looking at combining.  You see within the first couple of pages what criteria the committee will be looking at in formulating recommendation for closure. What do you think?  LINK TO PRESENTATION here.

The next meeting of the committee is coming up this Thursday, September 30th at 6pm at the Willow Creek Center on Mohr Lane in Concord.

Do you want to meet the MDUSD Board candidates?

I posted a poll to the right over there ------------> , as I wanted to get an idea as to whether people were interested in having an informal Q & A session with the MDUSD board candidates.  In 2008 we held a few of these, at homes, at Rocco's and at Skips in Clayton.  We had dozens turn out for the various meetings and at Rocco's it was often packed.  Yes, there was more controversy then - but now?

Would YOU attend an informal forum?  I have contacted the candidates that have posted here (Brian Lawrence, Cheryl Hansen and Jeff Adams) and Linda Mayo, as I readily know how to contact them, I have not yet heard from Lynne Dennler, Roy Larkin or Jan Trezise.  I am unsure how to reach these people.   Jan Trezise, I'm actually not sure if she's still in the race, during the candidate forum with the Times, she apparantly made a rash decision not to run, then retracted afterwards.  Anyway, googling any of their names did not yield a website or any contact information.

By the way, so far I've only heard back from one, Brian Lawrence, who says he's happy to attend a forum if one occurs.

Soooo, having said all that, what are your thoughts so far?  What do you think about the fact MDEA has not endorsed any candidates?  In 2008, MDEA was a strong force with much money behind the Eberhart-Whitmarsh run for board seats. Compared to 2008, it sure feels pretty apathetic out there so far.  Does anyone care?

Links of interest:

Smart Voter site

Times Vorderbrueggen recap on forum

Replay of the Times candidate forum

Theresa Harrington:  No teachers' union endorsement in MDUSD Trustee Race

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Volunteer opportunity in Martinez to help students

I've learned of an easy way to help kids in our community.  Check it out!   K to College has put together a day to assemble 146,000 dental kids in 9 hours.  Can you help? 

You can view the event, and RSVP on facebook.
You can view the PDF flyer by clicking HERE.

Or read more about it, and get the email in order to RSVP, on the MDUSD newsroom site here or the K to College site here.  I've emailed to see if kids are able to come help.  I'll let you know what I find out!

What have we done? Is testing what it's really all about?

So having gotten through all the Back to School nights, I left one of them thinking, "what have we done to education?"  Each and every teacher mentioned the STAR testing.  Most explained how they ready the kids for the testing.  But one in particular made me bristle.  Maybe I'm alone here, but when I heard a high school teacher explain their curriculum and her final comments were something along the lines of "I'll teach them everything they need to know for the STAR testing because that's really what it's all about, right?" 

Is it really what it's all about?  Curious as to your thoughts about testing in our classrooms/schools.  The Clayton Pioneer had a story about the testing, and the threat last year of putting the test scores on student transcripts seemed to create a bit of panic.  Do your children "try" to do good on the tests?  My expectation is that my kids do the best they can on all testing, but I know some parents completely dismiss the testing.  What I feel, and what I say to my kids, admittedly , are two different things - so what about you and your students?

The article discusses specificially testing at Clayton Valley High,

“I do try on the tests, but I could try harder,” said CV junior Joanna Fan. “I feel like students are only taught things so we can succeed on the STAR test, and the teachers are limited to just that.”

Fan wasn’t moved by Principal Gary Swanson’s pre-testing pep talk or the added threat of the scores being put on transcripts. “I saw it as something the school wants us to work hard on so it looks good for the school, and the students took the back seat,” she said. “If the administration really wanted to improve our learning, then maybe they should offer more challenging courses.”

This student certainly has a point I think.  And it echos how I felt at Back to School night, the testing is for the school, not the students, or is it?
Your thoughts?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Ygnacio Valley High School makes a strong showing at first debate tournament

How great is this?  Ygnacio Valley High has the only debate team within our district high schools (and the first in YV's 50 year history) and has just competed in their first tournament.  The details are below.  

A debate team is a great way for students to learn persuasion techniques, arguing within "rules,"  research skills, public speaking skills and much more.  Personally, I think debate should be a course all on its own, what a life skill!  

Kudos to Dan Leahy, YVHS debate coach, for his time and dedication to this effort.


Ygnacio Valley High School makes strong showing at first debate tournament.

Concord, CA (9/20/10)- Last Saturday Ygnacio Valley competed at the 2nd Annual Banana Classic Tournament at Analy High School in Sebastopol, CA.  Seniors Najmah Sadat, Daniel Cordero, Leo Lujan and Sophomore Rosemary Riggs competed against some of the areas best teams.  This is the first time YV has had a debate team in its 50 year history.  

Both teams achieved winning records with the team of Sadat and Lujan being presented with awards for their success.  Ygnacio Valley will compete on September 25th and October 10th at local league tournaments.  The debate program at Ygnacio Valley is the only such program in the Mt. Diablo Unified School District and is funded by the Mt. Diablo CARES After-School program.  

Ygnacio Valley High School’s debate program is coached by Dan Leahy, a former college debater and alumni of Ygnacio Valley class of 2000.

For more information, contact:
Dan Leahy, (925) 685-8414 x2422

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Message from the MDUSD campaign trail - Cheryl Hansen

Dear MDUSD Parents,

Whew! Our new school year is truly up and running, and my hope is that your students are already experiencing success.

As I’m hitting the School Board campaign trail and trying to get my message out, I am proud that dedicated MDUSD parents, classified and certificated staff, and district and site administrators have given me their support and endorsement. Your confidence in my integrity, competence, and leadership matters. Things are busy for me at the Contra Costa County Office of Education where I am Coordinator of Instructional Leadership.

Just to fill you in on a little of my background: I began my career in education as an MDUSD teacher and administrator where I served for 24 years at schools throughout our district: Oak Grove Middle, Olympic High, Northgate High, Ygnacio Valley High, and College Park High. I then moved on to Martinez USD as an Assistant Principal at Alhambra High.

And then I had the chance of a lifetime in administration: I was hired as the founding Principal of Rodriguez High School in Fairfield-Suisun USD and successfully opened the district’s third high school. Being able to build and develop a school curriculum, staff, culture, and community from the ground up was an amazingly rewarding experience and one that lives on as Rodriguez High became a California Distinguished School.

At CCCOE, I now apply my experience and knowledge to improve instruction and increase learning in schools and districts. Here are some of my current projects:

  • I’m collaborating with Contra Costa SELPA (special education) to provide training in standards-based instruction and IEPs to beginning teachers who want to obtain credentialing as special educators. Our focus is on helping these new teachers understand content standards, goal setting, high expectations, and increased access to grade-level curriculum for special education students.

  • Next week, I begin our fall session of leadership training for new and experienced principals, vice principals, and district administrators. Training administrators is one of the most critical parts of my job. I have many trainings scheduled throughout the year for administrators who wish to become more knowledgeable about school improvement or who need to complete Tier II for their administrative credential. (Visit our web site at to learn more about the program.)

  • I’m continuing work that began this summer with a group of elementary principals on standards-based instruction and leadership.

  • My work also continues with a middle school staff on understanding the content standards, raising the rigor of assignments, and applying research-based instructional strategies to improve student learning.

  • I’m also out visiting schools in MDUSD and other districts in our county as part of California’s Williams lawsuit settlement which requires that all 1-3 decile schools provide adequate instructional materials for students, qualified teachers, and a safe, healthy facility. The good news is that MDUSD staff has worked hard to meet the legal requirements, although we still have work to do to improve student learning for all students so that none of our schools is in the bottom three deciles.

As valuable as all of my work is, I’m still excited about and committed to being able to serve on the Mt. Diablo School Board. Again, thank you to the dedicated MDUSD parents, staff, and administrators who have endorsed me. You are the foundation of our district. Your trust and support keeps me focused on my priorities: 1) Student learning that prepares students for college and career, 2) responsible budgeting, 3) competent leadership, and 4) improved trust, respect, communication, and morale.

I look forward to serving on the School Board and to hearing from you about your interests, needs, and concerns. Email me or visit my website at for more information.

Thank you for this chance to post!

Cheryl Hansen

Monday, September 20, 2010

Congratulations to the band winners of the Walnut Festival parade

Congratulations to the High School bands who participated in the Walnut Festival Parade on Saturday Night.  I have to say, I was VERY impressed with all of them!  A big congrats too to Clayton Valley's Rally Band, they were high energy and really, really good!  They did not enter as a formal marching band, so that is why you do not see them below.

Update: Thank you to the kind reader who sent a link to a couple of the performances.  Check it out!  Ygnacio Valley and Concord High are featured HERE.

Here are the results:

Twilight Parade
Final Results
1st Place – Ygnacio Valley HS website
2nd Place – Concord HS website
3rd Place – Pittsburg HS

Drum Major
1st Place – Concord HS
2nd Place – Pittsburg HS
3rd Place – Antioch HS

1st Place – Pittsburg HS
2nd Place –Concord HS
3rd Place – Ygnacio Valley HS

1st Place – Pittsburg HS
2nd Place – Northgate HS website
3rd Place – Contra Costa Christian

Message from the MDUSD campaign trail - Jeff Adams

Thank you to Jeff Adams for coming here to introduce himself. Again, I'm hopeful candidates who post here will come here to answer your questions if you post them in the comments. If you are a candidate who would like to have a post of your own - email me

Thank you for the opportunity to provide a post to your readers. Here is a report of some recent activities.

This past Thursday, I attended the critical MDUSD Board of Education meeting concerning expenditure of the first $65 million or so of the Measure C funds. Of the candidates running for the MDUSD school board, only Linda Mayo and I were present. Four contractors are competing for a solar panel installation contract, an important plan of action was presented in connection with the requests for proposals each submitted, and financial projections were disclosed. In sum, there are a web of complexities connected to this project and, in my view, it is imperative that board members and candidates remain informed and involved in Measure C oversight.

I am also a founding board member of the United Mount Diablo Athletic Foundation which was formed to save after-school athletics in our school district after the Board of Education voted last year to cut ALL funding of after school sports. Last year, we raised over $100,000 in our 5-K run and substantial work has been accomplished for the event this coming year. We again ask for the support of the community in connection with our second annual 5-K run scheduled on October 10, 2010 at Newhall Park!

I have been privileged to meet with, and been endorsed by, many in the community in the past week or two. This includes Mayor Hank Stratford of Clayton, Mayor Sue Rainey of Walnut Creek, Concord City Council Member and former Mayor Bill Shinn, Bay Point Council member Gloria Magleby, MDUSD school board members Linda Mayo (Pleasant Hill), Dick Allen (Concord)and Sherry Whitmarsh (Concord), eight MDUSD school teachers, two retired MDUSD school teachers, a retired teacher for the County Office of Education, members of the Community United for Excellent Schools, parents and other community members from Pleasant Hill, Clayton, Concord, Walnut Creek and Bay Point areas. It has been a pleasure to meet with these folks and an honor to receive their endorsements.

This evening, I intend to meet with individuals in support of MDUSD music programs. As some of you may know, I help form the Mount Diablo Music Education Foundation last year, created to seek grants and other financial assistance in support of music programs in MDUSD given the music funding cuts in our school district.

Tomorrow evening, I plan to first attend a portion of the Clayton City Council meeting at which a "Do The Right Thing" resolution will be considered. This resolution stems from meetings of representatives (both administrators and faculty club members) from Mt. Diablo Elementry, Diablo View Middle School and Clayton Valley High School, along with leadership from the Clayton Business and Community Association, the Clayton Police Department and other community members to encourage responsibility, respect kindness, self-discipline, integrity and courage in the lives of our youth.

I then intend to participate in part of the Foundation for Pleasant Hill Education Restaurant walk.

Again, thank you for the opportunity to post.

Jeff Adams

P.S. from MDUSDParents: Jeff Adams also has a website:

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Message from the MDUSD campaign trail - Brian Lawrence

This is an open invitation to all candidates in MDUSD board race to have a voice here. These posts are not an endorsement, but purely informational and something in which I hope you'll find value. My hope also is however, that if a candidate does wish to have their message featured here, that they come back and answer any questions that are asked in the comments. Having said that, here is our first campaign address from candidate Brian Lawrence:

Hello readers of MDUSD Parents,

I wanted to share some quick updates from my campaign for Mt. Diablo School Board.

I'm enjoying speaking to voters through out the district about my priorities for Mt. Diablo- closing the achievement gap, making sure Measure C and tax dollars are spent wisely on programs that benefit students, and transparent decision making that involves the entire community. It is encouraging to see how many concerned parents and community members are committed to improving MDUSD.

Our friends George and Heather will be hosting an informal event for me at their home in Walnut Creek (570 Walnut Ave.) at 7:30 PM on Tuesday, September 28th. I look forward to hearing your concerns and answering your questions while sharing coffee and snacks. If you are able to join us, please email We'll soon be announcing similar events in Pleasant Hill, Clayton and other parts of the district.

I'm honored that Concord City Councilman Mark Peterson and Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan join a growing list of concerned citizens and community leaders who support my candidacy.

My campaign website is available at There is also a Facebook group (Brian Lawrence for MDUSD Board) and you can follow me on Twitter- Please email me at or call me at 925-526-5354 with any questions.

I'm committed to making sure that every child in the Mt. Diablo Unified School District receives a great education, but I need your help!

Thank you!

Best regards,

Brian Lawrence
Candidate for MDUSD Board

Click to check out the campaign on:

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Missing Textbooks at your school, or for your student?

We've been heard quite a few reports of students still without textbooks, or teachers who have had to make due with photocopies or sharing of textbooks.

Is your student or school missing textbooks?

Let us know here in the comments. Gary Eberhart and Sherry Whitmarsh have both committed to looking into each and every concern.

Please provide the following specifics:

School Name
Grade Level

If you wish to contact Gary or Sherry individually about this matter, please do so at or

Monday, September 13, 2010

MDUSD API scores are out!

API Scores have been released. This news bulletin, just in from the Superintendent's Office.


Mt. Diablo USD News Update

Where Kids Come First

API Update

We wanted to celebrate the good news with you that 37 of our schools met their API growth targets, and as a district our API grew by 11. Though many of our elementary schools showed significant gains, Ayers, Ygnacio Valley, and Holbrook all had gains of 50 points or more. At the middle school level, El Dorado, Pleasant Hill, Riverview all gained 26 or more points. At the high school level, Mt. Diablo gained 29 points, while College Park gained 17 and broke the 800 pt barrier. The gains at all our schools were due to our teachers’, support staff members’, and administrators’ hard work, continual focus on reviewing student achievement data, analyzing and sharing best instructional practices, and supporting students who do not master a skill after the initial instruction. Attached to the bottom of this news update are the API scores for all of our non-special program schools.

We know that we need to continue to work collaboratively to analyze student achievement data and review best instructional practices to ensure that we are meeting all of our students’ learning needs. Currently, we need 56% of our students demonstrating that they are proficient or advanced on the English-Language Arts (ELA) portion of the STAR test and 56.4% on the mathematics STAR Test. District-wide 58.8% of our students were proficient or advanced in ELA and 58.5% were proficient or advanced in math. However, several of our subgroups including socioeconomically disadvantaged, English Learners, Hispanic/Latino, and African American did not meet the performance targets. Our District Goals and Objectives are critical to help continue to move forward allowing our district to meet the upcoming academic targets Not only do the District Goals and Objectives provide clear growth expectations on multiple critical measures, the document also provides strategies that we will be implementing district-wide to support every school to meet the learning needs of all our children.

If you have questions about your child(ren)s’ school’s API, I recommend that you contact the principal and discuss the school’s Single Plan for Student Achievement. If you would like to participate in the dialogue around your child’s schools plan to move forward I suggest that you join your school’s School Site Council.

In these difficult financial times, we are extremely proud of our teachers’, support staff members’, and administrators’ commitment to continually challenge ourselves to improve the learning opportunities for all our children.

2010 Growth 2009 Base Growth Target Actual Growth
Mt. Diablo District 784 773

Elementary Schools

Ayers 834 777 5 57
Bancroft 892 903
Bel Air 646 660 7 -14
Cambridge 727 686 6 41
Delta View 825 830
Eagle Peak 893 873
El Monte 754 748 5 6
Fair Oaks 731 695 5 36
Gregory Gardens 818 848
Hidden Valley 851 843
Highlands 856 845
Holbrook 777 727 5 50
Meadow Homes 648 655 7 -7
Monte Gardens 918 898
Mountain View 809 797 3 12
Mt. Diablo 915 911
Pleasant Hill 898 901
Rio Vista 669 671 6 -2
Sequoia 921 917
Shore Acres 659 620 9 39
Silverwood 828 805
Standwood 917 905
Sun Terrace 780 759 5 21
Valhalla 878 870
Valle Verde 930 927
Walnut Acres 936 934
Westwood 810 805
Woodside 869 863
Wren 765 754 5 11
Ygnacio Valley 753 697 5 56

Middle Schools

Diablo View 857 858
El Dorado 708 682 6 26
Foothill 900 881
Glenbrook 660 643 8 17
Oak Grove 646 627 9 19
Pine Hollow 788 771 5 17
Pleasant Hill 825 799 1 26
Riverview 672 645 8 27
Sequoia 867 871
Valley View 828 831

High School

Clayton Valley 776 771 5 5
College Park 804 787 5 17
Concord High 723 743 5 -20
Mt. Diablo 651 622 9 29
Northgate 864 855
Ygnacio Valley 666 677 6 -11