Thursday, May 6, 2010

MDUSD: Message from the Superintendent

It's been a long time that we've seen a communication from the Superintendent of our MDUSD. We used to get Monday Memo's and other updates periodically, but not much of late. I guess he's busy, and with staff cuts, just not enough time in the day to update us. I hope these keep coming. So here you go:

May 6, 2010
Message from the Superintendent
Steven Lawrence


Dear Parents and Guardians,
As superintendent of the Mt. Diablo Unified School District, I have witnessed many great things in my three months on the job. I have seen academic excellence by the recent recognition of Delta View and Hidden Valley elementary schools as California Distinguished Schools; I have felt the dedication of committed teachers and staff members; and I have observed the desire of young minds looking to learn and grow.

Unfortunately, I have also spent the better part of my tenure trying to find solutions to the biggest budgetary challenge school districts in California have ever faced.

I am writing you today to provide you an overview of the fiscal challenges that are currently facing the Mt. Diablo Unified School District and what we are doing to address them.

BUDGET OVERVIEW AND CHALLENGES
The combination of budget cuts from the State and a decline in student enrollment has created major budgetary challenges for the District. For example, the District had a total budget of $295 million in 2006-07. Today the 2010-11 budget is estimated to be $264 million, or a decline of over $30 million in just a few short years. While this seems gloomy, it is actually worse as our costs continue to rise.

Significant reductions in State funding have severely impacted education revenues for the District. Since 2007-08 our primary source of funding for education, the State of California, has been cut dramatically due to the economic downturn. In fact, on a per student basis, the District receives $132 less per student than it did four years ago.

Declining enrollment also contributes to reductions in the District budget. In 2004-05, the District’s enrollment exceeded 34,000 students. Today we have approximately 2,000 fewer students with projections indicating continued declines in children attending District schools. As mentioned above, the District budget is primarily funded on a per student basis and the loss in students over the years has meant a loss in revenues. Also, since students don’t leave the district in neat numbers, like 30 students in one grade level at one school, it is challenging to make staff reductions that match the decline in enrollment.

Operating expenses continue to increase further pressuring our general fund. While the revenues of the District are in decline, many expenses continue to rise. Along with the rest of the state and country, healthcare costs and utility costs among others are increasing. We’re currently working with our teachers and other employee groups to manage costs in a way that helps our short-term and long-term ability to provide the best possible education to all students.


WHAT THE DISTRICT IS DOING TO ADDRESS THE CHALLENGES
Using budgeted reserves and making cuts. When the District realized that funding would be greatly reduced, leaders began the process of making budget reductions and drawing down reserves that had been saved up over time. Similar to the homeowner who has a change to their employment status (loss of hours, reduction in pay, etc.) who then “tightens the belt”, uses savings, and reduces expenses, the Mt. Diablo Unified School District took a similar approach. 2008 budget cuts provided $3.7 million in annual relief.

As the economy continued to stagnate and the state continued to cut funding to schools, the district continued to draw down its reserves and make tough, but needed, budget cuts. 2009 cuts in staff levels across the board resulted in $15.9 million in relief.

With little improvement to the state economy and continued declines in enrollment, the district in 2010 is looking at even more cuts. This time an estimated $8.2 million in reductions are proposed.

In total, the district has made or proposed a staggering $27.8 million in cuts to its budget. These cuts affect our students, teachers, staff, and facilities. However, these cuts are still not enough to balance the budget. Additionally, we have proposed $9.8 million in reductions through labor negotiations. Failure to achieve these reductions may have dire consequences including the State taking away local control of our schools. We will soon learn more about our funding when Governor Schwarzenegger comes out with the May Revise budget report. We are not hopeful that the state will help us solve our fiscal problems, so we are looking at local solutions.

Measure C on the June ballot will help alleviate some budget pain and improve our classrooms. While the state is not doing its part to assist the district, Measure C, a local school improvement measure, is a tool to provide general fund relief and to make major classroom and school facility improvements. If passed by voters, Measure C is projected to free up $1.4 million annually by eliminating or reducing facility payments.

Furthermore, Measure C will improve energy efficiency to schools throughout the district through solar panel installation and other energy saving projects. In some districts, these energy saving improvements have cut the utility bills by half, which will result in even more money to the classrooms.

Finally, Measure C will renovate, upgrade, and modernize our classrooms and school facilities to provide a better learning environment for our students. It will fix leaky roofs, replace outdated electrical and plumbing systems, improve student access to computers and modern technology, and make health and safety improvements at schools in the district.

While there are significant budgetary and educational challenges ahead, I am confident that we can collectively work toward a common goal. Our goal should be to have Mt. Diablo Unified School District a destination district where parents are proud to send their kids, teachers and staff have an ideal working environment, and the community benefits from the by-product of quality schools – well-educated students, safer neighborhoods, improved property values, and the leaders of tomorrow.

We are heading in the right direction. Please let me know how we can continue to serve you and the community to achieve our common goal.

(Contact: 925-682-8000 x4006 or email lawrences@mdusd.k12.ca.us )

Link to this message:
http://www.mdusd.org/superintendent/Pages/supmessage.aspx

181 comments:

  1. Sounds like a way to kick the fiscal can down the road a few years to me. I'm not convinced.

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  2. It is time for the teachers and their union to ante up. A 5% cut in teachers pay and benefits would solve this problem completely. No more layoffs or program cuts.

    The line of good people waiting to take a teaching job (even with lower pay and benefits) is a mile long.

    No bailouts for the teachers union.

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  3. Memo to teachers: If you don't like your job or pay or benefits, then do us all (and the kids) a favor and PLEASE quit.

    The district can hire a VERY qualified and motivated replacement for half your salary.

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  4. SO help me understand please someone. Superintendent says if labor doesn't negotiate the state may have to come in and take over. What are the options. Can the board impose some furloughs, etc on them whether they like it or not if they choose to do nothing? Or do we let the union sink the entire district?

    Secondly , the teachers I've talked to have all said that their union has even approached them about these issues yet! WHAT? How can that be? Someone isn't telling us the truth, or the union is worse than I thought.

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  5. Can someone explain too why when I look at the list of projects to be funded by Measure C these are things in many cases already done? Did they just recycle the old list of original Measure C jobs to do at each school site?

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  6. I have to correct my post above, no way to edit on blogger I guess. what I meant to say is the teachers i know say their union HAS NOT approached them. So what is the union waiting for?

    And guess what , So far I don't see any teachers involved in Measure C ... coincidence? Let's connect the dots, shall we?

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  7. The teachers donated $10,000 to measure C. Many teachers are working the phone lines and going to meetings.

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  8. The last measure C didnt pay for everything. Schools are still without airconditioning. Sit in a MU one night with 150 people - it's miserable. Have you seen the conditions in some of the classrooms - I bet some of the rooms haven't been painted in 20 years. Look at the condition of some of the gyms and other facilities.

    With MDUSD wanting data to evaluate student achievement and with the new student information system (both good things) teachers and staff need computers that aren't 5 years old. Upgrades to just the schools computer labs is over $1 million.

    Use of ELMO and Smartboards are great teaching tools and they aren't cheap.

    If I read the budget reductions, deferred maintenance has been sucked nearly dry. IF a piped broke in a classroom - where's the $ coming from.

    Yes teachers could take a cut. Our teachers total compensation package is already at the bottom 1/4 in Contra Costa. Want talent would we attract by offering less. I disagree totally that the line is a mile long for teachers waiting to come here. If you think I can retain those qualified teachers I hire after 3 - 5 years, you are sadly mistaken. How will do you think our schools will perform if we can't retain them.

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  9. Members of the teachers union should be thrown in jail for what they have done to our once honorable district.

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  10. This Bond Measure will bring $348 million dollars to the district but cost taxpayers $1.87 billion. This hefty price tag is due the way the bond is structured. The bond isn't new, it is an extension of the 2002 Measure C that with the passage of 2010 Measure C, will extend to 2052. Any of the items on the proposed lists will have long out lived their useful life while we (our grandchildren) will still be paying for them. Unlike Measure C there has been no community input as to what should be on the list. The literature provided by the campaign IMPLIES the addition of athletic and fine art facilities when none are planned. The Measure C literature IMPLIES that we will not see an increase in taxes, when what it really says is there will not be an increase in the tax "rate" approved in 2002. There will definitely be an increase in your tax bill. Most importantly our schools need relief from the severe cuts imposed by the State. If we are going to pass a tax than it should be a parcel tax not a bond. Our district will be erecting solar structures at 46 school sites while the headlines continue to read programs cut, class-sizes increased, and schools closed. This bond measure may have good intentions but it is not a good decision. Our district leadership needs to begin to do the hard work necessary to restore trust and confidence through clear,honest, and regular communication and comprehensive strategic planning to improve the quality of education in this district. Then come to us and ask us to support a parcel tax.

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  11. Some of you truly are talking out of your A**es. Do you have any idea what you're talking about?

    Teachers in this district, including myself, have been standing by and watching while teachers in surrounding districts continue to get raises and COLA adjustments. We watch while our collegues leave to teach in these districts, and we watch our administration continue to screw up the finances over and over again with legal mistakes and ridiculous spending.

    The teacher's union HAS begun to survey it's members about possible ways to ease the pressure on the district with these budget cuts. But in the meantime: teachers are working harder than ever with less pay than most other districts. We are getting less and less support from the district, and we still DO NOT have benefits. I have a family of 5, and my employer covers me only.

    I'm not asking for a raise, and I'm not asking for full benefits. But I am asking that the district actually works with teachers to help them do their jobs.

    Most teachers in the MDUSD are community members and parents here as well. That's one of the reasons that they stay here instead of moving on. They deserve your respect and support.

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  12. Yes, money is needed to repair schools. First, we bail out the banks, next we make a public list of "failing" schools, now we are asked to bail out the schools to help repair facilities.

    Really, everyone is trying to understand and point the finger at "somebody" for our failing schools.

    Why are so many schools failing? Who is to blame? Teachers, parents, legislators, students...? Maybe we can better our educational system by each taking responsibility for our own part: as parents we can sit with our children during their homework (even if we can't do it); teachers can do their best to understand schools are in crisis and the job is challenging right now; students can do their homework and do their best while in school; legislators can help by focussing their attention on our budget crisis, rather than sidestepping economics by focussing on school performance.. (what I mean by this is that many bankers are getting away with taking unbelievable bonuses, while we focus our headlines around schools.....I say reform our Banking System and leave the school system alone until we solve our financial mess).

    Failing schools....is it the truth? What is the measure? Students take a standardized test for one week, or less, out of the school year. The test is multiple choice. Have you ever seen it? I saw a few "release questions" from a previous year's test. Unbelievable!! Who writes these tests? How did they become the measure for giving a school excellent marks or for calling it failing? Why are all schools with excellent rankings in the higher socioeconomic school neighborhoods. Why are the Tier 1 schools in the lowest socioeconomic school neighborhoods.

    I say provide incentives for "excellent" teachers (higher pay, housing...) to work in the failing Tier 1 school areas. We should not be punishing the schools; we need more money for schools and better incentives for better teachers. We need to realize that--of course--schools will perform lower on tests that are written in English only if they have a large population of students just learning to read English.

    Those schools left off the list of low performing schools says it all. The remaining schools, not in Tier 1, Tier 2, or Tier 3, do not have large population of second language learners. In fact, many schools not inside these low performing tiers have no second languages. It seems people have forgotten "the test" in in English, and the majority of students in California are second language learners. I wonder how the rankings and tiers would turn out if "the test" where given in the student's primary language?

    Anyway, I'll help my kids with their homework and with school in any way I can. I feel very sorry our school is failing and has made the Tier 1 list. Still, I'd rather use our efforts to bring our banking and financial system up to standard. Truly, our banks, not schools, ought to have a public Tier 1, 2, 3 list. Those responsible for placing our country--and CA--into economic crisis ought to be the ones we focus on.
    Putting the concentration on "schools" right now is just a distraction, to keep the public eye away from the real problem that arose from our financial sector. My kids attend one of the worst performing schools. If our financial sector did not sink our nation, perhaps our worst performing school could have more staff, more money, and more supplies to help their learning process.

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  13. The secretarial union has done its part - we've been decimated. Now let the other unions step up and take it in the shorts just like we have.

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  14. 10:12,
    Decimated??

    slightly over the top I think. Support staff is great when we can afford it. Let the teachers pick up the slack. They can handle the extra work. They are always ready and willing to do what is necessary to educate and make school a positive experience for students. This will be one more thing added to their workload.

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  15. 7:11, ha ha.. funny. I will say though "some" secretary/office managers are the lifeblood of their school sites. Other school sites have staff akin to Hitler. Horrible, mean, martyrs. Example: go visit Mt. DIablo Elementary in Clayton - ask any question to the office manager. You will have your head bitten off and handed back to you. Some office staff give the entire school a bad name. That being one of the highest scoring schools in the district should do better. I just have to wonder if the admin's hands are tied due to union concerns. Anyone effected by this monster or any others should report it to the district office in addition to administration at the school site.

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  16. How do secretaries end up with so much power?? I find it truly disgusting that someone could be treated this way in any workplace, and any principal who let's it happen should be fired.

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  17. 9:57. My guess is part of the problem are the unions. You get a full attack back when you try to discipline any employee of this screwed up district. I know you know that, because I know you asked that question for a particular purpose. It's a good question though. But you can't just fire principals without also firing the staff who's run the school into the ground.

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  18. Well, our school is continuing to improve and do well DESPITE a crappy principal. The issue of not being able to get rid of ineffective employees is a serious one though, especially for teachers. I hate to see lazy, unmotivated teachers in the classroom these days. So many things are being taken away from schools already, students don't need teachers who won't challenge them, try new things, or work with other staff.
    This goes equally for all support staff, including principals and secretaries. They are there to help teachers better serve and educate students. If they aren't helping teachers
    to do that, then there should be some effective mechanism to get rid of them.

    I've never seen it actually happen though.

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  19. Well 7:52. YOu're lucky as you probably also have teachers that work for the kids and for their best interests. You probably don't have the grade wars and politics amongst grade levels.

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  20. Yes, decimated. It means being decreased by at least 10%. I lost 15% of my income. My work load has not decreased by 15%. My days of going above and beyond are over. I arrive on time, take my full lunch, and leave on time. If the work doesn't get done, that's just too bad. Do you want data to arrive at the district office on time, or do you want me to take care of the kid with the bloody nose? Make a choice.

    You want teachers to answer phones and handle sick kids? Ha ha ha ha! They won't even attend Open House without asking to be paid for it. They are Working To Rule these days, and they would not even come to the table to discuss furlough days. Go ahead, ask a teacher to forfeit their prep time to take a shift at the front desk. I'm sure I'll hear the laughter no matter where I am.

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  21. Yup, that is exactly what I'd expect from our teachers and our secretaries. Great, thanks so much jerk.

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  22. 9:37,
    you have no idea what you're talking about. Teachers working to rule??? That's not district wide, and it's certainly not a union position right now. Teachers go above and beyond every day.

    Yes. I want you to take care of the kid with the bloody nose, and tell the district that their data can wait.

    I would answer phones. But that's not my job. It's yours. My job is to teach, and I expect everyone at my site to help me do that. But I will Come in to open house, meet with parents before and after school, come to a fundraiser, and do an hour or two of work at home every night. THAT'S my job.

    And by the way: teachers have NEVER been asked to take a single furlough day. No one has been invited to ANY table. You are clearly misinformed.

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  23. teacher @10:39. why isn't the union doing anything? That is the larger question, is MDEA's position just that they will not participate in any cuts at all? They haven't even brought this to members? That speaks volumes.

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  24. 5:45,
    The union certainly HAS brought this issue to its members. Don't expect teachers to step in and offer a pay cut though. Not after 5 or 6 years of fighting with MDUSD to get a partial benefits package for only some of its members.
    But I expect that teachers will concede something, as it would be unreasonable not to at this point. But again, the board has not made any decision about this and no one has invited the teachers union to the table to begin negotiations. When that happens, we'll all find out the true position of the union in representing the teachers.

    The (general) position of the board has been to keep cuts away from the classroom as much as possible. Well, that's where teachers are, So it's no surprise that we haven't seen cuts there yet.

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  25. Linda- You make some very good points that I agree with, but the reality is that a parcel tax did not pass in our district.

    It was a measly $99 for five years- total of $494 and it couldn't pass.

    So, what is the district to do? The solar panels are a good investment as they save the district $3M in energy costs that would have come out of the general fund. There are other incentives that come with this plan that would also benefit the general fund, thereby freeing up more money for programs.

    Is it really fair to say that the projects that are covered by Measure C will have long outlived there useful life when that is the case with any time of home loan and repairs?

    If I take out a home equity line of credit and do maintenance on my home, I may still be paying off that in 15-30 years, which would also outlive the usefulness of the things I fixed.

    You say there will be an increase in people's tax bills. Can you explain this? Because of the extension of Measure C, people will be paying the same rate for longer, but the alternative would be to add another tax to our tax bills simultaneously.

    I have been a parent in the district for over 14 years. I have seen a lot of waste and ineptitude, but I have also seen many people give huge amounts of their time while others just sit back and complain about things.

    Is Measure C the holy grail? Probably not. But if you don't accept this line of reasoning, where does it leave our district? What else can be done to help? Another parcel tax campaign? Some cities can get the percentage to pass it, but others can not. It appears to be a waste of time, energy and money at this point.

    Have you participated in exploratory committees that would help shape this debate, or are you more comfortable being an armchair quarterback? I am just asking because as a long time district volunteer, I don't believe we have crossed paths. I don't mean at your school site, I mean working for the district overall.

    I appreciate it when people dissent politely, because it refines the discussion. What is hard for me to take are people who don't get involved in the discussion beforehand, only to complain that they don't like the process.

    Sadly, Mt. Diablo Unified has more than their share of these types.

    Dr. Lawrence has been putting himself out there trying to come up with solutions. We are laying the mistrust of the past at his feet and I think that is very unfair.

    As far as communication to all of us, I hope he continues to let us all know what is going on, but remember, the district eliminated the one public information person they had, and reduced district office staff on top of that.

    If you want to help, maybe you can volunteer to help get information out. It is just tiresome to hear people make complain when there are less than 1% of the parents who actual help at the district level.

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  26. 6:05, maybe I interprete away from classroom differently. As I see furloughs as being away from the classroom. Kids just get the days off, it's not harming their learning. You can't tell me that lopping off a few days this year, or shortening the school year would cause any measurable impact to kids. Yes, I know, the teachers would take a hit, but that sounds better to me than more kids in a class, or even less resources.

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  27. 8:01 AM

    Finally a voice with reason! Thank you, great write up and I am supporting Measure C. I wish I could do phone banking, but my evenings are tough with teens and their activities, plus our business in these tough times.

    I do believe it was asked of the MDEA representative at the last PAC meeting about furlough days and negotiations. He indicated that the contract stands and we understood that MDEA was not going to negotiate. In a perfect world our teachers would all have benefits and raises. But now it is a matter of retaining jobs and if furlough days help retain teachers, it needs to be done. My son in College has days off because of furlough days. His Professors plan ahead and he has lots of work on those days. It can be done.

    As for district communication, those positions were cut. So who is going to volunteer to do this and help?

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  28. Anon 12:44,
    Some one may volunteer, but I bet you they wouldn't be allowed, it's the old union claiming it would be supplanting jobs!

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  29. I am a MDUSD teacher. One of the reasons that furlough days for the current year aren't being considered by teachers is that the June paycheck is the last one of the year for teachers. If we took five furlough days, or even three furlough days this year, all of the money saved would come out of the last check of the year. If we negotiate days into next year's calendar, the impact on salary would be spread out over 10 paychecks, rather than just one. Each furlough day is calculated at 1/180th of a teacher's annual salary. Can you imagine a teacher being laid off, and having almost no check for their last month? While the District seems to have no problem with this, the teachers certaily do!

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  30. Thank you teacher for elaborating. Communication is key. There is none. None from MDEA, none from district, and even very little from the Measure C committee. Complete failure on all sides.

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  31. Anonymous 8:01am
    First of all I can not say whether our paths have met because I don’t know your name. I was co-site captain for the Northgate feeder pattern during Measure D. I ran local phone banks in my neighborhood 5 days per week for 5 weeks. I put my work and my family on hold during that time. We organized volunteers, solicited endorsements, asked for contributions and spent several Friday nights at the district campaign office collating folders for the 122 precincts in MDUSD. After Measure D failed I joined the CUES committee and from July to March I met every other Monday as a member of that 15-20 person committee. If you are unfamiliar with the CUES committee, it is the very committee that “shapes this debate” and includes the Superintendent, board members, MDEA, teachers, and parents. I, and others, left the CUES committee in March because this bond measure is wrong for our children. I have a long resume of working with this district including serious discussions with board members regarding the formation of a communication committee, so I am way ahead of the accusations you have made while remaining anonymous.

    This is not a 15-30 year bond, this bond measure will extend to 2052 (42 years). If you research debt policies for successful organizations you will find that none of them allow debt financing beyond the life of the asset being financed. I can’t speak to what you choose to do personally.

    The literature from the Measure C 2010 campaign says your tax rate won’t be increased from what was approved in 2002. That is true but you have never paid the maximum of what was approved in 2002. So that was a very clever choice of words that has misled you into believing your tax bill will not increase.

    I am not laying mistrust at the feet of the new Superintendent but I am accusing him of not understanding the value of communicating and an unwillingness to listen to those who have told him multiple times of the importance of doing so. In addition, he has asked numerous times why a strategic plan is so important. Like responsible debt policy, no successful organization with a $250,000,000 budget operates without strategic planning.

    Why can’t we pass a parcel tax? Acalanes, San Ramon Valley, Walnut Creek and the Lamorinda area have all passed parcel taxes. So have Oakland, Pittsburg, and West Contra Costa County. Why can’t MDUSD? The polling data from last November, when the district was still considering a second run at a parcel tax, indicated that 71% of MDUSD voters and 81% of MDUSD parents did not trust this district with respect to financial management. In addition, a vast majority of the community and parents did not believe their children were receiving a quality education. That is what needs to be fixed in order to pass a parcel tax. I will say it again. This district needs a strategic plan and strategic goals to begin to improve the quality of education and they need to recognize the value of clear, honest, and regular communication when building trust. A movement in this direction will go a long way toward bringing our community to a point of supporting a parcel tax. In the mean time this bond measure will serve to only increase this community’s distrust. When shade structures are being erected at 46 school sites our community is going to ask why we are still cutting programs, teacher’s salaries, and closing schools. Try passing a parcel tax after that… it won’t happen.

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  32. Last night Gary Eberhart mentioned that the district still needs to cut $9.8 million in negotiated cuts. The administrators took 3 days this year but no other group did anything as far as negotiated items. This means that our students may have more classes eliminated. This is evident by the 199 positions being pink slipped. These positions can be eliminated without negotiations. It would have been nice if everyone would have taken 3 days this year and should some loyalty to the students.

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  33. 9:04,
    I am in complete agreement with you. There is little or no communication from the district, even with its employees. I am a teacher, and until I saw the superintendant's message here, I didn't know there was one.

    How is that right?

    I hear nothing from MDEA and have no idea what's going on.

    This sucks.

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  34. Why don't those teachers who are unhappy with MDEA get together to have their voices heard?

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  35. Linda- Thank you for your service to the district. I know that we haven't met. I wasn't only talking about you when I made my comments about people who post to blogs and complain.

    My own involvement with the district is long and varied, but I will say that it has waned since Measure D started to be discussed, which is one of the reasons why I choose to remain anonymous.

    I definitely appreciate what you are saying. You make some very good points, but again, I ask what is the alternative?

    You mention that an overwhelming majority of voters mistrust the district in polling that was done last November. To get perspective, the district had just fired Gary McHenry and Dr. Lawrence had not started yet.

    When McHenry was Superintendent, Measure D still garnered almost 60% of the vote and that is with only 25% of the voting population having school age children. At that time, McHenry was the center of mistrust for many people in the district.

    You say that people will look at those covered parking structures (or whatever method the district chooses to produce solar power) and will ask why they are cutting programs. Without the solar, where else would the $3M+ for programs come from for now?

    Let's say that Measure C doesn't pass, where does that leave us? What time frame do you think it will take for the Superintendent and the district to rehabilitate their image with the voters, to their satisfaction?

    I am not stepping into the limelight to say that Measure C is the answer. I have never said that it was, but it is defensible against the alternative--which in my mind is doing nothing.

    If you have been involved in a parcel tax campaign you must know that the district will never be able to change some people's opinion about it. It is also known that around 30% of the population will always vote anti-tax. The prospect of passing a parcel tax at a 2/3 margin is a lot harder than a bond measure that takes only 55% of the vote.

    Without a bond measure or a parcel tax, the MDUSD is sure to be up the creek. All indications are that the Governor's May budget revision will get worse too.

    I agree that the Superintendent needs to get out and start being the face of the district. Communication is key, and without it, the mistrust will continue. I believe that in order for the district to move forward Dr. Lawrence must break the mold and get in front of this Measure as well as any decision he makes.

    Unfortunately, he has limited support and most of his energy is spent finding creative ways to fund programs instead of doing what he can to raise the bar for the district. Hopefully, he will stick it out til better days come.

    In closing, I am sure that we are not adversaries on this. If you have an actual alternative to Measure C that will help our district in the next three years, I would really love to hear it.

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  36. I hear over and over that "only" 60% voted for the last parcel tax measure, but that was with NO support from the School Board or the MDUSD administration. I didn't see a single interview, speech, or public appearance by any of those people in favor of the parcel tax when it was before the voters -- nothing. And yet, 60% still voted for it! Just imagine who might support it if the people who were going to get the money actually said they wanted it! The fact is that plenty of nearby districts have managed to pass a parcel tax. They did it, at least in part, by showing competence and gaining trust in their decisions generally. Borrowing so much money and paying so much interest for 40+ years for short-term purposes is disgraceful and further undermines the district's credibility. We will be the laughing stock of the muni bond world. Haven't we learned anything about this kind of "borrow, spend, don't worry about tomorrow" attitude over the last two years? Do you really want your middle-aged children paying taxes in 2050 for "computer technology" that was thrown out decades before?

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  37. 10-12 hours day--well, that's the real world. Just a 5% cut in pay--in our house would be heaven! Try 50% cut. What other career gives you tenure after a measly two years? That is NOTHING. You have jobs for life, and few people do these days. For that alone, you should be very grateful. If you don't like it, step out into the "business" world, and you'll want to run back to the union-protected world of academia.

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  38. 7:03- There are rules and limits to what a school district and board can do in support of a parcel tax.

    The board can vote to move forward with a parcel tax, but they cannot use any district money, time or resources to support it.

    I am not sure what you are talking about when you say that the 60% was with NO support from the school board or administration. Your comment doesn't even make sense. Why wouldn't the school board and the administrators want it?

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  39. Anon 7:03pm- What are you talking about? What do you mean it had NO support from the school board or administrators?

    School boards and districts are not allowed to use their time, money and resources to promote a parcel tax. That has to be done by an outside committee. Are you implying that they didn't want it?

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  40. Anon 3:43 I suspect I know you.

    McHenry had been gone for quite some time by the time the polling was done in November 2009. In fact, Dick Nicoll, who many liked very much, was at the helm and we were in the middle of a new Superintendent search. If anything, there was hope at that point in time.

    The Measure D campaign was rushed (once again a lack of planning), there was no committee leadership, the consultant who LED the campaign did not understand our district, and other than Linda Mayo, board participation in the campaign was almost non-existent. I have met with those who ran the SRVUSD ground campaign and I have met with local politicians who have run many very successful campaigns, specifically to learn how to run a parcel tax campaign. What other districts do that we don’t, is put together a comprehensive ground campaign with parents, teachers, administrators, and board members. They hire a consultant, not to lead the campaign, but to advise the campaign. Exactly the opposite of what MDUSD did for Measure D. SRVUSD assembled thousands of volunteers, we had what appeared to be less than a 100. SRVUSD had leaders that garnered that kind of support we simply had those who followed political consultants. Even with those short comings, and the perception of the district, we obtained 59% of the vote.

    What I see as an alternative will take less time to accomplish than putting solar up on 46 school sites. It will cost voters $37million (instead of $1.87 billion) for $7.4 million per year (instead of $3+ million per year) Unlike a bond the proceeds from a parcel tax are assured the ability to directly provide relief to the general fund. In addition, a by product of this alternative would be a comprehensive strategic plan, better communication, and an improved education for 33,000 students.

    The board needs to work with the Superintendent and put in place a strategic plan. Our board needs to make a pledge to our community that they will put the focus on our students, that they will improve the quality of education at our schools, and that they will put in place a communication infrastructure and create a culture where communication is valued. And then they need to follow-through. Please don’t write back and say they don’t have the money to implement change because not all change requires money and quite frankly out of this kind of adversity change almost always flourishes. You and I both know that.

    A good communication infrastructure is the basis for a good ground campaign. MDUSD should spend the next year putting their house in order and pursue a parcel tax in 2011, six months earlier than the aggressive 18 month time frame being discussed for the solar project. The difference between what I see as the alternative and Measure C, is that the alternative takes hard work and commitment to improvement. I firmly believe if you “vote” for Measure C you are selling our community short and not demanding good fiscal management, comprehensive planning, good communication and education improvements for our children.

    It is not Measure C or nothing. It is hard work and careful planning or political expedience.

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  41. District funds and resources can not be used but please don't mistake that with an inability to work on a campaign. Every district with a successful parcel tax campaign had administrators and board members heavily involved in the process. Just like the rest of us, they work after hours.

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  42. The fact that the once vocal board is not even chiming in here or on claycord or anywhere speaks volumes.

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  43. Teresa Harrington at the Times notes the following, can any teachers who mentioned here they've not been approached address this? Who got the surveys, just a sampling of 1000 random teachers?

    "Mike Langley, vice president of the Mt. Diablo Education Association, said the teachers’ union was sorting through nearly 1,000 surveys received from members about negotiations. Union representatives are expected to present the information to teachers June 7, before negotiations can begin."

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  44. The fact that Claycord did not mention the CCTimes (Borenstein) article about Measure C is amazing. I wonder why?

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  45. The board members no longer chime in here because they know they have done a horrible HORRIBLE job. In my opinion they should all be thrown in jail for gross negligence of thier duties.

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  46. PLEASE!!!

    For all of you who complain about the board, why the heck don't you run? There are three seats up for re-election this year.

    I have been asked to run before and I will never do it. Who wants that kind of headache and time commitment away from their family?

    It certainly can't be for the pay--a measly $700 per month. It can't be for the prestige, they are vilified and second guessed.

    It is more preferable to me to work on the outside and advocate for what I want without having to please a far-flung district of diverse backgrounds.

    Seriously, RUN people. Stop complaining about them and RUN!!!

    The district could use some of the great minds that post here.

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  47. I don't buy the reasoning that teachers won't negotiate, or take a cut in pay because they have been "fighting with the district over health care benefits".

    MDEA voted to give up employer paid health care in lieu of a larger paycheck, which would in turn make for a better retirement check.

    I have no problem with the teachers negotiating for health care, as many of them were not even here yet when this vote was taken. But stop using the health care issue as an excuse for not doing their part to cut the budget.

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  48. Linda- You are right that Dick Nicoll enjoyed the support and respect of those who worked for him throughout his tenure at MDUSD. Even so, at the time of the poll, the district was in a state of flux. Just because people answer a poll question doesn't necessarily mean that they know what is going on. Perception is everything, and that has a large impact on poll numbers.

    I definitely agree that Measure D was rushed. I did not agree with the timing or handling of the vote. Unfortunately, at this point that is water under the bridge.

    I think your comparison to the SRVUSD is a bit naive. You are comparing apples to oranges. The only thing that is comparably close between the two districts is student population. SRVUSD has around 26,000 students compared to MDUSD's 33,000, but the similarities end there.

    Perhaps you are just starting your journey as a district volunteer, which I applaud, but it's possible that your knowledge of the district is colored by your limited experience in your own feeder pattern.

    Here are some statistics about the SRVUSD:
    2008 CBEDS (data reported to the state taken from their website)
    Ehtnicity breakdown:
    White- 59.2%
    Asian- 21.2%
    Hispanic- 4.8%
    African American- 2.1%

    2008 Median Income for cities in the SRVUSD (sourced from City-Data.Com)
    San Ramon- $118,351
    Danville- $140,832
    Alamo- $179,874

    Here are some statistics about the MDUSD:
    2008 CA dept. of Ed, Educational Demographics Unit (sourced by Dataquest on the CDE website)
    Ethnicity breakdown:
    White - 47.4%
    Asian- 7.6%
    Hispanic- 4.8%
    African American- 5.3%

    2008 Median Income for some cities in the MDUSD (sourced from City-Data.Com)
    Concord- $67,986
    Walnut Creek- $78,078
    Pleasant Hill- $83,327
    Clayton- $125,506
    Bay Point- $55,500

    The MDUSD has cultural and economic factors that the SRVUSD does not have making it harder to pass a parcel tax. To compare the two is just not realistic given their differences.

    With that said, I agree that the district and board could have been more upfront about the parcel tax. I also agree that the district needs to work on their image with their population, but reading what you wrote reminds me of text books that I read in college. Good information, but not really practical in the real world.

    In your scenario, the district could gain back the trust of the district in order to put forth and pass a parcel tax in 2011 at a time when all they can do now is cut money from the budget. Even if they explained every cut in detail to the entire community, I don’t see how this is going to make people trust them more.

    I really do appreciate your energy and support of the district, but please don’t accuse me of selling our district short and not demanding good fiscal management. As I said before, I have been part of this district for over 14 years and have served in many capacities on many committees. My last child is almost done with public school, so my interest in having the district fund future programs is not for my benefit, but for the families that come after me.

    My longevity as a district volunteer has given me the opportunity to work with families from many different feeder patterns in the district. I know the struggles of getting people in certain feeder patterns to participate, not just on a school level, but district wide. The different cultures and economics in our district make your arguments and comparisons to other districts moot.

    I don’t want to rain on your parade, because I will always support a parcel tax for the MDUSD. I just think you are working from a very limited perspective. In my mind, there is a huge disconnect between what you write and those things actually happening. I don’t mind being wrong on this, but my experience tells me otherwise.

    You sound like a very intelligent and motivated person, so, perhaps you have the energy to help lead us all down the path you suggest. Would you consider running for the board? If you do, I will make it my business to support you in your quest.

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  49. OOPS! My bad! The demographics for the MDUSD on my last post are as follows:
    White- 47.4%
    Asian-7.6%
    Hispanic- 32.0%
    African American- 5.3%

    I picked up a number from the wrong column for the Hispanic population.

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  50. Being a board member is not a full time job. I work 40+ hours a week outside of the home. I am on the site councils at two schools and a PTSA officer at one school. I am on the board of a soccer club and I volunteer at church to work with 6th grade girls.

    On the Friday's I don't work, I visit schools in our district.

    I do enjoy my family and want to spend time with them.

    When I have a moment I read the blogs. Sometimes that is once a day and other times it might be once a week.

    If you really want me to answer a question, then send me an email. That way I know that you are asking me specifically for an answer - sherry@mdusd.net

    As for no support on the parcel tax, I donated money and I spent many hours walking door to door. I was not the board representative to CUES so I did not attend those meetings - I wanted to ensure the Brown Act was not violated.

    (BTW we make $750 gross per month or $9,000 gross/year.)

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  51. I am saddened by the fact that a long time volunteer has so little confidence in this community and that you are quick to judge and offer knowledge but not your name.

    I know you have been busy volunteering but during that time the following school districts have been passing parcel taxes. Some of these districts are as diverse, or more diverse than MDUSD. To insinuate that MDUSD can neither pass a parcel tax nor can they effect real change is short sighted.

    Acalanes Union Contra Costa $189 indefinitely
    Albany USD Alameda $149 5 years
    Walnut Creek Contra Costa $82 indefinitely
    Novato Marin $96 6 years
    Cupertino Santa Clara $125 6 years
    Moreland School District Santa Clara $95 8 years
    San Carlos San Mateo $78 6 years
    San Ramon Contra Costa $144 7 years
    Woodside, San Mateo $242 8 years
    Bolinas-Stinson School District Marin $250 5 years
    Orinda Contra Costa $124
    Bayshore Elementary San Mateo $96 6 years
    Belmont-Redwood Shores San Mateo $78 7 years
    Berryessa Union Santa Clara $79 5 years
    Campbell Union Santa Clara $85 5 years
    Davis Unified Solano and Yolo $120 3 years
    Dublin Alameda $96 5 years
    Evergreen Santa Clara $90 5 years
    Franklin-McKinley Santa Clara $72 9 years
    Live Oak Santa Cruz $84 9 years
    Livermore Alameda/Contra Costa $138/parcel 5 years
    Mill Valley Marin $193/parcel 4 years
    Martinez Contra Costa $50/parcel 5 years
    Pacific Grove Monterey $35/parcel 5 years
    Pittsburg Contra Costa $65/parcel 7 years
    Oakland Unified Alameda $195/parcel indefinitely
    West Contra Costa Contra Costa 7.2 cents/s.f. 5 years

    As a side note Oakland Unified passed their $195 parcel tax with almost 80% of the vote, well beyond the 2/3 needed and well into the 30% you claim will never vote "yes".

    The lesson in demographics is nice but not really very important, the comparison to San Ramon was about leadership and strategy. Two things that our parcel tax campaign and in many instances, our district lacks.

    You believe a bond is the best we can do. That is your right. I just happen to expect more. Our district does nothing to build a strong community that supports education, the communication void in this district has been deafening, and strategic planning and goal setting will go a long way to restoring trust and confidence. Call it textbook. You can even insult me as if I am fresh out of college. It is okay…you are probably very frustrated and very tired.

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  52. Linda- Thank you for posting information on local district's parcel taxes. It is good for the community to see how we are the only district in the area that has not/ cannot pass a parcel tax.

    I am not just a volunteer for the district; I have been following education issues in our area for years. I can speak volumes to the issue of local districts passing parcel taxes. I am tired and frustrated, but if I didn't care about "this community" I wouldn't be here writing to get you to see beyond your world.

    We are probably closest in demographics to the West Contra Costa School district, and as you have posted, they have a parcel tax. Does that mean that the people who live in that district "trust" their administrators? Polls say no. WCC has been plagued by teacher's union problems, school closings, construction issues and depressed economic times. But, they still passed a parcel tax.

    By the way, it is not my “claim” that 30% of the population tends to vote anti-tax, it has been put out there by consultants and anti-tax groups. You cite Oakland as a failure of this claim, but their demographic tends to vote for more taxes than average.

    Please consider that on the one hand you criticize the administration of the district, their decisions and their fiscal management, and on the other hand you make it seem like it will be so easy to turn the perception around. This is what seems unrealistic to me.

    I don’t say this to offend you. You have good ideas and are passionate. Good for you. I mean that. I am not writing to show you up or engage in a contest of who is smarter. I am drawing on years of experience and I am not trying to be negative, only realistic. It is definitely not my goal to attack you or hurt your feelings.


    I want Measure C to pass because it offers relief in the short term. I know that is not wise from a long view standpoint, but I have attended enough budget meetings in my day to know that you can’t get blood from a stone, and if the bond doesn’t pass this year, the cuts are going to get worse. By law, the district has to have a balanced budget for three years. With no additional money coming in, things will get dire.

    One of the things that I have seen over the years is that there is no shortage of ideas and opinions about how to improve the district, but that not many worker bees to actually work to act on their suggestions.

    It will take hard work from people like you to help change the negative perception. I hope you will take the lead in communicating that to the board and administration.

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  53. Sherry- Please know that you are appreciated and admired by many.

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  54. 8:31. Ok, just stop. That's a ridiculous leap. So because someone (or many) have complaints they should run? We elected people to work for us, for our kids and to do the right thing. It is our right as Americans to expect more when all of our elected officials right now are failing our kids. I don't have to run to make my opinion matter.

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  55. Anon 5:48

    The only immediate relief to the general fund (the only relief that truly matters right now) from this bond measure will come from paying off current debt. At the last CUES meeting I attended the Superintendent said this would amount to approx. $400,000 per year (no term mentioned). Recently that number has been escalated to $1.4 million (until I am told otherwise I am going to assume this is a cumulative number and not annualized.) Solar is a minimum of 18 month away... that means two more budget cycles. I do not see $400,000 per year as the be all end all for saving this district from its current plight.

    The criticisms I levied against the board and superintendent in the previous posts are centered around pursuing a parcel tax and the hard work needed to do so. What makes you think I have not communicated this issue to them already? Every one of them, except maybe Dick, knows who I am if they are reading this post. They know my belief surrounding this issue.

    So in summary, and correct me if I am wrong, we agree that the district has not communicated well, that there is a trust problem, that they did not run a good Measure D campaign, that the Superintendent needs to get out in front of this district and lead, and that a parcel tax would be better than a bond?

    We disagree on whether our district leadership can make a difference in our community and help to build a strong community that values education and will both support a parcel tax and volunteer to help pass a parcel tax. Hmmmm... seems like I am less critical of our leadership.

    I want to thank you for providing me a forum to address so many of the issues surrounding this bond measure. I would never have had the opportunity to cover so much with just one comment.

    I hope that even those who do not agree with comments on this blog understand the commitment behind what someone says when they are willing to attach their name to their opinion.

    Take care.

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  56. 5:48

    You mention that "if the bond doesn’t pass this year, the cuts are going to get worse ..... With no additional money coming in, things will get dire."

    I haven't been able to find the details anywhere. Can you tell me where I can find the analysis on the relief that that the bond money will provide to the budget and what that timeframe looks like.

    That is the kind of factual information that will help me make a decision on whether or not to support the bond.

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  57. anon 5:48,

    And sherri please also know that there are many who think the board has done an atrocious job particularly in your unwillingness to stand up to the criminal union.

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  58. There is no way that this anonymous doesn't know who Linda is. I think it is someone who very well knows Linda, but has to keep reiterating they've not met as a red herring... funny. But there is just no way. I too am very involved in this district and know all the major "volunteer" players.. and Linda has been one of them for years. Measure D she was hugely involved in. If Linda's team could've pulled together the whole district like she did in Northgate , Measure D would've had no problem passing.

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  59. Anon 9:26
    FYI- It is a big world out there. I don't know who Linda is and our paths have never crossed. At least I am sure we haven't been in a room with less than 100 people together. If she has been a volunteer at the district level for years, then it is a surprise to me. I have worked with a couple of Lindas over the years but I am pretty sure it's not the one posting here. Maybe her years of volunteering prior to Measure D was at the school site level.

    What difference does it make if I am anon anyway? I wasn't trying to get into a fight. If you want to discount what I said because I didn't use a name, that is certainly your right. I have my reasons for remaining anon. Even if you don't agree with me, it doesn't matter because it is my experience, not yours.


    There is something tiresome and dogged about Linda's posts, as if she can never be wrong. I didn't say I was right, and I didn't say that Measure C was the holy grail. Why does she say I am more critical of the district than she is? That is some twisted logic. Just because I don't think her scenario is realistic, doesn't mean she has to lash out ans cast aspersions.

    I made my points and people can decide what they want. I never proclaimed that I had all the answers, I only was relating my experience working in the district. I hear what you are saying and I even acknowledged where we agree in many instances.

    A final note-
    Anon 9:26pm- There is something absolutely absurd about your accusing me of using a red herring while remaining anonymous yourself.

    You say that you know all of the major volunteers, but who are you? Just because someone isn't from Northgate doesn't mean that they aren't "major". I guarantee that I am known to all of the school board, President and VP of the teacher's union , Superintendents--past and present--and most of the administrators of the district.

    Why is it relevant if I know you or you know me? What matters is that there are a lot of people who care about the kids in this district and they are doing what they can to make it better.

    Good Luck with your efforts because I would love nothing else than to pass a parcel tax should it come up for another vote.

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  60. 9:26- Your last sentence is exactly what you don't understand about the MDUSD.

    You said-
    "If Linda's team could've pulled together the whole district like she did in Northgate, Measure D would've had no problem passing."

    Pulling together the Northgate feeder pattern to pass a parcel tax is not exactly a coup.

    If Linda or your group can pull together the Concord feeder pattern, then you will have earned my deepest respect.

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  61. Anon 5:48

    As a 14 year volunteer in our district and with your knowledge of issues around passing parcel taxes, you seem to be resigned to the fact that our district cannot pass a parcel tax even when every other district in the area has.

    All of those districts had their challenges in one way or another, be it demographics, lack of communication, trust or lack of union support and yet they were able to overcome them to pass parcel taxes.

    I would like to know what you think the challenges are that stop our district from passing a parcel tax? Have we ever made a list of those issues and sat down to try to put a plan together around overcoming them.

    Linda thinks it has to do with the fact that we are not a district that communicates or that has a strategic plan and that we are not a district with a strong community built around common goals for the education of our children. You might have other ideas and so might others. That's okay.

    My point is that until our board commits itself to a parcel tax, builds a plan around it and executes, we won't ever have a parcel tax.

    I don't think it will be easy but I do believe it is possible and that it is about having the will and the vision.

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  62. I believe a parcel tax is possible. With the time and proper resources to run a good campaign. Last time it was too rushed. Too rushed to get people deep into the Concord communities to, as someone said above, bring the Concord feeder patterns into agreement and knowledge. It was far too rushed last time and relied and far too few to get the word out to their schools and feeder patterns, and then remember only a fraction of voters even have kids in our schools. So what to do? It starts with the board and superintendent. Paul Strange is now the President of the board of education but yet he's nowhere to be found. He used to be visible, and posting and active. Now, he's invisible. Yes I know, I'm sure if I called him , he'd answer. I do know that about him, but if even the board is shrinking back, even if it's just embroiled in their own lives and work, then you have to see this is your public too. Unfortunately, a lot of things went wrong with Measure D. It became a political hot button with the "sports" people. People wouldn't vote for it "unless" their special interest was included in a list. Because of that, including the "sports people," it failed, and I do hope they are all sitting back admiring their handy work now.

    The new Sup? Who? Oh, yah, that guy who came to a few community meetings to get people fired up about solar? Yah, that guy. Why isn't he out in front of the campaign? Dick Nichol helped at Measure D... he was right in there with his sleeves rolled up. Maybe Dr. Lawrence is in there, but the public OUT HERE doesn't know it. Solar? We can't even stop a 16 year old from burning down a building housing band and other equipment at a campus WITH CAMERAS and FENCES. How in the HECK are you going to keep solar safe from vandals? Who pays for the repairs.

    And just once, PLEASE, just once tell me EXACTLY what my tax bill will be if Measure C passes. Most people who are voting yes are voting yes to vote for the kids, not because they actually know anything about it! AMAZING! Isn't it? Ask "joe public" why he's voting for it. Seriously, do it. Then ask how much taxes are? How long? What will be the first impact we'll see? What is the priority list - not the stupid catch all list on the district site. That was the old Measure C list. WHat is the new one?

    It's time to wake up.

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  63. Actually 12:07. THAT WAS EXACTLY MY POINT!!!! Concord is our issue. Diversity, language, knowledge, education, apathy, demographics, economics, who knows... but thank you for making my point.

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  64. 8:56am- Actually, if you read my previous posts, that was the point I have been making all along.

    BTW- I am not the person who posted at 8:50am, but I completely agree with them.

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  65. Anon May 13, 2010 5:57 PM said-

    "8:31. Ok, just stop. That's a ridiculous leap. So because someone (or many) have complaints they should run? We elected people to work for us, for our kids and to do the right thing. It is our right as Americans to expect more when all of our elected officials right now are failing our kids. I don't have to run to make my opinion matter."

    I didn't say your opinion didn't matter. But opinions are like A$$holes--every one has one.


    You can offer your opinions and criticisms up all day long, but do you think that entices quality people to run for the board? Why would they? Can you imagine a more crappy job right now?

    Complaining and offering your opinion doesn't change a darn thing. It's action that does.

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  66. 10:18. How can you even say that? That is so uncalled for. No wonder they very rarely speak on blogs anymore. With people making those kind of comments any response they make is just a waste of their time. We have an election coming up in November, three open seats and I have not heard of anyone new running. Who would want their job?? I certainly wouldn't.

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  67. what? what did 10:18 say that was so inappropriate? The only 10:18 I see mentioned their surprise at Claycord not covering the no on measure C stuff from the Times.

    And whatever it was that made you say this, that's silly. These board members are professionals, and professional politicians. They are accustomed to "heat" and I think they're big boys and girls. They aren't not coming here because of the bad comments, they're not coming because a) they don't care, or b) they figure that we, as a public, are a lost cause and not worthy of their time. I vote the latter.

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  68. I was referring to 7:33am. Got my times confused.
    I'm guessing that they care or they all would have resigned by now. Why put up with this??? Certainly it can't be the numerous hours they put in, the kind words they hear, or the 700.00 a month they make.

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  69. 6:44PM- You strike me as someone who doesn't know what the heck you are talking about.

    What makes you think the members of the board are professional politicians? The only person who ran for another office was Gary Eberhart and since he lost, he has stayed focused on our board.

    Linda Mayo was an active volunteer in the community as well as with the Girl Scouts.

    Dick Allen was a school teacher who worked his way through the ranks.

    Paul Strange is a lawyer whose kids are in MDUSD and got involved.

    Sherry Whitmarsh has been a long time volunteer at both the school and district level.

    If you really think they don't care, then try to vote them out. They aren't dictators.

    Unfortunately, there seems to be no one coming out of the shadows to run for this awesome job.

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  70. 7:31. Please, it doesn't take a US Presidency to turn anyone into a professional politician. Have you ever seen Gary or Paul in action - come on - I like them, but they know exactly what they're doing, what they're saying and how to manipulate people. Don't believe it, start getting involved closely with them. I think Sherry was looking with rose colored glasses, unfortunately I'm willing to bet dollars to donuts that this is NOTHING like she thought it would be. I like Linda and Dick. I think they're the only ones in this for the right reasons. I hope Linda will run again. Paul should leave. Dick, we know he's retiring, and I hope the current board does something nice for him.

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  71. if I remember correctly, it was actually Clayton that had a very low percentage of voters in favor of Measure D.

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  72. What's your point 8:42. There are barely 10,000 men, women and children in Clayton. Did that really make or break the decision? Maybe MDEA can talk to their teachers in Clayton (both at middle and elementary) about the importance of rallying support. All we see out here is apathy by the teachers. We have very involved parents, but the less involved parents react far better if their teachers were telling them something was important. The parents that do everything can't be the only ones doing everything.

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  73. 7:54pm- I have worked with both Paul and Gary, but don't mistake their arrogance (sorry, but it's true)as being a professional politician.

    I agree with what you say about Sherry. She works hard to get her own viewpoint across, but you can't blame her for working with Gary to get elected. It's very hard to run against an incumbent. In the eyes of many, April needed to go.

    Linda has her pluses and minuses, but don't think that she doesn't play the political game. Dick is a nice man whose time has come to retire. Paul has disappeared from the landscape, so I'm not sure how big a loss it would be if he didn't win again.

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  74. Gary, Paul, and Sherri have got to go. They have single handedly driven this district into the ground by giving out their raises to their buddies.

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  75. 8:00am- You obviously have some unresolved issues about the last election. Gary and Sherry don't have to go anywhere since they were just elected.

    Giving raises to their buddies? Who? The restructuring of positions at the Dent Center which resulted in some lost positions and others getting higher salaries? Like the attorney?

    Maybe that was a bad decision, but you are a troll who just can't accept that Gary and Sherry won by a mile.

    Get over it and focus on actual events, like the election that is coming up. Get your players in there if you can.

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  76. In the last two MDUSD Board elections the only candidate to win without an endorsement (and significant funding and phone banking) from the teachers union is Linda Mayo. According to the Times, the teachers union spent more than $70,000 on the Eberhart-Whitmarsh campaign. Candidates Treece and Adams each raised about $20,000 through grassroots efforts. Anyone interested in running for the Board not only must have union support but also must be able to withstand the attack strategy that Strange and Eberhart use so effectively on those who oppose them. It's sad that public school district leadership has become as politicized as other elective offices.

    Look for the labor union links to the bond measure campaign. The money will provide jobs for tradespeople, a good thing. The question to ask is whether only union labor will be allowed to work on those projects. Eberhart has stated that only union labor can assure quality work and many agree with him. If that stipulation is part of the bond measure, it needs to be made public so voters can make an informed decision.

    MDUSD needs money from both a bond (for more facility improvements) and a parcel tax (for maintaining student programs and services). A bond, based on each $100,000 of a property's assessed value, actually costs each property owner more than a property tax, a flat amount for each property regardless of value. So a bond generates considerably more money, $250 million in the case of the last Measure C (which in turn generated state funding that resulted in more than $400 million worth of facility projects).

    How much of the new Measure C bond money will offset General Fund expenses, and when, is information voters need to know. The amount of $3 million has been publicized. Measure D, last year's parcel tax initiative of a flat $99 per parcel, was to have produced $7 million a year almost immediately.

    The Eberhart-Strange=Whitmarsh team had enthusiastic support when it assumed leadership of MDUSD more than a year ago. The failure of Measure D, most seemed to agree, was due to a hastened campaign too soon after the leadership change. After that election parents urged the Board to build on the momentum toward another try. Instead, the Board leadership essentially shrugged its shoulders. Parents began separate fundraising efforts for their individual schools and programs. The collaboration the Board leaders promised has not happened and seems even less achievable than it was a year ago.

    Parents and staff can only hope the new Superintendent, perhaps through the Measure C campaign, can instill the cooperative, inclusive spirit the district community needs and wants. He needs to hear and respond to voters' concerns about the bond.

    As important as the bond measure election in June is the board member election in November. Union funding and support will continue to be a factor, it must not prevent conscientious, consensus-building candidates from being elected.

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  77. 1:31 correction
    Sentence should read:
    A bond, based on each $100,000 of a property's assessed value, actually costs each property owner more than a PARCEL tax, a flat amount for each property regardless of value.

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  78. As I have stated before, I do have many other commitments outside of the board. If you need specific answers from me, then email me.

    It seems that the best answer is not to answer anything on a blog because at least that way you are not condemned for responding.

    Is this a tough job...you bet it is. I have two kids who feel these cuts daily. The biggest issue is that most of the bloggers don't look at the big picture of what are district needs. The board votes on one thing that they don't agree with so then everything the board does is bad.

    Is this going to get better, no way. It will get worse in this state before it gets better.


    At the May PAC, Dr. Lawrence that the Board do goals and objectives as opposed to a strategic plan.


    To answer rose colored glasses...no I did have my eyes wide open. I did not foresee California being put into the extent of a huge state budget issue. I don't think many did. Did I think that I would be something like underdog and sing "here I am to save the day". Nope.

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  79. Sherry,
    Would Chevron accept goals and objectives rather than a strategic plan? Why does Dr. Lawrence prefer this option instead? Hasn't a strategic plan been a long time objective of this board?

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  80. Anon 1:31pm- Just because a union supports a candidate, does that make the candidate inherently bad?

    You make it sound like the only people who wanted Gary and Sherry to win the last election were the unions. That is ridiculous. People in our local community gave time and money to their campaign. They knew it was time for a change. The district was mired in tax problems, accounting issues, grand jury investigations and problems with the unions. Despite Paul and Gary's personalities, they were right about change being needed.

    Gary has been on the board for a long time and deserved to be re-elected. Sherry is someone who has volunteered at her kids’ schools and the district for years. She is a known quantity to people who are involved in the MDUSD.

    Jeff Adams came on the scene late, and even people at his home school didn’t know who he was. I heard him talk and he sounded like a nice person, but who was he and what did he believe in? No one really knew. He seemed more like a politician than Sherry did.

    Linda Mayo didn't get the union endorsement the last time she ran (two elections ago) because of her strong relationship to Gary McHenry. At that time, relations between the union and the Superintendent were really bad. If you really looked back, though, I am pretty sure you would find that Linda picked up a union endorsement during one of her past campaigns.

    You say that Gary is insisting on hiring union workers because only they can do quality work, but I thought he was talking more about being paid a living wage (or whatever the correct terminology is). People can argue over the merits of this, and I guess it comes down to whether you are union or not, or paying or not.

    To quote you: “The Eberhart-Strange=Whitmarsh team had enthusiastic support when it assumed leadership of MDUSD more than a year ago. The failure of Measure D, most seemed to agree, was due to a hastened campaign too soon after the leadership change."

    I agree with you about the timing. At the time of the vote, Dick Nicoll was the interim Superintendent and while he was widely respected and liked, the district was still without a permanent head. The vote should have waited, but to be fair, in meetings leading up to the decision to move forward with a parcel tax, the best date for the election was discussed at length. There were people who had very strong opinions about whether it was best to wait and others who wanted to move forward. Good cases were made for both sides. In the end, it was rushed, and there was no time to build up momentum for a good campaign.

    Please let’s stop lumping Sherry in with Paul and Gary. She ran with Gary and got the unions’ endorsement--which if you are going to run--is very helpful. Despite that, she has her own opinions and you might notice she still responds to posts even though she works full time, is on the board, and volunteers at her kids’ school more than the average mom. She is someone who definitely has our kids' best interest at heart and she deserves our support and respect.

    It would be great if some conscientious consensus builders ran for the board this year. They may even be someone supported by the union… you never know.

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  81. As I have said 1000’s of times, I am always available by e-mail at gary@mdusd.net and by phone at 925-304-1546. I always try to make myself available if a group of community members wants to get together to discuss district issues. I am willing to get together with 1 person or 100 people. Name the place and I’m there. My career arguing with anonymous bloggers is over for the most part. If I thought it was an effective way to communicate or to educate people about what is going on in the district, I would still be doing it. It’s too bad because there are a lot of caring individuals who come on the blogs to learn about what is going on and to pose great questions.

    Much of the information that I have seen on here and other blogs regarding the bond is absolutely false. Let me be very clear on what the bond can bring to our children. First, we will be able to retire debt that the district currently is paying interest on which will free up 1.4 million per year. Second, we will be able to take our school district into the future by installing a solar photovoltaic system that will eliminate 80% of our need to purchase electricity from PG&E. Our current PG&E expenditures are $3.5 million annually and are increasing 6% per year. Some of that $3.5 million per year is gas, but the solar system will save at least $1.5 million per year and that reduction increase by 6% per year. That alone will save the district $118 million over the 30 year life of the solar system. On top of that, the California Solar Initiative rebate money will generate about $7.5 million over the next 5 years. We are also working hard to secure Federal Tax Incentives that could generate over $15 million in the first year.

    All that I have mentioned above, all $147.5 million will all be a direct benefit to the general fund of our school district and will be used to ensure that students will get the education that they need. It will not solve every problem, but it will go a long way to ensure that we are doing everything that we can to stave off further draconian cuts by the State.

    There has been some discussion about what this bond will cost tax payers. Frankly I am not sure where people come up with the figures that they come up with. When we polled voters and asked the question, should we go out for a bond that is paid off sooner but will cost more out of pocket annually, voters suggested that we use a longer pay off model with lower payments. This works exactly like a home mortgage payment, I wish that I had a 15 year loan because my house would be paid off a lot sooner and the total interest paid would be less, but I can’t afford the payments on a 15 year loan. What I can afford is a 30 year mortgage. Yes, when I look at the figures for total interest paid 15 year vs. 30 year mortgage, the 15 year looks attractive, but it is not affordable. We chose the option that those who were polled suggested.

    I have heard the question asked, with all of the cuts that we have faced, why would we do a facilities bond right now. Aside from the fact that the bond will provide long term general fund relief that may amount to over $147 million, we always have facilities needs. We have classrooms and schools that still have not been air conditioned and we want to finish that effort. We still have heating systems that need work. We still need to ensure that roofs don’t leak and that schools continue to be safe.

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  82. PART TWO......

    It has been suggested that what we need to do is go back and pass a parcel tax, that somehow a parcel tax will bring more to our students directly. The $99 parcel tax would have brought in $37.5 million in 5 years and then it would have been over. We would have been pressured from every angle to spend every dollar of that money and at the end of 5 years it would have been done and we would have been right back where we started. The bond will provide 4 times that amount, but it will be spread out over 30 years. It will allow us to budget for the use of that money, but in a way that is much more sustainable and reasonable. On top of the general fund relief, the bond will ensure that every school is maintained, safe, heated and cooled. The bond will ensure that we have general fund relief and safe facilities. From my perspective, the bond is a much better solution.

    There are a number of questions and comments about negotiations, including much in the way of complaints about a lack of communications by the district about negotiations. We are limited by law about what we can communicate about negotiations. We are at the table actively discussing negotiations and about what our unions might be able to offer in terms of ways to make reductions. The only union that we are not yet bargaining with is the teachers union. We have been ready to do so for some time, but as yet, that has not occurred. Any comment that the district has not approached the teachers union with reduction requests are inaccurate. Earlier this year the Board directed the Superintendent to work with our employee unions to see if there is a way to find $9.8 million per year in reductions over the next 3 years. If we are unable to find those cuts, we will absolutely have to make other reductions to balance the budget. The bond, if passed, will help, but it will not provide complete relief from making reductions with employees or making further reductions if employees do not accept some further cuts. It should also be said that our employees have already endured a lot of cuts and have had their workloads increased significantly. As a school district, about 90% of our expenditures are for personnel, so when we need to make reductions, people do lose their jobs. The only reason that we are asking employees to be a part of the solutions by accepting reductions is because we would like to save as many jobs as possible. We have good employees who work hard to educate our students and who are trying to care for their own families. Laying off more employees is not a pleasant thought for many reasons. One of the items that the Board requested that the Superintendent explore with our unions is cost containment for benefits. Our total benefits cost in our district is over $20 million per year and that figure is increasing 10% per year. 5 years from now that number will be over $30 million per year. That level of growth is unsustainable and every year that in continues will further erode our general fund budget. We need to work with our unions to maintain sustainable budget growth. Not doing so would be financially irresponsible. I have yet to hear an argument to the contrary, but I am open to listen to all sides.

    As I said, I have given up the constant back and forth “bloguments”, but I am available. Please e-mail me or phone me if you have questions. If you have a small group or a large one, let’s get together and discuss the issues. I am not always right. I do not know everything. If there is a better way to do things, let’s figure it out. I have kids in our district too. I am a father too. I spend hundreds of hours working on district issues too. I do homework with my kids too. Our kids deserve our best.

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  83. Anon 7:19 PM
    I did not say nor mean to imply that union support makes a candidate inherently bad--nor automatically good either. I was responding to the comments on this post urging one individual or another to run for the Board.

    The reality is that today even candidates for local school boards need lots of money and access to phone banks to conduct a campaign. Consider Sherry Whitmarsh and Jeff Adams in the last election. Both are parents active in their children's schools. Both applied for the Board appointment that Paul Strange was awarded following the death of Board member Bill Leal. Both are educated professionals.

    So how did you know more about Sherry than Jeff? Because of the union funding, her campaign had four times more money to spend on signage and other campaign materials and also had the teachers union's extensive phone banking system making hundreds of calls to district voters to promote her and Gary.

    Sherry and Jeff are typical of individuals who'd like to serve on a school board: active parents who believe they can help shape and lead the organization in a way that best serves students.

    MDUSD is full of such individuals; there should be a long list of candidates for the three open seats this November. I don't think that will happen. The costs of the campaign will dissuade many from even signing up. Willing and able to pay those costs, the employee unions (particularly the teachers union) will interview potential candidates, likely even before the filing deadline, and select ones to support.

    Some very good Board members have been elected with union support. Some very good candidates have lost without it. In selecting which of our neighbors we want to represent us and our children on the local school board, the playing field should be more level. But if voters are OK with union leaders deciding who will sit on the Board, then so be it.

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  84. Strategic plans take long to write and are out of date in 3 - 5 years. One year goals and objectives are much more valuable.

    Chevron in my view has gone to a 10 year plan with goals and objectives being updated yearly.

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  85. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  86. Sorry, I'm late to the party. I want to thank Sherry and Gary for commenting. It's good to see them (you) here. As I've said before, I appreciate all the hard work they (you) do on behalf of our schools, and I know that you devote a great deal of time that isn't paid for in the name of community service.

    So I don't want anyone to take it amiss - a disagreement in the way a goal can be reached is not a personal attack.

    It appears there is a fundamental disagreement in the BEST way to fund some necessary improvements to the school system.

    I see it as pay for it with funds you have, or pay for it with funds that must be borrowed and pay interest on it.

    I don't think anyone will disagree that the current Measure C is the most expensive way to fund improvements, given the length of the payoff time. 42 years is a very long time to be paying off a loan.

    I like the example of the 30 year lien on a house. At the end of that lien, and assuming you have maintained your house, and the housing market is still strong, you will have an asset that can then be sold and hopefully fund a retirement, or a smaller house.

    If we are essentially paying a mortgage on our school system, will we have an asset? Will it have been maintained? Can we sell it to downsize and fund a retirement, or will we have to continue paying upkeep? I think the answer is that we will be faced with ongoing expenses, because a school system is not a house that can be sold, but there will always be children that need to be educated, and need current technology, not 42 year old technology.

    I agree, a parcel tax also has it's negatives, such as the need to be renewed, and is also tied to a need for accountability. However, it's upfront money, that is reliable, renewable, and better yet, doesn't cost a dime in interest.

    How many people are trapped in the spiral of credit card debt, determined to dig out of it, but keep pulling the card out when faced with the need for an immediate purchase?

    I hear that old joke a lot: My kid is going to have to pay for my retirement. Yeah. Some of us are staring that in the face right now. Why on earth would we want to saddle our children with this kind of long term debt.

    A parcel tax is the best solution. Other school districts did not attempt to pass a tax one time and quit. They've tried multiple times. I'm irritated and annoyed beyond measure to have this bond effort ride the coattails of all the good work and efforts of the volunteers who gave a lot of time to get the word out to the community.

    You cannot send a group of volunteers out with a message to be delivered, and then hobble them with unrealistic deadlines.

    Let's get back to a fiscally responsible, strategic solution. Let's consign Measure C to the dustbin as a learning experience and a chance to build on some future stability for the district.

    Our kids need some.

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  87. Sorry, I'm late to the party. I want to thank Sherry and Gary for commenting. It's good to see them (you) here. As I've said before, I appreciate all the hard work they (you) do on behalf of our schools, and I know that you devote a great deal of time that isn't paid for in the name of community service.

    So I don't want anyone to take it amiss - a disagreement in the way a goal can be reached is not a personal attack.

    It appears there is a fundamental disagreement in the BEST way to fund some necessary improvements to the school system.

    I see it as pay for it with funds you have, or pay for it with funds that must be borrowed and pay interest on it.

    I don't think anyone will disagree that the current Measure C is the most expensive way to fund improvements, given the length of the payoff time. 42 years is a very long time to be paying off a loan.

    I like the example of the 30 year lien on a house. At the end of that lien, and assuming you have maintained your house, and the housing market is still strong, you will have an asset that can then be sold and hopefully fund a retirement, or a smaller house.

    If we are essentially paying a mortgage on our school system, will we have an asset? Will it have been maintained? Can we sell it to downsize and fund a retirement, or will we have to continue paying upkeep? I think the answer is that we will be faced with ongoing expenses, because a school system is not a house that can be sold, but there will always be children that need to be educated, and need current technology, not 42 year old technology.

    I agree, a parcel tax also has it's negatives, such as the need to be renewed, and is also tied to a need for accountability. However, it's upfront money, that is reliable, renewable, and better yet, doesn't cost a dime in interest.

    How many people are trapped in the spiral of credit card debt, determined to dig out of it, but keep pulling the card out when faced with the need for an immediate purchase?

    I hear that old joke a lot: My kid is going to have to pay for my retirement. Yeah. Some of us are staring that in the face right now. Why on earth would we want to saddle our children with this kind of long term debt.

    A parcel tax is the best solution. Other school districts did not attempt to pass a tax one time and quit. They've tried multiple times. I'm irritated and annoyed beyond measure to have this bond effort ride the coattails of all the good work and efforts of the volunteers who gave a lot of time to get the word out to the community.

    You cannot send a group of volunteers out with a message to be delivered, and then hobble them with unrealistic deadlines.

    Let's get back to a fiscally responsible, strategic solution. Let's consign Measure C to the dustbin as a learning experience and a chance to build on some future stability for the district.

    Our kids need a future unburdened by our debt.

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  88. In rereading some of the comments above, I feel compelled to add in defense of a few who got slammed on this blog for their lack of support for Measure C, I would like to add that I too would like to see a better plan put forth to the community before people have to decide on funding such an expensive investment.

    To refer back to the home mortgage analogy, most people get a few quotes on their home improvement projects before sinking their home equity credit line into paying for them.

    How long did it take to put together this additional bond measure? Weeks, months? How many months? Who pulled all the information together? Can we see it?

    I have yet to see anything that says this was a carefully designed, thoroughly thought out plan.

    This does seem to be more of a hasty, last minute, cobbled together to meet a filing deadline so we can throw it on the ballot kinda plan.

    And it is somewhat damning to see A.J. Fardella's comments about the lack of communication with the original bond committee.

    Any project of this magnitude and consequence must by its very nature take time, and careful planning.

    And just because I have an opinion about the effectiveness of this plan, doesn't mean that there is some corresponding opinion about the whole district or it's leadership. Leaders are to be admired. They take a stand. They make a decision. They're in the hot seat doing, when others are sitting there pointing fingers, acting like armchair quarterbacks.

    By the same token, leaders are also people. Can make mistakes. Can lead in the wrong direction. It's up to everyone's common sense to consider whether they plan to follow that direction or not.

    Sometimes leaders are committed to a direction, and cannot either publicly back down, or genuinely feel they are steering the right way.

    That's why there is a voting mechanism in place. You can decide whether to ride in that boat, or get off.

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  89. I have to disagree withe Shelia that Measure C should put to the dustbin. We need to have our buildings and technology in shape for our children. There is a big gap here in our demographics. A bond measure is the only way we can ensure that our children have well maintained buildings and technology that will allow them to compete in life after high school.

    Measure C provides some long term solutions for our general fund.

    A parcel tax will come up for renewal every 5 years. So it may save a program for 5 years or allow our employee to have a better total compensation package FOR THE SHORT TERM. I do not want to saddle a future board with the same problems I have in 5 years.

    If you care about your children's education needs you will vote YES on Measure C.

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  90. Sheila,

    First let me apologize for spelling your name wrong on the first post.

    Second, Mr. A.J. Fardella's comments were incorrect. John Ferrante and John Parker did endorse Measure C

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  91. Sherry,
    "A parcel tax will come up for renewal every 5 years. So it may save a program for 5 years or allow our employee to have a better total compensation package FOR THE SHORT TERM. I do not want to saddle a future board with the same problems I have in 5 years."

    The irony in your statement above is that while you believe you are making things easier for the next BOARD, you will be making things more difficult for future generations of families. Those families will be saddled with the debt this generation is unwilling to pay. They will not benefit from this bond because the assets will be long gone. And in order to fund their needs they will have to pay for our bond and theirs. The exact issue you are sidestepping today except both bonds are ours.

    It IS hard to pass a parcel tax but school districts do it all the time. As a district I can tell you we barely tried last time. We did not come close to making the effort other school districts make. Don't say we can't do it. Don't make the gap in the demographics the issue. Make the fact that we haven't tried hard enough the issue.

    I agree with Sheila, lets cut our losses, scrap this bond, and move on with a local funding measure that is fiscally responsible and well planned.

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  92. Sheila- Thank you for your thoughtful comments. I agree with some of what you say, but disagree that a parcel tax is the only answer.

    The reality is that the school district needs BOTH bonds and parcel taxes to ensure it's future.

    At some point, the district has to go for a bond, as all districts do.

    Beyond the push for solar are technology upgrades and facility improvements. These will be necessary whether a parcel tax passes or not.

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  93. Linda,

    As a district we need both. Our children deserve the items from the bond as well as a parcel tax. First lets get the bond measure.

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  94. I agree Sherry. The district needs both. To think of what will happen if this Measure C doesn't pass is very scary. A.J. Fardella is jumping on the no wagon because he is trying to further is political career. Linda L. and the others who claim they have been involved and care about the district are only hurting our kids and grandkids by their negativity. The Measure written the way it is is what the polling/voters want. People can't afford big payments now and having a 30 year "mortgage) makes more sense for the current economy. We will have quality buildings and schools with the work that will be done if the Measure passes, and that is worth a lot to my property value. Doing nothing (because a parcel tax will not pass), which is what your advocating for when encouraging those to vote no is shameful.

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  95. I don't see why the gross fiscal mismanagement (absurd attorney raises) by the board is my problem.

    Hence: NO ON C! NO ON C! NO ON C!

    Also fire the board and place them in jail for gross negligence.

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  96. Anon 6:50
    Sadly, I know exactly who you are. I can see that "30 year mortgage" is the new talking point. So every time you or anyone else involved says that I will remind people that it is not 30 years and it is not a mortgage. It is 42 years and it is a irresponsible bond measure that will hurt school children in the future and you are choosing to do this because it is easier than doing what is right.

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  97. Anon 8:52

    Many are tired of your constant troll comments with baseless claims not supported by facts. Stop trolling.

    I am voting yes on Measure C and am trying to help with the campaign. I ask each of you to do your own research and make your own decision. I am sorry, Linda I do not agree with you at all. Enough said, I am not going to change your mind, you are not going to change mine.

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  98. Thank you, Sherry, and Linda, too. I am following these conversations with great interest. I appreciate your answers very much and Anon. 8:17. too.

    We did do a bond. And the schools are in much better shape now than they were before the 2002 bond. If you look at the last Quarterly report from 2008 posted on MDUSD’s website, all those projects are completed. I can’t find an outstanding wishlist of items to be addressed in the future, anywhere in that report. Please let me know if it’s somewhere because I couldn’t find it.

    Technology is outdated every 5 years. That needs to be paid for upfront, not with debt that comes with interest. That’s credit card purchasing. Solar Technology is unfortunately lumped into that category. Yes, it’s Green energy, and comes with benefits, and might last 20 years, but seems to me, that if the district really feels it’s necessary, then it should be financed separately and paid off sooner. 42 years to be paying off outdated technology is just…thoughtless planning. That’s like saying I’m going to reroof my house, and 20 years from now, when I still have 22 years left on my roofing bill, I have to reroof it again.

    But - Okay. Devil's advocate here, let's say that we need a bond measure AND a parcel tax to fix buildings and programs in the district. I'd be okay with that. Correction: I'd be okay supporting, and voting for, and volunteering for... a different Bond Measure. Not this one. I want to see one that accounts for the long term and the short term and has details. The general wishlist from the voter's pamphlet is really pretty vague. What schools? Why weren’t these addressed in the 2002 bond list? What technology?

    If it's a matter of just getting the word out, well - there's a big problem right there. It's been too rushed to get the word out, and there's too many questions still attached that need answering, and time for people to get some answers.
    The district is in the process of closing schools. Yet we just spent millions at each school site upgrading. That's like throwing money away. Granted, the district must be responsive to changing needs, but a long term plan at least gives the parents in the district the sense that their tax money isn't being wasted. (continued next comment...)

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  99. (continued from prior comment...)

    I really do respect Dr. Lawrences' creative out of the box thinking, especially in regards to the Solar. That is the first place to start finding unusual solutions. But as a creative person myself, I also believe that some of those ideas aren't meant to get off the thumbnail/brainstorming sheet, once you get to the practical implementation stage.

    As a creative person, I am all too familiar with getting married to an idea, and overriding the objections and realities attached to making it happen. As a young married person who had to return a few things to the store because I blew my budget, I have learned that ideas can be wonderful, but you have to have a plan for paying for it.

    Nowadays, I am deeply suspicious of any contractor that throws out "I think it's going to cost about $30,000 to remodel your bathrooms." Nowadays, I want to see a quote that has a breakdown of what those costs entail, and I need a plan of my payment schedule, and I need to know that all my ducks are in a row, and if I can afford to pay $30,000 if that's what it really is going to cost.

    The reality for me, is that I don't live in a beautiful model home with expensive furniture. I could have that, if I lived on credit. We live in a small 1200 square foot home with a lawn and bathrooms that need replacing. We are waiting until we can afford to get what I think I deserve, but frankly, realize that I must be able to afford first.

    Yesterday, at pick-up time, I went to sit in the MUR at Woodside Elementary while I was waiting for the bell to ring. I looked up, and noticed for the very first time, a plaque dated "1993" and "Built with Measure A funds."

    Well, that made me curious about Measure A, so I went home and looked up my tax bills from last year and this year. Then I called the Tax Collector, who then referred me back to MDUSD where I spoke with Arlene, who kindly answered my question that the 1989 Mello Roos is a flat fee of $67 dollars, payable every year until 2020, although it can be extended until 2025.

    On the other side of my tax bills (2008-2009) and (2009-2010), under ad valorem taxes, I noticed that last year my assessed Bond tax was $113.18, and this year was $125.15.

    I called the tax collector’s office again because it appears there is an annual increase in our assessed property value. According to the lady who answered the phone, there is a 2% maximum increase in assessed value up to the current market value. As of this year, we have an assessed value of $253,860. We purchased in 1995. Homes down the street are now selling for around $400,000. This means that every year, our assessed value will increase by 2%. And our bond tax will increase accordingly.

    Why didn’t we pursue another Mello-Roos? It’s a flat tax. Because there are rules and restrictions, and different voting percentages necessary. I agree with Linda: trying to pass this bond measure because it was easier to pass than a parcel tax doesn’t make it right, it just makes it easier.

    I want to see a better plan for the future and until then, I have yet to see any good arguments for changing my mind to a yes vote. “Because it’s for the good of the children” is not specific enough, and the 30 year mortgage analogy is specious. (Specious: apparently good or right though lacking real merit; superficially pleasing or plausible).

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  100. I'd also like to ask one last thing?

    Where is all the consensus building?

    This discussion appears to be framed as an "Either you're for us, or against us" kind of argument, when it should really be "Can we afford this, or can we afford not to?

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  101. I just want to know how much of Measure C will be going to attorney raises? If it is not much then I will vote yes otherwise its no.

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  102. Measure C is a bond measure. Bond measures can be used for facilities.

    The past measure C funds did not have the capacity to complete all of the campus improvements. HVAC improvements are still needed at many sites including El Monte, Ayers, Foothill. Additionally many of the multi-use rooms do not have HVA.

    Many of buildings need painting. In my tour of the schools, some of the rooms do not appear to have been painted in 20 - 30 years.

    When I look up at the ceilings of our high school gyms, many repairs are needed.

    Principals have been asked to put together an initial list of site improvements. In the last measure C, the site council that I was on prioritized the items that they wanted to done.

    For the information about the Measure C 2002 tax rate, here is some information

    Tax rates from Measure C have consistently been below the $60.00 per $100,000 of assessed value rate estimated to voters in 2002:

    o 2009-10 rate: $49.30

    o 2008-09 rate: $45.50

    o 2007-08 rate: $42.40

    o 2006-07 rate: $44.60

    o 2005-06 rate: $41.80

    o 2004-05 rate: $41.10

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  103. Linda L on 5/22@ 12:05am-

    I am not that poster you are referring to, but have posted anonymously here.

    Why do you feel the need to play gotcha with someone? I know for a fact that you don't know me, as one of your friends had previously claimed, and now you state that you know exactly who the 6:50 poster is.

    Why do you feel the need to say that? Does it diminish what is being said by the poster? There are reasons why some people choose to post anonymously. Many have been involved in the district for years and using their name could make things uncomfortable for them.

    Bravo for you for using your name. I have nothing against you for putting your opinions (yes that's what they are) out there, but it seems childish to me that you have a need to identify posters.

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  104. I appreciate and respect the comments that have been made here and wholeheartedly believe that our district needs a local funding measure(s) be that a bond and/or parcel tax. So it is unfortunate that I find myself in the position of opposing Measure C.

    For me, that position was sealed when the Borenstein CCTimes article came out, http://www.contracostatimes.com/ci_14992231?IADID=Search-www.contracostatimes.com-www.contracostatimes.com . In that article, it was made clear that our administration and elected officials did not take the time to determine what the bond measure was going to cost taxpayers prior to voting to place it on the ballot.

    If we, as taxpayers, are willing to lower the bar so low on what we expect from our elected officials that we would hand over $1.87B with so little planning and analysis to support that decision, then we should not complain when we see that same standard being used to make other critical decisions about the education of our students. I know we can do better than this.

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  105. Carla- With all due respect, do your kids still attend MDUSD schools?

    As a taxpayer, you have every right to your opinion about Measure C, but to parents of children in MDUSD schools, your opposition rings a little hollow.

    Our kids are in classrooms that haven't been painted in years and although the original Measure C did a lot of good things at many campuses, not every campus got what they needed.

    I do not thing Measure C is the best thing ever, but if not this now, then what?

    Maybe it's ok for you to say you aren't going to vote for it because your kids won't be that affected, but other families want to see improvement in their schools.

    That takes a bond and hopefully, a parcel tax.

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  106. As a supporter of Measure C, I am very disappointed that our Superintendent and board are not out in front of this.

    Sherry and Gary have posted on blogs, but where are Linda, Dick and Paul? I haven't heard a peep out of them and I don't want to only see support on blogs.

    We should be seeing our leaders out there tirelessly campaigning for this. It's hard to convince others to vote for Measure C without this leadership.

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  107. The district deserves credit for keeping the Measure C tax rate under the $60/$100,000 valuation that voters approved in 2002. However, it is somewhat "specious" for Sherry Whitmarsh to use the $40-$49 rate without, as Sheila Iskin does, showing what that rate looks like when applied to a property's valuation.

    According to the tax rates Sherry has provided, the owner of a property assessed at $300,000 will see a tax of about $150 for the first Measure C on his/her 2010 property tax bill. If passed, the new Measure C will be an additional amount. Both are to be paid over a long period of time. (20 years? I'm not sure of the duration.)

    The last parcel tax (Measure D) would have been a flat $99 per parcel, paid immediately and for each of the next five years specifically for programs and services that have just been reduced or eliminated. Fearing that voters would not renew the tax in five years implies an assumption that the district would not manage the money well. The management of the 2002 Measure C program provides strong evidence to the contrary. It's discouraging that Board members Whitmarsh and Eberhart have each voiced concern about a parcel tax being renewed.

    The significant numbers are 55 percent and 66.6 percent--the thresholds for passing, respectively, a bond and a parcel tax. By choosing a bond measure, the district leadership needs to convince fewer voters to approve a new tax.

    As has been said by posters on both sides of the new bond measure, the district needs both sources of funding. At this time, I think it needs the flexibility a parcel tax provides. Measure A and the 2002 Measure C continue to provide money for facilities, just not at their initial levels.

    I wish the district leadership had spent the year since the Measure D election highlighting the many successes that teachers, administrators, and support staff have been accomplishing in classrooms throughout the district--despite draconian budget cuts--instead of wringing their hands and pointing fingers at other politicians.

    Water over the dam, or under the bridge, of course. Still, the district leaders should not be surprised by the public's skepticism and must continue to respond to questions with clear, succinct answers.

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  108. Anon 9:10
    I want to thank you for helping me make up my mind. I was not sure if I was going to vote for this tax or not. I am definitely voting no. You are a campaign hack. I have been reading these comments and you seem to post often and have a hidden mean spirit to what you say. I am a parent in Mt. Diablo and I have known Carla back to the days when she worked to help save the music program. I also know that she worked very hard and led the parcel tax effort in my community last year. I would value her input because I am well aware of her dedication to our local schools and have found her to be more dedicated than many school parents in the community. It would be a sad day if we all believed as you do and that the only people who care about kids in our neighborhoods are those with kids in public school. Shame on you for trying to discredit a dedicated volunteer.

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  109. Comments on two posts:

    MDUSD parents may know more about district needs than other voters, but even if they all voted "yes," it would not be enough for the bond to pass. They comprise about 25 percent of the voters. Property owners/voters who do not have children in MDUSD schools (the majority of district voters) need to be given clear, reliable information if you want them to support this initiative. Chastising an opponent for not having children in a district school is not going to win their support.

    Linda Mayo and Dick Allen have never posted comments on computer blogs, so shouldn't be expected to begin now. Be assured that both actively campaign in every district election. They work at campaign headquarters, participate in phone banking, walk the precincts, are available to speak to groups, and make a financial donation.

    Gary's and Paul's absence on the blogs is curious given that they successfully created and used a blog to campaign for the leadership change in the district. Having achieved their goal, they shut down their blog. Gary has even said in his post here that he thinks blogs are NOT "an effective way to communicate or to educate people about what is going on in the district . . "--quite the opposite of what he said during his re-election campaign. Sherry, to her credit, continues to communicate through blogs, as she did in her election campaign, reading and responding to questions. We appreciate her for that.

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  110. 11:21am- I am most definitely not a campaign hack. I am not involved in the campaign at all, but I do plan on voting for the measure.

    It was not my intent to malign Carla. I know of her and my impression of her is positive. I only wanted to say that when your kids aren't sitting in hot, run-down classrooms, it's easier to make this about the financial and not the emotional.

    The arguments on this blog against Measure C are centered around the measure not being fiscally sound. Fair enough. My point is that there are other factors that should be considered.

    There is a direct relationship between home values and the quality of schools. If you live in Walnut Creek, you know that in every real estate magazine, sellers will indicate "Walnut Creek Schools" when a house is located in that district. Homes that are not as nice as those in Northgate cost as much as the Northgate ones do because they are not in the MDUSD.

    We all want our children to attend good schools, but you have to pay for them. Acalanes district has two parcel taxes, WCSD has one and if you live in Lafayette or Orinda you have to donate heavily to their foundations. Does this make good fiscal sense? Residents in these areas already pay high taxes for their schools, but they know that quality education costs.

    Our schools are in trouble. MDUSD has no parcel tax and even with a determined campaign, it might not pass in today's anti tax climate.

    Perhaps Northgate's buildings are in good order. Unfortunately, that is not the case at a lot of other schools in the district. A bond is needed whether the things we are paying for now will be obsolete in 42 years or not. Ongoing maintenance is necessary to protect the district's assets.

    The truth of the matter is that there will be some relief to the general fund if Measure C passes. Hopefully, that relief will ensure that our students might still have music and librarians in the future.

    To those of us with kids in the district, these things matter and creative financing options might be the only way to ensure that our kids still get these programs. I am not trying to discredit anyone, only trying to show that it's the kids in public school who will lose.

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  111. Anon 10:38am said-
    "However, it is somewhat "specious" for Sherry Whitmarsh to use the $40-$49 rate without, as Sheila Iskin does, showing what that rate looks like when applied to a property's valuation. "

    I just looked at Sherry's post and she clearly says $60/ $100,000. Here is what she said-
    "Tax rates from Measure C have consistently been below the $60.00 per $100,000 of assessed value rate estimated to voters in 2002:
    "

    I am not sure what you think is specious. Is it that some people can't figure out that if their house is worth $300K or $600K that they can't do the multiplication?

    I also think you are incorrect about the way the taxes are paid on Measure C. This Measure C is an extension of the one that was passed in 2002. You are not going to pay an "additional" tax as you claim. When the original tax expires, you tax rate will continue for the term of the new tax. I am not sure where you got your facts. This is apparently the way voters who were polled wanted it to play out.

    I also don't know what you mean when you say that Measure A and the original Measure C continue to fund facilities improvements. I am pretty sure that those amounts have been fully used and that is the reason a new bond is being proposed.

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  112. Anon 4:24

    The fact is that the Acalanes Board would never propose a bond measure like this Measure C. A bond measure that brings $348M to the district but cost $1.87 BILLION. So the fiscal soundness is not about passing a bond or a parcel tax, it is about passing this bond.

    I would guess that the voters in the Acalanes School District are thankful for the leadership that has led them to a place where their community trusts the school district to do what is right for their children, their schools,and their community.

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  113. 5:12- Where do you get your facts from when you say that Acalanes would never put forth a bond measure like Measure C.

    I don't know if you are basing this on actual information or a feeling that you have, but Acalanes has passed at least two bonds and three parcel taxes in the last 10 years.

    Acalanes' Measure E- Approved by voters on 11/4/08 was a $93 million bond that extended a previous $43 million bond voted for in 2002.

    Let's put this in perspective. Acalanes has around 6,000 students and asked for $93 million even though they have benefit of parcel taxes to help with their programs.

    MDUSD has 33,000 students and are asking for $357M. No parcel tax.

    Here is the link to Smart Voter.org bond measure as it appeared on the ballot:
    http://www.smartvoter.org/2008/11/04/ca/cc/meas/E/

    At the time of the vote, there was a vocal contingent who decried the financial wisdom of the Acalanes district and questioned their ability to make sound decisions.

    Here are some arguments against the measure that were taken from the ballot.

    "The Acalanes High School District already has three bond measures on which they are collecting money through our property tax bills. Now they want another one. "

    "The District also claims that this bond can be done "without increasing current tax rates". This is pure double talk. Since they are not retiring any of the three current bond measures, our taxes will go up with another charge on our property tax bill. "

    "In 2002 voters approved a $43 million bond measure. Now the District wants another $93 million, more than double the previous bonds for which we are still paying. "

    "Claiming that Measure E does not increase our taxes is disingenuous. We will pay more over a longer period which means more taxes.

    "This District already has three bond measures in effect which we are paying on our property tax bill. They have not used previous bonds as promised so why should we believe them now? "

    An article by Paul Thissen of the Oakland Tribune after the vote said of the tax"...The measure will not raise taxes immediately. Instead, it will extend the current tax rate, which would have ended in 2025, until about 2042, depending on economic conditions..."

    Here is what the proponents of Measure E said on their ballot statement:

    "Measure E raises the local funds needed for each of these projects without increasing current tax rates. Instead, Measure E extends the number of years it will take to pay off high school bonds voters in the district have already approved."

    "Measure E continues a community investment in quality school facilities without increasing current tax rates. "

    Sounds just like MDUSD.

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  114. Why did MDUSD cancel their board meeting tomorrow night?

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  115. I bet the board meeting got canceled because Gary, Paul, and Sherri don't have the guts to answer the true questions that would have been asked about Measure C.

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  116. 12:03am Why do you leave Linda and Dick out of this? Aren't they board members with an obligation to the community?

    If they aren't for Measure C they should say so, if they are for it, they should come out in support.

    We have five board members. It's clear that your problem is just with three, which makes it easy to see that you don't care about the district, only your personal issues.

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  117. Linda and Carla, as well meaning as they may be, just don’t get it. The district needs a facilities bond AND a parcel tax. Their assertions that we could have had a parcel tax this time are fantasy – no matter how much they WISH it were true. They want to blame the Board for Measure D’s failure – because its very easy to blame – instead of accepting the reality that the overwhelming majority of the voters do not have kids in the schools. As such, MDUSD has got to show progress in order to create enough confidence in the general public to eventually support a parcel tax.

    Measure C is the best option at this point: it will yield lots of positive benefits (needed repairs, improved technology and some operations savings that can go back into the classrooms) AND it will create momentum in the community to build toward an eventual parcel tax.

    The alternative that Linda and Carla are pushing for would be a disaster for the district. Another failed measure will tell the broader community that MDUSD is a loser and unworthy of their support - EVER. It will also hand a spectacular defeat to Steven Lawrence who hasn’t had any time to even establish himself in his role. A no vote on Measure C is basically saying let the district burn down so we have no choice but to rebuild the whole thing over the next several years. Well, for me and my 3 kids, that’s not an option - no matter how much Linda and Carla think things would be better if they were in charge…

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  118. Following his re-election and Sherry's election in November 2008, Gary Eberhart hailed the creation of a new Board majority (he and Sherry and Paul) that would lead the district through changes that would increase collaboration among all stakeholders and improve operations. So by their own doing, this threesome has placed themselves in the position as the district's leadership; in fact, he and Paul have been the Board officers for the past two years. They have to accept the accountability that comes with any leadership position.

    I'm not sure how criticizing decisions made by a Board majority (whether 3-2, 4-1, or 5-0) means the critic has personal issues with particular Board members rather than concerns about the impact of those decisions on the district as a whole.

    Gary won re-election in part because he criticized the previous Board for 3-2 votes on which he was the minority. For the past year he's been happy with 3-2 votes because he's on the majority side. Members of the MDUSD community have a right to question Board decisions without being accused of having a personal agenda.

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  119. 10:04- Do you actually know how many votes go down as 3-2, 4-1 or 5-0? I think you will be very surprised.

    At the time that Gary and Paul rose up to speak out against the district, many felt they were right.

    I definitely agree that since the election, we haven't heard much from them--especially Paul, but that doesn't mean that they were wrong in what they did, or that Linda and Dick are excused from speaking for the Measure.

    Move on with your hate. Better yet, run against Paul and be productive about it.

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  120. The MDUSD board has called off the meeting for tonight That's right no public ??????'s Just Vote on the 8th We won't have another board meeting til the 15th of June ARE THESE PEOPLE FOR REAL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  121. I'm not sure about the definition of activiely campaigning. As an elected official, I cannot campaign on school sites or any district property.

    I have been discussing this with community members at my church, in the grocery store, and at work when asked about this.

    I have been phone banking. I plan on continuing to phone bank and to do a precint walk.

    I work 40 hours+ a week in addition to being a parent.

    So please a bit more enlightenment about Sherry not actively campaigning.

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  122. I should have added that Kish Rajan said that CUES committee which supports measure C meet daily with Dr. Lawrence.

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  123. Whitemarsh.

    Way to continue to tip toe around the real issues once again. Trying to sell a Bond measure that is clearly not in the taxpayer’s best interest, which ultimately hurts the schools is WRONG.

    The public wants honesty and some leadership with the school board. Until then - I will vote no on EVERYTHING...

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  124. 2:38- How does this bond measure hurt our schools? Your logic is so ridiculous as is your petty stabs at Sherry.

    I thought this blog was for thoughtful discourse, but I see that it is just another place for angry trolls to come out and complain about things they do nothing to fix.

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  125. 2:38

    First, the name is Whitmarsh not Whitemarsh. I'm assuming you did that on purpose.

    Second, I hope you don't have children in the district. The stance that Measure C hurts the kids is ridiculous. The kids deserve what the bond measure will give them.

    Third, I hope you are running for office. There are three spots up this year and two in 2012.

    Fourth, so your suggestions for school improvement is what?

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  126. Sherry,

    The question has been asked but we haven't heard your answer. Tonight is the last opportunity for the board to listen to and answer questions about Measure C and yet the meeting has unexpectedly been cancelled. Why?

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  127. I also would like to know why the meeting was canceled if the board isn't purposely trying to slip one by the electorate.

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  128. I too would like to know why the board is not using tonight as an opportunity to communicate their plans regarding Measure C?

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  129. I have asked some board members the reason for cancellation. I will say that if you have more questions ask them to come to you or meet at your school (PFC / PTA meeting) or bring together people at your house. I'm sure they'd come and speak . That said, Linda Mayo is working hard on this campaign. They have a facebook page, she worked hard on Measure D. I like Linda, but she often does things behind the scenes and gets very little credit which is unfortunate.

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  130. Maybe I'm wrong, but I thought that the board members could not discuss the campaign at board meetings?? I thought questions had to be asked of the campaign members. There is never a question and answer type of interaction at board meetings that I have seen anyway. They probably don't want to have the meeting and discuss the budget cuts before the election because what cuts have to be made will depend on the outcome of the election.

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  131. No On C! No On C!

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  132. I'm sure the election had nothing (or very little) to do with any cancellation... The meeting was cancelled by President of Board and Superintendent I think. Now, what I'm more worried about is budget cuts. With now only ONE meeting between now and the need for a balanced budgets, cuts may be proposed and made on that one meeting without much ability to discuss. I'm much more worried about this. MDEA is not negotiating so I'm told so what can be cut without touching the teacher? This is the part that is not sitting well with me. Stay tuned.

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  133. Since no agenda was posted in advance, there could be no meeting. In other words there can never be a meeting if the agenda is posted on Friday night for a Tuesday night meeting.

    The agenda creation is the responsibility of the board president and the secretary of the board, which is the superintendent.

    I do know that staff members are working on negotiations and the 2010/2011 budget. I believe the school services had a meeting on Thursday, May 20 to give their initial analysis of the budget. Usually our financial officer and superintendent attend these meetings.

    I believe Dr. Lawrence told the PAC - but I could have the wrong community group - that the proposed budget would first be presented at the first June meeting. I was not expecting to see an recommended budget this past Tuesday.

    As a board we cannot discuss the campaign. We cannot use school resources for the campaign. The campaign committee can discuss it at a PTA/PFC/Parent Meeting.

    I have been phone banking several times (including this past Tuesday) and I have 150 flyers that I'm passing out. I have been to several schools to discuss the measure as a parent.

    Kudo's to Mike Noce for being at the corner of Treat and Bancroft at 7:00 a.m. with a Yes on C sign.

    Linda Mayo is also very involved in the state PTA level and also attends many of the conferences and events.

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  134. Sherry,

    You keep referring to the work being done on Measure C. What was in question was the board's commitment during Measure D.

    --------
    Last night's meeting would have provided the community an opportunity to speak. By canceling the meeting the board controlled the conversation that would have taken place in front of the press. Simple and effective campaign strategy but not one that builds trust.

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  135. Anon 6:10

    Sherry was there for Measure D as I witnessed her participation and involvement (as much as she was legally allowed to do).

    What did you do for Measure D? Did you vote? If the majority of parents with children in MDUSD had even bothered to vote, then Measure D would have passed.

    As for the BOE meeting being post poned until 6/15, have you asked the BOE President why? To me it makes sense as this Board needs to know where our district stands financially and then make the cuts necessary to provide the required 3 year balanced budget which I think is due at the end of June. This won't be known until after the 6/8 election. I heard that more cuts are coming from our State (kind of like a back door cut, states no further cuts to education but then reduces other funding in education). This could mean an additional $1.6 million a year in cuts.

    God help our schools and children, because that is what it is going to take.

    YES ON MEASURE C

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  136. MDUSD Parent,

    There were other issues to be covered last night like the improvement plans for two of the lowest performing schools.

    As for Measure D yes, I voted for Measure D. I also know that our board did not participate in our parcel tax campaign the way boards do in other districts.

    The legal issue is about district property and resources not about a board member's time.

    Our board was not focused on Measure D, we did not have campaign leadership, and we did not have an administration willing to rally the troops. We had low parent participation and low voter turnout. Couple all that with a quick and loosely put together campaign, an awful ballot line up, and an angry electorate, we didn't stand a chance. That doesn't mean we don't fix those issues and try again.

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  137. 6:55, You have no idea what the board members did for Measure D. Did you ask each of them personally? I doubt it. Just continue on with your negativity towards the board and the school district, it's really doing so much to help our kids!

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  138. 6:55, where did you get the idea that the board members were not involved with Measure D? That is interesting. Every event I went to at least one board member was there. They worked hard behind the scenes and Linda Mayo practically lived at the HQ. They were at the speaking events, press conferences and kick offs. I don't need to defend them, but I felt it had to be said. I wish this blog would evolve to be honest, productive discussion and not the negativity or speaking about something some don't know about.

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  139. My take is that the board senses a big loss on Measure C and is basically pouting like little school children so they decided not to have their meeting.

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  140. 9:34 - the only ones being childish here are the whiners on this blog pursuing the absurd arguments that 1. We could have passed Measure D if only the Board had tried harder and 2. The way to get a parcel tax passed is to take down Measure C to spite the Board.

    You folks need to grow up and understand that our schools need to be improved. And we will never pass a parcel tax until we show the public that the district can make progress.

    So stop pouting about Measure D and do something productive: pass Measure C and use it to make progress.

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  141. Anon 10:38,

    Do you mean, "Pass measure C and let the board give a bunch of people salary increases?" Because that is what Sherry basically said they would do on the Crazy in Suburbia blog, in my opinion.

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  142. Measure C = 1.87 Billion. Vote No.

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  143. It's interesting to me that there are a lot of posters on here that are against Measure C, with many of them really mean-spirited.

    Someone called a person who questioned if someone who has kids in private school mean spirited, but it's your focus on the strictly financial that makes you mean spirited.

    You are so short sighted to think that not passing Measure C is a good thing. You can make your case that it is not the best fiscal decision, but what is during these crazy financial times?

    For the record, the district was in turmoil around the time Measure D was hitting the ballot. There was little confidence in the district and no permanent head yet.

    Carla- You were a supporter of Measure D. What did you tell people back then when they argued that MDUSD didn't deserve a parcel tax? Were you kids in private school back then?

    What do you think will happen to all of our property values when we are tied to a district that can't pass a bond or a parcel tax? Don't you already see that WC residents in the MDUSD already are at a disadvantage?

    What happened to the poster who was lauding the Acalanes district? I saw no response to the post that even the vaunted Acalanes has their detractors. Probably because a lot of posters here are sycophants who are lazy and let other people do their thinking for them. There's a lot of that going on these days.


    Anon 5/25 @10:02 hit the nail on the head.

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  144. The following information is from a research sheet that I put together last year when I worked as a site captain for the Measure D Parcel Tax at Woodside Elementary. If anyone would like to get the entire sheet, I will be happy to email you the complete list of local school districts and their parcel and bond history. Email me at pearandgingerjam@yahoo.com and I will send you the information.

    Mt. Diablo – does not have a parcel tax.
    (35,355 students, 55 schools)
    Covers Clayton, Concord, and portions of Bay Point, Martinez, Pleasant Hill, and Walnut Creek.
    Has never had a parcel tax. Would like to pass our first ever parcel tax this May 19, 2009 for $99 for 5 years. Offers Senior exemptions and community oversight if passed.
    3/2002 Measure C Bond passed.
    11/1989 Measure A Mello Roos

    Acalanes High School – has a parcel tax.
    (5,905 students, 6 schools)
    * Lafayette, Walnut Creek, Orinda, and Moraga all pay their own parcel taxes plus this one.

    11/08 - Bond passed.
    3/05 - $189 parcel tax passed, expires 2011.
    11/02 - Bond passed.
    3/01 - Parcel tax passed.
    4/00 - Parcel tax failed
    11/97 - Bond passed.
    6/91, 6/95 - 2 parcel taxes passed
    11/88 - Bond passed

    “Parcel Tax” is the common term for a school district “qualified special tax”. Cities, counties and other districts can also adopt special taxes. Special taxes are permitted by the Constitution, and require approval at an election by at least 2/3 (66.7%) of those voting on the measure. These are often used for program and instruction.

    “Bonds” Usually pay for construction improvements. Vote required: 55%.

    “Mello-Roos”: Cities, Counties, and special districts (schools, police, fire departments, libraries) use these municipal bonds to finance and build infrastructure. Usually have restrictions. Needs a 2/3 (66.7%) vote to pass

    Data according to: http://www.cccoe.k12.ca.us/about/stats.html (for district size 08-09 figures)
    www.ed-data.k12.ca.us

    Select: district reports, Contra Costa Co. and select report for “Bond and Parcel Tax Elections”

    *Some discrepancies were clarified at the C.C. County Assessors Office in a conversation with Sue Turner. Any errors are mine alone – Sheila Iskin

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  145. I’d like to follow up with the poster who remarked about the Acalanes High School success passing a bond measure. I would like to point out that they have a long history of bond and parcel tax efforts. The leadership at their helm was actually working on getting stable funding on both Bonds and Parcel Taxes, while MDUSD was still in the talking stage. Acalanes has years behind them of talking, explaining, and educating their voters and they have built a foundation of understanding and support, regardless of their detractors. MDUSD is unfortunately years behind on this task, and it needs to occur before we will see widespread community support for any kind of a bond or parcel tax.

    Acalanes is only a high school, with a significantly smaller population to mobilize than the MDUSD Elementary, Middle and High School population. Furthermore, they draw from an affluent area with mostly white collar professionals with many who have experience in banking and finance. Lastly, all this occurred long before the economy crashed and burned.

    This is the most important point of all: Do not hold a May/June election for ANY bond or parcel tax, because the people who are most likely to get off their duff to participate in any way to assist this process are already too damn busy.

    There is one exception to this: A continuation of a bond or parcel tax effort that failed in November, but that already has momentum behind it.

    The vaunted volunteers who are the heartbeat of a Bond or Parcel Tax campaign are the folks who are already hauling their children off to swim team, baseball, soccer, football and dance, or girl scouts, or boy scouts, or whatever. Then there’s everyone else who is still fitting in Music performances, field trips, and graduation planning meetings. Chances are likely that if you are remotely involved, or remotely concerned and would like to be involved in a campaign to raise funds for the school system, then you already have 3 things on your calendar for every night in May. And if you don’t have three things on your calendar for every night in May, then you’re probably working and trying to get dinner on the table.

    I told Dr. Lawrence this at his “Meet Me” meeting at Ygnacio Valley High School. I said it was like pulling blood from a stone to get volunteers from our elementary school. Everyone said, “I’d like to help, but can’t right now.”

    (continued)

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  146. A few days ago, I asked my daughter who is eleven years old if she wanted me to vote yes on this bond so that we could put air conditioning in her MUR. But I also explained that if she moved in down the street from me that she would be 54 years old before she would have to stop paying for the air conditioning and the paint job.

    She looked at me like I was crazy and said, very emphatically. “NO!”

    So I’m taking her advice. After all, she’ll be the one saddled with the bill eventually. I’m still voting no on Measure C. I don’t care to pay this much for a bond that I perceive as being put on with haste, and willy-nilly wishlist items. While I’d love to have my children have an Acalanes High School experience, my good sense says that there has been a lot more background work and planning that has gone into those efforts, than I am currently seeing in this one.

    I am a huge supporter of the school system. I donate my time, my money, I listen to or try to attend the Board Meetings. I try to make a difference, hopefully for the better. More than half the battle is getting people to participate in the process.

    I was very appreciative of the hour that Sherry Whitmarsh spent with me listening to my concerns outside the MDUSD music foundation fundraiser one afternoon. I think the Board members are doing their best, and when you're trying to get an agenda together for a public meeting and you are weighing what needs to go on the agenda, with the information that you have, or are waiting for, there are a lot of considerations that come into play, and it's never a cut and dried political play.

    I will abide by whatever the community ends up voting for, knowing that I've done what I can to be a part of the process, and to weigh all the issues. If measure c passes, then we'll hopefully see some great things happen.

    I know it won't be for several years, because none of this is going to impact next year. I won't see smaller class sizes, I won't see music restored, I won't see any program improvement.

    I will see solar at my elementary, and while I have my doubts as to it's touted payoff, I just hope if it goes in, that the same vandal who burned down our YMCA building doesn't strike again.

    Some of the posters here have made me reconsider my bond financing opinion. If measure C doesn't pass, then I hope that the Board will consider working with the community to carefully assess the projects that the principals have submitted to work on a long term viable plan for financing that uses a combined bond AND parcel tax campaign that will give volunteers enough time to properly market the information to the community so that our time and efforts are not wasted. I also hope that the bond can be structured differently, so that we aren't paying off debt for such a long time.

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  147. Sheila- I appreciate your posts because they convey some real thought, but you totally lost me when you said that your 11 year old daughter was the one who convinced you not to vote for the bond.

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  148. Fair enough. ;) I was wondering if anyone was watching and saw that comment. If the 2010 Bond extension of the 2002 Measure C won't be paid off until 2042, then my daughter who is turning 12, will be 54 years old in 2042 when the bond extension would finally be paid off.

    I thought it was fair to ask for her input. If she was to stay and buy a house in this community as an adult and I would like her to want to do that, she would be paying for this future debt we are taking on for the next 32 years.

    I was curious, and I thought it was only fair to ask her if she thought that was something she'd want to pay for as an adult? I often used to purchase something for her only to have her ask me to take it back because it wasn't something she wanted. I have stopped buying for her. She's old enough to make up her own mind. And you can't exactly return a bond debt to the store for reimbursement.

    I don't know how many of you talk to your children about how to spend your money. I talk to mine a lot. It's part of the education process. And they are way ahead of where I was at their age because my parents never talked to me about finances.

    I was explaining to her that she benefits from the MUR that was built by the 1989 Mello Roos tax. She understands that a past community investment is what allows her to gain a benefit today, in this case a building that she uses every day.

    I also explained that we are going to be paying for that building until 2020 and that we pay a flat fee every year.

    There is a common viewpoint on this thread about how the Measure C bond extension is the only way we can pay for facility improvements. I would argue that the Mello Roos which also funded facility improvements offers a better way to pay for this without going into such onerous debt. The trade off is that it would require the same effort and difficulty as passing a parcel tax as it requires a 66% approval.

    A Mello Roos would therefore require the same planning, marketing, communication and education effort that we failed miserably to accomplish last May.

    So the options are:
    Bonds and Mello Roos for facility improvement.

    Parcel Taxes for program improvement.

    Without sitting on the committee that is dedicated to figuring out the nuts and bolts of bond financing and having all the numbers at my fingertips for research and evaluation, I can only rely upon my common sense at this point.

    I'm not going to rely on an outdated voter poll about how a majority thinks they want to pay for things, especially when it appears that they have been incompletely informed as to all the details of the full expense.

    And I'm not going to vote for something just because a group of people have told me that the only way we can get something passed is to choose the option that requires the lowest margin of votes.

    That to me, is a vote of no confidence in our community, when what we really need is a better foundation and more buy-in.

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  149. Sheila,
    I agree with everything you said in these last few posts. Thank you for conveying the information and your thoughts so eloquently.

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  150. Well Said Sheila. Crazy what this Bond is going to cost taxpayers over the long run. I just wish people would stop with the "this is better than nothing" opinion.

    Just because this is all we have doesn't make it right. Focus on pushing through a solid parcel tax and stop trying to back end a fiscally irresponsible bond measure.

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  151. Linda, Carla, Sheila and other No on C people- Can we expect to see you at the forefront of the next parcel tax campaign?

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  152. I can't speak for anyone else, but I will tell you that if Measure C doesn't pass and we need to continue to look for school funding, then I will participate in the best of my ability to move this process forward. I am not afraid of doing heavy lifting and as you have seen evidence here, I am not going to be ducking behind the safe oblivion of "anonymous".

    If we've gotten this far in our opinions, it's because we have a stake invested in the outcome and to give up now, would be quitting. I don't think any of us are quitters. Well, I can't say that for sure. I don't know any of the people who have put their names out here, and I don't know any of you anonymous people. Well, actually I've met Sherry Whitmarsh a time or two, but that's it. However, I'd sure be happy to meet you and we can discuss the future of our community over coffee anytime you like. :)

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  153. Sheila- I can tell you are a class act, and I appreciate what you did to help out on Measure D, but please don't assume that because others have posted anonymously, they have not done heavy lifting also.

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  154. Sheila:

    Thanks for all of your thoughtful input (and research) on Measure C issues.

    I'm still baffled though by why are we getting bogged down in the argument of parcel tax OR bond at all? The district clearly needs both. One is needed for programs and people. The other is needed to provide the right environment and physical tools for learning. The State currently does not provide for anywhere near adequate funding to take care of either .

    So, why must one be automatically more important than the other? Or come first ? How did it get to be a parcel tax or nothing at all ? Ask a teacher whether or not the learning experience is compromised by physical issues such as extreme heat in the classroom during the months at the start of the school year. Or whether or not continuous computer crashes at their schools due to poor bandwidth costs them instructional time. Bet even they understand why you sometimes have to plan to pay for infrastructure upgrades too. It’s interesting to me that basic maintenance and upgrade of the environment our children inhabit day in and day out for much of the year gets labeled as “wishy-washy wishlist” items. If your roof sprung a leak at home, would you label its expensive repair the same way—as simply “stuff you don’t really need?”

    Your Acalanes history only reinforces the idea that school districts need, and plan for, both types of measures. And other district histories across the state reinforce that there is not a one size fits all approach to which comes first when. I would think it would be a good thing for leadership to be sensitive to the economic realities and current political mood of their individual communities as a whole and be able to be flexible in deciding what to go out for when. And to keep an eye towards keeping tax rates as low as possible in one proposal so that it is possible to consider passing additional types local funding measures in the near future as well.

    The bond payoff rate that everyone seems to fixated on is theoretical. The low rate structured by the measure that will actually appear on property tax bills right now for modest income taxpayers like me seems to be to be much more real and fixed. From what I understand, much can, and will change in the future that can make that payoff number look very different. I’m curious Sheila, just as an example: did you also illustrate for your daughter the concept of how different inflation rates in the future might make that tax rate down the road seem like a very small amount of money indeed on her future tax bill?

    Bottom line…we gotta quit bickering, throwing stones, and arguing about what types of plans are better than others around this district before it’s too late to plan for anything at all. It’s like focusing on detailed plans to shore up your expensive cliff side home as all the while, the cliff keeps crumbling ever faster right beneath you, rendering those plans obsolete even as you make them.

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  155. Jules, proud YVHS ParentMay 27, 2010 at 4:10 PM

    Thank you Anon 3:13, well said. We are voting Yes on Measure C.

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  156. I agree we need both. But we don't need THIS bond. It's too expensive, we'll be paying far too long, and much more thought needed to have gone into this to get me and others to buy in. I was heavily involved in Measure D. And I will happily join Sheila to work on the next parcel tax. HOWEVER, if this expensive bond passes, I worry that people will not be willing to pass another school funding measure any time soon. We should've gone after a parcel tax. Period. This is not the right solution.

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  157. Anon 4:34

    We have a Bond Measure, not a parcel tax. Shoulda, woulda, coulda's are not helping our schools. Sadly if Measure C does not pass I seriously doubt anyone would want to pursue anything a 3rd time, including our BOE. I am voting yes on Measure C and that is it. After this one, I am done. My last child will have graduated, yippee :)

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  158. Our BOE as far as I know was the deciding "vote" as to whether to go after this bond. It was a mistake. Half of the members of the original CUES (Measure D ) committee have dropped out and are speaking out now. Many of them spoke then and did not agree with this bond. But they plowed through anyway. Why? Their survey? They won't even release the full text and results of all their survey questions/answers. No one asked me! Or ANYONE I know I can tell you that. They did this because they thought they could pull one over on us and rely on the "simple majority" who will always vote for a school issue. This is not the right bond. This is not the right time. We need to save programs and people. Not add solar and a/c. When your household is floundering (to go with their continual housing analogy) and you're about to go into foreclosure, what do you do? Buy a/c and improve your roof or pay for food and doctors - the things that sustain you every day? Ok, that's a rhetorical question in case you didn't catch it. Quite frankly. .. to stick with the housing/mortgage analogy , it's that simple. You don't buy ac when you're starving! You don't buy new windows when you can't pay for gas for your car. PROGRAMS. PEOPLE! It will be years to see any true money or results from this bond. We will be paying it well beyond it's usefulness and Sheila was dead on when she said, at least with a mortgage we have a an asset , we can sell, or that at the very least we OWN and we enjoyed living in. This just leaves us always needing more. And again, we need a bond yes.. NOT THIS ONE. One that is more manageable and one that is IN LINE with what other nearby bonds cost their families. Not the exorbinant cost of this one. Not this one.

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  159. Anon 2:08

    You bet I will be in the forefront working on a parcel tax for this district. I did that last May and have continued to do so for the past year since the failure of Measure D.

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  160. 4:57- I would really appreciate hearing why half of the CUES committee ended up dropping out.

    How did the other half get their way? Was there pressure from the BOE? Maybe we can get some perspective.

    It is naive to think that another attempt at a parcel tax will work. Maybe in four or five years, but not right away. Another campaign means more volunteers, more money, more time away from the family--all for a very long shot. MDUSD will have the taint of another loss on it, and there is no way that 67% of the public is going to vote for a parcel tax.

    There is more to getting solar than just going green. It means paying less in PG&E costs now and in the future. There are creative ways that can be explored to generate income from the district's solar panels. This money go back into the general fund and can be used for programs.

    I know that the people who have been writing to the paper and posting here against Measure C think they are doing what is right, but they aren't. We need a bond measure as much as we need a parcel tax, and if this one doesn't pass, there will be public relations implications that make passing anything in the future remote.

    There was a letter to the editor today against Measure C. It was signed by four or five people. I only recognized two names but neither of those two have kids currently in the MDUSD.

    You may say that it shouldn't matter, but I think it's easy to be judgmental when you don't have to worry about how it will affect your kids--just your taxes.

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  161. Anon 6:27,

    Don't know what magical jelly bean field you think Measure C money magically appears from, but I'm voting No expressly for the children. A 1.87 BILLION dollar tax burden that extends 42 years into the future will be just a detrimental to our children as not having air conditioning or freed up money for attorney raises in the general fund will.

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  162. 10:47- Oh please! Stop with the attorney raises already! Good Lord. If you have a point make it, but stop harping on something that has already happened!

    You can tell yourself anything you want to believe that voting no is for the kids. People can convince themselves of a lot of things.

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  163. I received a Measure C flier in the mail targeting Concord. A friend sent me the flier targeting Walnut Creek. They are very different. Since the Walnut Creek flier is specific to WC, I would like someone to address the correlation between what is listed on the Measure C flier and what is listed on the project list for Northgate. Here is the NHS project list from the MDUSD website:

    * Installation of Ground Mounted Solar Structure
    * Installation of Centralized Irrigation Management System
    * Parking Lot Repair
    * Exterior Door Replacement
    * Door Hardware Replacement
    * Floor Covering (Aggregate) Replacement
    * Food Service: Code Improvements
    * Installation of Security System
    * Installation of Telecommunications System
    * Installation of Network Cabling and Upgrades
    * Installation of Technology Classroom Enhancements

    Here is what is promised on the Walnut Creek targeted campaign flier:

    Improved classroom instructional technology will support career and high-tech education in fields like engineering, computer programming, electronics, and biotech.

    Measure C will provide modern instructional technology needed to protect advanced class offerings...

    Measure C will restore vital learning opportunities that have been reduced or eliminated by state budget cuts.

    Is the district providing funding for class sections so that our students will have classes in engineering and biotech? How will instructional technology protect advanced class offerings? What is instructional technology? Is this about webcasting? Northgate has webcasting equipment that for two years sat unused because no one knew how to use it. How will webcasting save advanced placement classes when the district/union still requires a credential teacher be in the classroom rather than an aide? How will webcasting help when staff development is cut? What programs are going to be restored, where is the priority list?

    All of these items sound wonderful. I want to believe this is good for our kids but I see a poorly-structured bond intended to provide funding for a solar project for which we have no details and everything else on the list is there to make us feel good but is not well planned.

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  164. San Ramon School District is borrowing money to install Solar.

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  165. Linda- When Dr. Lawrence made his rounds at the beginning of his term, he said that increasing technology would help protect advance classes.

    If I remember correctly, schools can be linked so that those kids in schools that don't have enough enrollment for an AP class can be part of another schools classes through online linking. This is very promising for kids in school with less AP offerings.

    Realistically speaking, even if this bond was structured better, there would be a vocal contingent who would say that it isn't needed, deserved, etc. That's not an excuse, it's just that you make it seem that if it was structured better than everyone would be on board. Unfortunately, that is not true.

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  166. Anon 10:01

    The beauty of distance learning is the opportunity to share resources which would alleviate the exact problem you are referring to in the following paragraph:

    If I remember correctly, schools can be linked so that those kids in schools that don't have enough enrollment for an AP class can be part of another schools classes through online linking. This is very promising for kids in school with less AP offerings.

    The problem is that right now webcasting will not solve this problem. The reason low enrollment in an AP class keeps a school from being able to offer the class has to do with the district requirement of minimum enrollment in order to fund a class. The reason they require this is the cost of having a credentialed teacher in the classroom. If the district is webcasting from one school to another they still require credentialed teachers in both classrooms. That means the school with low enrollment will still not meet the minimum required class size for funding.

    If the district has a new plan for using webcasting I would love to hear about it. I am a big fan of consolidating resources and having students learn from the best in a given subject area. Webcasting can have many exciting uses and I would like to hear what is planned but saving AP classes right now does not appear to me to be one of them.

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  167. Hey Mr. Superintendent,
    It seems to me that the real worry is that the morale of our district teachers is just as low as it can be. For that reason we are losing students by the dozens as the parents go about doing what you cannot seem to do. Get them an education. Make this a place where children are educated and they will come back. The students in this district aren,t even asked to spell correctly. My children have never even heard i before e except after C. Wake up and get to the business of educating my children. Otherwise there will be 4 more off of your rolls. I am tired of waiting. And even more tired of hearing the money excuse. Do your jobs PLEASE!

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  168. Linda I do not agree completely with your statement:

    "The reason low enrollment in an AP class keeps a school from being able to offer the class has to do with the district requirement of minimum enrollment in order to fund a class. The reason they require this is the cost of having a credentialed teacher in the classroom"

    You need to take into consideration the high schools in our district that have the majority of the districts ESL students. Many of these students are not ready nor capable of handling the rigors of Honors of AP classes. My students at YVHS are capable and deserve the same opportunity as a student at Northgate. Just because a school can not meet the minimum student requirement does not mean there is not a need for that class. Web casting is a great option and this could be done in a regular classroom and the AP or Honors students could be linked in via headphones, the teacher would be in the classroom to supervise and teach the remaining kids in the class.

    There are many solutions of which can and will be worked out. I do not want to see our Superintendent spending his valuable time on web casting until we as a district know it can be funded and technology brought up to date at all facilities to accommodate it.

    Measure C will help our students at all schools, they all deserve the same, equal education.

    We are voting YES ON MEASURE C

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  169. Anon 8:05
    I could be wrong but I don't believe that Linda was objecting to the fact that money is being borrowed to finance solar. It is the fact that there are absolutely no written details available to support the $68M that the district will use to install what could the largest school solar project in California at a cost to taxpayers of approximately $340M. Based on verbal information provided by District representatives, my understanding is that there still remain different points of view on how solar will be installed (despite the project list), the actual energy savings, the PG&E rebates, the maintenance costs including the costs associated with insuring and securing the solar installations, and the timing and size of benefits to the general fund.

    Contrast that to the process that San Ramon Valley Unified School District followed before the Board approved a $23.2 million solar panel project with SunPower this past week at four high schools and 2 middle schools in this 34 school/27,000 student school district.

    Request for Proposal issued-September 30, 2009
    RFPs due-October 23, 20098
    Solar Q&A with cost analysis and estimated savings – November 10 Board meeting
    Public Input – November 13-December 8
    Board Decision to move ahead with solar project – Week of June 21, 2010

    The district is paying for the project through a low-interest federal stimulus loan known as "qualified school construction bonds." The district, one of 43 in the state, won the opportunity to take up to $25 million in loan money through a lottery.

    Consultants hired by the district have projected a net $7 million to $10 million in energy savings after 16 years, that figure reflects savings after expenses during that time period. After 25 years, which is considered the life of the equipment, savings would equate to a net $23 million to $30 million.

    Again, the issue is not about using a bond to finance solar in MDUSD but being asked to invest in a project of this magnitude without any substantial details.

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  170. Anon 10:01

    Consultants will tell you that in any election you can count on the fact that 20-30% of voters will vote against a ballot measure, regardless of the substance of that measure. That means that regardless of how the MDUSD bond is structured you will never get 100% of voters to support it, it’s impossible. In the case of the MDUSD bond, it comes down to getting 55% of the remaining 70-80% of voters to vote yes in order for it to pass.

    Like other bloggers, I also am concerned about the way the current bond is structured. Normally, the district would look at different financial scenarios to figure out which scenario would most benefit the students and be acceptable to taxpayers who want to invest in making sure that the students in this district get a quality education. How can I trust that this is the best scenario if it is the only scenario that was explored?

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  171. Sorry, there is just not enough information to vote yes for this thing. Why wasn't there a board meeting this last week where we could ask questions and make an informed decision. Is someone trying to hide something?

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  172. Anon 4:22- I had previously made that comment about 30% of the population not voting for any bond or tax. With 30% of the electorate generally always voting no and only 25% of the residents of MDUSD having kids in school, it is a total long shot to go for a parcel tax-- at this time.

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  173. Sidekick Mom- I found your post incredibly passive and ignorant.

    The Superintendent has been in our district for only 4-5 months. Did you know that? You want to blame him for the fact that your kid was never taught i before e?

    How smart are you to solely rely on school to teach your kids? There is only so much to a public education, especially when the community around it doesn't support it financially.

    I am truly amazed that you are posting that the school hasn't taught your kids something that you think they should know. Maybe your kids weren't paying attention that day. Who knows?

    Why don't YOU take responsibility for your kids education and check in with them. If I noticed one time that my kids spelled "theif" wrong, I would be telling them the rule, not lamenting that their teacher didn't teach them it.

    You can send your kids to another school, but I have the feeling that you will be disappointed there too. Blaming others when you can do something yourself is not going to do your kids any good.

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  174. I voted yes on the last bond, and yes on the parcel tax, but I am voting NO on this new bond until I find out which schools will be closed.

    Too many of the last bond measure "upgrades" were done poorly, and I am not confident that this round will be any different.

    The fire systems at many of the schools don't work right, and probably never will. Supposed improvements to my son's school have resulted in water pooling outside his classroom every day, and it's worse in the rain.

    Besides, why does everyone need air conditioning? Global warmiing is just a left-wing scam, right? ;-)

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  175. 5:21pm- Too bad you had to end with some political bs. It seems only people who are half informed seem to think that this is all about air conditioning.

    Let me say that I do not think that this bond represents the best financing that we can do for our kids. Most people who are voting for it feel the same way.

    BUT...we KNOW that this is going to be it for a while. Despite Linda and others confidence in a parcel tax, that is just not going to happen, especially if this bond doesn't pass.

    Personally, my kids are almost done with school and it won't matter to me (except for the perpetual drop in my housing price), but I don't want to do that to our kids.

    Keep fooling yourselves into thinking you are voting No for the kids.

    I am voting YES for them.

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  176. In response to my opposition to this sham being called Measure C there is nothing "shameful" about it.

    The concept that anything the MDUSD Board proposes should be trustingly followed because they tell us it's what's best for our kids without a thorough examination and transparent disclosure is just plain stupid.

    What MDUSD is really suffering from is terrible leadership and those that are blindly following it.

    Let's look at this information from Theresa Harrington's BLOG on the real savings from Solar:


    "I asked Pete Pedersen about increased electricity costs due to the installation of air conditioning. He conceded the costs would go up, but said they would be partially offset by the solar projects. However, he was not willing to claim the solar projects would completely cover the increased costs.
    “It shouldn’t jack up electricity bills because the solar is going to be designed to accommodate the prospective load, which should significantly mitigate the costs,” he said. “But you can’t have your cake and eat it too. I don’t want to tell you it’s a wash.”"

    At the risk of being repetitive, when all is said and done the two things that bother me most is the purported mantra that if you are against this new Measure C Bond, that you are against our kids and schools, secondly that they are selling this Bond using the good works of the 2002 Measure C Bond.

    In the recent Measure C mailings they completely leave out any information on the cost of the Bond as it’s structured. They also tout all of 2002 Measure C success. Extremely and Deliberately Misleading.

    On the MDUSD website for Measure C they have quoted my April 2008 report to the MDUSD Board, “everything was managed perfectly and all projects completed.” which is true. But the intention is to give people the perception that this Bond Measure carrying the same name is remotely similar to the last one. It isn’t even close.

    http://www.mdusd.org/Community/Pages/measurecjune2010.aspx

    MDUSD Superintendent told reporter Harrington in response to the question “why wasn’t the new Bond proposal brought before the current Measure C Bond oversight committee?” that he said the Oversight Committee had been disbanded. Obviously the above MDUSD webpage proves that it has not.

    Sherry Whitmarsh is factually incorrect about another thing, at my last count 4 not 2 out of 16 members of the 2002 Bond Oversight Committee are supporting this new Bond. John Ferrante and John Parker being the most active, Judy Dawson and Jay Beddecare being the other two. I don’t know why Sherry even points this out, it does not reflect well on the Oversight Committee’s collective opinion of the new Measure with only 25% support.

    More devastating in my opinion in the long term for MDUSD is that this fiasco will sour the electorate on considering a well formulated, fiscally reasonable Bond proposal in the future which we really do need to do.

    When it comes to maintaining the sanctity of our children’s education the approach needs to reflect the seriousness of the purpose. That means honesty, stakeholder participation, fiduciary conservatism and committment to discipline. Especially in these difficult fiscal times, our kids future demands it.

    Cheers!

    A.J. Fardella

    Planning Commissioner, City of Pittsburg

    Member (former Chairman) 2002 Measure C Oversight Committee

    Parent of three beautiful Children attending MDUSD schools.

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  177. Regarding furloughs ... MDEA - please come to the table. Other teachers have ...

    * * * * * * * * * * * *

    Majority of Layoff Notices Rescinded for Certificated School Employees (San Ramon Valley Unified)

    http://sanramon.patch.com/articles/majority-of-layoff-notices-rescinded-for-certificated-school-employees

    Most of the certificated school employees who received pink slips in March can rest easy after a decision Tuesday night by the San Ramon Valley Unified School District Board of Trustees to rescind 112 of 136 layoff notices.

    The San Ramon Valley Education Association announced a contract agreement Friday for the 2010-11 school year that would shorten the academic calendar by four days – two of them days of instruction and the others normally set aside for staff development. Originally, the district and unions talked about instituting five furlough days.

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  178. Linda- Will you and the others who spoke against Measure C still be moving forward with a parcel tax?

    We obviously still need one.

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  179. Anon June 7 8:09am

    YES - I will absolutely work on a parcel tax election, just as I did last May. I doubt it will be at the district level at this point, that has been made perfectly clear to me by the board.

    However, I stand by my previous assertion that the district must begin to restore trust and confidence. They can do that through clear, honest, and regular communication and by becoming proactive rather than reactive by developing clear goals to improve the quality of education in this district through comprehensive strategic planning.

    I believe they will need to make those changes in order to obtain the 67% support they need to pass a parcel tax.

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  180. Anon June 7 8:09am

    Just to clarify... I can't move forward with a parcel tax. I will support a parcel tax because that is what our schools really need.

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  181. Linda said...

    Anon 2:08

    You bet I will be in the forefront working on a parcel tax for this district. I did that last May and have continued to do so for the past year since the failure of Measure D.
    May 27, 2010 5:31 PM

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