Wednesday, June 30, 2010

MDUSD Receivership, here's everything you ever wanted to know

Our friend at the Contra Costa Times, Theresa Harrington, has provided an explanation of what happens when the state takes over a school district on her blog.

She'll also be blogging and tweeting tonight about a local school meeting with MDUSD Superintendent Steven Lawrence. Mount Diablo Elementary in Clayton, one of the largest elementary schools in the district, is one of the schools looking for a new Principal. Word is that Dr. Lawrence and MDUSD Asst Superintendent, Gail Isserman will be at MDE to talk with parents, and the school community, and to get their input on the qualities wanted in a new Principal at the school.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

MDUSD, should better communication be a goal?

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” This quote, from George Bernard Shaw seemed so appropriate for our district's (lack of) commmunication. It is unbelievable that regular communication was not on the job description for our new superintendent? This post is meant to be constructive, I know everyone is busy and in crisis mode, but when can we expect more? When will the storm pass enough so that we can get back to some key basics?

Do you feel communication from the district is adequate? What if the PAC (Parent Advisory Council) meetings were held online? What if the minutes were posted online so we could read what was going on? What if those meeting dates were publicized prominently and an invitation extended to all in the parent community? Hey, just had to ask. Schools, also should get better at having a person appointed to their PAC, and should be sure they're reporting back to their PFC and PTA meetings as well as providing recaps through regular communication methods (online? newsletters?)

So it brings me back to a site that "Linda" found while doing some research online (snapshot above). Wow, what would it take to get to this level of communication? This level of detail distributed to the public? Is the lack of communication that some perceive, solely due to budget cuts? Or does our district leadership really feel no need?

I'm going to cut and paste what "Linda" said in the comments, and then I invite you to look at the site yourself. At first glance, you can tell communication is key. With links to facebook, twitter, Linkedin and youtube - you can tell they want to be transparent and have employed social media to reach their stakeholders. With "quick links" to everything from strategic plans, to "state of the district" messages, budget recaps, pages for parents, employees, students, community and an entire page dedicated to news from the Superintendent's office, one may feel they have reached the holy grail of school district communication.

This district in North Carolina, is to be commended (in my opinion). Could it happen here? Anyway, back to "Linda:"

I read about a new superintendent who moved into a diverse, challenging, school district. He came to the district with a plan for what he was going to do broken down into the first three months, the second three months, and the third three. He shared that information with the community in 2008 when he came on board. He developed a comprehensive and impressive strategic plan with input from the community. He received input from 4,000 stakeholders. His budget presentation for 09-10 included a letter to the community about all of the elements in the budget and brought those element back to their relationship to the strategic plan.

Communication is huge. He does a monthly video, some highlight students other introduce new programs. He has a blog, newsletters, and most impressively an entire section of the district website is called the Superintendent's desk where all of this can be found. The district's website has tons of photos of students and exudes the notion that they are all about the students.The district has 71,000 students and a budget in the high 500 mill. About 2.25 times the size of MDUSD. They are currently facing budget cuts, admittedly not as drastic as MDUSD but they too are faced with cuts.There is not an excuse to be heard coming from that Superintendent. His motto is something along the lines of "nothing less than excellence."

This is the link for the district's main website you can find the "Superintendent's Desk" on the menu bar just below the large revolving photos.

Superintendent's Entry Plan from 2008

This district has completed an extensive strategic plan and you will see in both their 2009-10 and 2010-11 budget everything ties back to a strategic plan and goals.

2009-10 Budget (do not miss his letter on page 7)

2010-11 Budget (once again do not miss his letter on page 7)

I believe you will find this amazing and it proves that we can do better. Our board needs to understand that we are not fighting them, we are begging them for better. They are the target because they truly hold the power to begin the change.

Friday, June 25, 2010

How to get on MDUSD School Messenger email list

Below is a communication that was forwarded to me on how to get on the school messenger list for the district. Many of you said you never received the Superintendent Message yesterday, or ever. If you read between the lines here, it seems they have heard that there are some issues with many not being on "the list." The district employee says below they are trying to resolve some issues before the next communication. The school sites will be adding emails in August when you turn in your contact info/emergency cards, but in the meantime, here's how you go about getting on the list now:

The parent notification system the district uses (SchoolMessenger), gets information from our student information system (Aeries). SchoolMessenger gets the parent e-mail address from the Parent/Guardian E-mail field in Aeries. Some schools do not input anything in the Parent/Guardian E-mail field in Aeries, instead, they input the parent/guardian e-mail information with the contact information for each individual parent. Since SchoolMessenger does not look at the contact information e-mail field, those e-mails are not being uploaded into SchoolMessenger. That is probably why not all parents have e-mail addresses in SchoolMessenger even though they have given the school their information.

We are contacting SchoolMessenger to see if it is possible for their system to also look at the contact e-mail fields in Aeries so that the parent/guardian e-mail information in those fields can also be uploaded. This will hopefully be done before another e-mail is sent out by the district.

In the meantime, if parents would like their e-mail in SchoolMessenger, they can send an e-mail to providing the information below. To verify we are adding e-mail information for the correct student, we need:

Student ID Number (if known)
Student Name
Student School
Student Grade
Student Birthdate
Name of Parent/Guardian to be added
E-mail of Parent/Guardian to be added


Thursday, June 24, 2010

MDUSD Superintendent Message 6/24/10

Dear Parents and Community of the Mt. Diablo Unified School District:

In a time of unprecedented budget deficits throughout the state, the Mt. Diablo Unified School District (“District”) like many others is forced into the untenable position of making drastic reductions in staff and services. Ongoing state budget cuts have severely impacted the amount of money we receive from the State of California to educate the children of our community. As a result of decreasing revenues and declining student enrollment, the District’s annual operating deficit is projected to average nearly $13 million per year for the next three years, on top of the approximately $24.8 million deficit for what remains of the 2009/10 fiscal year.

Although we have already responded to the budget deficit by implementing staff reductions and non-personnel cuts totaling $15.88 million, we regretfully find ourselves in the position of having to ask for additional concessions from all of our bargaining units in order to present a balanced budget to the County Office of Education by June 30.

In the event we are not able to present a balanced budget in 2010/11 and beyond, there is a very real possibility that the state could take over our District. If there is a takeover and a State Administrator is appointed, your elected representatives (the Board of Education) and by extension you, will have no say in running the District. That is an outcome I know that none of us want to see come to pass.

I am certain that you have questions about the District’s finances and what is happening at the bargaining table. Therefore, I am enclosing answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about the budget and the status of bargaining.

I am confident that with continued cooperation we will see our way through this current fiscal storm. Thank you for your patience. Have a good summer.


Steven Lawrence

LINK is for a FAQ about bargaining dated 6/23/10 that was attached to this Superintendent message: FAQ about District Bargaining (not google docs, everyone should be able to view and or /download). It's also available in spanish: SPANISH FAQ about District Bargaining

P.S. This message and link to FAQ's is not up on the district website yet. I would volunteer to help this district with communication. Or is that a union job I'd not be allowed to help with? Just asking.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

New Principals Appointed at MDUSD Board Meeting

Lots of changes tonight. If you twitter, follow: @TunedToTheresa

On Monday, Theresa Harrington (CC Times education reporter) wrote about the administrator appointments and principal vacancies : A few resigned, leaving holes the district had to fill. The board expects to vote on the appointment of 25 administrators Tuesday, including the promotion of five principals to district office administrators, the appointment of eight principals and a continuation high school administrator, and the appointment of four vice principals.

Theresa Harrington (CC Times education reporter) is tweeting from the "standing room only" meeting tonight and has updated us on the following appointments tonight:

Board approved:
Cynthia Goin as principal of Wren Ave Elem (former Strandwood Principal)
Rhys Miller as principal of Valle Verde Elem (from district office)
Sandy Bruketta Hidden Valley (from district office)

Diane Sargent as Meadow Homes site based program specialist
Linda Hayes as Vice Principal of Northgate HS
Spoogmai Habibi as Principal of Ayers Elem (from district office)

Previously announced:
Nancy Baum as Principal at Delta View Elem
Nancy Klinkner as Principal at Bel Air Elem

There are even more appointments that may be (or may have been made) tonight per the agenda item 16.2 tonight . If you know, post them here in the comments! If you want to see all the administrative vacancies slotted to be discussed tonight, see this LIST.

Other vacancies (not on the list for tonight) include at Shore Acres, Highlands, Mt. Diablo Elementary, Sequoia Middle School and Monte Gardens Elem.

Theresa has also include a scorecard of sorts on her blog to keep track of all the Principal comings and goings:


Apply for the Measure C oversight committee

MDUSD is now seeking applicants for the district's Measure C bond oversight committee. Below are some excerpts and information from the PDF informational packet; Measure C Citizens' Bond Oversight Committee: Composition Role and Functions (link to packet here.)

The legal obligation for Mt. Diablo Unified School District to select and appoint participants to serve on a Citizens' Bond Oversight Committee resides in the California Education Code.

The oversight committee shall consist of at least seven (7) members to serve for a term of two (2) years without compensation and for no more than two (2) consecutive terms.

The oversight committee must include:

-One member who is active in a business organization representing the business community located within the school district.

-One member active in a senior citizens' organization

-One member who is the parent or guardian of a child enrolled in the school district

-One member who is both a parent or guardian of a child enrolled in the school district and active in a parent-teacher organization, and

-One member who is active in a bona fide taxpayers' organization.

Ready to apply?

Applications must be received by 4:30pm, Friday, July 16th, 2010 for consideration.

Applications due to Pete Pedersen, Asst Superintendent, Administrative Services, MDUSD -

Interviews will take place during the week of July 19-23, 2010.

Appointments to the commitee will be made Tuesday, August, 10, 2010.


Saturday, June 5, 2010

MDUSD Grad Night Preview

The Grad Night Public Preview will be held at Centre Concord this Sunday, June 6 from 6 – 8 PM. Centre Concord is located at 5298 Clayton Road, Concord behind In-Shape Gym next to the Clayton Valley Bowl.

The community is invited to come and see the decorated venue and get a sneak peek at some of the professional entertainment scheduled.

NO Seniors are allowed as the d├ęcor is meant to be a surprise for seniors when they arrive--- so families and friends should not share what they see. Parents of current Freshmen, Sophomores and Juniors are encouraged to attend to get inspired for continuing the tradition next year!

Here's a terrific article about the collaborative efforts : CCTimes.

Volunteers at five high schools pool time, talents for graduating seniors' special night

Each of the five participating schools was assigned an area of the facility to decorate in keeping with a concept that will be revealed to the local community at 6:30 p.m. Sunday — minus the graduating seniors who will remain in the dark about the theme until their respective Grad Night.

What an amazing effort by the parents and leaders of our community to come together to share resources and give the Seniors a night they will surely remember the rest of their lives. Congratulations to all, especially the graduating class of 2010!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Funny Sale Signs, anything sound familiar?

Insert sarcasm please ;)

This and other funny signs can be found at Huffington Post, and they weren't even talking about Measure C or anything! Wouldn't it be even funnier if they said something like buy a $350,000 home for only, oh, 1.7 billion dollars? Yes, I think that would be really a lot more funny, don't you?

All the blogs are talking about it. The CCTimes has recommended a No vote. People are writing letters to the editors. I happen to know that some people writing in were virtually no where to be seen during Measure D. I find that infuriating personally.

Oh, and another funny thing? The campaign manager for Measure C has a "favorite quotation" on his facebook page, "If you can't convince them, confuse them." Now that's really funny ! Ha Ha!

That's all.