Thursday, July 22, 2010

MDUSD Solar Project going out to lowest bidder ?

According to today's Times article, entitled "Mt. Diablo solar decision could leave Chevron in the dark," by Matt Krupnick, it appears that the district has backed off a possible plan of a no-bid award to Chevron Energy Solutions. The article notes that the Request for Proposals will be posted as of August 2nd.

We discussed this in an earlier blog post, but it is reiterated in this article. That though it seems Chevron Energy Solutions spent 18 months trying to secure a no-bid contract for this $70 million dollar project, they may just walk away. In the article, Chevron Spokeswoman Juliet Don is quoted:

"Officials throughout the state said Chevron often tries to persuade school districts to sign no-bid contracts. In most cases, the company walks away from districts that open a bidding process because Chevron's prices are usually higher than those at other companies, said Don, the company spokeswoman."

So, what do you think? Is this is a good step toward getting the district the best price on the project?

68 comments:

  1. To me the disturbing part of the story is the secrecy involving the Supt and one or more Board members, especially when one of the Board members is an employee of Chevron. This secrecy is more enhanced when the secret meetings occurred at the Supt's home, with a board member present. Maybe its time to start checking out the Fair Political Practices Form 700's to see who is giving gratuities to the Supt and to Board members -- if they are reporting them.
    Secrecy is always a breeding ground for graft -- not that there is any evidence of graft evident at this stage. But based on other hypocritical moves by the Board in recent months, one has to raise their eyebrows with some suspicion.
    Doctor J

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  2. I thought I read sherry recused herself and the other board members did not know about the "secret meetings." I guess I have to read it again, but now the stupid Times is making me sign in. I hate the Times.

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  3. Annon 11:10 pm
    Sherry did say she recused herself from the discussions which means there were discussions amongst the board members and Lawrence. Strange and Eberhart refused to comment -- that tells me they knew. Mayo said she learned of them. Allen acknowledged that Chevron was at the Bond celebration.
    The way I read all of this is that there was varying degrees of knowledge about this by the Board members, none of it in public meetings, and way too much secrecy for a $70 million dollar deal. I think Lawrence got caught, the CC Times investigated it, and now Chevron is backing away.
    Where there is smoke, there is fire.
    Now we can add Chevrongate to the list of Lawrence's accomplishments. I think the only time he opens his mouth is to change feet.
    Doctor J

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  4. If the meeting had information about Measure C and the election, then the meeting could not be held at the district office.

    Chevron solar employees have been at board meetings. I saw them speak to Linda and Dick at various times.

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  5. they got your vote on the bonds, now they will pretend they don't know you. business as usual for this board.

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  6. How much money did Chevron give to Measure C ? I wonder if Chevron took Lawrence on any trips ? There were rumors of a fishing trip. Hmmmmm.
    Doctor J

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  7. Doctor J,

    I am appalled at your comment about me. I have stated board meetings that I would not be involved at all in the solar because I work for Chevron. Also if you would have taken the time to read the entire article it states that I have recused myself from this.

    Once again it appears that you are ready to attack board members without all the facts.

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  8. Sherry, I think you misinterpreted my comments. I acknowledged that you have recused yourself [11:10pm]-- I didn't accuse you of any impropriety. But it does appear some other Board members may have known of the secret meetings at Lawrence's home and may even have participated in them. Lawrence's memory seems a little short in this regard.
    Once again, this is another example of where "hide the ball" is being practiced, instead of telling the whole truth, nothing but the truth. Lets come clean with all the facts.
    Doctor J

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  9. If they've been in discussions for 18 months, wouldn't that means the discussions had started under McHenry's watch (not Lawrence)?

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  10. If the meeting involved discussion on measure C it could not happen on district property. Of course other board members were not there. That is a violation of the law.
    Lighten up. At least MDUSD has not yet done something stupid like install solar panels on an old gym and then have the gym condemned. Can we say San Ramon High.

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  11. @Annon 9:07a Or Dick Nicholls ? Or maybe they were with Board members ?
    @Annon 9:11a
    Measure C list has all 29 Elementary schools with projects, including ones that will be closed. I think Theresa reported during the election that they would install solar on schools to be closed.
    Doctor J

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  12. Doctor J- You obviously have some sort of agenda. I think Sherry called you on your bs, which by the way, I agree with as you made the following comment in your first post.

    "To me the disturbing part of the story is the secrecy involving the Supt and one or more Board members, especially when one of the Board members is an employee of Chevron"

    That sounds like a back door accusation to me.

    If Chevron has been in talks to the district, it does beg the question that Mr. McHenry was somehow involved, which I think is pretty interesting as I never heard the district discuss a solar option until Dr. Lawrence mentioned it.

    If you read the article in the CCTimes, it says Linda was aware of the meeting at Lawrence's house and she didn't think there was anything inappropriate about it.

    Why always pick on Sherry when she is the one board member who constantly puts herself out there on the blogs?

    Doctor J- Are you running for school board?

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  13. Anon 9:07, In the last months of his tenure Gary McHenry was considering the feasibility of a parcel tax, not a bond. When Dick Nicoll became interim superintendent, he worked tirelessly on the parcel tax, Measure D. The money raised through a parcel tax would have been spent primarily on student programs, not facilities. The decision to put a bond, used only for facilities, on the ballot followed the defeat of Measure D. From everything I've read, the idea of using bond money for solar energy projects came from Eberhart and Strange, who have told people they are experts on the subject.

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  14. Anon 9:38am said-
    "From everything I've read, the idea of using bond money for solar energy projects came from Eberhart and Strange, who have told people they are experts on the subject."

    I don't know if you should believe everything you read.

    First of all, parcel taxes CANNOT be used for facilities. It can be used for "people and programs", i.e. classes, salaries, etc.

    A bond is for building and facilities.

    Before Dr. Lawrence did his dog and pony show at all the feeder pattern high schools, he told the PAC (Parent Advisory Council) of his idea to use money from a bond for solar and that there would be a tax benefit from the rebates and also lower energy costs.

    Can you say where you heard that the solar idea was Gary and Paul's? I am very involved in the district and hadn't heard them say it or read that they had.

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  15. Dr j. Even for those critical of the district , your attacks are growing very tiresome. Do I tend to actually be involved? Or to do something ? Or just be anonymous here and complain?

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  16. Hello. Can I out the mayor of claycord here? I'm sick of his ridiculous reporting and would love to expose him for the fool he is.

    MS

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  17. MS

    what are you talking about. What has claycord got to do with this conversation?

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  18. Yeah Sherry, you recused yourself after you put the District in touch with the proper parties at Chevron. Would you have recused yourself from your big bonus if this deal went through? Dont' mess with the mayor.

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  19. Anon 11:24

    I stated early on that I would not be involved in any discussion with Chevron.

    What big bonus? Chevron has a very high standard of ethics when it comes to how it operates. I would never be asked by Chevron to do anything inappropriately and I would never suggest anything to Chevron. I find your slam on my character offensive.

    It's even more offensive that you post the lies under anon. You obviously no nothing about the internal workings of Chevron or myself.

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  20. Sherry- Please don't bother yourself with people like anon 11:24. They obviously don't know what they are talking about and just want to throw stuff out there to see what sticks.

    There is nothing wrong with Chevron quoting the solar business, but since they don't want to bid, they are gone.

    Why make this about Sherry?

    Doctor J are you now posting as anon?

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  21. And we don't know the internal workings of MDUSD either!

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  22. @Annon 9:36 am
    My point in my original post was because it was Chevron and everyone knows Sherry works for them, other Board members and Lawrence should have been extra careful not to anything that gave an appearance of evil so as not to put Sherry in a tight spot. Instead, they did just the opposite: secret meetings including some at Lawrence's house. I think that there is the potential that Lawrencegate will swallow Buttercupgate for secret meetings. I made no attack on Sherry. As far as I know, and she confirms, she has not been a part of any conversations about MDUSD and Chevron.
    Doctor J

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  23. THE MAYOR OF CLAYCORD HAS BEEN OUTED ON FACEBOOK HE FORGOT TO MAKE PRIVATE A DOMAIN NAME

    FUCK YOU MAYOR

    http://www.facebook.com/CLAYCORD

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  24. 11:52, i never saw a real name on claycord's facebook page. what is it then? Do it! I double dog dare you!

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  25. good try anon, but no, kevin cunningham goes way back to the beginning of claycord ... its a joke, fake name.

    MS

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  26. He won't be anonymous when he's in court - MS

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  27. Anon 10:38, I should have written, "from everything I've heard, not 'read.'" Eberhart and Strange told people before the Board opted to go for a bond about their idea for a solar energy farm as a way to reduce PG&E costs. They have told people that they have become experts on the subject. The comment was not meant as a criticism. It was simply a statement.

    Also, money raised through a parcel tax can be used for ANY expense, including facilities. Money raised through a bond can be used ONLY for facilities. Parcel tax funds are primarily used for student programs, which would include staffing (salaries), which is why you don't hear of them used for facilities. But they certainly can be.

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  28. nobody gives a shit who the mayor of claycord is. what is your problem?

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  29. I think the mayor cares! That's who! :) If he wanted to be "out" he'd be out, right? He cares.

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  30. Children, do we need a time out ?

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  31. the mayor wont be in court because comments posted on his site are not his liability - every one knows that.

    MS sounds like he has an old grudge

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  32. The only time the mayor will be in court is when he sues MS for harassment. And yes MS Ip addresses can be obtained from google.

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  33. lol, harassment is not when you tell the world someone's name. That's the t-r-u-t-h. Good try though.

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  34. We are going off the subject here. Go to Claycord if you feel the need to talk about the Mayor. He's fine

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  35. I agree - no one cares who he is

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  36. Good grief people. I go away from the computer for the morning and some have steered WAY off course. This is the MDUSD Parents blog, in case you forgot. I don't want to moderate this blog, as for the most part people have remained on topic and (somewhat) civil. I hope we can keep it that way.

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  37. I am guessing that the district may have been considering solar at the time they applied for the Clean Renewable Energy Bond (CREBS).

    There was no mention of solar on the CUES committee between the failure of Measure D and the start of Dr. Lawrence as superintendent. Superintendent Nicol never once mentioned solar in any of the CUES committee meetings.

    Chevron is a huge player in solar and it is not at all odd to have the district look to them for the initial study.

    Paul and Gary were certainly working on the solar project and I was told they had been working on it since last December (2 month before Lawrence came on board).

    My concern is with a superintendent who sees nothing wrong with his lack of transparency, his lack of communication, and I hate to say it but his lack of honesty.

    The CCTimes still has not received the documents they requested from the district regarding Measure C, as a community we are still waiting for regular communication, the superintendent has meetings in his house that may be perfectly legal but not at all transparent, he can't remember who attended, etc...

    This is not about not giving him enough time to get things done, these are simply actions that are too far from the standard of what this district needs in a superintendent.

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  38. sneaky sneaky sneaky sherri

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  39. I like Dr. J's comment: Secrecy breeds graft.

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  40. Is Doctor J Mike Noce, former President of MDEA?

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  41. Annon 3:37 pm
    Ask Mike. He will tell you no. Don't worry about it.
    Doctor J

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  42. Did the Superintendent do a illegal meeting at his home with Chevron. The Board needs to question him regarding why he appears to do things on his own without Board authority considering he short tenure as Supt. Mt. Diablo has been getting a very poor reputation for "secret" and under the table items. The Supt should be reprimanded for this meeting.

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  43. Anon 12:36
    Why are you so sure that members of the board didn't know about the meeting? I can't imagine some of the current board members not attending a meeting with Chevron about solar.
    I don't think it is illegal, I think it is unethical.

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  44. Board members are bound by the Brown Act which doesn't allow more than 2 of them to talk or meet at one time.

    I think it was wrong for the Superintendent to meet at his home because of the appearance of impropriety, but I don't think it was illegal.

    Can we focus on the big issues now? We get how some of the posters don't like the new administration. How about talking about something productive instead of everyone trying to play armchair detective?

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  45. Anon 6:53 (AKA Gary),

    You'd like us to just forget about these items you'd like swept under the rug, wouldn't you Gary?

    Well forget about it. I will keep pushing and pushing until the truth is known.

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  46. 6:53 what exactly would you like to talk about. Many feel improving communication from/at the district office is hitting critical. I think it's fine all the same things keep coming up.... The fact is it shows the issues the COMMUNITY think important are being ignored.

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  47. Female--Not Gary or relatedJuly 25, 2010 at 11:36 AM

    I'm 6:53 and I am not Gary. It just seems like a lot of the posts have to do with complaining about things that have already happened and not enough about what can we do as parents in the MDUSD.

    I would bet that the person who runs this blog envisioned it as a forum for intelligent discussion affecting our district, but many of the posts here are nothing but stupid accusations.

    Let's talk about the solar bid process. Those who want more accountability and communication--have you applied for the Measure C oversight committee?

    One of the things that could be done is for anyone who gets on the committee to report back here.

    I am on the last throes of my time in the MDUSD and quite frankly, I am not sad about it. The budget, the critical parents who don't actually do anything but complain, the majority of the teachers union AND CSEA, AND Local 1, have really beaten me down.

    As someone who has volunteered at the district and school site level for years, I have absolutely no interest in getting on any other committee.

    That doesn't mean that I won't still be there for my kid's school. It just means I am not going to give up any more hours so that people can sit at home on their computer and speculate and complain without doing anything.

    Really. When you complain or speculate, you aren't actually doing anything for change.

    So, now there is one less dedicated volunteer willing to do another committee.

    The sad part is, with the economy and the fact that more families have both parents or just single parents working full time, there aren't more younger parents volunteering to take up the slack.

    If you really want the challenge of helping, please run for school board this November. There are three seats open. Or sign up for a committee--anything will help.

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  48. Two investigative pieces on MDUSD this afternoon in CC Times outling lies and depection being practiced on the voters and taxpayers. Get those recall petitions back out. When the truth comes out, the guilty should resign or be fired by the voters. This is Bondgate: Who knew what and when did they know it. How much more of this can our district survive ?
    Doctor J

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  49. Every and I mean every tax payer in the MDUSD should read these Contra Costa Times aritcles.

    Something smells in the state of Denmark.

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  50. Hey isn't the attorney (allegedly hiding information from the Contra Costa Times) the attorney that got that big raise?

    In my opinion, one should follow the money. Could this be a quid pro quo situation?

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  51. Dr. J? Depection? What is that?

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  52. @Annon 9:03 pm
    I think you got this caper nailed. Paid to keep quiet, especially when you're in a divorce.

    @Annon 9:15
    I need spell check. :-)

    BTW, anyone call the Supt today to find out where he went on vacation ? Why else did the Board meeting have to be on Friday night at 5:00 pm ? How many weeks of vacation does he get his first five months ?

    Doctor J

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  53. OK Doctor J, you have over stepped big time now. Who cares where he went on vacation with his family! Many of us have taken new positions with vacation plans already on the books, you just inform your new employer and voila, you take your PLANNED vacation.

    Stop it with this kind of crud, it serves no purpose at all.

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  54. @Annon 8:02
    If I am counting correct, its his fourth week of vacation and he hasn't completed six months. Isn't that a little much for a full time employee ? I don't care where he went. I think there are still administrator openings and we are getting ready to start the new year.
    Doctor J

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  55. Doctor J- You are getting to be ridiculous in your accusations.

    Really? Asking where he went on vacation? What is it to you? He has a family.

    BTW, How many really good applicants do you think were clamoring for this job. That's not to make an excuse, but you complain about everything like it is the second coming of Watergate.

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  56. Annon 8:37 -- Taking 4 weeks in the first six months -- when the district is in disaster mode is outrageous. I don't care where he went. The district hired an executive search firm and should have kept looking until they found what they wanted.
    Doctor J

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  57. So how do you know he took 4 weeks, and where did he go? If you are going to make this statement, back it up with facts Doctor J. That would mean Dr. Lawrence is gone until school begins?

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  58. @Annon 8:36
    I meant this week I believe is his fourth week: if I recall correctly, and I could be off a little: a week in March, another in May, one in June and this one. I don't know many jobs where you can take four weeks off when you haven't completed six months on the job, but maybe the board negotiated that with him. Even if it was three weeks. Most jobs you have to work for a year until you get two weeks off.
    Doctor J

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  59. Doctor J- How does this post advance student achievement in the MDUSD?

    Dr. Lawrence had to move his family here--maybe that's what the time off was about.

    Good Lord! You are so off base!

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  60. Anon 9:21
    He got hired in Nov. Started Feb 1. He lived 90 miles away -- many people commute that far. There are weekends. Ok, maybe he needed a day or two to move the family if he didn't get that done by Feb 1. My point was four weeks of vacation in a new job after completing five months, especially where the district is in crisis ? Doesn't get the new principals hired before the end of June. Have we forgot he asked the Board for Carte Blanche to hire new prinicpals the same night as Nugentgate ?

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  61. Anon 9:21
    That is 3 or 4 weeks he could have been working on a Vision, a Strategic Plan, hiring principals, reorganizing, "selling" his Vision and Strategic Plan to the District and improving morale amongst administrators that haven't seen a raise in years despite added responsibilities, amongst teachers that haven't seen a raise, amongst staff that is having their pay and benefits slashed, all after the Gang of Five got their raises. All these things would go to improving student achievment.
    Doctor J

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  62. Doctor J- Do you have the chops to be on the board or have the skill set to be Superintendent?

    I am always fascinated by people who time manage others--especially those who seem to spend a lot of time on their computer.

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  63. Anon 9:57
    What did you think of the Seattle Vision and Strategic Plan ?
    Doctor J

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  64. It sounds good on paper. But, having a strategic plan and executing it are two different things.

    Whose to say that the Seattle plan is the answer?

    Would you be happy if the district came up with that plan? (It seemed more like goals to me than a plan since it didn't say how it was going to be achieved)

    So the district copies the wording of the plan, but that doesn't change student achievement in and of itself.

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  65. Anon 10:12 The Seattle Plan is pretty comprehensive, if you look at more than just the summaries. Take a look at the full plan and the appendicies. I agree with you that it is one thing to have it on paper and another to execute it. It takes real leadership to execute it. Lawrence has already said he doesn't believe in Strategic Plans -- that's not a good sign. It takes real leadership to develop the plan; not just block and copy it. I have been involved in the development of a strategic plan for a non-porofit -- wow, lots of work. The most important thing is the development of the Vision -- its simple but sets the tone. Look how simple Seattle's vision is, and how everything in the plan relates back to the vision. The Seattle Supt said it took input from thousands of people. Read the FAQ's -- here is an excerpt to wet your whistle: "How was the Strategic Plan developed?
    Beginning in 2007, the District commissioned a series of reviews of both academic and operations departments. These reviews, and the work done in years past, such as the Moss Adams and Community Advisory Committee on Investing in Educational Excellence (CACIEE) reports all fed into this proposed plan. In addition to the reviews and historical reports, we surveyed school leaders and instructional staff; held multiple meetings with key stakeholders including School Board members and union partners, reviewed our data and compared our practices against nationally high-performing districts."
    You can see why a central vision must be established at the get go that all stakeholders buy into. If just that one piece could happen in MDUSD very soon, people would have something to focus on.
    The Vision of Seattle Schools: “At Seattle Public Schools,
    we believe that every
    student in every school
    can excel—and it is our
    responsibility to ensure
    that every student has
    that opportunity. While
    we have strengths to
    build on, we also must
    improve in many areas to
    make this vision a reality.”
    Doctor J

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  66. Do you agree with this Vision for MDUSD ? “At MDUSD,we believe that every student in every school can excel—and it is our responsibility to ensure that every student has that opportunity. While we have strengths to build on, we also must improve in many areas to make this vision a reality.”

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  67. Did any of the Board members comply with the Grand Jury recommendation in 3/2009 to: "2. That current Board members be required to attend training or continuing education
    programs to learn and understand their role and financial responsibilities as elected Board
    members and similar training be a requirement for new Board members. ????
    Doctor J

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