Friday, September 3, 2010

MDUSD News Update - 9/3/10 (Solar Update)

Latest MDUSD News Update.

Or click here to view as PDF.

Mt. Diablo USD News Update
Where Kids Come First

Shining the Light on Solar

As the District embarks on an ambitious and exciting solar program, we are committed to sharing the process with the community. We are grateful for the community's support for Measure C, the facilities bond that will make the solar alternative a reality in our District, and we fully intend to keep you apprised of decisions and progress as this project unfolds.

The Triple Bottom Line -- The Mt. Diablo Unified School District's Solar Plan will allow the District to meet three key goals at once: achieve millions in savings, protect the environment and model an excellent "green" program for students.

Project Specifics

  • District-wide solar rollout, including all schools and District offices
  • Annual electricity savings projected to be approximately $3 million
  • Additional $2 million per year for the first five years from the California Solar Initiative (CSI) Program
  • From concept to completion, a three-phase project

All action and progress will be posted online, allowing the community to follow the process

Action Plan and Timeline

In order to select the best vendor for this important project, we've established a rigorous selection process. Objectives are to: (1) conduct a thorough, public vetting of the vendors and a careful examination of their qualifications; (2) ensure all vendors are reviewed by experts in the critical areas of finance, technical and legal, and (3) maximize District return on this public investment project.

Phase I. Identify and Secure Project Bids

August 4, 2010 -- Issued a Request for Proposal. The RFP can be viewed at: http:/ /1469.199.90.240/rsp.html

August 11, 12, 13, 16 and 17, 2010 -- Provided walk-thru at each site. A calendar of site visits is available at the above website.

August 23, 2010 -- Questions raised during walk-thru and corresponding answers were posted to the website.

Responses to the RFP were due at noon Thursday, September 2. The following four firms submitted responses to the RFP: Roebbelen, SolarCity, SUNPOWER, Vanir/Parsons.

Phase II. Vetting the Options

1. August 27, 2010 - Confirm a panel of solar experts in the areas of technical/engineering, project financing, and legal advice to work with Pete Pedersen (Assistant Superintendent Administrative Services), Greg Rolen (General Counsel), and the Measure C Oversight Committee members to review the responses to the RFP. None of the outside experts or Measure C Oversight Committee members are affiliated with any of the firms responding to the RFP.

Our goal is to ensure that a thoroughly vetted recommendation is made to the Board. This committee cannot approve any contract for the proposed solar project but will make a recommendation to the Board. The Board, as the elected representatives of the community, has the sole authority to approve the contract for the solar project. Information on the panel members is attached below.

2. September 7, 2010 - Selection of firms to interview

The first step in the review of the solar project will begin. Pete Pedersen will work with the outside experts to review all proposals and select the firms to be interviewed. The panel will also review the proposed timeline to determine schedule feasibility. Any changes to the below timeline will be posted on the District's website.

3. September 9, 2010 - Interview selected vendors

Vendor interviews will be conducted by a panel that includes three members of the Measure C Oversight Committee, outside solar experts, Pete Pedersen, and Greg Rolen.

4. September 16, 2010 - Board Study Session, Dent Center 6:00 - 9:00 p.m.

Panel members will present recommendations and rationale to board members in a study session. The intention is to provide full information and allow for necessary community input and discussion before taking this information to a formal board meeting.

5. September 28, 2010 - Regularly Scheduled Board Meeting Dent Center 7:30 p.m.

Panel will conduct any additional research and fact finding in order to finalize a recommendation to the Board of Education. Recommendation to include a complete timeline on installation, with consideration to school schedules.

6. October 12, 2010 - Regularly Scheduled Board Meeting, Dent Center 7:30 p.m. Present to the

Board of Education a finalized contract for approval.

My Promise

It is clear that the state budget crisis is not improving. Further, there is absolutely no indication that the budget cuts to education will be returned any time soon, if at all. Therefore, it is incumbent upon the District leadership team to find savings in all possible areas.

My goal as Superintendent on this project has always been to bring a high-quality, financially responsible solar program to the District. The millions of dollars in savings from the solar project will be re-direct to return and maintain programs and services for students.

I know there have been numerous articles in the local paper about discussions between me and solar vendors. I apologize to this community for any misunderstanding or misperception my actions may have caused. I am committed to keep every step of this solar project transparent and accessible to the public.

In order to ensure transparency, we will post all meetings and decisions on the District's website. Additionally, I have personally extended an invitation to our local news media, including the Contra Costa Times, to observe and cover the solar interview process and its roll out.

My hope is that this project will be a celebrated success throughout the community and our state.

Solar Expert Panel

Russell H. Driver
Mr. Driver is a Senior Program Manager with Newcomb Anderson McCormick, Inc. (NAM), Mr. Driver has over 16 years of experience implementing comprehensive business initiatives and advanced technology projects in complex institutional environments, including statewide solar and energy efficiency programs and projects for Chico USD and Los Angeles USD, and the State of Hawaii DOT. Mr. Driver holds a Master's Degree in Urban Planning from the University of California Los Angeles and a B.A. in Urban Studies from Stanford University. Mr. Driver will lead our contract helping to facilitate and manage the California Solar Initiative evaluation program.

Kathleen J. McKee
Ms. McKee is a partner at Fagan, Friedman & Fulfrost LLP, Ms. McKee is a member of the Green Technology Advisory Board. A recognized leader in energy conservation legal matters, specifically solar, Ms. McKee helped numerous K-12 school districts implement solar projects, including the Irvine Unified School District and Antelope Valley Joint Union School District. Currently, she is working with districts that are exploring solar farms. Ms. McKee began her career as a high school English teacher, which balances her legal acumen with deference for public education.

Bruce Kerns
Mr. Kerns is Managing Director in the Public Finance Department of Stone & Youngberg, an investment banking firm whose clients are school districts, cities, and other public agencies issuing municipal bonds to fund public projects. Mr. Kerns specializes in capital financings for California public school districts, and has worked on numerous renewable energy projects using financing techniques such as general obligation bonds, certificates of participation, Clean Renewable Energy Bonds ("CREBs"), and Qualified School Construction Bonds ("QSCBs"). His recent experience with solar projects includes Morgan Hill Unified School District, San Jose Unified School District, Santee School District, San Benito High School District, and San Ramon Valley Unified School District. Mr. Kerns has a B.A. degree from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and a Master's Degree in city and regional planning from the University of California, Berkeley.

Anna Van Degna
Ms. Van Degna is Vice President in the Public Finance Department of Stone & Youngberg. Ms. Van Degna specializes in the financing of renewable energy and energy efficiency projects for California public agencies, including the city of Brea, Lodi Unified School District, San Ramon Valley Unified School District, and Santee School District. Prior to joining Stone & Youngberg, Ms. Van Degna provided investment banking services for communications service providers and was a corporate treasury analyst for a U.S.-based commercial bank. Ms. Van Degna is a graduate of Cornell University and holds a B.S. in hospitality administration.

Measure C Bond Oversight Committee Members serving on the interview committee

John Parker
Mr. Parker is a Project Manager for Robert L. Brown Construction, Inc. Both of his children attended and graduated from MDUSD schools. He has been an active member of the Parent Advisory Committee, Budget Advisory Committee, and other district committees. He was also an original member of the 2002 Measure C Oversight Committee.

Marc Willis
Mr. Willis is a retired electrician from the City of Concord. Mr. Willis's children attended MDUSD schools. He is an original member of the Measure A Oversight Committee and the 2002 Measure C Oversight Committee.

Rick Callaway
Mr. Callaway has been an active parent and extremely active in MDUSD matters. Additionally, he has worked in the leadership core of the local YMCA. He was pivotal in the foundation of the Northgate High School Community Pride Foundation. An insurance broker for West Callaway Stotka, Inc., he is well versed with commercial insurance. He is an original member of the 2002 Measure C Oversight Committee and has served as Chairperson.


  1. That is the kind of planning and communication that will go a long way toward restoring trust in this district.

  2. First, I say kudos. Second, why the F hasn't this kind of thing been happening all along.

    I know Sherry will say that we are being to hard on the Super, but I say he has been remiss in not having this level of communication all along. Lets hope it continues.

    I must say that I am still disturbed that Paul has not apologized to Linda as of yet.

  3. While I applaud the Supt for his fervor in communicating everything he has been doing on the Solar project, I remain concerned that he has been "hands off" on attending to the basic needs of the children of the district, especially as the busing fiasco still is not fully solved 14 days after the start of school, and that children are still without textbooks two weeks after the start of school. Both of these issues are happening because the Supt eliminated jobs but those who took over the responsibilities were not on top of them before the start of school. That is the job of the Supt to make sure reorganizations are seamless. Instead he seems to have been paying too much attention to Pete Pedersen's job of Solar project management.
    Doctor J

  4. Dr J, will you note specifically where children are without the proper textbooks.

  5. Anon 5:35
    Call your principal and find out if and when they got all their textbooks.
    Doctor J

  6. My daughter is still without a textbook for her Advanced Math Topics class at College Park High School. The teacher has been really great at making sure she and the other students without books are able to keep up.

  7. The MDUSD is a sinking ship. Ever since the gang of five raises they might as well just shut the dump down.

  8. Dr J, you made an allegation. Specify where students are without textbooks or retract your statement. Simple. You must have access to the information, if you are making accusations. Show us here and now.

  9. I say we boycott this district until Paul apologizes to Linda.

  10. The textbook issue is nothing new. Both my children last year didn't get all of their textbooks until two - three weeks after school started - that was before anything Dr. J has stated occurred.

  11. HAHAHA

    This is the MDUSD people. The kids are lucky they get textbooks at all.

    The administrators are to busy drinking, having dinner, and playing golf courtesy of Chevron to worry about issues like kids having textbooks.

  12. Back on the topic of the MDUSD update -

    I think Sue Berg, or perhaps other administrative office employees who are no longer there, were instrumental in preparing and distributing timely updates about the District. Give the Superintendent a break - he's working with far fewer hands on deck. It's not his fault that the transition hasn't been "seamless."

    I'm somewhat concerned about some of the news in this latest update though. I'm wondering how and when Mr. Parker, Mr. Willis, and Mr. Callaway were selected to be on the Interview Committee. I know some members of the Measure C 2010 Bond Oversight Committee don't remember this action being taken at the publicly noticed meeting of the Bond Oversight Committee. Was this action item on the agenda for the first (and I believe only) Bond Oversight Committee meeting thus far?

    Some of the Bond Oversight Committee members also believe a position on the Interview Committee may be a conflict of interest given their position and responsibilities on the Bond Oversight Committee.

  13. It's so funny that people want to blame this administration for not getting textbooks to the students.

    This has been going on for years, even with Sue Berg and a full compliment of workers at the Dent Center.

    Right now, the Dent Center's staff is way down. They are trying to do what they can but it's hard. Especially when people do nothing except complain on blogs.

    Is there anyone else on this blog who is bothered by the poster who keeps claiming that everything bad with the district is because of "the gang of five"?

    That person has revealed that the lawyer, Rolen and some accountant got raises to make up for additional job duties because of positions that were cut, but who are the other three?

    Why do you keep harping on this issue, which seems really ridiculous to me? Is it because you got fired and now someone else is getting paid to do your job, or do you wish you were one of the gang of five?

  14. Having seen my name in a comment and having a bit of information from my 9 years' working with the Superintendent and Board, I am writing this post:

    Textbooks: Even in the best of times and despite the best laid plans, many classes are still being adjusted when the school year begins. Consequently, textbook supplies must be adjusted as well. The settlement of the Williams lawsuit several years ago requires staff at all public school districts to provide a "textbook sufficiency" report at a public Board meeting soon after the school year begins. The report will show any classes that have had a shortage of texts and the action taken to acquire the texts. The report's purpose is to verify that all students have the texts required for their classes. You should see this report on an upcoming Board meeting agenda.

    "Gang of Five": One of the items included in the Board action that approved the controversial raise for the General Counsel was the reclassification of the one (1) support position remaining in the Superintendent's Office after the budget cuts of Spring 2009. Those cuts eliminated the senior of the two positions (the one I held) that had provided administrative support to the Superintendent and the Board members. Many of the tasks of the senior position--attending and taking minutes at Board meetings after a full work day, for example--became the responsibility of the remaining position. The salary change for this position was minimal (about $100/month), an amount easily covered by the savings from the eliminated position and, I must say, hardly reflective of extra workload and work hours required.

    It angers me to see the continued reference to the "Gang of Five," which seems to imply that five district employees were given substantial raises they did not deserve (or, at least, should not have received during a budget crisis). Many, if not all, current employees in MDUSD have more responsibilities than they did a year ago. Some have not seen their salary changed, but more than five have seen increases this year. The reasons are many: advancement via step-and-column (i.e. longevity and education), promotion to a higher level position, and reclassification as a result of district and department reorganizations. All to say, a salary increase does not, in and of itself, indicate bias or unfairness. It can reflect changes that make an organization more efficient.

    The public certainly has the right to question Board decisions, including salary increases. I appreciate MDUSDParents for providing this forum for those questions and for district leaders' responses. I think the "Gang of Five" raises have been questioned and explained as much as they're going to be. It's time to let it go.

    I appreciate seeing the public interest in MDUSD. Questions and comments, even critical ones, provide an opportunity for district leaders to broaden their outreach and encourage involvement at a time when community support is needed more than ever.

  15. Sue- Thanks for your post. Whenever someone writes about the "Gang of Five" it irritates me because I know that Loreen was one of those people who got a raise--and she does deserve it.

    But, it just doesn't inflame to say that a support person in the Superintendent's office got a raise when you can just cite the lawyer and accountant.

    Hope you are enjoying your retirement and grandkids.

  16. The "Gang of Five" raises, in the midst of layoffs and cuts in hours, have not been forgotten by the unions who represent the Classified employees nor by the Union that represents the Teachers, nor by the MDUSD management association -- EVERONE of the people represented by those associations has taken on "additional responsibilities" WITHOUT an increase in salary. Sure there are "step" increases and longevity increases, but nothing significant. Of course, the biggest salary increase -- not included in the Gang of Five -- went to the Supt who got $250k plus a $25k bonus, about $65k more than Dick Nicholl and muich more than Gary McHenry. So Sue, be angry if you like, you were in the "know" when it happened. And can someone tell me why we increased the lawyer salary nearly $30k and we are still paying out $800k for outside lawyers ? Lets see, if we added just one more lawyer, and each lawyer really worked 2000 hours a year, at the average hourly rate of $200 per hour, we could have total lawyer production of about $1.2 million a year, just about what the Supt says we used to spend. Maybe why we are still spending $800k a year on outside lawyers is because they aren't working 2000 hours a year, like most lawfirms require their lawyers to work.
    So Sue, under the reorganization you were a part of, who became responsbible for textbook inventory, purchasing, and distribution ?
    Doctor J

  17. Doctor J- You obviously know, so why don't you tell us?

    For some reason, with all the "facts" you present, I am still not swayed by your arguments. Your credibility really suffers from the fact that are making harsh accusations, yet you remain anonymous.

    Have you wondered why there has been a tepid response to your posts? You are a quasi-knowledgeable person who accuses people of some pretty ugly doings. All while working for the company. It's hard to get behind that.

    I don't believe that the Superintendent and board members are as evil as you make them out to be. Yes, they have made decisions that turned out to be bad when scrutinized later on. How human!

    Considering that I have done that myself, and not under the watchful eye of the public, I am willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.

    Time will tell if the Superintendent changes his strategy or makes the same mistakes. That will tell us about his character.

    What can we say about your character? If there are actions that need legal review and you remain silent, you are just as guilty as the people you work for.

  18. It is my understanding that the process to select members from the Measure C Oversight Committee to sit on the solar company selection panel was a voluntary one. It was decided that three members from the Measure C Oversight Committee would be a part of the selection panel and the names would be chosen from volunteers of the Committee Members. I understand that 4 Members volunteered and 3 were selected randomly (names drawn from a hat or some other random methodology).

    There was a comment that questioned whether or not members of the Measure C Oversight Committee should sit on the selection panel. I don't see why not. By law we are required to have a Citizen's Bond Oversight Committee, but we have a long history in this district of ensuring that the Bond Oversight Committee is involved in processes that impact spending of bond funds. Committee Members have always taken their responsibilities very seriously and have helped to provide needed direction related to spending for facility improvements.

    It is our goal to ensure that the selection of a solar provider be a public process and I am not sure what purpose it would serve to exclude the Measure C Oversight Committee from the selection process. I think we would be heavily criticized for doing that. We have also invited the press to be a part of the process.

  19. Gary, a few weeks ago you said that the Strategic Plan needed some action. Is there a plan to get the plan started ?
    Doctor J

  20. Gary,

    Have you personally asked Paul to apologize to Linda? If not, you are as culpable as he is in this assinine attack on her. I must say that I am ashamed to know Paul at this point.

  21. Good Lord, Troll! What is your problem that you put Paul's bad behavior on other people?

    I love my spouse, but I am not responsible for the things they do and if I asked them to apologize for something it is up to them.

    Are you Linda's mother or something?

  22. 7:45, are you saying that gary is paul's spouse? Weird correlation you drew there.

    I think Paul should apologize because it's the right thing to do, but he won't because he's burned bridges all over town, and he never apologizes. This is his M.O. He has even hurt opportunities for his kids with his temper. Maybe he has "issues" we need not know about , but his reaction to things is not always normal.

  23. Anon 7:42,

    Paul is extremely accessible by phone and e-mail. I'm sure that he'd be happy to discuss your request on the phone or via e-mail. If you don't have Paul's e-mail and phone number, they can both be found on the school district's web site or on our blog site. If it is your desire to find solutions, you would be better served to contact Paul directly.

    I'm not sure why you would direct questions about Paul to me. That is an odd methodology.

  24. Dr. J at 2:39,
    Your statement that I was part of a reorganization is not accurate. The appointment of Dick Nicoll as interim superintendent was the only organizational change that occurred before my position ended on June 30, 2009. The Board action regarding your so-called "Gang of Five" and the elimination of the textbook coordinator position happened after I was gone. The requirement for a "textbook sufficiency" report must be met regardless of staffing cuts.

    In using the term "Gang of Five" in reference to the group of positions that received salary increases through one Board action in late 2009, you imply that all are senior managers undeserving of the increase. I pointed out that one of the five is an administrative support position that was reclassified to include most the duties of my former job.

    The salary increase for the reclassified position was a tiny fraction of the increase that you seem to be most angry about: the General Counsel's. And that raise, along with all other salary changes, took effect last July 1. You did what you felt was needed: called the public's attention to the raises at the time and for months afterward. Yet, despite your efforts or any union's objection, they went into effect.

    The "Gang of Five" horse is now dead. Please stop beating it. You can make better use of your time by turning your attention to more current issues.

  25. Anon 8:53pm- I apologize for using an analogy that went over your head--that one person is not responsible for the actions of another.

    What's weird to me is that you know what Paul's MO is to the point of making a statement about him hurting his children's opportunities, yet you feel the need to assign reigning him in to his coworker.

    Go back under your bridge.

  26. Dr J,

    For someone that speaks fairly often about strategic planning, you don't appear to be capable of participating in the creation or implementation of a strategic plan. Strategic planning requires participants to put down their preconceived notions, their egos, and their ill will in an effort to define outcomes based on the objectives that the organization is trying to achieve. It requires true team work, people working hand in hand to do what's best, in our case, for our students. With the exception of you advocating for the "Seattle strategic plan" , (which by the way must not be getting all the buy-in necessary given that the Teachers Union in Seattle just took a vote of no confidence in their Superintendent) I have not heard much in the way of positive suggestions from you.

    Given some of your comments, I fear that you are an employee of our district which is troubling for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that while employees are working hard all over this district to pull together for our students, you spend a good portion of your time reading and commenting on blogs.

    To answer your question directly, we will undertake a strategic planning process and I am extremely hopeful that it is much more successful than it was in Seattle, a school district that is truly being torn apart by factions that do not agree about the direction of the district.

  27. 10:58, there was nothing in my statement that "assigned" reigning him in to a co-worker, sorry for writing something that went over YOUR head. I said he won't apologize. I didn't say anyone else should be responsible. He's solely responsible for his actions. I still think it's weird you think the relationship between gary and paul is like a husband and wife. Why not just use your analogy between you and a co-worker? That's about what it is.

  28. 11:13pm - Really? Here is what you wrote at 7:42pm "Gary, Have you personally asked Paul to apologize to Linda? If not, you are as culpable as he is in this assinine attack on her."

    The point of using my spouse and my relationship was to show that even when it is a close relationship, you cannot control another person.

    Next time, I will type slower so you can understand.

  29. Actually 11:22, I'm not 7:42, you have your anons mixed up. I just commented on your spouse analogy, I didn't make the previous request for Gary to ask Paul to apologize.

  30. Paul is a jackass. He always has been and I'm guessing he always will be. The district will be better off without him.

  31. Gary, I always said that the Seattle plan was just an example --but it has a vision, something this district sorely lacks and I am sure you appreciate that important part of the Strategic Plan. My understanding is that Linda provided you with a copy of the NC Strategic Plan this is working out quite successfully. My question really focused on WHEN we will begin this process and remains unanswered. I think that is a fair question. Is there a reason you don't ask for it to be put on the Board agenda so at least it can be discussed publicly ?
    Doctor J

  32. Here is the link to the post MDUSDParents provided on the NC District.

    Here is a link to the Strategic plan page. Don't overlook the left menu bar where you can see the how extensive the communication process was as it related to the strategic plan.

    If we could even come part way while striving toward this kind of planning, vision, and communication it would make such a difference.

  33. While both Gary and Paul endorse a Strategic Plan, we see no action. That is disconcerting. All it takes is for it to be placed on the next Board agenda to get the discussion going and public. Linda is right that the "process" is just as important as the eventual "Strategic Plan". It will make a huge difference in unifying the district, the board, and the community. My concern remains the stated opposition to it by the Supt and instead the promotion of his stand alone goals/objectives, which are just a small part of a Strategic Plan.
    Gary or Paul, can you please explain why you are not willing to place it on the agenda for discussion ?
    Doctor J

  34. Doctor J- This is the MDUSDParents blog. If you really want answers, why don't you ask Paul and Gary on the MDUSD blog, which they run.

    Oh yeah, you might get found out.

    Maybe the district can improve efficiency by monitoring the web sites their employees go to during the day. It's hard to believe that you complain about others when you spend so much time commenting on this blog.

  35. Sue @ 10:35 The "Gang of Five" reference is to the five MDUSD employees who got raises at the same time on the same vote in Nov 09 in the midst of teacher layoffs, staff layoffs, staff hour reductions, and a serious economic crisis. Three of the raises were very sigificant. I have never suggested they were all senior managers as you imply. I have never suggested that these people did not "deserve" the raises. My Lord, all of the staff, management and support, have ALL undertaken huge amounts of extra work, and there have been no raises for them for years. What singled out these five people to get raises when no one else did ? Sure they have more to do, but so does everyone else. How about those elementary principals with over 500 children and no vice-principals -- they are doing two jobs and no raises -- instead their support staff gets cut and the principals have to pick up their slack too, so now they are doing three or four jobs. The "Gang of Five" raises were just insults to all of the hard working men and women of MDUSD that are working day and night with no extra pay. Mark my words, the Unions have not forgot about the Gang of Five raises and will not forget about them. That horse is not dead -- it lives and when the next round of pay cuts and benefit cuts appear, you will hear from the rank and file: Remember the Gang of Five raises! I make no secret that I think the Supt is overpaid: MDUSD may be the only east bay district in 2010 to give its new Supt more money than the last one, and substantially more too.
    As far as the textbook sufficiency report, it will be only report the status almost 8 weeks after the start of school.
    With your recent posts, and the recent communications from the Supt, sounds like you are getting a little contract work.
    Doctor J

  36. Dr. J,

    You made a comment regarding your belief that our Superintendent is overpaid.

    Given your statement, I assume that you have done some research regarding Superintendent pay in our area so that you are able to support your claim that our Superintendent is overpaid. Can you please share your research with us so that we may all be enlightened?

  37. Dr. J- There you go with your quasi information again.

    Have you considered that Gary McHenry was here for almost ten years and that when people stay at a job for a long time, they are usually under market value for what it would cost to hire someone new?

    I am also with Sue that the term "Gang of Five" implies a collective action by five people to get raises out of the district.

    It sounds like you are with one of the employee unions, based on this statement, "Mark my words, the Unions have not forgot about the Gang of Five raises and will not forget about them. That horse is not dead -- it lives and when the next round of pay cuts and benefit cuts appear, you will hear from the rank and file"

    What is a sham is that MDEA says it takes 16 weeks to poll 50% of their membership. Speaking for myself, I admire and respect our teachers, but I despise the way MDEA is holding us hostage with its' budget negotiations. When it comes time to negotiate, I wonder if you will be surprised that parents aren't on your side.

    Gary- Is anything the district can do to find out who Doctor J is considering the amount of time he spends on this blog? Talk about waste!

  38. Gary,there are several reasons: (1) the same month that Lawrence began both Pleasanton and Livermore hired Supt's at LESS than their former Supt's made; (2) Lawrence's salary of $250k plus $25k bonus is significantly higher than Dick Nicholl's salary of $209k or McHenry's salary; (3) Lawrence got a huge raise over his prior salary in West Sacramento of about $100k yet had very little success in raising academic achievement; (4) there is a much greater disparity between the average teacher salary and the Supt salary in MDUSD than almost, if any, other district in the East Bay. (5) Lawrence had no experience in a large school district in the last ten years -- his prior experience in West Sacramento was in a small district and his prior district was a Roseville High school district.
    Nuff said.
    Doctor J

  39. Dr J,

    As usual, you can't support your claims with facts that support your argument.

    Let me help you:

    West Contra Costa: $275k/yr, District size 30,800 students.

    Oakland Unified: $287,870/yr. not including $30k/yr retirement contribution after year 1. District size 46,500 students.

    San Lorenzo: $326,000/yr, District size, 12,000 students.

    Pittsburg Unified, $243,236/yr, District size 9,600 students.

    Do I really need to continue?

    Our Superintendent is paid appropriately. As many of your claims tend to be, this is a non-issue.

    You are wasting your time and, if you are a district employee, you are wasting the resources of our district and cheating our students out of the services that we are responsible for providing.

  40. And Gary, when were those contract put into place ? Well before the economic crisis. You still haven't answered the legitimate question about the Strategic Plan being on the agenda ? You say you are for something, and do nothing ? What's with that ? You are a man of action, except in this regard.
    Doctor J

  41. Doctor J- You are pretty slippery! You make a statement about the Superintendent's salary and then when you get schooled by Gary, you switch to another topic.

    Why even bring up Dick Nicoll? He knew he was a short timer, so why would he ask for, or receive, the going rate for Superintendents for a district our size?

    You are starting to flail and it isn't pretty.

  42. Anon 9:19 Dick Nicholl was the Supt for one year. His salary was higher than McHenry. Have Gary tell you how many candidates there were for the job ? Pitiful. You know how many applied for the West Sacramento job when Lawrence left ? Almost 40. Why ? Who wants to work for Gary and Paul ? And who could fail in West Sacramento when Lawrence hadn't made any progress in four years ? Where are your facts ? When Gary doesn't like my facts, he attacks me instead of the facts.
    Doctor J

  43. Doctor J- You need help with your anger issues with Paul and Gary.

    Please seek it.

  44. Doctor J- Now I am really wondering who you are because the parents I spoke with were actually quite concerned about who would WANT to run our district when Gary M. left.

    Your assertion that qualified candidates didn't apply because of Gary and Paul is ludicrous! Maybe there weren't a lot of candidates because the district has other problems, like the community can't pass a parcel tax and the district is too large and far flung.

    Why would the Superintendent of the SRVUSD want to move over to the MDUSD when they have the support and demographics for success there.

    When you first started posting, I thought you were genuinely frustrated, but now I see that this is personal for you. Your posts have a desperate and almost neener, neener, neener quality.

    Please give it a rest.

  45. On Monday you will see what four years of Lawrence's "goals and objectives" did for West Sacramento and you can be the judge. We will also see some schools in MDUSD with some positive movement. But the real scorecard that you should be keeping is the six underperforming schools and the six or seven potentials for being added to the "persistently underachieving schools". For the record, I don't think you can hold Lawrence accountable for any of the MDUSD scores -- he was too new. But you can hold Board members accountable who have captained the ship. Who was on the Board when McHenry was hired ?
    Doctor J

  46. Dr. J

    Would be interested in hearing your proposal for helping the underperforming schools. Please post details!

  47. Anon 8:40
    Why don't you ask the Board that question? Why aren't you more upset that they have not provided that information to the community than the fact that someone has asked about it?
    This has to be about the kids not about defending a Board member who is on the hot seat with questions about their accountability to our students.

  48. Anon 8:40 How did the Board allow six schools to become habitually underachieving schools in the first place [worst 5% of the schools in the state], with another six or seven ready to be added to the list ? MDUSD has 6 of the 18 schools on the list !!! I have yet to see any of the Board members express their embarassment about that. The fix lies in the Strategic Plan process. The time for talk should be done -- its time to get the Strategic Plan process STARTED !! One year ago I called for a "turn around specialist" to be hired. Instead they hired Lawrence -- who has zero track record of turning around poorly performing schools. In a shoot from the hip move, he did a principal shuffle, changed the name of a department, played some musical chairs, and only had four of the six schools apply for Grant money. Who in this district knows what it takes to turn around a "persistently underachieving school" ? Its not Lawrence. He hasn't done it before.
    Doctor J

  49. From Anon 8:40

    I am interested in hearing what Dr. J's ideas are for helping improve underperforming schools. Dr. J seems to be a wealth of info and likely has ideas that can help the district. Please don't keep them to yourself - the district needs your help!

  50. Anon 1:04 A Strategic Plan will help identify the reasons MDUSD, despite being half the size of Oakland Unified, why MDUSD has MORE -- 1/3 of all the schools in Alameda and Contra Costa -- "persistently underachieving schools". The Strategic Plan will also develop the fix.
    Doctor J

  51. Doctor J really? Do you need a plan for that? Aren't are underperforming schools in areas predominately latino with a HIGH english language learner population, non english speaking parents, and high free or reduced lunch populations?

    Oakland...their underperforming schools probably have more economic issues, than language - they may speak slightly differently than us (think ebonics) but they still speak english.

    Don't you think that has a HUGE impact on learning?

    I don't think you need a study or a plan to identify the "why" of the low performance do you? You need a plan to learn how to DEAL with the problem. Outreach. Getting parents involved. In some cultures, they leave the teaching to the schools - well they're in america now and should be encouraged to volunteer their time, have pride in education and in their schools and community. How do you do that? It's a bigger problem than the schools. How do you put a stop to gangs? You build communities, support families, support pride amongst the community.

  52. Dr. J,

    The fact of the matter is, the Board and the Superintendent did come up with plans for the underachieving schools, in fact the plans were so highly rated that they were able to secure over $14 million in funding based on the merits of those plans. What part of those plans do you disagree with Dr. J.? Specifically, you indicated that there are plans at four of the 6 underperforming schools, what exactly about those plans do you believe is flawed. Why not try answering a question rather than skirting the issue. I have asked you and others have asked you specific questions on this blog and attempted to engage you in discussion and you rarely answer a question.

    Simply stating that the District needs to do strategic planning is not going to solve everything. You pushed the Seattle plan and when confronted with the fact that the Seattle school district is failing, you switch to some other plan.

    You have an axe to grind and a chip on your shoulder. All of your fact-less accusations are doing nothing to improve the education of our students. I'm not sure what set you off, but your stability is questionable. I certainly hope that if you're an employee of this district, you are not coming into contact with our students with your negative attitude and baseless accusations.

  53. Gary, pot meet kettle. :) Of course people may choose to disagree with Doctor J, but I am also interested in why if strategic planning is happening, or important, or on your minds - why is it not on any agenda as yet? Talk about skirting questions.

  54. Gary,
    I would like to know that too. Why hasn't strategic planning been put on the agenda? The Superintendent has been here almost 7 1/2 months.
    I really do not think it is Doctor J's job to come up with a sample plan or plan details. It is up to the Board and the Superintendent. It is up to all of us to continue to ask you to pursue a plan. Most people understand large organizations need strategic planning to be successful.

  55. I have said that we will begin the process of strategic planning. I am a little concerned with how we will pay for it. Strategic planning requires money and a lot of staff and community time. I believe it is worth the time and money, but will our community feel the same way?

    We will have a Board study session this year on strategic planning, unless a majority of Board Members would rather not. Of course, we will have two, maybe three new Board Members, so it will be the next Board that really dives into strategic planning. Dr. J. will not be a part of strategic planning, because to be a part of the solution you have to show up, something he has said he is unwilling to do.

    I have never skirted the issue, in fact, I was one of the first Board Members to ever suggest that we do strategic planning in this district.

  56. This comment has been removed by the author.

  57. I posted and then deleted it. I am tired of rewriting the same comments. If you'd like to get together with me to discuss strategic planning, I would love to do that. It is a topic that I enjoy discussing. E-mail me at and we can set up a time to meet and discuss.


  58. Doctor J- Why the fascination with Dr. Lawrence's old job? Did you forget that the MDUSD hired Gary McHenry after the mess he left in Oakland?

    I just don't get all this whining now. Dr. Lawrence is here. Let him try and do something for us. All your complaining is just that, complaining.

    In your mind, you think you are doing something akin to being a crusader. There is nothing impressive about posting what you post and remaining anonymous--you are just an angry complainer.

  59. Anon 8:26
    By the "mess in Oakland," I assume you're talking about events leading to the state takeover of the Oakland USD in 2003. At that time the OUSD Superintendent was Dennis Chacones and Gary McHenry had been Mt. Diablo's Superintendent for four years.

    For five years before coming to MDUSD McHenry was Superintendent in the Stockton USD. Last year he was invited to attend a celebration of student achievement resulting from programs initiated under his leadership there.

    Prior to Stockton he did spend a couple of years as an area (assistant) superintendent in Oakland, but for the first half of his 30-year career he was a school counselor and then site administrator in the Mountain View-Los Altos USD.

  60. Sue Berg - some good points. Reading this blog chatter one sees a pattern. Repeated attacks by Dr. J which are answered in quite a bit of detail by Gary, Sue, and others who keep posting answers based on their job experience.

    What is interesting is that Dr. J ignores the answers to restate the attack.
    Like with the recent spate of Contra Costa Times pieces that kept going into attack mode - questions are fine, persistence is great - arrogance and angling to find cause is creating the problem rather than helping to solve it.
    Dr. J has achieved nothing aside from pot stirring. The fact remains that Measure C passed, that the Board elections will decide its new face, that Solar is in, that any documentable falsehoods would have resulted in some kind of legal charges of wrongdoing which has not been the case.

    What Dr. J has achieved is tying up board members with endless attacks that they feel they must answer - I suggested they take the attack question and the answer and post it on their own blog instead of continually having to respond to the same thing.

    Stirring the pot is a good way to generate blog traffic. And that is all.

    At this stage it is time to set the stage for the changes that need to happen. I do believe that the district is trying to do so with the resources available. Cast your vote in November for change. Paul Strange is not running. Linda Mayo is running. There are no shortage of new candidates. If Dr. J believes he/she can withstand the scrutiny his/her name should have been on that list of candidates. If not... well that speaks volumes.

    Rather than have a bitch fest, especially today (9-11) why not develop a set of questions to be answered as election interview questions so that we can see how the new board potentials will want to deal.

  61. Sue- I apologize for misstating Gary's employment history.