Saturday, December 11, 2010

School closure options, as the decision draws near

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

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

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

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

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


  1. How come the Dec. 6th meeting minutes and agenda are not available?

    In my opinion, those posters that say Sequoia and Monte Gardens will never get shut down are probably really naive (though they are absolutely correct if the board was going to make a decision based on logic).

    Reading through the agendas and meeting minutes it appears to me that the committee/board may be searching for a politically correct solution rather than the logical one. If your goal is to be politically correct do you close some of the underperforming schools or do you close Sequoia and Monte Gardens?

    I would encourage Sequoia and Monte Gardens parents to write letters, attend the meetings, speak publicaly, and protest loudly or this will be over before you know it. If we don't get organized and defeat this thing it will be goodbye Sequoia. It was a good run while it lasted.

  2. Rumor floating late tonight is that the Board is postponing the School Closure study session until January instead of next week. They feel the parents can't get re-organized over the holidays and Lawrence wants to promote his idea of grade group consolidations, an idea he implimented at Washington Unified in West Sacramento. He is unhappy with the committee workup.

  3. Well what do you know?

    I was one of the posters who said a long time ago that the board specifically picked this committee because they believed they would get a preordained result. You all bad mouthed me back then, even Sherry Whitmarsh posted that I was incorrect.

    Fast forward a few months and guess what? They are suspending the work of the committee. Sure to give parents time to get organized, yeah right.

    They have Rose Locke letting the board know they are not getting the result they preordained. So its bye-bye committee. Will be interesting to see the "new process" they develop.

    This would all be really hilarious if it wasn't so important.

  4. 1:44 and 8:26

    One of the reasons I hate blogs is that people can state rumors, lies, and conjecture with no ramifications for them.

    Where you at the meeting last Monday? Many of us were. If you were really interested, and not just wanting to stir up the pot, you would have learned that the committee voted to remove the 6-12 alternative from the solution. You would have seen the committee working on pros, cons, and unknowns for each alternative.

    My understanding is that there was a board study session with the SCC proposed for Thursday, December 13. Many members of the SCC could not make the meeting so it has been postponed. No new date has been proposed but because of winter break I would think it would no sooner than January 3.

    I think that is is sad that MDUSD has to consider school closures, but they do. How many of you complainers have talked to your state representatives about funding education properly? If you aren't part of a solution then YOU ARE THE PROBLEM.

  5. Anon 9:16a One reason rumors and perhaps half truths are spread is because as Anon 4.45 said: The minutes and agenda have not been posted. Also, the reason for postponement was not stated. But your post is nothing more than rumor also -- the meeting was last Monday and as of Thursday Locke was still saying the Board study session for next week was still on. Why would she say that as Chair of the Committee unless it was true ? School closures should have been done a year ago, and we would have saved so many more millions and not have had to lay off so many teachers and staff.

  6. I have to say that when I was at the Pleasant Hill Spelling Bee yesterday, I noticed that the preponderance of Sequoia students among the top 3 finishers for each grade. Why is closing it even under consideration? (BTW my children attend a different school)

  7. This is all suddenly becoming very strange. It is true that the Dec. 6th meeting minutes and agenda are not posted.

    How fast were the previous minutes posted? If it was in shorter time than the Dec. 6th one then something is clearly going on. It'd be nice to have some communication on this one.

  8. Wait a minute.....assuming some of these posts are at least partially true here is my take.

    The SCC voted against the 6-12 combo floated out as a trial balloon by the board/Lawrence. Upon learning of this board/Lawrence decide to delay the work of the SCC until they can get the 6-12 combo inserted back into the discussion.

    What I can't figure out is why the board/Lawrence would be so hard pressed to make the 6-12 combo work.

  9. I do not believe minutes were posted any faster in the past. I wonder if they , like many groups, do not post their draft minutes and wait until they are approved to post. I assume tomorrow they'll approve, and then hopefully post. BUT, it doesn't hurt for those who are really concerned, and thinking conspiracy, to GO tomorrow.

  10. The ecomonics of each school closure is important to the school board. Many of the Sequoia and Monte Garden students are not going to their home schools. If these schools close and the students stay in the district and I am sure many will leave but many will go back to their home school. Most home schools can absorb these children without adding any new teachers so you get the addition savings of teacher salaries.

  11. I do hope that the 6- 12 idea is off the table. If Lawrence and the Board try to go with this I for one will pitch a fit and find a way to open more Charter schools.
    I am sure with the empty buildings they will hae to do something with them. This is all just a bunch of bull they do have the money to run all of the schools if they control their spending. Please visit

  12. I think the 6-12 thing is just bat ass crazy, but if it keeps Sequoia open until my kids are finished then I'm all for it.

    Bring on the 6-12 schools.

  13. 7:29 PM,

    I think a lot more can be done with the schools in California and I know that it's not all money, but come on. Let's be honest. Michelle Rhee and can talk all they want about all the great work that was done in her school district in Washington D.C., but there is a distinct difference between D.C. and MDUSD. Their students are funded at more than $4000 per student more than our students. That means if the 32,000 students in the MDUSD had the same funding, our district would have $128,000,000.00 more each and every year to spend on students. Our students would be in much better shape if we could add those kind of dollars.

    You made an accusation that the district needs to control it's spending and then they wouldn't have to close schools, please tell us all what spending is out of control. They are millions of dollars short because the state has cut their budget, please tell us where the millions of dollars of poorly spent dollars are.

    The MDUSD has 56 schools and about 32,000 students. Fremont Unified has about the same number of students and has 42 schools. It seems to me that MDUSD would be irresponsible if they didn't close some schools and 4 schools might not even be enough.

    We do need a reform movement in public education, but that movement needs to start at the state so that ineffective rules can be changed and school districts can operate their schools as they see fit. It's not our board or our superintendent, it's the state.

    I'm a parent at one of the schools on the list and I'm not happy to see the school on the list, but I don't see the conspiracy and I don't see the district operating in bad faith. We need real solutions and out of more than 150 posts on the SCC on this blog, I have only seen a handful of articulate and thoughtful posts. This is a thinking game. If you're going to post accusations and innuendo, please show a little intelligence and post some facts to back up your accusations. If not, you're not helping to find a solution, you're just whining.

  14. Why would they do a 6-12 and put babies with adults instead of putting 6th back where it belongs... with K-5?

  15. Anon 9:28
    You said, "We do need a reform movement in public education, but that movement needs to start at the state so that ineffective rules can be changed and school districts can operate their schools as they see fit."
    I understand that the State needs to change how they fund education but what are the ineffective rules that need to be changed? If we write to the State what should we ask them to change other than funding?

    Do we ask for changes to the ed code? What are the rules holding back reform and how should they be changed? Do you have the courage to have that conversation?
    If not, isn't that just complaining too?

    If school closures incite like this what will we hear when the conversation turns to eliminating tenure? Or instuting teacher evaluations? Or firing incompetent teachers and requiring more from those who are just growing old in their job? What about the elimination of a union that stands in the way of reform at every turn? What about "merit" pay for good teachers who bring innovation to education? What about changing the rules to add more online courses to expand the breadth of options offered to our students? How about allowing libraians to oversee online curriculum so we can keep our libraries open? How about enforcing bad behavior and the right bad behavior... not the student who takes the video of the disruptive class but the students actually causing the problems? When do we start talking about the fact that our kids are bored to death in a high school classroom? We are teaching our kids the same way we did 100 years ago and yet they come home and learn daily anything they want to know faster, with richer content, and with collaboration. Should we ask the State to fix that? Should the State fix the fact that this district is one of the few that does not have the resolve to do what they need to do to pass a parcel tax?

    Is this the conversation you want to have instead? If yes, I think you are right this is exactly the kind of reform we should be talking about on regular basis.

    There should no longer be sacred cows in education, everything should be on the table in the name of reform and creating a better educational system. Michelle Rhee didn't make the news because she had $4,000 more per student. Michelle Rhee made the news and made a difference because she has the courage to say this is wrong for our kids, courage I have yet to see in this district.

  16. I went to a 7-12 public secondary school and it was fine. The jr. high kids had their own wing, lunch period, and extracurriculars so there was very little interaction between them and the sr. high kids.

    I'd support elimination of the district middle schools and just having K-6 elementaries and 7-12 jr/sr highs.

  17. Why isn't anyone talking about the fact that an option on the list saves the district almost double. Option 5-1 would save 2.7 mil as opposed the other options that are all closer to 1.5 mil? That seems significant.

  18. Anon 8:06 Good catch, that would be a good one to choose. Closing elementary schools make the most sense especially if there are several others close by to absorb the students.

    I do not like or agree with 6-12 schools. I would rather see k-6, then 7-8 and 9-12. Then 1 or 2 middle schools can be closed too.

  19. I actually mentioned that in the first post after the optioms were released as the option with seemingly one of the best absorption... from what I can see. Only exception is ban croft to fair oaks. But everything else seems same or better. Some of the schools close score far better than the schools their closing and many bancroft students would jump at the chance to go to walnut acres, and many in PH to strandwood. Saving that much may prevent other closures too.

  20. 10:27,

    9:28 here. I am not afraid to have those conversations. The reforms that you speak of are exactly what needs to be discussed and acted upon at the State level. Untie the hands of school districts and allow school boards to enact policies that reflect the needs and will of the people that they represent. The State is standing in the way and the Ed Code is standing in the way. I would add to your list the need to pass State budgets with a simple majority so that we can get budgets on time, the need for the State to pass a multiyear budget and stick to it so there are no more midyear cuts, the need to allow parcel taxes to be passed with a simple majority, the need to redistribute the election areas so that the districts are no longer gerrymandered and democrats and republicans must compete in their districts instead of winning by default, the need to remove most of the money from politics, and many more. We must have these discussions at the state level and insist on reform. If we don't, we are wasting our time complaining to our local school districts. We just had another election for state representatives from our area and we just sent the same types of people back to Sacramento that caused the mess we are in. They make the mess in Sacramento and we get pissed at our superintendent. Brilliant... It works out perfectly for Sacramento. That cycle is why nothing has changed. They mess it up and we blame someone else. Until that changes, expect the status quo.

  21. 7.29 has a real point. MDUSD and Fremont Unified are about the same size yet MDUSD has many more schools. Why ?
    You have to look at these District Administrators and wonder sometimes how they became "administrators". It really makes you wonder if silicone and affairs made a difference in their careers.

  22. Anon 9:28

    I could not agree more. So why don't we have a district task force for reform like we have a school closure committee?

  23. Just read that the options have been narrowed to eight.

    So instead of a 3 in 10 chance of closing down Sequoia and Monte Gardens now have a 3 in 8 chance of closing.

    30% (previously) to 37.5% (now)

    Doesn't look good for those schools, I'm just still shocked that those options are on the table.

  24. is there a meeting tonight or has it been postponed? if the latter, is there a new date/time?

  25. 10:33,

    The problem is that the changes must be made at the State. It makes no sense to get a bunch of people together to talk about the district making fundamental changes that they do not have the authority to make. That would just piss people off and would go nowhere. If you'd like to get a group together that wants to talk about changes at the State level, that would be worthwhile.

  26. My Daughter attends one of the schools on the list. We are in walking distance to her school and I like the fact that we are helping the environment by not driving and staying in our community. We are just one family but consider if all families did this. If home schools close, much more families will be driving. This might not be a big deal to most of you but I think it is something to think about. I do think closing schools is a good idea and needs to be done, but we should realize that this is going to have an effect on families in all schools being considered.

  27. There is a committee meeting tonight, but the board study session is being postponed until January:

  28. The Thursday study session was postponed because it conflicted with a Measure C oversight committee meeting and there are people who are on both committees.

    Since next week starts Christmas break, it made sense to postpone the meeting til January.

    I wonder why Theresa didn't mention that part.

  29. Is anyone going to live blog the meeting?

  30. Anon 11:47
    Nothing is going to change at the State level until a.) the parents have had enough and join together to force reform, b.) School Boards say enough is enough and join other district school boards to force reform, or c.)both.

    Until that time unions will continue to influence politicians like Tom Torlakson and Mark DeSaulnier and we will never see our legislature address the needs of the children but instead the needs of the adults.

    There is no question times are tough financially but this is not all about money. Why can charter schools make it work on less?

  31. Charter schools are very different. They don't have to have union. How many charters do you know that have specials needs school attending? Charters can also remove a student if the parents don't agree to the requirements.

    Public schools have to education all children.

  32. anon 6:28,

    Why should district schools be teaching children of illegal immigrants?

  33. 6:39
    Because it is a state and federal law to educate all children. Schools, as well as medical facilities, are not allowes to ask immigration status. It would jeopardize their funding.