Friday, July 30, 2010
A special meeting of the MDUSD School Board has been called and is scheduled to include closed session topics such as:
Superintendent's Evaluation, and General Counsel's Evaluation.
Public comment is welcome (and I highly encourage it since we have so many opinions around here, where better to air them but at the board meeting). I hope the board will be HIGHLY recommending, if not reprimanding, this Superintendent for his lack of communication. General Counsel now has created a lot of controversy. Something tells me they will have a lot to discuss behind closed doors. The Superintendent MUST do better. If he can't, or won't, do better, or do what is directed - he needs to resign. What a tragedy though for the district to lose another Superintendent at a time like this. But, he has to step up to the plate.
It simply can not be that hard for him to take 30 minutes out of his day each week to provide the community a "Monday Memo" of sorts. Just an update. What are you working on? Where are our strengths as a district? What are our weaknesses? Where can we help? What can we expect. It's not that hard. I'm certain he knows how to write given he's got those all important Ph.D. letters behind his name. Oh , by the way, why is there NO bio about him at all on the district site? http://www.mdusd.org/superintendent/Pages/default.aspx
You can view the agenda at the link here: http://esbpublic.mdusd.k12.ca.us/public_agendaview.aspx?mtgId=285
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Check it out:
Meet and greets are scheduled as follows:
Monte Gardens Elementary/ Susan Peters/ Wednesday, July 28, 5:00 PM
Mt. Diablo Elementary/ Irene Keenan/ Tuesday, July 27, 6:00 PM
Shore Acres Elementary/ Elizabeth Block/ Tuesday, August 3, 5:30 PM
Silverwood Elementary/ Nancy Villa/ Tuesday, August 3, 5:30 PM
Glenbrook Middle School/ April Bush/ Tuesday, August 3, 7:00 PM
Sequoia Middle School/ Constance Cirimeli/ Wednesday, August 4, 7:00 PM
Highlands Elementary/ Vicki Eversole/ Wednesday, August 4, 5:30 PM
Monday, July 26, 2010
Live chat: Mt. Diablo Unified School District issues, Wednesday, July 28, 2010, 11 a.m.
For more background, visit Harrington's On Assignment blog, and follow Harrington and Krupnick on Twitter.
Thursday, July 22, 2010
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?
Interviews have been conducted and candidates have been selected to fill School Site Administrator positions.
At every special meeting, the Board of Education shall provide the public with an opportunity to address the Board on any item described in the notice before or during consideration of that item.
My guess, and hopefully a board member will confirm, that the board will have the candidate names ahead of time. I do believe one of the concerns at the last board meeting was that candidate names were not provided ahead of time. I hope they've learned and have provided the board the names (at least).
At this time, it is the only item on the agenda. I do not see a public comment section either, but per the above item description it appears that during 3.1, the public will have an opportunity to provide input. I'm not sure how anyone can provide input though without names and information ahead of time. Have the individual sites been notified they are getting a principal tonight? Any other information anyone has they want to share? Perhaps the appointments tonight all involve current MDUSD employees... ?
While it listed on the electronic school board : http://esbpublic.mdusd.k12.ca.us/ , it is not yet listed on the regular board agenda page or calendar . Presumably only a 24 hr notice is needed to post the agenda prior to the meeting for a 'special' board meeting so I would expect to see the agenda posted by Thursday afternoon.
Stay tuned. It is likely more principals will be appointed at this meeting.
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Certainly worth a read, it seems the Superintendent's warning of a possible State takeover in the future may have some real merit beyond "just" the MDEA negotiating angle.
Theresa reports that MDUSD borrowed money this year in order to cover it's cash requirements in a loan called a "TRANS." From the Times article:
“If they had to do a mid-year TRANS and they’re running out of cash, that’s one of the most telling indicators that they’re in financial trouble,” Clark said. “A mid-year TRANS is very new. Short-term borrowing is common in the fall or spring, but to borrow at the end of the fiscal year is not a common event.”
The John Swett district, he said, is in even more dire straits.
Still, the Mt. Diablo district filed a “positive” certification with its second-interim budget through Jan. 31, which assumed approximately $9.8 million in 2009-10 and subsequent year reductions that require labor negotiations, according to a letter the Clark wrote to Board President Paul Strange in April.
“It is our understanding that these assumed reductions may not materialize due to little or no progress with negotiations,” Clark wrote. “Our office would question the district’s positive certification should the district fail to meet targeted reductions.”
Monday, July 12, 2010
See the DISTRICT Measure C Oversight Committee information page.
One thing I noticed is related to an email I got from a concerned citizen about the Solar Projects.
The committee information sheet says:
"The committee does not have authority to select, or participate, in the negotiation or bid process for contractors or consultants for bond projects."
This concerned person wrote after reading an article in the Times:
No bids necessary for big solar projects, and that can cost you
They wrote the following (in part):
". . . I guess I would like to know what the value of a no bid contract is in these economic times. It just seems like we are opening up ourselves for waste. From what the papers say, Solar companies are having a hard time making it today, so why wouldn't we want to see who could give the MDUSD the best deal?"
The article has a few keys quotes to consider, then feel free to discuss:
"Schools and cities up and down the state have taken advantage of the 1983 law to bypass bidding in order to move quickly on solar projects. Among them, the Oakland-based Peralta Community College District, which has been criticized for signing an $8.1 million contract with Chevron Energy Solutions despite indications that seeking bids could have saved as much as $1.5 million."
"A Chevron spokeswoman said the company supports bidding when it is appropriate, but also said the firm sometimes drops out of contract negotiations if an agency decides to solicit bids. Chevron Energy Solutions, a San Francisco-based subsidiary of the San Ramon oil giant, hires subcontractors to install solar panels. "We're bringing other things to the table," said the spokeswoman, Juliet Don, explaining that smaller companies are often able to offer lower prices than Chevron. "If it's purely based on price, it's not always an optimal situation.""
"A Chevron spokeswoman said the company supports bidding when it is appropriate, but also said the firm sometimes drops out of contract negotiations if an agency decides to solicit bids. Chevron Energy Solutions, a San Francisco-based subsidiary of the San Ramon oil giant, hires subcontractors to install solar panels.
"We're bringing other things to the table," said the spokeswoman, Juliet Don, explaining that smaller companies are often able to offer lower prices than Chevron. "If it's purely based on price, it's not always an optimal situation.""
If it is purely based on price? I will admit up front I don't know what else it could be for a public entity such as a school district. If bids open it up to lower price for similar/same quality of product, workmanship, solar savings and more - what more could there be? It has to come down to price for a school district doesn't it? I am ready to be educated on this topic, but I'm getting sick of the put downs , so can we keep it civil and have a reasonable discussion?
Friday, July 9, 2010
Superintendent Steven Lawrence sent out a phone message to give an update and let the school communities know that several candidates have been identified for second round interviews.
He anticipates a special board meeting during the week of July 19th to announce and appoint new Principals for these schools and then will set up meetings between the new Principals and their new school communities soon thereafter.
So far so good. If they'd had more transparency and community involvement from the start, much of the last week could've been avoided all together. Let's say it seems they've learned a hard lesson. Let's hope this is the start of something good from here on out.
In addition, Theresa Harrington of the Times has a write up about the principal moves and has kindly gathered input from various district personnel about the latest Administrator moves. Check it out here: MDUSD administrator responds to questions about principal moves
Many have asked about the previous Mt. Diablo Elementary Principal and according to Rose Lock, he has not yet been placed within the district.
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
Around the district High Schools, there are several pathways students can take in high school. Did you know there are quite a few "Career Academies" located within our local schools and most are in very high demand. The trouble is, that some don't know about them. Others transfer to a high school specifically for a particular Academy.
I have asked the district rep to update me on this fall's academies. The list below is based on a report created for the Superintendent for the 2008-2009 year. I have to say, that even going to the websites of the individual high schools, in most cases, it is difficult, if not impossible to find any information about these academies and pathways. Check the individual school websites for information. If you know of others, or resources for any of these below, let us know!
Clayton Arts Academy at Clayton Valley High School
The ClaytonArts Academy is a three-block integrated program comprised of an English/social science core with a visual or performing arts specialty. The purpose is to provide an artistic avenue for students to fulfill their academic requirements and to provide them with intensive in-depth training in their area of interest. Current technology is used as a tool to prepare students for entry into the professional world. Ninth-Twelfth grade student schedules include a combination of classes from the specialized integrated Academy courses and the standard high school curriculum. The Art Specialty areas include Art, Drama, Photography and Video Production. Clayton Valley High School students indicate their interest in becoming part of the Academy by completing and submitting an application. This Academy is not an official or California Department of Education (CDE) funded Partnership Academy.
Communications & Human Services Academy at Concord High School
As an official and CDE funded Partnership Academy, this Academy brings together 150 sophomores, juniors and seniors into a strong, supportive academic environment focusing on communications and human services related careers. It combines rigorous academics with professional, community, college and career projects. The elements include work on community projects, taking college level courses, working with mentors and senior projects. The Academy’s mission is to assist those students who want to excel academically but may need additional support to do so. Any and all Concord High School students are encouraged to apply to be in the Academy. Students complete an application and are interviewed as a means to determine if the program is a good match for their interests and goals.
Engineering and Design Academy (link to brochure) at Clayton Valley High
In partnership with Chevron and Project Lead the Way. Developed as a smaller school with a school , the mission of the Engineering and Design Academy is to provide a firm educational foundation in the areas of math and science enhanced by problem solving and engineering applications. Emphasis is placed on critical thinking, collaboration and teamwork skills necessary in our increasingly technological world.
Digital Safari Multimedia Academy at Mt. Diablo High School
This official and CDE funded Partnership Academy offers students a pathway of opportunity to careers in the area of computer-based Multimedia and Web production. The Academy provides a state-of-the art technology foundation for careers in Science, Engineering and business. The classes are integrated and the projects used to teach Multimedia are for those academic classes. Industry practices of cooperative development teams are used and students research topics on the Internet and develop software. Students develop storyboarding, planning and presentation skills. The faculty works closely with Diablo Valley College Multimedia Certificate program and courses are articulated. The Academy is for grades 10th – 12th and students indicate their interest by completing and submitting an application. Students are made aware of the expectations of participation through orientations. Students from throughout MDUSD may apply.
International Hospitality & Tourism Academy (IHTA) at Mt. Diablo High School
IHTA provides students the opportunity for excellence in exceptional careers in California’s fastest growing industry. Students are exposed to career pathways in Culinary Arts, Restaurant, Travel, teaching, Convention Planning, Hotel & Lodging, Management and Sales Merchandising by a team of highly qualified staff, with industry-related experience and backgrounds. Students receive hands-on training in a broad scope of careers offering entry, technical and professional level potential. Students have access to leadership training and community service participation. This is an official and CDE funded Partnership Academy. The Academy is for grades 10th – 12th and students indicate their interest by completing and submitting an application. Students are made aware of the expectations of participation through orientations. Only Mt. Diablo High School students are accepted into the Academy, while any MDUSD student may enroll in the ROP courses associated with the Academy.
FAME (Fine Arts, Media, Entertainment) Academy at Mt. Diablo High School
This is a course of study available to sophomores, juniors and seniors and focuses on the performing arts, such as drama, dance, chorus and instrumental music. All Mt. Diablo High School students are welcome to enroll and indicate their interest by completing and submitting an application. This is not an official or CDE funded Partnership Academy.
Bio-Tech Academy at Mt. Diablo High School
This is a course of study available to juniors and seniors interested in exploring the health or physical fitness career fields. In each grade, community sponsored internships partner students in developing real life educational experiences, which transcend the classroom. Students indicate their interest by completing and submitting an application. This is not an official or CDE funded Partnership Academy.
Careers in Education Academy at Ygnacio Valley High School
This is a college prep, career oriented, three-year program (10th-12th) for students interested in the field of education. It features small class sizes, field trips, individual attention, guest speakers and job shadowing. Additionally, seniors participate in a project in which they intern in an elementary classroom four days per week for their entire senior year. Academy students have the opportunity to sit for an articulation exam for college credit recognized by Diablo Valley Community College and California State University. Interested students from Ygnacio Valley High School complete and submit an application and all students are encouraged to apply. This is an official, CDE funded Partnership.
Health Career Partnership Academy at Ygnacio Valley High School
This is a college prep, career-oriented, three-year program (10th-12th) for students interested in the health care field. It features small class sizes, field trips, summer internships/jobs, individual attention, guest speakers, job shadowing, and e-mentoring. There is a special emphasis on exploration of career and college choices. Students have the opportunity to participate in leadership activities (Health Occupation Students of America.) Students indicate their interest by completing a letter of interest, along with parental permission. Students of all academic achievement levels are encouraged to apply. This is an official, CDE funded Partnership.
ACME (Architecture, Construction, Manufacturing, Engineering) Academy
at Mt. Diablo High School
This Academy began fall of 2007 at Mt. Diablo High School, building upon a successful Wood/Construction Technology program. Several industry partners are very involved in supporting the development of this academy, including local trade and manufacturing representatives. This Academy was just granted a California Partnership Academy Grant, effective 08-09 school year. Thirty-two juniors and sixty-two sophomores are registered for 08-09.
Eco-Tech Academy at College Park High School
Officially funded as a California Partnership Academy to start in fall 2009, this new Academy was developed by the Media Production Career Technical Education teachers (Video, Photography, Journalism) and incorporates the CPHS garden project into design to create a ‘green’ Academy. Science, Social Studies and English teachers will be part of the team.
Arts and Humanities Academy at Mt. Diablo High School
The newest Academy model at Mt. Diablo High School, this program incorporates graphic and media arts with the study of Humanities. Funded as a Specialized Secondary Program by CDE, it is evolving into an Academy model, serving 10th – 12th graders.
Here are some additional resources (not part of the report above):
Mt. Diablo High School Academies - LINK TO WEBSITE
IHTA - International Hospitality & Tourism Academy; DSA - Digital Safari (L); ACME - Academy of Construction & Mechanical Engineering; FAME Fine Arts Media & Entertainment Academy; Health & Fitness; AHA - Arts and Humanities Academy (L)
CCCOE ROP Program - Serendipity - HERO (Home Economics Related Occupations)/ROP Tech Prep Career Pathway. LINK TO WEBSITE (located on Mt. Diablo High Campus)
Clayton Valley High School - LINK TO CLAYTON ARTS and PUBLIC SERVICE Academies
Mt. Diablo High School also has a Junior ROTC (Military) program though again, I can't find any information about it. According to Wikipedia (which may, or may not, be accurate) "Mount Diablo High is also the only high school in the Mt. Diablo Unified School District to have a Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) program, excluding the continuation school of Olympic High. JROTC is not a recruitment tool and the main goal is to help students graduate."
Here is a link to a list of ROP programs at the various schools. If you have specific information about any of these, feel free to post it in the comments:
From that link it appears that:
Biotechnology/Biotechnology Accelerated may be offered at : Northgate, College Park, Concord, Mt. Diablo and Ygnacio Valley.
Sports Medicine/Advanced Sports Medicine may be offered at: Northgate and Clayton Valley.
Finance/Computerized Accounting at: Concord High
Computer Applications/Microsoft Office Certification: Concord High
Computer Science/ Programming/AP Java: Northgate High
Robotics Engineering Technology: Concord High
Public Services/Analytical Forensic Science: Clayton Valley
Introduction to Law: College Park
Automotive Technician: Clayton Valley, Concord High
KVHS Radio 90.5: Clayton Valley http://www.kvhs.com/main.htm
Computer Graphics/Website Design: Clayton Valley
Mt. Diablo High Academies
Concord High School
Ygnacio Valley High School
Northgate High School
Clayton Valley High School
College Park High School
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
“The district has received questions regarding information discovered about Dr. Nugent, a candidate for one of our principal positions that was filled July 1, 2010. When filling positions in the district, the district follows standard protocols, including exhaustive written applications, oral interviews, credential checks, reference checks and subsequent background checks. In this case, our customary protocols did not discover negative information that was readily available in a simple Internet search. Consequently, the Board of Education was not aware of negative information which was discovered by a board member after the candidate’s appointment. In the future, the district will augment our process with a comprehensive Internet investigation prior to candidate recommendations going to the Board of Education. In light of the latest information, Dr. Nugent has withdrawn his name from consideration for any of the district’s open positions. The district will immediately conduct another search for a principal for Mt. Diablo Elementary and will work closely with that community to find a suitable candidate.
Steven Lawrence, Superintendent
Mt. Diablo Unified School District”
Does anyone find it curious that he mentions a Board Member discovered the "negative information?" Does he mean a board member brought it to his attention after it was brought to light on a blog? I know that they are engaging the MDE community in the interviews now, so that is good news, albeit rushed (tomorrow), but it's a start. And thank you Dr. Lawrence and District Personnel for "augmenting" the process. Clearly it was a process that needed some changes, and I'm just thankful this was caught now vs. a much worse violation in a future hire.
I'm ready to move on to some positive district news, how about you? I'll find some, I promise! If you have anything to share, let me know, but I have discovered a few things on the district website I thought were noteworthy, so that will be coming soon. You can email me at email@example.com.
Read full Times news article here: Newly appointed elementary principal withdraws name from consideration
Monday, July 5, 2010
We will begin the process of a new principal search soon and the MDE community will be informed and included.
Thank you Gary for your responses this weekend.
F in school = Failure
Has anyone heard anything that sounds like any sort of goal or mission for our district? What is his vision anyway? Like some in the comments have asked, I'm asking the same thing. Why the internal district shake up? Why are some administrators becoming Principals and why are some Principals becoming administrators at Dent? Why were some Principals transferred for "seemingly" no reason? What is the point? And even more important, WHY NO COMMUNICATION? WHY NO "state of the district" address to at least tell us what direction the district is going, I'll even keep it simpler, what are the goals this summer (at least!)? How does he see the district in the future? We, as stakeholders of this district, need to start demanding communication and answers now.
Why do we not hear from the Superintendent unless he has an ulterior motive? Let's see, we got a note about Measure C, we heard in a community meeting about solar, and we heard about MDEA not bargaining and possibly sending our district to receivership.
Have we heard anything good? In fact, did he even publicly congratulate the Class of 2010? I am curious, and I honestly have no idea, did he attend any graduation ceremonies around the district?
So, now in his first summer round of hiring, we are left with (previously) angry Bancroft parents, confused Valle Verde parents, MANY parents left in limbo wondering who their principal will be. And now, we have Mt. Diablo Elementary. Apparently a meeting was held on a Weds night for feedback. Word is, he was not too engaged in the meeting, other than to answer an occasional question, but it was lead by Julie Braun-Martin. Ms. Braun-Martin, the new Personnel Asst Superintendent, in what seems to be her first hire, took a major hit for the team with her blessing on a hire of Dr. Christopher Nugent. A man that seems to have traveled around the country and worked in various school districts (why?). Someone with a 'background,' including accusations of federal wrong doings related to student private information online. Oh, and a DUI. Someone dropped the ball. It stings even worse as it seems the meeting on Weds was simply an attempt to "humor" the parents at MDE. It is obvious the hire was made prior to the meeting. Recruiting, interviews, background checks and DOJ clearances don't get done same day. Presumably all this was done going into Wednesday meeting. Why not just be honest?
So, now , while I acknowledge this is a holiday weekend and we have time off and furloughs to contend with, nothing yet has been done publicly about this debacle. I hope anyone upset about this issue or the issue at your own school is writing NOW to the Superintendent to express your thoughts and feelings. Are you feeling good about the future of our district? How about your school?
WRITE TO Dr. LAWRENCE: firstname.lastname@example.org
I've made it easy, just cut and paste the email above and write. You may get an auto-responder like I did saying he'd be on furlough through June 30th and back on July 1st. I know he's been busy moving into the Walnut Acres/Foothill/Northgate area - but there's no excuse for a leader of a district of this size not to be handling a situation like this over a weekend. And I'm sure I'll get some anon district person saying he's working on it but its private, yadda yadda, well how about a response beyond an auto-responder? Huh?
I know the board members are responding to emails this weekend. And I do thank them for that. I also understand that they can't comment on much. There are private personnel and legal issues to contend with. But I think the board needs to start with disciplinary action against both the Superintendent and Ms. Braun-Martin over this hire. And, I sure hope they can cut him loose, quickly. I'm just soooo curious if he disclosed his troubles and our district felt it was acceptable to hire him anyway? Or, did he omit the information? If so, that seems easy enough grounds for immediate dismissal.
From the emails I've received, and from what I've heard on the blogs... MDE parents aren't going to stand for this. However, they also realize we need time to hear back from the district on this matter before a formal reaction is formed. I commend them for that. Now we wait...
Thursday, July 1, 2010
Items 4.5 and 4.6. Motion made, seconded and approved these items. Motion carried 5-0-0
Item 4.2 Question about which positions are expected to be filled during the summer. (this is the item about allowing the Superintendent to appoint positions during the summer)
There will 4 elementary school principal positions open, and maybe filled, this summer (after the vote on 4.3 tonight), plus 2 middle school principals and some others; AP openings, special ed, etc.
Gary Eberhart requested the board not take action on this item. The suggestion was that they do call another meeting in July and feels it is a key responsibility of the board to approve the candidates. Dick Allen added that in the past there have been issues with candidates that needed to be explored more fully. He seemed to have concern that no names were presented to the board prior to the meeting. The board agreed to table this item.
5 candidates recommended by Superintendent:
-Linda Pete - Administrator at Diablo Community Day School (currently at YV)
-Dr. Christopher Nugent - appointed Mt. Diablo ElementaryPrincipal (comes with experience from Tennessee and California. Has elementary and middle school Principal experience. Is a co-administrator in Elk Grove currently.) (update 7/5/10, Dr. Nugent has resigned)
-Vicki Eversole - appointed Highlands Elementary Principal (currently a Program Specialist in the district)
-Rachel Buckner - Olympic / Alliance (currently a counselor in another district)
-Danielle Beachum (not sure on last name spelling) - Program Specialist - district wide
All were confirmed and approved by the board, some were in the audience and stood to say a few words.
Meeting adjourned approximately 6:25pm with thoughts to Kathy Wells, former teacher at Sequoia who passed away last week.
Another meeting in late July will likely be called to appoint any new administrators.
Theresa Harrington has a comprehensive blog about the subject here.
It is a light agenda in terms of items, but should be interesting as it seems they will be appointing several new school site administrators. Will you be watching or listening in tonight? Remember you can watch live at www.mdusd.net.
Agenda item 4.3:
Interviews have been conducted and candidates have been selected to fill School Site Administrator positions.
The recommended action on this item is to approved the positions as recommended. Certainly will be interesting to see who else will be shuffled, as I heard there may be other schools losing their principal that had not previously been announced. Of course there are several schools still hoping for a "good one." District administrators have held meetings at some school sites to receive input, and now, those schools may learn their new Principals.
In addition to the above item, there is another item. Agenda item 4.2 would allow the Superintendent to appoint Administrators throughout the summer, while the Board of Education is on recess. They would be confirmed in August when the Board reconvenes, but this item would give the Superintendent the authority to appoint those Administrators as needed.
Agenda item 4.2
In order to assure there is adequate staffing for the opening of school, the Superintendent requests authority to appoint candidates to positions, including administrative positions, during the summer months when there are no Board meetings. Any such appointments will be brought to the Board in August.