Friday, February 4, 2011

MDUSD Superintendent Message 2/4/11

Mt. Diablo USD News Update
February 4, 2011
Where Kids Come First

In 1980, the Mt. Diablo Unified School District went through the process of closing seven
schools. This was a very difficult process for the community and school district. Unfortunately,
we find ourselves in a similar situation today.

Three factors caused the Board to have to make this difficult decision:

1. First, enrollment has declined by over 2500 students in the past nine years. This means
that many of our sites are running below 80% capacity without class size reduction and
will run slightly over 80% capacity even when class size reduction is re-instituted;

2. Second, the enrollment trend data that the School Closure Committee analyzed indicates
birth trends in our area will continue to decline for the next several years. Therefore, the
District’s enrollment projections continue to decline and we anticipate a loss of 1800
students over the next ten years; and

3. Third, the State budget crisis requires difficult cuts to educational and co-curricular
programs that support academic and social growth. The cuts also require a significant
reduction in the number of teachers, support staff, and administrators available to serve
our children and families. Small neighborhood schools are valuable, but they are more
expensive to operate. Currently, all our elementary schools have a principal, office
manager, secretary, and a day custodian regardless of whether they serve 385 students or
850 students. Therefore, the cost of the non-teacher positions at small schools is much

The data provided the School Closure Committee is posted on the district website at . It is a wealth of data and information that
the School Closure Committee analyzed prior to developing its recommendations. We are
committed to working hard to ensure that we minimize any negative impacts of school closures.

Over the past month, the Board has received and contemplated a considerable amount of
information concerning the school closure process. They have also received a great deal of input
from parents and community members through public comment and e-mails.

There will be an item on the February 8 Board meeting agenda for the purpose of allowing the
Board the opportunity to:

1. Discuss whether an option should be considered that has not already been discussed.
Though the Board wishes to honor the work of the committee, it is the Board’s
responsibility to ensure that every option has been analyzed to minimize the impact to our
students while achieving the $1.5M in expense reductions. If a viable new option is
recommended, the Board will not take a formal vote to enact the new option. Instead, the
Board would vote to give staff direction to analyze the new option to ensure that it is
implementable and would meet the $1.5M targeted reduction. It would then be brought
back to the Board as a future agenda item for the Board to receive information from staff,
hear from the public, and potentially vote on;

2. Determine whether there is any consensus on removing any of the current options or
schools under consideration. The current options are:
  •  Close Wren, Silverwood, and Glenbrook
  •  Close Holbrook, Silverwood, and Glenbrook
  •  Close Monte Gardens, Sequoia Elementary, and Sequoia Middle School
  •  Close either (Holbrook or Wren) and Glenbrook, consolidate two necessary small high schools Crossroads and TLC/Nueva Vista on either the Holbrook or Wren campus, and create a program for students currently in non-public school placements at Glenbrook that would save the district funding.

3. Determine whether there is consensus to move forward with an existing recommendation.
As a matter of process, the Board may choose to first begin its dialogue prior to public comment
so that the public has an opportunity to understand where Board members are in their thought
process around school closures. The Board would then hear public comment prior to continuing
their dialogue and providing direction to staff


  1. OMG, another “consultant” contract $82,250 @$1375 per day !! Through May 31 only ! She is a “performance strategist” to work with the two directors of SASS. I thought Lawrence hired the best of the best to work in SASS. See Sue Berg comment #31 on CCT Blog. This is item 13.9 on the Agenda. But wait, don’t miss item 13.2 on the Agenda. SASS is also hiring a new “Administrator of Coordinated School Support” but it doesn’t list the fiscal impact. If he or she is an experienced principal with years of service, presumably the salary would be in the neighborhood of $120,000 plus benefits — but at least that is for a full years work, not just four months. What happened to the alleged $50,000 savings, which I don’t really believe was there in the first place. I hope the Board puts its foot down — it is really an insult to every child of all the schools being considered for closure, an insult to every parent and an insult to every taxpayer. This one tops the Gang of Five raises, and that is a pretty hard feat to do.
    Doctor J

  2. I have a child in Private placement and he is thriving at his day school. I for one will be back in court with the district. I will not put my Learning DisAbled under 10 yrs old with High School kids in a district where they do NOT use the tools available to them. They are wasiting so much money on Admins and councils and salaries and poor teachers. (not all teachers fit that lable) I think that our enrollment will drop more than they paid to study do to lack of brain power in the command center.

  3. @Anonymous 8:00pm, I too have a LD child in a NPS in middle school and he too is thriving. When he was in a public school setting, all they did was babysit him, and didn't even do a good job at that! He bullied on a daily basis and hated school. Now he loves going to school and was on the honor roll for the first time last semester! Most of the teachers in MDUSD are NOT qualified to help our children, regardless of their certifications, many of them are either fresh out of school and have very little experience, or they are long time employees with the district and they are jaded and distracted by all of the politics going on in the district.

  4. Anon. 12:20,
    It is time that we get involved and tell Mr. Lawrence and the Board where they can put that Idea.
    I will be back in court with them. I refuse to let these kids suffer anymore in this district. It is time to open everyones eyes and stop this B.S. You are right when my son was in public school the help they offered was not what he needed and made it worse. He suffered from depression and didn't want to go to school. When he was 7 he was ready to drop out of school. Now he is learning math, reading and life skills, loves school and wants to go to college. He is in a leadership role. I can't even imagine that our district could possibley pull this off and have the kids educated.

  5. Anon 3:12, I had an attorney last year, but she recently closed her practice. Do you have any recommendations for a good special-ed attorney? I suspect that I will be retaining another one soon!

  6. Has the board ever heard the expression FISH OR CUT BAIT? They need to make a decision now and get on with it. Students are left wondering what is happening, parents are pissed off and employees don't know if they'll be out of a job or bumped or what. Just make the damn decision.