Saturday, March 5, 2011

Special MDUSD Board Meeting on Tuesday, March 8th

March 8th, Special Board Meeting
6:30pm at the District Dent Center

They will be talking about lay-offs, reduction of certificated employees, more budget reductions,
Boundary options for Glenbrook and Holbrook and to begin the discussion of the long term plan for school closure.

Here is the powerpoint presentation that will be presented at the meeting regarding the attendance boundaries related to Holbrook and Glenbrook. Note that per this proposal it seems they are proposing to split Glenbrook students between Valley View, El Dorado and Oak Grove.  Holbrook, between Wren and Sun Terrace:

I hope all of you who were up in arms about your schools being on the proverbial chopping block, will continue your involvement.  Don't you all see that this problem is bigger than just YOUR school community?  I am so saddened by the disinterest in school district affairs until it impacts you and your school.

We all need to work together to make MDUSD better.  

You can see the agenda here:

And specifically you can see the lay-off (pink slip) proposal (180+/- employee pink slips!):


  1. @mdusd parents thank you for the reminder.

  2. Everyone should notice the Agenda has 180 teacher layoffs!

  3. 33.55 music teachers - as in, no music in the whole district? Are they insane? Seriously, is this board out of their collective minds? They can't close a damn school but they can take away classes? My kid would quit school if it weren't for band.

  4. Music is different from after-school athletics: Music is part of the State curriculum, they might as well cut PE. Music classes have been proven to improve students' test scores in other subjects. Music classes are cost-efficient because they can take more students per teacher. Students playing with a group get teamwork and other life skills. Music motivates them to show up at school.

    In wealthy areas we can take our students to Youth Orchestra or other expensive programs, but it's a shame to deprive children in less affluent areas.

  5. I suggest that parents attend the PAC meetings, 1st Wed. of each month at 7 pm at the Dent Center. Find out who your site rep is and learn. Sadly the district is facing another large round of cuts, anywhere from 25 to 48 million! This is huge and yes that means no extras, very, very sad times for our children. The District is not making this up and let us see how we can all get in there and help!

    Funding from the State is being drastically cut and what is hard to read in todays papers is that a prisoner who is seriously ill in the hospital costs $800,000 a year alone in guards 24/7! Yet our State cuts education.

    Remember that districts in our State are not funded equally, wealthier communities get more ADA, how equitable is this? Also remember we are the only district in our community without a parcel tax. Sports funding was cut 100%, now music will follow. How about the Music Foundation charging a contribution fee just like sports? If each music student contributed $300 or $400 would this fund it?

    I also think we will see more schools close over the next couple of years. Perhaps Anon 10:07 you will apply and become part of the school closure process? They need parent involvement who can remain neutral. Blanket blaming statements are not going to solve the money crisis, and that is what it is today. Most countries do not offer extras, Band would be after school on the students own time, the same with sports.

  6. Okay, this is off topic, but not too far off.

    I'm still reading "Switch" by Chip and Dan Heath, and have just finished reading about Pointing to the Destination: In this case, I just read about the example of Crystal Jones who takes a class of first graders who have never had a kindergarten class and moves them to third grade standards in Atlanta, Georgia. She does this by telling them they will be "3rd Graders" at the end of the year: this is a Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal. (Reference from Built to Last). And they make it. So: What is our BHAG in our school district?

    For me, this is skills for the 21st Century: What are our children going to need? Multiculturalism (Boy, do we have that!) Bi-lingualism? Which ones? Spanish, Mandarin and Pakistani or other Indian languages? Are we ignoring obvious needs for the 21st century?

    How about business and finance with a focus on life planning. Do our high school seniors know how to negotiate a mortgage loan, invest for retirement, or balance a checkbook? This would be helpful.

    How about a state of the art technology program? If we are training our kids to be masters of BlackOps and World of Warcraft, where's the Computer Graphics and Game Design program?

    If we want our kids to be titans of Wall Street, how do we get them there?

    We want music and art and sports programs. We want to know that our future Joe DiMaggios, and Tom Hanks will have their day in the sunshine.

    I posted a while back, what is your pie in the sky dreams? What is our Big, Hairy, Audacious, Goal? What is our destination postcard? We had some great ideas, but they've dried up since then.

    A strategic plan seems to me like it will devolve into pointless top down decrees per Jim's pyramid if we, the parents, can't tell the district exactly what is going to make us happy.

    Ultimately, isn't it that we want every child to graduate from high school with a fantastic chance of getting a reasonable paycheck, and being able to retire in their old age without being homeless?

    How do we train our future plumbers, and auto mechanics, and engineers? What do they need for nursing, or to be a business analyst, or a doctor? Can every kid walk out the door after the graduation ceremony and the cap flies away, and go to work on Monday somewhere?

    If not, why not? And how do we get them there? Or do you plan on having your kids at home until they are 30?

    I'd like to see some kind of after school academy where kids can practice job skills of various kinds so that their class lessons are immediately applicable, until we have employers clamoring to hire our kids. That would be pretty cool. And I think the kids would like it too. Do we have that already?

    I'd like to see flexibility in choice. Perhaps this is why the Flex Academy may end up being the future of education. Adults are having to adapt our career plans on the fly as the recession takes forever to recover, and we realize that we must hunt down the specific skills that will steer us in the directions of our strengths. If one school has one class, and another school has another class, how do we get our kids networked so that they can do both classes if that's what they need to progress?

    So my BHAG is this: Access to state of the art technology (ie: since we have solar going in, then I want kids working with the solar companies so that they can participate and learn about this cutting edge technology).

    Business connections: I want every company in our School District partnering with their local high school to do on the job training with students. And students need to be learning the values that companies demand from their employees: respect, promptness, honesty, and willingness to work hard.

    Real life skills: Budgeting, investing, negotiating, career planning, and participating in the civic process of government.(With civility).

  7. One last thing as my previous post was too long:

    I want to see high expectations. We are currently focused on bringing up our failing students, which is leaving our best and brightest waiting for their turn.

    And by that, I mean, as in Crystal Jones' approach, she told her underperforming 1st graders, "We will be at a 3rd Grade level by the end of the year."

    This means that her brightest and most competent students still had something to aim for instead of waiting for everyone to catch up to them.

    We could say to our graduating seniors, "You will be the equivalent of a college level student if you choose to go, by the time you graduate, but you won't have to, if you can't afford it." We will have taught you how to be a self-learner. You can still get a great job.

  8. Anon 9:13
    My response to your comment is going to center around High Schools because I think it is incredibly apparent that this is where we lose so many students.

    Our kids are living in a content rich environment with endless possibilities to learn outside of school. They learn differently, they socialize differently, and they engage civically and globally differently. We need to move away from the concept of education, which is institution driven, to a concept of learning which is about people and can occur any time and any where. Our kids not only need to learn standard skills of reading, writing, and math, they also need 21st Century skills of collaboration, critical thinking, creativity, and problem solving. Schools need to engage kids by being relevant, respectful, and rigorous.

    Imagine if school was just one learning space within a network of learning spaces. What if kids learned within a network of learning spaces that included in school, out of school, local, global, physical, digital, teacher led, peer driven, individual, and collaborative. What if teachers were not responsible to bare the burden of ensuring our kids have all of the skills and competencies they need to succeed but instead were given the opportunity to be mentors and facilitators to help students find, verify, synthesize, and apply the content they need to solve a given problem. What if school was not about students consuming knowledge fed to them but instead participation driven where they discovered knowledge through participation, not the kind of participation where you raise your hand in class, but true participation with failures and successes. What if students were challenged to teach others with the idea that the collective intelligence is greater than the most intelligent of the group? What if our community was a network of mentor, partners, and leaders who helped kids become designers, innovators, problem solvers, etc…

    What if Joe went to school in the morning and turned on his laptop. The laptop clearly defined where he was with respect to his instruction for each subject and gave him a schedule of his academic meetings with teachers and other students. Joe chooses what to work on first and how long to work on it. There is no wasted time taking role or settling students. There is no wasted time continuing to go over material that Joe has mastered. Joe knows that he has an appointment at 11:00am with his teacher and five other students to review a section of his History unit he is struggling with so he prepares for that meeting where he knows there will be certain expectations. In a meeting of five it is hard to hide. At noon Joe has finished everything he needed to accomplish online and moves on to the media center where he and three other students are working on a video project for an English presentation they will be giving next week. At 3pm school is over but a game designer from Entertainment Arts will be in the lecture hall for any student who is interested. EA is on campus to talk about their new gaming platform where users can modify and create their own experience and are looking for students to come up with creative game environments. At 4:30 Joe heads to swim practice and arrives home at 7pm where he has dinner with his family. He then sits down at the computer to respond to a new comment on his Portal2 blog site that he was notified of through email on his cell phone just before swim practice. While online he checks facebook and see that a group of students have started a wiki about the unrest in the Middle East in order to earn extra credit in their world civilizations course. Joe isn’t taking the course but wants to participate because he visited Egypt for a family vacation and feels a connection to what is unfolding in the news. The group welcomes Joe’s participation.

    I believe that this kind of environment would not only be more engaging for our students it would be more fulfilling for our teachers, and a more sustainable model with respect to resources.

  9. Anon 9:13 - One more thought

    A third world country can teach basic skills as well as the US and probably at less of a cost. While our students need these skills they need additional skills that will make them world leaders in business, science, education, etc...
    Those are the 21st Century skills of collaboration, problem solving, critical thinking, and creativity. While other Countries may surpass us in test scores they still look to the US for innovation. How long can we hold on to that role? Can we hold on to it if we continue to promote a 19th Century model when it comes to the education of our children?

  10. The Supt is willing to place children's saftey "at risk" by reducing to below safe levels secretarial support at the schools while failing to consider cost cutting that I suggested on March 1: 1. Eliminate all medical benefits for board members.
    2. Reduce the Supt and all Asst Supt’s salaries by 20%.
    3. Reduce all directors salaries by 15%.
    4. Double up small elementary schools to share one principal.
    5. Eliminate Vice-principals at Middle Schools. It worked in Elementary schools.
    6. Cut by 50% vice-principals at high schools.
    7. Rescind the Gang of Five raises.
    8. Hire another in house lawyer for the legal department and reduce outside lawyers to $100,000 from $600,000. Require ALL inside lawyers, including Rolen, to have 2000 “billable” hours per year.
    9. Immediately freeze all longevity salary increases of administrators.
    10. Immediately stop ALL overnight travel, seminars, conferences, unless approved by the board.
    11. Stop watering the lawns, reduce mowing to once a month, and stop weeding.
    Doctor J

  11. Of course the list of proposed cuts omits any administrative district positions. The district office is completely overloaded with administrative positions. There are 9 “Peer Coaches”, there are 2 “Coach Specialists” and 7 “School Support Administrators” . There are also many retired administrators who have been brought back under contract making $$$ of course also receiving their retirement pay. Let the school administrators and teachers do their job. They should be qualified enough without the need for a “coach” or “school support administrator” “helping” them. How do the district administrators justify their jobs? The way I see it, they are not directly benefiting our children. If you layoff these 18 overpaid positions, oh what a huge savings that would be! Then we could keep some of those wonderful teachers, office staff, counselors, etc... who make such a difference with your children and maybe the district could stand behind their motto “where children come first.” Make it fair school board! YOU need to cut the fat from the district office!!!

  12. @Anon 8:31 Its worse than just overload -- its bait and switch. Go to Lawrence's staff report for the May 11 Board meeting to read: "I also propose to restructure our Curriculum and Instruction division into the Student Achievement and School Support division under Assistant Superintendent Rose Lock. .... The list of proposed positions to be created is attached..... In order to restructure and save funding, the recommendation is based on taking nine positions and replacing them with eight positions. Please see the attached flow chart and Excel spreadsheet. Through this restructuring, we will achieve an estimated $45,347 in savings."
    On Aug 8 in his newsletter he announces: "The restructuring of the former Curriculum and Instruction Department allowed us to bring in several of our successful elementary and secondary principals, who will be responsible for working directly with and supporting our school sites. This restructuring both maximizes talent and generated over $50,000 in savings."

    So why has SASS now grown in size and cost since then ?
    Doctor J

  13. The leadership tug-of-war between Gary and Lawrence is reaching the brink. Gary announces on Tuesday at the Board meeting (1) no overnight travel effective immediately and (2) site administrators are not to leave campus to attend administrator meetings during school [not a new policy but one long ignored]. Even as we speak there are about a dozen district employees staying at 5 star hotels in SF for a conference instead of riding BART back and forth. Next week there is a K-Adult Superintendent's meeting taking all site administrators off campus from 7:30 am on. Lawrence refuses to change the meeting. When does Lawrence become insubordinate ? What will Gary do ? Who has the most cards in their hand ? Chevorngate, Buttercupgate, Nugentgate . . . . Who will blink first ?
    Doctor J

  14. Dr J. Just curious....Can you ever find anything good in what Gary is trying to do. Your bashing of him is ridiculous. It's amazing how you can do your job when you are on the blogs all day. Or maybe, you don't do you job.

  15. @Anon 3:10 Yes, I did compliment Gary following the Board meeting the other night. Take a look at the blogs, including the CCTimes Education blog.