Saturday, May 21, 2011

Clayton Valley's Charter progress . . .

In case you were wondering...

There has been a flurry of activity and reporting on the charter school in the last week, so we wanted to recap where you can find more information. I'm curious what you all think. Take the poll (above).  Do you support the effort of Clayton Valley, do you hope more schools will follow suit, or do you think this is a dangerous precedent to start in our district?

Plus, there are petitions out in the community.  I'm not sure how aggressive they are with this, as personally, I've not seen one yet! But, I guess there's always the element, wrong time, wrong place.

The potential for a charter application being presented to our school board seems to be growing more likely. In articles from the Contra Costa Times, and the Clayton Patch, it appears they're nearing the point where they will be ready to submit an application for the charter within the next month or so.  Our board would then have 30 days to review and respond.

The City of Clayton has also agreed to loan the effort an "unprecedented" $8,500 toward the costs of developing the charter.  Patrick Creaven of the Clayton Patch tells us more in his recent patch post:

Theresa Harrington of the Times has also posted on her "on assignment" blog and it has also brought up some good discussion there.  Check it out at

Gary Eberhart has also posted on his blog about the charter and also shared the Superintendent's Q&A that was sent to district families on Friday.  You can read his "FAQ's Regarding a District Charter School," HERE.

Coincidentally, the CVCHS facebook page was updated today after a long time w/out an update. Check it out below, or HERE on their facebook page.

We have been very busy the last few weeks writing and revising the 16 required Elements (sections) of the conversion charter.

During this process, we have consulted with several experts, including financial and legal advisors, who work with successful conversion charter schools in California. As we receive their feedback, we are continuously updating various Elements.

Our goal is to have the charter written and submitted to CV teachers by the first week of June. A simple majority (of permanent certificated CV teachers) would then be needed to sign the charter petition in order to move forward. At that point, the charter would be submitted to MDUSD for their consideration.


  1. I was shocked when I read this comment by Gary Eberhart. I responded on his blog but I am not sure that it will be posted. I have included my response here

    "For instance, should we spread the loss of $1.651 million district wide or since it's the CVHS feeder pattern that seems to be interested in a charter, should we limit the reductions to only the CVHS feeder pattern? I'm sure that schools in Pleasant Hill and Walnut Creek don't feel that they should lose positions in their schools so that CVHS can have a charter school."

    I have been disappointed in this District many times but today your comment hit an all time low. Shame on you. We are talking about the education of children. The very education we entrusted in you when you were elected. To use your position to bully parents against one another, teachers against one another, and feeder pattern against feeder pattern is simply wrong. To threaten to withhold funds from a series of schools because their feeder pattern high school is looking for something better is not only highly unethical, I believe it to be illegal. That money is not yours, it belongs with the students. That is how the law works. By withholding funds from the other schools in the feeder pattern you aren't withholding CVHS's funds, you would be withholding the funds rightly due to those children attending the feeder pattern schools. I don't believe for a second that you would have Board support for this and the fact that you mention it here is simple playground bullying.

    Just once maybe this District should self-reflect and ask why parents want to leave. Unbelievable.

  2. He's absolutely correct Linda. Why should the rest of the school district be forced to cut from their school in order for one community to have a charter school? He's just stating facts. It's clear you hold some kind of personal vendetta against the district and Mr. Eberhart in particular. I'm shocked at your statements! This whole thing is appalling to me. As a resident of Clayton I am also appalled that the City would use my money to fund the research for this. The entire city council of Clayton should be recalled immediately. Starting with Mayor Shuey.

  3. Anon 3:32
    There is no personal vendetta, nice try.
    Gary is not right. The money stays with the student. That money does not belong to MDUSD. You can disagree with the law, you can fight to change the law, but as of now the fact is the money follows the student. The MDUSD Board has an obligation to educate those students who are in this District. He does not have a right to be punitive. What was written this morning was a scare tactic designed to have the community turn against CVHS.

    What next? Will we look at which feeder pattern has more students attending private schools and punish those feeder patterns too. Why not it is the same loss of revenue? Don't forget those being home-schooled, that too is the same loss of revenue.

    I don't see charter conversions happening in San Ramon Valley, Acalanes, Walnut Creek, Lafayette, ... in fact I don't know of another school district in the area with this kind of movement. Walnut Creek has tried to leave the District, Pleasant Hill wants out, and now Clayton/Concord.

    I would hope that instead of writing these kinds of comments, designed specifically to incite people, our Board President would instead ask why this is happening?

  4. He is not correct. Even if he were correct, threatening the entire system and trying to incite a civil war between the teachers and their supporters of the various schools is despicable! He's the one that should be Recalled.

    The only money moving out of MDUSD and into CVHS will be the EXACT same dollars that CVHS should be allocated anyway. Not one penny should come out of any other school budget unless they have already been screwing with those budgets! Why have so few actually read the California State Charter Laws?

    IF funding is currently being distributed among the alloted schools, based on the State's formula of need per age group, NOTHING should be different if CVHS leaves the District! The only difference will be the District will lose power over one school and ITS money.

    The only way other schools might feel a loss of funds is if the District is not "currently" distributing funds in the manner and by the formula used when they are apportioned by the State. The State says a secondary student needs $X and a primary student needs $Y. Is the district giving $X and $Y? Or has the District decided that it knows best, and has been giving $Z to this one and $W to that one. After all, if you give Z and W instead of X and Y you might have a tiny bit left over for.....oh, another Admin....

  5. my kids go to pleasant hill schools....and I am all for a CVHS charter. I think it's great that parents and students and teachers are coming together, saying enough is enough and trying to take control of their educations and futures! I think it will be a good move for CVHS and it's wonderful the City of Clayton is showing it's support financially.

  6. I, too, support what Clayton Valley is doing and I don't live in its attendance area, either. It's about time someone did something radical to shake things up. The possible loss in overall revenue to the district can more than be made up with the innovations the charter school can accomplish if given the chance.

    This doesn't have to be a battle, folks. As I understand it, if the CV people submit papers that meet the legal requirements the district doesn't have a choice but to grant the charter anyway. So why not embrace it and make it work instead of fighting it tooth and nail? Why not work as partners towards the same goal? Why not work collaboratively and try to recoup some of the monies that might be lost by contracting with the charter to provide services like Eagle Peak does rather than create the hard feelings Gary's comments will likely cause?

    My understanding is also that even though students attend a charter school, their parents are still voters within the MDUSD. So, if I were Gary Eberhart or any of the other trustees, why would I take petty actions that might alienate a good chunk of the electorate? If MDUSD ever wants to pass a parcel tax or another bond measure in the future, you're going to need the one-sixth of the voters that the CVHS attendance area makes up.

  7. G is absolutely correct. The district will suffer only by the amount of those students' funding that MDUSD would have been allocated to district overhead. They have a shrinking customer base, largely of their own making, so they need to shrink overhead proportionately. There are districts in CA that suffer no more hardship than MDUSD, even though they operate with 30,000, or 25,000, or 20,000 students. MDUSD will have to learn to operate with fewer -- perhaps a LOT fewer -- students.

    As far as Gary's blog comments -- it is simply astonishing that a publicly-elected official would put a threat like that in writing, let alone on his blog. But then, this is not the first time that thoughtful people have been appalled by this administration.

  8. I am shocked at Gary's comments. I have written the entire board demanding that they publicly rebuke him. I have also asked him to apologize and retract his statements. I suspect he won't, just like when Paul Strange refused to after calling Linda an "Enemy of the children of the MDUSD".

    Sadly, for Gary anyway, this is just the beginning. Northgate is next folks. The citizens of Walnut Creek have had enough. Is Gary going to come out and threaten their feeder patterns also?

  9. Now on his blog comments he is back peddling as fast as he can and trying to say that HE didn't really say what he said, and that he was just expressing "other people's" concerns. Of course when he first said it he said it with gusto! Now that it's hitting the fan he's trying to give the comment away to some anonymous "other".

  10. This would all be hilarious if it wasn't such an important issue.

  11. You people really need to clear your minds because you are looking for an argument. I read Gary's post and what I see and read is someone who is asking for the communities input on what would be best. G, MDUSD Board Watcher, Doctor J and Linda seem to need the thrill of making everything a conspiracy, an argument and a big issue. What good are you doing?

    I like that Gary is asking and thinking and putting it in writing. I like that he and the Superintendent want the communities thoughts. Of course you and your gang of dooms dayers will once again state comments as facts and geesh, this is a blog people! Blogs can be great but in your hands, a real problem. Notice not many others post but you lot?

    Before you make your comments, I am not a BOE member and I don't always agree with our BOE. But I am community member, parent of MDUSD students and above all, level headed. So before I condemn, let us attend community meetings and offer constructive suggestions backed with fact. Blame game gets us no where.

  12. Anon 8:22,
    I am all for community meetings, level-headedness, and constructive suggestions. However, what Mr. Eberhart wrote yesterday was threatening and wrong.
    In addition, he is asking for a meeting to discuss the reasons for cuts that will have to be made if CVHS becomes a charter. I think the reasons were made clear in the blog post by the Superintendent. It would be a 5 minute meeting to show the math and the impact of declining enrollment and high school ADA allocations. Eberhart however took it a step further and suggested that any needed cuts could be allocated in a way that could punish those who support this change. That is wrong and if that is the tone of his proposed meeting then his reasons are not as pure as you make them sound.

  13. Anonymous @ 8:22

    Eberhart and Lawrence are the "dooms dayers" here. You can only "like" what they say if you "believe" what they say.

    Lawrence has turned the “law of averaging” into a “lie of averaging”. Please don’t fall for the lie.

    $4876.08 = This is what Lawrence says is the amount per student the District will receive if tax isn’t extended, or if proposed “cuts” go through. This is an “average”.

    In the second artical titled “May Revise Questions”, also published on 5/20 (on Eberhart’s blog), Steven Lawrence said that: “This year, MDUSD received $5,206 as our Revenue Limit per student”. Keep in mind that, again, this is the “average” per student. Again, “average” is the operative word–because the high schools are allocated a higher amount than primary schools.

    The big third dollar figure he very cleverly gives but does not properly give an explanation is: …
    “funding per student amount at the HIGH SCHOOL rate (currently 5,808.00*)…” THIS FIGURE IS NOT AN “AVERAGE” and it is the amount alloted to high school students TODAY, not what it would be if there is a tax cut, or taxes are not extended.


    The State allocates one amount for primary students and a higher amount for secondary students. It costs more to educate high school kids than grammar school kids.

    Lawrence’s first two figures are the tax cut “average” and the today “average”. He just “averages” the primary and secondary allocation amounts in his figures one and two. But when he needs a “difference” figure to come up with his “loss” of $1.6 million, he uses the “third “dollar figure of $5,808.00 (NOT AN AVERAGE-BUT RATHER A TRUE FIGURE AT TODAY’S HIGH SCHOOL RATE) versus his first and lowest tax cut “average” figure.


    So he takes the High School “top dollar” true amount alloted to high schools today, and subtracts the “low dollar” “average” that ALL grades would get if taxes are cut. From that FALSE figure he comes up with his FALSE $1.6 million, and says he’ll have to cut that amount from all schools in the District.


    So what is the TRUTH? Forget averaging! The State will allocate a certain amount per primary student. If there are tax cuts, that amount will be lower than it is today. Likewise, the State will allocate a certain amount per Secondary student (regardless of whether they are in the District or in the Charter—the dollars go with the STUDENT–regardless of which school, or which administration!)

    So what amount of dollars does the District actually LOSE when a school goes to Charter? It loses the amount of money allocated to that particular school for ADMINISTRATION of that particular school. It loses NOT ONE DIME of student allocation at any other school–period!

    So what does a Charter gain along with its independence? It gains the ability to ADMINISTER its own funds, which means that from the “high school dollar figure that it is allocated” it has to hire and pay for its own administration! It doesn’t get a penny off the backs of other schools in the district.

    SIMPLE! Just hard to follow if you don’t see the lie!

  14. A little homework might make some sense here. If CV goes charter, they will receive more funding than the current level of funding. The State will debit the District for the difference between what they currently receive as students in a unified school district and what they will receive as a charter high school where the students receive funding based on a high school district. The district doesn’t receive higher funding for their high school students, every student in a unified school district is funded by the state at the blended unified rate. Those who claim that the district has been taking money that was supposed to be used for high school students are wrong and do not understand how schools are funded.

    When the charter law was first enacted, a high school that became a charter did receive the higher per student funding and the district didn’t have to cover the additional amount, but that all changed because the legislature modified the law so that when a high school went charter, they did get the higher per student amount, but the district had to make up the difference between what they were getting and the new higher rate. The state had to do that because if they didn’t, every high school in the state would go charter and the state couldn’t afford to pay the increased amounts.

    I don’t blame CV for wanting to go charter, but there will be a negative financial impact to the district’s budget as a result. I think the district is wise to want to work with the other schools to decide where the money to cover the lost revenue should come from. The charter may make perfect sense and it may be a great thing for students, but I want some say about where the additional money comes from.

  15. When you read the scathing report on EL learning in MDUSD you will recognize that this same level of poor quality district leadership permeates almost every program in MDUSD. Is it any wonder that parents are fed up and want a charter school ? It seems like a no brainer. Also significant is that there was no interview of Gary, just Linda and Sherry.

    Doctor J

  16. Anonymous 1:54 -
    Let's do some homework on the millions that the district is losing every year to Concord's redevelopment agencies. MDUSD is a Concord district, with Concord as the overwhelmingly largest city. Concord has gone overboard creating excessive redevelopment agencies, and as a result MDUSD loses all the property tax revenue for those areas, which is millions and is set to increase soon. Concord is planning the new CNWS development with over 12,000 housing units, 28,000 population, thousands of new students and beautiful brand new schools - and all those people, their homes and businesses won't pay any property tax to MDUSD:

    This means the rest of the school district lose out! Another blogger called MDUSD an "empire" which is painfully true as MDUSD refuses to release Walnut Creek and Pleasant Hill, cities that want independence and better local control of our schools, and cities that wanted to pass the 2009 parcel tax and were outvoted by Concord.

    MDUSD and Concord need a new attitude: they should support movements to create smaller districts for local school financing and local control of schools. Don't make the rest of us pay for Concord's decisions. A smaller, local district should benefit Concord as well.

  17. Doctor J Interesting that you don't bring up Pleasanton School District which also had a very poor report and let us not forget that one of their schools failed in their testing and are under sanctions. Pleasanton was a highly regarded district. This goes much deeper than a report or an API score. What I see are students who really don't care to learn, many come from single parent households and others are just struggling to survive. The parents are not involved. Granted this is not all Latino or African American students, but sadly I see way too many who just don't care. Then the schools are held responsible and again, this will take away from other students. Because the school and district will have to focus greatly on these students!

    I really dislike Star testing and these reports. They are very one sided and are not a true reflection of the school. I still say the State needs their own schools for students who are ESL, discipline issues, truancy issues, etc. Get the students up to grade level and then they can transfer into their home school. Since the State is the first to critisize, they should step up to the plate and take it on. But in Liberal California, this would never fly. I am sorry but this State is on a downhill slide, sadly.

  18. @Anon 9.29 -- I suggest you actually read the report. Some school districts are doing very well. But it takes vision and leadership.
    Doctor J

  19. Anon 9:29,
    This was an EL audit and MDUSD failed. Look at the percentage of Hispanic students, teachers and administrators on p. 9: MDUSD has 34.2% Hispanic students, but only a small fraction 7.6% Hispanic teachers, and only 6.7% Hispanic administrators. The statistics for African-Americans who are more likely to speak English has 4.9% of MDUSD students, but 3x as many 13.3% of MDUSD administrators.

    Stop making excuses and stop blaming the parents! I attended a Bay Point community meeting last year, organized to improve the low-performing schools, and there were plenty of parents there asking questions about the schools and API scores. Superintendent Lawrence did not offer any solutions, and it's no wonder this audit condemns MDUSD compared to other districts.

  20. @Anon 9:29, I hear that position so often -- that our troubles basically arise because there are many kids who don't want to learn, from families with problems, where learning is not valued, etc. Yes, those families exist, and those students have always been a challenge for every district. But MDUSD has an even bigger challenge from involved parents who want their children to learn more and make better use of their time in school. Do you really think that the CVHS charter is being pushed by poor, minority parents who don't want to be involved in their child's education? Of course not. Families of ALL kinds who DO care about their children's education are being poorly served by this district. We want a curriculum that challenges students and prepares them for college, careers, or other post-secondary training. We need teachers who show up for class, who know their subject, who give assignments, and then take time to actually give feedback to students. We want investments in equipment and technology that students can use now, not 40-year solar boondoggles.

    All of the time we volunteer in our schools, all of the money we donate, all of the money we spend on outside tutoring is not enough to overcome the incompetence and indifference that we see in this system, primarily at the district level. To use the most challenged 5%, 10%, or even 20% of the student population to justify this district's shortcomings with ALL students is simply a worn-out excuse. This monopoly is not working, and we want other choices.

  21. @Anon 10:21 If King Lawrence had no solutions, what hope do parents have ? Where is the leadership ?

  22. Linda L, you say in a message above that "Eberhart however took it a step further and suggested that any needed cuts could be allocated in a way that could punish those who support this change. That is wrong and if that is the tone of his proposed meeting then his reasons are not as pure as you make them sound. "

    But you are okay with punishing every other school in the district for what you want to do.

    That makes you no better than the man you railing against.

  23. Dr. J, Linda, MDUSD Boardwatcher seem to be the three that continually attack Gary and I don’t see them running for the board or doing anything else positive. Complaining seems to be what they do best. The statement Linda took out of a much longer statement by the way, appreared to me to just be bringing out the discussion people have been having with him out in the open, to the stakeholders. If he wasn’t talking about this and the district wasn’t going to have community meetings to make the community aware of the charter school ramifications Linda would be the first one complaining about lack of transparency.
    I don’t know how I feel about the charter school. My child only has one year at CVHS left, but I do have a child in sixth grade. Is it fair for all of the other schools to take a cut in their budget because CVHS wants the charter school? At this point I don’t think so. I don’t even see a clear sound plan. They can’t even raise $8500 on their own how are they going to manage a school? Also, I believe the change in administration that is going to be happening at CVHS may solve many of the problems. Plus the misinformation is just amazing that is flying around. The only thing we seem to be hearing from the charter school proponents is what they “think” is going to happen. Not much is based on any proven fact, and that is a concern!
    I also think that the board members were elected to represent ALL stakeholders and not a select group. I appreciate that they are making all stake holders aware of this issue.
    Linda, Dr. J, MDUSD Board Watcher please run for school board next time there is an election. Let’s see how great of a job you can do…not!

  24. @anon 5.29 I disagree. If MDUSD loses funding from CVHS converting to Charter, it will only lose the funding from the CHVS students, which also includes a smaller percentage of funds used to support district operations which can be reduced to make it a wash.

  25. Anon 5:29

    I am not a CVHS parent. I do however support school choice and support charter schools specifically. I support education reform and innovation in the classroom. I support decisions that are good for all of the kids in this district.

    I believe we have a choice, we can continue down the road that this District leadership is going and continue to blame Sacramento and lament over unfair funding or we can start to address some of the other very real issues that parents are also concerned about through means that are available to us as parents/teachers.
    Charter schools are one of those options. Sitting here and waiting for this District leadership to implement change is fruitless. Doing nothing is unfair for our community of children. Bringing new options for families will not only provide alternatives for those who choose to attend but will bring innovative ideas to the District in general. Studies show that Districts that have charter schools make substantial changes in their curriculum, their customer service, and other aspect of their oganization because of the charter competition.

    What Gary wrote on Saturday was intended to scare people and pit them against CVHS parents and teachers. You are doing the very thing he had hoped you would do. I will stand by my assertion. He was being punitive in order to protect the status quo and I simply do not believe the status quo is good enough. I think our kids derserve better. The introduction of charter schools could be a catalyst for good change in MDUSD.

  26. Anon 5:49 You are first to criticize someone else for not running for the Board -- where is your candidacy ? You have no idea what I do for the children of MDUSD. My acts are anonymous and will remain that way.
    Doctor J

  27. Just as you don't have a clue as to who I am or what I do for the district on a daily basis, I too choose to remain anonymous on these blogs, but am well known the schools my children attend, and how would you now if I were running or had run for the board before? Of I forgot, you seem to know everything except how to run your own school.
    Just call me Dr.MA

  28. Rumor is Doctor J is Principal at El Dorado :)

  29. The word rumor makes me think of a cow... and rumination; chewing the same old fodder over and over until it produces something that Rumor can't help but step in.

  30. If my memory serves me, I recall hearing that last summer Rose Lock took her SASS entourage to a Stanford sponsored English Learner Institue for a few days on the penninsula, all expenses paid Something like $1500 per person registration fee, plus hotels, meals, and mileage. I think it was this one. I don't recall Norm Gold's report noting any changes in the MDUSD EL program following that conference. Perhaps Cheryl Hansen and Lynne Dennler were correct that SASS already had the tools to do their own evaluation and plan. Perhaps Rose Lock will comment tonight on whether there are any differences in the Stanford appoach versus the Gold approach. I can give credit to Gary for seeing and raising the issue of English learners but no credit for not following through to make sure there was the proper evaluations and changes. Yes, I know Gary had some serious working issues with Gary McHenry.
    Why do we send these entourages to conferences if there are no changes ? I will bet the total cost for a week had to be close to $20,000.
    Doctor J