Monday, February 28, 2011

MDUSD Budget Situation- Update #2 - (2/28/11)

This is the second part of a two part budget update.  
Part one was posted on this blog 3 weeks ago, and can be read here from 2/8/11.
* * * * *
Mt. Diablo USD News Update
Where Kids Come First

Governor’s Budget Proposal and Impact on MDUSD

The information for this News Update was gathered from:

  1. A budget presentation made by State Senator Mark DeSaulnier and State Treasurer Bill Lockyer on Wednesday, February 23, 2011.
  2. A February 7, 2011, article by the Legislative Analysis Office entitled Update on School District Finance in California.  The article can be found at: .
  3. California County Superintendents Educational Services Association’s (CCSESA) paper entitled:  Basic District Fiscal Oversight Common Message Background and Advice to County Office of Education CBOs 2010-11 Second Interim Report and Related MYPS, February 9, 2011.  This paper is posted on our website at: .
  4. A memo from Bill Clark, Associate Superintendent, Business Services Contra Costa County Office of Education outlining the Second Interim Guidance 2010-11.  The memo is posted on our website at: .

According to the above-referenced CCSESA paper:
Governor Brown has acknowledged that education has been the only major program that has taken disproportionate budget reductions since 2007-08. Therefore, he committed to protect education by proposing flat funding for education for 2011-12. However, flat funding really results in about a $19 annual per pupil reduction.
The 2011-12 Governor’s Proposed Budget was submitted with an estimated 18-month budget shortfall of $25.4 billion, comprised of an $8.2 billion shortfall in 2010-11 and a $17.2 billion shortfall in 2011-12. The Governor’s proposal addresses the shortfall in three ways: (1) reducing expenditures by $12.5 billion over two years (2010-11 and 2011-12); (2) enhancing revenue by $12 billion over the same two-year period to be achieved through a June ballot measure to extend the temporary taxes enacted in 2009-10 by five years (.25 percent surcharge on income tax, 1 percent increase in the sales tax, .5 percent increase in the vehicle license fee); and (3) borrowing $1.9 billion from special funds and other one-time measures.
The success of this proposal largely depends on a two thirds bipartisan legislative approval to place the tax extension measure on the ballot and then on a majority of the voters approving the tax extension. Additionally, the Legislature would have to agree to expenditure reductions similar to ones that they have rejected in prior years. Part of the Governor’s strategy is a proposal to realign or to shift responsibility of many programs along with the revenue sources to local governments. This shift would include using one-time Proposition 63 funds of $861 million to fund community mental health services. Clearly, there are many challenges ahead for the Governor and the Legislature to balance this budget.
If all of the Governor’s strategies are enacted, then the total K-14 Proposition 98 funding would be $49.3 billion, slightly less than the 2010-11 level of $49.7 billion.  This would amount to a reduction of approximately $600,000 for our District. 
Another major impact for education in the Governor’s proposal is the deferral of several apportionments.  School districts are not paid in one lump sum at the beginning of the year.  We receive incremental payments (apportionments) throughout the fiscal year from July through June.  In the Budget Proposal, the Governor recommends delaying our payments for April, May, and June until July 2011, which is in the next fiscal year, and then delaying the July 2011 payment until July 2012, again another fiscal year.  In essence, this will delay $25 million in payments from this school year by 12-15 months to the beginning of the 2012-13 fiscal year.  Basically, the State is taking their cash flow crisis and making the school districts deal with it by deferring our payments.

How will the District deal with this cash flow issue in order to pay employees and keep our schools running?  In order to deal with these deferrals in payments, the District will have to go out for a short-term loan called a Tax Revenue Anticipation Note (TRAN).  Basically, a TRAN allows a school district to borrow money for up to 12 months and then pay back the loan when the deferrals come in.  Since school districts are being delayed payments for a total of 15 months we may have to go out for two TRANs because one will not be long enough to cover the deferrals that are being recommended.  Bottom line is we will have to secure short term loans which will cost us thousands of dollars in issuance costs and interest.

The big unknown is whether or not the Governor’s revenue proposals will be put on a June ballot and whether or not they will pass.  If either doesn’t happen, the minimum school funding guarantee under Proposition 98 would drop by an additional $350 per student annually.  However, due to other constraints on the State’s budget, it is projected that Proposition 98 will be suspended and that education would be cut by additional billions of dollars which would translate into a reduction of between $650 and $1200 per pupil annually.  This would mean a reduction between $21 million and over $35 million annually for the District.  At their presentation on Wednesday, February, 23, Senator DeSaulnier and Treasurer Lockyer both stated there was a 50-50 chance that the tax extensions would garner the Legislative two-thirds support necessary to put them on a June ballot.

In a letter from the Contra Costa County Office of Education (CCCOE), we are being directed to submit a Second Interim Budget in March that uses the assumptions that the tax extension fails and assumes a loss of $350 per student.  This would amount to a reduction of approximately $11.5 million.  The letter goes on to say that given the risk outlined in the Legislative Analysis Office analysis of the budget, the CCCOE “recommends that districts set aside an additional reserve equal or plan for approximately $300 per ADA in addition to the $350 reduction outlined above.”  This will amount in the District either identifying an additional reserve of approximately $9.8 million or making cuts that total $21.3 million ($11.5 M + $9.8M).  This would be equivalent to subtracting 25 days from the school year and starting the school year on approximately October 1st. 

What can our community do to help ensure that we do not have to reduce our budget by an additional $21.3 million?

  1. Work to ensure that the Legislature approves placing the tax extensions on a June ballot.
  2. Work to ensure that all community members thoroughly understand the negative implications for our children’s education if the tax extensions do not occur.
  3. Work to ensure that every parent with a child in the Mt. Diablo Unified School District participates in the democratic process that we hope will occur in June.

At a Board workshop on Tuesday, March 1, the Board will discuss the ramifications of the budget reductions outlined above and review potential reductions to be included in the Second Interim budget.  The Board workshop will be held in the Board room at the District Office and begin at approximately 6:15 p.m.  The Board will then adopt the Second Interim budget at the regularly scheduled Board meeting on March 15.

Public schools, Private schools - how do our area schools "rate?"

Diablo Magazine has published a pretty comprehensive look at our local public AND private high schools.  Some great apples to apples comparisons such as SAT average scores, percentage of students in each school who take the SAT, number of teachers with a masters degree or above, number of AP classes, etc.

Clayton Valley High ranks as having the most teachers with a masters degree or higher in all of Contra Costa County's public high schools (Central/South Contra Costa). 

Some very good information, maybe you'll find it as interesting as I did:

For public schools it also shows the number of suspensions and expulsions.  I was surprised to see Mt. Diablo High School had over 600 suspensions (I assume this is a yearly average, or based on last year?).  But out of 1610 students, 616 suspensions (9 expulsions) seems like A LOT!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

School Board meeting - how can you listen?

The meeting has live audio streaming on KVHS 90.5.   If you have itunes you can go to Advanced > Open Audio Stream > and then enter url:

I'm listening now.  Sounds like a full house.

Here is the powerpoint the Superintendent is speaking about:

Superintendent is discussing the possibility of high school closures in the future. That if a new high school is opened in Bay Point it will result decreased enrollment at Mt. Diablo High School. Good grief.  Could this get any worse? 

Well if you listened or watched, you realized there were far more questions needing answers tonight , and the vote was to not close any more schools.  So we'll see what happens next. The funding situation hasn't changed, so what next?

Friday, February 18, 2011

MDUSD Board Meeting Tues Feb 22 @ Monte Gardens

The board meeting on Tuesday, February 22nd promises to be an "interesting" meeting.  This meeting they may be making some further decisions on the school closures; perhaps between Silverwood and Westwood, perhaps, another idea that makes sense.

The meeting will take place at Monte Gardens Elementary, starting at 7:30pm.  The agenda will be available later today at

Further, there will be a MDEA (teachers union) "Unity Rally" in front of the meeting location between 4:30pm and 7pm (before the meeting).  From MDEA:

Dear Members:
Tuesday Feb 22 is our next BLUE TUESDAY! Yes...We're Still Blue!  Please wear BLUE to school on Tuesday and...

Please JOIN us for a Unity Rally, sponsored by all MDUSD Bargaining units, MDEA, Local 1 CST, Local 1M&O, and CSEA.  This rally will also be held on Feb. 22,2011 between 4:30PM-7:00PM, prior to the School Board Meeting.  Right now we are unsure of the location, because the Board meeting is being moved to a larger venue (yet to be determined by the district).  We will let you know the site as soon as we know.  Please click on the link below to view the flyer.  

Lead Reps and Reps.  Please download, print and post on your MDEA bulletin board the flyer provided in the link. 

Questions?  Call 672-4664

We look forward to seeing everybody at the rally.  Remember...There is strength in numbers!

Lory Quam,
MDEA Organizing Team 

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

School Closures: Let's talk options

Ok, enough of the attacks, put downs and complaining.  Let's get down to what could be REAL options.

Believe it or not, I know some of the board members read this blog, as do many community members.  The hits show hundreds of unique visits, just not as much interaction.  But that's ok, we know people are reading.

So when I read the Times article recapping the meeting last night, I noticed this idea from retired teacher, Skip Weinstock:

Weinstock proposed another new idea: Keeping Glenbrook sixth-graders at elementary schools and moving Glenbrook seventh- and eighth-graders to El Dorado.

Couldn't that be the best of all worlds?  It seems to me the school closure subject is hottest around Concord where there are many elementary schools with empty classrooms.  This is one reason most likely, the idea to close Westwood came up.  So why not keep all those 6th graders at their home elementary schools. What are the elementary schools that feed into both Glenbrook and El Dorado, is there room, that instead of closing or moving an entire student body, they can simply retain their students one additional year? 

Wouldn't this keep Westwood intact with their special ed and deaf learning environments?  Wouldn't the 7-8th graders from Glenbrook still fit at El Dorado (in the proposed plan it was insinuated they would).

Interesting idea, and this is what we need.  Ideas, thinking outside the box.  

What are your ideas?

Friday, February 11, 2011

New Topic: Your 3 Wishes for the MDUSD

At the suggestion of a reader earlier today, I'm opening up a new topic for discussion.

What is your vision for the best school district?

List 3 things that would show you that the district is doing a fantastic job, and not just okay.

As the reader suggested, perhaps as we begin to see ideas and the vision of others, we can break it down into what smallest thing(s) we can change to start moving in that direction.

Quick note, I think the visions and end results are great, though I'd love to also see these three things be actionable. Is one of your three things what it will look like, or how to get there? At this point we need all the good ideas we can get... Keep em coming.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Meeting Results 2/8/11 (Glenbrook & Holbrook to close)

The board meeting is going on.  At times, 400+/- viewers on the livestream. Despite what I consider very long winded, and sometimes unprofessional behavior from Cheryl Hanson, there certainly is no lack of passion, and the board has proceeded to vote on their options.

The board has just voted to remove Option 3 from the list of possible closures. This was Sequoia Elem/Middle and Monte Gardens.  They are now removed from the closure list. 

Linda Mayo has just moved to close Glenbrook and Holbrook Elementary.
Sherry Whitmarsh seconded.
Motion passed 4-1 (Hanson -no), Glenbrook and Holbrook are closing.

Gary is now proposing a new option: Send entire population of Glenbrook to El Dorado as one unit.  And close Westwood. Westwood could be the campus to house the 6th graders from Glenbrook and El Dorado.  El Dorado would house 7-8th graders.  This is an ongoing discussion live now, and may not be voted on tonight.

Sorry, more unprofessionalism from Cheryl Hanson.  She has made a very tough decision even tougher, she's now further dividing the board, and degrading even further, the trust in the board.  My opinion.  But it was very disheartening to hear how she chose to express herself tonight.  Dennler, appears out of her element, and almost in awe of the process... and has expressed much chagrin over the Brown Act.  

Silverwood or Westwood may be the next decision...

At this time, there is discussion of another public meeting to discuss next steps, possible more closures, or other options.  Next stop , next Tuesday February 15th for more closure talk (in a roundtable setting) w/ the help of the SCAC.  February 22nd would be more community input and final decisions.

Budget Situation in the MDUSD 2/8/11

Tonight's meeting will likely prove to be quite volatile.  The board may, or may not, choose to vote on an option tonight.  But it's a big decision.  Schools closed within the district over 30 years ago were never reopened, so it is with a great amount of thought, the board will be making the best decision they can.  I don't envy them in this position.

Below is a Budget Article put out by the district today.  It's meant as an education piece and hope you find it useful:

Mt. Diablo USD News Update
Where Kids Come First

February 8, 2011

Given recent news articles around our District’s budget and the dire State budget projections, we have decided to send out two newsletters about our budget situation.  The first article will focus on the status of our current budget.  The second article will focus on how the Governor’s budget proposal will affect our District.

The State Budget Crisis

The following two links to articles from EdSource provide a thorough overview of the State budget crisis and how it has impacted education funding in the State:

District Budget Crisis

The District budget crisis has been acutely affected by the following conditions:

  1. As cited in the EdSource January 11, 2011, publication, K-12 education funding has been reduced 10% between the 2007-08 school year and the 2010-11 school year.

  1. During the same time period, the District’s health care premiums have increased 31.19%, amounting to an additional $7.1 million.

  1. Over the same period, student enrollment has declined by 1,000 students which amounts to a revenue reduction of over $5 million each year.  Unfortunately, we can not reduce staff commensurate with declining enrollment.  For example, if all of the student enrollment reductions came from two or three schools in the District, cost savings could be more easily achieved by concentrating staff reductions on just those campuses.  However, the loss of these 1,000 students has been spread throughout the District, making it impossible to keep expenditure cuts away from the classroom.
  1. Every year, our costs increase due to inflation and employees receiving step and/or column salary increases.  For inflationary increases we use the Consumer Price Index to estimate the increase in the costs of goods and services.  Our negotiated salary schedules for certificated positions are based on the number of years of experience (step) and level of education (column).  For classified and management positions the salary schedules are based on job type and years of experience.  For step and column increases, we annually budget a 1.5% increase to our salary budget.
  1. In the 2010-2011 State budget, Governor Schwarzenegger vetoed AB3632 mental health funding.  The prior link to a January 11, 2011, EdSource article provides a concise overview of AB3632.  The Governor’s veto will cause the District to assume approximately $4.8 million in additional costs to provide mental health services.  Because the cut was mid-year this school year we may need to absorb $2.4 million in costs.  The District cannot legally eliminate these programs without jeopardizing federal funding we receive for all our Special Education students.  Governor Brown’s 2011-2012 State budget proposal reinstates these mental health funds for the 2011-2012 school year using Proposition 63 (Mental Health Services) funds, and he proposes a dedicated funding source in subsequent years if the continuation of the revenue enhancement is approved by the voters. However, this proposal does not resolve the funding problem for the current year, and Prop 63 supporters are challenging the use of those funds for AB3632 purposes. Therefore, it is very unclear whether AB3632 funding will actually be reinstated. 

So, what do these conditions mean for the District in real dollars?  Over the past several years, our revenue has decreased by $20 million while our costs have increased by the same amount.  Therefore, in order to create a balanced budget we needed to reduce our on-going budgets by $40 million.  To date, we have reduced expenses by approximately $25 million.  In order to avoid completely eliminating vital educational programs and to minimize staff reductions, we have used one-time federal funds, utilized the Tier III flexibility to transfer specific categorical revenues, and have been spending down our reserves.  Under current budget assumptions we are spending $11 million more than we receive in on-going revenues.  Legally, we have to maintain a minimum reserve of two percent.  Currently, we have $12 million reserves above the two percent requirement.  Under our current budget assumptions we will have less than $2 million in additional reserves by the end of next year, and have a projected negative ending balance of $11.6 million at the end of the 2012-13 school year.  This would completely deplete our mandatory two percent reserves and put the District in State control.

We are frequently asked whether we can eliminate more central office administrators and employees.  Over the past three years, we have eliminated approximately 20% of non-school based positions. To provide more perspective on the extent of these reductions in the 2000-2001 school year the District had 5.19 administrators per 100 teachers.  In the 2009-2010 school year, we had 4.12 administrators per 100 teachers.  This puts us almost fifty percent below the State approved rate of 8 administrators per 100 teachers.

We are currently negotiating with all of our associations in order to achieve a balanced budget.  To date, administrators have accepted a benefit cap at the 2010 Kaiser rates for current employees, a benefit for anyone who retires after June 30, 2011, prorated benefits for part-time administrators, and furlough days over the next several years.  We are asking our other associations for similar benefit and furlough day concessions. 

The next article in this series will focus on the Governor’s proposed 2011-2012 budget and the implications for the District’s budgeting process.

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

Board meeting agenda for Tues, February 8th

The board agenda is now available online. Among the items, of course, is item 13.4 School Closures. It explains the process they will use on Tuesday and under what conditions they may vote for an option. It seems if another viable option is brought to them, the board may instruct staff to investigate to be brought back at a later date.

So I guess it should make for an interesting evening. They may vote on ne of the options currently on the table, or they may wish to investigate another option(s).

Here is the agenda.

The meeting begins at 7:30 pm Tuesday, at the Mt. Diablo High School gymnasium.