MDUSD SCHOOL BOARD ELECTIONS 2012 – Two candidates with integrity:
Elect Debra Mason and Barbara Oaks.
REAL educators…not just in name only.
Debra and Barbara have both provided years of public service dedicated to student success and learning. They value honesty, sharing of information, open discussion, and responsiveness to our community…core values that we need!
Visit their web sites:
Debra Mason: www.electdebramason.com
Barbara Oaks: baoaks.wix.com/elect-barbara-oaks
CLAYTON VALLEY CHARTER HIGH SCHOOL: Up and running and still part of our community
I supported and still support the dedication, passion, and drive that the Charter School organizers showed in their quest for excellence and empowerment. Their goals were to be more responsive to community and student needs and to create a rigorous, relevant educational program.
As a former teacher and principal, it’s exciting for me to see this level of community and parent engagement and commitment to education. It’s what all schools strive to achieve and is fundamental to student success and achievement.
The Charter School organizers have enthusiastically tackled the daunting task of transforming a school culture. Given their spirit and dedication, I trust that they will be successful. The district and charter school community need to work together and learn from each other. Our students will only benefit.
STRATEGIC PLAN: I was proud to be the catalyst but disappointed in the majority of the Board’s disinterest in a meaningful process with real community input.
February 2011: I wrote and submitted the Strategic Plan draft for information at our March 29, 2011 Board meeting. I based my draft upon educational best practices and model strategic plans with input from community representatives.
My goal was to give the Board a draft plan that would start conversation and create community buy-in. I hoped we would end up with a five-year plan that represented our community's needs, provided direction to the district, and required accountability for its implementation. Unfortunately, that’s not what happened, although I kept trying to accomplish it.
March-May 2011: We held community meetings seeking input and things seemed to be rolling along. Then the entire process stalled.
January 2012: I tried to reactivate Board interest in adopting a Strategic Plan. I began submitting agenda items requesting that we hold public/community input sessions specifically on the Strategic Plan draft. President Whitmarsh obstructed my agenda item, and the Board actively refused to seek public input. I continued to pursue it.
June 2012: After months of my submitting requests for community meetings to discuss the draft plan, the Board finally voted on June 4 to approve my proposed two community input meetings. Then the entire process stalled again, and I continued to try to push it forward despite Sherry Whitmarsh’s ongoing obstruction.
July-September 2012: The Board refused to consider and President Whitmarsh continued to obstruct my agenda items for finalizing the Strategic Plan and for holding public input sessions.
October 2012: Suddenly, with a Board election around the corner, President Whitmarsh decided to jam in two public input sessions without Board direction, adequate notification, or any meaningful process. Two superficial, poorly advertised “dot-sticking” sessions were held in October. The Board majority then simply shoved through the plan based on inadequate, statistically invalid input. Ironically, after I wrote the original draft a year and a half ago, I voted against approving it because the process used was hastily conducted and totally contemptuous of the public. I offered a more meaningful process that included the use of community advisory groups and/or Site Councils, but to no avail.
A major disappointment that the Board refused to consider a meaningful process. Without real community input and buy in, Strategic Plans simply end up a useless piece of paper stuck in a file. Hopefully, the new Board in December can take action to correct this.
FUNDAMENTAL PURPOSE: WHY DO WE EXIST?
Student learning for all students / educational excellence for all students
“Our responsibility is to prepare every student for success in college, career, and life.” (Antioch USD)
MDUSD students will graduate as responsible citizens prepared to succeed in the college or career of their choice.
COMPELLING FUTURE: WHAT MUST OUR DISTRICT/SCHOOLS BECOME TO ACCOMPLISH OUR PURPOSE?
COLLECTIVE COMMITMENTS: HOW MUST WE BEHAVE TO ACHIEVE OUR VISION?
· Focus on learning and children
We will always…
· Make decisions based on the best interests of the students,
· Elevate communication to a level that is inclusive and instills trust,
· Behave in an ethical, respectful, responsive manner,
· Seek out reform, innovation, and partnerships to bring academic excellence to our students,
· Recruit and retain the most effective, highly qualified staff available.
Academic Excellence and Learning
MDUSD will provide a rigorous, relevant, and engaging educational experience to all students. MDUSD will seek out reform and innovation to ensure academic excellence.
MDUSD understands that increasing student achievement is a team effort, one that requires a systemic and sustained approach to school improvement and reform. Student success is dependent upon parent, teacher, administrator, support staff, and school success.
Goals / Specific Results
1.1 Provide curricula that reflects high expectations and alignment to content standards.
1.2 Ensure focus, consistency, and alignment of our curriculum, instructional strategies, and assessments.
1.3 Improve the content, quality, and use of assessments and ensure that data from these assessments drives instruction.
1.4 Provide, support, and monitor instruction based on identified best practices.
1.5 Examine the district’s curricula to ensure career and/or college-ready rigor at each grade level.
1.6 Implement programs that support 21st century skills, including collaboration, innovation, critical thinking, and communication.
1.7 Provide and meet program improvement requirements and support for academically under-performing schools.
1.8 Expand autonomy and empowerment for high performing schools.
1.9 Support struggling learners by targeted preventions, interventions, resources, and professional development.
1.10 Increase the use of technology in the teaching and learning process.
1.11 Ensure that the English Language Learner program is responsive to the needs of students and implemented, supported, monitored, and assessed based on student learning and a master plan.
1.12 Examine Special Education programs, services, and delivery to ensure high expectations in the least restrictive environment.
1.13 Establish clear parameters for allocation of Special Education staff and resources.
1.14 Ensure successful transition and articulation among elementary, middle, and high school levels.
1.15 Seek innovative community and business partnerships to expand programs and pathways in schools to enhance rigorous, relevant academic opportunities.
Supportive Family and Community Involvement
MDUSD will actively build strong relationships with students, families, and the community to increase trust, shared responsibility, and a positive perception of our district.
MDUSD will use multiple methods of communication and engagement to reach all stakeholders and increase opportunities for meaningful community input and participation to advance student achievement and learning in all subject areas.
Goals / Specific Results
2.1 Use multiple, regular methods of communication and engagement to reach all stakeholders.
2.2 Ensure that our communications are honest, accurate, thorough, and accessible to the public.
2.3 Increase opportunities for meaningful community input and participation.
2.4 Cultivate community, business, and higher education partnerships that advance student achievement in all subject areas.
2.5 Increase collaboration with cities, businesses, and the community to build a community that supports and values education.
2.6 Achieve a positive perception of MDUSD among parents and community members and ensure that parents consider MDUSD a “preferred place” to meet their educational needs.
2.7 Engage and involve parents in their children’s education to create shared responsibilities for student success.
High Quality, Effective Staff
The key to MDUSD success is its people, and MDUSD will recruit, develop, support, and retain the most talented staff.
Goals / Specific Results
3.1 Ensure that every classroom has a high-quality, effective educator.
3.2 Provide support through high-quality, effective administrators and support staff.
3.3 Ensure that our staff has the skills and capacity to achieve our mission.
3.4 Increase the retention rate of high-performing teachers, administrators, and support staff.
3.5 Increase leadership opportunities for staff.
3.6 Provide targeted professional development that supports the Strategic Plan.
3.7 Build staff morale and efficacy.
Respectful, Responsive Service and Communication
MDUSD district and site staff will be responsive and respectful while providing outstanding service to co-workers, students, parents, and community members.
District and site staff will proactively seek opportunities to improve communication and customer service. Every person who interacts with MDUSD should be treated with dignity, respect, and courtesy.
Goals / Specific Results
4.1 Assess, adopt, and improve practices that encourage respectful, responsive customer service.
4.2 Improve communication, both internally and externally, ensuring that community members, parents, students, and employees receive information, responses to inquiries, and services in a timely, efficient manner.
4.3 Improve employee morale by strengthening internal communications.
4.4 Ensure that employees consider MDUSD a “preferred place” (culture and climate) to work.
4.5 Ensure that parents consider MDUSD a “preferred place” to meet their educational needs.
4.6 Diligently monitor and report progress on strategic plan initiatives to gain trust, promote dialogue, and determine success.
4.7 Increase the use of technology to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of communication throughout the organization.
Optimal Operations and Infrastructure
MDUSD will implement sound fiscal and human resource policies that maximize resources, generate revenue, provide accountability, and accomplish educational priorities within a balanced budget framework.
If students are going to achieve excellence, all school and district operations must be excellent as well. Alignment across the district is critical so MDUSD will clearly align its fiscal and human resources to focus on achieving educational excellence. MDUSD will work in partnership with employees, parents, and the community to be a results-oriented district that involves all school, departments, and community groups.
Goals / Specific Results
5.1 Transform MDUSD into a high-performing, results-oriented organization that involves all schools, departments, and community groups.
5.2 Align district-wide initiatives, district and site plans, and expenditures to the MDUSD Strategic Plan and Board goals and policies.
5.3 Ensure that our facilities and infrastructure support and enhance student learning.
5.4 Place priority on educational needs and programs when making fiscal decisions.
5.5 Develop comprehensive short-term and long-term plans that proactively anticipate and address enrollment trends (e.g., decline and/or growth in enrollment, attendance boundary adjustments, possible school closure or repurposing, capacity needs, facilities issues, fiscal impact).
5.6 Ensure fiscal stability and accountability through effective stewardship of financial assets, community funding sources, and other activities to improve district resources and build public trust.
5.7 Enhance the support for and integration of instructional technology
1) Stakeholder Input Sessions
2) Plan Revision and Finalization
3) Implementation Strategies / Action Plans / SMART Goals with Monitoring and Accountability
Vision (from the MDUSD web site)
Mt. Diablo Unified School District is to be a district in which all students, staff, and community:
The Mt. Diablo Unified School District is to be a district in which all schools:
Below is my December 2010-March 2011 commentary on school closure and strategic planning.
Without a long-term plan prior to taking action, there are still issues that must be addressed. We still owe it to the school community to develop a plan that answers their questions and provides coherent guidance.
SOLUTION: DEVELOP A LONG-TERM PLAN THAT INCLUDES:
1) An analysis of continuing growth and/or declining enrollment trends (The School Closure Committee's report still needs in-depth analysis and reflection.)
2) Re-definition of attendance boundaries
3) Transportation issues
4) Traffic and safety issues
5) Re-location of special educational/support programs at the schools to be closed
6) Transition and support plan for students at schools to be closed
7) Staffing impact
8) Redistribution of funding/revenue sources at the closing schools
9) Use of Measure C facilities money
10) Maintenance and security of closed school facilities
11) Explicit accounting of actual money saved from school closures, not just a best guess.
Without a long-term, proactive plan with plenty of forewarning and opportunity for the public to be involved and informed so they can make plans for their children's education, the result is a breakdown in public trust and confidence in our district. We need to correct this, and we can.
MY PROPOSALI proposed saving the $1.5 million without having to close our elementary and middle schools in the 2011-12 school year through:
SOLUTION: PLANNING FOR OUR CURRENT AND FUTURE REALITY
ADDRESSING THIS REALITY
1) Closure of Glenbrook Middle and Holbrook Elementary
On February 8, 2011, the Board voted 4-1 to close Glenbrook and Holbrook. While I voted “no” to closing any elementary or middle schools at this time without having a long-term plan in place and instead suggested three specific ideas to buy some planning time, it is my obligation to support the vote.
Without a plan, people become reactive and divisive which is what we are experiencing and which we need to mitigate. Reactive behavior has occurred through the startling introduction of ill-conceived, rash ideas that have caused further stress in the community.
The decision has been made to close two schools so we need to:
1) Put thought into trouble shooting and problem solving the repercussions and
2) Still take the time to develop a long-term plan to address declining and growing enrollment in MDUSD, even after the fact, while not ideal, is better than not doing it at all.
2) Parent and student anxiety about what school Glenbrook or Holbrook children will attend in the fall
RELIEVE COMMUNITY STRESS: While I'm happy that the other members of the Board finally agreed on February 22, 2011 not to close any more schools, the reality is that Glenbrook and Holbrook parents still woke up on February 23 without an answer to a huge question: Where will my children be attending school in the fall? Staff members from those two schools still came to work not knowing whether or not they will have a job and in what location. This is why we still owe it to the community to put the time into developing a long-term plan that analyzes the data, answers their questions, and addresses their anxiety.
REDRAW ATTENDANCE BOUNDARIES: I believe the best solution is to redraw attendance boundaries so that all our receiving schools maintain a reasonable, safe enrollment size, one that is conducive to student learning, support, and safety. We owe it to our students and parents who are being displaced and to our communities surrounding the receiving schools.
Having been a principal, I know that the larger a school grows, the more challenging it is to supervise, to provide individualized attention, to monitor student learning, and to maintain a positive school culture. We want to make a bad situation better, not worse.
In redrawing attendance boundaries, we must consider:
1) geographic proximity so that students are as close as possible to the receiving school
2) roadways/freeways so that students travel as safely as possible without having to cross major thoroughfares or busy highways
4) current enrollment in receiving schools so that students are welcomed into as small a school as possible
STRATEGIC PLANNING AND THE SCHOOL BOARD
I'm willing to put in the time and effort to develop one. I look forward to the accountability a strategic plan brings.
Some thoughts about the School Board’s role in strategic planning:
1) A fundamental responsibility to develop a strategic plan with an over-arching mission and long-term vision.
2) Responsibility to keep everyone focused on the over-arching mission by ensuring that decisions made and resources utilized support it and that the organization accomplishes it.
3) Responsibility to represent the entire community that the district serves.
In addition, the Board must also:
· Create a positive attitude toward change, seeing it as something that makes the district better.
· Establish goals or priorities that support each other rather than compete for time and resources.
· Keep administration focused on and accountable for those targets, goals, and changes.
· Require the administration to determine whether the district’s resource allocation practices (people, time, and money) are aligned with the goals and priorities.
· Help ensure the availability of the required resources.
· Direct the administration to limit actions to those that align with the goals and priorities.
· Ensure that all board-authorized professional development and training are aligned with those goals and priorities.
· Push for results-based goals, but only after prerequisite process-based goals are firmly in place.
· Adopt more of a business mind-set by being entrepreneurial, marketing its assets/plan, and learning to leverage resources.
Basically, the Board serves in a visionary, strategic role, considering the big picture, looking years into the future, taking a broad view that spans the entire organization and represents the entire community that the district serves.
ASSETS OF STRATEGIC PLANNING
· Describes the fundamental beliefs held by the organization.
· Aligns board and community mission, vision, and values so that the plans can outlast any changes in leadership.
· Ensures that the school board doesn’t operate in a vacuum, that it is accountable to the electorate.
· Brings the community together through collaborative partnerships with all local stakeholders (parents, children, staff, management, unions, PTAs, businesses, community organizations, etc.)
MISTAKES MADE IN STRATEGIC PLANNING
· Not having administrative leadership competent, credible, or committed enough to carry out the board’s strategic charges.
Ineffective strategic planning occurs when it’s based on this
faulty assumption: Some people in
the organization are responsible for thinking and planning while others are
responsible to carry out those plans, Result: No buy-in but plenty of sabotage and resistance.
· Without a culture of trust and collaboration, sabotage and resistance occurs.
· Not having the resources and support necessary to accomplish the plan generates frustration and loss of support or action. (Resources include more than money.)
· Frequently does not get translated into short-term goals specifically linked to district goals. Short-term goals allow people to measure results and experience success.
· People don’t understand or define the collection and use of data: What is good data to collect? How much data? From what sources? How does this impact or direct our actions and our practice?