MDUSD: Petition to Create Separate School District is Found Deficient by School Services of California

August 11, 2017 10:25 am · 38 comments

School Services of California, Inc., an independent consultant retained by the Contra Costa County Committee on School District Organization to analyze the petition by Northgate Community Advocacy for our Public Schools (Northgate CAPS) and its proposed transfer of territory carving out five schools to form a new school district, has concluded that the petition does not meet all nine of the criteria required by California law to form a new school district, according to the Mt. Diablo Unified School District.

The following information is from the MDUSD:

School Services of California is a business, financial management, and facilities resource for school districts and county offices of education throughout California.  Established in 1975, its role is to offer third-party expert guidance for facility and financial and business operations.  In its independent review, the organization determined that Northgate CAPS failed to substantially meet specific criterion for equitable division of district facilities and no substantial increases in school facility costs.

“The findings of School Services support our position that the separation of the Northgate-area schools from Mt. Diablo Unified School District is not, in any way, a benefit to the community. We believe these findings will be very compelling for the County Committee,” said Dr. Nellie Meyer, Superintendent for MDUSD. “And while we feel the consultant was conservative in its review, we believe our further study and data will show that the proponents of a new school district also fail to substantially meet several additional required criterion.”

Previously, MDUSD had raised concerns that the petition for the proposed Northgate Unified School District territory – which would encompass Northgate High School, Foothill Middle School, and Bancroft, Valle Verde, and Walnut Acres elementary schools – also includes additional schools physically located within the proposed Northgate district boundary but with separate MDUSD attendance boundaries.  Northgate CAPS’ proposed transfer of territory also attempts to take Oak Grove Middle School and Ygnacio Valley High School but it appears to do so without retaining the corresponding student population. To this point, the School Services report stated that the proposed division of school sites would be deemed inequitable and result in significant increases to the cost of providing school facilities to the new district.

The inclusion of the two additional schools but not their students would mean the disruption to and displacement of approximately 2,000 students, the majority of whom are minority.  Of Oak Grove’s approximately 700 students, 84.1% are Hispanic or Latino; 1.7% are African American.  Of Ygnacio Valley’s nearly 1,300 students, 71.8% are Hispanic or Latino; 5.2% are African American.

The District notes the state’s education code is very clear on this: “a school district shall not be formed or reorganized to include territory which is separated from other portions of one or more other school districts.”

At the previous public hearings conducted by the Committee, public testimony was provided to make clear the proposed NUSD boundaries would also include attendance areas for Highlands Elementary, impacting 53% of that school’s current student body and prompting associated staff reductions and program changes or losses.

The petitioners have not offered any clarity on their intention for these additional schools.

The proposal would also impact Eagle Peak Montessori Charter School, a so-called “dependent” charter school, which remains a school of the District.  It is located on District-owned property at the former Castle Rock School adjacent to Northgate High School and enrolls approximately 200 students.  The school has stated clearly it does not wish to be part of a new district.

As part of its independent study, School Services determined that Criterion #3 – Equitable Division of Property/Facilities – one of nine criteria required by the State to form a new district – would not be “substantially met.”  School Services determined the “reorganization petition specifies the proposed Northgate USD as encompassing all of the territory within the attendance boundaries of five Mt. Diablo USD schools, which, although inadvertent, also includes Oak Grove MS and Ygnacio Valley HS. As drafted, the reorganization proposal would deprive Mt. Diablo USD of two school sites which are needed to accommodate its current enrollment.”

Additionally, the analysis determined the petition failed to meet Criterion #7 – No Substantial Increase in School Facilities Costs. The study found this criterion would not be substantially met because “school facilities cost increases would not be insignificant or incidental to the reorganization. In the absence of significant policy changes, facilities will be needed by both districts to accommodate enrollment at specific grade levels and by the proposed Northgate USD in order to house its district staff and operations. The construction of new facilities or the modification of existing facilities to accommodate students would constitute a significant expense as a direct result of the reorganization.”

Mt. Diablo Unified, from the beginning, has come out strongly in opposition of the attempt to have the Northgate-area secede from the District; the unanimous board expressed united sentiment and voted 5-0 on a resolution opposing the petition.

“As a District, we regularly assess and analyze our programs and progress, and have effectively leveraged our budget to align services and resources so we can continue to serve families at the highest level and with excellent outcomes for all students,” noted Meyer.

A recent presentation at MDUSD’s joint meeting with the Walnut Creek City Council outlined centrally-provided resources for schools, highlighting programs at the five Northgate-area schools included in the NUSD territory.  Many of the programs would be moved to other MDUSD schools or discontinued if a Northgate district were to be approved. Special Education programs would be especially hard-hit, with programs like the magnet autism and mild/moderate Special Day Class moving to other MDUSD sites.  Students who remain part of MDUSD would continue to be able to access them.

“We have made tremendous progress as a community, in partnership with the community, our families and regional business and workforce development leaders, making innovative improvements in academic and career training programming, expanding valued student support services, and offering more opportunities than ever before for high-quality teacher professional learning and development,” said Meyer.  “We want our Northgate families to remain part of this exciting momentum.”

The County Committee will conduct a public hearing on the petition on August 29, 2017, beginning at 4 p.m. at Pleasant Hill Middle School, 1 Santa Barbara Rd. in Pleasant Hill. The meeting is open to the public.

The District unequivocally opposes the petition for several key reasons, including the following:

  • The proposed division results in a new school district that is far more racially and socioeconomically segregated, depriving students in both districts of an integrated educational experience.
  • The proposed division results in an inequitable distribution of assets and assessed property values.
  • The proposed division separates communities and would result in increased negative traffic impacts community-wide.
  • The proposed division would reduce the size of both districts, resulting in the disruptive shuffling of teaching and staff assignments, including likely necessitating layoffs and the elimination of key District programs.
  • The proposed division has a negative impact on both potential districts’ financial health and educational programs.
  • The District has made great strides over the last few years that are now paying dividends in student achievement, teacher recruitment and retention, and the provision of innovative educational programs and opportunities for every student throughout the District.  This petition would derail this progress and negatively impact the District’s students, families, teachers and staff.
Angel August 11, 2017 at 10:36 AM

So, what does this mean?

Sam August 11, 2017 at 10:37 AM

Maybe the Northgate (district) can reach out to the Walnut Creek school district again. MDUSD is awful.

TheYellowRanger August 11, 2017 at 10:38 AM

“The inclusion of the two additional schools but not their students would mean the disruption to and displacement of approximately 2,000 students, the majority of whom are minority. ”

Not racist at all…

Ricardoh August 11, 2017 at 11:03 AM

Someone should get the story straight I read where the county approved the new district and sent it on to the state.

Cellophane August 11, 2017 at 11:05 AM

Doesn’t matter what the people want, it’s what the state decides is best for them.

Socialism in action.

WC August 11, 2017 at 11:12 AM

Sounds to me like they may have a conflict of interest the size of an elephant.

Quote: “School Services of California is a business, financial management, and facilities resource for school districts and county offices of education throughout California. “

Rob August 11, 2017 at 11:21 AM

So… they want the schools – but not the students that attend the schools – could they be anymore obvious?

Max August 11, 2017 at 11:29 AM

Scumbags.

Vote more money into the schooldistricts. Stop crying at townhalls and approve more housing so teachers can afford to live here. Participate in the pta and donate your time if you would like the schools to be better.

Frank G. August 11, 2017 at 11:32 AM

@ Ricardoh, – The county hasn’t yet voted on so if you read that it passed you got some Fake News.i

It is common knowledge that MDUSD Board Member, Brian Lawrence, is working behind the scenes actively supporting the Northgate effort. There is also word that, if successful, Northgate Unified would hire former MDUSD Superintendent Steve Lawrence

Anonymous August 11, 2017 at 11:49 AM

Reducing diversity is bad? Why is that?

Impact on traffic? Just a silly argument.

Seether August 11, 2017 at 11:52 AM

It’s simple rich vs poor segregation, this gets all the rich kids in the district and leaves the monument poor people in mdsd, diversity is the liberal agenda of mdsd!

The Grant August 11, 2017 at 12:01 PM

What I find interesting with the statistics on YVH and Oak Grove Middle – article states 84% and 72% of students are Hispanic, respectively.

The boundaries for YVH include the Monument corridor (majority Hispanic) but also large areas of what is essentially Walnut Creek / Concord (Taylor Blvd. to the west and Lime Ridge Open Space to the east).

I rarely see any Hispanic families around El Dorado Park / Larkey Park Area or Colony Park / Carriage Square Area / Treat Blvd. (where I live and run around the neighborhoods).

Either I am oblivious or do kids get bused in from other areas? Another small factor I suppose is that both my kids go to private school and we forgo the public school mess (other families that have the means either do this or try / succeed in transferring).

Just interested in thoughts and facts – thanks

S August 11, 2017 at 12:15 PM

It means northgates next move will be try to be a charter school like they were so against cv becoming.

Northgate Parent August 11, 2017 at 12:35 PM

This story is only MDUSD’s interpretation of the report.. Everyone here needs to know that there is much much more to this story. The proposal met seven of nine criteria!!!! MDUSD is desperate and resorting to ridiculous measures to prevent this from going through.

Please go to northgatecaps.org to see the full report or here is the link to https://northgatecaps.org/2017/08/09/good-news-for-nusd/

Claycord, please do your research and post all the information available about this!

Here is a little info taken from the CAPS post:

Met – Criterion Number 1: Adequate Number of Pupils

Met – Criterion Number 2: Community Identity

Not met – Criterion Number 3: Equitable Division of Property/Facilities

Met – Criterion Number 4: Discrimination/Segregation

Met – Criterion Number 5: No Substantial Increase in State Costs

Met – Criterion Number 6: Sound Educational Program

Not met – Criterion Number 7: No Substantial Increase in School Facilities Costs

Met – Criterion Number 8: Increased Property Values

Met – Criterion Number 9: Effect on Fiscal Status and Management

So why did the NUSD proposal not meet Criterion 3, which calls only for equitable distribution of property, when the proposal asked only for the separation of the five existing Northgate-area schools (Valle Verde Elementary, Walnut Acres Elementary, Bancroft Elementary, Foothills Middle School, and Northgate High School) that are already in the Northgate area?

Why did the NUSD proposal not meet Criterion 7, which seeks to avoid district reorganizations that require new facilities, when the five Northgate-area schools are already built and servicing Northgate students, and MDUSD says it is faced with declining enrollment in its other schools? Why would any new facilities be necessary for either district?

And the right has it August 11, 2017 at 12:46 PM

This is a mess. I like a short commute, but more of this and I will just bite the bullet and move to Danville or similar then. Yes, the district is too big. Yes, they are stealing money to line their pockets. But, we need to find a better division. It is more convoluted since so many schools have an insane split- this is ALL over the district. It does not just affect Northgate.

Anon August 11, 2017 at 1:08 PM

From what I can tell, the 4 people heading up this movement don’t even have kids in the system. The only interest they have in it is to raise their property values and keep the lower income folks out of their neighborhood. This proposal is so wrong on so many levels.

ME August 11, 2017 at 1:10 PM

I guess I don’t understand any of this. If you live in WC and you’re so snobby as to want to redraw the lines to suit you, send your kids to private school. Or did you spend all your money on your house and new car? I’d rather have a wealth of intelligence, than have the appearance of wealth.

Strad August 11, 2017 at 1:23 PM

It’ a dead issue in the past and in the future.

Nutcreek Frontier August 11, 2017 at 1:54 PM

Mount Diablo running scared…7 out of the 9 criteria have been met, with the other two most likely to be corrected due to the flawed boundary lines given by MDUSD. For all the minority families that have supported this, and just wanted decent schools, and a smaller, more accountable board, it is particularly vindicating that #4 criteria vis a vis “Discrimination/Segregation” was MET. You can fight the bloated system, and you can demand academic accountability.

emerald1 August 11, 2017 at 2:23 PM

Northgate CAPS’ proposed transfer of territory also attempts to take Oak Grove Middle School and Ygnacio Valley High School but it appears to do so without retaining the corresponding student population. If current student population is not included in the transfer this proposal must be stopped. It’s unfair to all the residents living in the impacted area.

woody August 11, 2017 at 2:24 PM

It’s not just where you want to send your kids but the value of a good school district. Northgate and the other four schools rate as 10’s or 9’s, while MDUSD averages as a 6.5. The rating for NUSD would start out @ 9.4 or 9.2 (including EPMS and no one has an answer for them). That should be good for adding $$$$$ to any home value. MDUSD’s ranking should only drop to about a 6.

This would not be an issue if MDUSD didn’t have schools with pathetic scores.
3@5, 2@4, 5@3, 3@2 and 4@1. SEVENTEEN! There are eleven with no score.

https://www.greatschools.org/california/concord/mt.-diablo-unified-school-district/schools/

Nutcreek Frontier August 11, 2017 at 2:59 PM

NDUSD has said over and over they don’t plan on taking OGMS, and YVHS school facilities. This is a non-issue, and frankly a desperate media ploy by MDUSD.

FromClayton August 11, 2017 at 3:10 PM

If snobby, racist elitist Walnut Creek residents are such horrible people, why would you even want them in your district? According to the naysayers, diversity is the keystone to a flourishing education system. Without all of the evil rich white children from WC in the district, the schools should have a performance renassaince and become a bastion for over achieving and acedemic excellence. I say let NUSD form and watch it all crumble before your very eyes. Then you could dance around the flames and embrace your utopia. Wow, sorry, got all swept up in this. NUSD is racist.

94521 August 11, 2017 at 3:56 PM

Isn’t the objective of this to then become part of Acalanes School District? Demographics are everything.

Bookish August 11, 2017 at 4:46 PM

@woody #21-

If Northgate schools are rated so high, why do they need to get out of the MDUSD?

@Nutcreek Frontier @22

Their map specifically carved out those schools. You just can’t do that, so they would have to include those schools to catch the Bancroft attendance area. They may not have wanted to include the schools, but you can’t create an island around them.

They don’t want the students, although if they did, it would definitely improve their chances of getting a new district. They claim that they are doing if for the MDUSD’s benefit too by helping to make them smaller, but apparently not if it includes the minorities in OG and YV.

Progress August 11, 2017 at 5:12 PM

MDSD and some teachers in the district (particularly the ones with the segregation allegation) need to work together towards one goal- What makes sense for a successful school district. Northgate Uncapped is nothing but a obstructionist movement that is not willing to help with any cause that makes sense financially or else.

WhoDat? August 11, 2017 at 6:33 PM

What a bunch of scum bags. We didn’t like the public school system here, so we paid for our child to attend quality private schools. We gave up our vacation plans, plans for a recreational boat, new cars, and all the other comfort purchases to make ends meet. We didn’t try to “secede’ from the district, confiscating district property while pushing out some of the current students. Too bad these a wipes cannot be prosecuted for being self-serving snobs.

AlwaysBePositive August 11, 2017 at 6:48 PM

Welcome to the new school year, lots of adults deciding what is best for the students based on their own agendas. Start school later in the morning, 6 weeks on two weeks off year-round school, dump textbooks and give kids laptops, pay teachers a full-time wage for a full time job.

@#19 nf
Careful about crowing about that discrimination criteria, I think it might have been met because the students attending all the schools in the area (YVHS and OGMS) were included. If they don’t join nusd I think there could still be a problem.

WC resident August 11, 2017 at 7:27 PM

It all seems rather irrelevant and a waste of our money by MDUSD. School Services of California, http://www.sscal.com, is a person you can hire to say something. This person is not a regulatory body nor does he or she have any direct influence on any regulatory bodies.

RegularBARTRider August 11, 2017 at 7:46 PM

I counted 18 links in the MDUSD press release on their website – but not a one seemed to be to the actual report put out by the consultant. Methinks MDUSD doesn’t want people to actually read what the consultant had to say. So much easier when you can just say whatever you want without letting anyone fact check you. Like the consultant didn’t seem to bother to fact check on the MDUSD’s school finder to see if, indeed, YV actually was assigned to Bancroft. Go ahead, enter the address for YV in the official school finder on the MDUSD website – there is no school assigned to the YV address.

MDUSD Parent August 12, 2017 at 11:53 AM

@Northgate parent. Wouldn’t you need at least another middle school? I an unfamiliar with the size of your middle school mentioned, but wouldn’t think one would be enough with three elementary schools feeding into it.

I grew up in Oakland and my mom didn’t believe in sending me to public school there so my parents sent me to private school. I am sure many families can afford this option if this falls through. My daughter goes to YV and she loves it. She is involved in many sports and other programs they have. No matter what school you go to, there will always be issues. It’s about what you and your child make of that time there.

Nothing But Lies August 12, 2017 at 4:25 PM

@MDUSD Parent

No need for another middle school, these elementary schools already feed into Foothill Middle School with the exception of about 24 Bancroft students that live in the split attendance area. They surely have enough room for these 24 students as they all are successful in transferring to Foothill now.

@RegularBARTRider

Good catch and I agree that MDUSD wants to dumb it down and feed parents/community only the information(or misinformation) they want to provide. Shame on you MDUSD.

@bookish

Not an island if you look at a correct map and not the map that MDUSD put out as “Fake News”. Those school addresses are not in the Bancroft attendance area. Go check for yourself.

@emerald1

The proposal never included these facilities without the students. Go ahead and give the proposal and read for yourself.

@FromClayton

You are severely misinformed. 90 of your freshman families chose to attend NG this year. Why do your families not choose to attend High schools that closest to you. Even YV is closer but your families do not chose that school. Stop coming over the hill to attend NG if this is what you think of the WC community.

@strad

Far from dead. It goes to the State Board of Education and the two criteria that did not substantially meet is easily be cleared up. Again, FAR from over.

@FrankG

You are completely misinformed. The Brian’s have no influence now or in the future.

@theyellowranger

Looks like you believe every lie MDUSD is telling you. The proposal never included the facilities or the students.

oiy!! August 12, 2017 at 9:46 PM

MDUSD can’t seem to tell the truth, now can they? And what’s up with Claycord? Claycord used to be the place to get real info. The editor must be affiliated with MDUSD.
Shame on you.

Truth be told, parents just don’t like how the district office handles school stuff. We don’t think they listen to what parent’s needs are, and we know they are more focused on the financial bottom line than on the development and education of the kids.

Parents are grateful that the teachers, school staff and volunteers bust their butts to help these kids in every way. But, we don’t see district office support for our kids. Sometimes we don’t even see support from the principal… but maybe, behind the scenes, his hand is forced by directives from district-specific rules, district finances and lack of support from them. But those kids still need to be supported and not pushed thru the system just because.

You want examples?
1. Pushing several Kinders to 1st grade who don’t know how to spell their name, the full alphabet, numbers to 30, or many common shapes. And don’t tell me they passed their tests. Shame on you! A requirment for passing the grade should at the very least be that they can spell their name and know the alphabet!
2. Denying requests for a teachers aid in a full classroom with 3 kids who need special assistance. The only reason one classroom got one, finally, half way thru the year, was because a parent paid, out of pocket to have multiple IEPs done to prove that help was necessary.
3. Placing kids in 1st grade based on age, rather than assessment. I know, the district is trying to combat the whole older kid in the class and sports issue. But what it boils down to is irresponsibility. No matter the age, the kids need the social interaction, basic curriculum and support received from each grade level. Not giving kids the attention and education they need because of this silly rule is only going to result in insecure kids who fall through the cracks… and just wait- the district office won’t even admit that their rule might have had anything to do with it, even after they’ve got 9th graders who still can’t read a Harry Potter book or understand math problems.

But you know who will know who’s fault this is? The parents! And they’ll be livid that the school system/district failed them, and it’ll be too late to do anything by then. Maybe those parents work all day, everyday, just to get by, so they can’t pay much attention to what the school is or isn’t doing. Maybe they have to trust that the school will advocate for their child and do what’s best for them, because the parent can’t physically be there to see how their child is doing compared to others in the same class.

It’s sad that this lack of support and these indiscrepancies from the district office, has driven several parents to the point of requesting complete separation.

Ajr August 13, 2017 at 2:58 AM

Quality education begins at home. Naysayers to MDUSD – pay more attention to what you are giving your kids at home. Creating a strong foundation for your student is what will contribute to your child’s success in the classroom REGARDLESS of school District make up. Northgate High School is a wonderful school and that is why the activists who represent NUSD want it. The school consistently appears is the top US High Schools reports of US News and World Report. Their instrumental jazz program ranks top in the state. Etc. etc. Yes the school is not perfect nor is MDUSD but neither are we parents. Just shut up and pay more attention at home.

HOT Mess August 13, 2017 at 8:30 AM

Mount Diablo hired the propaganda specialist from Dr Meyer’s former district San Diego Unified. The results down there were not positive and parents complained that as soon as San Diego was paying her 200 000 per year, there was little to no communication shared. One might ask why Mount Diablo needs the services of this person and how does it benefit the Mount Diablo community. Why should we be paying for this? Was it not bad enough to retain the services of the former General Counsel from San Diego? Is Ms Cooksey not up to standard? Do these people with no ties to our community have a genuine interest here or is this all drive by theater at the expense of the Claycord resident? Are we not good enough for these 200k a year jobs?

Progress August 13, 2017 at 10:22 AM

@Oyi I have the same observation about your comment on reporting news. CLAYCORD, please stay with the facts and do not take sides when reporting the news. All your readers are tired of biased news media. You do not want to become CNN.

Frank G. August 13, 2017 at 1:23 PM

@ Nothing But Lies
“the Brians’ ? Are you referencing Lawrence as in Steve and Brian? And you know for a fact that “the Brians ” have no influence now or in the future? Wow, Brian is going to be very unhappy when he finds he gave his allegiance to the NUSD proponents and will have no influence. When were going to tell him this? He needs to make new career plans

Clayton? August 14, 2017 at 5:13 PM

The reason Ngate wants out is because Hansen is untrustworthy and added Clayton residents to Ngate schools to protect her Clayton home values. Why not Concord high or YV which are both closer and YV under capacity? Because Clayton home values would drop with those schools assignments. Disgusting. Now the minority kids that have been allowed to transfer into Ngate wont be able to because Clayton kids are taking up their spots. Naval Station developers are giving someone money too.

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