District Parent Report

Parent Advisory Council (PAC)

Contact Cherise Khaund or Lila Samady, Walnut Acres District Liaisons for the Parent Advisory Council at districtrep@walnutacrespfc.net if you have questions or concerns you wish to have discussed at future PAC meetings.

Dr. Nellie Meyer, MDUSD Superintendent, organized the PAC to hear from representatives at each school.  She is interested in parents' input on topics such as Common Core and Local Control Funding. 

If you would like to provide input at the meetings, there is a public comment session.  
Meetings take place at Willow Creek Center, 1026 Mohr Lane, Concord, room D-4

PAC mtg notes 3-22-17 by Lila Samady

District Update from Dr. Meyer:

a.       Teacher of the Year: Two teachers selected from the District’s high schools. Previous year, selection was from middle school and the year before that, from the elementary school.

b.      Holbrook Elementary, the Language Immersion program is scheduled to open.

c.       Ygnacio Valley High School is approved to start an International Baccalaureate program

d.      Diablo Valley Middle School being verified for the Gold Ribbon Award

e.      Morgan Territory Road Closure: District is providing shuttle service to 46 affected students to ensure they are still able to attend school.

District Budget:

a.       District and schools are currently in the process of budget development.

b.      State Funding: Looks stable for the next year.

c.       Federal Funding:

1.       IDEA will continue to be funded at the current rate

2.       Title II ( Professional Development) is expected to be cut

3.       After School Programs expected to be cut. These cuts would mainly affect High Schools with 21st Century funding.

CALIFORNIA DASHBOARD

a.       The State has moved from using the single measurement API to multi-indicator rubrics to assess performance. The goal of the new system is to give a multi-faceted and detailed view of school performance rather than using a single measurement.

b.      Please refer to http://www.cde.ca.gov/ta/ac/cm/ to get detailed videos and presentations on how to best navigate and utilize the new system.

SUMMER SCHOOL UPDATE

a.       Schools will be offering summer school to students on invitation only to those students identified as high need for such services.

b.      Elementary schools offering Summer School are as follows: Bel Air, Cambridge, El Monte, Fair Oaks, Gregory Gardens, Meadow Homes, Shore Acres, Sun Terrace, Woodside, Wren

PAC mtg notes 1-17-17 by Lila Samady

District Updates

a.       Governor Brown released preliminary budget that may maintain current levels of funding for schools. There is little room for any new services

Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) Update

a.       Signed into law by President Obama in 2015

b.      Reauthorization of No Child Left Behind

c.                 Bipartisan support of the Bill

d.      Significantly increases responsibility of the State Board of Education through LCAP

1.       Significant Changes: Assessment

a.       Required Assessments: ELA and Math (grades 3-8,11), Science (grades 3-5, 6-9, 10-12)

b.      State Indicators: Academic, English Learner Composite, Graduation Rate, Suspension Rate, College and Career Readiness, Chronic Absenteeism, Local Performance Indicators.

2.       Significant Changes: Accountability

a.       States responsible for creating their own accountability system

b.      No federal mandates for performance

c.       States responsible for intervening in Title I schools

3.       Significant Changes: Title I

a.       SES funding

b.      School Choice and Transportation

4.       Significant Changes: Quality Instruction

a.       Elimination of ‘highly qualified teacher’ requirement from NCLB

b.      Teachers must meet State licensure requirements

c.       States and school districts must ensure that low income and underserved groups are not taught by ineffective/inexperienced teachers.

d.      States will make public all their measurement standards for teacher, principal, or school leader effectiveness.

Table Talk: Back to School Parent Conference

a.       Special Education may be at risk with possible cuts to SELPA in Federal  budget

b.      Opening Holbrook Elementary

Upcoming Events: Speaker’s Series

a.       What’s Going on with Math? February 1st, at 6pm Northgate High

Next Meeting March 22, 2017

PAC mtg notes 3-10-16 by Cherise Khaund

The Superintendent wasn't there because she was testifying against Rocketship up in Sacramento.  

District Updates:

Jennifer Sachs ran the meeting and gave the district updates.  During the meeting she got word that the State Board approved the Rocketship charter 8:1.  Prop 39 says the district has to offer space to the charter in the district, so MDUSD had offered Rocketship ½ of Ayers and ½ of Silverwood campuses.  A parent said that Guy Moore, MDEA President, had stated at a previous meeting that an investor in Rocketship owns apartments in the Monument corridor and is just bringing the school here so he can raise the rents.  The SPA performing arts middle school has been offered Riverview in Bay Point.

The district just received a Career Tech Ed grant for $1.9million.  They applied alone without partnering with the county.  It is a 3 year matching incentive grant from CA Dept of Education.  (CTEIG)  $ will go to High School pathways, but also to elementary and middle school, such as guest speakers, field trips, career days, teacher training on the new science standards “Engineering is Elementary” and the next generation outdoor education and Science & Engineering Fair. 

Counselor Updates:

Stephanie Roberts reported that counselors are coming back after being cut years ago.  It began with a pilot of 6 high school, 3 elementary, 2 middle school.  Then this year every high school has at least 2 FTE.  Next year HS will have at least 3FTE, Middle at least 2 (400:1).  Elementary school counselors are apparently not a common thing around the state, but they are going to have 13 across the 28 schools, and hope to add 4 more.  They learned it is hard to have a counselor at more than 3 schools, so aim to have every school get at least 2 days.

Healthy Kids Survey:

Mr. McCreary, former principal, is leading this survey effort.  For the first time, at the Superintendent’s request, parents will be surveyed as well.  Goal: 100% participation.  To not overwhelm students during testing, only 10 elementary schools will be chosen for the student survey.  All parents are invited to participate from all schools.  There is a separate link for each school survey, coming soon, April 5.  Parents should answer one survey per child.  Questions?  mccrearyj@mdusd.org

Uniform Complaint Procedures:

Tracking/follow up to ensure no complaint falls through the cracks is now led by Jennifer Sach’s office.  The Complaint Procedures are listed in the Parent Handbook – a link is on MDUSD website.

Public Comment:

Kim Harris brought up the Internet issue – lack of bandwidth, students can’t get on - at Northgate and I seconded her, citing Walnut Acres recent challenges.  Answer – they are working on it.  WAPs (Access Points) have been added at each school, but the total bandwidth still needs to be increased.  Apparently AT&T was considered in the past as an option so that all schools don’t go through one single pipeline, but was denied due to cost. 

I brought up instrumental music scheduling and got the same answer as in the past - that it is a site specific decision between principal and teachers.  I suggested scheduling it as an opt-out of vocal music or a longer school day, and Jennifer Sachs said with a laugh that she'd welcome me at the bargaining table... Greenwood PTA suggested a zero hour 7:30am and the answer was it would be an equity issue.

I asked about the influx of funds from the state and what funding would reach the schools, and the answer was that the overall LCAP plan would determine that, and will be the main agenda item at the May 5th PAC mtg.


PAC Mtg 9-17-15 notes by Lissa Biddle

The meeting had about 8 parents and 6 people from MDUSD.  Mary Louise Newling was not there. The supervisors for Middle and High school were. 

Dr. Meyer discussed the goals of the committee. A woman named Shannon (I believe) went over the new test scores from the district and the state and showed in detail how to interpret them. Personally I found it helpful. 

We discussed future agenda items, one of which was to detail what special programs or offerings were available at which schools. 

I spoke to Dr. Meyer after the meeting. She was aware of the Co Lab and the innovation committee and had heard good things about the group. She did not know what issue might be holding things up and when I asked what cana parent like me do to help, stated I could contact Ms Newling. 


PAC Meeting 5/20/15 notes by Sharon Lund

Dr. Meyer said a total of 30 counselors will be working at schools this Fall.   Elementary focus will be on social/emotional, Middle school will focus on career counseling/social, and High School will focus on academic support.  There is a need for more bilingual counselors.  Out of the current 30 counselors, only 1 is bilingual.

Funding for after-school athletic programs for Middle Schools will be provided by the District starting this Fall.  The sports will include basketball, soccer and football… along with another sport to be decided.  Parents asked that the other sport be more geared towards both sexes such as track….

5th grade instrumental music will continue this Fall, along with possibly 4th grade instrumental music.  The issue came up again of whether pulling children out during key class time such as math, science and writing is a good idea.  Dr. Meyer maintains it is a site decision and should be discussed directly with the school.  I asked whether it could be offered after school (which Dr. Dowd has also requested) such as the athletic programs this Fall, but Dr. Meyer says, for the athletic programs, the District will pay P.E. teachers a stipend to pay for them to stay after school.  She isn’t sure whether there are teachers who could do this for music at schools and it would have to be available for all schools if it’s offered in the District.

The attendees broke into groups to provide feedback to the District on the Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP) for next year.

About 16 people attended the meeting.

Notes from PAC meeting on 3/10/15:
Prior to this meeting, I sent Dr. Meyer the below information from the PFC Executive Board.  Dr. Meyer had requested that schools look at their PFC budgets and determine what financial items they believe the District should be funding given that there is new state/federal money and more local control of the funds:  

The PFC Exec Board would like to express that the best use of available funds would be to decrease class sizes.  This ultimately would cut the PFC's staffing costs because hours for aides could be reduced.

 

We would also like to stress that the goal of the PFC is to use our funds to provide enrichment and academic support to our students.  It seems it is the obligation of the District to pay for things like computer/printer supplies, copier support, instructional supplies, etc.  Sometimes we even pay for soap for the bathrooms!

 

The "big ticket" items we think MDUSD should pay for:

Counselor

Site Tech

Classroom Aides -- especially in TK and 1st grade


At the meeting, Dr. Meyer acknowledged that she had received my e-mail and would review it with staff.  About 15 school representatives were present at the meeting.

Dr. Meyer said Smarter Balanced Testing will take place in April and May.  The District has advised the state that the tests take twice as long as previous student testing and that the tests should be made shorter.

Dr. Meyer says there has been concern District-wide over too many substitutes being utilized for teacher training time.  She said they are working at implementing more summer training so that teachers are not pulled out from class as much during the school year.

A presentation on Discipline took place during the meeting.  One school representative suggested more help for those that experience cyber-bullying.

Staff also handed out a "hot off the press" summary of what schools should receive in funding from the District.  Staff says this type of record across schools hasn't been done before and they will try to update the funding and be transparent as possible with funding for each school.  Principals will receive these updates.  Please see Dr. Dowd for more information and hand-out.


Notes from PAC meeting on 1/20/15:

About 11 parents attended the afternoon meeting.

 In the Public Comment session (which lasted about an hour), parents brought up the question of when is it appropriate to Expel?  Defiance is not enough reason to expel.  Superintendent says she will communicate with Principals to better explain the Suspension/expulsion policies and to empower administrators to manage disruptive students.  Some parents complained that repeat offenders have become aware that they won't be expelled so they haven't stopped behavior.

 Hidden Valley parent rep asked why the PFC is paying for the tech person, book room, copy machine supplies… basic things that the District should provide.  Dr. Meyer said she had some promising news that the District is working to provide a Tech Person as a Base at all elementary schools… hopefully by next school year.  The tech person would not be for every day but at least some District funding would be provided for this position.

 Dr. Meyer said some schools had requested access to YouTube and Twitter to use as educational tools so she said they have lifted some restrictions per these requests.  She encourages other schools that if they need to access certain websites for educational tools, they should contact the Director of Technology, Joe Estrada.

 Foothill rep asked Dr. Meyer if there could be any funds for the aging landscaping and restrooms, facility upgrades…  Dr. Meyer said the Bond didn't cover that.

 Dr. Meyer said math positions have been filled…. there's still an overall shortage of teachers though so contact human resources if you have any referrals.

 **Foothill rep also said the Parent Club just bought tables so that students could eat at tables instead of sitting on concrete.  She questioned why the District doesn't fund such basic necessities.  Dr. Meyer agreed that enough tables should be provided by the District for students and encouraged school parent organizations to go through their list of expenditures and if there appears to be items that the District should pay for, please contact her/the District and see if funding is available.

 

As for teachers, Dr. Meyer said the District will be hiring January through March instead of August this year…

 **Lori O'Brien with the District gave a presentation about Targeted Supplemental Fund, which is money used for ESL, Foster Youth and Low Income students.  She had parents study different scenarios to see if a school that doesn't have a lot of the Targeted population, could still request District funding as long as it serves the population while benefitting the entire school.  She encouraged schools to get creative with how they could show the District that funds should be given and will help all students on campus.  (She suggested take a closer look at our school's Single Plan for Student Achievement)

 

I asked about Class-Size Reduction since Dr. Dowd had requested that I look into that if possible…  Dr. Meyer said the wording now is "Grade Span Average," not necessarily "Class-Size Reduction" because the District's goal is to reduce the number of students per class on average across the entire grade, but not necessarily commit to reducing to a certain number in each class.  For instance, one class in 2nd grade might have 25 students, while another 2nd grade class might have 23 students.  Dr. Meyer says the District's target Grade Span Average for 2021 is 24:1 in K-3.

 The District also said it was proud of the Instrumental Music Pullout Program for 5th graders and that 49 % of students have chosen to take part in it.  I reiterated the challenges Walnut Acres has had, with children having to choose between this music program and missing out on key instructional time such as math, science and writing.  Dr. Meyer and Ms. O'Brien said staff is still working on offering it at a better time at Walnut Acres.  I commented that perhaps if they could resolve the issue, they'd have higher than 49% participation in the new program.



Notes from PAC meeting on 11/18/14:

               1.  Counselor Services:  New funding will only go to high school and middle schools considered in 3 year plan.  Elementary school PFC's still need to fund  own counselors.

               2.  5th Grade Instrumental Music Pullout Program:  Dr. Meyer said she visited the Walnut Acres music class and was happy to see kids with instruments in their hands.  She has also heard feedback/concern from the teachers about the scheduling.  She says it is a "site decision" on how to make it a better schedule that works for the teachers/students and that a "before or after school" program is not an option.   Right now, students are pulled out during math, science and writing rotations on Wednesdays and Fridays.  (Unfortunately, my daughter Alyssa,  dropped out of the program in December because she felt uncomfortable missing important class time.  For instance, she loves writing and one day, her teacher announced they would be turning their stories into books!  She was very excited to hear this, but then all music students were excused to go to music class.  When she returned, she was given a sheet of paper explaining how to turn her story into a book.  She tried to learn it on her own during free computer time but was unable to do so and she noticed her teacher looked very busy so she didn't want to bother him.  She took it home and fortunately, we were able to help her out and make a book…which she was very proud of, I must say!). 

               If any parent is concerned about this instrumental music pullout program or wants to provide feedback, he/she should contact District Superintendent Dr. Meyer.  The 5th grade teachers and Dr. Dowd have already tried to ask the District to send the music teacher to our school when it won't disrupt key class time.  A couple parents on the School Site Council who have children who will be in 5th grade next school year have said they are planning on contacting the District as well to come up with a better time to provide these wonderful music lessons to all 5th grade children at Walnut Acres.  Please feel free to voice your opinion to the District. 

               3.  There is a serious math teacher shortage in the District.  Many parents were very unhappy and irate about the situation at their schools… some parents said their children have had rotating substitutes since the beginning of the school year.  The PAC reps who spoke said they don't believe the substitutes are qualified to teach the math lessons and there's no consistency/accountability.  The parents demanded Dr. Meyer expedite the recruitment/retention of qualified math teachers.  (Given this dire situation regarding the math teacher shortage, I did not feel Walnut Acres' challenges with the instrumental music pullout program was a top priority for the District!).

               4.  Break out session-- Dr. Meyer wanted to hear from parents at each school on the great things that are happening on each campus.  I shared programs such as the Peace Path, Computer on Wheels, etc.  The North Gate representative, Ruth Carver, mentioned that North Gate recently voted against buying more iPads for the classrooms (this concerned me at the time because our PFC had just approved a big purchase of iPads for the classrooms at Walnut Acres).  I spoke at the School Site Council about this difference in opinion regarding iPads at North Gate (Carver says they wanted to purchase devices that are more compatible for students to take the Common Core tests and become more familiar with using keyboards).  Dr. Dowd said for elementary school, iPads are useful because they are user-friendly for the children and our students have been very successful and happy with the programs they are doing on the iPads.  SSC members agreed and think the iPads are helpful and great tools for our students.


Feel free to contact districtrep@walnutacrespfc.net with questions. Website reports of the monthly Parent Advisory Council meetings will be posted prior to the Walnut Acres PFC meetings.