Kickoff 2022 Success

I am overwhelmed with gratitude to all of you who came out to my kickoff event!
It was so wonderful to reconnect in person with you, especially right before our district kicked off the first day of school the next day.
I dropped off all the backpacks and school supplies we collected to the district for this Saturday’s parent conference event. Thank you to all who contributed!
Special thanks to my campaign team who made this event possible:
  • Campaign manager Aasim Yahya who spoke so eloquently last night,
  • my mom & fab assistant Mary Kay Melton, who brought wonderful friends from Viamonte at Walnut Creek,
  • treasurer Erin Roeder,
  • graphic designer Julie Contreras, Urban Bird Design,
  • event organizers Ernie DeTrinidad, Meg Honey, Natalie Karas Ivankovich, Janine Payne Schneir

And to my fellow electeds who came, whose collaboration makes such a difference in our ability to serve students & families:

  • Clayton Mayor Peter Cloven
  • Clayton Vice Mayor Holly Tillman
  • Contra Costa District Attorney Diana Becton 
  • Walnut Creek Councilmember Kevin Wilk
  • Contra Costa Community College Board member Rebecca Barrett
  • former MDUSD board member Joan Pierce

Whether we end up with an opponent in this race or not, I know that this group will continue to work together to make a difference in improving the quality of our public education for EVERY Mt. Diablo student.

For those who couldn’t make it in person but reached out with endorsements & donations, thank you and I hope to see you soon.

I hope you all are having a wonderful first few days of school!!

  
  
  
   
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Announcing Early Endorsers!

Wow this campaign is off with a running start, thanks to the early support of many organizations, electeds, and individuals including:

Organizations:

 

Evolve California

Contra Costa Building & Construction Trades Council  

Teamsters Local 856   

Elected Officials:

  • Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer Kahan
  • County Board of Supervisors, Karen Mitchoff
  • Mayor of Walnut Creek, Matt Francois
  • Walnut Creek City Councilmember, Kevin Wilk
  • Walnut Creek City Councilmember, Cindy Darling
  • Mayor of Clayton, Peter Cloven
  • Vice Mayor of Clayton, Holly Tillman
  • Concord City Councilmember, Carlyn Obringer
  • Pleasant Hill City Councilmember, Matt Rinn
  • Contra Costa Community College Board member, Rebecca Barrett
  • Martinez Unified School District Board member, Courtney Masella O'Brien
  • Martinez Unified School District Board member, Anne Horack Martin

Check out the full list and add your name at cherisekhaund.com/endorsements 

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You're invited to my 2022 kickoff

You're invited to our first event of the 2022 campaign!  I hope to see you there, and feel free to forward this or share my social media to invite your friends too. 

Busy?  That's ok, here are more ways you can help:

I look forward to seeing you soon!

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I'm Running for Re-Election

#BREAKINGNEWS - I’m excited to announce that this week I pulled papers to run for re-election to our Mt Diablo Unified School District Board!  

This time the election is by Trustee Area, and I’m here in Trustee Area 4 —which includes the cities of Walnut Creek, Clayton, and part of Concord.

I’m proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish so far in my first term:

  • Increased student voice through creation of the official student school board position and championing student leadership opportunities
  • Opened schools safely during a global pandemic, following county health guidance
  • Upgraded technology with 1:1 chromebooks for every student grades 2-12
  • Adopted needed Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) curriculum
  • Improved district finances from qualified to a positive certified budget, and refinanced bonds to save taxpayers millions
  • Secured raises for all teachers & staff, via contracts with every employee group
  • Improved communication in all languages, email & text via ParentSquare, Superintendent Friday letter, and weekly Organization Updates
  • Passed board policy to enable students to take a sick day for mental health
  • Authored the district’s first PRIDE Board Resolution, flying the rainbow flag to raise awareness and inclusivity. Championed the first ever districtwide PRIDE prom.

And yet there is still much to do.

I look forward to the progress we can make together in the next four years, especially to:

  • Prepare every student for success in a global economy
  • Listen to parents, teachers & staff from every community
  • Invest every dollar wisely & clearly for student success
  • Adopt updated curriculum in areas such as history & math
  • Ensure safety in and around our schools

Join us! Please click to Join on my website https://www.cherisekhaund.com/join

 

(p.s. If you previously joined my email list with a school district email address for my board member updates, you will need to re-join now with a private email address in order to receive any campaign messages. Any district email addresses will be removed.)

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Northgate petition was denied by State Board of Education

Last Wednesday I presented with a team on behalf of our district to the CA State Board of Education, sharing detailed data as to why they should reject the petition to create a new Northgate school district.  

After presentations and public comment, the ten State Board of Education members voted unanimously to reject the petition. 

A huge thank you to my fellow team presenters which included expert legal & data team David Soldani and Shin Green, as well as Meg Honey, who volunteered so much of her busy summertime to bring her teacher/parent perspective and expertise on nationwide trends of segregation to the table.  This was all well supported by Superintendent Clark, his cabinet, and especially his assistant Laura Juranek, PIO Theresa Herrington and district IT team Eric Stephens & Mario Hernandez.

And thank you to each of YOU - parents, teachers, community members, staff, elected officials - who wrote or called in to the State Board!

One of the board members even described public comment as "thunderous". One hundred percent of the public comment calls were in opposition to the petition.

Details are posted at mdusd.org/northgatepetitionupdate, and a recording of the July 13th State Board meeting will be posted at the Board archived meeting page

Settling this issue means that we can now unite in working TOGETHER for excellent education for all.

There are so many ways for everyone to get involved, and all of your perspectives are important:

  • Visit this district page to see how to volunteer in a classroom or join a district parent or student advisory committee,

  • ask your principal how to join your school site council,

  • join your school parent group - PTA, PFC or PFA, or

  • volunteer for the community led nonprofit Mt. Diablo Education Foundation.

I started my involvement as a kindergarten room parent, and from there volunteered in different ways each year - from organizing the school science fair or bike to school day, to coordinating with my city for safer routes to school. I've been a PFC president and PTSA member, so I love to share tips between parent groups.  

What are your ideas?  I'd love to hear them. Please reach out to me directly or attend one of my coffee meetups.

Together we can build even stronger public schools & communities for everyone.

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Action Alert: tell SBE to reject Northgate petition

#ActionAlert - Did you know the State Board of Education will be hearing the appeal next week of the Northgate petition to form a new school district?

Your perspective is needed!  Please e-mail the state board of education today/tomorrow to ask them to reject the Northgate district petition, then sign up to participate in the hearing next Wednesday.

  1. SUBMIT EMAIL COMMENTS BY NOON TOMORROW (FRIDAY, JULY 8th) 
    • Email: [email protected]
    • The following information should be included in the body of the email:
      • Commenter’s first and last name
      • Organization affiliation
      • Agenda Item number 5.
  2. Then sign up here to let us know you can join us July 13 in attending the hearing to comment in Sacramento or by phone.

Visit the MDUSD webpage for more detailed information that is updated regularly: https://www.mdusd.org/northgatepetitionupdate

Northgate Petition Update

Public Hearing Set on Northgate Petition

Please take notice that the hearing on the petition to create a "Northgate Unified School District" carved from Mt. Diablo Unified School District territory including the following schools and attendance areas: Bancroft Elementary, Valle Verde Elementary, Walnut Acres Elementary, Foothill Middle, and Northgate High School, will be held on Wednesday, July 13, 2022, at or soon after 12:00 PM.

The petition was previously denied by the Contra Costa County Committee on School District Reorganization because it failed to meet the criteria necessary to approve such a petition, including:

  • the petition would not result in an equitable division of property between the districts;
  • each affected district would not have the ability to educate its students in an integrated environment and would promote ethnic discrimination or segregation; 
  • the petition would not promote sound educational performance and would significantly disrupt the educational programs in the affected districts;
  • the petition would increase school facilities costs in a significant way;
  • the petition would not promote sound fiscal management and would create negative effects on the fiscal statuses of each district.

MDUSD values its ability to offer the best quality education to all its students in educational environments that center inclusion and promote respect, collaboration and creativity, and therefore opposes the petition.  

A live broadcast of the hearing will be available here.

Additional details can be found in the agenda here (Item 05).

Need inspiration for your email?

Here's a basic template for you to personalize, plus see my message below, and you can check out testimonials from community residents posted on the Northgate Uncapped facebook page.

To: [email protected]
Subject: Comment In Opposition to Petition to Form Northgate Unified School District; Item 05

In the body of the email:

Dear Members of the State Board of Education:

My name is __________________. I am (affiliated with the ____________ (organization) and/or I am (a parent of a district student that would be negatively impacted by the formation of Northgate Unified School District) and/or (I am a teacher/board member/staff member of the Mt. Diablo Unified School District).

I wish to express my unequivocal opposition to this Petition because __________________(insert specific reasons).

Should you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at this email address or by phone at (____) _________.

Thank you for your consideration of my comments.

And here’s a copy of what I sent:

Dear State Board of Education,

Please vote to reject the petition to form a new Northgate school district - Agenda Item #5.

I agree with the California Department of Education (CDE) recommendation that you - the State Board of Education - should disapprove it, and with their concerns about how this proposal would remove the most affluent area of the Mt. Diablo USD to create a less diverse school district.

In addition to the criteria that the CDE cited as not met, I believe that at least 2 more of the state criteria to form a new district also failed:

  • #4 - no segregation of schools and
  • #6 - don't significantly disrupt educational programs.

The county board voted that these two criteria also failed.

The CDE report recognized the issue of segregation as a concern, realizing the national trend of splinter districts being formed by affluent areas in order to cement in segregation before any districtwide integration efforts can be put into place. Therefore they should have found criteria #4 to be "not met', just as the county board did. And the report failed to recognize all of the key educational programs that would be severely impacted.

The diversity of Mt Diablo school district is one of the things that drew my family to enroll our children here, along with excellent programs such as Dual Language Immersion, International Baccalaureate, and Autism magnet programs. I don't want my own or other Northgate area students to lose access to all of this, nor do I want to see the Eagle Peak Montessori School lose its longstanding charter under MDUSD.

Though they were not mentioned in the CDE staff report, Ygnacio Valley High now has the only International Baccalaureate Diploma programme in the region, a gem of excellence that currently all MDUSD students have access to. And all MDUSD students can also apply to enroll in College Now, a partnership with DVC where students get dual college credit while still in high school. Northgate area students would lose access to all of this if they have to leave the Mt Diablo school district. Plus, students from the rest of Mt Diablo would lose access to the Northgate area schools where many are currently enrolled for speciality programs - such as the Autism magnet pathway, AP Computer Science, and the Northgate High award winning jazz band.

Most egregious is the request by petitioners to allow only Northgate area residents to vote on the proposal if it moves forward, which the Mayor of Concord said would disenfranchise 85% of voters in the district.

I was part of a coalition of parents, teachers, and community that founded the new nonprofit Mt. Diablo Education Foundation five years ago to ensure that all Mt Diablo students could access quality education, regardless of zip code. Together as one community and district, we can continue to build excellent educational opportunities for all students.

Please don't disrupt the progress we are making in building more diverse, inclusive public schools. Please vote no on this Northgate petition.

Should you have any questions, please feel free to contact me. Thank you for your consideration of my comments.

- Cherise Khaund, MDUSD School Board member Trustee area 4, and parent of 2 MDUSD students

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Happy election day 2022

HAPPY ELECTION DAY!

Today, Tuesday, June 7, is the Primary Election for voters across California, so don’t forget to VOTE!

Your vote will make a big difference for the decisions made about health, safety & justice in our community.

Polls are open now and up until 8pm. Make your plan to vote and ask your friends and family to as well.

Drop off your ballot at any drop box or polling location in our county, or vote in person at your assigned polling place or any polling place in the county. Click here for locations.

City Council Safe Gun Storage Ordinance 

TONIGHT the Walnut Creek City Council is discussing a safe gun storage ordinance in their city council meeting. I’ll be there with Moms Demand Action to speak in support.

Click here for the agenda & how to participate. Meeting begins at 6pm and there are other items before this one. Let me know if you can join us there!

Here’s an article on how the city of Dublin successfully passed a similar ordinance already.

School Board meeting tomorrow, June 8th

Lastly, we have a busy Mt Diablo school board agenda planned for tomorrow night, including

  • a public hearing on our LCAP (local control accountability plan)

  • a resolution opposing a reorganization of the Northgate area on appeal to the State Board of Education

  • seven personnel appointments

  • a wellness assessment presentation

  • the draft 2022-23 budget

and more.

Find details & how to participate at https://www.mdusd.org/boardmeetings

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school safety

Yesterday's school massacre in Texas was horrific, compelling us all to mourn and then consider how to keep our own children and school staff safe. In the last few months we've also been impacted by multiple incidents of gun violence here in the city of Concord near a number of our schools. Much of this needs to be addressed on a nationwide level with common sense policy on access to guns, however we all need to do our part.  Cities like Concord should replicate what has worked in other cities, like the gun storage ordinance and free gun lock giveaway that the city of Dublin implemented. I'm thankful to our local Moms Demand Action leaders for sharing these best practices.

Here I want to share how you can find out what the Mt Diablo school district and school sites are doing to keep everyone safe, as well as what research shows is most effective in preventing violence on school grounds.

  1. Dr Clark sent out this list of resources to all families today, to help us all in discussing the tragic news from Texas. It also included a guide for school Administrators from the National Association of School Psychologists.
  2. To find out more about specifically what safety precautions and plans are in place at your school site, reach out to your principal or any member of your school site council. Every school site has a comprehensive school safety plan that is reviewed annually by the principal and school site council, which includes teachers, staff, parents and students.
    • You can view every school safety plans here on the district website (however, there are redacted sections on these because they are publicly posted)
    • These safety plans cover a wide range of potential emergencies to prepare for, and include an Active Shooter Quick Reference Guide

Our board approves these safety plans annually, but really depends on each local site council & team to tailor plans specifically to their site and make sure that a comprehensive team is well prepared.  At our last board meeting, I requested that these plans get updated with the latest research on what works best to prevent violence in schools.

Here is a must-read research based document: How Can We Prevent Gun Violence in Schools   It includes:

What We Know about Gun Violence in Schools:

  • School shooters usually have a connection to the school
  • Guns used by shooters under 18 usually come from home or a friend's home
  • There are warning signs before an act of targeted school violence occurs

How Can We Prevent Gun Violence:

  • Keep guns out of the wrong hands with laws on gun sales, safe gun storage, background checks and more
  • School based interventions including:
    • Create a safe and affirming school climate - community schools are recommended
    • Identify students at risk to themselves or others via anonymous tip line and threat assessments
    • Invest in school based mental health services
    • Provide secure gun storage information to parents (MDUSD has done this regularly via the BeSMART program)
    • Basic security measures like controlled access and interior door locks

What Safety Measures have been Harmful to Students:

  • Arming teachers
  • Over policing
  • Active shooter drills, especially if unannounced & extreme

So, what can you do?

  1. Join or connect with your school site council & principal to learn more about your school safety plan
  2. Build strong relationships with students & families on your school campus 
  3. Educate about safe gun storage: share out the BeSMART program with your PTA or school network
  4. Ask your city council to replicate Dublin's gun storage ordinance and free gun lock giveaway
  5. Advocate with Moms Demand Action for common sense gun legislation - text Ready to 644-33 or follow them on Facebook

And let me know how it's going.

To me as a mom, this is personal, and I believe that together we can make our schools & communities safer for everyone.

 

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celebration month

Coffee Meetup Tomorrow - Friday May 13th, 8:45am

Our last meetup went so well, I decided to schedule a 2nd one. If your schedule allows, swing by Contra Costa Coffee in Walnut Creek between 8:45am-10:30am tomorrow. Let’s connect!

Celebration month

The month of May is full of celebrations in our public schools, including

  • May 1st School Principals Day
  • May 2-6th National Teacher Appreciation Week & School Nutrition Employee Week
  • May 6th School Lunch Hero Day
  • May 11th CA Day of the Teacher, National School Nurse Day
  • May 15-21st Classified School Employee Week
  • May 18th National Speech Pathologist Day

Though I wasn’t able to keep up with each specific day, I want you to know how much I appreciate every single employee of our district for the dedication you each bring to your part of creating quality public education for all students.  Thank you!!

May 6th Superintendent Letter 

I’ll write another more detailed post about last night’s school board meeting, but for now enjoy the May 6th Friday letter, and please share all the Friday letters with your community groups & networks.

This one includes: Mt. Diablo HS teacher is selected as a County Teacher of the Year finalist; Olympic HS Dream Team earns Continuation Education Association Awards; District news including Digital Art Showcase at Sunvalley Shopping Center; School news including BMX assembly at Pine Hollow MS; District and School Staff Social Media Shout-outs; Student Spotlights; important dates and more!

View all Friday letters and Organizational Updates at https://mdusd.org/superintendent

Open Job Listings to Share

There are many open jobs in our district with new higher salaries, for all levels of skills & experience, part-time or full-time, so please share this link far and wide: EDJOIN.ORG/MTDIABLO

Teamwork makes the Dream Work

I had the opportunity to be on 2 teams this week:

On Saturday my "New Kids on the Bocce" team raised $ for the Mt Diablo Education Foundation 

 

and yesterday I got to cut and bend rebar with this team of Mt Diablo High students at the Habitat for Humanity Esparanza Place building site in Walnut Creek. I love power tools, and seeing how much more we can get done together than any one person can do alone!

 

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So Much Good News

Happy Easter, Ramadan, Passover, or Bihu to all who celebrate!  

This week I had planned a coffee meetup for Friday April 22nd, but instead I will be attending the San Ramon regional PTA Advocacy Day: https://www.srvcouncilpta.org/ad22-2. Let me know if you’d like to join me there!  Then the following Friday April 29th will be our coffee meetup at 9am at Contra Costa Coffee in Walnut Creek. Stop by for a chat if you can make it, I’d love to see you. I’ll share more about how you can help fully fund our public schools.

We have so much great news to share from our Mt Diablo schools right now, as well as important information. Read on for:

  • April 15th Friday letter - don’t miss it
  • School Board meetings - science curriculum adopted!
  • High School Juniors - check out BigFutures.org & ImmigrantsRising.org
  • Open Job Listings to Share
  • Ride for Jose Castillo

April 15th Friday Letter - Don’t Miss It

Don’t miss the April 15th Friday letter, as it has so much great information to celebrate!  Please share this news with your networks.

It includes: Riverview MS students explore the Bay Point Regional Seashore, District news including Unified Sports at YVHS is a success; School news including Valhalla PFA DREAM committee highlights Diversity, Respect, Equity, Action and Multiculturalism; Staff Spotlights on a former District and CA Teacher of the Year, MDUSD's Director of Technology & Innovation, and a stand-out history teacher; Student Spotlights including athletes in the news and Social Media Shout-outs; important dates, and more!

View all Friday letters and Organizational Updates at https://mdusd.org/superintendent

School Board meetings

The April 13th school board meeting was such a joy, including the exciting adoption of our NGSS (Next Generation Science Standards) curriculum for elementary and high school. Here’s a summary from the Friday letter: 

At Wednesday's School Board meeting, trustees unanimously approved the District's Tentative Agreement with the MDEA teachers' union and a mascot change from the Warriors to the Wolves at Ygnacio Valley High School. In addition, the Board approved Next Generation Science Standards materials for elementary and high school students that drew enthusiastic endorsements from teachers, who mentioned squid dissection as a highlight of the elementary curriculum. The Board also approved the appointment of Ivanna Huthman as the new Administrator of Dispute Resolution in the District's Special Education Department, as well as Summer School administrator appointments

In addition, the Board recognized April as Arab American Heritage Month and approved a resolution In Recognition of Earth Day on April 22nd and a Call to Action on Climate Change. Also, Superintendent Dr. Adam Clark reported on efforts to improve outcomes for all students in the District, Business Services Department administrators reported on a plan to reorganize Maintenance, Operations and Facilities staffing, Dr. Heather Fontanilla reported on new proposed Career Pathways courses for Construction I and Animation III, and District administrators reported on a proposed grant to improve A-G course completion required for CSU and UC admissions by high school students. A complete summary of the Board's actions is here.

Our next board meeting is April 27th, where we get to recognize our Teachers of the Year! 

Find all agendas, videos, and how to participate at mdusd.org/boardmeetings.

High School Juniors - Check out BigFutures.org & immigrantsrising.org

Every high school junior should begin to explore their options for education beyond high school. There are many opportunities of all types, as well as scholarships and grants to help pay for them.  Take a look at BigFutures.org, a site run by the College Board, where students can create a list of schools they might be interested in applying to, take mini SAT practice quizzes, find financial aid, and win scholarship money.

If you want to take the SAT, the next dates are May 7 and June 4th, and the test location in our district is Ygnacio Valley High. Be sure to register early because sites fill up quickly with students from all over the region.

Are you or is a student you know undocumented? That should not stop anyone from pursuing higher education. Visit https://immigrantsrising.org/ for information about the CA Dream Act financial aid application, mentorship, and resources for careers and entrepreneurship.

Open Job Listings to Share

There are many open jobs in our district for all levels of skills & experience, part-time or full-time, so please share this link far and wide: EDJOIN.ORG/MTDIABLO

The new higher salaries are starting to be listed, so please share these jobs with your diverse networks. We look forward to welcoming excellent new members to #TeamMDUSD!

Ride for Jose Castillo

It was very emotional for me to bike in the “Ride for Jose Castillo” on Saturday, organized by Bike Concord and students from Mt Diablo High. Much love to the entire community who feel this great loss.  Here is a photo of student leader/organizer Anahi, who shared that the poster she’s holding was made by Jose’s classmates and friends, given by teacher Dr Snyder to Jose’s family.

 

We must all continue to champion safe routes to walk & bike to school in every part of our district, and collaborate with cities to prevent tragedies like this from happening again. The good news is that we have so many dedicated community members, educators, and student leaders who are working hard every day to build healthier, safer communities for us all. 

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