Happy election day 2022


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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How YOU can help fully fund our public schools

We’ve recently heard from many teachers, parents, and community members who passionately believe that our Mt Diablo schools should be offering more - more music, art and science, as well as providing more counselors, nurses, librarians, smaller class sizes and higher salaries. Our school board agrees, but the vast majority of CA public school funding comes from the state, which we do not directly control. Therefore we've had to make tough decisions to carefully balance student offerings and salary raises within the confines of finite resources and declining enrollment. 

The good news is that we can all work together to fully fund our public schools here in Mt Diablo and across California! 

Here are 4 concrete ways you can join in:

  1. Share your story: Personal narratives are key to any successful movement. For 40 years, California has systematically disinvested from our public schools. Whether you’re a parent, teacher, staff, student or community member, your story needs to be heard. Go to evolve-ca.org to share your story and join their movement to fully fund California’s public schools. 
  2. Raise the Base: The biggest push right now that groups are coalescing around is asking the state legislature to “Raise the Base” per student state funding to public schools. The San Ramon regional PTA is holding an event on this topic on April 22: https://www.srvcouncilpta.org/ad22-2  They also have this helpful info page.
  3. Educate yourself: Ed100.org provides free short lessons on how California’s education system works, with key information about how parents and students can get involved at the school, district, or state level.  Create a free login and earn tickets towards monthly drawings where you could win up to $1000 for your school.  
    • They also run California’s largest annual conference for student leaders, which this year will be held June 20-22, 2022. Every high school should be represented by at least one freshman, at least one sophomore, and at least one junior. You don’t have to be an official student leader to join. Is your school represented? As of today it looks like only College Park High is. Keep track hereStudents can register directly, and educators & parent leaders are encouraged to sign up as an ally to nominate students & spread the word. Sign up at https://ed100.org/blog/student-leader-academy
  4. Local fundraising: A group of parent, teacher and business volunteers created the nonprofit MDUSD Education Foundation in 2016, to raise money for Mt Diablo School District STEAM and career/college programs.  They aim to ensure that no matter what zip code you live in, you’ll receive a quality education here in our public schools.  
    • Check out mdedf.org to donate or to volunteer on a committee or board.
    • Are you a realtor or business owner?  Join their Honor Roll Business or Professional programs to showcase your commitment to our local schools.

Interested?  Let's meet in person to discuss! 

Now that places are open again, I'd love to connect with you.  Let's start with anyone who would like to join me at a locally run coffee shop, so that we can support local small business at the same time.  Come to "Coffee with Cherise" at 9am on

Can't make it? Let me know other ways to connect - I'm happy to visit PTA/PFC meetings, neighborhood groups, etc.


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Agreements reached

I have not written for some time, while both Omicron and union negotiations took center stage. It was incredibly disheartening, but I’m glad to say that after a ton of diligent work by many, the clouds are parting. Contracts have been agreed on and ratified by both our school board and the membership of MDSPA (school psychologists) and Teamsters.  And on March 19th a Tentative Agreement was reached with MDEA (teachers), averting a potential strike.  

It is crucial now for us all to unify once again.  After so much negativity and misinformation flooding our community, we must move on to support and champion our local public schools together. Each of us can do this by highlighting and sharing the many successes & opportunities of our Mt Diablo school district.  For example, today three Mt Diablo students won Youth Hall of Fame Awards at the County Board of Supervisors Cesar E Chavez Celebration. Congratulations to Mark Rainier Catapusan from YVHS for the Perseverance Award, Seena Farhadi from NGHS for the Leadership & Civic Engagement Award, and to Krish Veluthakkal from Sequoia Middle School for the Leadership & Civic Engagement Rising Star Award!

Read on for:

  • Open Job Listings to Share

  • Seniors - fill out your FAFSA or CADAA by April 1st
  • School Board meetings
  • Superintendent Friday Letters

  • Next blog - how to increase funding for our public schools

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 get listed as each of the agreements are ratified by employee groups and the board. We look forward to welcoming excellent new members to #TeamMDUSD!

High School Seniors - fill out your FAFSA or CADAA by April 1st

Did you know the deadline was extended for financial aid forms?  

EVERY senior should turn in either the FAFSA or CADAA by April 1st. 

These make you eligible to receive money to help with college, DVC, or Adult/Career Education. How to Apply: https://www.csac.ca.gov/how-apply

School Board Meetings

At our March 23rd board meeting, we voted to approve the Teamsters agreement, and celebrated their hard work and creativity in crafting a win/win agreement with overwhelming support from their members.

We also recognized Adult Education Week - check out the wide range of Mt Diablo Adult Ed offerings here, from parent education, family literacy and cooperative preschool, to career tech certification and English as a Second Language: https://mdae-mdusd-ca.schoolloop.com/ 

Students then took center stage, with YVHS students presenting how they are building school unity around a new mascot, and MDHS students advocating for retroactive granting of high school diplomas due to Japanese internment.   

Our next board meeting is April 13. Find all agendas, videos, and how to participate at mdusd.org/boardmeetings.

Superintendent Friday Letters

If you are a community member or leader who does not receive the Friday letters directly in your email, I recommend you view them at https://mdusd.org/superintendent. They are full of successes that you can share out to your network to champion our local public schools, and the Organizational Updates there show reports from every department from facilities to fiscal. 

The March 18th letter included: A closer look at three Teacher of the Year finalists; District news including Teamsters Union reaches Tentative Agreement; Ygnacio Valley High's Robotics Team hosts "Robot Reveal"; Staff News and Social Media Shout-outs; Student Athlete spotlights, important dates, and more!  

The March 25th letter included: Students advocate for a mascot change and honorary diplomas for those interned during WWII at recent School Board meeting; the community mourns the loss of a YVHS student; District news including Riverview MS Tree Planting Day was a success and MDUSD is hiring for many different positions; School news including actor and comedian Zooms into Northgate Film Studies Class.

Next blog - How to Increase Funding for our Public Schools

Stay tuned for my next blog, where I will write in detail about ways that we can all advocate for increased funding for our public schools.  We've heard from so many parents, teachers, and community members who passionately believe that our schools should be offering more - more music, counseling, nursing, smaller class sizes. Our school board agrees, but has had to carefully balance student offering and salary raises within the confines of finite resources and declining enrollment.  Together we can make a difference, whether locally via the nonprofit MDUSD Education Foundation, or through state advocacy with groups like Evolve California.

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First School Board meeting of 2022 tonight

Happy 2022 everyone. It sure has been a tough start to the year with the Omicron variant. The good news is that our schools here in Mt Diablo Unified remain open, thanks to the "all hands on deck" amazing dedication and hard work of so many teachers, staff, administrators and volunteers. 

This included handing out over 50,000 free COVID home tests to students in December and January, ramping up PCR COVID testing sites even more, communicating out new guidance from county health, and filling in for each other when staff are out quarantining.  Our district will also soon receive and distribute N95 masks from the state to all staff.  

Tonight is our first general school board meeting of 2022, which will include consideration of raising substitute pay (hourly rate plus a $1,000 bonus), resolutions for MLK Jr day and Human Trafficking Prevention month, revision of high school English courses, and key reports on Maintenance & Operations and Facility Assessment.

Read on for:

  • Substitute Jobs & Open Job Listings to Share
  • La Clinica COVID vaccine & booster appointments open TODAY & Friday
  • January 7th Superintendent Friday Letter
  • January 12th School Board meeting
  • Human Trafficking Prevention month resources

Substitute Jobs & Open Job Listings to Share

YOU can help us keep our schools open! The District encourages parents and community members to consider becoming substitute teachers in the District and to share information about these opportunities with friends and neighbors. Please click here for the job description, which lists the current pay rates: rebrand.ly/MDUSDSubs). More information about the requirements to become a substitute teacher in the District is here.

Plus, 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 as well: EDJOIN.ORG/MTDIABLO

We look forward to welcoming new members to #TeamMDUSD!

La Clinica COVID vaccine & booster appointments open TODAY & Friday

Please get your COVID vaccine or booster to keep our communities as healthy as possible. Vaccines.gov is a great place to find one near you.

We are pleased to share that La Clinica Monument in Concord has COVID-19 immunization appointments available for Moderna and Pfizer 1st and 2nd doses, boosters and Pfizer vaccines for children ages 5-11 years today, Wednesday (Jan. 12) and Friday (Jan. 14) from 1:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. Appointments are required.

To make an appointment, please call (925) 510-1226.
La Clínica Monument is located at 2000 Sierra Road, Concord CA, 94518

January 7th Superintendent Friday Letter

This Jan 7th letter is chock full of information and good news to celebrate, including:

A Concord High teacher is honored at a 49ers game, Congrats to the Fall Mt. Diablo Adult Education Surgical Technologist Grads, District news including the distribution of rapid COVID tests and future school year calendars coming soon, Student Board Member Spotlight, important dates and the Superintendent's Weekly Organizational update.

Jan 12th School Board meeting

Here is tonight's January 12 board meeting agenda. The meeting is in person at Monte Gardens as usual. Find all agendas, videos, and how to participate at mdusd.org/boardmeetings.

Human Trafficking Prevention Month Resources

Please share the Human Trafficking tip line: 925-957-8658.  Visit cocofamilyjustice.org or at loveneverfailsus.com for local help, resources, and educator training.


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December 2021 update

This is my last week as President of the Mt Diablo School Board, and the annual board reorganization will occur at our December 8th meeting. I am so appreciative of my fellow board members and Superintendent Clark, for their willingness to work as a team on the shared vision of providing excellent education to all students. And we are all deeply thankful to every teacher, admin, and staff member who give so much every day to make this vision a reality, even through the struggles of a global pandemic.

Last week I attended the state school board association conference, where I enjoyed celebrating our Holbrook Language Academy with Principal Rubio, teacher Karen Hernandez, and Superintendent Clark!   MDUSD was awarded a Golden Apple Award in recognition of the excellent educational opportunities provided to students districtwide by this two way dual language immersion school. 

The conference had excellent speakers, including a panel of student board members, as well as Dr. Victor Rios who spoke on equity and promoting prosperity for at-promise students.  I was also very impressed by a workshop on mental health for teachers/staff/students featuring the Stanslaus County Office of Education Lifeguard Initiative and the CareSolace solution that “calms the chaos of mental healthcare”.

Read on for:

  1. School Board meeting December 8th
  2. Superintendent’s message
  3. SMART - secure guns to keep youth safe
  4. Free Hour of Robot Activities for CSEdWeek
  5. Congratulations, La Clinica!

School Board Meeting December 8, 2021

Our board meeting will be at Monte Gardens Elementary. The agenda has a lot of important items including: 

  • Appointment of Vice Principal to Bel Air and Rio Vista Elementary
  • Staff Presentation on TUPE - Tobacco Use Prevention Education Support for Students
  • Progress report on District Strategy Technology Plan
  • Fiscal Health Progress Monitoring report
  • Board reorganization with election of new President and Vice President
  • review School Plans for Student Achievement - find your school plan here
  • Approval of First Interim Financial Report - read finance update here 
  • review of draft calendars for the 2022-23 and 2023-24 school years
  • update to the District's Suicide Prevention Policy

Find details here. You may send a public comment via email to [email protected] or come in person to make a Public Comment during the meeting.  

Superintendent’s Message

Read Dr Clark’s December 3rd Friday message here, including: 

  • information about the Golden Bell Award received by MDUSD for the Holbrook Language Academy;
  • the District's budget to be discussed at the Dec. 8 School Board meeting;
  • School News including art activities at several elementary schools, a robotics club at Ygnacio Valley High, and the Adult Education Annual Open House and Art Sale;
  • the Concord tree lighting featuring two District school groups, and Concord youth commissioner openings;
  • a District reminder about the Homeless Outreach Program for Education (HOPE) holiday drive;
  • Student spotlights on two Northgate High students;
  • a Staff Spotlight on MDUSD's Food and Nutrition Services Director;
  • important dates; and
  • the Superintendent's Weekly Organizational update.

Be SMART - secure guns to keep youth safe

The recent school shooting tragedy in Michigan is another reminder that secure gun storage is essential to keeping our schools and communities safe. State Superintendent Tony Thurmond stated in a 2019 letter, “District and school administrators must help educate parents and guardians about California’s child access prevention laws; it is a crime for a person to negligently store or leave a loaded firearm in a place where a child is likely to access it.”

BeSMARTforKids.org reduces child gun deaths by encouraging responsible storage of guns and providing free gun locks.

  • Secure all guns
  • Model responsible behavior around guns
  • Ask about presence of unsecured guns in other homes
  • Recognize the risks of teen suicide
  • Tell your peers to be SMART


Free Hour of Robot Activities for CSEdWeek

Celebrate CSEdWeek with Hour of Robot!

Computer Science Education Week (December 6-10, 2021) is an annual call to action to inspire K-12 students to learn computer science, advocate for equity, and celebrate the contributions of students, teachers, and partners to the field. Visit https://www.csedweek.org/ for resources & activities.

As part of CSEdWeek, the UC Davis C-STEM Center and its partners have put together a series of fun and engaging "Hour of Robot" activities that can be done using either on-screen virtual robots or hardware robots. The activities are divided into K-12 grade levels and do not require previous computing knowledge or experience. They're a great way to introduce students to computing and robotics, while also learning some math along the way, so be sure to check out the Hour of Robot home page http://www.hourofrobot.org!

  1. Anyone can organize an Hour of Robot event anywhere freely
  2. No experience needed
  3. Hardware robot is optional

Congratulations, La Clinica!

Senator Steve Glazer recognized La Clinica today as nonprofit of the year for region 7. I was happy to attend in appreciation of La Clinica and all they do to provide affordable, culturally appropriate healthcare in our community and schools. They have been a crucial part of making COVID testing and vaccines accessible to our students and families, both at their monument location and at our school sites. They also offer all kinds of healthcare and dental care and CoveredCA is located in their building to help make sure everyone can access health insurance too. Plus, they have volunteer and internship opportunities.  Be sure to share this excellent resource - https://laclinica.org/


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Native American Heritage Month

Thank you to the Big Valley Pomo Dancers - a Riverview Middle School family who performed the opening ceremony at our last school board meeting! They help to remind us all as we recognize November as #NativeAmericanHeritageMonth that indigenous people are not only an important part of history, but also are alive and thriving here in our communities and schools today. Here is the video for those who missed it.

Don’t forget, the deadline to transfer secondary schools for next year is this Monday, Nov 15th. Visit https://www.mdusd.org/intradistricttransfers to fill out the online form.

Here’s a brochure from Career Pathways that highlights specialties of various high schools that your student may want to consider and visit: English & Spanish

Also find details on the International Baccalaureate program at yvhs.mdusd.org/IB. They recommend enrolling in YVHS for 9th grade, so eighth graders will need to apply for transfer to the school by Nov 15th if YV is not already their home school.

Read on for:

  1. School Board meeting November 10th
  2. Superintendent’s message
  3. Schoolhouse.world free math & SAT tutoring online 
  4. Walnut Creek bans sale of vape & flavored tobacco  
  5. Donate to MDUSD HOPE by Dec 4th

School Board Meeting November 10, 2021

Our board meeting will be at Monte Gardens Elementary. The agenda will include: 

  • Appointment of a principal for Meadow Homes Elementary
  • Public hearing on granting easement to Contra Costa water district at Strandwood Elementary
  • Approval of revisions to Board Policy on Public Notice for Personnel Negotiations

Find details here. You may send a public comment via email to [email protected] or come in person to make a Public Comment during the meeting.  

Superintendent’s Message

Read Dr Clark’s November 5th Friday message here, including: YoursHumanly presents a check to MDUSD Education Foundation, HOPE Holiday Drive for homeless students, Concord High marching band flash mob, Counseling news, and the Superintendent's Weekly Organizational Update. 

Schoolhouse.world Free Math & SAT Tutoring Online

I am thrilled to share this resource that I heard about at my college reunion last week, where Sal Khan came to speak!  Schoolhouse.world is a platform for free, peer-to-peer tutoring–where anyone, anywhere can receive live help, build their skills, and pay it forward by becoming a tutor themselves. 

It was created by Sal Khan (founder of Khan Academy) and his college friend, Shishir Mehrotra (co-founder and CEO of Coda). Now, schoolhouse.world reaches learners from over 100+ countries, and is proud to foster a vibrant community of over 500+ volunteer tutors and 3000+ learners. They’re driven by their mission to connect hundreds of thousands of more learners with safe, equitable opportunities to learn, teach, and grow.

**This week, they are introducing Live Help every weekday evening, 5-7pm PST. Bring questions and join tutors over Zoom for 1:1 help in math–from pre-algebra to calculus.**

Walnut Creek bans sale of vape & flavored tobacco

Great news! Last week the Walnut Creek City Council voted to ban the sale of flavored tobacco products and electronic smoking devices (vape). I spoke at the meeting in favor of it, reminding them that our MDUSD school board unanimously passed a resolution in January 2020 that requested all cities within our district enact a vape ban similar to the one that Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors passed in December 2019.  We will only be successful by working together to keep these dangerous products from being marketed to our youth.

A student from Foothill Middle school also spoke in favor of the ban, along with community members and the heart and lung associations. The city will start enforcing the ordinance in five months.

Donate to MDUSD HOPE by Dec 4th

The MDUSD Homeless Outreach Program for Education (HOPE)  is requesting donations for their holiday drive by December 4th. 

Mail or drop off gift cards to Mt. Diablo HOPE, 2730 Salvio Street, Room 24, Concord, CA 94519. Or donate via Venmo @MDUSDHOPE. 

They are asking for gift cards in the amount of $25 or $50 to give HOPE students from: Target, Walmart, Old Navy, GAP, generic prepaid credit cards, and gift cards to local restaurants. Please make sure the amount is clearly marked, so recipients know how much is available to spend.

If there is cash remaining after gift cards have been provided for every HOPE student, then the money will be used to support HOPE students throughout the year (i.e. food, senior activities/pictures, fines, clothing for interviews, prom, yearbooks, brief emergency shelter, and other needs as they may arise). 

Do you know a student who is experiencing an unstable living situation or "lacks a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence"? Refer them to HOPE at https://mdusd-ca.schoolloop.com/hope , call 925-682-8000 x3054 or email [email protected] with questions. Thank you for sharing HOPE!

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Transfer applications

It’s been a busy few weeks, but wonderful to get outside and see students and staff engaging in high quality learning. I’m especially grateful to the Big Valley Pomo Dancers - Riverview middle school students and their family who asked to perform an opening ceremony at tomorrow night’s school board meeting in honor of Native American Heritage month.

Now is the time especially for 8th graders to explore the various high school options in our district!  Visit schools, ask about career pathways, academies and special programs. Reach out to me if you want to discuss. I’m happy to share the exciting options I’ve visited throughout our district.  For example, here’s a photo of teacher Tom Trowbridge at Concord High with the tiny house that his Construction Management students are building as they learn varied skills, from woodworking to plumbing and electrical.

Parents/Guardians of current 5th -11th graders may apply for transfers online at https://www.mdusd.org/intradistricttransfers between October 15-November 15, 2021

Read on for:

  1. International Baccalaureate Parent Info Mtg TONIGHT

  2. School Board meeting October 27th

  3. Superintendent’s message

  4. CA Reading Coalition Summit & Resources

  5. News on K-12 enrollment “fiscal cliff”

  6. Districtwide Career Fair a Success!

International Baccalaureate Parent Info Mtg TONIGHT

Parents and guardians of students in grades 8-10 are invited to a virtual Information Meeting TONIGHT, Tuesday Oct 26 at 7pm, regarding the International Baccalaureate College Prep Programme at Ygnacio Valley HS for juniors and seniors. Intradistrict Transfers are available for the 2022-23 school year for any MDUSD student who lives outside the YVHS boundary area. (It’s recommended to transfer to YVHS for 9th grade if you are interested in the full diploma programme). The Intradistrict transfer deadline is Nov. 15. 

Read the district’s news story on IB here.

Click here to register for the zoom link for tonight’s 7pm informational meeting.

School Board Meeting October 27, 2021

Our board meeting will again be located at Monte Gardens Elementary to provide adequate space for the public. Find the agenda and details here. You may send a public comment via email to [email protected] or come in person to make a Public Comment during the meeting.  

The agenda will include 

  • Opening ceremony by Riverview native students and their family: the Big Valley Pomo Dancers

  • Resolution proclaiming November as Native American Heritage Awareness month

  • Reports on Measure C bond facilities projects, HOPE homeless student outreach, and sale of property for Pleasant Hill library site

  • Superintendent report on student assessments

  • Action to increase substitute teacher pay and to approve the Coordinated Care Early Intervening Services (CCEIS) plan regarding Disproportionality by race in Special Education

  • an update to the Board's Suicide Prevention policy

Superintendent’s Message

Read Dr Clark’s October 22nd Friday message here, including: MDUSD's Bridge Program for special education students ages 18 to 22, our condolences to the family of a Bay Point high school student who unexpectedly passed away last weekend, a new ADA pathway in an elementary school garden, a successful high school career fair last Wednesday, important upcoming dates, and the Superintendent's Weekly Organizational Update. 

CA Reading Coalition Summit & Resources

The CA Reading Coalition last week held a statewide summit on the science of reading. You can watch the recordings at https://www.careads.org/summit-recap and view their Reading Report Card at https://www.careads.org/reportcard

This is a call to action for most of the school districts in the California, to carefully examine how we are teaching reading and what it will take to drastically improve student outcomes.  

Good news in our district - our last board meeting featured the MDUSD partnership with UCSF and Learning Ally on a dyslexia screener pilot program. Stay tuned for how you can volunteer to help!

News on K-12 enrollment “fiscal cliff”

This Edsource article, “Projected K-12 drops in enrollment pose immediate upheaval and decade-long challenge” explains one of the biggest challenges our district is facing right now, along with school districts throughout the state: a major drop in enrollment that will mean significant cuts in state funding - “a fiscal cliff” - beginning next school year.  This is one of the reasons why it is not easy for our board to approve salary raises for all staff. We must be able to clearly show where the money will come from for any salary raise, to afford it over the next 3 years, even though the state only commits to specific school funding one year at a time.  We all believe that our hard working teachers and employees deserve to be paid much more, yet we must ensure the district lives within its means. 

I recommend https://ed100.org/ as a way to learn about our state education funding. This free site provides 5 minute lessons in English & Spanish, enables parents to comment and share with others from their school, and periodically win prizes. 

Districtwide Career Fair a Success!

Concord High hosted students from all over the district for a Career Fair last week. Thank you so much to all the Contra Costa Building Trades, fire, police, and companies who provided apprenticeship information and hands-on fun opportunities for students.

I enjoyed trying out the Operating Engineers diggers and the Ironworkers simulated welding. 

And yes, that’s Principal Pfaltzgraff climbing the IronWorkers pole!



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