Nov 2023 update

A few quick things I want to share before you take off and enjoy your Thanksgiving vacation:

  • TONIGHT Nov. 14: Strategic Arts Plan Presentation to PAC at 5:30pm at Willow Creek Center 
  • Nov. 15: Fentanyl "Save a Life" Event at 6 p.m. (5:30 p.m. check-in) at Northgate HS (registration is required)
  • #GivingTuesday - Join MDEDF to raise $12,000 for garden science programs
  • Volunteer in school gardens this Saturday!

TONIGHT - Strategic Arts Plan to be presented to PAC - Parent Advisory Committee

I’m so excited about this plan to provide comprehensive visual and performing arts at all levels to students in Mt Diablo!  After making painful cuts these past few years, we are finally in a place to grow and sustain these excellent opportunities at every school. 

Come meet our new VAPA specialist, Kellie Hoover, and ask her your questions in person about how you can help strengthen arts offerings at your school site.

5:30-7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 14th at Willow Creek Center, 1026 Mohr Lane in Concord.

The agenda includes: District Updates from MDUSD Superintendent Dr. Adam Clark and a discussion of MDUSD's Visual & Performing Arts Plan led by Curriculum Specialist, Kellie Hoover. Details are here.

Fentanyl Awareness: Tools to Save a Life, Wednesday Nov. 15th

This is something I can't recommend enough to parents and students. I thought I knew all about fentanyl, but it didn't really hit home for me until I heard directly from local families who had lost or nearly lost children to the dangers of fentanyl. They are now courageously speaking out to teach us all how to be ready to save a life at any moment. It can truly happen to anyone.

MDUSD's next free Fentanyl Awareness: Facts and Tools to Save a Life event is at 6 p.m. Wednesday, November 15th at Northgate High School. (Check-in is at 5:30 p.m.)

They will share the latest information and data about the dangers of fentanyl and train families and students how to recognize an opioid overdose and administer Narcan/Naloxone to try to save a life. It includes presentations by Assemblyman Tim Grayson, health professionals, parent voices and a student panel.

Please check your ParentSquare posts for a link to register. Registration is required to receive the free Narcan/Naloxone.

#GivingTuesday - Join MDEDF to raise $12,000 for garden science programs  

This is a fabulous opportunity to pitch in together to make a big difference. Your donation will help school gardens in every part of Mt Diablo, including exciting projects like the Rio Vista Food Forest, which is being installed in Bay Point where fresh produce is hard to come by (described as a "food desert"). This will be transformational for the whole community!

Click below to hear from Rio Vista Elementary Principal Janis Heden, parents Gabby & Juan, and parent/business sponsor Juan Carlos Sanchez:

Can you help unlock their dollar-for-dollar match today?

Donate in the Facebook Giving Tuesday fundraiser here or directly at

Spread the word! Please follow and share the Foundation Giving Tuesday social media posts on Facebook, Instagram, X, and LinkedIn.

High School Students: Are you looking for volunteer service hours? 

Apply here to the Foundation Student Engagement Committee by Nov 15th.

Volunteer in school gardens this Saturday, Nov 18th

  • Fair Oaks Elementary in Pleasant Hill
  • Mt Diablo Elementary in Clayton 
  • Silverwood Elementary in Concord

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Strategic Arts Board study session

I'm so excited that tomorrow night, Monday Oct 30th at 5pm, is our School Board study session on our districtwide Visual and Performing Arts Strategic Plan! 

Read the plan and presentation here. You can join us in person or submit comments via email: details here.

I first found out about Create CA's resources for strategic arts planning back when I was newly elected to the board in 2019. I was excited to see how they facilitate a process to include not only teachers and staff within the district from various grade levels and types of art, but how they also include community partners to bring a rich array of professional artists and funding to our under-resourced schools.

Fiscal challenges and COVID delayed our ability to begin, but thanks to voter support of Prop 28, all CA school districts will now see an influx of ongoing funding for the arts!

That is what will truly help us make our vision of quality arts for all into a reality. For MDUSD, Prop. 28 funds are estimated at $4,397,853 annually, beginning in February 2024. This is a huge opportunity to make structural changes that dismantle inequity and enrich all students. And every school site council will be a key part of their school arts plan.

Please come or watch the meeting tomorrow night online, and reach out to me anytime. 




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Music to my ears

This week for me was so enriched by MDUSD music, including Battle of the Bands and the Northgate Jazz concert. 

Mr. Lejano is such a joyful force of nature! He is the Concord High Band Director and visionary of this event, hosted by Concord High that invites and includes bands from our area. They even combined a few bands to ensure students could participate from smaller programs. Each band cheers on the others, there’s a drum circle midway through that even the audience can join, and it culminates with a joint rendition of the song Born this Way that I cannot watch without a few tears.  This is a shining example of how music is so powerful for social emotional learning and belonging.  


Watching our various bands play always makes me so proud of our district teachers and students, and yet mindful of the opportunities that are not as plentiful at some schools in our district.  That’s why I’m so hopeful about our work on the Strategic Districtwide VAPA plan, which is something I started advocating for back before I was elected to the school board. We have a unique opportunity with Prop 28 funds to create new, more equitable structures of the arts in our schools. There were exciting big ideas at the spring & summer District VAPA planning meetings, and I look forward to this topic coming to our board very soon.

Funding for Gun Violence Prevention

Big news! This week Governor Newsom signed AB28: The Gun Violence Prevention and School Safety Act!

Thank you to all who advocated for this, especially Moms Demand Action local parent volunteers: Alex Navarro, Shannon Reif, Lisa Dell’anno, Nichole Hsu, Diana Honig, and Michelle Sinnott.

This historic legislation provides urgently needed, reliable, annual funding for vital programs including $75 million to the California Violence Intervention & Prevention (CalVIP) grant program and $50 million to Dept of Ed to fund school mental health, behavioral services, and school safety measures.

County Teacher of the Year

Congratulations to the Contra Costa County Teachers of the Year: Mr Alvarico and Ms Gonzalez-Ortega, as well as to MDUSD Finalist Danya Townsend, and all who were recognized at that inspirational evening.


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Joint MDUSD Concord mtg

This week our school board held a special joint meeting with the Concord City Council. I appreciate this opportunity to collaborate and discuss issues that affect both of our constituencies.

You can watch the video of the meeting here.

The agenda included MDUSD updates as well as the following presented by the city:

  • Report on the Concord Community Reuse Project at the Former Concord Naval Weapons Station
    • Developer was selected last week. Term sheet to be presented in November, and Specific Plan in January. It is a long term plan for over the next 30-40 years, beginning first with building a Center for First Responders and a park. 
  • Presentation on City of Concord Facilitated Traffic Safety Improvements Around School Site
    • I’m so excited to see flashing stop signs and other improvements completed and planned for this year! See locations in the report.
  • Presentation on Tobacco Regulations in Concord
    • Our MDUSD school board in January 2020 passed a resolution asking all cities to pass strong tobacco ordinances to prevent targeting of youth via flavors, vapes and low cost. The city of Concord passed their ordinance this year, which goes into effect starting in October. Use the Concord Connect App to report any illegal sales or marketing to minors.
  • Presentations on School Resource Officers (SROs)
    • Concord police proposed creating 4 new SRO positions at a cost of $280,000 each, 1 per high school.
    • At public comment, parents requested a Safe Gun Storage City Ordinance, and supported evidence based gun safety measures such as secure gun storage notices, anonymous reporting systems, trauma informed crisis intervention programs, mental health and counseling.

The city council members did not respond to the idea of a Safe Gun Storage Ordinance. Three of the city council members expressed strong support for SROs (school resource officers), saying the city would consider fully funding them. One council member shared that she heard positive comments about the prior SROs from principals and families. 

For us as a school board, this was the first time a discussion of SROs has occurred since we removed them from our budget in 2020. I expressed that I do not support spending any school district funds on police, because I don't feel that is a school district's role, and because it would take away dollars from an already underfunded education system. 

I also believe that we need to follow evidence based strategies, which I’ve been advocating for for years by sharing this fact sheet on research based approaches to create safer schoolsOur district has made progress on these approaches during my tenure by:

  • notifying families regularly about secure firearms storage including Be SMART 
  • investing in the Sandy Hook Say Something Anonymous Reporting System (currently training staff and soon to be rolled out to students and families at every middle and high school)
  • Creating and supporting Wellness Centers at high schools and middle schools
  • Partnering with organizations that bring cultural relevance and a presence at our school sites to help build stronger relationships with students and families (e.g. Family Purpose, My Other Brother)
  • Helping students learn to regulate emotions (e.g. A Mindful Life Project)
  • Embedding social emotional learning strategies into classroom practices
  • Implementing facility security enhancements (e.g. door locks, fencing)
  • Training school staff on how to respond to an active shooter and clarifying site protocol for a variety of emergency scenarios

Approval of Concord High Mascot Change

At our August 16th board meeting, we voted 4-1 to approve the proposal to change the Concord High mascot to the Bears. With the amount of gun violence nationwide in schools and communities, the male minuteman soldier holding a rifle was a symbol that many expressed discomfort with. I am proud that we voted to support the student & staff goal of a more welcoming, inclusive mascot that all could rally around for years to come. 

Superintendent Report on School Opening

At last week's school board meeting, Dr. Clark gave a detailed report about the opening of school. His report begins at the 23 minute mark in the video clip here

It’s wonderful to see all the photos of how creative our teachers and staff are in creating welcoming, engaging spaces, and of student smiles that first week of school. The MDUSD human resources team worked tirelessly to fill as many vacancies as possible, recruiting teachers and staff with outreach far and wide.  I’m so thankful how people throughout our district really pulled together to ensure a smooth and positive start to the school year. 

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