December2019

Hi friends,

I hope you all have a restful and rejuvenating winter break!

A huge thank you to all of you who have engaged with our district.  Together we are making a difference - every one of you who donated to HOPE or MDUSD Education Foundation, taught students and are grading finals, led field trips, wrote school goals as a site council rep, coached a team, negotiated a contract, led a student or parent organization, drove a school bus, or much much more. We should all be #MDUSDProud.

The biggest #breakingnews this week is that MDUSD reached a Tentative Agreement with Mt Diablo Education Association (MDEA)!  This was made possible by many hours of negotiation by dedicated teams of teachers and administrators.  See details and quotes from MDEA president Anita Johnson and Superintendent Martinez here.

And here are a few key updates from this month:  

December 16 School Board mtg 

We held the last MDUSD school board meeting of the year this week on Monday. The agenda included:

  • Organizational meeting - Congratulations to President Lawrence and Vice President Mason!  
  • Review of SPSAs (single plans for student achievement) - Have you read your school plan? Find every school SPSA plan here on MDUSD website (under Parents/Reports&Plans).  Have ideas about how to improve it?  Contact your principal or site council reps.
  • Review & approval of tentative agreement between CSEA & MDUSD for 2018-19 - Note that Contra Costa County sent MDUSD a letter in response to this, asking us to make $5 million in budget adjustments in order to stay fiscally solvent.  Truly, our state must do better to fully fund our schools.

Also at the meeting, President Lawrence encouraged people to donate to HOPE (homeless & foster youth in MDUSD - Venmo @MDUSDHOPE), and last I heard your donations surpassed $10,000!  Truly when we act as a community, we can all help take care of every student. Your generosity is deeply appreciated.

Visit https://mdusd.org/agendasminutes to see all mtg agendas & videos.

Threats

In two of our schools recently, as has happened at schools in nearby districts and nationally, students have made threats of harm.  In both cases, thankfully, the police investigated and found them to be non-viable. I think it’s important now to clarify our district policy for these types of instances, and also to remind everyone how each of us can “Say something” as Sandy Hook Promise encourages. 

Did you know our County Office of Education houses a full time coordinator for Sandy Hook Promise, and a team of fully certified trainers who will implement the SHP Know the Signs programs in every high school and middle school in Contra Costa County?  These programs include:

  • Signs of Suicide,
  • Threat Assessments,
  • Say Something, and
  • Say Hello. 

Find descriptions & contact information on the CCCOE website.  Ask your principal if this has begun yet at your school. 

There’s also a volunteer group that speaks to parent groups about Be SMART – BeSMARTforKids.org that 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

We all can help ensure that every student feels valued and included, in a safe and welcoming school environment.

Budget

Many parents, teachers and community came to ask our school board to increase salary, lower class sizes, and add more nurses, librarians and counselors.  I hope that all of you will campaign for and vote for the needed revenue to make that possible. Right now the revenue we receive from the state has not kept up with expenses, and so districts across CA are deficit spending and making major cuts.

One source of revenue that we can act on is the Schools & Communities First measure, gathering signatures now for the Nov 2020 ballot.  This initiative would be a start, but still not nearly enough for what we need, and IF it passes it won’t go into effect until 2022.  Out of the $11 billion it expects to raise, just $4 billion would go to schools statewide. 

That sounds like a lot, until you realize the Stanford Getting Down to Facts II study found that our state needs $25 billion in education funding just to reach national average. The study has a calculator where you can enter a school district and it will estimate needed dollars based on demographics. It says MDUSD would need: $5,067 more per student = approx. $150 million more per year.

This is why other school districts are exploring or placing parcel taxes on the 2020 ballot.  We can’t wait for 2022 and we are all facing major cuts right now.  Local taxes might be the only thing that can avoid massive cuts.

Save the date for a week of action called Fund Education Now, Feb 3-7, 2020, in which school districts throughout Alameda and Contra Costa will have actions each day to inform the community and state legislature of our dire need for education funding.

Superintendent’s Friday Letter

Read Superintendent Dr Martinez’s December 20th letter here.  These are always posted at mdusd.org and on facebook & twitter.  To receive these as emails, send a message to superintendentsoffice@mdusd.org to request to be added to the Superintendent’s email list.

Happy Holidays and Winter Break!


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