Welcome Dr Clark & fall planning

We've been busy this summer on the MDUSD School Board!  Read on for summaries of

  • Superintendent hire
  • Board direction for Distance Learning
  • Fall Planning - task forces & technology
  • Next Board mtg July 27th
  • Summer Resources

Welcome Dr Clark!

One of the most important roles of a school board is the hiring of the Superintendent, and on Monday we officially appointed Dr Adam Clark as Superintendent of MDUSD.  He comes to our district with an amazing skill set and breadth of experience, having taught at every level, and championed student success in a wide variety of settings from Principal of Miramonte High in Orinda to Superintendent of Vallejo Unified School District. I can't wait to see him in action, building relationships with all corners of our district community!  Please give him a warm welcome.

Board Actions - starting the school year with Distance Learning

As reported in East Bay Times and summarized well by Board President Lawrence, our School Board did advise to begin the school year with distance learning.

You can watch the video of Monday night's July 13th meeting here, including the presentation and discussion of fall planning.  Each board member gave their perspective and then Dr Clark summarized what he heard, saying:

"I want to start from a place of unity... we need to be intentional as we move forward... we are going to have to build trust, have open dialogue and be transparent to do what is best for students, staff and families.  I'm hearing from the board that distance learning is how we're going to start off...  We will begin now to identify what we need to address immediately and what can be planned for longer term...  I want to get input from as many people as possible... be intentional, out of respect and collaboration and what is best for all students, all staff, all families." 

Click to the following times in the video for:

  • Public comments, such as this one from a Meadow Homes teacher (my dog Tiger Lily listened along too) - 1:28:16
  • Student Board Member proposal presented by student Michelle Alas - 2:03:00
  • Reopening Plan Presentation - 2:40:38
  • My comments re fall planning needed specifics - 3:44:50
  • Dr Clark - 4:08:55

It's exciting to see the potential of increasing student leadership in our district by bringing on an official student board member. Thank you all who signed Michelle's petition to encourage this action. I hope that we are able to make that a reality very soon.

Fall Planning

Task Forces – Thank you to all who are participating in the deep details of fall reopening of schools. With such a diverse group of perspectives in each workgroup, the best ideas are brought forward through deliberative discussions and recommended based on student needs and priorities.  I look forward to seeing each workgroup’s deliverables.

We all understand that workgroup tasks will overlap, and not all recommendations from all groups will make it into the final plan. However I know that so many parents, teachers, staff put in much time, thought and effort into those deliverables and they contain the level of detail that we need in order to make these crucial decisions.

Technology readiness –

I shared at the board meeting that I think it's time for action in 3 areas to ensure readiness for distance learning on day 1 of school this fall:  the board needs to see and approve specific recommendations for hardware, software and tech help.

  • hardware - 
    • # of devices and cost it would take to get to 1:1 chromebooks grades 3-12 and ipads/tablets for preK-2.  
    • Devices & cost for the specialized needs of certain classes
      • such as Digital Academy that provides dual credit with DVC but requires Adobe that doesn't run on a chromebook
    • internet accessibility - how many mobile hotspots would it take to provide one to every homeless/foster/newcomer or student who was disconnected last spring?  When are the 600 ordered hotspots going to arrive and how will they be synched with chromebooks and then distributed out to students or schools?
  • software - 
    • Step 1: What LMS (Learning Management System) is recommended for MDUSD to adopt?
      • LMS integrates Google classroom, attendance, and all distance learning into one comprehensive resource for students, families teachers and administrators. Thus it organizes all the aspects into one place for access, monitoring and reporting, and should remove a lot of the disjointed confusion that was a reality in the spring (e.g. other districts use Schoology or Canvas)
      • Teachers, admin & staff should be trained on the LMS before school starts.
    • what apps/programs are teachers/schools using already, what else has been requested by them? 
      • which can be narrowed down to for more consistent usage and less confusion by parents/students.  
    • What is the cost of the ideal package solution?  the prioritized immediate needs?
  • tech help - 
    • what management software should be set up by August for our district to have a robust tech help system for teachers and multilingual for parents, accessible via email/text/phone.  
    • what staffing is necessary to make this work (vs current staffing levels)

At the board meeting I requested we schedule a special board workshop to cover this topic, to ensure that we as a board, district and our students and families know that we will have the infrastructure and technology support ready to begin distance learning Aug 13th.

Return to School – Thank you to all who gave feedback!  We must acknowledge the extreme burden on parents right now, especially those who must work outside the home and are struggling to ensure childcare and continued learning for their children. Even though we plan to begin with 100% remote learning, we must do all we can to help parents cope.  This is also why I prefer a phased in approach: start with 100% distance, and right away form tight partnerships with community childcare providers to refer our essential working families to.  Then as soon as it's feasible with healthcare precautions in place, begin to bring students onto campus in very small groups for extra support needs such as IEPs, counseling, study space or language support.  West Contra Costa calls this the "student support hub model." (aqui en espanol)  In phase 3 I would prioritize bringing in person learning to our youngest learners – preK-2 - who distance learning is especially challenging for at the age where they are just beginning to “learn how to be a student”.

This is an ever changing landscape, so please keep sharing your ideas and priorities with us.  Governor Newsom is expected to make an announcement tomorrow at noon about school re-opening as well.

Next Board meeting

The next MDUSD school board meeting is scheduled for July 27th. Find the agenda here - and look at the top of the agenda for how to make public comments via email or phone. Click here to access the Board Action Summaries.

Summer Resources

  • Urban Debate League: Some MDUSD students are participating in this free debate camp this week, learning about and discussing criminal justice.  Bay Area Urban Debate League's mission is "To make competitive policy debate available to every public high school student." They have also offered to partner with MDUSD Title I middle and high schools to potentially offer school year debate at those schools.  Watch their alumni Demo Debate here

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