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February 20, 2020 - Community Forum Feedback, Pleasant Hill Middle School

4:00 pm Forum 

• How will the input be processed or used to make decisions on what to add to reduction list?

The Google survey provided input on reduction ideas and suggestions to increase revenue. They are available on the district website under “budget survey results.” Presently, on the website, there is a link to ThoughtExchange that staff, parents, and the community can access to weigh in on (available link on the district website) about how we ensure students can be college, career, and life ready while we focus on the solutions to the budget challenges.

• Are iReady or other programs being cut or reduced?

To see program reduction suggestions, please refer to the Board presentation from February 10th. Many positions, programs and ideas were included on that list.

• How much money is CVHS owing our district and how are we getting this back from them?

Was this Charter Valley High School money budgeted or will this help the bottom line? It will help the bottom line but it was not budgeted as income because we were in a lawsuit regarding the amount and did not know when this would be resolved, so we could not budget for it.

• Will the reductions be placed in a spreadsheet for review?

The plan is to have more data on the board agenda attached to the Budget Presentation by Monday, February 24th at 1 pm and to continue to provide data at the March 2nd and March 9th Board meetings.

• Is there a way we can prioritize or have the Board look at more closely?

Right now the Executive Cabinet will make recommendations but ultimately the Board will make the decision on staff reductions.

• How many other school districts are going through this same situation? Is there a possibility that the state or Governor will provide districts more money like they did a few years ago?

Most districts are dealing with deficit spending, but at different levels. In the news, almost on a daily basis, one can find a story of a district making reductions or closing schools because of budget deficits.

• Is there a presentation recorded so people can listen to it? Maybe in different languages as well?

There have not been any recorded to date, however, a copy of the presentation was translated into Spanish and is located on the Budget Solution page of the website.

• Do independent study contracts count towards ADA?

Yes. Provided a student is out for 5 or more days and the contract is in place before the student leaves, the District receives the funding once the assigned work is turned in. We encourage families to take advantage of independent study, although we would appreciate planning vacations around school calendars so students are in school and learning.

5:30 pm Forum

• What can we do to help generate funds at the state level?

(MDEA: Commendations for the district for transparency. Collected signature for a petition to put an initiative on the ballot to increase school funding through increasing tax on commercial property - excluding farms and small business under 3 million dollars. Promoted MDEA Academy Awards)

7:00 pm Forum

• Repeat of 5:30 p.m. question.

• Is it accurate people are moving out of California? Can you show us that the households that are leaving are the ones with kids vs. the one who are coming in are the ones who do not have them?

(we need to check Dataquest for statewide student enrollment).  It is true that some schools are growing while others are declining but overall we are declining.

• Can you show if the private schools have increased their enrollment in recent years?

(we need to check Dataquest for statewide student enrollment)

• When housing prices go up, it means students are leaving the state but also that generates more income if housing prices go up. Prop 13 limits the increase in property taxes unless the house sells which does not keep up with costs.

• Are we considering school closures as we have done in the past?

We are not considering school closures at this time. This is a lengthy process but at this time this is not being considered.

• How are we reducing staff when class size is already going up?

We are considering reductions of staffing to align with contractual limits.

• How are neighboring districts faring in the budget climate in the state?

Other districts are in similar positions and have been in the news as having similar budgets. They are not reducing to the same level due to parent donations and other funding sources. All 17 school districts in the county are working with the county office of education and they stated that other districts navigated this process several years ago but MDUSD had a health reserve to spend down. Now that is gone we are impacted similarly. Other districts have bonds and parcel taxes while MDUSD has only a recent small bond and no parcel taxes at this time.

• Can we define what it means to maximize class sizes?

After audits, we determined some classes have fewer than 10 students, which then increases class sizes in other classes or requires more sections to be taught. We will work on balancing them for equitable access and use. We will not increase class size limits above the class size maximum in our tentative agreement with MDEA.

• When considering dropouts, are we considering draws to keep students IN school including counselors, CTE programs, hybrid programs, online programs, and other supports to prevent the dropouts?

We are trying to maintain electives and other programs to keep students engaged, while also ensuring programs are utilized to their capacity and we are maximizing any grants that support the programs are fully expended.

• How are we spending our money?

Please refer to the first interim budget report accessible on the board of education agendas on our websites.

• What is being done for grants both in the past, future and present?

We have staff who actively locate and research grant opportunities. This year MDUSD generated approximately 13 million dollars in grants in order to enrich programs and opportunities for students.

• Can students take classes at DVC to access coursework but be dually enrolled in MDUSD?

Yes. We do have a partnership with DVC in our College Now program. This could be a future area of expansion.

• How do we reduce our reliance on contractors, as they do not provide the same services as district staff?

We actively recruit but we are sometimes forced to hire contractors to provide essential or limited time services that we are unable to fill with district employees.

• What about special education vacancies? Are we cutting these positions?

IEP services are required by law. IEP’s dictate what supports are required and cannot be eliminated or reduced with IEP agreement. Positions have been posted and a 3rd party vendor, Swing, has been contracted with.

• Are we considering taking away iReady or cutting it?

We currently have a robust program with 3 key components and it serves a variety of needs including math placement and ELD reclassification. We also have instructional modules we use in response to diagnostic assessment which is part of the program. It is on the list of considerations for reductions. A workgroup of staff members is reviewing the efficacy and critical elements of the program.

• Some schools are getting a lot of work from “Measures” while others are not so why is that?

We are still spending funds from Measure C Bond from 2010. The projects have all been identified and in a new list that was generated in 2018 and those projects will be completed within the next 18 months. All sites had been touched by Measure C but final funds are being used for safety repairs, some hardscape repairs and some painting work being completed. Under Measure J the only work that has been contracted is the safety assessment.

• When I hear maximize class sizes, I think of years when first grade had up to 31 students. If we do this again will we lose grade span adjustment funds?

Currently our requirement is to have a class size average per site or 24:1 unless we have a bargained agreement that specifies otherwise.

• How will we meet the needs of our English language learners if we maximize class size?

Regarding English language learner supports, we have teachers assigned to do the work specifically including pulling groups and assessing students we have an obligation to offer leveled English language instruction so this will be consistently evaluated.

• If we are looking to add a parcel tax will that be included for all parcels and include both business and residential properties?

Yes, a parcel tax would apply to all parcels and it would have to pass with a 2/3 majority vote.