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Frequently Asked Questions


What is the district budget and how can I review it?

The School Board approved the 2019/2020 Annual Budget in June 2019. You can find a link to the budget HERE. The First Interim Report is a benchmark of where we were financially between July 1, 2019 and October 31, 2019. HERE is a link to the First Interim. 

Does the district get audited?

Yes. All school districts must complete an audit every year. Our audit was presented at the January 13, 2020 board meeting for the 2018/2019 school year. You can read the audit HERE.

Why didn’t the district plan to cover cost-of-living adjustments (COLA) when budget planning?

Like all districts, MDUSD used the cost of living adjustments shared by the State of California in preparing our three years of budgets. We always include, and budget for, the COLA based on the numbers provided by the State. 

What is the timeline when fiscal decisions must be made?

Most of our employees are “certificated” in roles such as administrators, teachers, and counselors. Our challenge is that individuals in those groups who might not be back next year due to staffing reductions must be notified by March 15th. At most of our board meetings, we will have updates on the budget. The Annual Budget for the 2020/2021 and the multi-year projections that include the 2021/2022 and 2022/2023 school years will be discussed and presented this June at our board meetings. 

We are declining enrollment. Why is that?

There are many reasons why a district is declining enrollment, and MDUSD is one of about half of the state’s 1000 school districts that are declining. Some reasons we have experienced declines: the cost of living with families moving out of the year, the addition of charter schools within our boundaries, lower birth rates, and more. HERE is a link to an article from the Public Policy Institute of California with more information on declining enrollment. 

What are the pay and bonus structures of employees in the district? 

If you go to THIS page on our district website, you can view the salaries of all employees, based on the bargaining group to which they belong. In public education, employees do not earn a “bonus.” There are, however, some staff members who take on additional responsibilities outside of the scope of their day jobs and earn a stipend, such as a high school athletic director, a band instructor, and a subject matter department chair. 

Did we include student voice in our surveys?

Students in the 10th and 11th grades were included in our surveys. They were invited to participate through their English classes and their responses can be reviewed under the “Budget Survey” responses with the tab noted ‘students.’

How is it that Clayton Valley Charter School did not pay rent? 

Clayton Valley did pay a prorated share of facility costs of $160,000 each year, going back to 2013. However, the amount paid was only part of what they owed and the charter and MDUSD were engaged in legal proceedings to quantify the rest of what was owed. In the Fall, Clayton Valley presented the district with a check for $925,255.98 for back rent of the facilities. We are currently working collaboratively to address the fees from 2017 to the present. More information can be found in THIS article from the East Bay Times. 

How will you decide who gets laid off? Is it all by seniority?

Seniority lists exist for most positions other than management roles. Layoffs are typically made based on seniority, which means last in is first out. However, specific skills, training and credentials may come into play in the layoff process. 

When will classified staff be notified?

Classified staff can be given a 60 day notice if their positions will no longer exist or if their total work hours will be changed. 

Is the Facilities Master Plan still happening?

The Measure J Bond was approved by voters in June 2018, a local school improvement bond. It was created to address facilities from a safety and 21st century school perspective. At this time, we have not started to address the Master Plan as we are in the process of completing a fairly extensive safety study by PBK. 

Why don’t we eliminate TK (Transitional Kindergarten)?

Transitional kindergarten is a public school program for 4 year old's who turn 5 between September 2nd and December 2nd, as part of the Kindergarten Readiness Act of 2010. While it is not required for students to attend, school districts are required to offer it to families whose children were born in this period. 

Where are the funds for textbooks? We have many subjects that have very old books that are not aligned to the Common Core State Standards.

In the past, Mt. Diablo kept an unrestricted amount of funds available to support large adoptions, such as for math and science.  Due to budget limitations over the past 3 years, this account has not been moved into the general fund and only restricted lottery funds is being used for textbook replacements and small adoptions.  Staff are working on a proposal looking at how to use the limited amount of lottery funds to create a modified textbook adoption schedule for core content areas.

Can we offer online courses to recoup ADA (average daily attendance) for students?

Mt. Diablo currently offers online credit recovery options for high school students during the school year and during the summer. This is the approach to recoup a loss of funding. 

What is the role of a TOSA (Teacher On Special Assignment)?

We have three different types of TOSA’s. 

Teacher Induction & Support Programs TOSA’s support teachers with clearing their preliminary credential and support first and second year teachers. They also provide support to permanent teachers who need additional assistance meeting the California Standards for the Teaching Profession.

District TOSAs assist with planning district-wide professional development on core content topics, AVID, ELD, Math, Science, and more.  They present at school sites and during the professional development days throughout the school year. They also ensure that the Common Core teaching materials located on the MDUSD Google Classroom are up to date and utilized. Because we do not have updated curriculum in many core content areas, they manage Google Classroom and ensure students receive Common Core-aligned instruction.

School Site TOSA positions are created by the school site and their roles are determined by the School Site Council and site administrator to support classroom instruction.

Was the budget a problem last year?

The District made a conscious decision to spend down reserves in order to provide services to students. It was apparent that the increased levels of service were not sustainable and therefore cuts were made starting last year. These included reducing food and travel expenses, reducing cell phone stipends, and reductions across other areas.  

Why have we been deficit spending for the last 5-6 years? Where does that excess revenue go?

The District made a conscious decision to spend down reserves in order to provide services to students.  We were able to recognize the work of our staff by providing increases in our salary structure and we also introduced programs such as middle school sports and school counselors; all providing direct benefit to our students. 

How did the district recover the last time there was a problem? What were the solutions last time?

In previous budget reduction years, cuts have been made in multiple areas including reducing programs such as athletics and music, reorganizing the work of current district employees to reduce numbers of staff, furlough days and hours for particular groups of staff and reducing across the board spending on professional development, extracurricular programs and staffing levels both at the sites and centrally. 

What do population trends look like for MDUSD in the next 5-10 years? 

MDUSD, much like the rest of the Bay Area is projected to have a decline of enrollment by 1-2% each year for the next several years.

 What are the major fixed costs the district has to pay for? What are the top five expenses in the districts?

The District spends approximately 89% of the budget on salaries for classified and certificated staff, as well as for benefits. Beyond that, the next three are: utilities, insurance, and materials/supplies for facilities.

Why do different grades have different numbers of students?

The class sizes are determined through our collective bargaining agreement with our Mt. Diablo Education Association, our teacher labor union.  The class sizes are different due to the different needs of the age groups or in the case of secondary science courses, limited by the number of lab stations available.

How do employees who do not work directly with students contribute to increasing outcomes for students?

In order to operate, the District requires multiple departments to function.  These include but are not limited to our Human Resources, Business, Maintenance and Operations, and Purchasing. These departments ensure basic operations of the District are met including making sure we have adequate staffing in the right places, our bills are all paid, including our payroll,  and that our buildings are safe and clean.

In addition, we have other departments that are specifically designed to support instruction including our Equity, Instructional Services, Special Education and English Language Learner departments.  These staff provide a combination of services including coaching, professional development, to improve instruction along with specific specialized services to meet the provide the technical support for particular groups of students.

Why won’t the district allow our community members to support our schools through donations and labor?

MDUSD has processes to both accept donations and labor.  If you wish to provide either, please reach out to your school principal who can work through the processes to determine how your donation or work project can be approved and accepted.

How will student safety and attendance be addressed if support positions are reduced?

Student safety and attendance are currently addressed by a multi-faceted approach.  Should support positions be reduced, the safety of students will remain our top priority. This will include careful analysis of work requests to ensure safety issues and repairs are prioritized over other projects.  Staff schedules and coverage zones will also be analyzed to ensure appropriate supervision of students during class breaks.

Increasing attendance is a goal for the District as it enhances revenue which can then be used to fund positions. Currently our attendance is approximately 95%, yet we fund 100% of our allocated staff, regardless if students are in attendance. By increasing attendance we can offset some of that funding.

Why do we cut electives when budgets are reduced?

MDUSD has graduation requirements that mandate specific courses are offered. Schedules are built to provide these courses and they are generally filled to the class size maximum.  In some cases, electives are not filled due to capacity due to either student interest or inadequate prerequisite courses being taken. As master schedules are built for the school each year, the enrollment is reviewed in order to ensure students have access to the graduation required courses while also providing as many electives as possible within the allocated staffing which is based on student enrollment.

In regards to programs like AVID and IB (International Baccalaureate), how does the district plan to fund these very expensive programs?

The District is currently collecting data on the community’s areas of focus regarding budget reductions.  While these two specific programs have been identified through feedback as areas to consider reducing, no decisions have been made at this time. All programs are being reviewed to evaluate student impact in order to help evaluate their effectiveness on student achievement.

How do we plan to close the achievement gap?

MDUSD is engaging in work closely with California Collaborative for Educational Excellence and the Contra Costa County Office of Education to review our practices for specifically the subgroups of students: African American, homeless and foster youth.  We are committed to continuing our work in this area as we proceed through the budget cycle.

How much are we receiving from the California Lottery and what does it pay for?

We are expecting to receive $6.3M in 2019-20.  $4.7M is used to pay classroom teachers and $1.6M is used to pay for Board approved instructional materials.

Why not ask for more government funding?

Our Mt Diablo School Board is asking the state of California to significantly increase funding, and has passed two resolutions on this topic:  

 It will take the voices of all of us together to convince the state legislature to prioritize education.  Please join us in speaking up for students.

What is Adequate Funding: Stanford's Getting Down to Facts II 2018 study found that to adequately fund our schools for just basic services, the state of California should have invested an additional $25 billion in 2016-17.  Click on this link to see their calculations by district based on student demographics, and you'll see that Mt Diablo Unified should have approximately $5000 more per student, which is about $150 million more each year.

How CA ranks vs other states: Despite boasting the fifth-largest economy in the world and the highest gross domestic product of any state, California sits near the bottom nationally in nearly every significant measure of school funding and school staffing.

 Adjusted for cost of living, California ranks 38th in per-pupil funding. We’re 40th in the percentage of taxable income spent on education, 45th in student-teacher ratios, and 48th in staff per student. That’s not good enough for our children, our state, or our future.

California is the home of innovation and opportunity — we’ve never been content with average. To meet the needs of 6 .2 million public school students and prepare them for an increasingly competitive, complex, and technological world, we simply must do more. We must secure Full and Fair Funding for public schools.

Who pays? Ed100 is a helpful resource for explanations in English and Spanish, such as this lesson on where education funding comes from, which shows that lottery funding is only 1%.

How can you help?  We encourage you to call the governor and our state legislators to tell them what additional funding would mean for our students in Mt Diablo schools.  It is unconscionable that so many school districts right now are facing budget cuts while the state economy is thriving.

The Contra Costa Coalition to Fund Education Now provides legislator phone numbers by school district HERE

And visit this grassroots group of superintendents, school board members, teachers, staff, parents, and students at CCCOE or follow on Twitter @cccfunded to keep up to date on actions you can take.