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May 1, 2020 Friday Letter Volume 1, No. 34
Posted 5/1/20

#TogetherWeGrow. . . #JuntosAprendemos…#TogetherWeLead. . .

#JuntosCrecemos…#TogetherWeLearn…#JuntosLideramos!

#LeadWithResilience…#LiderarConResiliencia

 

School Start-Date Considerations for 2020-21 School Year

     You may have heard that California Governor Gavin Newsom made public statements this week, expressing the possibility of an earlier start to next school year. He contemplated a potential July re-entry to school, or the possibility of an earlier start in August than we currently have planned. As reassurance, I want to clarify here that the Governor’s statements were not issued as an official Executive Order, or state direction at this time. I am motivated to communicate to you that, often, these types of decisions are left to local educational agencies. It is true that there is a tremendous value to having our students back in school as soon as it is safely possible, and we must examine our own local situation in collaboration with Contra Costa County Public Health Officials to make the best informed and knowledgeable decision for our community.
     Right now, our current academic calendar identifies the start date of our 2020-21 school year to be August 13, 2020 as published.
     Still, it is reasonable to expect that our 2020-21 school year will look different than the 2019-20 school year.

 Here is what we know so far: 

  • There will be additional mandatory best-practices and safety requirements for students and staff as well as our facilities when we return to school. This will require clear procedures, appropriate equipment, possibly new materials, and possibly additional staff.
  • Based on information we have thus far from the Contra Costa County Public Health Department and from the State, with the expectation that there will be continued social distancing requirements in place in the fall, there will be restrictions as to the size of crowds and the number of students in each classroom and on school sites each day. Therefore, we are considering various options based on these guidelines and any other new guidelines we receive. 
  • Here in MDUSD, we have already begun conversations and we are forming teams to develop various scenarios that will best meet the needs of all students and follow the required restrictions.  Our planning teams are expected to include administrators, teachers, classified staff, parents, community agencies, and student input, and there will be a number of opportunities for feedback as we process available information and guidance from the California Department of Education, the Governor’s Office, State Board of Education, and our local health officials. If we are unable to return all students to our campuses at the same time in the fall, we will have the possibility of blended learning opportunities, which means, there could be a mix of on-site learning, while maintaining distance learning at the same time.
  • Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, the State budget is expected to be negatively impacted in a significant way. We have been informed by the State to expect a zero Cost of Living Allowance for the next three years, and additional reductions in several layers of funding. The Governor’s May Revise (budget revision) will unveil the significant level of reductions to school finances, with the approved state budget expected by the end of June, and then with additional modifications possibly in July or August. This means that the District must continue to plan for the worst for the next several years based on direction that we have received from the Contra Costa County Office of Education, and the state, all the while planning to deliver a unique blend of instruction and education to all of our students.  
  • With the unexpected school closure to on-site instruction in mid-March, we began supporting students with distance learning as quickly as possible. I am extremely grateful to our teachers and staff who worked diligently to make that happen and we all continue to look for new ways to better serve students. We recognize that addressing learning gaps created due to the school closure this year will require additional efforts over the next several school years. 
  • District leadership is collaborating with our site principals to work on year-end plans. As the month of May extends we anticipate scheduling opportunities for a parent to come to the school to collect any remaining items for students, and to return items to the school as well, especially for students transitioning away from a school site. Your child’s principal will soon be sharing with you the details of end of the year activities.   

     We are anxious to have our students back at school in a safe environment, and recognize the importance of reopening schools so families can also return to work. With advance planning, we will be better prepared for instruction next fall. School may look different than what we are used to, but we are excited about developing the best possible learning opportunities for students regardless. 

     We will work tirelessly to respond to the many challenges ahead of us, and we are keeping in mind that our students, their families, and our employees, are dealing with many challenges of their own. I recognize that not having all the answers is unsettling and stressful, but I want you to know that we truly believe serving students is a privilege and find your partnership a tremendous gift. 

Your Resiliency is Shining

     I would like to take a brief moment to acknowledge the level of resiliency and courage it has taken from each of us to press on through this worldwide pandemic. If right now is a dark tunnel, your endurance and your acts of compassion are truly sparks of light. If right now is a dark tunnel, I point to the parents who are taking on multiple hats of responsibility and giving their absolute best; I point to the essential workers who are persevering and working hard with conviction and integrity; I point to the students who are digging deep to take this upside-down world in stride. If right now is a dark tunnel, yes, there is a light at the end, and yet, these are the people who are bright torches illuminating our path along the way. It has not been easy, and we have shed many tears with ups and downs, but please know that your resiliency is shining and that you are making the journey that much more bearable for everyone. 
     
Keep going strong. We appreciate you! Here is a shot of some of our Food and Nutrition Heroes!

 

Food and Nutrition Staff

 

MDUSD Hosts 10 Wireless Internet Parking Lot Hot-Spots

     Our passion and commitment is to serve you, and even in our five final weeks of the school year, we are pushing to increasingly meet the needs of our community—sometimes in creative ways. Please see our Parking Lot Wireless web page, which details our provision of internet at 10 school site parking lots district-wide. We are grateful to our diligent Technology and Information Services staff for these arrangements in addition to the thousands of devices distributed and affordable internet options secured. Any Mt. Diablo Unified School District device should be able to connect to the internet at these locations. While we ask that you maintain social and physical distance while doing so, we hope that more students are able to connect to their distance learning platforms.

Hear ye, hear ye, come one, come all,

to congratulate the Teachers of the Year!

The Mt. Diablo Unified School District is pleased to announce the five finalists for Teacher of the Year are:

·         Dylan Bland – College Park High School, Selected MDUSD Teacher of the Year

·         Beth Bremer – Wren Elementary, Selected MDUSD Teacher of the Year

·         Tannaz Heaney – Finalist, Sequoia Elementary

·         Laura Wilson – Finalist, Pleasant Hill Middle School

·         Kathleen Strange – Finalist, College Park High School

The Mt. Diablo Unified School District will honor these recipients at the Regular Governing Board meeting to be held on May, 11, 2020!

Please join us as we salute them all!

Generous Donations Continue with Mount Diablo Education Foundation Partners

     As of today, the Mount Diablo Education Foundation reported $28,258.16 in total donations received towards the Coronavirus Remote Learning Fund. This week, we also received a generous donation of 30 Chromebooks from Sunny Singh from the Yours Humanly organization. We continue to be amazed by our generous community—every contribution is helping to chip away at the digital divide in this time of need.

     Learn more about the Mount Diablo Education Foundation and the Coronavirus Remote Learning Fund.

Yours Humanly

Mt. Diablo Educator Association (MDEA) – Academy Awards Event:

     MDEA invites everyone to the celebration! This is an opportunity to be a part of the festivities, though we cannot all be there together.

Thursday, May 7th, 2020

Virtually via WEBEX 

 6:00 – 7:00PM

Click to Join

Meeting number: 493 279 424

Password: MDEA572020

Please see below for the list of this year's nominees and finalists.

We hope you can join us for the virtual Academy Awards celebration this year!

Click here to view the list of nominees and finalists.

Next MDUSD Town Hall:

     We are anticipating hosting our next “Town Hall” on Tuesday, May 5, 2020, at 3:00 PM.  Our focus will be on sharing information specific to students who receive Special Education Services, information about Graduation Ceremonies and end of the year activities, information about continuing community resources, and to begin the conversation about a potential re-entry plan and things to consider as we plan for the future.  We will post the LIVE stream and participation details to our Town Hall webpage on Monday afternoon.

Budget Projections, and the Impact on MDUSD:

    The District has been actively working to mitigate an expected budget shortfall for the 2020-2021 school year, and had been focused on adjusting budgets to be able to follow-through on tentative agreements with MDEA, and potentially all other employees for the 2018-19, 2019-20, and 2020-21 school years. However, as we have been working to realign current budgets, strive to find savings in this year’s budget, and have made some difficult decisions to reduce both certificated and classified staffing, including a significant redesign of administrators across the Central Office, and school sites, we are now being presented with a new significant budget dilemma that cannot be ignored.

     The District, as have others across Contra Costa County, and the State of California, have been directed to plan for three years of zero Cost of Living Adjustments, plan for a reduction to state lottery revenues by 20%, plan for a reduction to local income of 20%, and plan for increases to both the State Teachers Retirement System (CALSTRS) and California Public Employees Retirement System (CALPERS) of at least one additional percent per year, over the next three years. These changes to our budget assumptions creates a planned level of reduced revenue of 11.8 Million dollars for each of the next three years.

     Given these dynamic changes to the budget development process that the District is engaged in, the parameters that the District has been provided by the Contra Costa County Office of Education, and the clear projections of a significant negative impact to the District budget due to the changes at the state level, the Board simply cannot be presented with the request to approve the current Tentative Agreement for salary increases that was entered into in good faith with MDEA.

     The District is working to communicate with the employee associations of the District, and we will continue to work with these associations through the negotiation process, even as we must plan for very difficult times ahead for all employees.

#Slay50MilesinMay

     While we are all working to stay safe, I have challenged myself to walk, jog, or run 50 miles during the month of May, and would like to invite you each to join me, and track your progress on Social Media using the hashtag #Slay50MilesinMay A runner friend of mine came up with the idea, and we thought it might provide the impetus that some need to simply make sure and move during this month. If you can average 1.61 miles per day, the goal is within your reach! Again, stay safe, and let me know how you are doing with getting your miles accomplished. #walk, #jog, #run, #justmove

Several Activities in My Calendar This Week

Monday, April 27, 2020

  • Met virtually with Contra Costa County Superintendent Lynn Mackey and Contra Costa County School District Superintendents for continued coronavirus response coordination
  • Participated virtually in the regular Governing Board Meeting

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

  • Met virtually with leadership from Crowe LLP
  • Received a technology donation from Sunny Singh from Yours Humanly on behalf of the district
  • Met virtually with Brian Lawrence, Governing Board President
  • Met virtually with the Contra Costa County Office of Education Fiscal Advisor

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

  • Met virtually with Board Member Linda Mayo
  • Met with my Cabinet
  • Met virtually with Mount Diablo Education Association leaders

Thursday, April 30, 2020

  • Met with members of the California Collaborative for Education Excellence and Cabinet Members to discuss the Systemic Instructional Review process, and Distance  Learning
  • Met virtually with Public Employees Union/Local One/AFSCME - Clerical/ Secretarial/Technical Unit leadership
  • Met virtually with City of Concord Leadership, the East Bay Leadership Council, and AT&T along with Board President Brian Lawrence and Board Member Cherise Khaund
  • Met virtually with Board Member Joanne Durkee
  • Met virtually with Teamsters leadership

Friday, May 01, 2020

  • Met virtually with Executive Cabinet
  • Met virtually with Diablo Managers Association leadership

 

-Superintendent Dr. Rob Martinez-