Superintendent's Message - Summer, 2014
Hello Mt. Diablo Unified Students, Parents, Staff and Community Members,
Now that it officially summer, we have some time for rest and reflection. Mt. Diablo has had an event- filled year that has brought momentous achievements. We have seen many positive changes for our students and expect to see more as we plan for the 2014-2015 school year.
The best days of the year for me are when I get to see our students proudly celebrating the completion of their high school years with graduation. A close second is watching our middle and elementary students end their year with a promotion, and the excitement of advancing to the next school. The sense of accomplishment and joy is evident in their faces, as well as the obvious happiness on the faces of the team who encouraged and assisted them toward this goal. To me, this team is a partnership of the school staff and the supportive family at home. This partnership is a necessity as we continue to prepare our students for their futures.
This year some of the changes the Board of Education approved include:
Athletics: Athletics is a cornerstone of a well-rounded education. Doors are opened for students who participate in athletic programs and athletes learn lessons on and off the field about leadership, teamwork, and self discipline. Central funding of Mt. Diablo Unified’s athletic program was cut in 2008. Bringing back the central funding of this program aligns with the feedback we have received on what our students need to succeed and is a proven method of supporting academic excellence with extracurricular programs.
Elementary Music: Music education has been tied to academic excellence in Mathematics and Language Arts. Our school musicians learn the lessons of collaboration, the benefits of practice, and the ability to communicate in a public setting. This year, the board voted to bring back fifth grade Music in order to build a program that feeds into our strong secondary programs. Students, parents, and teachers expressed their desire for the reinstatement of this valuable program and we plan to look at how to continue growing our Music program with the expansion of the program into fourth grade in the future.
Teachers’ Benefits: In 2001, the district's staff, board, and the leadership of the teachers union decided on putting the money used for benefits on to the salary schedule. From that point forward, the cost of benefits skyrocketed and our compensation package did not align with the salaries and benefits offered across the state of California. Every other school district in Contra Costa County provides health benefits to their teachers. As a result, we became less competitive and it became difficult to keep good teachers who do not receive health benefits from another family member. This year, we brought these benefits back and will now be better able to recruit and retain more of the best teachers. One of our district's very important goals is to attract and keep a high quality staff, and we are looking for ways to make Mt. Diablo the most attractive district possible.
Office Support: The first people you see when visiting our schools are our office managers, registrars, attendance clerks, instructional media support people and school secretaries. In 2010, we cut the hours per day these people can work and we also cut how many days per year they could be at the school. This year, our Board of Education voted to bring our schools back to full staffing for these important positions. As we continue to focus on customer service, we want to ensure our schools have the staff they need to get all the school's critical work done and still be able to answer the important questions that help our students and parents when they need it.
School Resource Officers: Due to a partnership with the City of Concord, we will be bringing back School Resource Officers at Concord, Mt. Diablo, and Ygnacio Valley High Schools in Concord. We are also working with other cities and their police departments to increase communication with a focus on school safety.
Lastly, I want to thank the community of Mt. Diablo Unified for the all the support our students received during this school year. I am proud to have observed and experienced Mt. Diablo's strong network of community members and staff who share our common goal of student success.
Dr. Nellie Meyer, Superintendent