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December 13, 2019 Friday Letter Volume 1, No. 16
Posted 12/13/19

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




Mt. Diablo Unified School District’s California Department of Education Dashboard:


     The California Department of Education (CDE) has released the 2019 Dashboards for all school Districts in the state. CDE’s website indicates, “The California School Dashboard is a data-driven approach to provide the ‘whole picture’ of a school for educators and parents.” According to State Superintendent Tony Thurmond, “The Dashboard empowers local communities to identify opportunities and resources to better serve their students, and provides parents and educators with meaningful information on school and district progress so they can participate in plans to improve student learning.”

     As with many schools in the state, MDUSD’s results provide some highlights, and identifies several areas where we have not seen a significant change or increase in several years. Our District central office administrators will be working with all of our school site administrators, educators, and employee association groups to review the data and work towards ensuring that our collective work is meeting the needs of our diverse student populations.

     It is significant to note that we have not demonstrated significant improvement in three areas. These areas include assessment data for our Homeless Youth, Foster Youth, and Students of Color, namely, our African American Population. We also have significant growth challenges in the areas of Chronic Absenteeism, Suspension Rates, Graduation Rates, English Language Arts, and Mathematics.

     We are committed to improving our work in the areas of academic achievement for all students, ensuring that we are working to provide safe and caring educational environments where Positive Behavioral Interventions Supports (PBIS) practices engage and support student learning, lead to a decrease in Suspension Rates, and strive to meet the needs of all in our diverse community of students, specifically our Homeless Youth, Foster Youth, and Students of Color.

     The District will be continuing our work with the California Collaborative for Educational Excellence (CCEE), and furthering our partnership with the Contra Costa County Office of Education (CCCOE). I have been in contact with the Executive Director of CCEE and with our CCCOE Superintendent Lynn Mackey; we will be embarking on a collaborative process that will help us in reviewing our curriculum, instructional, and leadership practices, and assist us with strategic decisions that we all will support and monitor in an effort to begin moving the needle towards significant improvement for the District, and for many of our schools.

     The Dashboard data can be found here

     I ask that you take some time to review the data provided on the District, schools where your children attend, and continue to engage in the process of supporting the positive changes that will be needed to create the systemic changes we need to benefit students and to create a transformation in our District of which we can all be proud. 

     Please note that while there continue to be absolutely incredible levels of instruction occurring in so many instructional settings across the District, we also must be willing to closely review all of our educational practices so that we can truly begin to positively impact all of our MDUSD students with finding positive results through opportunity and access to exceptional programs for everyone.


Visit to Mt. Diablo Elementary School:


     On Monday, December 9, 2019, I visited Mt. Diablo Elementary School.  The students of the school were extremely well behaved and polite, and asked me some great questions during my visit. There was a significant amount of pride that was shared by the administrative team about the wonderful staff, students and parents of the school. You can tell that the collective group of educators meets to discuss curriculum and processes, and collaborates together to bring about a full range of supports and services to the students of Mt. Diablo Elementary School.


California Schools Employees Association – Holiday Fundraiser Event:


     On Tuesday, December 10, 2019, I was able to stop in at the California Schools Employee Association (CSEA) - Holiday Fundraiser Event. Each year our CSEA folks gather to raise money for a local non-profit, and this year the Bay Area Crisis Nursery was the recipient of the dollars raised by our CSEA folks. They provided a great meal and a ton of desserts to be devoured. We appreciate the work down by our CSEA employees and sincerely appreciate their commitment to the students and families of our communities.

Serendipity Café: Grand Re-Opening:

     On Wednesday, December 11, 2019, Serendipity Café, located on the Mt. Diablo High School Campus held their Grand Re-Opening.  Previous students who have gone through the program returned to share some of their success. Many Rotary Club members who hold their meetings at this location and have supported this program for a number of years were on hand to share in the appreciation for the work that has been accomplished by the chefs, the students, and the school community. Chefs Kevin Fullan and Debbie Allen and team put on a wonderful event, welcoming all visitors and paying customers to Serendipity Café. They are generally open Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, from 11:45 AM – 1:00 PM.  Contact them directly for additional information.


Parent Advisory Committee Meeting – LCAP Vaping Presentation:


     Also on Wednesday night, December 11, 2019, we held our Parent Advisory Committee and Second Local Control Accountability Plan Speaker Night at College Park High School.  For the first hour, I shared some information about the District’s First Interim Budget for the 2019-2020 school year. The presentation could be found in our posted Board Agenda for December 9, 2019, for those that desire to take a look. While I informed the parents in attendance that I did not want to send panic across the waves regarding the status of our budget, I did share that it will be important to ensure that each penny is being well spent on behalf of our students.


     As I have shared before in my Friday letters, our District has endured a decreasing savings account due to deficit spending. In essence, we have been spending more money each year than we have received in revenue, and quite simply this is not sustainable. Much like a personal budget, it is never wise to spend so much each month that you wind up with no savings on which to count in emergencies. Thus, as we continue this year we will be working to arrive at budget solutions that will improve our overall standing, and we will be looking to ensure that we have the correct levels of staffing as we finish this year and plan for next year. In 2020, we will be embarking on a process to further inform our parents, employees, and community stakeholders of the process we will be using to help us address our budget issues. In the meantime, we do ask that those with ideas regarding this topic complete the budget survey document on our website.


     The second part of the evening was a presentation on vaping. Several students were a huge component of the presentation.

Digital Safari – Innovation Fair Presentations:


     Also on on Wednesday, December 11, 2019, Mt. Diablo High School presented The Digital Safari Innovation Fair, which was quite superb! Founded in 1996, The Digital Safari Academy is a three year college and career preparation program beginning in the sophomore year of high school. While our career focus is on Multimedia Arts and Computer Science, our overall focus is on creating strong, well rounded students ready for college and life after high school. The students worked in teams to develop and build an idea, complete research on their idea, design a marketing strategy for their idea, build ways to achieve capital for their ideas, and enter into production to meet the demands for their products. The students had to discuss their products, just like on “Shark Tank” and lure investors to opt into their products. Five groups were selected to participate in the final presentations of the evening. As the M.C. stated, there are no losers in this event, as each student gleaned valuable insight and skills through participation and the team-work they engaged to bring a product to the market.  


California Association of School Business Officials – “Magnificent Seven” Award Recipient – Elizabeth Mc Clanahan, Director of Purchasing.


Elizabeth McClanahan was recognized by the California Association of School Business Officials as one of their Northern California “Magnificent Seven” selections. Elizabeth is our MDUSD Director of Purchasing and works to ensure that our school sites, departments, and employees have access to the materials and supplies they need to bring for the best services and education possible. Congratulations Elizabeth!

A Little Holiday Luncheon!


     The Students at Mt. Diablo High School’s Sustainable Tourism Classes put on an amazing feast for many of the Dent staff today. The students used food grown on campus, prepared the entire meal, and truly demonstrated what it means to work together in teamwork fashion to provide a wonderful meal in a great atmosphere that brightened the day of a number of our District staff.

Who can resist a Transitional-Kindergarten, Kindergarten, and First Grade Sing-a-Long?

     I was fortunate to have finished my school visits this week at Cambridge Elementary to witness some of our amazing teachers assist some of our youngest students in making the season bright as they thrilled their parents and families with several musical selections. Principal Beleche, and Assistant Principal Pappas were so connected to their students and families. I sincerely was able to tell all of the young singers that they warmed my heart today!


Several Activities in My Calendar This Week


Monday, December 9, 2019

  • Met with the Interim Director of Fiscal Services, Mika Arbelbide
  • Conducted a final interview for the Workforce Specialist position.
  • Met with Director of Food Services, Dominic Machi, regarding strategies to mitigate unpaid meal balances.
  • School site visit at Mount Diablo Elementary School
  • Met with Assistant Superintendent of Elementary Schools, Jose Espinoza
  • Met with Board President Joanne Durkee
  • Conducted a final interview for the Vice Principal of Riverview Middle School position
  • Attended a Special Board Meeting

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

  • Met with our Legal Department Staff
  • Conducted a meeting with my Cabinet
  • Conducted a meeting with my Executive Cabinet
  • Conducted a final interview for the Chief Business Officer position


Wednesday, December 11, 2019

  • Met with our Legal Department
  • Met with Principal Hammons of Eagle Peak
  • Met with Board Vice President Linda Mayo
  • Met with Assistant Superintendent of Elementary Schools, Jose Espinoza
  • Met with the Interim Director of Fiscal Services, Mika Arbelbide
  • Met with the District’s Negotiation Team
  • Met with MDEA President and Labor Representative
  • Presented at the LCAP Parent Advisory Committee and Speaker Series
  • Attended the MDHS Digital Safari Innovation Fair


Thursday, December 12, 2019

  • Met with the Contra Costa County Office of Education Superintendent, Lynn Mackey
  • Attended the Contra Costa County Office of Education Council of Superintendent’s Meeting
  • Attended the California Association of School Business Organization Winter Meeting
  • Met with the Diablo Managers Association
  • Met with the finalist for the Chief Business Officer position


Friday, December 13, 2019

  • Met with Concord City Manager, Valerie Barone
  • Visited Sunrise Elementary School
  • Attended the Dent Holiday Buffet at Mount Diablo High, by the Sustainable Tourism Group
  • Attended the Cambridge Elementary School Kinder Concert



-Superintendent Dr. Rob Martinez-