Does Student Performance Depend on Which Schools are Closed?

Closing Schools in a Shrinking District: Does Student Performance Depend on Which Schools are Closed? This report is based on a study by a group from RAND Corporation, Carnegie Mellon University, Mathematica Policy Research, Inc., University of Pennsylvania, and Vanderbilt University. The study evaluates the impact of school closures on student achievement by analyzing student achievement growth before and after the closures when a school closure plan explicitly seeks to move students from low-performing schools to higher performing schools. The methodology is complicated and detailed. The results are interesting. Here are some excerpt from the study:

Overcapacity was great enough that the district closed 22 schools at the conclusion of the 2005-06 school year. In selecting schools to be closed, academic performance was not the only criterion, but it was the first priority. The district designed the closure plan with the principle that any students who had to be moved because their school was closed would be moved to a school at least as high-performing as (and ideally higher-performing than) the one they left. Our aim is to examine the extent to which the district’s approach succeeded in producing better results for students forced to move, without undermining the achievement of students who did not move.

This suggests that the district’s strategy of seeking to move students to higher-performing schools was well founded: students moving to higher-performing schools saw smaller declines in achievement, and those who moved to substantially higher-performing schools could have seen no negative impact at all, as the benefit of the higher-performing school cancelled out the negative effect of moving.

Overall, this suggests that closing schools can have adverse transitional effects for students in closed schools, but these effects can be offset by relocation to schools with stronger academic performance. Moreover, there is no evidence that the influx of new students has negative achievement implications for the students in the receiving schools.

The results suggest that if a district needs to close schools, then closing low performing schools and transferring students to higher performing schools can minimize any adverse effects.

Does this support the argument to keep Scenario 3 off the school closure list? Should Silverwood be closed under these assumptions? Should the District implement more programs like Monte Gardens and Sequoia in order to provide more successful school alternatives?


School Closures – What makes the most sense?

Theresa Harrington reported online today that the School Closure Committee has come up with potential scenarios for closing schools. The committee has put together 10 options and the “Superintendent’s Council” has offered an 11th. What do you think of the choices?

1 – 1: GLENBROOK (to El Dorado, Oak Grove, Valley View);
SILVERWOOD (to Ayers, Mountain View, Highlands);
HOLBROOK (to Wren, Sun Terrace, Monte Gardens, Westwood);
Savings: $1,504,453

1 – 2: SILVERWOOD (see above);
HOLBROOK (see above);
EL MONTE (to Wren, Westwood, Woodside);
GREGORY GARDENS (to Hidden Valley, Fair Oaks, Valhalla);
Savings: $1,738,320

2- 1: GLENBROOK (to El Dorado, Oak Grove, Valley View);
WREN AVENUE (to El Monte, Holbrook, Monte Gardens, Westwood);
SILVERWOOD (to Ayers, Mountain View, Highlands);
Savings: $1,533,504

2- 2: WREN AVENUE (see 2-1 above);
SHORE ACRES (to Rio Vista, Bel Air and possibly Delta View);
SILVERWOOD (see 2-1 above);
GREGORY GARDENS (to Sequoia Elem, which becomes partial neighborhood school like Monte Gardens; Hidden Valley, Valhalla);
Savings: $1,819,386

3-1: SEQUOIA ELEM. (to home schools);
SEQUOIA MIDDLE SCHOOL (to home schools);
WREN AVENUE (to El Monte, Holbrook, Monte Gardens, Westwood);
Savings: $1,607,769

3- 2: FAIR OAKS (to Bancroft, Cambridge, Strandwood);
SHORE ACRES (to Bel Air, Delta View, Riverview and Rio Vista, which all become K-8);
OAK GROVE (to Foothill, El Dorado, Pleasant Hill and other surrounding if necessary);
Savings: $1,543,916

4- 1: SEQUOIA ELEM. (to home schools);
AYERS ELEM. (to Silverwood, Highlands, Mountain View);
MONTE GARDENS (to home schools, residents to Westwood, Wren);
FAIR OAKS (to Pleasant Hill Elem., Gregory Gardens, Bancroft):
Savings: $,685,242

4- 2: SEQUOIA ELEM. (to home schools);
SEQUOIA MIDDLE (to home schools);
MONTE GARDENS ELEM. (to home schools, residents to Westwood, Wren Ave.);
Savings: $1,563,095

5- 1: WREN AVENUE (to El Monte, Westwood);
SILVERWOOD ELEM. (to Ayers, Highlands);
GREGORY GARDENS ELEM. (to Valhalla, Strandwood);
BANCROFT (to Fair Oaks, Walnut Acres, Woodside, Valle Verde);
HOLBROOK (to Sun Terrace);
RIO VISTA (to Shore Acres, Bel Air);
Savings: $2,761,978

5- 2: GLENBROOK MIDDLE (to Oak Grove, El Dorado);
plus any two elementary schools from scenario 5-1;
Savings: $1,470,929 – $1,615,613, depending on which elementary schools are chosen

Superintendent’s Council recommendation:
OAK GROVE (to 6-12 campus at Ygnacio Valley HS);
GLENBROOK (to 6-12 campus at Mt. Diablo HS);
Convert Riverview Middle School to 6-12 campus;
Savings: approximately $1.5 million

For the full story Contra Costa Times or On Assignment

MDUSD is not on list of 174 CA school districts facing default

On the heels of the email from Superintendent Lawrence indicating the very real possibility of a State takeover of MDUSD, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell commented in an Associated Press article today that 174 school districts are on the watch list for for being unable to meet their financial obligations. Mt. Diablo Unified School District is not on the list but San Ramon Valley Unified is on the qualified list while John Swett has a negative certification.  This does not mean MDUSD is out of the woods but it may mean a state takeover is not eminent.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell said a record 174 districts may not be able to meet their financial obligations over the next two years, a 38 percent increase over last year.
“The economic picture for our schools regrettably is bleak,” O’Connell said. “This clearly is a result of inadequate funding of our schools. The lack of funding is hurting our children, our schools, our neighborhoods and our future.”
The 174 districts on the state’s fiscal watch list represent about 16 percent of California’s 1,077 local education agencies. Fourteen of those districts have a “negative certification,” which means they may not be able to pay their bills in the current or next fiscal year.       Entire Article

List of Negative and Qualified Certifications
Local Educational Agencies
2009-10 Second Interim Report

Negative Certification


MDUSD facing receivership? Communication from the Superintendent with pressure on the bargaining units.

Could it be so…. the communication begins. But the news looks bleak.
The Superintendent just sent out the following email and attachments:

Dear Parents and Community of the Mt. Diablo Unified School District:

In a time of unprecedented budget deficits throughout the state, the Mt. Diablo Unified School District (“District”) like many others is forced into the untenable position of making drastic reductions in staff and services. Ongoing state budget cuts have severely impacted the amount of money we receive from the State of California to educate the children of our community. As a result of decreasing revenues and declining student enrollment, the District’s annual operating deficit is projected to average nearly $13 million per year for the next three years, on top of the approximately $24.8 million deficit for what remains of the 2009/10 fiscal year.

Although we have already responded to the budget deficit by implementing staff reductions and non-personnel cuts totaling $15.88 million, we regretfully find ourselves in the position of having to ask for additional concessions from all of our bargaining units in order to present a balanced budget to the County Office of Education by June 30.

In the event we are not able to present a balanced budget in 2010/11 and beyond, there is a very real possibility that the state could take over our District. If there is a takeover and a State Administrator is appointed, your elected representatives (the Board of Education) and by extension you, will have no say in running the District. That is an outcome I know that none of us want to see come to pass.

I am certain that you have questions about the District’s finances and what is happening at the bargaining table. Therefore, I am enclosing answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about the budget and the status of bargaining.

I am confident that with continued cooperation we will see our way through this current fiscal storm. Thank you for your patience. Have a good summer.


Steven Lawrence

FAQ About the District

A “Must Attend” Event – Special Board Meeting this Wednesday

This is your opportunity to provide suggestions regarding upcoming budget cuts.  This is your opportunity to ask questions about how the budget works.  This is your opportunity to share ideas that can help ease the burden these cuts have placed on our students and classrooms.  This is your opportunity to have a VOICE and be heard.

Last week Dr. Nicoll sent the following email:

Special School Board Meeting

As a result of the Governors budget proposal, the projected deficit in the school district ending balance as of June 2012 has grown from $17 million to $35 million. In consequence, we will need to make additional reductions to our expenditure budget. The Board of Education has scheduled a special meeting on Wednesday, January 20, at 7pm at the Dent Education Center, 1936 Carlotta Drive in Concord.  The purpose of the meeting is to solicit public input on the additional cuts that will need to be made. Staff will present a brief review of the budget, but the majority of the meeting will be spent listening to parents and community members regarding budget reductions.

This is a very important meeting, and I hope you will be able to attend.

Dick Nicoll,

Interim Superintendent

We have confirmed that this meeting is being noticed to the public as a board meeting in order to allow all 5 board members to participate.  However, the format of the meeting will be that of a community/town hall meeting with the opportunity for a two-way discussion.

These budget cuts are having a devastating and unprecedented affect on education across this state.  Here are excerpts from a report by the Education Coalition from November:

“…We have increased class size, reduced teachers, reduced support staff, eliminated programs such as Spanish, music, drama, and band. We have eliminated librarians, counselors, classroom aides,  computer techs, and the GATE programs. We have reduced special ed staff and administrators. We have no funding for supplemental materials and have had to get waivers for textbook adoptions…”

Michele Schuetz, Auburn Union School District, Auburn, CA

“We have eliminated 80% of our library services…”

Steve Mitrovich, San Carlos School District, Anderson, CA

“Increased class size sizes by 7‐10 students, reduced custodial and security staff, reduced technology staff, reduced elective offerings at middle and high schools and reduced music and athletic programs.”

Lou Obermeyer, Valley CenterPauma Unified School District, Valley Center, CA

“…Loss of Categorical Program Director, reduction in counseling services, freeze on textbook purchases, larger class size at secondary level. We will need to make an additional $2.5 million in cuts for 2010‐2011.

Rob Gaskill, Cabrillo Unified School District, Half Moon Bay, CA

“We have closed 2 schools, increased class size, and eliminated and/or reduced support services staff (counselors and deans)…”

Louis Pappas, CovinaValley Unified School District, Covina, CA

“…due to budget cuts, every employee in Wiseburn had to take 6 furlough days. This impacts students directly as their academic calendar has been cut to 175 days…”

Tom Johnstone, Wiseburn School District, Hawthorne, CA

“We have cut instructional aides, drama classes, our professional development budget, and our technology budget.”

Anthony Ranii, Hillsborough City School District, Hillsborough, CA

“Closed an elementary school to save money, students are transported out of their neighborhood schools, cuts to instructional supply funds, fieldtrips, sports…”

Dr. Frank W. Passarella, Lake Elsinore Unified School District, Lake Elsinore, CA