CONCORD -- A meeting has been scheduled Monday in response to skepticism from some in the Mt. Diablo school district regarding the estimated financial effect of converting Clayton Valley High to a charter school.

Superintendent Steven Lawrence has asked principals at every school in the district to invite two parent leaders to the meeting at the Loma Vista Adult Center, where Chief Financial Officer Bryan Richards will present the district's projections, along with Debi Deal, of the Fiscal Crisis Management Assistance Team, who recently conducted an independent review of the estimates.

"Between the two of them," Lawrence said in an email, "we can answer questions about the FCMAT review as well as how the district developed its numbers."

Although district trustees denied the charter petition Nov. 8 in a 4-1 vote, the charter committee has appealed to the Contra Costa County Board of Education, said Clayton Mayor David Shuey, who is on the committee. District officials have sent out several messages to the community over the past six months, estimating that the charter conversion would force the district to cut from $1.5 million to $2.4 million, with the most recent estimate at $1.8 million.

This is based on the district having to pay the charter a high school rate of $6,148 per student, but Mt. Diablo receives a "blended" rate of $5,207 per student from the state, because it includes both elementary and secondary students.


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Usually, high schools cost more to operate than elementary schools. But the Mt. Diablo district spends more on some elementary schools because the teachers are more experienced, so they receive higher salaries, according to Lawrence.

The charter committee has repeatedly questioned the district's calculations, which prompted Walnut Creek City Councilman Kish Rajan -- along with Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, D-Concord, and state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord -- to suggest that an independent analysis be done. Rajan also suggested that an independent committee review the estimates.

Shuey said the crisis management team review does not definitively corroborate the district's estimates because it includes a disclaimer that states: "FCMAT verified the source of the data utilized by the district in its calculations but did not perform an in-depth fiscal review or financial audit of Mt. Diablo school district, and accordingly, FCMAT does not express an opinion in this regard."

Rajan said he hopes the meeting will lead to a financial impact that everyone can agree on.

He also said he hopes the charter committee will be sensitive to other reductions that may be necessary because of the state's budget "trigger" resulting from lower-than-anticipated revenues.

IF YOU GO:
  • The Mt. Diablo school district will hold a public meeting from 5-7 p.m. Monday at the Loma Vista Adult Center, 1266 San Carlos Ave. in Concord.
  • More information about the Clayton Valley High charter petition is available by calling 925-682-8000, ext. 4000, or by visiting http://esbpublic.mdusd.k12.ca.us. Click on Nov. 8 and choose item 14.1.
  • Additional details are at https://sites.google.com/site/claytonvalleycharterhighschool and in the On Assignment blog at www.ibabuzz.com/onassignment.