School district separation
Every new year brings new hope. Already in 2011, state redistricting has begun, and new California schools superintendent Tom Torlakson plans to start consolidating school districts.
Half of Walnut Creek belongs to Mt. Diablo Unified School District, and we hope that city hall will prioritize K-12 education. This is vital to improve our community, our economy and our future.
Sadly, despite the efforts of Mount Diablo administration, teachers and families, the district continues to face overwhelming challenges:
(1) No parcel tax to support our teachers and classrooms;
(2) Stalled teacher contract negotiations, and possible furlough days (reducing class time);
(3) The brink of declaring a "negative certification" of its budget, which could lead to receivership; and
(4) Planned school closures (from four to seven school sites).
In December, the MDUSD School Closure Committee entered four votes to close our Northgate High School. Some asserted the district never wouldclose Northgate, but now we know to "never say never." The final decision is scheduled for this month.
These issues, affecting thousands of Walnut Creek children and families, are urgent and call for a joint meeting of city hall and MDUSD. Last April, the City Council and city manager met with the entire Walnut Creek School District board and superintendent. The failure to schedule a City Council meeting with the MDUSD board is inexplicable.
At the same time, it is a fluke that Walnut Creek is in the Mount Diablo district, a large, sprawling and unwieldy district. The California Deptartment of Education (District Organization Handbook, www.cde.ca.gov/re/lr/do) provides that a school district can be divided, and logically MDUSD is a prime candidate for that.
City hall must be aware of the repeated attempts since 1948 to unify Walnut Creek schools, and that last year's "Community Conversations" expressed the unanimous wish to separate our city from MDUSD.
Recently we welcomed our new mayor, Cindy Silva, and new city manager, Ken Nordhoff. Families have renewed hope that the city will coordinate with MDUSD on urgent issues. And in this year of state redistricting, we hope the city will consider the sensible reorganization of our school districts.
Founder, Walnut Creek Schools Together Now Walnut Creek