CONCORD -- Staff turnover, a lack of training and a misunderstanding of the rules caused Mt. Diablo High administrators to put more students in some classes last year than allowed under a state grant.
The Mt. Diablo school board on Monday unanimously approved a waiver application asking the state to forgive it for failing to meet class-size requirements so it can continue receiving more than $1.5 million a year through the Quality Education Investment Act. The state Board of Education expects to vote on the application in March or May.
"I certainly am supporting the waiver," said trustee Cheryl Hansen. "But I'm certainly not supporting the fact that I think the communication around this and the process of monitoring it really fell short of what the public should expect from the board and the district."
Although school and district administrators have known for more than a year that the school was not keeping some class sizes below 27 as required, Principal Kate McClatchy did not inform teachers until Dec. 7. They voted "no confidence" in her five days later, based on her failure to comply with the grant, along with numerous other complaints alleging a top-down management style.
No one mentioned the no-confidence vote during Monday's board meeting. Instead, teacher Dan Reynolds urged trustees to approve the waiver application, saying the funding for smaller classes gives teachers more one-on-one time with students, which helps them learn and achieve.
Reynolds said Tuesday that the district has set up a process to listen to teachers' comments about McClatchy.
"I am moving forward with guarded optimism that our concerns will be heard," he said.
During Monday's meeting, a new group of employees stood holding "No Confidence" signs -- school secretaries and other clerical workers who asked trustees to reinstate hours and days reduced this year due to expected midyear cuts. They said officials misled them to believe the district faced a financial crisis when they agreed to the cuts in the spring.
With Gov. Jerry Brown not making drastic cuts for 2011-12, the employees said their hours and days should be restored because the district has about $38 million in reserve money. Based on the rosier-than-anticipated budget this year, Lawrence told the parent group last week that he does not anticipate district employees will need to take furlough days this school year.
Details about the district's waiver are available by calling 925-682-8000, ext. 4000, or by going to http://esbpublic.mdusd.k12.ca.us. Click on Jan. 9, item 13.4.
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