CONTRA COSTA COUNTY, CA (Dec. 16, 2021) — One thing that can be said about California education in 2021 is that most classrooms sat empty in January and are back to near full use this month as the COVID-19 pandemic impacts local schools for the third school year.
It would be a fruitless exercise to try and determine what sector of life in America was most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, any such effort would never have education too far from the top of the list.
At the beginning of 2021 many local private schools were conducting on campus learning to greater or lesser degrees. Clayton Valley Charter had hybrid programs since the fall of 2020. Mt. Diablo Unified School District was teaching its nearly 30,000 students remotely.
It wasn’t until March that MDUSD began in-person teaching and that phased up over one week before every grade was back on campus part-time. The large district faced more challenges than most individual schools, whether private or public, with its various constituencies of teachers, staff, parents and students at over 50 sites.
Changes at CVCHS
Clayton Valley Charter completed its transition to almost full on-campus learning with a hybrid learning schedule in the same time period and soon after that occurred Executive Director Jim Scheible left campus April 20. He had intended to complete his third school year at the charter so his departure was a surprise after Scheible had calmed the waters following the stormy tenure of his predecessor Dave Linzey.
Scheible successfully steered the school through a five-year renewal of its charter by the County Board of Education and a full WASC accreditation in the same 2019-20 school year. Charter veteran Dave Fehte was appointed interim executive director and is keeping that position through the end of the 2021-22 school year.
Contra Costa School of Performing Arts also had a leadership change. Founder Neil McChesney accepted a half-time position with the Contra Costa County Office of Education as Coordinator, Charter School Oversight. His successor as executive director of SPA is Dr. Robert Chalwell.
Never far from the headlines, CVCHS had another surprise in September soon after this term began when fifth-year principal Jeff Anderson abruptly left to address a family matter. Fehte is fulfilling the roles previously performed by Scheible and Anderson, which is how the charter administration was originally envisioned when Linzey was hired as the first executive director in 2012.
Last spring there was a controversary when it became public that there were discussions at both Concord (Minutemen) and Ygnacio Valley (Warriors) high schools to change the original and long-time mascots and nickname of the school’s athletic teams. There was pushback in the public that during the pandemic there were bigger issues to deal with.
Superintendent Dr. Adam Clark told the MDUSD board that it was imperative that full on-campus learning return this fall so that lowering enrollment in the district did not get to critical levels. Over the past six years enrollment in K-8 has dropped over 12% while high school enrollment is only down 3.2%.
Clark’s reopening plans were instituted although, as in other walks of life, there are those pushing back on health protocols such as everyone masked at all times in all school buildings. Some parents still preferred their children engage in remote learning and MDUSD setup a district-wide program to accommodate those families.
MDUSD and Clayton Valley Charter continue to battle in court over the amount owed the district each year by CVCHS for use of the MDUSD-own facility in Concord. Clayton Valley won a major appeal court ruling in October concerning a 2019 Superior Court judge’s ruling on calculating the annual amount owed to MDSUD. The district announced it is appealing that ruling to the California Supreme Court.
TK enrollment going up for 2022-23 school year
Enrollment process for the 2022-23 school year in MDUSD begins in February. The district is also following state changes for transitional kindergarten (TK) enrollment. Currently, children who are five years of age prior to Sept. 2 in any given school year are eligible to enroll in kindergarten.
Children who turn five between Sept. 2 and Dec. 2 of each school year are eligible for TK enrollment. Next fall TK will be available for children who turn five between Sept. 2 of this school year and Feb. 2 of the following year, or two additional months. This expands every year until every child will be eligible for enrollment in TK.
|Kindergarten Eligible Students||Born prior to
September 2, 2016
|Prior to September 2, 2017||Prior to September 2, 2018||Prior to September 2, 2019|
|TK Eligible Students||Born Sept. 2, 2016 to December 2, 2016||September 2, 2017 to February 2, 2018||September 2, 2018 to April 2, 2019||September 2, 2019 to June 2, 2020|
Jay Bedecarré is a long-time resident and writer in Concord and Clayton. He began his newspaper writing career while still a senior at Mt. Diablo High School and he has been part of The Pioneer since its inception in 2003. Jay also operates Bay Area Festivals, presenting events around the San Francisco Bay Area including Bay Area KidFest annually in Downtown Concord.