School news roundup: Busy time of year for area schools

The second semester of the 2018-19 school year is well underway and area schools are busy with this year’s activities while already looking ahead to the new school year in the fall.

Mt. Diablo Unified School District: The District is inviting families, community and business leaders, and other stakeholders to attend one of a series of Town Hall forums designed to provide an update on the development of the District’s Facility Master Plan for all school sites and charter facilities.  During these meetings, attendees will be able to view the Draft Master Plan proposals, provide written comments/ feedback and ask questions of the FMP design team.

In addition to the forum events, each school’s School Site Committee are reaching out to their local community stakeholders to gather further feedback. The results of these meetings will be conveyed in subsequent one-on-one meetings with the design team and the site principals.

Upcoming Town Hall meetings (all schools in the feeder programs for the host school are invited to attend):

Feb. 19, 6-8 p.m. Concord and Northgate High Schools
Feb. 20, 3-4:30 p.m. Site TBA re: Eagle Peak Montessori and Clayton Valley Charter High School
Feb. 20, 6-8 p.m. College Park High School and Riverview Middle School

Kindergarten registration:  Incoming kindergarten students for the Class of 2032 can register now for this fall.  Enrollment is also open for transitional kindergarten students for Class of 2033 – the first year of a two-year kindergarten program. The 2019-2020 school year begins Aug. 15.

The Kindergarten Readiness Act of 2010 changed the entry date for students enrolling in kindergarten and first grade. For the 2019-2020 school, children must turn five on or before Sept. 1, 2019, to be admitted to kindergarten. Children who turn five between Sept. 2 and Dec. 2, 2019, are eligible to enroll in transitional kindergarten, providing families an opportunity to give their child extended time to prepare for kindergarten.

Parents can take their online enrollment summary and required documents to their resident school site.

Registration packets are available at each elementary school. Kindergarten/TK intradistrict transfer applications will be available online only from Feb. 18 – Mar. 18. TK transfers for two-way dual immersion and bilingual programs will be available online only during that same time period.

For more information, go to the MDUSD Student Enrollment website or contact Student Services at (925) 682-8000, ext. 4069.

Clayton Valley Charter High School: The charter school is continuing the process of responding to the concerns raised by the Contra Costa County Board of Education centered around former executive director Dave Linzey, who was terminated in May by the CVCHS governing board.

The CCCBOE ordered a forensic audit of the school focusing on compensation paid to Linzey and his administrator wife Eileen, as well as hiring practices and board composition and procedures.

Executive director Jim Scheible, who was hired last summer, and board chairperson Kristy Downs have been working with the county to resolve all the audit findings. They say they have addressed each of the issues raised in the audit. They are considering ordering a second audit.

This all comes at a sensitive time as the school will be renewing its charter, which expires in June 2020. The county board elections last fall saw two new members elected, replacing board members who had been favorably inclined towards accepting charter schools in the county.

This fall, the heavy lifting will be undertaken in the process as CVCHS seeks a five-year renewal. The board is looking at changes to its existing charter concerning the composition of the board, which currently includes four school employees, who must recuse themselves for many discussions and votes due to their conflict of interest.

The school has setup up Governance Oversight and Fiscal Oversight committees and are soliciting applications from the general public to serve on them. The committees are scheduled to meet quarterly.

In another issue connected to CVCHS, officials withdrew a petition to open two charter schools in Antioch this fall, just days before the Antioch Unified School Board was scheduled to consider revoking their charters. Antioch Unified approved East Bay Tech Academy’s charters for both a middle school and high school last spring but board members were to consider reversing that action at a meeting based on allegations that the academy’s leaders concealed financial information and misled trustees about the schools’ connection with Clayton Valley Charter High School, whose management and spending practices are being investigated by the county.

The audit by the Contra Costa County Board of Education found that leaders of CVCHS spent about $40,000 of school money on legal fees associated with the East Bay Tech Academy schools.

Last week, CVCHS held its annual lottery for open positions in the fall class. The 550-member freshman class of 2023 had 68 openings after eighth graders from its traditional feeder schools and siblings of current students indicated their intention to enroll. Limited places in the upper three classes are also filled by the lottery.

Carondelet High School: This year’s Harvard Model Congress drew nearly 400 students from across the United States and around the world to San Francisco to assume the role of congressional leaders, senators and important government officials to engage in vigorous debate. Over the course of three days, Carondelet students Christina Abudayeh, Laura Bocek and Ellen Bezanson received the highest awards possible, Best Delegate. Mary Siemons, Nicole Abudayeh and Alli Lowe were awarded honorable mentions.

Carondelet’s 15 delegates won six of the 55 total awards possible. Carondelet’s Abudayeh earned the highest award of Best Delegate for her three-day performance. For closing ceremonies, a speech contest was held and she was one of three speakers chosen to address the entire delegation.

Asked about the experience, sophomore Siemons said, “Harvard Model Congress was an amazing experience and so different than anything I’ve ever done. I was able to talk about interesting political issues with other students from all over the world.”

Social studies chairman Phil Miller advises the Model United Nations, one of the clubs at Carondelet that allows students to develop the type of skills necessary for college success and to develop well-rounded thinkers who may one day serve the highest offices of the land.

Jay Bedecarré
Jay Bedecarré
Sports and Schools Editor at The Concord Clayton Pioneer | | Website

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.