Where are we in the process?
Northgate CAPS began researching the options for district reorganization in 2013 and began its outreach campaign in 2014, holding 1-2 meetings per month up until the petition campaign began in September and continuing through December, 2016. The first meetings were designed to frame the proposal for a new district and assess support for it within the community. Subsequent meetings focused more on the particulars of the proposal. We did not focus on specific policy options or decisions that should rightfully be made by the elected NUSD board. Instead, we focused on MDUSD’s track record of poorer performance compared to other area districts, and the need for a more appropriate district size, so that the governance and level of community involvement that would foster a more responsive school district.
We received questions and follow-up associated with every meeting, except the meetings with MDUSD, which listened, but did not comment or ask any questions. Otherwise, people had questions about boundaries, financial viability, continuity of programs (including special ed), and maintaining the diversity of our student population by continuing to make our schools available to students from elsewhere who were seeking better learning opportunities.
We met with the widest possible variety of stakeholders, including parents of current MDUSD students, parents of prior MDUSD students, residents without school-age students, current teachers, retired teachers, residents who had worked at other school districts, current and former administrators at MDUSD, local political representatives from the Cities of Concord and Walnut Creek, elected representatives and staff at county and state levels, local business people, and other groups representing local residents in a variety of matters. Here is a representative selection of those meetings:
- 2014 meeting with Superintendent Nellie Meyer, Board President Cheryl Hansen, Board Member Barbara Oaks.
- Follow-up “Workshop” with the MDUSD board.
- One-on-one meetings with board member Brian Lawrence and board candidate Debra Mason.
- 2014 Informational meetings with all five school PFCs/PTA and the board of Eagle Peak Montessori charter school.
- Teachers represented at each meeting and most also attended by administrators.
- 2014 One-on-One meetings:
- LCFF and Spec Ed experts, MDEA leadership, individual teachers.
- 2014-15 – Presentations and discussions with the Walnut Creek City Council, Mayor of Concord, WC City Education Committee, WC Chamber of Commerce, Pleasant Hill Education Commission.
- 2014-16 almost bi-monthly neighborhood meetings in Northgate, Crystyl Ranch, Carriage Square, YV Library, Rancho San Miguel, Woodlands, and area homes.
- Promoted via email & social media, with teachers in attendance.
- Spring 2015 – Presentation to Contra Costa County Office of Education Board presentation and discussion of Nine Criteria regulations.
- Continuing updates on our website, Facebook page, Twitter, Nextdoor
- Summer 2016 – Discussion of district data and campaign progress with Superintendent Meyer and senior MDUSD staff; meetings with Contra Costa County Superintendent of Schools and Office of Education senior staff.
- Fall 2016 – Flyer distribution to Walnut Country, Lime Ridge, Sunset Park, Bancroft Village.
- 2016 – Letter to all teachers and staff at the five Northgate area schools.
In September 2016 we launched our petition campaign, the first step in the California Department of Education Handbook on District Organization. There were 19,784 register voters in the proposed territory of NUSD. In order to meet the requirements to bring our proposal to the County Committee we had to get the signatures of 25% of registered voters or 4,946 signatures within six months. We gathered almost 7,000 signatures in five months. After scrubbing those names against the registered voter database, we were able to verify 6,137 of the signatures presented to the County on Feb 22. That is roughly 31% of all registered voters.
The County is verifying the petition signatures and will be setting a hearing date shortly.