NUSD – What Comes Next?
On August 29, 2017 Northgate CAPS went before the County Committee on School District Organization, seeking a positive recommendation to the State Board of Education on our petition to create a new Northgate Unified School District. Prior to the meeting, the County Office of Education consultants released their evaluation of our proposal, which found that it met seven of the State’s Nine Criteria for school district organization. The County Office of Education added two additional schools to our proposal, Oak Grove MS and Ygnacio Valley HS, which had never been part of our proposal and were not needed by NUSD. The addition of those two schools dramatically impacted the consultants’ conclusions regarding the two unmet criteria.
Without the two extra schools, according to the consultants’ testimony at the hearing, we would have passed Criterion 3 and possibly also Criterion 7. After almost nine hours of presentations, public comments, and questions from the committee, the County Committee voted 3 to 2 against recommending the creation of a new Northgate Unified School District.
It’s important to note that the County Committee is not the decision-making agency in this matter. The State Board of Education makes the final decision to determine if this proposal goes before the voters, and they are the next step in this process. While we would have preferred to have received at least one additional vote from the County Committee, we are hopeful at the State level. The State BoE has its own staff and legal counsel. (This is something that the County Committee lacked; they must rely on County Office of Education staff and legal counsel, who are all hired and managed by the County Superintendent of Schools, who does not report to the County Board/Committee). The members of the State BoE also tend to be more informed about the school district organization process and requirements.
The State BoE faces a large backload of agenda items, and after the County meeting, we were informed that the petition to create a new Northgate Unified School District may not be heard for another 2 – 2 ½ years. During this time we will prepare for the State hearing and continue to gather data on MDUSD and how it compares with districts facing similar challenges. We will continue to seek to hold MDUSD accountable, while keeping the community informed through our Northgate CAPS advocacy efforts. Please follow our blog site northgatecaps.org, where we will post relevant MDUSD information and updates. We will continue to follow the MDUSD budget, the disruption caused by the Bancroft Split, the continuing uncertainty regarding Clayton Valley transfers, and the district’s efforts to improve student achievement.
In addition, Northgate CAPS will be involved in the 2018 election process. We intend to keep you informed about the candidates who will be running for the MDUSD board and to highlight positions that are likely to produce positive change within the district, instead of defending the status quo.
Much has been said about race, segregation, and elitism throughout our campaign. We believe those charges were attempts to deflect attention away from changes that are needed throughout MUDSD and to delay effective steps toward school improvement . Our effort is, always has been, and will continue to be, about creating a smaller district that is more accountable and transparent. We believe that this campaign can continue to shine a light on the need for more community-based management of schools throughout MDUSD. That light will continue to focus on governance and leadership changes that are necessary for the schools that our students, residents, and educators deserve.