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  • Monday, November 14, 2005


    Orange Unified Schools Digest

    What’s the difference between the Orange Unified Board members and the Orange County Sanitation Board of Directors? When the Sanitation Board members became aware of wasteful consultant spending they first dumped the consultant, then after an audit, the Sanitation District’s General Manager Blake Anderson. In OUSD, the Trustees keep dumping educational tax dollars into the controversial Focus on Results consultant program as the OUSD Administrators keep “morphing” the yet-to-be-proven Focus on Results program into a “flavor-of-the-month” in their efforts to continue the controversial program. The latest in a long line of administrative morphing is the November 17th OUSD Board Agenda Item 13 B. The title of Agenda Item 13 B is: Status Report: Focus on Results Training. While you might expect this to be the long awaited report on how Focus on Results has impacted any of the many areas that OUSD Assistant Superintendent Cheryl Cohen has tried to “morph” it into, this newest “morph” would be funny if it wasn’t so unusually bizarre.

    The agenda “Description” of Agenda Item 13 B for the first time in 4 years tries to tie the controversial consulting program to a new court mandated settlement on California schools known as the Williams Settlement. It states:

    “Staff will present an updated status report outlining the impact that the Focus on Results training program is having on the Orange Unified School District Williams Case Settlement”

    The Williams Case Settlement resulted from a class action suit against all the state educational institutions in 2000. The lawsuit alleged students attended substandard schools that the lacked basic educational necessities: classrooms in good repair; adequate instructional materials; and trained teachers (To see the California Department of Education explanation CLICK ON: ). The five areas of concern in the lawsuit that are addressed in the settlement include A) students not having their own textbook in every course; B) Classes with a lack of a permanent teacher, or schools with more than 20% of teachers with out full credentials or with unqualified English Learner students without a “qualified” teacher; C) Inadequate, unhealthful classrooms and facilities including: cold or hot classrooms; outside noise impacted classrooms; clean, stocked and functioning restrooms; presence of vermin, mildew or rotting organic material D) lack of research materials to satisfy courses without paying a fee or having a waiver (i.e. school library or internet access) E) overcrowded schools; bused excessive distances; not enough seats; square footage of room average is less than 25 sq feet per student. How are any of those areas tied to Focus on Results? Good question.

    The Greater Orange Community Organization (GoCo), a vocal critic of the almost $ 2 million educational dollars spent by OUSD on Focus on Results, issued an email over the weekend about Agenda Item 13 B. The email statement stated that if the district connects Focus on Results to the Williams Settlement, GoCo will continue to expose Focus on Results and also focus on the Williams Settlement in OUSD. The GoCo email stated in part:

    “After the media story reported that Focus on Results had pirated materials from educational researchers, educational publishers and authors; after first selling the program as a way to raise student scores; after then using the program to send high paid administrators into classrooms for five minutes at a time for “bulletin board checks”; after spending an additional $25,000 for a “personal” Focus on Results coach for the Portola Principal, then seeing that schools state scores drop over 40 points; after calling the “Focus on Results” program the “systemic process for working”; after Trustee Wes Poutsma called it a “reading program”; Now, in a desperate bid to continue to spend millions of federal dollars earmarked for teacher training on a failed program, the OUSD Administration is trying to again change the failed Focus on Results program by tying it an imposed legal court settlement to further waste taxpayers money. For the Orange Unified School Board to allow this new “bait and switch” morph is anti-education, anti-taxpayer and anti-student. The community will be forced to “Focus on the Williams Settlement” provisions if the OUSD Administration chooses to tie Focus on Results to the legally binding Williams Settlement.”

    The Orange Net News series on the Focus on Results program, that last issue exposed the pirating of materials, will continue with upcoming installments.

    Since the September 22nd Orange School Board Meeting the Orange School Board dropped one of two opportunities for the public to address the Orange School Board during Regular Session on any issue not on the agenda. After the Orange Recall, adding the second opportunity to address the OUSD Board at the beginning of the meeting was added to the agenda by the New Citizens Majority as one of the Recall Communication Reforms. The long controversial meetings under the recalled Board often ended after eleven at night, forcing those who wished to address the Trustees to wait until the end of the meeting.

    Instead of simply moving the Communications to the Board agenda item to the front of the agenda, the newly elected Board left the original Communications to the Board at the end and added another section to the beginning. Thus the public had the opportunity not only to address the OUSD Board once, but twice. While most comments to the Board continue to come at the beginning of the meeting, occasionally a comment on what has transpired during the meeting has been made at the end of agenda Communications of the Board. That policy has been the policy since the Recall under the last two OUSD Superintendents, Barbara Van Otterloo and Robert French. In an emailed response to an inquiry from Orange Net News, current OUSD Superintendent (and Secretary to the Board) Dr. Godley confirmed the dropping of the Recall Communications Reform from the Board agenda. Godley wrote:

    “Communications from members of the community are welcomed and encouraged. Currently, there are two opportunities for community members to address the Board during a Board Meeting: the first is relevant to individual agenda items (see notice at the beginning of the agenda), and the second is relevant to items not on the agenda (see item 11. of the agenda). It is believed that these two opportunities to address the Board are sufficient to encourage open communications to the members of the Board during the open meetings. I hope this addresses your concern.”

    Thomas A. Godley
    Superintendent of Schools and Secretary to the Board

    The fact that the last opportunity to address the Board had been dropped came to light at the last meeting when members of the audience wanted to address the Board about information presented in the meeting, but the second Communications to Board had been dropped.

    Earlier in the year, over the objections of OUSD Trustee Rick Ledesma, the Orange School Board voted to approve the recommendation of the Superintendent (and Secretary to the Board) to end another Recall Communications Reform, the televised broadcast of OUSD Board meetings as a budget savings move. The broadcasts were another reform instituted as part of the reform agenda by the newly elected Citizens Majority, and their proposed cut did not go over well with the community. The funding for the Board broadcasts was eventually reinstated.

    Mr. and Mrs. Regis Fauquet donated an Epson Scanner to Olive Elementary School. An anonymous donor gave $6,300 towards a Villa Park High School scoreboard.
    For a complete list of community donations see page 14-15 of the November 17 OUSD Board Agenda.

    Highlights of the NEXT OUSD BOARD MEETING Thursday November 17
    NOTE: The Closed Session will begin at 7:00 pm, Regular Session remains at 7:30 pm
    This is a Tuesday Meeting.
    This meeting will be the last meeting with Kathy Moffat as the President. The rotation of officers has Kim Nichols scheduled as the next President beginning December 8th, 2005.
    Action Item 12 A- Second Reading :Formation of a special tax district (Community Facilities District) to collect an $8 million dollar bond to build a school in East Orange.
    Action Item 12 B- Second reading on Board Policy Changes from last meeting
    Action Item 12 C- Board Policy Changes 9000 series- First Reading

    The next Orange Unified School Board Meeting: Thursday Nov. 17 , 2005.

    Closed Session will begin at 7:00 pm, Regular Session remains at 7:30 pm

    For a complete OUSD Board Agenda CLICK ON:

    For more information call the OUSD Superintendent’s office at 714-628-4040

    Orange Unified Schools Digest is an independent news service of

    /O/N/N/ Orange Net News

    Very nice story.. I have just started a blog to watch the folks on different levels of elective office in and around Orange.

    I would like to copy this post onto my bog if that is ok.

    I have also included a link to your blog on my blog.
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