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  • Sunday, March 05, 2006

     

    Orange Unified Schools Digest

    a news service of Orange Net News /O/N/N/
    Trustee Tempers Flare on Music and Legislation

    Elementary Music Vote
    Citing California Education Code requirements of legal timelines involved in notification of staff about ending programs and the fact that the state budget process was far from complete, the Orange Unified Trustees voted to continue the process of ending the Elementary Music Program at their February 23rd meeting. Some OUSD Trustees and OUSD Superintendent Thomas Godley tried to reassure the large crowd of community members present at the meeting that the vote was needed to comply with legal timelines and that the real decision about the elementary music program would be addressed during the budget process later this year.

    Many of the speakers from the large crowd of music supporters who addressed the Board alluded to the recently developed OUSD “Core Values” and asked the Board to make good on them. Others also alluded to the fact they are voters (or in the case of students, soon to be voters) and this was a serious issue to them.

    Board President Kimberly Nichols in her statement before voting addressed many of the issues brought up by the speakers including the statements about voting. Nichols responded that threats about elections would not make her change a vote she considered good for the entire district. Kathy Moffat responded to calls for cuts outside the classroom by stating that the Board has made more cuts in administration than any other area in the district. Moffat did not address the fact that even with cuts, OUSD ranks fourth highest in administrative costs out of all the Orange County unified school districts.

    Controversial Trustee Steve Rocco received a huge round of applause from the pro-music crowd with his statement to the crowd about wasteful district spending and assurances that the music program would be restored. His statement prompted a frustrated Trustee Melissa Smith to accuse him of grandstanding. Smith continued to say a compromise must be reached where no side gets everything they want. Trustee Wes Poutsma too attacked Rocco.

    Trustee Rick Ledesma called for a roll call vote. The vote to notify staff that the elementary music program was ending was approved: 4 Yes (Nichols, Moffat, Smith, Poutsma); 2 No (Ledesma, Rocco); and 1 absent (John Ortega). Ending the Elementary Music Program will save the OUSD $400,000.

    At the March 9th OUSD Board Meeting, district staff will present an Elementary Music Report.

    Legislative Coalition Platform
    Later, the Legislative Coalition committee gave its presentation on its 2006 platform. Trustee Rocco continued his harsh statements about the Legislative Coalition and one of its platforms to require school board trustee candidates to collect nominating signatures. In one of his trademark rants, Rocco stated that he has collected candidate signatures for other elective runs.

    While Rocco had his typical problems with the Legislative Coalition, it was Trustee Rick Ledesma’s concerns with specific Legislation Coalition proposals that again led to the usual trustee decorum breaking down. Ledesma, while not against specific proposals presented, questioned whether some were outside the scope of what Ledesma characterized as the Legislative Coalition’s mandate of proposing legislation that directly benefits children in the classroom. Ledesma’s concerns were then addressed by Kathy Moffat. While Moffat’s typical “let’s set the record straight” rants are usually reserved for Trustee Steve Rocco, Ledesma immediately interrupted Moffat when it was clear her rant was directed at him. Ledesma objected to what he saw as Moffat’s “patronizing” remarks. Board President Kim Nichols (who had been struggling all night to keep control of the meeting from her corner on the dais sitting next to Godley) lost control as an angry Ledesma refused to back down from his position or yield back to Moffat. Eventually Moffat apologized for any of her thoughts being taken as offending stating that was not her intent.

    At the end of the evening, a clearly frustrated Nichols in her ending statement took an uncharacteristic pot-shot at the now absent Rocco as she reminded “the members still present” to remember that they were a “team”.

    OUSD’s Second Interim Financial Report: Balance $8,770,065 Over Reserves
    On the March 9th Board Agenda, Agenda Item 12 C (page 11) Second Interim Financial Report shows OUSD’s 3% state required reserve for “economic uncertainties” at $6,817,896. Beyond the reserves, OUSD has an “unappropriated amount” fund balance of $8,770,065 (see agenda page 13).

    Villa Park Elementary School Restoration Corporation Second Amendment

    With a recent grant application (with notification of grant acceptance this July) and an agreement on milestone dates of progress; an amendment to the lease agreement between OUSD and the VPESRC has been worked out (see Agenda page 29).

    $3333.33 a Day Consultant-Agenda Item 14 D
    The OUSD Administration is asking for $10,000 to pay business consultant Bob Sadler for “three days of professional development-strategic planning-to the district”. Agenda Item 14 D (page 39) lists Sadler as “a Method Teaming Practitioner”. Internet search engines were not able to match any known Method Teaming Practitioner except on the Sadler Consulting website (CLICK ON http://sadlerconsulting.net/main.php?Page=22 ). The website also explains that “Method Teaming workshops last between 1 and 2 days and are followed up with MT Coaching”. The current Trustees have made it a point to be the policy makers and goal setters while following the practice of the district administration running the day to day functions of the district. Other school districts utilizing strategic planning have strategic goal setting as a joint venture between teachers, parents, school administrators and board members as a joint workshop. In the $10,000 consultant proposal it is unclear who would participate in the “strategic planning” workshop or get the follow-up coaching.
    For more information on Sadler Consulting CLICK ON:
    http://sadlerconsulting.net/main.php?Page=11

    Highlights of the NEXT OUSD BOARD MEETING March 9, 2006
    State of the School Report: Villa Park H.S.. by Student Representative: Jon Poter
    Item 12 A/B- Raising fees on new construction
    Item 12 C – Second Interim Financial report
    Item 12D- Wavier of High School Exam for qualifying students with disabilities
    Item 12E- Villa Park Elementary School Restoration Lease
    Item 13 A- OUSD Administration Elementary Music Report

    CONSENT AGENDA- All items pass without comment unless a Trustee “pulls” for discussion
    14 D Agenda ( page 39) $10,000 Consultant- Bob Sadler- Strategic Planning 3 Days
    Out of State Travel (page 55) 2 more to Florida conference $3,644.

    COMMUNITY DONATIONS: (see page 38 for a complete list) Villa Park PFSO-WhiteBoards-$320.00; Wells Fargo-Nohl Canyon-$1500 in instructional supplies; Handy School Association-$495

    We’re a $220 million dollar business; we’re going to spend the money somewhere”
    -OUSD Trustee Wes Poutsma 9/22/05


    Digest’s EDUCATIONAL TAX DOLLARS WATCH 2006
    Total for Watched Tax Dollars spent in 2006: $ 222,317.00:
    2006 Consultant Fee Tally:
    3/09/06 Bob Sadler 3 Day Workshop $ 10,000

    2006 Attorney Fee Tally:
    1/19/06 Parker & Covert: $200,000

    2006 Administrative Conference/Travel:
    2/9/06 Roney and 5 principals to Florida $ 10,623
    2/23/06 Rooney and 2 principals Tx/ Fl $ 4,050
    3/09/06 2 to Florida Conference $ 3,644
    Total $18,317
    Total for Watched Tax Dollars spent in 2005: $ 978,300.000:
    Total 2005 Conference Administrator/Board Fees: $ 7,500.00
    2005 Attorney Fee Tally: $730,600.00
    Total Watched 2005 OUSD Consultant spending: $ 270,200.00

    The next Orange Unified School Board Meeting: MARCH 9, 2006
    Closed Session will begin at 6:30 pm, Regular Session remains at 7:30 pm
    For a complete OUSD Board Agenda CLICK ON:
    http://www.orangeusd.k12.ca.us/board/pdf/agenda_030906.pdf
    For more information call the OUSD Superintendent’s office at 714-628-4040

    Comments:
    The more I learn about the NCLB act, the more disgusted I get. Even though millions of dollars have been spent to implement this program it remains underfunded. The end result is our children are being cheated from receiving quality education. The number of students in each classroom have grown and the arts and music are being eliminated.
    It's time to cut the losses and put our schools back into the business of educating our kids.
     
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