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  • Sunday, August 20, 2006

     

    Orange Unified Schools DIGEST

    During the months of July and August, the Orange Unified School Board meets once a month. The following is a recap of the July 20th, 2006 meeting. The August meeting will be held August 24th. A report on the August 24th meeting agenda will be ecast next week.

    OUSD TRUSTEE LEDESMA QUESTIONS
    “CONFLICT of INTEREST”

    Continuing in his role as a community fiscal watchdog, Orange Unified School District Trustee Rick Ledesma questioned the additional 1.5% raise proposal for OUSD Administrators at the last OUSD School Board Meeting held on July 20, 2006. In addition, Ledesma in his characteristic outside-the-box problem solving approach to education, called for OUSD to end automatic “me too” style pay raises and called for placing OUSD administrators on a merit pay system. The OUSD Administrators had been given 3.25 % pay hike when the support staff (represented by the California School Employees Association: CSEA) settled contract negotiations for that amount. However, after the district teachers reached a settlement for a pay hike 1.5% higher than the CSEA settlement, the OUSD Administration requested that the leadership also receive the same raise as the teachers received for “equality”. Ledesma (who separated the administrative pay item from a similar raise for the support staff) again questioned what he called the continued practice of granting the highest raise to everyone.

    Ledesma has consistently questioned the practice of these so called “me too” raises that take place without negotiations with the administrators. Ledesma has reasoned that in negotiations with employee associations that a give-and-take ensues that results in some benefit to the employer (OUSD) in return for the increase in pay. However, with the “me too” raise, Ledesma contends the school district receives no benefit from just granting OUSD Administrators the same raise as the employee unions received in the give-and-take of negotiations. At the July meeting, Ledesma also called the practice a “conflict of interest” because the administrators who are negotiating with the employee associations for raises know they will receive the highest raise that results from the negotiations. As usual Ledesma also offered a solution; he called for either OUSD’s attorney to conduct the negotiations alone, or for the administrators to be placed on a merit system that would end the automatic across the board pay hikes.

    OUSD Superintendent Dr. Godley’s stated it was his goal to make everything equal so all employees were treated the same and stated that this was common practice across the state. However, Godley’s statement that the granting of the higher raise was a precedent and would be granted to any bargaining unit that settled early was carefully rebuked later by OUSD Attorney Spencer Covert. Stating that the vote before them was “non-binding” and not a “past practice” as legally defined in employee relations law, Covert insisted that the school board had the power to act on the item as a “stand alone item” without binding legal precedent for the future.

    Trustee Wes Poutsma, a former OUSD administrator, was the only trustee who spoke out in support of the measure. Actions however spoke louder than the silence of the other trustees as the item passed 5-2 with Trustees Poutsma, Melissa Smith, Kathy Moffat, Kim Nichols and John Ortega voting “yes” and Ledesma and Steve Rocco voting “no”. Steve Rocco abstained from the vote for the CSEA support staff receiving the same 1.5% “me-too” increase (that vote passed 6 – 0 with 1 abstention)

    Later, Ledesma also continued his long standing policy since the OUSD Administration’s attempt to revoke the Santiago Middle School Charter to vote against any payments to the “Santiago Revocation law firm” of Miller, Brown & Dannis. The July 20th Agenda included a Consent Item (automatically voted on and approved) that would cost OUSD an additional $30,000 for fee increases to what some locally see as the “notorious” law firm behind the Santiago Revocation Report. Ledesma called for a separate vote on the fee increase which passed 6-2 with Ledesma and Rocco voting against approval and all the other trustees voting to approve the $30,000 to cover the fee increase from Miller, Brown & Dannis.

    Freshman Seminar Course Approved
    At the July 20th Orange Unified School District School Board Meeting, the OUSD staff approved the Freshman Seminar Course. There has been some community opposition to the course from parents and honor students who claimed the course would not help honor students. The OUSD Administration took the community critiques to heart by offering a Freshman Seminar with an Honors Freshman Seminar component and a parent opt out waiver.

    However the opt out waiver may prove problematic for students. Ninth graders opting out of the semester course will be required to make-up the required Health Course that the Freshman Seminar is coupled with in the ninth grade year. OUSD Secondary Executive Director Fran Roney explained in her report to the OUSD Board before they voted to approve the course that those students who opt out will take a year long elective (to be determined by each high school), but those students be required to take the state required Health Course as an online class or in summer school.

    Roney leaves us with “Rigor” a word with No Relevance or Relationship
    President Clinton’s famous twisted “that depends on what is is” explanation pales in comparison to the latest assault on the English language by edu-crats (education bureaucrats) mumbo- jumble hijacking of the word “rigor”. In a classic example of using-a-word-without-meaning-to-mean-what-you-want-people-to-think-you-know-what-your-saying, the education worlds embrace of “rigor” is all the rage in educational jargon which again shows why education bureaucrats continue to distance themselves from the everyday voters they serve. In what is most likely her last report before the OUSD Board before her retirement, OUSD Director of Secondary Education Fran Roney proved to be on the cutting edge of education-speak as she sails into the “rigorless” sunset of retirement with her over use of the ridiculous educational buzz word “rigor”. Roney used the re-invented word nine times in what will most likely be her final report before the Board, her 20 minute report on the Freshman Seminar Course. Roney’s “rigor” in using a form of “rigor” averaged once every 4.5 minutes in her 20 minute presentation. Not to be out done, Trustee Smith was quick to jump on the “rigor” bandwagon sprinkling her 2 minutes of comments on Roney’s report with a total of three “rigors”, thus averaging a “rigor” moment every 1.5 minutes. Poor Trustee Rocco seemed to prove his inadequacy by only saying “rigor” once in his very extensive positive comments on Roney’s report.

    To see what “rigor” really means CLICK ON http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/rigour.
    The next time you hear an “educated” person use “rigor” ask them what "rigor" “is” and listen to the real words they use to describe it. Of course, former President Clinton probably has his own ideas of what “rigor” “is”.

    Nichols responds to move next to Godley: It was Godley’s idea

    Board President Kim Nichols who finally answered the question so many people want to know: Why did you move from the traditional President's position at the center of the dais down to the end next to Godley who moved up to the top of the dais? Nichols responds: it was Godley’s idea.

    Responding to the inquiry by Rocco, Nichols also contended that as a President she can sit anywhere she wants. Then in one of the more comical moments she asserted that one reason she moved was from her position on the end she could see the whole board and stated (as she moved her head from left to right) she would not have to look back and forth. Godley also defended the move saying that’s how all the district’s his been in did it (except of course OUSD until he became Superintendent).

    To end the discussion, Nichols invoked the night of the death of Councilman Steve Ambriz. Nichols stated that everyone was so upset that it was a good thing she was sitting next to Godley that night. Apparently, none of the other experienced Board members took offense.



    “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: $ 849,717.00:
    2006 Consultant Fee Tally:
    6/22/06 Douglas DeVore Speech $ 2,000
    6/08/06 Focus on Results $164,400
    3/09/06 Bob Sadler 3 Day Workshop $ 10,000
    Total $176,400
    2006 Attorney Fee Tally:
    7/20/06 Parker & Covert $100,000
    7/20/06 Parker & Covert $ 50,000
    7/20/06 Miller, Brown & Dannis $ 30,000
    6/22/06 Miller, Brown & Dannis $ 50,000
    6/22/06 Parker & Covert $175,000
    4/20/06 Parker & Covert: $ 50,000
    1/19/06 Parker & Covert: $200,000
    Total $655,000

    2006 Administrative Conference/Travel:
    2/9/06 Roney and 5 principals to Florida $ 10,623
    2/23/06 Roney 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: AUGUST 24, 2006
    Closed Session will begin at 6:30 pm, Regular Session remains at 7:30 pm

    For more information call the OUSD Superintendent’s office at 714-628-4040
    For budgeting questions Just call Jon at the Business Services at 714-628-4015


    Orange Unified Schools Digest is an independent news service of
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