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  • Monday, June 16, 2008

     

    Villa Park community leaders push for a November 2008 OUSD Facilities Bond

    ORANGE Unified Schools INSIDE
    a news service of Orange Net News /O/N/N/
    Independent insight into OUSD

    Villa Park community leaders push for a
    November 2008 OUSD Facilities Bond


    Failing to get private funding and faced with the prospect of the demolition of the two oldest buildings in Villa Park, the city’s community leaders presented the Orange Unified School Board at their June 5th meeting a petition of approximately two-hundred names of Villa Park residents, community activists, and political leaders dedicating themselves to a November 2008 OUSD facilities bond if the bond included the $3 million dollars plus to restore the original historic, but now dilapidated, Villa Park School Buildings. The proposed Bond move was stunning in its implications because in the voting on the last two Measure A Bond Proposals the fiscally conservative citizens of Villa Park rejected the proposals at a rate that ensured the defeat of both facility bond measures.

    While the OUSD Trustees were visibly pleased with the proposal, faced with a short timeline to place a bond measure on the ballot, they cautiously voted to delay the agenda item to demolition the historic buildings until discussions on the level of commitment of the Villa Park community leaders could be held.

    The OUSD Board had two items on the June 5 Agenda dealing with the Villa Park Historic School Buildings. First on the agenda was an item to approve an OUSD commissioned Environmental Impact Report (EIR) that would legally clear the way to demolish the historic structures. At the meeting a number of Villa Park community members spoke against the proposed demolition including Orange County Supervisor Bill Campbell. The supervisor, who lives in Villa Park, brought an offer of $100,000 in county matching funds for saving the buildings. Villa Park Councilmember Richard Ulmer also spoke in favor of preserving the buildings. A second agenda item on the buildings was an item to approve the OUSD Staff request to demolish the buildings.

    Villa Park Trustee Kathy Moffat tried to get the OUSD Staff to explain why the EIR was needed. However, the OUSD Staff and the EIR Consultant failed to explain that the OUSD Staff had started the legally required EIR process in order to demolish the buildings. The OUSD Staff had clearly stated the goal of removing the buildings in the agenda items leading up to the agenda item approving the EIR. OUSD Trustee Steve Rocco called for a roll-call vote on the EIR approval question that had Rocco and Trustee Rick Ledesma voting not to approve the EIR and Trustees Kim Nichols, Kathy Moffat, Wes Poutsma and Lissa Smith voting to approve the EIR (Trustee John Ortega was absent).

    After voting to approve the EIR, the discussion moved to the vote for the buildings demolition. Even without the Villa Park Bond Petition proposal, it appeared that some of the trustees were not ready to vote to demolish the buildings. The Villa Park Bond Proposal clearly had an influenced on the discussions. Nichols referred to the historic structures as “phenomenal buildings” and praised the passion of the community members who have worked years to save the buildings. Moffat reminded the audience that the OUSD Board had not made a “mindless rush to demolish the buildings” as she reviewed the years of failed private attempts to raise money to restore the buildings. Commenting that if “names on a petition, or desires or wishes” were all it took to restore the buildings “it would have been done”. Moffat stated “It’s the money not the will”. Moffat cautiously endorsed the idea of the Villa Park Bond Petition Proposal but questioned by signing the petition, what was the real commitment of those people toward passing and working for a new facilities bond.

    Trustee Rick Ledesma called the direction of the discussions a “new life” for the buildings and further commented “I hope we can come together”. Rocco labeled the process “political” and predicted that a facilities Bond Measure connected to the historic buildings would fail. It was Trustee Lissa Smith that best summed up the obvious excited feelings of many in the community who had watched two OUSD Facilities Bonds die over petty politics and conservative tax ideologues over the prospect of a truly unified effort at a third facilities bond.

    An exuberant Smith literally shouted out her unrestrained support for the Villa Park Bond Petition. Admitting to Rocco that yes, the previous Bond campaigns had been political, Smith retorted that the Villa Park Bond Petition idea presented an “unbelievable, unimaginable opportunity to partner together”. As evidence of the breakthrough of a community working together, an enthusiastic Smith related that she and Villa Park Mayor Brad Reese spoke for the first time ever over the Villa Park Bond Petition possibilities. Relating that the two are “different persuasions” (Smith is a Democrat and Resse a Republican) Smith stated she was at first a little frightened at the prospects of a dialogue with Resse about the bond proposal. Smith went on to glow about how well the two got along and how great it was to speak with Reese and at the prospect of working together. In the end the OUSD Trustees voted 5-1 (Rocco/No; Ortega /Absent) to postpone a vote on demolition until talks with the community can proceed over a possible Bond issue. August is the deadline for the November ballot.

    Consent Agenda Items not so automatic at June 5th Meeting
    Trustee Rick Ledesma continued his longstanding refusal to approve anything having to do with the Santiago Charter Revocation Report law firm of Miller, & Brown and Dannis. Ever since the controversial Santiago Charter Revocation Report was written by Miller, Brown and Dannis, Ledesma has asked to vote on the contracts for the firm separately and has always voted against doing business with them. Ledesma again pulled items related to the firm from the consent agenda to vote against them.

    Trustee John Ortega (absent from the June 5th meeting due to conflicts with his employment as an Orange County Deputy Sheriff) had request to be paid for missing the May 22nd OUSD Board meeting because of conflicts with his work schedule. In a rare parliamentary move, Rocco pulled the item and asked for legal clarification of paying a trustee for missing a meeting due to “work”. Staff gave information that legally pay could be given for missed meetings due to “hardship”. The resolution in question (Agenda page 72) stated that “the absence due to hardship was deemed acceptable to the Board”. In the end after discussion of “employment” obligations and “hardship”, the Board vote was a 3-3 tie with the pay being denied (Rocco, Ledesma, Moffat-NO/ Nichols, Smith, Poutsma-YES/Ortega-absent).

    Greater Orange News Service site unblocked by OUSD
    Trustee Steve Rocco complained that he was unable to retrieve news items sent to his district email by the Orange Communication System (OCS) because OUSD had blocked the site. About six months ago OUSD did block the Greater Orange News Service site from being accessed by OUSD employees on the OUSD server. Six months ago the OCS responded by providing OUSD email accounts with an alternate link to the Greater Orange News Service stories as well as the direct emailing of the stories . In addition to the Greater Orange News Service site, OCS uses an extensive fax, email, subscription, and news service posting system. The OCS stories are carried on the City of Orange and City of Villa Park news pages of the Chicago Times TOPIX News service, as well as Google’s Feedburner and the Blog Net News service. The Greater Orange News Service is routinely rated as one of the top read California internet news sources by the Blog Net News rating system of national and California internet news sources. The Greater Orange News Service news arm, Orange Net News is a member of the Knight Citizen’s News Network and the editors are all individual members of the ELECTRONIC FRONTIER FOUNDATION.

    After Rocco’s meeting complaint, OUSD unblocked the Greater Orange News Service to OUSD computers.

    INSIDE the June 19 OUSD Meeting

    Consent Agenda page 14 G (Page 19): A 3.75 pay hike for OUSD Substitutes, raising the pay to $121 a day.

    Consent Agenda 14 H (Page 30): After interviewing for a new OUSD superintendent on Friday June 13th, 2008 at the Orange Doubletree Hotel, this item extends OUSD Superintendent Dr. Thomas Godley’s job until a new superintendent starts, or either side gives the other a three day notice.

    Consent Agenda 14 W (Page 50) Parker and Covert contract for “ongoing special education matters”: $60,000.



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

    Former Superintendent Godley’s total “golden handshake” bonus (beginning 8/2008): $00.00*

    INSIDE’s EDUCATIONAL TAX DOLLARS WATCH 2008:
    $764,500 Total

    2008 Attorney Fee Tally:
    6/19/08 Parker & Covert $ 60,000
    6/05/08 Miller, Brown & Dannis $ 40,000
    6/05/08 Parker & Covert $150,000
    6/05/08 Parker & Covert $200,000
    2/07/08 Parker & Covert $100,000
    11/15/07 Parker & Covert (for 1/08 to 6/08) $200,000
    $750,000


    2008 Consultant/ Speaker Fee Tally:
    3/7/08 Dr. Kathleen Weigel Speaker Fee $ 8,000
    4/17/08 Dr. Kenneth Stichter Speaker Fee $ 6,500
    $ 14,500

    2008 TOTAL
    $764,500


    * The Godley Retirement Bonus presented here is an estimate of the amount in “bonus retirement” accrued since the Superintendent’s retirement on 6/30/08 using the 6% lifetime formula. The actual retirement plan the former OUSD Superintendent opted to take is not public information and the figures presented are only as an estimate of the costs after the OUSD trustees voted against an amendment to exclude Godley from the retirement program The on-going estimated figure is presented as a reminder to the community of the high cost in educational tax dollars the OUSD Board vote to allow the former Superintendent to participate in the 6% retirement incentive cost the OUSD education community. Godley retired from OUSD on June 30, 2008 after he worked for the school district for a little over five years.

    Total for Watched Tax Dollars approved in 2007: $704,090.00
    2007 Consultant/ Speaker Fee Tally:
    4/30/07 Debra Ford Speaker Fee $ 4,090
    4/30/07 Danny Brassell Speaker Fee $ 3,500
    3/8/07 Dr. Daggett Speaker Fee $ 9,000
    9/27/07 Dr.Daggett Speaker Fee $ 35,000
    11/15/07 OCDE High Priority Consultants $115,000
    Total $166,590

    2007 Attorney Fee Tally:
    1/18/07 Parker & Covert (1/07 to 6/07) $175,000
    (6/07-12/07) $200,000
    2/08/07 Miller, Brown, and Dannis $ 7, 500
    2/22/07 Parker & Covert $ 45,000
    5/10/07 Miller, Brown and Dannis $ 50,000
    7/19/07 Parker & Covert $ 60,000
    Total $537,500

    2007 Administrative Conference/Travel: hidden since 6/8/06**

    **JUNE 8th, 2006 Trustees VOTE to Give OUSD Superintendent the power to APPROVE Travel Requests taking this item OUT of the PUBLIC AGENDA

    Total for Watched Tax Dollars approved in 2006: $849,717.00*
    2006 Consultant Fee Tally: Total $176,400
    2006 Attorney Fee Tally: Total Approved $655,000
    2006 Administrative Conference/Travel: Total $ 18,317 *
    * JUNE 8th, 2006 Trustees VOTE to Give OUSD Superintendent the power to
    APPROVE OUSD Travel Requests taking this item OUT of the PUBLIC AGENDA

    Total for Watched Tax Dollars approved in 2005: $978,300.00:
    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


    Next OUSD Board Meeting Thursday, June 19, 2008.


    For more information
    CLICK ON: AGENDA

    OUSD CLOSED SESSION STARTS 7:00 PM, Regular Session: 7:30 pm
    For more information call the OUSD Superintendent’s office at 714-628-4040
    For budgeting questions call Business Services at 714-628-4015


    ORANGE Unified Schools INSIDE
    Independent insight into OUSD
    is an independent news service of /O/N/N/

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