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  • Tuesday, November 11, 2008

     

    Orange Unified to spend $30,000 on "Limited Benifits" Consultant Program

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


    $30,000 for “Limited Benefits” Consultant Program

    A month after the latest release of an on-going federal report by the U.S. Department of Education on the Bush Administration’s consultant driven Reading First program found “limited benefits” to the program, the Orange Unified School Board at the November 13th meeting is scheduled to approve a request for $300 per person training for 100 OUSD teachers by the San Diego County Office of Education for “customized training to support Reading First schools with the implementation of the Reading First grant for the 2008-2009 school year”. The $30,000 request to use the Reading First Grant educational tax funds by the Drier Administration for the controversial federal program is on the automatically approved November 13th Consent Item (Agenda Item 14 L page 46). Reading First was mandated seven years ago in the 2001 No Child Left Behind Act and has cost taxpayers $1 billion dollars a year. Those funds are allotted by formula to states in grants. In 2002, California was allotted $900 million over a six-year period for the Reading First program. The agenda item is to use the grant funds for two-day training in San Diego by the San Diego Office of Education to implement the program that by all accounts will not be renewed in the next federal budget, especially after last months federal report that showed the program has failed to work.

    The Reading First program requires that federal designated Title I Schools use the federal educational tax funds on “Scientifically Based Reading Research” and consultants called “coaches” to provide children be proficient readers by third grade. However, having billions of dollars in tax funds flowing to consultants opened a Pandora’s Box of problems. In September 2006 an internal report by the Office of Inspector General in the U.S. Department of Education found sever conflicts of interest with consultants hired to train teachers and state education personnel. Using a practice common to the educational consultant world, the report found that the consultants were co-authors of reading materials that they were selling as part of the training, causing states to believe that they were required to purchase the consultant written materials with the federal Reading First funds in order to keep the funding. The consultant deceit caused the U.S. Department of Education to take the unusual step of publishing a statement to correct the widely circulated consultant propaganda that the states were not required to purchase a particular reading program (pushed by consultants) as a requirement to receive the federal funding. The U.S. Department of Education then undertook a large scale nation-wide study into the effectiveness of the Reading First program called the Reading First Impact Study. The study released this year found that the Reading First program does not improve student’s reading comprehension over schools that do not use the program, but instead just follow standard best practices for reading.

    The U.S. Department of Education’s final implementation report on Reading First was released October 9, 2008 and received wide publicity in both the education world and by the mainstream news media. The report concluded that while the Reading First principles had been implemented in participating schools, those changes resulted in limited achievement gains. Schools not participating in Reading First used many of the commonly accepted best practice tenets of the program; use of assessment data; scientifically based instructional materials; and extended reading blocks.The study found that those schools had gains as much if not more in reading than the Reading First schools. The study found that schools that did not spend money on the Reading First program were still implementing the widely-known best practices that were incorporated into the Reading First program. U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings stated:

    “Title I schools that are not receiving Reading First funds are applying many of the same strategies and are seeing results”

    Earlier this year an interim federal impact study on Reading First by the Institute of Educational Studies concluded that there is little definitive data on the programs effectiveness. The research study found that Reading First had no measurable effect, on average, on student’s reading comprehension. Despite the growing research on its ineffectiveness, the Reading First program is popular in educational mega-businesses. The program is especially popular with educational consultants and education publishers because of the billions of tax dollars pumped into the bloated education industrial complex through the now discredited program. In light of the growing evidence against the effectiveness of Reading First, in the 2008 federal budget, the program funding was cut by 62% and two Congressional panels have recommended eliminating the program altogether in 2009. OUSD however seems not to have been in the loop.

    Despite all the very public evidence against the effectiveness of Reading First, the realities of a national financial crisis and the reality that the program will not be around next year, the Drier Administration apparently is not concerned with the waste of funds and is proposing wasting $30,000 in educational tax funds and wasting the time of 100 OUSD teachers in a program that is on the verge of being cancelled. Like OUSD’s failed Focus on Results consultant program, Reading First is on the verge of being part of the OUSD Boondoggle Hall of Fame.

    FOR MORE INFORMATION on the research:
    INSTITUTE REPORT
    and
    USDE Reading First
    and
    Washington Post Story
    and
    EDUCATION WEEKLY REPORT
    and
    NPR REPORT


    INSIDE Review of the October 30th OUSD Board Meeting

    A healthy looking and typically jovial OUSD Board President Wes Poutsma stayed for most of the Open Session of the October 30th OUSD Board Meeting as the OUSD Censors again censored the dais photo display of OUSD Trustee Steve Rocco in the community broadcast to the public.

    The OUSD Board approved the Certificates of Participation to fund continued OUSD school modernization projects. Borrowing $95 million to fund $42.3 million dollars in projects, the total projected cost after interest, insurance (Letter of Credit), and Remarketing Fees will be $208 million dollars over the 30 year life of the program. Fiscal conservative Trustee Rick Ledesma questioned OUSD Assistant Superintendent of Business Services Jon Archibald about refinancing fees after the initial 3 year fixed rate. Archibald stated that the contract was “multimodal” and converting the loan’s terms after the fixed three year 3% period could be done without incurring additional finance charges. Ledesma went on to congratulate the OUSD Administration for aggressively finding money in grants and other available state funding sources that traditionally have gone to other districts to fund modernization.

    OUSD Trustee Kathy Moffat asked Archibald to explain if the current OUSD borrowing of Certificates of Participation modernization strategy, a pay as you go strategy, or a local bond was needed to fund all of OUSD’s school modernization. Archibald explained that the $43 million in the current projects will end up with a total of 23% of OUSD classrooms modernized. Archibald explained that the current model and a pay-as-you go model does not address all schools district-wide or many needed modernization issues (like multipurpose rooms), is a slower process, plus creates inequities in the district and with surrounding districts that have passed facilities bonds. Archibald added that the current model of borrowing allows OUSD to access matching state funds that a pay-as-you-go model may not allow.


    Archibald to Moffat: “It’s our own people”
    Moffat then echoed Ledesma’s sentiment of congratulating the OUSD Administration for doing a good job in getting state funding from a variety of funding sources. Then in a strange moment, Moffat tried to tie that success to the OUSD Consultant Culture. Moffat tried to use the feel-good moment to defend the millions of wasted dollars voted on by OUSD Trustees for wasteful educational consultants (not surprising, Moffat has a 100% YES voting record for spending those educational tax dollars on consultants). In an awkward moment, Archibald however corrected Moffat telling her that it was OUSD employees, not outside consultants, that worked hard to get the outside funding sources. While Archibald stated that his office does use architects and the like for needed technical consultations, he quickly corrected Moffat’s attempt to tie the unpopular OUSD “Cosmetic Consultants” to his offices work in securing the additional funding. Archibald told Moffat, “It’s our own people” responsible for the finding the funding not consultants.

    Ortega focuses district on Homework Gone Wild
    Responding to continual complaints of overburdened homework by maxed out parents, OUSD Trustee John Ortega asked the OUSD Administration to present information on the OUSD homework policies. The OUSD Administration presented the OUSD district homework policy and elementary and secondary district-wide homework surveys with guidelines on how much homework should be expected at different grade levels. In the end, the OUSD Administrators thanked the Board for making them focus on the issue. Ortega however would not let the Administrators off so easy. In eloquent and non-confrontational tone he lamented that “kids don’t have time” to be kids as he made a case for balancing school and family life that he and many parents face. He made a case for “quality not quantity” and while recognizing that state standards must be met, he questioned the inconsistency of homework given across the district. As the OUSD Assistant Superintendent for Educational Service Marsha Brown told the Board that the efforts on homework would be a “work in progress”, Ortega refused to let the issue end asking for frequent follow-ups to see how the issue is being addressed. Of note was the educational buzz word “rigor” was not uttered once by the OUSD Administrators .

    INSIDE the November 13th OUSD Board Meeting: Rocco and Poutsma Farewell

    The November 13th, 2008 OUSD Board meeting will be the final meeting for Trustees Steve Rocco and Wes Poutsma. At the December 11th OUSD Board Meeting, newly elected trustees Mark Wayland and Alexia Deligianni will be seated and the Trustees will select Board officers for next year. The Board will also review the Superintendent’s Goals and Objectives for 2008-2009, get an update on the OUSD Energy Saving Program and get an updated Audit Report of the current fiscal year.

    Item 14 A page 6: Parker & Covert law firm $200,000 for anticipated legal services for the period January 1, 2009- June 30, 2009.


    INSIDE the OUSD Budget

    INSIDE’s EDUCATIONAL TAX DOLLARS WATCH 2008:
    $883,800 Total
    2008 Attorney Fee Tally:
    11/13/08 Parker & Covert (for 1/09 -6/09) ($200,000)
    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
    Attorney Fee TOTAL: $750,000

    2008 Consultant/ Speaker Fee Tally:
    11/13/08 SDCDE (Reading First) $30,000
    10/30/08 Dr. Willard Daggett (ICLE) $ 4,500
    10/16/08 Dr. Parker 40 pt Consultant $ 4,200
    9/25/08 Visual Ink for Sadler Consultant $ 6,600
    9/25/08 Bob Sadler Consultant Fee $ 8,500
    9/25/08 Candace Simpson-Sadler Helper $ 5,500
    7/24/08 Dr. Parker 40 pt Consultant $ 10,000
    4/17/08 Dr. Kenneth Stichter Speaker Fee $ 6,500
    3/7/08 Dr. Kathleen Weigel Speaker Fee $ 8,000
    Consultant Total $ 83, 800

    2008 TOTAL $883,800

    Former Superintendent Godley’s Retirement Bonus running total (beginning 8/2008):
    $4840.00*


    * 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 a 6% lifetime formula calculated at $1210 a month since 8/08. 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 taxpayer 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 in tax dollars. 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 November 13th, 2008
    for more information CLICK ON:NOV 13 MEETING

    OUSD CLOSED SESSION STARTS 6:30 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/Orange_NetNews@yahoo.com

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