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  • Sunday, February 22, 2009



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

    Orange Unified Assistant Superintendent for Business Services Jon Archibald has left OUSD reportedly for a similar job in the Huntington Beach City School District. Archibald’s position will not immediately be filled and his duties will be carried out by OUSD Assistant Superintendent of Administrative Services Michael Christensen.

    Archibald came to OUSD in August 2005 from the Westminster City School District, an elementary. His innovative and proactive budgeting approaches to long term debt and financial restructuring helped OUSD retain a highly converted top credit rating. Among his financial achievements, Archibald was the driving force behind the $95,000,000 OPED Bond to fund OUSD retiree benefits. Archibald also has served on the Board of the Orange Chamber of Commerce and is that organization’s Chairman Elect.

    OUSD MUSIC PROGRAMS and JOBS fall to State Budget Crisis
    Despite the just approved California State Budget, the OUSD Trustees will vote to give the six elementary music teachers layoff notices at the February 26, 2009 meeting. The state is still far from out of the budget crisis. A Special Election on May 19, 2009 will ask voters to vote on seven ballot measures. Some of the ballot measures are directly linked to the just signed budget (i.e. a lottery redo and revamping Proposition 98). The corollary ballot measures must pass or the state budget, as currently crafted, will need further cuts after the Special Election. Forced to take action to balance the budget before the Interim Budget is due in March, OUSD leaders are now forced to move for fiscal solvency within the legal time constraints imposed by various state laws. At the February 12 meeting, the OUSD Trustees started the process by approval of giving notice to over 200 temporary teachers in OUSD. The February 26, 2009 OUSD School Board Meeting will include a Budget Update (Agenda Item 13 A-page 28). The question now is, will the OUSD Staff will have enough time to decipher what the new budget ramifications will mean for OUSD by that meeting?

    At the OUSD School Board meeting on Thursday February 26, 2009 the Action Agenda includes Item 12 C (pages 22-23). Item 12 C is for the approval of Resolution 31-08-09: Layoff of Certificated Employees Due to a Reduction or Discontinuance of Particular Kinds of Programs. The Resolution breaks down the new layoffs by Elementary, Secondary and Administration positions. The 30 teachers being given notice include: the six elementary Itinerant Elementary Music teachers; eighteen K- 6 Elementary Classroom Teachers (class size reduction????); one K-6 Elementary Teacher “as a result of the layoff of one Elementary Principal” (no school listed); six K-6 Elementary Classroom Teachers (no schools listed) as a result of 8 administrator positions being cut (see below) .

    The nine Administrators being given notice are listed in the Resolution as follows: “Reduce eight (8) certificated positions – Administrator”; and “Reduce one (1) certificated position- Elementary Principal”. While no decision by the Board has been made on closing small schools, WE REPEAT….while no decision by the Board has been made on small schools, the reduction of 8 Administrator positions that also results in six certificated position cuts has heads scratching across the district trying to figure out what “Particular Kinds of Service” this reduction in 8 administrators that then results in six teachers being given notice has Board is about. The Agenda does not indicate if these are small school related. Unfortunately, the timing of the Administrative layoffs come at the same meeting the OUSD Board will be declaring March 2-9, 2009 as Week of the Administrator (Agenda Item 9 D, page 2-3).

    The layoff Resolution also includes three Counselor positions for a total of 43 positions on top of all the temporary teachers given notice this month.

    New 2009-2010 Money Saving School Calendar to be Approved
    Forced by the budget crisis to change over to one uniform school calendar, the OUSD Board at its February 26 meeting is scheduled to approve a “modified traditional” calendar for the 2009-2010 school year (Agenda Item 12 B, page 20-21). The new calendar will have students across OUSD starting their first day August 20th, 2009 (teachers will start two days earlier on August 18th). The new calendar will include a three week winter break in December-January and a two week spring break in March- April. The last day of school for students will be June 17, 2010. The switch to one schedule is expected to save over $500,000.

    Inside the February 12, 2009 Board Meeting
    With the approval of the state budget at the time still days away, OUSD Assistant Superintendent Michael Christiansen gave a brief Budget Update at the February 12, 2009 Board Meeting. As part of his presentation, he reviewed further studies the OUSD Staff had made into possible cost saving measures. One of these was hiring an in-house attorney. Christensen reported that the average legal fees for the district were $660,871 a year. He further reported that 45% of this was Special Education related, 18% personnel related and 10% general legal fees. As an interesting aside, later in his presentation when Trustee Kathy Moffat asked if the district could go to long time vendors and ask for discounts, Christiansen reported that long contracted OUSD attorney Spencer Covert had recently started to offer the district discounts. Apparently researching in-house attorneys has its advantages.

    Savings were also possible in coordinating Canyon High School’s starting times and the Anaheim Hills elementary and middle school staring times allowing making fewer buses needed to service the area.

    One of the largest eye openers was the loss of Average Daily Attendance (ADA) monies to the district. OUSD now has a 95.615% daily attendance rate. Christiansen reported that a 100% daily attendance rate would add $7,500,000 million dollars to the OUSD Budget. Parents, get your kids to school!!!

    Before the Budget Update, the small schools supporters again showed up in force to address the Board about saving their small schools. While their devotion to education and their small schools is admirable, one comment in particular showed how they appear somewhat in denial of the budget mess the state leaders have placed our local leaders in and how little options the Trustees have. One speaker was a self-identified former Silverado student and now grandmother of a current Silverado student. In addressing the Board about keeping the small school open at one point she commented “We feel that we have a private school without paying cash for it”. Well that’s the problem. With having well under 100 students, Silverado, along with the three other small schools are being subsidized by the other taxpayers of OUSD for these private-like schools. Everyone agrees small is better in class size and schools, but the days of one-room school houses are long gone and the dysfunctional California political leadership has now apparently effectively ended the very expensive small school concept in OUSD. Yes a sad reality, but out of the hands of the OUSD leadership.

    Could she be The One? OUSD Superintendent Dr. Renae Drier has not only announced a moratorium on Education Consultants, but now she has cancelled one of the most controversial outlays of money by OUSD last year. On September 25, 2008, as the national economy was collapsing, the OUSD Trustees approved two consultants for a two day community Strategic Planning Workshop to take place in April 2009. If the $14,000 consultant fee wasn’t bad enough, another $6,600 was approved for a mural artist to draw a butcher paper mural of the event. Fast forward four months. At the February 12, 2009 meeting Drier announced she had cancelled the mural artist and cut the two day event to a one day affair to save money. Now that is Change You Can Believe In. Is it possible that Dr. Drier maybe The One to end the OUSD Consultant Culture dependency? Only a non-budget crisis year will tell.

    Also, at the February 21, 2009 meeting, Board President Rick Ledesma gave a detailed report of his meeting with the Orange City-Schools Committee. Looking for a joint use agreement between Orange and OUSD for the district play fields, Ledesma asked the OUSD Board for permission to ask staff to research the fields’ wear and tear costs. In addition, Ledesma announced that the OUSD Board Policies are now publicly available online. For a look CLICK ON: BOARD POLICIES

    Finally, Trustee Mark Wayland pulled Consent Item 12 D, shocked at the $74,000 price tag for architectural drawings for portable classrooms being set up at Yorba Middle School for use during the planned remodel. Wayland said he personally wanted to see the site and understand why it costs $74,000 for drawings. That ladies and gentleman, is the kind of fiscal oversight OUSD taxpayers need!

    INSIDE the February 26th Board Meeting
    Note the Regular Session of the OUSD Board Meeting will start at 7:00 pm.

    Agenda 12 A (page 4-19) Special Education 2008-2009 Annual Service Budget- with Special Education services costing OUSD 45% of its annual legal fees (over $300,000) this report is just one of the hoops needed for school district to stay in compliance with this mostly unfunded mandate.

    Agenda 12 D (page 24-25) Legislative Coalition Platform- with few Budget options from the state, frustrated Trustees at the February 12 meeting directed some of that frustration toward the Legislative Coalition’s platform for not including a plank decrying the current state budget mess. Wanting approval sooner than latter and obviously experienced at writing by committee, LegCo Chair Denise Bittel asked that the Board write the budget plank for her group to take to Sacramento lawmakers. Returning now with a Board written budget plank, expect easy approval of the LegCo Platform this time around.

    INSIDE the OUSD Budget
    For the first time EVER, we have gone back to SUBTRACT a consultant fee. With Dr. Drier’s announcement of the cancellation of the Visual Ink MURAL ARTIST, we subtracted the $6,600 fee from the 2008 total!

    Total $203,000

    2009 Attorney Fee Tally:
    11/13/08 Parker & Covert (for 1/09 -6/09) $200,000

    2009 Consultant/ Speaker Fee Tally:
    01/24/09 Leadership Associates Consultants $ 3,000
    2009 TOTAL $ 203,000

    Former Superintendent Godley’s Retirement Bonus running total (beginning 8/2008):
    * 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 here 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 2008: $901,200
    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
    2008 Consultant/ Speaker Fee Tally:
    11/13/08 Subs for SDCDE (Reading First) $24,000
    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> CANCELED in 2009
    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 $ 101,200

    2008 TOTAL $ 901,200

    Total for Watched Tax Dollars approved in 2007: $704,090.00**

    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 February 21, 2009 -OUSD BOARD ROOM
    FOR the Agenda CLICK ON: 2/27 AGENDA

    OUSD Regular Session STARTS: 7:00 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

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