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  • Tuesday, June 16, 2009



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

    Elementary music, class size reductions and 3 “small” schools saved…
    OUSD Budget Proposed 2008-2009 in the Black

    Avoiding a widely expected Qualified Certification (indicating that a district may not be able to meet its financial obligations) the Orange Unified School District at the June 18, 2009 OUSD School Board meeting will hold a public hearing (Action Agenda Item 12 B agenda page 5) on its proposed in the “black” 2008-2009 Budget. The 2008-2009 Proposed Budget shows a positive $8,449,713 budget figure that includes the state 3% required reserve of $6,813,288 for “economic uncertainty” and $1,000,000 from funding captured from El Rancho Charter. The proposed budget leaves a total of $345,000 in unappropriated funds. Additional good news is that the proposed budget does not include the allotted federal stimulus money to OUSD. The proposed budget also reports that no required state financial reports indicate that the district has “fiscal distress”.

    The assumptions used for the budget are based on Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s “Scenario #2” budget proposals in response to the election defeats of the budget propositions in the May 19th Special Election. That budget scenario includes a $225 Average Daily Attendance (ADA) funding cut per student, a 4.25% increase in the Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) and a projected 12.227% deficit for a total decline of the 2008-2009 ADA funding of $1037.71 per student. It is yet to be determined how close the actual state budget will be to the Governor's “Scenario #2” outline.

    The OUSD budget Action Item states that the federal stimulus money, officially known as the Federal American Recovery and Investment Act, is not included as part of the budget because the funding has not yet been received (at the time of the printing of the agenda). The OUSD Agenda reports that many unknowns about the stimulus funding remain including the total allocated amount to OUSD, as well as the allowable uses and the reporting requirements on the stimulus money. However, as of 6/16/09, the official California Department of Education website for the stimulus money, (see link below), reports that OUSD has received $7,533,299 in “General Purpose” funds in the first stimulus money appropriation and will also receive $2,504,535 in “Categorical Program” funding.
    (CLICK ON: Cal Dept of Ed Recovery $ Search and Cal Dept of Ed First Federal $ Approriations ).

    In required accompanying supportive state financial reports to the budget included in the Agenda, Section A-8 of the Additional Fiscal Indicators report (agenda page 10) specifically asks the district: “Does the district have any reports that indicate fiscal distress?” The district administration answers that financial report question “No”.

    The proposed OUSD budget specifically lists the continuation of some popular programs. The budget specifically lists: the continuation of the 5th and 6th grade instrumental music program; continuation of high school athletics; and class size reduction programs (class size reduction in 1st and 2nd grades is a 25 to 1 student to teacher ratio; in kindergarten and 3rd -6th grade it is a 30 to 1 ratio). The proposed budget continues current district health and benefit coverage and while negotiations continue with employee groups, the budget continues contractual step and column wage increases. The controversial three remaining “small schools” also remain open under the proposed budget.

    The 2008-2009 budget actuals and budget revisions for the 2009-2010 budget will be submitted at the September 10, 2009 OUSD Board Meeting. The First Interim Report for the 2009-2010 budget will be presented at the December 10, 2009 OUSD Board Meeting.

    OUSD to pass Resolution of the Unknowns
    Also at their June 18th, 2009 The Orange Unified School Board will vote on passing a resolution entitled: Resolution Declaring Indefinite Work Year, Salary Compensation, and Salary Schedules Due to State Budget Crisis.

    This type of resolution is being passed by school districts around the state as an all encompassing attempt to inoculate the districts against Proposition 13 era rulings by the California Public Employment Relations Board (PERB), a quasi-judicial administrative agency charged with administering California’s collective bargaining laws for California’s public employees. Those 1979 rulings (based on federal precedent) reversed attempts to unilaterally rollback contractual wages by school districts after the passage of Proposition 13 tax cuts. The resulting pre-contract date resolutions passed on the advice of legal counsel have not been fully legally tested since the original PERB contractual rulings. (Agenda Action Item 12 C page 25-26).

    INSIDE the June 18th , 2009 Agenda
    Closed Session
    Item 4 D- Public Employee Performance Evaluation: The OUSD Board will be evaluating OUSD Superintendent Dr. Renae Drier’s job performance. What a difference a year makes…with a balanced budget, innovative community approaches, an open administration, a non-reliance on educational consultants, a distaste for confrontational leadership and politicking and with few gaffs (yea we know her now famous Technology Assistant comment wasn’t her finest moment) the popular new Superintendent in contrast to past leaders has easily won over the community and by all accounts also the OUSD Trustees.

    Open Session

    Action Item 12 A- Public Hearing CSEA #67 Proposal-with the state budget crisis still looming, the district and the employee associations will continue negotiations.

    Consent Items 14 D and 14 H- Contract Services Breaking with the past practice of approving half of the advance for legal fees, OUSD Trustees will be approving $400,000 in legal retainer fees pertaining to “education” for law firm Covert and Parker. In addition, another Parker and Covert retainer for another $200,000 to Parker and Covert for “Special Education” matters and another $55,000 to the firm for “legal counsel and consultation” relating to “modernization”, “developer fees” and “Surplus property”. Also on the agenda is another $35,000 for another law firm- Atkinson, Andelson, Loya to work on “surplus property” issues (you know the old joke…how many law firms does it take to declare property surplus?....). Now how much was an in-house attorney going to cost taxpayers again?

    A week after voters defeated six ballot propositions in the May 19th Special Election sending the state into financial chaos, the Orange Unified Trustees at their May 28 Board Meeting defeated a move to cut their $750 monthly stipend by 10% (to $675 a month) due to the current budget crisis. They also defeated a Board Bylaw change that would require the OUSD Trustees to pay the entire cost for their health care if they opted to use the school district’s health plan. The annual savings to the district taxpayers if the 10% reduction in pay were approved would have been $6,300 per year ($18,900 through July 2012) while the health care change would reportedly have saved $100,000 a year.

    The pay cut Action Item, Agenda Action Item 12 A (Agenda page 3), was co-sponsored by OUSD Board political minority allies Trustees Melissa Smith, Kim Nichols and Kathy Moffat. Nichols moved and Moffat seconded the proposal for a vote. Smith this year has repeatedly brought up the idea of the OUSD Trustees taking a reduction in their monthly stipend in light of the continued state fiscal crisis and the sacrifices that the OUSD Board and OUSD Administration was asking the community and employees to make.

    Before the vote Board President Rick Ledesma dismissed the minority members’ pay cut proposal as “wonderful political hay” noting that he agrees cuts are needed, but questioning the sincerity of the move by the three co-sponsors stating: “Where were these heroes when they were voting for millions and millions of dollars for consultants not long ago”. Ledesma also cited past votes for “pay increases to superintendents” and “me too pay increases for administrators”. Adding his belief that “symbolism works both ways” he questioned the timing and the relative small total savings to the district as he decried the minority further stating that when they were in the majority “leadership wasn’t there before”.

    Trustee Melissa Smith responded to Ledesma by taking exception to Ledesma’s characterization of the proposal as “political hay” stating “I have nothing to gain politically” citing that her residence has been moved from her trustee area (this was done in the Nichols Rocco Realignment) and she will not be running again. Smith also took exception to Ledesma’s comments about the timing of the proposal noting that she had been working on the proposed cuts since February. Smith defended past salary increase votes by stating that “market is what determines” the pay needed to offer and attract qualified people with competitive salaries. Ledesma retorted that competitiveness can be measured in many ways.

    During the pre-vote discussion other Trustees explained their votes. Trustee Kim Nichols while acknowledging that the total savings were small, said the proposal would show that the Board was “participating in the crisis” and was a symbolic way to tell the community and employees that “we are in it with you” with the gesture. Later in the meeting Nichols directed the Superintendent to provide Nichols with any paperwork that was needed for Nichols to take the 10% pay cut individually. Smith added to Nichols' reasons for voting for the pay cut reasoning that it was more than symbolic, but a way for the Trustees to “share the burden” .

    Trustee John Ortega stated he favored the cut, but maintained that because Trustee Mark Wayland was absent the Board should postpone the vote. At the beginning of the meeting, OUSD Superintendent Renae Drier had read a lengthy letter from Wayland explaining that his absence was do to his participation in the POW-MIA awareness campaign Run for the Wall national motorcycle convoy.
    (For more information CLICK ON: Run for the Wall).

    Responding to Ortega's concern, Smith maintained that the Board could not guarantee that everyone would ever be at every meeting when items are discussed. Trustee Kathy Moffat stated that it was well-known by the Board members that the item would be on the Agenda and that every Board meeting is important and felt it was more than fair to continue in Wayland’s absence.

    When the vote came, the motion failed in a tie 3-3 vote with the OUSD Trustees voting with their political allied blocks. Trustees Melissa Smith, Kim Nichols and Kathy Moffat voted for the reduction. Voting against the 10% reduction was Ledesma Coalition allies -Trustees Rick Ledesma, John Ortega, and Alexia Deligianni.

    OUSD Trustees also defeat proposal
    to fully pay for own heath benefits

    Also on the May 28th OUSD Agenda was a proposal to end taxpayer subsidies for OUSD Trustee health benefits. Agenda Action Item 12 B would have change the OUSD Board By-Laws to allow OUSD Trustees to opt into participating in the OUSD Health Benefit plan only by paying the entire cost of their participation. The proposal was moved by Nichols and seconded by Smith for a vote.

    In the pre-vote discussion, Nichols stated that the proposal would save taxpayers $100,000 a year. Nichols further reasoned that since the Trustees are classified as “part-time” district employees, in any other employment part-time employees are not entitled to benefits. Ledesma (who stated that at one-time he did use the district benefits, but he no longer does so) reasoned that the benefit package attracts people to run for the school board and that by eliminating it would reduce the pool of qualified future candidates. He also stated that if a school board candidate in the future were to lose their regular employment, the district provided benefits would help them not worry about health benefits during that stressful time. Ledesma reiterated his belief that the proposal was politically motivated and stated that at anytime a Trustee could voluntarily reduce their pay or not accept the benefits. Responding to Ledesma, a visibly agitated Nichols stated that politics never entered her mind in the two agenda items and at that point directed the Superintendent to reduce Nichols' own stipend by the earlier defeated proposed 10%. Trustee Melissa Smith responded to Ledesma’s assertions by pointing to the numerous candidates for the OUSD Board during the last elections and added that she doubted that school board candidates even knew that school board trustee health benefits were available. Trustee John Ortega again explained that his “No” vote was based on Trustee Wayland being absent.

    In the end, the vote failed on a technicality after 3 votes for the proposal (Moffat, Nichols and Smith), two against (Ortega and Ledesma) and an abstaining vote by OUSD Trustee Dr. Alexia Deligianni. OUSD Attorney Spencer Covert interjected from the audience that the abstaining vote went to the No’s, thereby defeating the proposal in a technical 3-3 tie. However, the Roberts Rules position on abstaining is controversial. One school of thought is that the 1915 Roberts Rules establishes a majority of votes cast (with abstentions not “votes”). Another school of thought is that a proposal passes by a majority of ALL votes cast including abstentions. With abstentions rare, few organizations that use Roberts Rules have addressed the abstention black hole in Roberts Rules by spelling out which interpretation to recognize. Since the era of abstentions began with former Trustee Steve Rocco and continuing with the current Board, perhaps it is time for OUSD to establish a policy. Then again, perhaps the OUSD attorney just did.
    (For more information CLICK ON: Roberts Rules Answers ).

    Community Donations
    El Modena H.S. Baseball Boosters $5,700 – Salary stipends; Cambridge E.S. Fathers Club $237- school supplies; Canyon H.S. ASB $1000- Cheer Salary stipend; La Veta PTA $5000 –computer lease.
    For a complete list of the $14,409 in community donations see Agenda page 29.

    INSIDE the OUSD Budget


    Total $1,041,000

    2009 Attorney Fee Tally:
    11/13/08 Parker & Covert (for 1/09 -6/09) $ 200,000
    3/12/09 Atkinson, Andelson, Loya (Sp. Ed) $ 50,000
    3/12/09 Parker & Covert (Special Ed) $ 98,000
    6/18/09 Parker & Covert (09-10) $ 400,000
    6/18/09 Parker & Covert (Special Ed) $ 200,000
    6/18/09 Parker & Covert (property) $ 55,000
    6/18/09 Atkinson, Andelson, Loya (property)$ 35,000
    Total $1,038,000

    2009 Consultant/ Speaker Fee Tally:
    01/24/09 Leadership Associates Consultants $ 3,000
    2009 TOTAL $1,041,000

    Former Superintendent Godley’s Retirement Bonus running total (beginning 8/2008): $13310.00*

    * 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 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 June 18, 2009 -OUSD BOARD ROOM

    CLOSED SESSION- 5:30 pm
    OUSD Regular Session: 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
    is an independent news service of /O/N/N/

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