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  • Tuesday, October 13, 2009


    OUSD to Study Canyons Secession Bid to Saddleback Unified

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

    OUSD to Study Canyons Secession Bid
    to Saddleback Unified

    Orange Unified will study the possibility of letting the Canyon communities that fed into the now closed Santiago Elementary School leave Orange Unified and join Saddleback Unified. The secession bid was presented as Information Item 13 B at the September 24, 2009 Orange Unified School Board Meeting. Speaking for the Inter-Canyon League, Dr. Deborah Johnson outlined reasons for the Canyon communities to secede from OUSD and join Saddleback Unified. After Johnson, several Canyon community speakers followed her presentation with more emotional appeals including threatening political and electoral retributions if OUSD Trustees tried to stop what many speakers said was an inevitable secession by the Canyons.

    In response to a question about the timing of the of a possible move by OUSD Trustee Dr. Alexia Deligianni, OUSD Superintendent Renae Dreier stated that the move could not take place this school year, and because she has approved every student transfer request to Saddleback Unified from the Canyon communities, she did not see the item as urgent. Among the needed steps was contacting the Orange County Committee on School District Organization for their expertise as well as researching all the needed facts of the proposal. OUSD Trustee Kathy Moffat asked for more information in two areas. First, what is Saddleback Unified’s view on the issue and second a more complete view on the positions of the Canyon community. Moffat wanted assurances of the validity of a survey taken by the Canyons that had a small reply in the sampling. Furthermore, Moffat noted that budget cuts in Saddleback Unified do not guarantee the Canyon communities would do better in seceding.

    Follow-up stories by the Orange County Register after Orange Net News broke the story last month had Saddleback Unified spokesperson stating the proposal was an OUSD matter and that the Saddleback Unified Board of Education has not considered or discussed the matter. Saddleback Unified closed two schools last year in response to the current fiscal crisis.

    OUSD Board hears staff report on OUSD State Testing Scores
    OUSD Administrators put their best spin on the OUSD State Testing Scores despite dire implications in the yearly score card. Dr. Marsha Brown, OUSD Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services stayed positive by emphasizing what she called “bright spots” of Science and Math scores as well as emphasizing OUSD schools that scored over the 900 and 800 test benchmarks. Characterizing OUSD’s growth as “slow steady growth” the report focused on OUSD scores being “about the same as the county” and “outperforming the state by a long shot”. Of course those characterizations while technically true, they are really mischaracterizations when looked at in context.

    OUSD has spent millions of dollars on educational consultants for no real return in test scores as evident by the same “slow steady growth” that most Orange County and California school districts have also seen since testing was implemented at the end of the 1990’s. Yet the vast majority of school districts have not fallen prey to the educational consultant merry-go-round of failed programs at great taxpayer expense that OUSD squandered millions of educational tax dollars on. In addition, Orange County scores as a whole are influenced by the dismal scores of Santa Ana Unified. When that district is taken out of the statistics, the county scores are farther ahead of OUSD. Likewise, the scores of California districts as a whole are skewed by major urban districts like Los Angeles Unified and perennially low scoring districts like Oakland and Compton that statistically bring the total state scores down.

    The OUSD presentation also included the information on how OUSD became a first year Program Improvement District. Using a multi-colored chart showing the increasingly impossible Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) benchmarks required under the federal No Child Left Behind Act, the OUSD staff explained how OUSD missed growth in enough AYP sub-groups to become a first year Program Improvement District. This presentation shows OUSD’s future under No Child Left Behind is bleak. The chart showed that the OUSD Hispanic/Latino subgroup failed to meet the AYP benchmarks that translate to an ever dismal testing future for OUSD. With 23,200 total OUSD students taking the state tests in 2009, 10,600 of the OUSD students (46%) are identified in the subgroup of Hispanic/Latino, making them by far the largest single student population in OUSD followed by (Whites at 37% and Asians at 11%). This fact, combined with the unrealistic expectation under the current version of No Child Left Behind that EVERY student (100%) are to score at least “Proficient” by the year 2014 means years of bad testing news ahead of OUSD.

    Dr. Brown’s gaffs on the state tests also were of concern to longtime Board watchers. Among her gaffs Brown identified the California CST 8th Grade History Test given as a U.S. History test (the test covers history standards of three grades-6th, 7th and 8th- with only a portion devoted to U.S. History). At another point in the report, Trustee Moffat asked Brown to identify the value of the breakdown of the five scoring levels (Advanced, Proficient, Basic, Below Basic and Far Below Basic). Unable to come up with the simple scoring (i.e. in elementary tests 350 out of the 600 possible equals the “proficient” level ) Brown was forced to pull a Sarah Palin (as in the infamous Katie Couric interview) and said she’d be glad to get back to Moffat with the answer.

    Dr. Brown was also quick to point out that eleven Orange County school districts are now classified as Program Improvement as she compared OUSD with Buena Park (elementary) and Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified. The full list of both Program Improvement and Non-Program Improvement districts in Orange County was not in the staff report, but here they are. The 12 Orange County Program Improvement Districts are: Anaheim City; Anaheim Union; Buena Park Elementary; Fullerton Elementary; Fullerton Joint Union; Garden Grove Unified; Huntington Beach Union; Orange Unified; Ocean View Elementary; La Habra City; Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified; and Santa Ana Unified. The 14 Orange County districts that are not Program Improvement are: Brea-Olinda Unified; Capistrano Unified; Centralia Elementary; Cypress Elementary; Fountain Valley Elementary; Irvine Unified; Magnolia Elementary; Saddleback Unified; Savanna Elementary; Tustin Unified; Los Alamitos Unified; Laguna Beach Unified; Newport-Mesa Unified and Westminster Elementary.

    Also while OUSD increased their Program Improvement designated schools, some of their existing Program Improvement schools were given a “pass” under a special statistical “rule” adeptly named “safe harbor” by educrat statisticians. An example of this statistical abnormally can be found in OUSD Portola Middle School. Under “safe harbor” statistical wild card, Portola was given a pass on its failing scores because it met the “safe harbor” wild card criteria. Under the “safe harbor” statistical rule exception, a school will qualify when a subgroup shows “a decrease of students below proficient by 10 percent over the prior year” despite failing in the regular statistical requirements. Thus proving that statistics still mean what politicians want them to and that No Child Left Behind is a statistical joke that has some very unfunny consequences for communities across America, including the Greater Orange Communities.

    Inside the September 24th , 2009 Meeting
    Where’s Waldo?
    Trustee John Ortega reported that he had been absent from recent OUSD Board meetings because he had been selected for peace offer training at the FBI National Academy in Virginia. Ortega is a Deputy Orange County Sherriff.
    For more information on the FBI Academy CLICK ON: FBI

    Minute student responses hit the spot
    For years getting all the SCABEE representatives (the student representatives to the OUSD Board) more involved at meetings has been an ongoing challenge. At the September 24th meeting a simple change has accomplished that long sought after goal. At that meeting, instead of one high school presenting a year’s overview of the school, the SACBEE representative give quick updates on each high school’s activities. That was a big improvement over the once a term all encompassing one high school highlighted format that will allow the student representatives not only to actively participate in the meeting, but also highlight up to date relative highlights and information to the Board and community. Unfortunately, it appears that change was not an orchestrated ongoing change because the old all encompassing one SACBEE representative Power Point on one high school returns at the October 15th OUSD Board Meeting. Maybe it’s time for a “hybrid” model.

    OUSD Teachers take pay cut, staff employees at impasse

    The OUSD Board approved a change in the contract between OUSD and the teacher’s association – the Orange Unified Education Association resulting in a 2% pay cut. The new agreement includes eliminating four scheduled teacher training days saving the district around 2% of the teacher’s payroll costs. Trustee Melissa Smith called the cut to teacher’s pay “no small matter” as she emphasized that the current state financial situation is to blame. Negotiations between the Classified staff union, the CSEA, and OUSD have not been settled and are currently in impasse and are meeting with a state appointed mediator. The many outstanding issues included pay and healthcare cost increases and how long an agreement will cover. While the negotiations are on-going, Classified employees are paying the full cost of health benefit increases. In addition to those cuts, OUSD is also asking Classified employees to take a 2% pay cut for three years.

    Moffat utters “R” Word…again
    The bastardization of the English language by Educrats reared its ugly head at the September 24th OUSD Meeting as Trustee Kathy Moffat spoke the “R” word that the discredited Education Consultant, known as “He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named” (you know Willard Daggett) made infamous. That’s right Moffat said “rigor”. Speaking the “R” word in an educational sense is so more than just clearly 1990’s… it is an out-of-touch gaff that shows the ignorance of the speaker and their dependence on buzzwords (perhaps Buzzword Anonymous is needed for such serial offenders). Apparently as Trustee Kathy Moffat utters the “R” word, she takes the Dark Lord’s (Voldemort) words to heart, words that could have easily been said by the Educational Dark Lord Willard Daggett- “there have always been those willing to let me into their hearts and minds”. Of course Daggett would add “wallets”.
    For more information CLICK ON: RIGOR and DAGGETT-The Dark Lord

    INSIDE the October 15, 2009 OUSD Board Meeting
    Information Item 13A – The OUSD Legislative Coalition will give an update on legislation and actives of the committee.
    Information Item 13B Budget Update- the latest doom and gloom on how bad it will be with the figures on the impact of the July state budget on the districts budget. Well, there are those small schools…

    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):
    * 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 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:
    Next OUSD Board Meeting Thursday October 15, 2009 -OUSD BOARD ROOM

    CLOSED SESSION- 6:00 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/

    To all who are for the OUSD/Saddleback Valley redistricting I have to ask why? The OUSD is approving every student transfer request to Saddleback Unified from the Canyon communities. Saddleback has stated that they wont deny the request. So those who want to go to OUSD are welcome to stay and anyone who would like to go to Saddleback is also welcome. There is no benefit to the redistricting. They wont provide transportation, wont gaurranty which school your children are enrolled in, and they will not reopen our Silverado Elementray school. It would make parents like me have to drive their child roundtrip some 20 miles to dropoff/pickup twice a day versus us driving right by the OUSD schools every day already(20 roundtrip to school twice a day + 38 roundtrip to work for just me it's 78 miles a day) for a school that not that much better plus the dropoff at 8:00am get to work at 8:00am get off work at 5:00pm and back to the school thats crazy And I am sure others may drive farther than me. We are not asking you to go out of your way to go to OUSD, just let everyone go to the district that they feel is best for the parents an their children.
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