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  • Sunday, December 27, 2009


    Dreier wins first ever GOPY Award

    Dreier wins first ever GOPY Award

    Orange Unified School District Superintendent Dr. Renae Dreier was named the recipient of the GOPY Award- the Greater Orange Person of the Year award. Dreier is the first ever winner of the newly instituted annual award from the Orange Communication System, the communications arm of the watchdog group the Greater Orange Community Organization. The Orange Communication System is the producer of original local central Orange County news services that include Orange Net News (ONN) and the Greater Orange News Service and is affiliated with national citizen news organizations.

    In a December 26th community email, the Greater Orange Community Organization announced that the Orange Communication System awarded the first annual 2009 GOPY Award based on the award’s criteria of ”the person who’s actions most influenced the Greater Orange Community” during the year.

    Dr. Renae Dreier started in July of 2008 as OUSD Superintendent replacing retired OUSD Superintendent Dr. Thomas Godley. Dreier was hired away form the Greeley-Evans School District Number 6 in Greeley, Colorado. Dreier had moved from California to Greeley to become their Superintendent. The Californian never quite won over the whole Greeley community as evident when the local newspaper, the Greeley Tribune, on news of her departure back to California published an unscientific poll on her tenure and wrote:
    “There's no question that Renae Dreier has been controversial in her brief tenure as Greeley-Evans School District 6's superintendent. More debatable is the question of whether District 6 is a better school district than when she took over in 2005.”

    In Greater Orange, the hiring of Dreier was controversial not because of her, but because of three OUSD Board members traveling to Greeley to “interview” the community on their feelings about Dreier. That trip was widely viewed as an unnecessary travel junket that wasted valuable educational tax dollars in the era of email, video conferencing and personal communication devices.

    Leaving Greeley behind, Dreier however easily won over skeptics in the Greater Orange community. Initially, she met with her leadership team and began a process of moving personnel she could work closely with into her inner circle. Unlike her predecessor, Dreier deftly maneuvered between the two competing political blocks on the OUSD Board using her now trademark listening skills to address and not ignore all concerns presented to her by any of the Trustees, while unlike Godley, treating all the Trustees as equals without playing favorites.

    This year Dreier led OUSD through one of the most difficult budget years ever. She decisively led with pay cuts not only to administrators, but also taking a pay cut herself. Leading though example, she cut out expensive administrative cell phones and cut her own staff. Recognizing the long local hostility toward educational consultants, Dreier pledged to use local talent for personnel training and imposed a consultant moratorium. She then went further by cutting out a controversial expensive mural artist that was approved to create a mural of the community Strategic Plan Workshop. For that same workshop she managed to get money and donations-in-kind to offset costs to the district. Her bold actions also included moving on the long cost ineffective split of the three employee units in different health groups, consolidating the administrators and teachers and working to unite the classified into one larger cost-effective health care group. In the face of an enormous budget deficit, her administration closed two small schools and consolidated administration costs. Her open door policy included a web-based suggestion box for staff and community.

    Dreier even turned her one gaff quickly into opportunity. In proposing a cut to the technology technicians, Dreier was asked specifically about the techs duties and in an off the cuff unprepared remark stated that they basically turned computers off and on. However, that gaff was quickly turned around with her go-to it budget battered Technology Department was able to rise to the occasion by battling a depilating district wide virus, revamping the OUSD Website and taking the OUSD Superintendent’s office into the 21st Century with the first ever staff podcasts that were made available to the public.

    In addition, Dreier has quickly earned a reputation of not being afraid to review the impact of decisions and reverse decisions not producing the desired outcomes. Going to a cheaper parent communication system received numerous complaints district-wide as being ineffective compared to the previous system. Based on the widespread feedback Dreier reached a quick decision, she dumped the newer program to return to the previous effective program. Unlike Godley her “knowledge is power” mantra has led her to confront controversial issues head on without resorting to censorship of OUSD Board Meetings, even when delicate personnel matters are brought up in the public forum, thus defusing the story by dealing with the facts including updating the OUSD Board at later meetings.

    The Greater Orange Communication Organization’s announcement of the GOPY Award listed Dreier as “the most competent, well-liked and effective Superintendent Orange Unified has had since Dr. Robert French. Dr. Dreier in one short year has changed the culture of the local schools and her leadership has clearly made her the person who had the most influence on the Greater Orange Community in 2009”.

    is an independent news service of /O/N/N/
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    Wednesday, December 16, 2009


    Orange County Register obtains all Orange County school district's pay records

    School officials across Orange County are debating on whether to inform their staffs that the Orange County Register has requested and obtained all pay records for every school district in Orange County from the Orange County Department of Education. According to sources in the Orange County Department of Education, the request was at first denied. The sources state that Orange County Register then threatened legal action under the Freedom of Information Act and the Orange County Department of Education relinquished the records. What the Orange County Register will do with the information is unknown.

    The Register has done front page stories on Orange County school districts superintendent’s pay, now however they have requested and received all pay records of every single employee of all public schools. Since pay rates and payroll budgets are widely and easily available, the request for such a massive amount of payroll data is perplexing. The most common reasoning among those who are discussing the Register payroll interest is that they are looking to compare top administers pay among Orange County districts.

    Most recently the Register has focused on Capistrano Unified as the current poster child of dysfunction school government. With huge budget deficient plus labor and voter unrest, the paper often focuses educational stories on the south county district.

    Wednesday, December 09, 2009


    Menorah lighting, Deck the Halls and Rotarians go shopping

    Metro TALK
    a community service of the
    Greater Orange Communities Organization

    Greater Orange Celebrates Chanukah with 8 nights of Lights
    This Friday December 11th is the beginning of Chanukah and for the third year in a row the Temple Beth Sholom on Tustin Ave will host the nightly ceremony lighting the menorah in the Orange Park Plaza at the Orange Traffic Circle. To prevent a repeat of last year’s sad menorah theft, the giant menorah has a new secure foundation. For the 8 nights of the Jewish festival of lights a ceremonial lighting at 6:00 pm will take place in the Orange Park Plaza. The simple ceremony includes blessings over candles and singing songs. In the spirit of giving, participants from all faiths are welcome to donate items that will be collected for groups selected for each night at the lighting ceremony. Those groups and items are:
    Friday December 11th-
    Sweat shirts and socks for the Orange County Mission
    Saturday December 12th-
    Children’s Books for the Garden Grove St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital
    Sunday December 13th-
    Toilet paper and paper towels for Adopt a Social Worker
    Monday December 14th
    Children’s Books for the Orange Friendly Center
    Tuesday December 15th
    Diapers for Western Service Workers
    Wednesday December 16th
    White, black and tan socks for members of our U.S. Armed Forces
    Thursday December 17th
    Children’s pajamas for Western Service Workers
    Friday December 16th
    Writing stationary and postcards for members of our U.S. Armed Forces

    For more information on the Chanukah Ceremony
    CLICK ON:TEMPLE or email

    Villa Park Women’s League will Deck the Halls in annual home tour
    The Villa Park Women’s League will be opening four beautiful homes in the “hidden jewel” community in the League’s Holiday Home Tour on Friday December 11 from 4:30- 9:30 pm. Not only do you get to visit some of Villa Park's most beautiful decked out abodes, abut you also get carolers, snowman, tasty treats and a shuttle to bring you to each home. That’s right, no driving needed., those attending will turn in their tickets at the Villa Park City Hall and be whisked away on the VPWL Holiday Shuttles. All this fun is only $30.00 per person with the funds going to help local schools and organizations. Tickets can be purchased at the Villa Park Pharmacy in the Towne Center.

    Orange Rotarians mark eleven years of giving to Project Hope School
    For eleven years the Orange Rotary Club has taken youngsters from the Project Hope School on an annual mini-shopping spree as part of their holiday. This year 35 Rotarians and their family and friends took 57 children from the Project Hope School in Orange on a shopping trip to Target to buy gifts for the children’s family members.

    Rotarians helped the children select the gifts and accompanied them back to the school, where they helped wrap the gifts and enjoyed a pizza lunch. For some of the children, this was the only opportunity for them to personally give to their family members.

    Project Hope School is the only transitional school in Orange County created to meet the educational needs of homeless and at risk students in kindergarten through eighth grade. A public school, it is a part of the Alternate Education Division of the Orange County Department of Education.

    Metro TALK
    is a community service of the
    Greater Orange Communities Organization

    Ecast on the
    A 21st Century Communications System
    Produced by the
    Orange Communication System /OCS/

    Tuesday, December 08, 2009


    OUSD braces for more program cuts

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

    “These are heartbreaking cuts and we’re not done yet”
    -OUSD Trustee Kim Nichols on continuing OUSD budget cut proposals 11/12/09

    As state fiscal crisis continues
    OUSD braces for more program cuts

    At the November 12, 2009 Orange Unified School Board Meeting, OUSD Assistant Superintendent for Administrative Affairs Michael Christiensen reported on the proposed cuts the OUSD Administrative Staff is recommending to the save an additional 9 million more dollars over the next two years the district needs to balance its budget due to the continuing state budget crisis. The deep cuts outlined at the November 12 meeting match the proposed budget cuts that the OUSD Trustees will vote to approve at their December 10, 2009. With these additional cuts, the multi-year cuts in OUSD since the state fiscal crisis began will total $32.254 million.

    Those proposed November cuts are the exact cuts that are included in the December 10, 2009 OUSD Board Agenda as Action Item 13 B (Agenda Page 25). The proposed cuts totaling $4.29 million are: $200,000 in district funds for sports transportation for high school sports (the $50,000 per high school subsidy will have to be made up by school booster clubs); an increase in the Student Bus Pass fee by $60.00 ($60,000 in saving); an elimination of the free dedicated GATE program busing ($107,000 in savings); elimination (or a “program suspension” during the fiscal crisis) of the 5th and 6th grade instrumental music program ($385,000) and the elementary summer school program ($300,000 in savings); a restructuring of the secondary summer school program as a consolidated credit recovery program ($300,000); a promised further cut to OUSD Administrative and support staff positions of $450,000 (possibly including the recent addition of a third high school vice principal to OUSD high schools); restructuring of night custodial service that may include sharing of services ($900,000 in savings); consolidation (closing) of another of the remaining small schools- Riverdale (with students being sent to Olive); for an estimated $345,000 in savings. It should be noted that the closing of Silverado Elementary last year was conservatively estimated to produce $260,000 in savings, but actually resulted in $401,000 in savings to OUSD. Also being proposed is first and second grade class size reductions being increased from the current 25:1 ratio to a 30:1 ration for a savings of $1.2 million dollars. These are cuts the OUSD Board can approve without labor negotiations.

    Another $480,000 in cuts is an increase in the high school class size ratio from the current 32:1 ratio to a 33:1 ratio. That class size increase needs to be negotiated with the teachers’ associations. The November report also highlighted the district budget four years out. That time frame is after the current state and federal fiscal emergency measures expire and without further state action will result in another $15 million dollar shortfall for the 2012-2013 OUSD budget. The budgeting process for the 2012-2013 school year will start in June 2010. Trustee Kim Nichols had requested district staff include the far in advanced 4th year forecast with the staff’s required three year budget forecasts. On hearing about the 2012-2013 budget forecast Nichols commented “These are heartbreaking cuts and we’re not done yet”.

    A small group of Canyon residents disrupt the Board meeting as
    OUSD Board takes no action on Canyon Transfer
    Also on the November 12, 2009 OUSD Agenda was a staff report on the impact to OUSD in transferring the Canyon Communities to Saddleback Unified. Aside from the loss of state funds for OUSD from the 118 students in the area, the major impact would be that those 118 students still in OUSD would immediately be required to leave OUSD and attended Saddleback schools. This fact seemed to be lost on the supporters of the transfer who are mostly parents of a small number of elementary age children who attended the now closed Silverado Elementary School. The impact on middle school students and high school students being forced from OUSD to new Saddleback schools was only mentioned in passing in the OUSD Staff Report. It also appeared apparent from the comments made by some supporters of the transfer at the meeting that they believed the transfer would be the only way to re-open Silverado Elementary School which Trustee Kathy Moffat tried to diplomatically explain.

    Moffat tried to caution the supporters that they have no guarantee that joining Saddleback would give them any level of services they desire or may need. As she tried to make her points Moffat was continually interrupted from some Canyon community members in the audience requiring President Rick Ledesma to call a 5 minute recess. Moffat used that recess to engage in a dialogue with some of the impassioned Canyon audience members. The next move will be for the Canyon Saddleback Supporters is to take its cause to the Orange County Committee on School District Organization.

    OUSD Staff Deals with another SPAM Charter Application
    Just a month after denying the Global Tides “SPAM” charter school application, Orange Unified Trustees will again vote to deny another “SPAM” charter school application at their December 10, 2009 Board meeting. The Resolution to Deny covers 16 pages of the December 10 Agenda as Action Item 13 A (page 6-22). The OUSD Staff prepared resolution outlines the Barrack H. Obama Leadership Academy Charter High School application’s flaws, mistakes, omissions and inconsistencies. At one point the Resolution characterizes the application as “The proposal is not presented in a coherent manner, but is rather in the format of a jumbled collection of documents, some of which appear to be photocopies, while other appear to be purpose created”.

    OUSD Interim Financial Report gives district a Positive Certification
    The required 2009-2010 Budget First Interim Report will be presented as Action Item 13 C (Agenda page 25-58). The legally required report will certify the OUSD budget as “positive” in regards to the district meeting its financial obligations. Not a small feat in the current economic turmoil.

    New OUSD Board President and officers to be selected
    Outgoing OUSD Board President Rick Ledesma commented at the November 12 OUSD Board Meeting that his year as Board President was “budget, budget, budget”. That year will come to an end at the December 10, 2009 OUSD Board Meeting when the OUSD Board will elect a new slate of officers. Ledesma was opposed by the former majority members at the beginning of his term as he and his political allies, John Ortega, Mark Wayland and Dr. Alexia Deligianni took over control of the OUSD Board. However, the only real political “hay” exchange between the two political groups was over proposed Trustee pay cuts. On the whole, the OUSD Board worked well together under Ledesma’s leadership on the budget. Even Ledesma’s controversial early addition of extra meetings ended up working to the Board’s advantage in the early days of the budget crisis. That coming together seemed apparent at the November meeting when Trustee Melissa Smith led the applause of Ledesma at the end of his last Board President’s Report that reflected on his year. At the same meeting, Trustee Kim Nichols referring to the Veterans Day holiday lauded Mark Wayland’s service in the military and his efforts to replace worn American flags in OUSD classrooms with new ones. If last December’s meeting was terse, this December maybe a rare “kumbaya moment”.

    INSIDE the December 10, 2009 Meeting

    14 A Student Calendar 2010-2011- Say goodbye to the two year experiment with a 3 week Winter break and hello to the 1 week Fall break at Thanksgiving. Winter break will be back to the traditional two weeks and Spring Break will remain at the new two week time.

    INSIDE Community Donations

    McPherson PTSA $17,000 Sound System; Villa Park H.S. Aquatics Boosters-$2,200 in salary stipends; Tustin Lexus-$100 to Anaheim Hills E.S. for supplies; Canyon H.S. Band Boosters- $6,445 in salary stipends; Kathy Moffat $75 in stipend donation (pay reduction); Kim Nichols $75 in stipend donation (pay reduction). (For a complete list of the $43,000 in donations see page 61-62 of the Agenda).

    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 -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/
    “Independent Local Insight”

    Wednesday, December 02, 2009


    Greater Orange is looking a lot like Christmas

    Metro TALK
    a community service of the Greater Orange Communities Organization

    Santa Claus to tour Villa Park before big Christmas Eve Trip
    Few people outside Villa Park may know that Santa and Mrs. Claus keep their Southern California vacation residence right here in Greater Orange at the Claus Villa in Villa Park. Each year before making the final push towards getting ready for that Christmas Eve world tour, the Claus family spends a weekend at their Villa Park get-a-way. Traditionally, Santa has thanked his home-away-from home neighbors with the Annual Villa Park Santa Tour winding his way through the Greater Orange “Hidden Jewel” in a bright red fire truck. This year’s tour is Saturday December 5, 2009 (in case of rain, December 12th is a back-up date) from 8:00 am- 5:00 pm.

    Santa has been known to drop by or stop along the route where ever there is a gathering of believers. For more information contact the Villa Park City Hall at 714-998-1500. The Annual Santa Tour is sponsored by the Villa Park Foundation.

    For a map and times CLICK ON: TOUR

    15th Annual Orange Tree Lighting Ceremony is December 6th
    The holiday season’s official Greater Orange kickoff celebrates 15 years of tree lighting ceremonies in the Orange Plaza with Orange native and Broadway stage star Eden Espinosa returning home to join the traditional holiday program as the story narrator.The hometown star of Wicked will join the holiday program that features the 350 voice Orange Master Chorale choir led by Orange High’s world famous choir director Michael Short and a 60 piece orchestra in the traditional Choir Procession and Tree Lighting Ceremony.

    The festivities start at 3:30 pm on Sunday December 6th with food booths and kids activities including those holiday photo ops with none-other than Santa himself followed by the official choir and tree ceremony starting at 5:15 pm.

    In case of rain please call the official Orange Special Events Hotline for details: 714-744-7278.

    For more information on Wicked star Eden Espinosa CLICK ON: Eden

    Holiday Toy Express rolls into the Old Towne Depot December 12th
    For the 13th year in a row, a very special 450-ton Metrolink Holiday Toy Express Train decorated with oversized garland and more than 50,000 twinkling lights, will roll into various stations throughout the Southland including the Old Towne Orange Depot on December 12 at 6:00 p.m.

    The train will bring Santa Claus, Mrs. Claus and a whole company of characters from the North Pole to present a live musical stage show and lead an audience sing-a-long. The show is put on to support the annual Firefighters Spark of Love Toy Drive. So bring the whole family out to see the show and bring a new, unwrapped toy or sports equipment in support of the "Spark of Love Toy Drive”.

    In conjunction with KABC-TV and the Orange County Toy Collaborative, representatives from fire departments throughout Orange County will be collecting new unwrapped toys and sporting goods as part of the local firefighters Spark of Love Toy Drive. In addition to dropping off toys at the Holiday Toy Express, toys can be dropped off at all Orange County Fire Stations and at CVS Drug Stores throughout Orange County.

    The Orange County Toy Collaborative is a group of representatives from holiday charities that have combined their efforts to collect new unwrapped toys and sports equipment including: the OC Firefighters Spark of Love Toy Drive; the U.S. Marine Corps Toys for Tots; the Orange County Department of Social Services; Operation Santa Claus; and St. Vincent de Paul. Together these programs distribute approximately 300,000 toys annually to Orange County children and their families who may otherwise go without during the holiday season.

    The train does not appear in rainy weather.

    For more information CLICK ON: Toy Express

    12th Annual Great Inland Boat Parade-December 13th, 2009
    Being land-locked never bothered many in Greater Orange, especially in Villa Park where the 12th Annual Great Villa Park Inland Boat Parade takes place on Sunday December 13th, 2009. Winding through the backwaters of Villa Park, from Villa Park High School starting at 5:00 pm, the mighty Villa Park Fleet sails to the Villa Park Towne and Community Centre arriving around 6:00 pm. for more hometown festivities including a tree lighting ceremony and entertainment. The Great Villa Park Inland Boat Parade is sponsored by the Villa Park Foundation.

    For a map CLICK ON: BOATS

    Metro TALK
    is a community service of the
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    Greater Orange News Service is a community service of the Orange Communication System /OCS/, the communications arm of the Greater Orange Community Orgainization