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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”.

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    What a crock. Ask the average employee working for her and I doubt they would be as enthusiastic or kind.
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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