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  • Sunday, February 22, 2009

     

    ARCHIBALD GONE; ELEMENTARY MUSIC GOING

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


    ARCHIBALD GONE; ELEMENTARY MUSIC GOING
    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.

    CHANGE YOU CAN BELIEVE IN
    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!

    INSIDE’s EDUCATIONAL TAX DOLLARS WATCH 2009:
    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):
    $8,470.00*
    * 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
    $750,000
    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

    is an independent news service of /O/N/N/

    Orange_NetNews@yahoo.com
    “Independent Local Insight”
    Ecast on the
    INTERNET COMMUNITY GROUP i/))) cg
    A 21st Century Communications System

    Monday, February 09, 2009

     

    OUSD Board hears more proposed cuts in Work Session

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

    OUSD Board hears more proposed cuts in Work Session
    The continued California Budget Stalemate in Sacramento has led to budget panic though out the state. In their continued efforts to keep the Greater Orange Communities informed, the OUSD Trustees and the OUSD Administration under Superintendent Dr. Renae Drier held a public Budget Work Session on Thursday February 5th, 2009.

    Continuing to base budget forecasts on the now very old, but last available predictor, Governor Schwarzenegger’s budget proposal he made after his budget veto, some new proposals from the OUSD Administration were released (see link to full presentation below) during the budget study session. Some of the new OUSD budget saving proposals included: a $30 high school athletics fee; elimination of the middle school athletics program; a three year freeze on administration salaries; and a moratorium on all outside educational consultants. The end of the presentation included a slide on what the community could do to help the schools. Members of the community were urged to contact state legislators (see link below) and ask that budget cuts be kept away from education. If cuts to education are made, citizens were urged to ask legislators to give school districts increased local control over spending. Finally, ask for elimination of the requirement for local districts to pay for “unfunded mandates”. The first staff budget recommendations on the budget are expected at the February 26th OUSD Board Meeting.

    The news since the February 5th meeting has not been good. This week all sides again failed to reach a budget accord in Sacramento, plus Federal Senate Republicans were able to cut deeply into the proposed dollars for school rebuilding as part of the compromises on the Federal Economic Stimulus Package.

    To see the latest February 5th Budget Presentation, CLICK ON:
    BUDGET PRESENTATION

    For a list of State Leaders to contact CLICK ON:
    STATE BUDGET LEADERS

    OUSD BUDGET RESOLUTION and Budget Presentation
    At the February 12, 2009 OUSD Board Meeting, OUSD Trustees will be approving a Resolution urging Sacramento lawmakers to solve the budget crisis (Action Item 12 D, Agenda pages 18-19). In addition, another sure to be informative Budget Update (Information item 13 A, Agenda page 20), no doubt featuring the latest information, will be presented by Assistant Superintendent for Business Services Jon Archibald. Archibald’s presentations have been locally highly acclaimed for clarity and easy to comprehend terms and graphics. In addition, unlike many Power Point users, Archibald has mastered the “explaining vs. reading” pitfall that makes so many other Power Point presentations crash and burn. Clearly a master at the budget, Archibald has now also proven himself at master at the Power Point presentation.

    CHANGE YOU CAN BELIEVE IN
    “Knowledge is powerful, especially in times of uncertainly”
    -Dr. Renae Drier 2/9/09

    OUSD Superintendent Dr. Renae Drier continues to keep OUSD staff involved and informed sending out a follow-up letter on the budget crisis this week that directed staff to the district website for budget information and staff suggestions.

    COMMUNITY DONATIONS
    Exxon-Mobil-$500 for supplies, Riverdale ES; Serrano PFO-$1837 refurbish computers Serrano PFO; El Modena Girl’s Basketball Boosters-$2306 El Modena H.S.; Villa Park High School Aquatics-$2000 Stipends Villa Park H.S.; Canyon Band Boosters-$7600 Stipends Canyon H.S.; Olive PTC- $495 Laptops Olive ES.
    For a complete list of Community Donations see the Agenda pages 24-25.

    Inside the February 5th Agenda
    Action Item 12 A (page 3-5) - Proposed Board Policy on Intradistrict Open Enrollment Second Reading
    Action Item 12 B (page 6-15) – Public Hearing for a Waiver to not buy new textbook adoptions for 1 year to save money
    Action Item 12 C (page 16-17) Legislative Coalition 2009 Platform, with no Rocco to blast them, and a focused agenda for Sacramento, expect little of the fireworks of the past.

    INSIDE the OUSD Budget

    INSIDE’s EDUCATIONAL TAX DOLLARS WATCH 2009:
    Total $200,000
    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):
    $8470.00*
    * 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: $907,800
    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
    sub total $750,000

    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
    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 $ 107, 800
    2008 TOTAL $ 907,800

    Total for Watched Tax Dollars approved in 2007: $704,090.00**
    Total for Watched Tax Dollars approved in 2006: $849,717.00*




    **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 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 5, 2009 -OUSD BOARD ROOM
    FOR the Agenda CLICK ON:
    FEB 11

    OUSD Regular Session: 7:30 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/

    Orange_NetNews@yahoo.com

    Monday, February 02, 2009

     

    OUSD DOOMSDAY BUDGET DECISIONS DUE BY IDES OF MARCH

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

    “We will walk through this very dark valley together.”
    - Trustee M. Smith 1/15/09

    Trustees meeting on OUSD Budget Set for February 5
    As the top state officials meet in Sacramento this week to try and find a solution to the ongoing California state budget impasse, (GOP leaders have threaten to censure any Republican lawmaker breaking ranks and voting for any tax increases) the Orange Unified School Board will hold a Special Session Work Study meeting for:

    “Discussion of the state budget crisis and its potential impact on OUSD”

    The public Special Open Session meeting will start at 5:30 p.m. on February 5, 2009in the OUSD Board Room.

    DOOMSDAY BUDGET DECISIONS DUE BY MARCH
    In a candid opening Superintendent’s Report at the January 15, 2009 OUSD Board Meeting, Orange Unified School Superintendent Dr. Renae Drier spoke about an expected 10.2 million dollar shortfall for next year’s OUSD budget. The projected shortfall is based on the latest budget proposals by Governor Schwarzenegger. Throughout the meeting, Drier focused on a theme of “communication” with the community and “transparency” about the hard and painful budget decisions that would be necessitated by the current world-wide financial crisis and California’s budget shortfalls. The Superintendent in her opening remarks noted that 85% of the OUSD budget is personnel related and reminded the community that any cuts to teaching staff must be announced before the mandated March 15th legal deadline. Certified support staff has an anytime contractual 45 day notice period.

    Later in the meeting, Orange Unified School District Assistant Superintendent for Business Services Jon Archibald presented an informational item that focused on the current budget crisis. Starting with an in-dept, yet easy to understand analysis of the current California budget stalemate and problems, Archibald’s slide show visually explained the budget predicament California finds itself in. Explaining that 1% of the wealthiest Californians pay 50% of the state income taxes that come mostly from capital gains in financial markets, and explaining that a good deal of rest of the state revenue comes from the state sales tax, Archibald clearly explained how the current financial markets collapse and retail sales slump has equated in a $20 billion dollar revenue shortfall for California’s current fiscal year, with the shortfall expected to continue into future budgets.

    Archibald outlined continued efforts by the OUSD Administration to continue positive cash flow during the budget stalemate in Sacramento. Those efforts include internal borrowing from internal OUSD accounts to a district hiring freeze. Archibald related that the district under present cash flow circumstances can continue until September 2009 without having to go to outside loan sources.

    Finally, Archibald gave a list of potential cuts the OUSD Board could possibly authorize in the months leading up to the March 15th, Ides of March legal deadline for staff cut notifications. The Archibald list of Potential Adjustments to the OUSD Budget are:

    Administrative Funding Adjustments – $ 2.5 million savings
    Deferred Maintenance Match - $ 1.5 million savings
    Consolidate Small Schools and
    eliminate Class Size Reduction - $ 1.2 million savings
    All district on 1 calendar - $ .5 million savings
    Reduce staff (outside Class reduction) - $ 2.9 million savings
    Freeze Step/Column raises - $ 3.1 million savings
    Reduce Salaries-varied savings: every 1% decrease equals a $1.6 million savings
    Restructure Health and Welfare benefits package- unknown variable savings

    Using the Governor’s last proposed budget, the projected mid-year budget cuts for this school year in OUSD are another $ 8.6 million. Those cuts are then expected to continue and increase through the 2010-2011 school year.

    Following the presentation during Public Comments on the agenda item, community members representing the small schools of Riverdale and Silverado gave emotional pleas to save their schools from any future closings.


    Homework on the hot seat
    “We are doing a disservice to our families and students”
    – Trustee J. Ortega 1/15/09

    Continuing his call for “quality vs. quantity” in the amount of homework students and their families are subjected to, OUSD Trustee John Ortega spoke after a presentation by OUSD Administrators on updating the Board on their recent focus on the amount of homework assigned to students across the grades and district. Ortega continued to champion parental concerns that homework and school projects have become burdensome for students and their families. Ortega questioned “Where is it written that giving homework over the weekends is beneficial?”

    While the Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services, Dr. Brown agreed that she knew of no homework studies confirming benefits from weekend homework, Trustee Kathy Moffat interjected that a recent Duke University study had reviewed other homework studies (in fact the Duke study was published in 2006). While Moffat correctly stated that study found some homework appearing to have benefits in the secondary grades, the study taken in whole reinforces what Trustee John Ortega has contended in his homework campaign about the limited effects of homework and the harmful effects of excessive homework. A Duke University Press Release quoted Duke Professor Harris Cooper about his widely read 2006 homework research study:

    “With only rare exception, the relationship between the amount of homework students do and their achievement outcomes was found to be positive and statistically significant,”

    The Duke Press Release on Copper’s findings continues that:

    "While it’s clear that homework is a critical part of the learning process, Cooper said the analysis also showed that too much homework can be counter-productive for students at all levels."

    “Even for high school students, overloading them with homework is not associated with higher grades,” Cooper said.

    Absent from the Board’s homework dialogue has been OUSD’s large lower income Hispanic population. The special cultural and economic needs of this group have not been addressed in the local homework controversy. Examples of the special challenges include older siblings often are expected to care for younger siblings in homes where parents work more than one job and many times crowded living conditions also lead to students unable to have any work spaces. The Duke University study acknowledges outside cultural and economic differences have not been accounted for in research studies stating:

    "Cooper pointed out that there are limitations to current research on homework. For instance, little research has been done to assess whether a student’s race, socioeconomic status or ability level affects the importance of homework in his or her achievement."

    In an apparent response to Ortega’s concerns that higher level students appear to get more homework just because they are in higher classes (i.e. more problems to do), Trustee Melissa Smith offered her thoughts that Honors classes, Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) students make the choice to take those more demanding classes knowing that they will have the extra work. Comments from the Board members seemed to indicate a consensus that they did not want to interfere with teachers’ professional judgment in the realm of homework by implementing any specific Board mandates.

    For more information CLICK ON: DUKE

    And: TIME on DUKE

    A Parents View: PARENT


    Drier follows up Canyon H.S. bullying incident
    In an unprecedented announcement commenting on Public Comments from the previous meeting, Superintendent Dr. Drier announced as part of her Superintendent’s Report that her upper management administrators have moved aggressively to address the Canyon H.S. bullying incident that two parents brought to the attention of the OUSD Board at their January 15, 2009 meeting during Public Comments.

    The quick response of top district officials should come as no surprise since just last month and just five days after the Board meeting, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously in Fitzgerald v. Barnstable School Committee that parents have a right to sue school districts over gender discrimination. While that case involved young opposite sex students, the evidence included an incident where the victims pants were pulled down, similar to one of the incidents described by the Canyon H.S. parents against their son. California law outlaws same-sex harassment. Like the Canyon H.S. incident, the parents in the court case had made repeated attempts with the school administration to remedy the situation. In addition, the high court Justices sided with the parents on faulting the district for not transferring the bully away from the victim. In the Canyon H.S. case, the parents stated that because of the bullying they were forced to remove their son from the school.

    For more information on Fitzgerald v. Barnstable School CLICK ON:
    SUPREME COURT RULING
    AND
    CORNELL

    To see the FULL STORY on the Canyon High School abuse from DEC 11, 2008 CLICK ON:
    CANYON HS ABUSE

    CHANGE YOU CAN BELIEVE IN

    • Superintendent Dr. Drier made it clear several times throughout the January 15, 2009 meeting that she is commitment to communication and transparency to the Greater Orange Communities in the budgeting process and all aspects of her administration of OUSD. Drier’s commitment to communication has become evident in emails and memos to all staff about the ongoing budget crisis. In addition, her administration’s use of the district website (like posting of Frequently Asked Questions about the budget) has been innovative and a refreshing change from the old administration which censored and hid information from the communities it served.

    • Keeping his reputation for more access for the public, Board President Rick Ledesma asked the OUSD Staff to look into video streaming the OUSD Board meetings on the OUSD website. Ledesma also asked that Board Policies and By-Laws be made available to the public online and asked for a possible engine search feature for Board Agendas. Ledesma, long an advocate for public access, had previously championed continued community broadcasts of the OUSD Board meetings to the community when former OUSD Superintendent Dr. Godley had sought to save $7,000 a year by ending the cablecasts. The broadcast of the Board meetings was one of the original reforms resulting from the Orange Recall election. Eventually, Godley “found” the money to continue the cablecasts.

    OUSD BOARD MEETING DEBATE
    The OUSD Board continued to frustrate each other as they continued to try and work out scheduling problems with the ambitious meeting schedule for the year proposed and approved at the January 15 Board meeting by Ledesma and his Coalition. As part of her on-going campaign for transparency, Superintendent Drier also offered scheduling two Budget Work Study Sessions for the Board members and community.

    Budget crisis? Hiring freeze? Not for the OUSD Consultant Culture
    Those Budget Work Study meetings proposed by Dr. Drier included the Saturday January 24th Work Study Session Workshop on Board Governance, Goals and Objectives. For that ‘workshop” the district paid two consultants “not to exceed $3,000” to conduct a six hour workshop (that is $500 an hour!). While a hiring freeze was announced by Assistant Superintendent Archibald, clearly that freeze does not include high priced consultants. Apparently despite massive looming budget cuts OUSD, while Drier and her staff give up cell phones, many on her staff are unwilling not to give up the OUSD’s Consultant Culture.

    INSIDE the OUSD Budget


    INSIDE’s EDUCATIONAL TAX DOLLARS WATCH 2009:
    Total $200,000
    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):$8470.00*

    * 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: $907,800
    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
    $750,000
    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
    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 $ 107, 800
    2008 TOTAL $ 907,800

    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 5, 2009 -OUSD BOARD ROOM
    FOR the Agenda CLICK ON: WORK STUDY

    OUSD Regular Session: 5:30 pm

    For more information call the OUSD Superintendent’s office at 714-628-4040
    For budgeting questions call Business Services at 714-628-4015


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