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  • Wednesday, March 25, 2009

     

    ALL OUSD LEADERSHIP NEEDS TO LEAD ON PAYCUTS

    Metro VIEWS
    A community service of the Greater Orange Communities Organization
    Giving voice to the Greater Orange Communities

    ALL OUSD LEADERSHIP NEEDS TO LEAD ON PAYCUTS
    A community editorial by Orange Net News

    Orange Unified School District Superintendent Renae Drier’s administration “balanced” the latest legal Interim Budget using $7.6 million dollars in cuts that need to be “negotiated” with the district’s employee associations in the future. Aside from proposing cutting contracted positions, Drier (with the OUSD Board’s consent) has proposed all OUSD employees take a 3.75% pay cut to balance the OUSD budget. Drier has made it clear that the pay cut would include ALL employees including administrators. The Superintendent has publicly included herself in this proposed pay cut.

    Under former OUSD Superintendent Dr. Thomas Godley, the OUSD Administrators pay increases were tied to the pay increases received in negotiations with the employee associations. In the Godley years, the Classified staff association (the CSEA) always managed to negotiated a pay increase before the teachers group. When that increase was submitted to the OUSD Board for approval, a matching increase for the Administrators was submitted to the OUSD Board for approval at the same time. Later, when the teacher’s group (the OUEA) settled a negotiated pay hike, that hike and a matching percentage for the Administrators were submitted to the OUSD Board on the same agenda for approval. In essence, the employee groups were negotiating hikes for themselves and the Administrators. (Trustee Rick Ledesma, now OUSD Board President, has long been publicly opposed to the automatic Administrator pay hikes without negotiations). In addition, Godley proposed, and the OUSD Board approved, removing all the very top OUSD Administrators (except the Superintendent) from publicly approved multi-year contracts and regular performance reviews (similar to the Superintendent). The contracts were replaced by the Administrators being placed on the regular Administrative Step and Column pay scale that was subject to the Board approved percentage hikes. This move effectively hid the pay of the very top OUSD Administrators (except for the publicly approved Superintendent contract) and gave them the regular Administrative pay hikes approved by the OUSD Board. It is now time for the practice of OUSD Adminstrative “me too” to stop. It is time for leadership from the district’s Leaders.

    All through the current fiscal crisis, budget cut options have been publicly vetted. Yet, in the last budget report, the legally required Interim Budget included a place holder of $7.6 million in “future” negotiated cuts. While this was legal in the Interim Budget, a similar tactic in the legally required June Budget will result in financial sanctions against the district. It is against this backdrop that we call upon the OUSD Administration and Trustees to show that they are serious about asking for sacrifice from the voters and employees by unilaterally taking the proposed 3.75 % pay cut immediately.

    Superintendent Drier has made great fanfare about cutting out cell phones, instituting a hiring freeze, and suspending the use of expensive educational consultants. Now it is time for her to get serious. Drier need not have protracted negotiations with anyone, or any group to personally take the 3.75% pay cut she has said is needed from her employees, nor would she have to negotiate with anyone to propose that the OUSD Board immediately vote to cut the OUSD Administrative Pay Scale by the same amount before starting negotiations with the employee groups and asking voters to approve the sacrifices needed in the May 19th Special Election.

    It is also time that the OUSD Trustees get serious before the inevitable resolutions calling for voter support for the upcoming Special Election propositions. Trustee Melissa Smith courageously proposed at the March 12 OUSD Board Meeting that the OUSD Trustees take a pay cut and give up OUSD health benefits. No protracted negotiations would be required for the OUSD Trustees to take a 3.75% cut in their per meeting pay or to vote to give up the local taxpayer provided health benefits they are entitled to as Trustees. They can do this immediately.

    In passing up the tough cuts needed to balance the OUSD budget like closing other small schools, or eliminating recently added third high school assistant principals (while favoring cutting high school counselors) plus using future negotiated cuts with employees as a place holder, the district has been criticized as using “hocus pocus” budgeting. California taxpayers and voters spent months watching the lack of leadership in Sacramento continue to delay tough decisions into the future and leave those tough decisions to others. It is time that the OUSD Leadership put their money where their proposals are. It is time for budget leadership and modeling sacrifice from the OUSD Leadership. Only then will the taxpayers and district employees be expected to also sacrifice.

    Opinions expressed in Metro VIEWS are not necessarily the opinion of the networks that post it.

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

    Monday, March 23, 2009

     

    OUSD: SILVERADO CLOSED, SUMMER SCHOOL OPEN

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


    OUSD:SILVERADO CLOSED, SUMMER SCHOOL OPEN

    After confusing procedural votes,
    OUSD Board votes to close Silverado

    At the March 12, 2009 Orange Unified School Board Meeting, a standing room only crowd watched the seven OUSD Trustees grapple with devastating state budget cuts to local schools by voting for deep budget cuts and to close the smallest OUSD school, Silverado Elementary School.

    The votes on the budget cuts in Agenda Action Item 12C were preceded by comments from Orange Unified Superintendent Renae Drier. The popular new superintendent reviewed the history of cuts her administration has initiated in the wake of the overwhelming state budget crisis. The district budget cuts include a salary freeze which has already saved the school district around $300,000. Commenting about her administration's moratorium on paying for educational consultants, Drier echoed sentiments long felt by community leaders opposed to the millions of tax dollars past OUSD Administrators have recently dumped into consultant programs that are no longer a part of the OUSD culture despite the millions invested in them. Drier stated about the decision to forgo educational consultants: “We strongly believe we have the talent internally to provide the kind of staff development we need to move ahead”.

    In other comments on the March 12th Agenda’s proposed cuts, Drier then focused on what her administration did not cut: the Gate Magnet Program; Elementary Instrumental Music; high school assistant principals; and increasing high school class size. Drier was apparently unconcerned that by publicly supporting those programs now would make any future cuts more difficult.

    The vote on the Action Item 12 C budget cuts came after public comments from the Silverado School community speakers (now facing the reality of the OUSD Administration recommendation for Silverado’s closure) who changed their appeal to save the small school outright, to an appeal for one more year to work on their plans for changing to a charter school. After the Public Comments, first Trustee Dr. Alexia Deligianni attempted, then, Trustee Kathy Moffat made a motion to remove Silverado from the budget cut list. While Deligianni sided emotionally with the schools supporters for a year reprieve, Moffat acknowledged the lack of efficiency and expense of the small school, but sided with the “unique community” of the school. Trustee Mark Wayland tried to find common ground by proposing a partial closing of the school (keeping K-1 open).

    Trustee Lisa Smith in what she herself described as a courageous stand (and branded herself as a “black sheep”), stated that a great many in the community had communicated to her the necessity of closing the small schools and making the hard choices needed in the current fiscal crisis. Smith spoke of her obligations, fiscally to the whole district, and to all the students and the employees in the district, in explaining her vote to close Silverado. Smith also spoke of her reluctance to again grant more time to a group when in the past “more time” always seemed to result in “more time” again. Smith also recounted how Olive and McPherson elementary schools both had been closed once, but then reopened. (Later, at the end of the meeting, Smith took another courageous stand commenting that she wanted the OUSD Trustees to take a pay cut to their per meeting compensation and ending health benefits for OUSD Trustees). Nichols sided with Smith on Silverado, and questioned the ability to attract enough students to a Silverado Charter fast enough to a make it viable and instead offered the suggestion of a Silverado Environmental Resource Center for the entire district.

    The vote to remove Silverado from the budget cuts failed 3-3 with a surprise abstention from Wayland (Yes to remove from list- Moffat, Ortega, and Deligianni: No to keep on list- Smith, Ledesma, and Nichols). Confusion over the tie vote was settled by Attorney Spencer Covert (as Nichols took a Roberts Rules book out that she was carrying) that the vote needed four Yes to pass. Smith then reminded the Trustees a vote to reconsider could be requested which Deligianni moved to do. In the second vote, Wayland joined the No vote and the attempt to remove Silverado from the budget cuts was again defeated. Then a 7-0 vote for the budget cuts ended the voting on the Action Item. In a final statement, Nichols warned that the budget crisis was far from over with May being a pivotal month with the May 19th Special Election (see below) and the May Budget Revise.

    OUSD estimated to receive $9,440,000 in Federal Stimulus dollars
    OUSD Trustees and Administrators made several references at the March 12th meeting to the Federal Economic Stimulus monies as still a budgetary unknown, and perhaps a budget saver. Since that meeting the details of the Federal Economic Stimulus categorical funding have become better known. With most of the money going directly to state budgets, the House of Representatives House Education and Labor Committee has published estimates on how much local school districts will receive in direct categorical funding (based on Federal Title 1 formulas). OUSD is listed as projected to receive $9,440,000 in categorical Federal Stimulus funds: $2,616,000 in Title 1 A funding (targeted grants and educational finance incentive grants); and $6,824,000 in IDEA Part B funding (Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act).

    Title 1 A Funding money will support the Federal Title 1 Program under the No Child Left Behind Act. These monies will help districts with large amounts of economically disadvantaged students. IDEA Part B Funding will go to services for children with learning disabilities under the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act.

    Federal Stimulus money that will go directly to the state governments include: State Fiscal Stabilization Fund- money to prevent layoffs; Innovation Fund- rewards to states to help struggling schools close achievement gaps and create student data bases; Public School Modernizations- funds to high priority needs-school repairs or energy efficiency. Also money to buy food-service equipment under the National School Lunch Program; expand school technology; transportation and meals aid to homeless students; and moneys to develop student achievement tracking databases.

    FOR MORE INFORMATION CLICK ON:
    House Committee

    US Dept of Education

    OTHER March 12th ACTIONS
    In other budget related actions from the March 12th meeting, the OUSD Board voted to approve expanded inter-fund transfers (Agenda Item 12A); and transfer the February 20th California State Budget Level II categorical monies to the General Fund. In the Consent Agenda, Wayland continued to ask the tough fiscal questions as he pulled $98,000 in additional funding to law firm Parker-Covert and another $50,000 to another firm for Special Education cases. The OUSD Administration explained that the money was for expenses that “might occur” and that made the astonishing comment that more than one firm was required to avoid “the appearance of a monopoly”.

    MARCH 26th AGENDA MAKES SUMMER SCHOOL A GO
    Item 14 H in the March 26th OUSD Board Meeting Consent Agenda (Agenda page 20-22) has the details about approving Summer School for OUSD this summer. While OUSD Administrators during the current budget crisis had gone forward with the Summer School planning, the March 26th Agenda is the first solid indication that the Summer School program would be offered this summer in OUSD (pending Board approval). The Item 14 H Fiscal Impact statement (Agenda Page 20) shows a net income on the OUSD Summer School program to the OUSD General Fund of $246,944 (Income- $1,486,742: Expenditures-$1,239,798).

    California Summer School programs took a major hit in the 2008 budget year. In, this year’s February 20th California Budget more flexibility with the monies provided to school districts resulted in major cut-backs to summer school programs across the state. Schools do receive more money from the state for intervention students who are behind in graduation and promotion credits or need support in English Language Arts and math intervention, or support in passing the California High School Exam.

    In the past, California districts have paid for summer school upfront and then been reimbursed by the state. The OUSD March 26th authorization of summer school appears that the program will be offered, but the outcome on the budget of the May 19, 2009 Special Election results could theoretically completely change all current expected budgeted monies from the state under the February 20th California Budget which relies heavily on funding from the budget changes on the May 19th Special Election ballot. While a March 3rd Field Poll showed initial voter support for the May 19th ballot provisions, the poll found that Proposition 1A (one of the so-called “must pass” propositions) seems to be in trouble when voters understand the propositions stipulations completely. The Field Poll stated:

    The Field Poll #2297
    Tuesday, March 3, 2009
    One of the provisions which lawmakers attached to Prop. 1A, the Rainy Day Budget Stabilization Fund, was a stipulation that should it pass the timelines of the state’s recently approved increases to the sales tax, the vehicle registration fee and the income tax would be extended by up to two years. In the current survey likely voters who said they were backing Prop. 1A were asked what effect this information would have on their voting preferences. Of the 57% of likely voters initially supporting the measure 23% say knowledge of the tax extension makes them more inclined to vote No
    ”.

    FOR MORE INFORMATION CLICK ON: FIELD POLL

    Agenda Item 14 H also includes the OUSD Summer School sites and schedule (page 21). Elementary Summer School sites are: California, Lampson, McPherson, Palmyra and Villa Park elementary schools. Middle School Summer School programs will be offered at: Orange H.S., Villa Park H.S. and for Special Education classes- Santiago Charter. The elementary and middle school classes will start Monday June 22nd, 2009 and end July 17th.

    The OUSD high school Summer School program will take place at El Modena, Orange and Villa Park High Schools. Two 2 ½ week sessions will be offered: Session I-June 22-July 30; Session II- July 13-July 30th. In addition, OUSD will offer alternative education and ROP Summer School sessions. The 2009-2010 school year will start August 20th, 2009.

    The final page of Item 14 H (Agenda page 22) has the Summer School calendar days, staffing hours and pay for Certificated staff as well as calendar days and hours for Classified support staff.

    OUSD Law firm to “donate” $2,500 to Strategic Planning Workshop
    OUSD budget problems recently had prompted more serious talk about an in-house attorney instead of the current practice of outside pay-as-you go- legal services. OUSD Administrators had stated at a recent OUSD Board meeting that the OUSD pay- as you-go law firm of Parker Covert LLP had been more open to providing some pro-bono services during the budget crisis. The March 26th OUSD Board Agenda (Agenda page 6) now shows Parker Covert LLP donating $2,500 to the second OUSD Strategic Planning Workshop scheduled for April. So far this year, the OUSD Board has publicly approved $298,000 in contracts for the Parker Covert LLP firm.

    Two other donations for the Strategic Planning Workshop are also listed on the Agenda, $1,200 from Schools First Credit Union (formerly Orange County Teachers Federal Credit Union) and $250 from Asraf Sham. The initial cost for the consultants to run the workshop approved by the OUSD Board in September 2008 was $20,600. That consultant total included $6,600 for a live “mural artist” to create a live butcher paper “mural” of the two day event. As a budget cut in response to the state budget crisis, OUSD Superintendent Renae Drier announced last month that the live mural artist had been cut from the workshop program, and that the workshop had been scaled back to one day. What the new $3950 in donations for the Strategic Planning Workshop will be used for was not listed. With so many cutbacks and pressing needs in OUSD, hopefully the money (even though donated) is not for a one day live butcher paper mural artist or any other type of extravagant AIG/ Merrill Lynch type of insensitive spending during these difficult budget times.

    INSIDE the OUSD Budget
    INSIDE’s EDUCATIONAL TAX DOLLARS WATCH 2009:
    Total $378,000
    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
    Parker & Covert (Special Ed) $ 98,000
    Total $348,000

    2009 Consultant/ Speaker Fee Tally:
    01/24/09 Leadership Associates Consultants $ 3,000
    2009 TOTAL $ 378,000

    Former Superintendent Godley’s Retirement Bonus running total (beginning 8/2008):
    $9689.00*
    * 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 March 26, 2009 -OUSD BOARD ROOM
    FOR the Agenda CLICK ON: MARCH 26 AGENDA

    CLOSED SESSION- 6:30 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/
    Orange_NetNews@yahoo.com

    Wednesday, March 18, 2009

     

    Steve Rocco Ketchup Caper makes it to Courtroom

    Extending his 15 minutes of fame, the OC Weekly has a report on its blog about the first day of the Steve Rocco Ketchup Bottle Trial. the former OUSD Trustee is on trial for allegedly stealing a half empty ketchup bottle from Chapman University.




    CLICK ON: OC Weekly Blog report KETCHUP TRIAL #1

    Saturday, March 14, 2009

     

    METRO VIEWS- OUSD’s Small Schools and Hocus Pocus Budgeting

    Metro VIEWS
    A community service of the Greater Orange Communities Organization
    Giving voice to the Greater Orange Communities

    OUSD’s Small Schools and Hocus Pocus Budgeting
    A community commentary from the
    Greater Orange Communities Organization


    The 4-3 vote of the Orange Unified School Board to close Silverado Elementary School for the 2009-2010 school year was not a triumph for fiscal responsibility nor does it instill confidence in the abilities of some of the Trustees to make the needed hard political choices that still face them in the budget crisis that promises to last for months.

    While small community based schools with small classes are the ideal setting for learning, those agrarian idealistic schools had been abandoned long ago in most urban metropolitan areas as economiclly unrealistic. Except in Orange Unified. While the unique character of the rural nature of the Silverado School community cannot be ignored, in truth that community should be thankful that the Greater Orange Communities subsidized that idealistic schooling for so long. In reality, the attitude that that the community would forever keep their small school was really a 19th Century fantasy that was finally ended the by the very real 21st Century nation-wide economic meltdown. While that community has watched the encroachment of civilization over the last thirty years, talk about closing the small school is nothing new in the belt tightening budgets of OUSD over the last several years. The failed planning that resulted in a last minute effort to save the school by changing it into an Environmental Magnet was really an ill prepared attempt in light of the yearly budget warnings. The attempt to save Silverado Elementary turned out to be too little to late, but just barely. The fact that the vote was a close 4-3 is a warning of the lack of willingness to make the tough decisions early enough to allow proper preparation for the changes needed to occur in Orange Unified.

    The economic reality is that Silverado Elementary, and the three other small OUSD schools mentioned as candidates to close, should have been closed a long time ago. The fact that during an economic meltdown and budget deficits of proportions not seen in 80 years resulted in a close 4-3 vote among the OUSD Trustees is unconscionable. Closing a school of little more that 60 students should have been a no-brainer for ALL the Orange Unified Trustees. While we applaud the tough and difficult vote made by the four OUSD Trustees who voted for the closure, OUSD President Rick Ledesma, Trustees Melissa Smith, Kim Nichols and Mark Wayland, we can’t help but think what were the other three Trustees who voted essentially to keep the school open “for another year” thinking?

    Voting against closing Silverado were Trustees Kathy Moffat, John Ortega and Dr. Adrianna Deligianni. Their votes are more surprising when you consider the stands that these three Trustees have taken in the past. Moffat, as OUSD Board President during the attempted Santiago Charter Revocation basically lead the charge to revoke the Santiago Charter and take away the local control under the staff guise of a “safety” issue. That “safety issue” is now widely seen as just an OUSD Staff ploy to renegotiate better budget terms for the district with the first charter school in Orange County (which was accomplished and the Charter was saved). However last week Moffat was unable to vote to close a small school in a budget crisis that is siphoning valuable district financial resources away. Trustee John Ortega has lately been applauded for focusing on cutting back homework throughout the district, but cannot vote to cut back wasted funding to a school that is siphoning valuable district financial resources. Meanwhile, Alexia Deligianni, who during her election campaign cast herself as a fiscal conservative, has proven to be the biggest bleeding-heart currently on the OUSD Board. She continues to be emotionally swayed by a parade of community members trying to save now unrealistic programs as she then publicly emotionally gushes over their stories without being able to make the tough fiscal decisions she promised if elected she would make. Politics does make strange bedfellows.

    While the OUSD Staff has for the most part these past months given the OUSD Trustees the grim reality of the situation they face, they have lately been providing the budgetary political cover the Trustees need to continue putting off the now overdue tough budget decisions. Last week’s legally required Interim Budget report contained $7.6 million dollars (almost one-third of the current year deficit) in needed negotiable concessions from the district’s employee associations. That $7.6 million amounted to a deceptive, but legal budget place holder. Representing just under 79% of the $7.6 million total are wage concessions of 3.75% from all district employees, a total of $6 million dollars. The shear size of the needed concessions is so far from reality, the OUSD Staff budget almost looks like the fantasy budgeting that we would expect from Enron or Bernard Maddoff’s faked Stanford Group accounting practices. The inclusion of the $7.6 million to balance the Interim Budget we assert is an affront to the taxpayers of Greater Orange Communities and a disservice to the concerned parents, students and workers of the Orange Unified School District. The OUSD Staff’s $7.6 million budgetary magical hocus-pocus is allowing the OUSD Trustees to continue to put off tough decisions that need to be made sooner that later as clearly $7.6 million dollars in employee concessions is a farce.

    Added to this hocus-pocus budgeting is another little known Education Code Statute-EC 44955.5 that establishes a second layoff window other than the May 15th (May 13th because of the weekend) one that just passed. This Ed Code statue allows the second layoff period from 5 days after the adoption of the State Budget if the Average Daily Attendance (ADA) revenue (how the state pays school districts) increase is less that 2%. The current 2008-2009 California State Budget apparently allows for this 2nd Layoff window as the ADA revenue falls below the 2% threshold. Legally some questions about the 2nd Layoff window are being asked including if there was enough time between the late enactment of the budget and August 15th Layoff date to effect the layoffs. August 15th is three days before OUSD starts its 2009-2010 school year.

    Meanwhile the May 19th Special Election looms heavy over the Budgeting Process. With Governor Schwarzenegger about to begin his campaign for passage of the six initiatives in the Special Election ballot, the chances for passage are at this time unknown. However, with the traditional small election turnout being mostly conservative for Special Elections, and the small window of time available to get the message out, defeat of some, if not all of the initiatives by historical standards seems likely. Depending on which initiatives are defeated will decide if a repeat Budget Crisis this year is likely.

    Currently the OUSD Administration is officially studying the cost-effectiveness of the proposals to close the other three small OUSD schools. This now ongoing study also seems disingenuous and politically motivated considering the months of OUSD Staff presentations by then Assistant Superintendent Jon Archibald showing the significant savings of closing the three additional small schools. If the current OUSD Administration and Trustees cannot not make the bold and courageous decisions needed now in the middle of a financial crisis to close small schools, then how do they expect the voters and their employee groups to make all the sacrifices?

    It is time for ALL the OUSD Trustees to move beyond political pressure and the OUSD Staff to move beyond hocus-pocus budgeting. It is time to close ALL the economically unviable small schools in Orange Unified not on a 4-3 vote, but a 7-0 vote. Only then can Orange Unified legitimately ask for sacrifices from the rest of the Greater Orange Communities voters, parents, students and employees.



    Opinions expressed in Metro VIEWS are not necessarily the opinion of the networks that post it.

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

    Ecast on the
    INTERNET COMMUNITY GROUP i/))) cg

    A 21st Century Communications System

    Produced by the
    Orange Communication System /OCS/

    Friday, March 13, 2009

     

    OUSD Trustees vote to close Silverado Elementary School

    OUSD TRUSTEES VOTE TO CLOSE SILVERADO

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

    At their regular March 12th Board Meeting, the Orange Unified Trustees in a close 4-3 vote, voted to close the district’s smallest school Silverado Elementary School. Three other small schools mentioned as possible candidates for closure were not considered at the meeting.

    During the meeting, the Silverado School supporters went through a rollercoaster of emotions as the OUSD Board tackled procedural motions that were attempted to keep the school open. OUSD Trustee Dr. Alexia Deligianni made a procedural motion to remove the Silverado closure proposal from the list of Board Budget actions to be voted on. That motion ended in a 3-3 tie after OUSD Trustee Mark Wayland abstained. Confusion followed as the tie was at first interpreted as a win for the “yes” (to remove the school from the list) side giving an emotional uplift to the Silverado School supporters. Those emotions were soon dashed after other Board members pointed out that under Roberts Rules a tie vote is a “No” vote. After consulting the rules, the motion did indeed fail in the tie. Not giving up, Deligianni moved to reconsider the motion. When the dust from the all the procedural votes settled, the school was voted to be closed on a 4-3 vote (Yes: Rick Ledesma; Kim Nichols; Melissa Smith; Mark Wayland-No: Kathy Moffat; John Ortega; Alexia Deligianni).

    The Board also voted to approve all the OUSD Staff budget cutting proposals: elimination of middle school after school athletics; a $30 athletic fee to high school sports students; closing Silverado Elementary School; Reduction to District Administrative Staff in 5 areas (savings of over $1.8 million); reduction in school site staffing; capture of Tier III funds (see story below); increase in Class Size Reduction to 25:1 ratio.

    In addition, the OUSD Board accepted the OUSD Staff’s recommendations for negotiated concessions that would amount to $7.6 million dollars from the OUSD employee associations including a growingly controversial 3.75% pay cut to all employees ($6 million of the total). With the $7.6 million in concessions needed, few long time Board watchers are willing to assume the Board will get all the concessions it needs from the employee groups which mean another round of cuts will be needed. Comments by Board President Rick Ledesma and Trustee Kim Nichols seem to be preparing the community for further cuts in the months ahead

    Another unknown is the May 19th Special election with 6 Ballot Initiatives. Three of the initiatives are considered vital to pass if further cuts to the current year budget are to be averted. (For Ballot Inforamtion CLICK ON: BALLOT )

    Watch for detailed complete coverage of the Orange Unified School District, including details of the May 12 meeting with the regular edition of
    ORANGE Unified Schools INSIDE

    This edition of
    ORANGE Unified Schools INSIDE UPDATE

    is an independent news service of Orange Net News /O/N/N/


    Orange_NetNews@yahoo.com

    Tuesday, March 10, 2009

     

    OUSD Staff Reccomended Budget Cuts: Close Silverado, Cut all wages by 3.75%, Increase Class Size

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

    OUSD Staff budget cut recommendations for March 12 meeting include…
    Close Silverado, Cut all wages by 3.75%,
    Increase class size

    A delayed Orange Unified School District March 12, 2009 Agenda (released on Tuesday March 10th) has the OUSD Staff recommendations for multi-year reductions of $33.4 million dollars in budget cuts. Three levels of cuts were identified in Action Item 12 C (page 5-7) of the March 12 Agenda.

    Level 1 Administrative Funding Adjustment cuts include $1.3 million in first year discretionary cuts that have been approved by Superintendent Dr. Renae Drier and are currently being implemented. This includes reducing staffing to “Contractual/Legal” requirements and eliminating the Canyon H.S. attendance area double busing schedule.

    Level 2 cuts require Board of Education approval at the March 12 meeting. Those recommended cuts for the coming years include: elimination of middle school after school athletics; a $30 athletic fee to high school sports students; closing Silverado Elementary School; Reduction to District Administrative Staff in 5 areas (savings of over $1.8 million); reduction in school site staffing; capture of Tier III funds (see story below); increase in Class Size Reduction to 25:1 ratio. The Board has already approved the Modified Traditional Calendar for the whole district (see below).

    Level 3 cuts are all negotiable with employee associations and represent the potential savings of $7.6 million. The cuts include reducing the number of work days because of the calendar change; eliminating teacher clerks at the middle schools; eliminating 1 counselor at the high schools; reducing the yearly work day by 1 day; and a reduction of all salaries by 3.75%. Any negotiations that result in less than the $7.6 million dollars in projected savings will require further cuts elsewhere in the budget.

    Aside from the predictable initial reaction from the vocal Silverado Elementary School community, the failure to include closing the other three small schools while increasing class size and asking for an almost 4% pay cut was greeted with shock and indignation across OUSD on Tuesday afternoon and into the early evening in email communications flying acorss the Greater Orange Communities. In addition, the lack of information about the Tier III Categorical programs (i.e. Elementary Music and Gifted programs) caused concern across the district as many more programs remain on hold pending results of negotiations with the employee associations reportedly scheduled to start this spring.

    Other March 12 Meeting Action Items


    Action Agenda Item 12 A (page 2) Resolution 33-08-09 Expands the District’s ability to borrow between all OUSD fund accounts for short-term cash flow issues to meet “current payment obligations”.

    Action Agenda Item 12 B is a public hearing to “capture” (transfer) 21 categorical Tier III funds to the OUSD General Fund. The just passed California State Budget allows this transfer, after holding a public meeting, for the next five years (see Budget Update story below).

    Action Agenda Item 12 D is the legally required Second Interim Financial Report and Transfer Resolution. Using the budgeting recommendations of the OUSD Staff in the March 12th Agenda, the OUSD Board will certify that OUSD has a “positive financial status”. The report will show $7,413,669 dollars this year as a required 3% reserve “Designated for Economic Uncertainties” and another $7,841,142 dollars above that 3% as “Unappropriated” funds.

    OUSD Board approves Layoff Resolution at 2/26/08 Meeting
    “We need to put in place all options”- OUSD Trustee Kim Nichols 2/27/09

    Forced to take action to assure a balanced budget before pending March 2009 legal requirements, Orange Unified School District leaders faced a standing- room-only crowd at the regular February 26th , 2009 OUSD School Board Meeting as they voted to leave all options on the table in balancing the school district budget in the face of a continued state budget deficit. The OUSD School Board Meeting Action Agenda included Item 12 C Resolution 31-08-09: Layoff of Certificated Employees Due to a Reduction or Discontinuance of Particular Kinds of Programs. The Resolution breaks down the newest layoffs by Elementary, Secondary and Administration positions. The 30 teachers being given notice include: the six elementary Itinerant Elementary Music teachers. It was giving notice to those six music teachers that brought out community members in support of the Elementary Music Program. With 20 community members requesting to speak, the OUSD Board suspended the 20 minute per topic rule and allowed all speakers to be heard. The speakers were almost evenly divided between adults and current OUSD students, all speaking in support of keeping the Elementary Music Program. After hearing the speakers, the OUSD Trustees and staff assured the community that no decision had been made on the Elementary Music Program explaining that the Resolution being voted on was a first step in a process that was legally required at this time to allow the school district to keep all options on the table in ultimately dealing with the budget deficit in the months ahead. With the vote coming less than a week after a state budget was finally passed in Sacramento on February 20th, 2009, the full ramifications of that budget and the local impact of the Federal “stimulus” package was not at the time completely understood. A reluctant back-to-the-wall OUSD Board voted 5-1-1 (Yes- Ledesma, Moffat, Nichols, Ortega; No- Deligianni; Abstain- Wayland) to approve the layoff Resolution, again after assuring the community that that vote was not the end, but the beginning of a process that may or may not ultimately lead to ending the elementary music program.

    In a separate vote, the OUSD Board voted 7-0 to approve the new 2009-2010 Modified Traditional school calendar placing all schools on a single school calendar. The move to a single calendar is expected to save the district a minimum of $500,000 a year. The OUSD Board also voted to approve the revised Legislative Coalition 2009 Platform without debate.

    BUDGET UPDATE at the February 27th Meeting

    In an Informational Item, Assistant Superintendent for Administrative Services Michael Christiansen presented the latest budget information and interpretations based on the just approved California state budget. The final approved budget gives less flexibility to local districts than Governor Schwarzenegger’s proposed budget that earlier OUSD budget assumptions were based on. The new state approved budget revision cuts $7.4 billion from education in the 2008-2009 budget and another $3.2 billion in the 2009-2010 budget.

    Most attention in education budget discussions across the state have been focused on the three tier system incorporated into the new budget to address flexibility and non-flexibility of funds for local school districts. Funding of Tier I programs offer no flexibility to school district budgeting. Tier I programs include voter approved initiative programs and legally mandated spending (i.e. Special Education). Tier II programs also have no spending flexibility for school districts and include a 15% cut to those programs which amount to almost $100,000 in additional cuts to OUSD. The major 8 categorical programs of the Tier III programs give school districts total flexibility to use those monies as districts want after going through a public process to move those monies to the General Fund. Christiansen reminded the community that by placing those Tier III categorical monies into the General Fund did not automatically kill any of those categorical programs, but allowed more flexibility in addressing the budget shortfall by allowing local budget priorities with those funds. Agenda Item 12 B of the March 12, 2009 OUSD Board Meeting Agenda (page 4 and pages 8-47) has scheduled a Public Hearing on the Tier III Funds, which after Board approval, will allow the transfer of those categorical funds to the OUSD General Fund.

    The 15% state budget cut in the Tier III programs represented a $2.1 million dollar cut to OUSD for those categorical programs. The flexible funding of the Tier III programs would add a total of $8.9 million to the OUSD General Fund by moving those monies. This state flexibility formula for the budget given to the school districts prompted OUSD Trustee Kathy Moffat to quip: “We get flexibility when there is no money, and we don’t get flexibility when there is money.”

    Another element in the new state budget is a new formula for a reduction in the penalties for increasing class sizes in the K-3 Class Size Reduction Program. The budget numbers for the new penalties were still being crunched by educational organizational entities across the state to determine the cost-benefit realities of the various class size scenarios under the new budget rules.

    Small school supporters again spoke in favor of saving their schools.

    INSIDE the OUSD Budget

    INSIDE’s EDUCATIONAL TAX DOLLARS WATCH 2009:
    Total $378,000

    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
    Parker & Covert (Special Ed) $ 98,000
    Total $348,000

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

    2009 TOTAL $ 378,000

    Former Superintendent Godley’s Retirement Bonus running total(beginning 8/2008): $9689.00*

    * 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
    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> 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 March 12, 2009 -OUSD BOARD ROOM

    FOR the Agenda CLICK ON: MARCH 12 AGENDA

    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/

    Orange_NetNews@yahoo.com

    Sunday, March 01, 2009

     

    OUSD Board approves more layoffs... just in case

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

    OUSD Board approves more layoffs- just in case

    In a 4-2 vote, Orange Unified Trustees voted on Thursday February 26, 2009 to approve Action Agenda Item 12 C -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 and includes the six elementary Itinerant Elementary Music teachers. At the meeting, OUSD Trustees faced a large audience of concerned community members. The staff and Trustees put their best spin on the situation explaining that the Resolution was just a step in a process that may or may not ultimately end up in cutting the programs contained in the Resolution.

    The new state budget that passed on February 19, 2009 did include keeping the Arts and Music Block Grant for school districts. However, the grant was cut by 15% this year with a further reduction of 5% the following school year. In addition, the new budget gives school districts complete flexibility on how the money is spent. Budget regulations require school districts to first hold public meetings to discuss any proposed transfer of the arts education funding. The California Alliance for Arts Education is spearheading arts advocacy efforts across California (CLICK ON: CAAE ).

    The new budget provides this spending flexibility in how school districts spend funds in over 40 previous “categorical” programs. The budget also maintains K-3 Class Size Reduction funds, but also reduces penalties toward districts for not meeting class-size targets.

    With Interim Budget deadlines looming and the layoff notices of permanent certificated personnel deadline being March 15th (which this year falls on a Sunday so must be completed by Friday March 13, 2009), most major OUSD budget decisions are expected to take place at the March 12th OUSD Board Meeting. The next OUSD Board Meeting is a Budget Work Study set for Thursday March 5th.

    Next OUSD Board Meeting –BUDGET WORK STUDY SESSION
    March 5, 2009 – 5:30 pm OUSD BOARD ROOM

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

    OUSD Small School Community Continues to Rally for Support

    Hinging their hopes on creating a Magnet/Charter Environmental school at Silverado Elementary School, the canyon school supporters have produced a brochure outlining their vision which they delivered to OUSD leaders. Silverado leaders are also trying rallying the supporters of the other three OUSD small schools that have also been named as possible sites to close to save money, Panorama, Riverdale and Imperial. The Silverado supporters are planning a SOS March to Save Our Schools march on March 5th before the OUSD Trustees Budget Work Study meeting. Supporters are asked to meet at the OUSD District Headquarters at 3:15 on March 5th to participate in the march.

    CORRECTION
    The February 27th edition of ORANGE Unified Schools INSIDE incorrectly identified former OUSD Assistant Superintendent for Business Services Jon Archibald as taking a position with Huntington Beach Union High School District. Archibald’s new district is actually Huntington Beach City School District.

    ORANGE Unified Schools INSIDE UPDATE
    Independent insight into OUSD
    is an independent news service of Orange Net News /O/N/N/

    Watch for detailed complete coverage of the Orange Unified School District with the regular ORANGE Unified Schools INSIDE edition.

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