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  • Tuesday, March 02, 2010

     

    Layoffs, music program elimination, and a reduction in the school year: OUSD BUDGET PAINS SPREAD

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

    Layoffs, music program elimination, and a reduction in the school year
    OUSD Budget Pains Spread

    The OUSD Administration’s informational Budget Presentation at the February 18 Orange Unified School Board Meeting presented a continuing bleak picture for the local schools under the proposed 2010-2011 Governor’s Budget and other news coming from a dysfunctional state government in Sacramento. OUSD Assistant Superintendent Michael Christensen presented the informational report on the budget and the current process. The report highlighted that California’s battered economy continues to struggle with over a 12% unemployment rate that is contributing to the state facing a projected budget deficit approaching $20 billion dollars for the 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 budget years. With one time federal stimulus money gone, Christensen stated that 2010 -2011 would be the toughest year of the recession. The only real good news was that no further cuts to the current year’s budget have been announced.

    The proposed Governor’s Budget includes $1.5 billion in educational cuts amounting to $201 per student for unified school districts across California. That cut combined with a “negative” Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) results in a loss of about $225 per student for Orange Unified or $6.1 million dollars in on-going cuts. Those cuts will bring Orange Unified to $88 million in budget cuts over three years. It is more than likely that the money cut from schools by the state as “borrowed” funding will never be paid back.

    Christensen presented options under study to meet the projected short-fall to OUSD. Unlike earlier presentations, further school consolidations were not presented as possible budget alternatives despite OUSD still having small schools open that were in earlier budget cutting proposals. The OUSD Administrations current budget solution list includes: staff reductions; reduction of the school year from 180 to 175 days; increasing class ratio in K-8 to 33:1; full day kindergarten (a budget booster); a freeze in step pay increases; a change to once-a-year column advancement. (See the list of proposals as an Action Item in INSIDE the March 4th meeting below).

    INSIDE the February 18th Board Meeting
    The February 18, 2010 OUSD Board of Education meeting started with an unusual Closed Session. Community members associated with Imperial E.S. appeared before the OUSD Board before the Closed Session to plead for an employee’s job in what they described as a he-said/she-said episode. Parents and OUSD employees asked that the OUSD Board review the evidence and reverse a hearing officer’s decision to terminate the employee. Later, in Open Session it was announced that the OUSD Board had voted 6-1 to uphold the termination with Dr. Alexia Deligianni the lone vote against the termination.

    Also appearing before the OUSD Board in Open Session Comments were community members speaking in support of keeping the Elementary Music program. After pleading their case, the community members then left the meeting, prompting OUSD Trustee Melissa Smith to follow the group outside and ask that they stay for the budget presentation. That exchange between the group and Smith outside later prompted Smith at the end of the meeting during Trustee comments to make an apology for “letting my emotions get the better of me”. In her apology, Smith admitted to her continued frustration at community members making a case against cuts and then leaving before the budget information items are presented. Smith stated that she wanted to apologize because she did not want to have any regrets in her “last few months” on the Board. Smith’s term ends this year and she cannot seek reelection because her home was moved out of her trustee area in the Nichols Realignment that also moved former controversial OUSD Trustee Steve Rocco’s home from his trustee area, thus preventing him from seeking re-election. The outside exchange at the meeting with Smith prompted a rash of community emails about the incident and Smith’s demeanor outside and alleged comments made about the group by Smith when she returned that were picked up by a dais microphone and heard by audience members.

    INSIDE the March 4th Board Meeting Agenda

    The predicted impact on the 2011-12 Orange Unified School District budget is estimated to be $15.3 million dollars in cuts that are outlined in the March 4, 2010 OUSD Agenda Item 12 A (agenda pages 4-8). The proposed cuts include reducing the school year from 180 days to 175 days; stopping pay cuts called “column advancement”; increasing the student to staff ration in 3-8 grades to 33:1; and stopping annual salary increases called step increase. With those proposed cuts are making Kindergarten a full day (a budget surplus generator) and over $400,000 in administration and support staff reductions that include eliminating positions, reclassifying (pay cuts) and cutting calendar days (see page 7 for complete position details) . Most of the proposals require negotiated changes in contracts OUSD has with its employees. The OUSD Board is expected to approve the OUSD Administration seeking those negotiated cuts.

    In Action Item 12 B of the March 4, 2010 Agenda, the OUSD Board is expected to approve the staff recommendation to transfer restricted categorical funds for Tier III programs (listed on agenda page 9) to the general fund. By voting to approve all the changes will allow OUSD to then certify in Action Item 12 C that OUSD has a Positive Certification for the state required Second Interim Financial Report-meaning that the district projects it can meet its financial obligations for the current year and the subsequent two fiscal years (see page 13).

    That certification carries a high price. Action Item 12 D will allow the district if needed to eliminate 79 Classified support staff positions including 22 custodians, 25 School Community Assistants, and 11 Instructional Assistants and reclassification to lower pay grades of two positions and the elimination through retirement of one (see agenda page 47 for the complete list). In addition in Action Item 12 E the OUSD Board is expected to adopt a plan to send layoff notices to 28 elementary teaching positions because of class size increases: 24 classroom teachers and 4 music teachers with the approval of the elimination of the popular Elementary Music Program. Many of the actual cuts maybe achieved through temporary positions and retirements, but Reduction in Force letters will have to be approved before the March 15th state notification deadline. Administrative sources indicate that the actual number of teachers receiving the notices will exceed the 28 to allow flexibility.

    Notably absent from the OUSD Administration’s current budget plan is the further consolidation of small schools and the elimination of the last layer of administrators added to the OUSD Administration before the economic meltdown- the third high school vice principals positions. Longtime OUSD watchers note that in an election year, the choice to cut the school year, eliminate music at the elementary level and make deep cuts to custodial and school community assistants before further school consolidations or elimination of the third high school VP Positions could prove to be more controversial and do more harm than moving to make those painful adjustments now.

    INSIDE Community Donations
    Trustee Kathy Moffat donated $770 in travel expenses she was entitled to take when she attended the California School Board Association conferences in San Diego and Sacramento by declining reimbursement for those expenses. In addition, Moffat and Trustee Kim Nichols also rebated 10% ($150 each) of their monthly stipend back to the district.
    For a complete list of the $28,000 in community donations see page 68 of the Agenda.

    INSIDE the OUSD Budget
    Total for Watched Tax Dollars approved in 2010: $ 0

    Former Superintendent Godley’s Retirement Bonus running total (beginning 8/2008):
    $22,710.00*
    * 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 2009: $1,041,000
    2009 Attorney Fee Tally:
    11/13/08 Parker & Covert (for 1/09 -6/09) $ 200,000
    3/12/09 Atkinson, Andelson, Loya (Sp. Ed) $ 50,000
    3/12/09 Parker & Covert (Special Ed) $ 98,000
    6/18/09 Parker & Covert (09-10) $ 400,000
    6/18/09 Parker & Covert (Special Ed) $ 200,000
    6/18/09 Parker & Covert (property) $ 55,000
    6/18/09 Atkinson, Andelson, Loya (property)$ 35,000
    Total $1,038,000

    2009 Consultant/ Speaker Fee Tally:
    01/24/09 Leadership Associates Consultants $ 3,000
    2009 TOTAL $1,041,000
    Total for Watched Tax Dollars approved in 2008: $901,200.00

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

    Total for Watched Tax Dollars approved in 2006: $849,717.00*
    2006 Administrative Conference/Travel: Total $ 18,317 *
    * JUNE 8th, 2006 Trustees VOTE to Give OUSD Superintendent the power to
    APPROVE OUSD Travel Requests taking this item OUT of the PUBLIC AGENDA


    Total for Watched Tax Dollars approved in 2005: $978,300.00:

    NEXT BOARD MEETING: Thursday March 4, 2010, OUSD BOARD ROOM
    For AGENDA-CLICK ON: 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/

    Comments:
    The he said/she said incident was captured on video proving what "she said". It was an assault with a weapon and a verbal threat...."he" was a huge liability for the district and should be in jail! He drained the district coffers for over four months as the union pleaded for his job with the claim that he made a stupid mistake. The stupid mistake was paying this guy for four months.
     
    Community members need to get a clue! The district is not going to fire someone simply on a "he said/she said" discussion. There was video proof of the incident. Holding a gun to someones side and threatening to shoot them...all captured on video is a bit more than he said/she said! The guy should be in JAIL! THe district should be more forthcoming in so people know it is more than a little spat between two people. He deserved to be fired! The district has a zero tolerance policy with guns...are employees exempt?
     
    Dr. Alexia Deligianni do you really want someone that threatened to shoot someone working around kids? What were you smoking before the meeting? Do you like people holding guns to your side and threatening to shoot you? If you do, then maybe you should hire this as your personal assistant (and pay him out of your own pocket).
     
    Parents and OUSD employees SHOULD REVIEW THE EVIDENCE...that means read and investigate the evidence and see if they want to work work with someone that is a threat to others. Really now people! Do you want to work with someone that walks around threatening people for fun? Do you really want to put our kids at risk?
     
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