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  • Sunday, February 21, 2010

     

    OUSD: CLASS SIZE REALITY

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


    OUSD: CLASS SIZE REALITY
    an editorial comment by the Greater Orange Communities Organization

    Almost everyone agrees that the California State Budget Crisis is real. The community has watched Orange Unified be proactive in dealing with the fund shortage. That said, the recent comments by Orange Unified Trustee Mark Wayland demonstrated a disconnect on how the budget crisis is impacting OUSD classrooms.

    At the Thursday February 18th OUSD School Board meeting the OUSD Trustees voted 7-0 to apply for a waiver from the California Education Code penalty for going over district-wide class size formulas. By all accounts this was a precautionary measure to give OUSD the needed tools to address the continued unknowns in what has become the Sacramento Budget Shell Game. In covering the pending waiver vote, the Orange City News put questions to OUSD Trustee Mark Wayland and reported:

    Wayland said he didn’t believe a three-student increase in class size would be too detrimental. But he would rather have a smaller class size.
    “It’s a great environment, because it’s more personalized,” Wayland said. “But I remember when I was a kid and 30 kids in a classroom wasn’t a big deal.”


    Mr. Wayland is right, 30 kids in a classroom, while not ideal, wasn’t a big deal- but over 40 students in a classroom is a BIG deal. The days of 30 kids to a regular classroom are long gone in middle school and high school. You’d have thousands of teachers statewide signing up for a shot at a thirty student regular academic classroom.

    You see, the staffing formula in the Education Code is a “district-wide” formula not a classroom size limit. As an example, take the states 29-1 mandate for grades 4-8 that is outside the much touted (and thanks to the Budget Crisis-now almost extinct) Class Size Reduction program in the lower grades. While the state allows a 29-1 teacher to student ratio district-wide in grades 4-8, the devil-in-the-details here is that it is a district-wide mandate. What this means in practice is that because of various staffing accounting formulas, the OUSD Administration actually staffs middle schools at 38-1 student to teacher ratio . This Mr. Wayland creates regular academic classes at the middle schools of 40 and up. In addition, P.E. classes are sometimes exceeding 60-1 (which brings up another whole area of safety that we will not address here). The waiver could potentially create academic class sizes approaching 45 students. In doubt? It maybe time for you and the Trustees to visit the secondary classrooms.

    We have faith that if the waiver application is approved and used in OUSD it would be done in a worst-case scenario. Unfortunately we live in the Age of Worst Case Scenarios. We applaud OUSD Superintendent Dr. Dreier’s pro- active response in gathering all the tools needed to weather the crisis, but we remind her and the Trustees that other tools now available have not been fully utilized. While three small schools have been consolidated, the original OUSD staff proposal was for four. Given the recent Davis Demographics build-out report of an excess of 4,000 elementary seats occurring at build-out, common sense dictates that further small school consolidation must occur at the elementary building level before “big deal” consolidating at the classroom level.

    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

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    Tuesday, February 16, 2010

     

    The OUSD January Board Meeting is full of…NO CONTROVERSY!

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

    The OUSD January 21, 2010 Board Meeting is full of…
    NO CONTROVERSY!

    Board President John Ortega presided over the first meeting of the Orange Unified School Board for the year 2010 on January 21st. Unlike the 2009 meetings, the maiden 2010 meeting had no major controversies and no tough decisions; in fact it was almost a regular love-feast. Starting with a one-minute SACBE (student high school representatives) reports on happenings at Canyon, El Modena, Orange and Richland high schools, the Board then quickly voted 7-0 on the following items that in the past have created their share of controversy:
    • 2010-2011 Student Calendar-approved 7-0
    • Memorandum of Understanding between OUSD and the CSEA bargaining union- approved 7-0
    • Extending popular Superintendent Dr. Renae Dreier’s contract to July 13, 2013-approved 7-0
    • Approving the Legislative Coalition’s 4 point Legislative Agenda-
    approved 7-0

    INSIDE the January Information Reports
    The non-controversy continued as congratulations continued to pour from the Trustees over the highly successful OUSD energy saving program. OUSD is just one of only three school districts in California to achieve the United States Department of Energy’s Energy Star Leader designation for outstanding energy savings (only Cupertino Unified and San Diego Unified share the distinction). The energy savings mean educational taxpayer dollars not going to the energy companies, but staying in the OUSD schools.

    The OUSD Trustees also received a report on future student population “build-out” projections once the Irvine Company East Orange and Mountain Park developments are eventually completed. Davis Demographics, using projection models that are subject to change, projected OUSD’s current 14,000 student population could someday in the future grow to 16,000 students (projections also include a drop from the current student population in 2015-2016). While OUSD appears well over stocked (with a large surplus) in elementary school space, a minor shortage in middle and high schools space (with high schools the most impacted) could develop at eventual “build out” populations. Trustees requested that the “build-out” projections continue to be updated with the regular two year demographic reports the Board now receives.

    INSIDE the February 18, 2010 OUSD Board Meeting
    Hoping to save $2.9 million dollars annually by increasing class sizes, Agenda Item 12 A (Agenda page 3) on the February 18th Agenda will have the OUSD Board approve sending a waiver request for exemption from the California Education Code penalties on class sizes to allow OUSD to increase the district-wide class size in grades one-three from 30:1 and in grades 4-8 from 29:1. In addition OUSD is asking for a waiver from the state mandated district-wide class size of 7 and 8th grades of 32:1.

    In addition to the state waivers, the district must negotiate a change in the class size language in their contract with the teachers.
    Also:
    • Information Item 13 B (Agenda page 7) Kaiser rate reduction- with more employees choosing Kaiser as a medical option, the heath giant lowered rates to OUSD.

    • Information Item 13 C ( Agenda page 8) Budget Update-here we go again- the Governor’s new 2010-2011 budget proposal includes, yea you guessed it-more cuts to education!

    • Consent Item 14 L (Agenda page 37-39) The plan for a scaled back summer school at El Modena H.S. for secondary students and “special” programs spread throughout OUSD for some elementary students.

    INSIDE Community Donations
    Sandra Liberman-$800 to Sycamore E.S. for supplies; Robyn Tunstall-to $100 Nohl Canyon E.S. for supplies; Steven Ricker-$50.00 to Panorama E.S. for supplies; Christina Gnesda- $500 to Linda Vista E.S. for supplies; Tammy Wagstaff- $1000 to El Rancho for computers; Beckman Coulter-$100 to Anaheim Hills E.S. for supplies; Barona Band of Mission Indians-$5,000 to Olive E.S. for equipment; Orange County Community Foundation- $ 2,000 to Palmyra E.S. for a traveling scientist.
    For a complete list of the $66,088 in community donations see the Agenda page 10.

    INSIDE the OUSD Budget
    Total for Watched Tax Dollars approved in 2010: $ 0
    Former Superintendent Godley’s Retirement Bonus running total (beginning 8/2008):
    $21,500.00*

    * 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 February 18, 2010, OUSD BOARD ROOM
    For AGENDA-CLICK ON: FEB 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/

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