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  • Monday, April 25, 2011


    Richard McKee of Californians Aware dies

    Richard McKee of Californians Aware dies

    Richard McKee,Vice President for Open Government Compliance for Californians Aware, died over the weekend according to an email from that group he helped found. McKee, who had many appearances in Orange Unified before the Board over the years, and had many court battles with the law firm of Parker & Covert (the firm that represents OUSD and many other school districts in Southern California), passed away unexpectently.

    McKee retired from a 35-year career as professor of chemistry at Pasadena City College.Since 1993 he had been an activist for open local government, educating officials in more than 100 local agencies on the requirements of the Ralph M. Brown Act and California Public Records Act. The founding president of Californians Aware, he had also served on the Board of Directors of the Los Angeles Press Club and as president of the California First Amendment Coalition. He was a frequent speaker onopen government issues to community organizations, public officials, media groups, public agency attorneys, and college and university journalism classes.

    While most of McKee's efforts were focused on open government education, to protect the public's rights he had also litigated fourteen successful open government and First Amendment lawsuits, often representing himself. According to his official biography on the Californians Aware website, KPFK radio dubbed McKee "John Q. Citizen." KCET's Life & Times Tonight called him "the citizen who won't shut up and go away." The Times characterized him as "the scourge of public agencies across the eastern suburbs of Los Angeles County" who "walks softly and carries a big stick." Sacramento Bee christened him "Mr. Sunshine," a man with "a head for the law, a heart for justice and a nose for government officials with secrets."

    Thursday, April 21, 2011


    OUSD names Michael Christensen new Superintendent

    OUSD Deputy Assistant Superintendent
    Michael Christensen
    named new OUSD Superintendent

    The setting could not have been more ideal, a packed Orange Unified Boardroom, filled with various employees who were there for various proclamations and reports. It was that room, a room that has seen its share of controversy, anger and joy, that room, on this night, full of the Orange Unified Community,and it was that community that burst into thunderous cheers and applause as Orange Unified School Board President Rick Ledesma announced that by a 7-0 vote the OUSD Board had picked one of the communities own, Michael Christensen, to replace retiring OUSD Superintendent Dr. Renae Dreier. It was clear, no other announcement could have brought such a universal approval, and sigh of relief, after the surprise retirement of the popular Superintedent Dr. Dreier.

    Christensen helped lead OUSD through one of the most difficult budget periods in its history. Additionally, in his many years with OUSD he has had numerous duties including: negotiating with the Irvine to mitigate impacts of the proposed (and now delayed) East Orange and Mountain Park projects: implementing the integration of year-round school schools to the traditional calendar; collecting and reporting on developer fees; school boundaries and Trustee Area boundaries; future enrollment projections; applying and implementing state modernization funding, the planning and remodeling of five OUSD schools-without a bond; implemented OUSD’s widely recognized energy saving program; and representing OUSD to numerous state, county and local boards, offices and agencies.

    Christensen, who has held numerous titles in OUSD including Executive Director of facilities and Planning and Executive Director of Administrative Services, was named in April 2010 the first ever OUSD Deputy Superintendent in a re-organization that was initiated after massive cuts brought about by the on-going California State Budget crisis. Christensen had become a regular fixture at the OUSD Board meetings keeping the Board and community up-to-date on the latest state budget news-or no news- and its implications for the local schools and employees. In addition, this year he was responsible for dealing with the remodel of the 1950’s era Yorba Middle School and the numerous delays and problems caused by the current budget crisis on the contactors. During the budget crisis, Christensen has also overseen the closure of two of OUSD’s smallest schools, Silverado and Riverdale elementary schools, including successfully arguing before the Orange County Committee on School District Organization that Silverado community should remain part of OUSD. He was instrumental in implementing OUSD Superintendent Dr. Renae Dreier’s budget priorities including successfully implementing a merging of the three employee groups into one health care plan. Christensen also served on the Board of Directors of the California Association of School Business Officials,

    As Deputy Superintendent, Christensen often speaks in the vernacular as when he publicly acknowledged the demographic differences and challenges OUSD faces by geographical regions by uttering the long OUSD administrative taboo words “55 divide”. It was Christensen who accompanied Dr. Dreier in the first ever visit of a Superintendent to the Representative Council of the Orange Unified Educators Association.

    In December, the watchdog group, Greater Orange Communication Organization named Christensen the 2010 the Greater Orange Person of the Year (GOPY) describing Christensen as “an irreplaceable asset to the Greater Orange Communities who’s many years of service to the local community has included numerous contributions while staying true to his long stated philosophy of providing the best possible learning environment with the least amount of impact to the general fund. In 2010, by continuing to work to keep our schools fiscally solvent during the current unprecedented fiscal crisis, Deputy Superintendent Michael Christensen has clearly been the person who had the most influence on the Greater Orange Community in 2010”.

    Christensen, who holds an MBA, will be the first Superintendent since former OUSD Superintendent Barbara Van Otterloo to not hold a doctorate in education.

    Orange Net News used TWITTER to announce the appointment..have you signed up???
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    Controversy quickly returns
    The time for celebration however would have to wait as Ledesma quickly announced a change in the agenda. Announcing that staff had reccommended that all of Consent Item 14I be removed from the agenda, Trustee Moffat asked it it was to voted on. Ledesma said no, because the agenda had yet to be approved. Trustee Dianne Singer then announced that she had information that with-in the item there was a conflict of interest, and that the district must never allow any thing that even looks like a conflict of interest to appear.

    Consent Item 14I contains 16 contracts:8 contracts for Board and care treatment facilities for Special Education students; one contract with County of Orange Health Care Agency for mental health related services;on to (ACES)Comprehensive Educational Services for behavior interventions; a contract for a CPR/First aid workshop to Sabrina Bradley and Marra Williams;one contract for a McPhearson Magnet Native American Senior Recognition to Lynda Estrella and Nikishina Polequatewa; one contract to Willdan Homeland Soulutions for Rediness and Emergency Mangement;one contract to Teleparent Educational Systems software at Orange High School;one contract for Parent Instutute for Quality Education at Sycamore School; and one was for pass through funding for Vanderbilt University's Lau Lee Yen to provide a workshop to St. Paul's Luthern School.

    Tuesday, April 19, 2011


    OUSD to appoint New Superintendent

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

    OUSD April 21st Agenda has Board of Trustees
    appointing new Orange Unified Superintendent

    The Orange Unified School Board will meet in Closed Session on Thursday April 21st to appoint two Elementary School Principals, an Executive Director for Elementary Education and a Superintendent of Schools according to the Agenda for the meeting. Item 4 B on the April 21 Closed Session meeting is titled Public Employee Appointment. The item includes the four positions under three job descriptions and reads that the Board will in fact appoint a new Superintendent in the Closed Session. In wake of the unexpected retirement announcement by OUSD Superintendent Dr. Renae Dreier, a Special OUSD Closed Session Board Meeting held on Thursday March 24. That meeting included Trustee Kathy Moffat who participated in the meeting by teleconferencing from South Lake Tahoe. Sources in the Dreier Administration have stated that the OUSD Board was looking to promote a current OUSD employee to the position.

    OUSD to look at sale or lease of six properties
    Also on the Closed Session Agenda for April 21, 2011 will be meeting with the OUSD property negotiators for price and terms of a possible sale or lease of six surplus district properties. The surplus properties include five former school sites: Killerfer; Parkside; Peralta; Riverdale; and Silverado. The OUSD property by Santiago Charter Middle School, commonly called the Walnut Avenue site, is also surplus. The April 21 agenda also includes in the Consent Agenda 14 D on page 50, paying $8,500 to Parkcenter Realty Advisors for a “market analysis for various surplus/vacant properties throughout Orange USD”.

    INSIDE the April 21, 2011 OUSD Agenda
    California law requires a public hearing “sun shining” of negotiation proposals between the district and its employee unions. Agenda Action Item 12 A (page 9) has the support staff union, the California School Employees Association (CSEA #67) publicly announcing its negotiations and Action Item 12 B (page 13) has the Orange Unified Educators Association publicly announcing its negotiations.

    While Sacramento lawmakers continue with their ongoing budget drama, Orange Unified is preparing to deal with anticipated cash flow problems with Action Item 12 C Page 13) and Action Item 12 D. The items detail cash flow problems are due to the state government delaying up to 25% of the district’s funding, requiring the school district to transfer funding between accounts-paying itself back later. Action Item 12 C would give the district authority to borrow funds from other categories listed on page 14. Those include: Capital Outlay; Deferred Maintenance; and the Retiree Benefit Fund.

    Action Item 12 D is more complicated. The issuance of a TRANs financial instrument is close to those big bank money schemes that got us all into this financial mess in the first place. The complicated arrangement (it takes up 28 pages of the agenda…page 15…43) basically allows the district to borrow on future tax dollars…hence the name Tax and Revenue Anticipation Note (TRAN) and pool its money in an investments with other governmental entities. The Fiscal Impact on the agenda page 15 shows an “Estimated” savings of $25,000 in “interest savings” on up to a $25,000,000 investment (1%). It should be noted that there are significant costs going to some significant big time money players that are not spelled out in the long resolution. In the complicated resolution costs are referenced: on page 29, Section 10, item (F) mentions the “interest” costs; on page 30, Section 10, item (M) spells out the district has a “pro rata share” of obligations; and on page 33, in Section 13 the District directs the Trustee to pay the interest on the note and requires the District to pay the “principal and interest on the Note on the day that it matures”.

    Agenda page 43 lists Wells Fargo National Association as the program Trustee. Agenda Page 35 lists Stone & Youngberg LLC as the Underwriter of the Program and Keygent LLC as the Financial Advisor. Page 36 lists Stradling, Yocca, Carlson & Rauth as Special Counsel and Disclosure Counsel. One thing for sure, the services of these big time finance players are not pro-bono.

    For more information how to invest $25,000,000 and only make $25,000 CLICK ON:

    Stone & Youngberg LLC

    Stradling, Yocca, Carlson & Rauth
    Keygent LLC
    Wells Fargo National Association

    also INSIDE:
    Consent Item 14 D (page 50) Parker and Covert $85,000 for “modernization, surplus property” and “developer fees”. This item states “there is a need to increase the original dollar amount to finish the 2010-2011 year”

    Consent Item 14 R (page 96) paying Trustee John Ortega for “hardship” in missing the March 10, 2011 Board Meeting.

    Announcement 9 E: School Bus Driver Day April 26th
    Announcement 9F: School Nurse Day May 11th
    Announcement 9G: California Day of the Teacher May 11th

    INSIDE Community Donations
    Villa Park Community Service Foundation-$2,500 for supplies to Cerro Villa M.S.; Jane Layton $307 to McPherson Magnet for folders; Pacific Life Foundation $4000 to El Modena H.S. for Smartboard, Extron, iPad; Barnes and Noble-$142 to Sycamore E.S. for supplies; Villa Park Elementary Home and School League $4700 to Villa Park E.S. for technology; Running Springs PTA- $3,000 to Running Springs E.S. for PE Stipend; Canyon H.S. ASB- $449 to canyon H.S. for Dance workers.
    For a complete list of the $82 998 in donations see page Agenda page 46.

    INSIDE the OUSD Budget
    Total for Watched Tax Dollars approved in 2011: $85,000
    2011 Attorney Fee tally
    4/21/11 Parker & Covert $85,000
    TOTAL $85,000

    Total for Watched Tax Dollars approved in 2010: $ 395,000
    2010 Attorney Fee Tally:
    5/27/10 Dannis, Woliver & Kelley $ 30,000
    5/27/10 Parker & Covert $ 55,000
    5/27/10 Parker & Covert (to 6/11) $300,000
    2010 CSBA-Trustees and Superintendent: $ 10,000
    TOTAL $ 395,000

    Total for Watched Tax Dollars approved in 2009: $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
    Former Superintendent Godley’s Retirement Bonus running total
    (beginning 8/2008): $36,510.00*

    * 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.

    Next OUSD Board Meeting Thursday April 21, 2011. For more information

    OUSD CLOSED SESSION STARTS 5:30 PM, 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/

    Thursday, April 14, 2011


    New Ketchup Trial for ex-OUSD Trustee Steve Rocco

    New Ketchup Trial for ex-OUSD Trustee Steve Rocco

    For those of you still interested:


    Santiago Charter Middle School named 2011 California Distinguished School

    Santiago Charter Middle School named a
    2011 California Distinguished School

    Orange Unified’s Santiago Charter Middle School was one of only seven Orange County Middle and High Schools named as a 2011 Distinguished School by the California Department of Education. Santiago Charter was the first charter school in Orange County and also won the California Distinguished School title in 1999. This year is the California Distinguished School Recognition program’s 25th year with 97 schools statewide honored as year as Distinguished Schools.

    Applicant schools were identified by the state for eligibility on the basis of the state’s Academic Performance Index (API) and the federal Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) test results. Applicant schools also had to identify how they are having success in closing the “achievement gap”. That gap in learning is based on societal racial and social-economic realities that Educrats and educational elitists have been trying to close with magic-bullet approaches that have eluded long-term social engineers and have resulted in the growing practice of politicizing public education. That politicization, starting with the failed No Child Left Behind federal law , which promised every child in America as “grade level proficient” by 2014, has turned public education into a scapegoat for larger political agendas.

    This year, the California Department of Education required the schools earning the Distinguished School title to describe two “Signature Practices” that helped “narrow” (not close) the “achievement gap” at their schools. State bureaucrats from the Department of Education then visited the schools to “validate” the Signature Practices” Each winning school had to agree to share those Signature Practices with other schools and serve as mentors “to those who want to replicate their work” and post them on the Signature Practices Website (see link below). Currently 19 middle schools are listed in the “Closing the Achievement” gap website from Orange County. Those 19 schools include two from Los Alamitos Unified with 1% English Learners. The middle schools in Orange County listed on with the highest percent of English Learners are one from Santa Ana Unified with 27% English Learners- (all Hispanic or Latino), one from Ocean View School District in Fountain Valley with 29% (197 Asian/ 316 Hispanic) and one from Garden Grove with 25% English Learners (513 Asian/ 113 Hispanic). All the Asian sub groups scores are well over the 800 minimum score, with many over 900. The Mendez Fundamental School had a 56% growth in 2007-2008 when they were selected for the Distinguished School. That growth fell to a still healthy 20% in 2009, but Santa Ana Unified as a whole has not been able to duplicate the success of this school.

    The 2011 California Distinguished Schools will be honored during an awards ceremony and dinner at the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim on May 20, 2011. Also being honored during the ceremony will be schools selected last month as Title I Academic Achievement Awardees and California's nominees for the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program. The event and awards are funded by donations from many of California's most prominent corporations and statewide educational organizations.

    CLICK ON: Signature Practices

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    Greater Orange News Service is a community service of the Orange Communication System /OCS/, the communications arm of the Greater Orange Community Orgainization