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  • Thursday, April 21, 2011

     

    OUSD names Michael Christensen new Superintendent

    SPECIAL REPORT
    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.

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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.

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