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  • Tuesday, October 09, 2012

     

    OUSD to again discuss surplus properties

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

    October OUSD Agenda: A “discussion” on
    “how to best manage” the surplus properties

    After a stunning 4-3 vote last month by the Orange Unified School District Trustees to deny an Exclusive Negotiation Agreement (ENA) to the developer they had selected to develop the Peralta School site into a high density apartment complex, the OUSD Board will again take up the surplus property issue as an informational item at its October 11, 2012 Board Meeting. (Click on: NO VOTE )

    At their July 26, 2012 meeting the OUSD Board had selected Fairfield Residential from three potential developers to be the exclusive developer of the 19 acre former school site known as the Peralta Site. The OUSD Board had been working to find a developer to lease the land. The district then could borrow against the potential lease revenue. That money would be earmarked for renovations of OUSD’s aging high schools.

    It was at that July meeting that neighbors of the proposed development (who would later organize into the Save Peralta Property community group), first appeared to object to the project. Within weeks that grass roots movement had fielded a neighbor to run in the November school board election and began making political alliances across Orange using contacts from the numerous local activists and politically connected residents from the neighborhood. Almost out of nowhere, the group had become a local political force attracting various Greater Orange political elites eager to tap into the burgeoning, but politically connected, neighborhood movement.

    At the September 13, 2012 meeting, in the wake of that orginizing, OUSD Trustee Mark Wayland joined trustees Dr. Alexia Deligianni, Kathy Moffat and Diane Singer to vote against the ENA for Fairfield needed for the development process to move forward. Both Deligianni and Wayland face opponents in the November election. (Click on: JULY Meeting)

    At that September 13th meeting, during an extended public comment time, members of Save Peralta Property presented a blistering barrage of comments that ranged from police crime and sex offender statistics of the two other Orange County Fairfield developments in Tustin and Buena Park, to the questioning of the ENA itself.

    When the Trustees began to address the issue at the meeting, three trustees stated that they too would be upset over having that size of development in their neighborhood. Mark Wayland, Rick Ledesma and John Ortega, all in their own way stated that they did not fault the neighborhood for opposing the project. Ledesma and Ortega, however, stated they would support the development and the ENA because the district needed to use the resources in lieu of major cuts caused by the Great Recession and they had to use the district’s assets for the benefit of all the students. Ortega put the blame squarely on state lawmakers cuts.

    All three trustees, plus OUSD Board President Timothy Surridge brought up the failure of two previous loosing OUSD Bond measures and the dire need of district’s high schools for major renovations. Learning from the mistakes of the past, the current OUSD Board is not making any secret of its intentions to go to the voters in 2014 for a school bond for the district’s high schools. That Bond scenario was brought up repeatedly by the Board’s most conservative members as now the only alternative to getting school upgrades.

    Wayland’s decisive voting reversal clearly was a shock to both sides. In explaining his reversal, Wayland stated he was supporting the will of the majority after “many sleepless nights”. While not mentioning his re-election, Wayland clearly also has a political problem. Up for re-election, he faces a strong challenger, Tracey Colombo-Curtis who has ties to the Peralta neighborhood. Also facing a challenge is Trustee Dr. Alexia Deligianni. Her opponent Bob Ausmus is a retired police officer and former OUSD employee. In addition, Ausmus was the first to support the Save Peralta Property Group and decalaring his opposition to the project. He has also used his ties to the neighborhood. His wife attended Peralta Middle School and her parents still live in the neighborhood.

    While, Board President Surridge lamented the loss to the district of time, revenue and reputation dealing with the process over the property, the defeat was clearly jolting for board member Rick Ledesma.

    Ledesma at the end of the evening in Board comments made an emotional statement stating it would be the first time he would “apologize” to the “parents and children” of OUSD. he then apologized that the children would have to continue going to schools without the facility improvements he believed the Fairfield deal would help to address. During the statement, Ledesma appeared to be fighting back emotions. After his statement, Ledesma abruptly left the meeting.

    The October 11 agenda’s Information Item 13 A (page 7) is listed as BOARD MEMBER DISCUSSION: OUSD SURPLUS PROPERTIES. The item, placed on the ballot by President Tim Surridge, states it is a request that the Board discuss “surplus properties and how to best manage these assets”. Surridge has reportedly been appearing before various community stake holders, including the Save Peralta Property group, discussing the purpose and history of the school board’s attempt to “leverage” the assets of the numerous surplus properties the district owns.

    INSIDE former OUSD Superintendent Godley’s retirement bonus
    (beginning 2008)
    $60,320.00*

    * 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 October 11, 2012 for more information

    CLICK ON: OCTOBER

    OUSD CLOSED SESSION STARTS 6:00 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/


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