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  • Tuesday, February 19, 2013


    Villa Park and Anaheim Hills OUSD seats in danger

    ORANGE Unified Schools INSIDE
    a news service of Orange Net News /O/N/N/   Independent insight into OUSD
    Targeting Villa Park and Anaheim Hills representation…
    Surridge proposes “radical” plan for OUSD
    Orange Unified Board of Trustees President Timothy Surridge outlined what some long time Orange Unified School District board watchers characterized as a “radical un-democratic plan” to eliminate two OUSD Trustees. Such a move would ultimately strip away residents from Villa Park and Anaheim Hills on the Orange Unified School Board.

    At the January 17th OUSD Board Meeting, Surridge outlined his goals for the coming year. Those goals included investment in schools by the local community,  exploring using unused portions of school sites for city recreation purposes, and dealing with the size of the OUSD governing body ( the Board of Trustees).  Using the excuse of “a turn-over” of superintendents, Surridge tried to begin to build a case that having more than five trustees leads to a higher turn over of superintendents. He offered no data to support his theory.

    Orange Unified was “unified” in 1953 out of a hodgepodge of smaller school districts creating one of the largest school districts in the state. In unifying, the OUSD Founders created OUSD’s unique democratic system of Area Representation in order to get voters to agree to give up their local districts to form the unified district. The system guaranteed that the major population center of Orange would not dominate the smaller population centers in the district by insuring that each of the seven trustees must live in the area they represent. Voters of Orange agreed to the system because while each trustee would be from their own distinct areas, the entire district would vote for each trustee.  The system has served the district for 59 years.  It has particularly favored the communities of Villa Park and Anaheim Hills who have local residents represent them on the Board.  Community watchdogs note that the current Villa Park and Anaheim Hills representatives, Kathy Moffat ( Trustee Area 4- majority Villa Park neighborhoods) and Diane Singer (Trustee Area 1-majority Anaheim Hills neighborhoods)   have been the minority on the OUSD Board and have clashed with Surridge ( an Orange resident) over numerous policies, especially his center piece effort to privatize surplus district property. Many Villa Park officials and numerous leading citizen’s have been outspoken opponents of the Surridge backed plan to lease the Peralta site property. The Villa Park headquartered Foothills Sentry  has been a leader in reporting on the Peralta deal and its stories have been blasted by Surridge allies on the Board.

    Surridge stated his intention of including the proposal as an agenda item this year.  He is wasting no time. Surridge has added Informational Item 13 D on the February 21, 2013 Board Agenda. Listed on page 2 of the Agenda as “Discussion Requested by Board President Surridge”, the description on page 30 states:

    At the January 17, 2013 meeting, during the Board President’s Report, Mr. Surridge laid out a vision for the District. Included was the reduction of the Board of Education from seven to five members. Additionally an intereste [sic] has been expressed regarding term limits for members of the governing board.

    Mr. Surridge has requested that the Board discuss reducing the number of Board members and term limits.

    While the agenda does not mention who expressed the interest in term limits, in her first campaign for the OUSD Board five years ago, Dr. Alexia Deligianni did campaign on bringing term limits to OUSD. In her second campaign in November 2012, Deligianni did not address term limits. Trustee Rick Ledesma has the most terms of service on the OUSD Board.  Ousted by Terri Sergeant who ran as part of the far right Marty Jacobson Reactionary Majority sweep, Ledesma was re-elected by ousting Sergeant when he was tapped by the Citizens Coalition Board in the 2001 Orange Recall. Moffat was also part of that Citizen’s Board coalition majority elected that year (Kimberly Nichols and Melissa Smith were also elected that year). John Ortega was later recruited to run for another open seat by the Citizen’s Board. The Citizen’s Board quickly initiated numerous Recall Reforms and within a year had rehired Superintendent Robert French. (French was forced out by the Jacobson Majority after a poll he initiated found the new Board’s direction unpopular. The Board replaced him with Barbara Van Otterloo. Under increased scrutiny by the new Citizen’s Board, Van Otterloo retired after a year and was replaced by her predecessor, French). 

    Moffat and Ledesma have both defended their seats successfully against a variety of challengers. Ortega has never faced an opponent and therefore has never had to run since his initial win.  

    Tampering with OUSD Trustee Areas to eliminate trustees that majority members of the Board find less than desirable has happened in the past. After an unsuccessful attempt to collect signatures to force a recall against OUSD Trustee Steve Rocco failed, Villa Park centered Kathy Moffat and the former Anaheim Hills centered Trustee Melissa Smith supported the Nichols Realignment (named for then OUSD President Kimberly Nichols who initiated the move) that realigned the home of Trustee Steve Rocco out of his trustee area (Area 6) into Trustee Rick Ledesma’s( Area 7). The move prevented Rocco from running as an incumbent. Smith called the realignment scenario “a gift from heaven” was also realigned out of her Trustee Area.

    That same OUSD Board majority also did away with the Recall Reform that rotated the OUSD Board officers between the Trustee Areas, insuring that a board majority could never again control the OUSD Board leadership.  Aimed at preventing Rocco from achieving a leadership role, current trustees Kathy Moffat (now in the minority), John Ortega and Rick Ledesma who were all on the OUSD Board at the time voted to eliminate the rotation of officers.  Last December, a frustrated now in the minority Kathy Moffat nominated herself for the OUSD Board Presidency.  Surridge was again elected for a second year by the current Board Majority.

     For a link to the current OUSD Trustee Areas CLICK ON:
    OUSD votes to sell former Silverado School site
    At the OUSD January 17th OUSD School Board meeting, the trustees voted 7-0 to sell the former Silverado School site. The site was one of the first victims of the Great Recession.

    Moffat’s bid for more meetings fails
    Trustee Kathy Moffat again made a pitch for more OUSD Board meetings during the year. Currently the OUSD Board has regular meetings once a month.  Moffat provided a list of other school districts that meet more than once a month. Moffat proposed that there could be a “middle ground” where some months, like the April with the two week Spring Break, or summer could still only have one meeting date. Moffat proposed that the Board make February 7th a regular meeting and on that day select other dates during the year that meet the trustees’ calendar needs. Moffat’s motion died for lack of a second. During Board comments at the end of the meeting during Board member comments, Moffat again stated her disappointment with not meeting more often.  Trustee John Ortega commented that he thought it was a positive thing that the OUSD Board accomplished as much as they have meeting just once a month, and that perhaps other districts should look at OUSD’s meeting schedule. Trustee Mark Wayland also commented that his concern was with staff time needed to prepare for two meetings a month.

    Ledesma proposes 1st cut 1st restored on Proposition 30 funding
    In the wake of the voter approved sales tax hikes under Proposition 30, much of which will be earmarked under a formula by the state toward education, Trustee Rick Ledesma proposed that OUSD consider restoring funding based on 1st cut, 1st restored.  In the discussion, Ledesma stated that he understood that some cuts it may be impractical to restore because of the re-startup costs of those programs.  Wayland also reminded that the tax hikes were for only four years and should not be treated as ongoing funding, and OUSD Superintendent Michael Christensen reminded that the additional moneys under the still unknown formula will not make take the district to pre-Great Recession levels.  Trustee Diane Singer suggested that since she and others were not trustees at the time of the cuts that a list of the cuts would be helpful.

    OUSD to apply for waiver to increase class sizes
    Action Item 12 A ( Agenda pg 22) at the February 19, 2013 OUSD Board meeting is a public hearing on OUSD applying for a waiver to increase class sizes in three QEIA funded schools from a 20 to 1 ration to a 25 to 1 ration. The Quality Education Investment Act (QEIA)of 2006 provided 3 billion dollars over 7 years in extra funding as a result of a lawsuit settlement over state underfunding of Proposition 98 funds to schools. The money was directed toward helping schools serving low-income, minority students and English Learners close the “achievement gap” those populations have with Caucasian and Asian students in general. The funding was targeted toward smaller class sizes and staff development.  Selected schools were chosen by lottery from schools that qualified. Community Colleges also received monies for career and vocational programs.
    As money is running out, districts are seeking to stretch available funding. The OUSD three elementary schools that will be effected are Esplanade, Fairhaven and Handy. Fairhaven was selected this year as a National Blue Ribbon School (see link below)

    In a related item, 5 of the 73 teachers from those three schools are among the 73 teachers from OUSD that are being moved from temporary to probationary status on the February 19th Consent Agenda ( Agenda pgs 48-48).

    OUSD Trustees to discuss proposed 180 day 2013-2014 school calendar
    Information Item 13 B (Agenda pg 27-28) is a discussion of the proposed 2013-2014 school calendar with 180 student instructional days (185 teacher days). The current calendar has 175 student instructional days.

    The proposed calendar also includes three non-student professional development days and two non-student teacher prep days. The student calendar would start on August 21, 2013 (teachers on August 16th). Students would end on June 12th, and teachers on the 13th.

    Fall Break would remain as 1 week, Winter Break would remain as 3 weeks. Spring Break would be cut back from 2 weeks to one.

    Surridge proposes a lock box for surplus property funds
    In Agenda Item 12 D (Agenda pgs 22-23) OUSD Board President is proposing a change to OUSD Board Policy that would not place monies generated from the lease of any of the district’s surplus property to be put in a special lock box account that could only be used for capitol improvement projects. The new policy would prohibit the funds from leases going into the general funds. Currently state law requires only the sales of surplus property be spent only on capitol improvements.

    Board Policy changes have two readings. The Agenda item includes a recommendation for waving the second reading which would make the vote final.

    INSIDE the February 19, 2013 Agenda
    If that wasn’t enough….
    Agenda 9A- Proclamation of March 4-8 Week of the School Administrator
    Agenda 12 B/C  Revisions to Board Policies 2nd Reading
    Agenda 13 A- Common Core Standards Updates
    Agenda 13 C- State and District Budget Updates

    Next OUSD Board Meeting FebRUARY 19, 2013 -OUSD BOARD ROOM

    CLOSED SESSION- 6:00 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/

    “Independent Local Insight

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