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  • Monday, January 14, 2013

     

    OUSD moves to sell Silverado site

    ORANGE Unified Schools INSIDE
    a news service of Orange Net News /O/N/N/ Independent insight into OUSD
    OUSD moves to sell Silverado E.S. site
    The Orange Unified School District will vote at its regular January 17, 2013 School Board Meeting on a resolution to sell the former Silverado Elementary School site. The school was one of the first local casualties of the Great Recession. The small school began serving the early mining communities of the Silverado and Modjeska canyons and traces its history back, in one form or another, to 1881 as the only school in the then Silverado School District.  When OUSD moved to close the school, the community fought hard to keep their school and went as far as trying to secede from OUSD and join Saddleback Unified. In the end the Great Recession and a split OUSD School Board vote brought an end to the small school. Unconfirmed rumors are the County of Orange is interested in the land and buildings.  

    Meanwhile at the December 10 2012 meeting, another surplus property, Riverdale E.S. was brought up as an information item by OUSD Board President Timothy Surridge. Wanting to avoid the public relations fiasco the accompanied the Peralta site development proposal, Surridge wanted to begin discussion on the direction of the OUSD Board on the Riverdale property and begin planning for reaching out to the Riverdale community and neighborhoods. Trustee Diane Singer called the school central to the surrounding community’s identity and stated her opposition to plans that would require the district to forfeit the land on anything other than a short term basis. Singer also gave several ideas on how to notice the area’s residents about any meetings including through the City of Anaheim utility bills. Trustee Dr. Alexia Deligianni stated she would like to see the school reopened after the budget crisis has passed and would support month-to-month short term uses. Trustee Rick Ledesma called for the OUSD Trustees discussing possible options for the school before residents are notified and alarmed unnecessarily. Moffat too echoed the sentiment that the evening’s discussion should be preliminary so as not to distress the community.  Surridge called the surplus properties valuable assets that should be “leveraged as resources” otherwise they would be wasted “non-performing assets”. Surridge cautioned that the school’s neighborhood may not have the same goals as the school district regarding the properties. That was clearly the case of what happened with the Peralta school property.

    Wayland hits back at Foothills Sentry with an open letter
    
    Trustee Mark Wayland
     Earlier in the evening at the December 19, 2013 meeting, Trustee Mark Wayland addressed the Peralta school property controversy and what many saw as a flip-flop vote on the Peralta property. Wayland read an "open letter" responding to a Foothills Sentry article about him in the paper dated the same day as the December meeting (see link below). Calling the article a “character assassination”, Wayland noted that the Sentry had praised his vote against the developer before the election, and insisted his position had not changed. Wayland stated that he voted against the choice of a developer to give the community more time to do a better job at getting the message out and more time to listen and to get the district’s message out. Wayland stated in his letter that he had made that position clear after his vote in answering emails before and after the election. Wayland also stated that he could “take the heat” and recapped his low key election run and disputed the notion that it was a “heated battle” that it was characterized as and pointed to the fact that the community overwhelmingly re-elected him. In ending, Wayland took a swipe at the Foothill Sentry owner and publisher Anita Bennyhoff stating that if her paper came asking him questions in the future they would get a “no comment”.
    The Save Peralta Property group on their website reported on Wayland’s open letter and responded as follows:
    In response to Mr. Wayland’s statements-
    * His actions and words only reinforce the feeling  that this was a political move so he could get reelected.
    * The meeting with OUSD Board President was never about listening to our views.  The neighbor’s message was clear and strong.  We are opposed to a high density apartment complex on the site.  We do not want a zoning change to the property.  President Tim Surridge called the project luxury family homes and tried to convince us that this was a good project. He dismissed all of our comments and let us know this was the only plan he would consider.
    *Just meeting with our group of neighbors did not mean that the Board had “done a good- or even adequate- job of listening to those being affected by the development.”  (From the December Foothill Sentry article)


    LINK to Foothills Sentry story: WAYLAND

    LINK to Save Peralta Property story: SPP Response

    Surridge re-elected OUSD Board President over Moffat
    OUSD Board President Timothy Surridge was re-elected at the beginning of the December 10, 2012 Board Meeting as OUSD President.  Trustee John Ortega nominated Surridge with Ledesma seconding his nomination. Moffat nominated herself, with Singer seconding Moffat's self-nomination. The vote split along current political lines with Moffat and Singer voting for Moffat and the other five trustees supporting Surridge. Deligianni was elected to Vice President and Wayland was elected to Clerk, both unanimously.

    Moffat later clashed with Surridge at the end of the meeting over a re-vote on paying Trustee Rick Ledesma for missing a meeting. The re-vote was requested by Dr. Deligianni because she had to leave sick when the item was originally brought up and failed after Ledesma abstained. Moffat, who has continued to oppose paying trustees for missing meetings, brought up the legal language in the California Education Code referring to voting to pay for missing meetings if it was due to “hardship”/ Moffat confronted Ledesma and asked him what the “hardship” was that qualified his missing a meeting and being paid. Ledesma refused to answer saying he owes her no justification. Moffat brought up a 2008 vote that Ledesma voted not to pay Trustee John Ortega for missing a meeting and quoted Ledesma’s reasoning from that meeting.

    At that point a visibly annoyed Surridge answered Moffat by insisting that out of courtesy, trustees should assume that other trustees only miss Board meetings out of “hardship”.  Moffat held her ground insisting that the votes for pay for missing meetings have increased. Surridge insisted that the Board did not have an absentee problem and defended Ledesma for his 10 plus years of service on the OUSD Board. Surridge refutd that the 45 minute meeting was a continuation of a meeting Ledesma had attended and it was not worth trying to “ding” Ledesma over a couple of hundred bucks. Surridge became more annoyed and insisted that Moffat was the only one “hung up” on paying for missed meetings and that the majority of the Board felt that an excuse was not needed. Surridge ended reminding Moffat that elections were held to “fix these things”.

    Also at the December 10, 2013 meeting, OUSD Assistant Superintendent of Business Services Joe Sorrera gave an cautiously upbeat report on the Orange Unified finances in light of Proposition 30 passing. Estimates in December were the measure would bring $12.3 million extra funds to OUSD a year. That could result in a positive 2014-2015 budget in the black of $ 9 million. Sorrera noted that OUSD is one of Orange County’s most fiscally sound school districts reporting that over 10 school districts in the county will submit troubling “qualified budgets”.

    OUSD Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources Ed Kissee also reported to the OUSD Board that the proponents PEAK Charter School seeking an OUSD Charter had asked for a rescheduling of the public hearing that was to take place on December 10th.

     Former OUSD Superintendent Dr. Thomas Godley dies at 69 after cancer battle
    Former OUSD Superintendent Dr. Thomas Godley died December 24, 2012, reportedly after an extended battle with cancer.
      

    Dr. T. Godley 1943-2012
     Godley’s career in Orange County was intertwined with some of the county’s biggest scandals and controversies.  Godley came to Orange Unified from Newport-Mesa Unified School District (NMUSD) on the heels of one of the largest school embezzlement scandals in California history. Godley was the NMUSD Assistant Superintendent of Business while NMUSD Chief Financial Officer was Stephen A Wagner. Wagner was convicted of embezzling over $3 million dollars from NMUSD after pleading guilty.  Godley survived the fallout from the scandal as the community demanded changes. At Godley's passing, NMUSD community members stated that Godley started to ask questions about Wagner when no one else was. Wagner, who with his wife was known for flaunting their “wealth."  Reportedly, because of Godley's questions, Wagner  tried unsuccessfully to fire Godley. Wagner was sentenced to six years in prison in December 1992 and ordered to pay restitution after pleading guilty. The strange saga ended when Wagner died of an AIDS related illness in prison three years later at 43 years old.

    In 2003, Godley was recruited from NMUSD by then Orange Unified Superintendent Robert French to serve in a similar financial capacity in OUSD.  During his time as an OUSD Assistant Superintendent, Santiago Charter Middle School was rocked by a sex scandal. Under the pretext of the scandal, Godley led the charge to revoke Santiago’s Charter which was seen as financially not advantageous to OUSD. The community rallied around Santiago and its charter status was saved.  After the retirement of French, Godley was named OUSD Superintendent.

    It was during Godley’s administration that turmoil again returned to OUSD. Godley jumped on a pseudo-business fad named for a book called Good to Great. As Godley passed out the book and pens with the Good to Great slogan, he failed to read the author's later published addendum that questioned whether the private “business model” would transfer to public entities because of structural differences like the lack of profit motive.

    
    Trustee Ortega vs. Steve Rocco
    
    Then came the surprise election of the controversial Steve Rocco as a trustee. The animosity between Rocco and Godley was only surpassed by the tension between Rocco and Trustee John Ortega.  Rocco made it more than personal with Godley by refusing to address him as “doctor”. After a failed recall campaign against Rocco, the controversial trustee was finally gerrymandered out of his Trustee Area by the Nichols Trustee Area Realignment. During Rocco’s tenure on the Board, Godley also tried to end the broadcast of OUSD Board meetings on local cable. Those broadcasts were one of the many reforms instituted after the 2001 Orange Recall. Trustee Rick Ledesma successfully led the opposition to ending the broadcasts and Godley backed down on ending the second public input opportunity. Godley did however begin to censor the cable broadcasts.  Transcripts of the parts of the broadcasts that Godley ordered censored (always involving Steve Rocco) were published by Orange Net News. Godley also tried to eliminate the second Public Comments section that was added to the agenda as a Recall Reform. After a public out cry, Godley reinserted the comment section.  Godley also led OUSD into the Consultant Culture that saw millions of educational dollars wasted on “educational consultants” including the infamous Focus on Results debacle that sent millions of educational dollars into a failed consultant merry-go-round.

    At the beginning of 2008, Godley arranged for a retirement buyout for OUSD employees then announced his retirement in February 2008 after five years with OUSD. The timing of the retirement buyout and his announcement again brought controversy to OUSD. One of his staunchest supporters was OUSD Trustee Kathy Moffat.  In March 2008 as the OUSD Board voted to approve the retirement buyout, Moffat offered an amendment to exclude Godley from the buyout. The Moffat Amendment was defeated 6-1 with only Moffat voting for it. After 5 years with OUSD, Godley retired in August 2008 with the buyout bonus. Orange Net News calculated that the buyout bonus was worth at least $1210 a month totaling over $61,000 since Godley retired. It is not public record if Godley’s widow will continue receiving the buyout monies.

    Ironically the only one from OUSD quoted on Godley’s passing in Newport Beach’s Daily Pilot newspaper’s story on Godley’s passing was Moffat. The paper quotes Moffat as stating:
     "He began as a teacher, first and foremost. Then he developed this expertise in school business, financial planning — that kind of thing. When he came to us, that's what people thought his expertise was, but his heart was really in the classroom."
    Moffat’s recollection of Godley as devoted to the classroom is contrary to what the watchdog Grater Orange Community Organization stated at Godley’s retirement:

    “Dr. Godley has led the district from his isolated office and has visited less schools that even Superintendent Barbara Van Otterloo…”

    The most enduring legacy in OUSD from Godley is the Strategic Plan initiative. Dr. Renae Drieier succeeded Godley as Orange Unified Superintendent and dismantled much of the Godley legacy in OUSD including: ending educational dollars being spent on the Strategic Plan planning workshops; streamlining the two attempted reorganizations Godley made to the OUSD Administration[ ending the OUSD Consultant Culture by using in -house experts; and putting an end to a “good old boy system” that rewarded who, not what you know. Godley’s Good to Great and Focus on Results died unceremonious deaths.

    A memorial service was held for Godley at the Pacific View Memorial Park in Newport Bach on January 3, 2013.

    INSIDE the January 14, 2013 OUSD School Board Meeting
    Action Item 12 A (Agenda page 3): The Trustees will recognize OUSD’s Fairhaven Elementary School selection as a National Blue Ribbon School. Fairhaven was named in Oct 2012. OUSD's Sycamore E.S. was named a National Blue Ribbon School nominee. LINK: FAIRHAVEN
    Action Item 12 D (Agenda page 27) Trustee Kathy Moffat will try to convince other Board members that more school board meetings are needed.

    NEXT BOARD MEETING: THURSDAY January 17, 2013, OUSD BOARD ROOM
    For AGENDA-CLICK ON:   JAN 17
    CLOSED SESSION- NO CLOSED SESSION SCHEDULED
    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


    Monday, January 07, 2013

     

    Huell Howser's Orange Connection

    Huell Howser, the host of the popular PBS series "California's Gold" travelogues, died at age 67.Howser died at his home in Palm Springs Sunday night from natural causes , said Ayn Allen, corporate communications manager for KCET.

    In May of 2007 Howser brought his Road Trip program to Orange. The program featured popular Old Towne favorites like breakfast at Watson’s and a tour of the Plaza featuring a stop at A&P Collectables. Other stops include Pitcher Park and the little-known-outside-of-Orange gems: the Orange County Badminton Club; the Friendly Center; and Prime Produce (CLICK ON: ORANGE
    and ORANGE EPISODE )

    In 2011, Howser donated all of his public television shows, including the “California’s Gold“, series to Chapman University and over 250 boxes of papers and memorabilia, plus over 1,800 books on California. Chapman agreed to digitized the programming for free worldwide access on the internet (CLICK ON: Chapman ARCHIVES). In addition, Howser’s paper collections were to be organized and housed in Chapman’s Leatherby Libraries.

    The last show posted on the archive last month was California’s Gold Episode 410 on the town of Amboy, on Route 66 in California’s Mojave Desert. In announcing his passing, the Chapman Howser Archival site has asked in lieu of flowers, donations can be sent to one of these two funds (CLICK ON to donate):

    California’s Gold Scholarship Endowment:
    • Awarded to students who demonstrate a positive outlook and are actively pursuing ways to improve society as altruistic change agents.

    California’s Gold Collection Endowment:
    • Maintains Huell Howser’s gift of his videos, digital archives, artifacts, memorabilia and book collection.


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