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  • Monday, March 11, 2013

     

    OUSD "Surridge Plan" opposition grows

    ORANGE Unified Schools INSIDE
    a news service of Orange Net News /O/N/N/ Independent insight into OUSD
    As a working group begins to lay plans to fight his proposal…
    Surridge backs down on reasons –but not his plans…
    for the “Surridge Plan” as he opens a can of worms
    After laying out a “vision” at the January 17, 2013 Orange Unified School Board Meeting to cut two OUSD trustees from the seven member board, OUSD Board President Timothy Surridge wasted little time in adding the item for discussion as Item 13 D on the February 21, 2013 OUSD Agenda.

    
    "SURRIDGE PLAN"
    
    At the February meeting, Surridge glossed over the original reasoning he had stated was the purpose in his introducing the item -to keep superintendents longer. That theory had been widely and thoroughly debunked following the January meeting and leading up to the February meeting.  In fact one of the reputable academic studies circulting throughout Greater Orange reports that five member school boards are more unstable for superintendents because one election can completely change a board majority that supports a district's superintendent.

    
    While Surridge tried to change his “vision” approach to the “just starting a discussion”, approach,  Trustee Kathy Moffat quickly pointed out that Surridge had offered no concrete reasons for the radical board change-except to just do it.  

    Trustee Diane Singer brought up the fact that there could be possible Voter’s Rights Act problems in changing the trustee numbers. While she did not specify, diluting the minority vote, (which is concentrated in specific neighborhoods, in specific Trustee Areas) a change could prove to be an expensive problem for the cash strapped district if a deep pocket organization like the ACLU (which took on the district in Colin vs. OUSD-and won a precedent setting case) challenged a trustee change.

    
    Meanwhile, emails forwarded to Orange Net News tell of a “working group” meeting being organized by politically connected local activists to lay ground work for a potential political fight over what is being called the “Surridge Plan”. The emails promised to keep all options on the table to fight what they called the “Surridge Plan” including coupling any attempt to take away voting representatives for any community to “current pet projects of Mr. Surridge including the Peralta site and a potential school bond measure.”

    Meanwhile in another flurry of emails, the Greater Orange Community Organization (which forwarded the “working groups” info) blasted OUSD Mark Wayland for his call of doing away with district-wide votes in favor of “election by Trustee Area only” votes to elect trustees. GOCO stated that an area like the Peralta community would have no electoral recourse if the other 6 Trustees voted to build apartment buildings- but its "local" Trustee could “safely” oppose the project. Under such a scenario, the Peralta voters could not influence other trustees with election upsets- just their trustee- who would have political cover.

    Nor could any other group have any political clout with trustee area only elections. GOCO offered this scenario to the community. While Trustees could vote on items affecting the whole district, only voters in their area could elect or un-elect them. So if the Trustees decide to close Villa Park Elementary School as punishment toward that community's tustee-Kathy Moffat, Moffat votes no- but all the other Trustees have nothing to fear from Villa Park voters and can vote yes to close the school.

    
    Another focus of attention in Surridge’s Item D was term-limits. Originally brought forward as a campaign promise by OUSD Trustee Dr. Alexia Deligianni when she  ran five years ago for her first term, Deligianni –who took no action about term limits since then, also said nothing on the subject during the discussion at the February meeting. Ironically, speaking in favor of term limits was OUSD Trustee John Ortega. Saying he has "always favored term limits", Ortega failed to point out that after being originally elected in 2001, he has filed to run for office each successive time he has been eligible, thereby negating any personally imposed term limits he believes in.

    The only one to speak against the idea of term limits was Kathy Moffat who pointed to the effect of term limits on the state Legislature. Unlike Ortega who since first being elected has never faced another candidate, Moffat has faced formidable candidates in all of her re-elections.

    FLASHBACK ALERT: Surridge looks to hire PR help
    After highlighting an elementary teacher using grant money purchased iPads  to have his student’s self-publish an iBook on science, in his President’s report, OUSD Board President Surridge said he’d like to see at least an hourly person hired to do public relations work for the district to showcase the good news ( we know that is what those OUSD Email alerts you get already do!)

    
    FLASHBACK ALERT!!!  Yes another increasingly embattled OUSD President-not too long ago- also had the idea to hire a PR person – the recalled Marty Jacobson. 

    Hiring Judy Frutig as the fulltime PR person seemed like a good idea that quickly became another OUSD nightmare. Hired to boost a  reputation of a district in a tailspin,  Frutig dealt with one self-imposed district crisis after another. However President  Jacobson and his majority became increasingly upset over the press releases and the out organizing of the community in response to Frutig’s work. As Frutig began dealing with the courtroom drama fallout from the now famous Colin vs. OUSD lawsuit and the recall petition drive against four Trustees, the trustees tried to interfere and manage Frutig and her messages. Unable to do that, and unable to fire her, they simply abruptly eliminated her position. Frutig then joined a lawsuit against the district for unlawful firing and joined the recall forces providing a wealth of insight and expertise. 

    
    A tribute to Frutig still adorns the OUSD Board Room. The large OUSD Logo that hangs over the board dais and looks down on all the trustee meetings was Frutig’s doing and is a fitting memorial to her lawsuit payout and her contribution to recalling her former handlers.  Frutig is now a professor at Long Beach State.

    “Curse of the Vanguard”?
    El Modena Principal Martinez set to retire August 1
    El Modena Principal Rebecca Martinez has given the district notice that she will retire as of August 1, 2013.  Martinez was El Modena Vice Principal before being hired by the OUSD Board last August as principal – on recommendation of an interview panel. Martinez began her career at El Modena High School in 1987 as an Instructional Aide and rose through the ranks, surviving and witnessing numerous El Modena public scandals.

    
    True to what some have called the legendary “Curse of the Vanguard”, all has not been smooth for Martinez either. Popular among staff and students, Martinez recent prinicpal hiring came into question by some parents at the high school, a school that has never shied away from controversy. In letters mailed to staff and handed out to community members and parents, were allegations that Martinez did not make the initial cut of the interviewing panel, but her hiring was allegedly pushed and pursued by a senior OUSD administrator in an odd twist of the notorious former OUSD “good-old-boy” network that lasted by all accounts right up into the Dreier years. Numerous other allegations and innuendos in the complaints coupled with the now rather sudden retirement of Martinez before her year anniversary have reignited the story of the “Curse of the Vanguard”.

    INSIDE the March 14 Meeting Peralta Lease Agreement Board Policy Change
    At the first reading of the proposed changes to the Board Bylaws making leased property (i.e. Peralta ) go into a designated facilities fund instead of  the general fund brought dueling parliamentary procedures back as the dueling majority and minority sides fought over precedent and procedure. In a small victory, the 2nd reading of the Board Policy change was not waived and the proposal is being brought back for a rehashing of the issues at the March 14 meeting.
    

    Kathy Moffat again took center stage in opposing the Surridge plan that centers on the Peralta property high density lease development.  Surridge and his allies wanting to assure the ability to “leverage” the lease property income for facilities and bring that to voters as an example of good fiscal stewardship in a much talked about high school bond attempt want that money set aside in a special account. Moffat and her thinking was that in uncertain fiscal times, that money should not be locked away for basic needs. In between were various supporters and detractors.

    
    In addition, Moffat took Surridge to task for all but promising a bond attempt when that had not been decided. Surridge replied that many of Moffat’s characterizations  were “disingenuous”. Meanwhile Ortega, in his typical mangled style, took on Moffat for contributing to the negative image of the district. In the end, no vote and round two on this Surridge slam dunk on March 14th is Agenda Item 12 E.

    ALSO:
    Item 12 E-  2nd Interim Budget Report

    Item 13 A- General Obligation Bonds- a tutorial on School Bond financing and new legislation that affect the types of local bonds in light of recent studies that have shown interest rates on capital appreciation bonds. (Measure A Yorba Linda Placentia Unified  School Bond story: BOND RIPOFF )


    Next OUSD Board Meeting March 14, 2013 -OUSD BOARD ROOM
    For AGENDA-CLICK ON: 3.14

    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
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