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  • Wednesday, September 10, 2014

     

    Peralta,elementary music, and Measure K

    ORANGE Unified Schools INSIDE
    Independent insight into OUSD      
    a news service of
     Orange Net News /O/N/N/
    Peralta lease back on the OUSD agenda and...
    OUSD looks at elementary arts and music

    The Orange Unified School District's September 11, 2014 Board agenda has an informational item on presenting options for restoring the OUSD elementary music and arts program that was cut during the Great Recession.  Item 13 A (agenda page 124) states options will be presented to the Trustees on restoring the program.

    On the agenda as Action Item 12 C is the Revised Budget report for 2014-15.  The report shows  that OUSD has a healthy balance of  $70.4 million- with $7.4 million of that in a state required reserve.

    The Peralta lease returns to the September 11 Agenda as Item 12 H.  At the August 10, 2014 OUSD Board meeting the Peralta Lease was the subject of a lengthy discussion on allowing Peralta Golf Partners to extend the lease with provisions of not selling the property while the extension is in effect.  During the discussion Trustee Rick Ledesma  warned that 'fixing the schools does not go away" and stated that if Measure K does not pass he would immediately seek to sell all of OUSD's surplus properties. 

    Item 12 B on the September 11 Agenda lets the OUSD Board accept or reject the auction offers for the Walnut Site. The OUSD Board had placed the value of the property at $12.9 million.

    Measure K item on August agenda draws support

    At the August 10, 2014 OUSD Board meeting several speakers from the meeting spoke during the Public  Comments section on Agenda Action Item 12A .  The agenda item was on extending the contracts for the architects that did the renderings for the needs assessments on the high school facilities in a lead  up to placing Measure K on the November ballot.

    Orange County Third District Orange County Supervisor Todd Spitzer was one of the audience members who spoke in favor of  Measure K.  Spitzer, who has children attending OUSD schools, announced his support of Measure K as he described his personal observations of the need of modernizing OUSD schools . Supervisor Spitzer also signed the ballot argument in favor of Measure K.

    Spitzer's public announcement to support Measure K came just days after OUSD's  teacher association endorsed Measure K.  While this may not seem unusual it in fact is the first endorsement of an OUSD Bond by the teachers'  union. C.A.R.E. has also announced that for the first time all four high school's parent, teacher and student (PTA's and PSFO's) have voted to support Measure K. 

    The OUSD Board however split over the spending of more money on facilities plans before the election.  Trustee Diane Singer cautioned to wait until after the November vote on Measure K before spending further money-reasoning that if the measure does not pass, the new first phase renderings that the action item would provide would not be needed.

    Trustee Dr. Alexia Deligianni  (who voted against placing the measure on the ballot and is the only OUSD Trustee to sign the ballot arguments against Measure K)  spoke again of her concerns with the original architectural renderings of high schools that were designed without a budget according to the wishes of each high school's stakeholders.. 

    Trustee Timothy Surridge agreed that the blueprint process should be in place for what the estimated $74 million per high school bond could accomplish before the bond is potentially passed. 

    Trustee Rick Ledesma likened supporting the agenda item for the new renderings to being "good stewards"  in preparing for the bond monies. 

    The Deligianni concerns mirror a recent anti-Measure K Op-Ed in The Foothill Sentry  and appear to be part of the loosely organized anti-K campaign that appears to be heavily counting on the hard-right controlled Orange County Republican Party for help in defeating Measure K.  The Orange County Republican Party went on record against every school bond in Orange County on the November ballot.

    Action Item 12A passed on a 5-2 vote with Deligianni and Singer voting "No"  and the rest of the OUSD Trustees voting yes.

    Item 12 C was also about Measure K. The agenda item requested by Trustee Singer called for Bond Transparency Training. While all the trustees supported the idea, the devil was in the details of when and where the training would take place and who would sponsor the training.  At the end of competing motions, the training was ultimately supported.

    Is OUSD starting on a new Consultant "Milieu"?
    Is Orange Unified headed for another round of wasteful spending by bringing back a Consultant Culture, or rather as the "description" OUSD Administrative Director of Community and Student Services Dr. Kenneth Miller used in OUSD's latest press release a "milieu" (French...as in the language...for environment).  Unlike OUSD's budget busting failed Focus on Results consultant experiment, this new the top down Consultant Milieu may have serious consequences not just on the budget, but on local perceptions of the "optional" schools.

    A new elitist OUSD Consultant  Milieu spending spree could not come at a worst time for the community schools as the OUSD Trustees are asking voters for approval on a series of bonds to upgrade and repair aging schools that are in dire need of improvement. In all of Orange County, OUSD stands alone as failing to pass a much needed school bond. Measure K, the first OUSD bond in the planned series goes before voters this November and currently has broad and deep community support for repairing the district's aged and substandard high schools.   

    The press release sent out by Superintendent Michael Christensen on Friday September 5, 2014 to the community (but not OUSD employees)  touts Cerro Villa Middle School being the first ever Orange County middle school to be granted the optional "accreditation" which is called in the release an "award".  In the press release "Director of Community" Dr. Miller is quoted explaining in contorted bureaucratic educrat-speak the benefits of the Cerro Villa accreditation to Greater Orange "Community" as :
    "Our professional team can now see how we as a school will not only improve our service model in the current milieu but we have also will  [sic ] nurture this opportunity to empower our students to achieve at optimal levels throughout their high school and postsecondary careers.”

    The optional accreditation of middle, elementary and even pre-schools comes as the accreditation process itself is under increased scrutiny from educational reformers of all types.

    The reason no other high achieving Orange County district has gone through the expense and trouble of getting the optional schools accredited is there really is no upside  to accreditation except to say that you have it.  Unlike real school recognition recognized by the California Department of Education (Click on CDE AWARDS), accreditation only becomes news relevant to a community when a high school or college is threatened with its loss.  With "optional accreditation"  there are numerous  downsides. Once accreditation is granted it is a never ending expensive cycle of numerous hoops related to confirming the accreditation.  If  accreditation is lost for any reason, including a variety of non-educational reasons, that becomes news and an enormous local public relations problem coupled with state and federal funding complications beyond anything that No Child Left Behind had. That is the power the federal government gave the accreditation industry over schools that are required to have accreditation for federal funding-including student loans and transferring credits between schools (CLICK ON Accreditation).
      
    The process for the optional accreditation for Cerro Villa MS was began by Dr. Miller when he was the school's principal.  For the expense of the accreditation process, Cerro Villa was "granted"  a two year accreditation until 2017 by the quasi-governmental Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) with reported minimum requirements. That however will change.

    In 1965 the accreditation process for "higher education" was granted to six agencies with monopolies in geographical areas by federal legislation.  The status of those six "agencies" as official but "private" allows them to tout- as the WASC website does-that they do not have to give out any information under the Freedom of Information Act that government agencies do.  That means there is no public scrutiny of the budgets or administrative pay.

    For years the exclusive monopoly of college and high school accreditation was widely accepted with the strings of federal funding attached, but since the No Child Left Behind legislation, the accreditation "agencies" have come under increasing scrutiny by educational reformers on all sides of the political spectrum Increasing calls for reform or elimination of the six agencies and/or their monopoly power have been made by a wide range of education reformers including the notable  American Council of Trustees and Alumni.  WASC and the other regional accreditation monopolies are seen as pawns of the federal government wielding enormous power over public local control issues and private educational institutions. They have often been seen as anti-reform. (Click on FEDERAL  and AEI ) . 

    All expenses of the accreditation process for the committee and agency administrators- including airfare, local transportation, lodging, meals, materials and supplies are paid for by the school district. Payment is requested in two weeks after the accreditation visit (the schools are invoiced) and if payment is not received in 30 days after the visit- a 15% "administrative fee" surcharge is added to the bill (see link below).  In the OUSD press release Dr. Miller thanked educational consultant Tony Ferruzzo of the consultant firm DecisionInsite (Click on CONSULTANT) and WASC's Executive Director Dr. Van Leuven for their guidance through the process.  The press release further stated that Leuven, who is based in Burlington California,  had personally come to Orange  to participate in the Cerro Villa review. Of course it was all at OUSD taxpayer expense (Click ON: WASC) .

    Unlike governmental oversight, the private accreditation firms operate much like consultant firms with a twist, they can demand payment and add on fees all before rendering a life or death decision for schools. While the WASC uses unpaid "volunteers" for the real time consuming committee work that reviews the schools for the process, the administrators of the mega-agencies get paid- reportedly very well. 

    Christensen's press release included information that Yorba and Portola Middle Schools were next in line for the accreditation  process-reportedly much to the surprise of the staffs at both middle schools. The staffs at those schools were only made aware that their schools would be part of an optional accreditation process when the community press release was brought to their attention. The press release stated that OUSD had "initiated the WASC process for middle schools" mentioned both Portola and Yorba by name.  Now, like the costly mistake of trying to unsuccessfully impose the  failed Focus on Results top down consultant culture on school stakeholders during the unpopular "Good to Great" Godley Administration, with the new influx of educational tax dollars the current OUSD administration appears poised to follow with their own expensive encore top-down Consultant Milieu. 

    Despite the recent OUSD mailer on Measure K to the Greater Orange Community touting the high achievement in OUSD schools (which happened after the  former OUSD Superintendent Dr. Dreier ended the OUSD Consultant Culture and switched to using the talent of OUSD administrators and teachers) OUSD middle and elementary schools appear poised to work on Dr. Miller's new consultant driven "service model in the current milieu"  to "nurture this opportunity to empower our students to achieve at optimal levels " because obviously what the new OUSD Director of Community and Students appears to be inferring is that OUSD teachers and schools have been failing students all these years and need more consultant hoops to jump through to prove they can  "empower our students to achieve at optimal levels".

    Now with tens of millions of educational tax dollars "in the current milieu" , will OUSD return to the failed top down pre-recession Consultant Culture or as it may now be know as a new Consultant Milieu?

    INSIDE the September 11, 2014  Meeting
    Item 9E- New Student Board Members representing OUSD's high schools
    Item 9F- Walk to School Week and Day recognition
    Action Items 12 D,F,E,G: Vote on revisions to various Board Policies.

    NEXT OUSD BOARD MEETING Thursday September 11, 2014

    CLOSED SESSION NOTE Time change 5:30 pm
    OUSD Regular Session: 7:00 pm
    For the AGENDA-CLICK ON: AGENDA

    For more information call the OUSD Superintendent’s office at 714-628-4040
    For budgeting questions call Business Services at 714-628-4015

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