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  • Wednesday, December 17, 2014


    Trustees cancel vote again

    ORANGE Unified Schools INSIDE
    Independent insight into OUSD      
    a news service of
     Orange Net News /O/N/N/
    OUSD President cancels Special Meeting of OUSD Trustees to discuss Tentative Agreements on employee contracts

    For the second time in less than 1 week, the OUSD Board President John Ortega has cancelled consideration of the Tentative Agreements with the OUSD employees groups after those groups voted last month to approve the agreements offered by OUSD.

    Orange Unified School Board President John Ortega issued a statement in a press release late Wednesday afternoon reporting that the December 18 Special Board meeting, the second meeting that  the OUSD Board was scheduled to consider the Tentative Agreements reached by OUSD and their employees, was cancelled.
    ( for coverage of the December 11 meeting CLICK ON: OUSD Dec 11 )

    Ortega's statement stated the "Unfortunately not all members of the Board are able to attend on the 18th"  and that  "...the cancellation will allow staff time to provide more information to the Board".

    (For full statement CLICK ON : ORTEGA STATEMENT  )

    Ortega had originally placed the OUSD Tentative Agreements with its employees on the December 11th Board Agenda. Those agreements were reached after months of negotiations with the district's employee groups and after five separate agendized Closed Session meetings between the OUSD Trustees and their designated district negotiators  between May and September and an additional session in December. 

    After returning 15 min late from Closed Session on December 11th, Board President John Ortega in calling for approval of the meeting's agenda stated that Item 14 D (consideration of the Tentative Agreements) would be removed and a Special Board meeting would be called for the following Thursday December 18 to take up the item.  At that time, no trustee indicated that they would not be able to make the Special December 18th meeting, and the trustees voted 7-0 to accept the agenda as changed without further comment. The December 18th Special Board Meeting then appeared on the OUSD Board of Education on Monday December 15th, but without the agenda.

    Both OUSD employee groups, the Orange Unified Education Association (OUEA) and the California School Employees Association Chapter 67 (CSEA) had asked its members to show up at the Special Board Meeting on December 18.

    Sources inside OUSD report that the Trustees delay on voting on the Tentative Agreements further complicates the employee's health benefit  situation.  OUSD had consolidated employee health plans under the CALPERS health plan.  The plan offers numerous health package choices to OUSD employees. When open enrollment began, at the beginning of the school year, many of the offered plans had substantial increases but employees could switch to less expensive plans.  Those increases are scheduled to take effect in January.

    The Tentative Agreements reached with the employees provided not only a pay increase, but also covered this year's increases to the various plans.  The employees who changed their health benefits based on the initial announced CALPERS increases in theory could re-evaluate the financial impact  taking into account the Tentative Agreements health benefit items. Based on that re-evaluation, they could then rescind the initial changes they made to their health benefits. 

    However, the deadline for those wishing to rescind health care changes is 10 am Friday December 19th.  That date would of been in plenty of time for employees to re-evaluate  finances if the Tentative Agreements were approved by the Trustees on December 11.  The December 18th date made it imposable for most employees to change, but now with both votes cancelled, the rescinding option appears to now have been taken away from any employees who might have wanted to change back to their original  health plans based on the Tentative Agreements.

    In addition, any employees who did rescind their changes based on the Tentative Agreement's health package, will now be faced with substantial health care increases in January.

    The next regularly scheduled OUEA Board meeting is January 22, 2015.    

    Next OUSD Board Meeting -OUSD BOARD ROOM

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

    ARCHIVAL Information and direct news can be found at:
    the Greater Orange News Service
    ORANGE Unified Schools INSIDE
    and the
    Greater Orange News Service
    are independent news services of /O/N/N/
    Orange Net News

    Tuesday, December 16, 2014



    ORANGE Unified Schools INSIDE
    Independent insight into OUSD      
    a news service of
     Orange Net News /O/N/N/
    OUSD Board calls unprecedented
    special meeting on employee contracts
    At their December 11, 2014 meeting, the Orange Unified School Board without comment withdrew the scheduled Action Item vote on the contract with all of its employee units from the December 11, 2014 Agenda and moved it to an unprecedented end-of-the-year Special Meeting on December 18, 2014.

    OUSD Board President John Ortega announced the move when he called for approval of the December 11 Agenda eliminating Agenda Item 14 D of the published agenda. The OUSD Board voted 7-0 to approve the agenda minus item 14 D- the vote on the "Tentative Agreement between the District and its Related Employee Associations".  The agreements covered the classified employee union, the teacher's association and the administrative leadership organization.  Votes to accept the agreements had already been conducted by the OUSD employees.

    The Orange Unified California School's Employee Association (CSEA) Local 67 immediately  released a statement on the move (bold emphasis from the original) :

    "In a shocking and extraordinary move for the Orange Unified School District (OUSD), the Board of Trustees removed from tonight's agenda the Tentative Agreements scheduled to be approved for CSEA as well as the OUEA."

    As the statement continued, it included:

    "These actions are VERY disturbing to us so soon after the recent elections where Board members who we and OUEA did not support (we in fact endorsed their opponents) are the VERY ONES who moved to table these agreements. If this was indeed their motivation, these actions would be ILLEGAL and CSEA would pursue every legal avenue available to us."  

    "We know that finances cannot be a legitimate concern for the District because despite the failure of passing the recent bond (which was NOT slated for salaries but only for building/repairs) the District STILL enjoys a reserve in EXCESS of $80 million dollars

    The CSEA webpage includes a link to this OUSD Budget Analysis: Click on: BUDGET

    The Orange Unified Education Association (OUEA) website also had a statement to its members which in part reads:

    "The Orange Unified School Board had a series of action items that they were ready to take action on…except for one! The lone item was Action Item 14D; The Tentative Agreements (TA) scheduled to be approved for OUEA as well as for classified employees. The approval of the Tentative Agreements were tabled and will be discussed during a Special Board Meeting on December 18, 2014 at 6 pm."

    Both bargaining units (OUEA & CSEA) have already ratified the agreements which were negotiated with the District’s bargaining team. All that was needed was for the OUSD School Board to approve the TA. Usually it’s a quick mention during the meeting and then life goes on. Now, There is a delay.

    The district’s bargaining team had full authorization from the School Board to complete the TA. Rejecting a tentative agreement negotiated in good faith would establish a poor precedent for future negotiations."

    Trustees Rick Ledesma and Tim Surridge easily won re-election in November despite the fact that their opponents  were  endorsed by the OUSD employee unions. Both Surridge and Ledesma had sought the endorsements of the teacher's union.

    The OUSD Trustees had met once a month in Closed Session with their district negotiators from  for six consecutive months, from March to September of this year. The Tentative Agreements were announced in mid November. Votes by both employee associations to approve the agreements immediately followed. The vote for approval of the agreement by the OUSD Board-considered a mere formality because of the six months of Closed Session meetings with their negotiators  -  was scheduled for the December 11th meeting. 

    During the Great Recession, OUSD employee groups early on  agreed to a series of cost saving measures including furlough days that lasted for years. Those employee concessions along with other cost cutting measures lead Orange Unified to be on solid financial  footing throughout the Great Recession giving it a stellar financial reputation across California. That reputation led OUSD to be one of the first districts in the state to promote its budget director to the district's top job. The financial architect of the OUSD budget miracle, Michael Christensen, was promoted to OUSD Superintendent.  When Christensen's appointment was announced in the OUSD Board Room filled with OUSD employees, the room burst into cheers and applause.

    OUSD Board elects 2014 officers on a 4-3 gender vote
    At the December 11th meeting, the OUSD Trustees voted three times to exclude Dr. Alexia Deligianni for any Board Office along gender lines. Nominated for OUSD Board President, Vice-President and Clerk, all three votes were cast along gender lines. Kathy Moffat, Diane Singer and Dr. Deligianni were out voted on all three votes by the male trustees, John Ortega, Timothy Surridge, Mark Wayland and Rick Ledesma. 

    John Ortega was elected President, Timothy Surridge was elected Vice President and Mark Wayland was elected clerk.

    OUSD Board votes to oppose Killefer site nomination to the National Registries of Historic Places
    Also at the December 11 meeting, during Closed Session, the OUSD Trustees voted  7-0 vote, to oppose the Old Towne Preservation Association attempt to add the former Killerfer School site buildings to the National Register of Historic Places.

    In April 2013,  a split Orange Unified Board  voted in to sell the Killerfer site to Olsen Urban Housing for a housing development.  

    The OPTA is trying to get the site's buildings placed on the National Register of Historic Places as one of the first schools in California to voluntarily desegregate before the landmark 1947 California desegregation case Mendez vs. Westminster. That case included the El Modena School District plaintiff Lorenzo Ramirez as one of the five families that successfully helped end segregated schools in California.  After the case won in California and in a federal appeal, based on the rulings then California Governor Earl Warren signed the law ending segregated schools in California. Warren then went on to be the U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice and it was his court that issued the landmark 1954 U.S. Supreme Court case of Brown vs Topeka Board of Education that ended the "separate by equal" doctrine in public education across the United States, thus ending legal segregated schools.

    The Killerfer School was racially integrated in 1943 when the school for the Hispanic population, the Cypress Street School (located a block away), closed.

    In August, OPTA notified OUSD that they were in the process of getting the Killerfer historic school site placed on the National Register of Historic Places. OPTA has hired a consultant to work on the designation that has included filing documents to nominate the site as historic to the California's State Historical Resources Commission. 

    If the site does get placed on the National Register of Historic Places the buildings could be adapted for re-use, but not destroyed.

    For the National Register of Historic Places: CLICK ON NRHP

    Next OUSD Board Meeting -OUSD BOARD ROOM
    CLOSED SESSION- 6:00 pm
    OUSD Regular Session: 7:30 pm

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

    ARCHIVAL Information and direct news can be found at:
    the Greater Orange News Service
    ORANGE Unified Schools INSIDE
    and the
    Greater Orange News Service
    are independent news services of /O/N/N/
    Orange Net News

    Tuesday, December 09, 2014


    Board elections and plans after K

    ORANGE Unified Schools INSIDE
    Independent insight into OUSD      
    a news service of
     Orange Net News /O/N/N/
    OUSD Board members to remain the same-officer elections to take place at December 11th meeting

    After the November 11th election were voters re-elected all the Orange Unified Trustees who had terms expiring this year, the trustees will vote for Board officers for 2015 at the December 11, 2014 OUSD Board of Trustees Meeting ( Agenda Item 10 A page 4).

    While Trustees Timothy Surridge (53.7%) and Rick Ledesma (56.6%) won their races easily, it should be noted that Kathy Moffat garnered more votes than any candidate in OUSD (or Measure K) with 61.3% of the vote. Trustee Diane Singer had no opponents. Former OUSD Trustee and perennial candidate Steve Rocco received 10% of the vote in the 3-way race in Ledesma's Area 7 contest. Rocco has now pulled papers for the Orange County First Supervisor's Special Election Race joining  six other potential candidates: Lou Correa, Chris Phan, Andrew Do, Mark Lopez, Lupe Morfin-Moreno, and Chuyen Nguyen.

    The November election results keep the OUSD Board in the hands of a majority made up of the male members- John Ortega, Mark Wayland, Rick Ledesma and Timothy Surridge.

    Trustee John Ortega was the OUSD Board President for 2014 becoming one of the most successful Board President's since the Orange Recall.  Ortega for the most part brought civility and order back to the board, despite its polarized membership.  Taking the Board on a widely praised, highly successful and well attended  road trip meetings to the 4 high schools, Ortega was also able to help steer OUSD the closest it had ever come to passing a Facilities Bond. In addition, he averted a fight over the Peralta Property even as the Board sold off other OUSD surplus properties without major difficulties and kept popular OUSD Superintendent Michael Christensen despite an extended review of the superintendent that had stakeholders all over Greater Orange rallying to Christensen's  side on rumors of a potential ousting.

    With the main four Board antagonists all re-elected for another four years, it would seem fitting for Ortega to be the statesman-like leader to work to further ease the tensions on the OUSD Board. By pushing the Board majority to elect the popular Trustee Kathy Moffat ( who received a higher percentage of votes than any trustee or Measure K ) to at least one of the Board offices as a token of continuing Ortega's inclusive leadership style to bringing the OUSD Board together would go a long way in healing a bruised board and community. Will Ortega again rise to meet the current challenge?

    Measure K results to be presented as VP's Pauly is quoted as supporting special School Facility Improvement Districts for local school improvements

    Agenda Item 8A (page 1) on the December 11th OUSD Agenda will report the final election results for the trustee races and for Measure K. Needing a super-majority of 55% to pass, the measure received 54.6% of the vote-coming up under 200 votes short of passing.

    The third defeat for an OUSD Bond measure once again by less than a few hundred votes has many in Greater Orange looking for creative solutions to repair the aging schools. On November 9th Orange Net News reported that school facilities improvement districts were being discussed as a possible solution to addressing critical update needs for some of OUSD schools. On November 11th, an article in The Orange County Register reported OUSD Superintendent Michael Christensen as saying :
    "he was asked after the election by some community members about school facilities improvement districts, which he said he is looking into".

    In a November 24th Orange County Register story, former Villa Park Councilwomen Deborah Pauly (who wrote the ballot language against Measure K and lead the effort to defeat the measure) was quoted as saying that she would support the idea of  school facilities improvement districts. The article states (see link below):

    Pauly said she’d be in support of school-facilities-improvement districts, because the districts would make construction and debt more manageable.

    “I think that’s a very smart idea,” she said. “Because once again, the larger the bureaucracy, the harder it is to control what’s happening.” 

    (link Click on: Pauly) 

    Of course with other sections of Orange Unified outside of Villa Park included in school facilities improvement districts and approving bonds the four Villa Park schools would be surrounded by modern facilities. This scenario would result in the choice of Villa Park residents to have schools that could eventually look like third world facilities. That scenario could see the very real possibility of student flight into better the OUSD and private school facilities with numerous consequences to the city's school's academic and sports programs. With that doomsday scenario for Villa Park  comes plummeting property values and possible school closings- just like almost happened in 1985.
    (link Click on: VP 1985 deja vu )

    Another possible scenario is that a Villa Park centered school facilities improvement district could pass a bond for the four OUSD school's in Villa Park and include money for the mothballed and chained -off historic Villa Park Elementary buildings being restored. Built in 1919 and 1924 as the original Mountain View School (Villa Park's original name) the historic main building features Spanish tiles and a bell tower.  Restoration has long been a goal of Villa Park residents in saving the buildings from being demolished.

    Villa Park Elementary, 1922
    The first attempt to demolish the buildings was in 1998. Saved from demolition, the Villa Park Elementary School Restoration Corp was formed in 1999 to raise money for a restoration-but failed. In 2003 the site was placed on the National Register of Historic Places and in 2008- the site was again barely saved from demolition as supporters tried to drum-up support for a bond to restore the buildings. That effort was never followed-up. Including those historic buildings in a Villa Park facilities district bond maybe the final hope to save the residents of Orange County's "hidden gem" from themselves. 

    INSIDE the December 11 OUSD Board Agenda
    14 A Prop 39 Clean Energy Funds (page 7) -approve 3 firms for spending $1.5 million yearly for five years from Prop 39 monies for OUSD clean energy projects

    14 B Increase OUSD Maintenance Budget (page 8) - add one custodian to the four comprehensive high schools and establish a new administrator- the Executive Director of Facilities and Planning

    14 D Contract Agreements (page 10) - new contract agreements between OUSD and its employee groups

    NEXT OUSD BOARD MEETING December 11, 2014
    Next OUSD Board Meeting -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

    ARCHIVAL Information and direct news can be found at:
    the Greater Orange News Service
    ORANGE Unified Schools INSIDE
    and the
    Greater Orange News Service
    are independent news services of /O/N/N/
    Orange Net News

    Friday, December 05, 2014


    Greater Orange celebrates the holidays

    Greater Orange Holiday Traditions:

    Plaza Tree lighting, Santa's Tour and the

    Villa Park Dryland Boat Parade!

    The Christmas holiday season’s official Greater Orange kickoff celebrates 20 years of tree lighting ceremonies in the Orange Plaza on Sunday December 7, 2014.

    This year's guest narrator will again be retired former Orange Police Department Lt. Dave Hill.

    The free community event as always features the 350 voice Orange Master Chorale choir led by Orange High’s world famous choir director Michael Short with a full orchestra for the traditional Choir Procession and Tree Lighting Ceremony.

    The festivities start at 3:30 pm with food booths and kids activities including those holiday photo ops with none-other than Santa himself followed by the official choir and tree ceremony starting at 5:15 pm. Food will be sold by local non-profit groups for a nominal fee, which goes to support their works in the community. 

    In case of rain please call the official Orange Special Events Hotline for details: 714-744-7278.

    Santa to Tour Villa Park December 13th before heading to back to the North Pole
    Few people outside Villa Park may know that Santa and Mrs. Claus keep their Southern California vacation residence right here in Greater Orange at the Claus Villa in Villa Park. Each year before making the final push towards getting ready for that Christmas Eve world tour, the Claus family spends time at their Villa Park get-a-way. Traditionally, Santa has thanked his home-away-from home neighbors for their welcoming hospitality with the Annual Villa Park Santa Tour winding his way through the Greater Orange “Hidden Jewel” in a bright red fire truck. This year’s tour is Saturday December 13, 2013 from 8:00 am- 5:00 pm.

    The Santa route map is below. For approximate times on various streets and at various intersections CLICK ON:  SANTA TOUR
    Santa has been known to drop by or stop along the route where ever there is a gathering of believers. For more information contact the Villa Park City Hall at 714-998-1500. The Annual Santa Tour is sponsored by the Villa Park Foundation.

    17th Annual Villa Park Great Inland Boat Parade-Sunday December 14th

    Being land-locked never bothered many in Greater Orange, especially in Villa Park where the Annual Great Villa Park Dryland Boat Parade takes place on Sunday December 14th, 2014.

    This year's 17th Annual Dryland Boat Parade called the Parade of Holiday D'Lights, will return to its original starting point of Villa Park High School on Taft Street and again end at the Villa Park Towne Centre.

    Starting at 5:00 pm, the mighty Villa Park Fleet sails to the Villa Park Towne and Community Centre arriving around 6:00 pm. for more hometown holiday festivities including a tree lighting ceremony and entertainment.

    The Great Villa Park Inland Boat Parade is sponsored by the Villa Park Foundation.

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    Greater Orange News Service is a community service of the Orange Communication System /OCS/, the communications arm of the Greater Orange Community Orgainization