UCI invites local middle schoolers to watch college hoops and showcase math skills


Listen up, middle school math enthusiasts — especially those of you who happen to be fans of college hoops.

UCI Math Night2UC Irvine and the Irvine Public Schools Foundation are inviting IUSD middle schoolers and their families to catch a free basketball game featuring the mighty Anteaters against the University of Texas at Arlington as part of UCI’s first-ever “Mathletics Night.”

Of course, as the name implies, there’s a little bit of a twist here. During the first half, participating students will be challenged to track game statistics and calculate percentages, with the top scorers earning prizes provided by UCI.

Each IUSD middle school student — and teacher — is eligible for up to four free tickets to the game, which tips off at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 13. Additional tickets may also be purchased. Those interested should RSVP no later than Nov. 28 by clicking here.

Tickets are on a first-come, first-served basis while supplies last. For more information, click to enlarge the flier.


IUSD will seek input from local stakeholders during update of accountability plan


Parents, teachers, students, staff and community members are once again being encouraged to weigh in on IUSD’s goals for achievement and school climate as the district begins the months-long process of updating its three-year Local Control and Accountability Plan.

You may recall that the LCAP was introduced last year as a requirement under California’s new funding formula, which increased local control while allocating more resources to schools that serve low-income students, English-learners and foster youth. By law, each district’s accountability plan must be submitted by July 1, outlining annual goals as well as plans for taking action and measuring progress on a number of fronts, including academic achievement, school climate, access to a broad curriculum and parent engagement.

LCAP 111914At Tuesday night’s Board of Education meeting, Alan Schlichting, IUSD’s director of student support services, previewed the process that will be used to update Irvine’s plan. You can scroll through his presentation here, but essentially the timetable begins with community presentations and district communications in November and December, followed by stakeholder meetings to gather input in January and February.

In March and April, the community will get to review a draft of the LCAP and offer additional feedback, both in person and through an online survey. The school board is expected to hold a public hearing and adopt the finalized plan in May or June.

Because districts must annually develop LCAPs that cover three years, Schlichting said the task facing IUSD is to update priorities that were drafted for the 2015-16 and 2016-17 school years, while considering options for 2017-18.

“Remembering that this is a three-year plan, many of the actions that we put into the plan are multi-year steps that will grow in cost over time,” he said, “and those have been budgeted through 2016-17.”

“We may have additional funds that are available,” he added. “We’ll learn about that with the release of the governor’s 2015-16 state budget in January, and at that point we’ll consider additional actions to our LCAP.”

Schlichting noted that IUSD is also moving forward with a number of state and local initiatives, including implementation of Common Core standards, new state assessments, the establishment of Next Generation Science Standards and technology integration. The LCAP, meanwhile, requires progress in eight areas — credentials and instructional materials, academic standards and implementation of the Common Core, parental involvement, pupil achievement, pupil engagement, school climate, access and enrollment, and pupil outcomes.

With those in mind, IUSD identified four goals for its 2014-2017 LCAP. They are: Ensure all students attain proficiency in the current content standards; ensure access to rigorous and relevant learning tools, resources and skills for all staff and students; cultivate a positive school culture and system of supports for student personal and academic growth; and communicate effectively and form strategic alliances to secure the support and resources necessary to deliver our vision.

Progress will be being measured using a number of metrics, including results from the California English Language Development Tests, universal screening assessment data, California High School Exit Exam pass rates, graduation rates, statistics that show completion of UC and CSU requirements, as well as drop-out, attendance, suspension and expulsion data.

“We’ll be sharing with the board data on how we’re progressing in those areas as we move through the year,” Schlichting said.

IUSD NewsFlash will post more LCAP information in the weeks and months ahead to promote opportunities for public input. In the meantime, you may want to peruse Tuesday night’s slide presentation, which includes details about IUSD’s objectives, along with funding information and next steps. You can also learn more by exploring these links:

IUSD’s Local Control and Accountability Plan 2014-2017
IUSD’s LCFF and LCAP informational webpage
California Department of Education LCFF Overview and Frequently Asked Questions
A Vision For IUSD: Irvine Unified School District’s Strategic Initiatives

Also Tuesday night:

  • The Board of Education and staff engaged in a lengthy discussion of dual language immersion programs, with a specific emphasis on Spanish, to understand the pros and cons and to determine if such a program would benefit a significant number of Irvine students. You can scroll through the accompanying slide presentation here.
  • The board also approved a formal request to the Irvine Public Schools Foundation, outlining priorities for the 2014-15 school year. Funding areas will once again focus on class-size support, music in kindergarten through the third grade, instructional assistants for music classes in grades four through six, school nurses, athletic trainers and the Naviance counseling program.

O.C. Register laptop program helps bring 140 Chromebook computers to IUSD


You may have already heard about the Orange County Register’s laptop program, which enables supporters of local schools to dispatch a Chromebook to their favorite K-12 campus every time they purchase a new annual subscription to the newspaper.

Well, thanks to that program — forged from a unique partnership involving the Register, FivePoint Communities and the Orange County Department of Education — 140 Samsung Chromebooks are on their way to classrooms in Irvine.

Chromebook donationIUSD Superintendent Terry Walker personally took delivery of the boxed-up computers at the District Office on Thursday, Nov. 13 during a brief ceremony that featured FivePoint Communities President and CEO Emile Haddad; FivePoint Executive Vice President Lynn Jochim; Aaron Kushner, CEO of Freedom Communications, which publishes the Register; and Dr. Al Mijares, Orange County’s superintendent of schools.

“This donation aligns with our district’s ongoing efforts to use technology to increase student engagement while maximizing the time and talents of our staff,” Walker said. “We are extremely grateful to the Orange County Register, Freedom Communications and FivePoint Communities for putting these resources in the hands of students.”

The Register has now donated more than 600 Chromebooks to 75-plus schools in Orange County since launching its laptop program in September 2013. The latest batch was made possible by FivePoint Communities, which is gifting newspaper subscriptions to new homebuyers in Irvine’s Pavilion Park — and allowing residents to decide which schools get the accompanying laptops.

“Two of our founding principles are learning and connecting,” CEO Haddad said. “This program motivates Orange County’s students and our dedicated teachers to achieve both.”

For those unfamiliar with Chromebooks, they’re cloud-based systems with solid-state drives, making them quick to power up when they’re needed. Because IUSD schools already have WiFi access, they can be used in most classrooms, allowing students to fulfill assignments in programs such as Google Apps and the Chrome browser. They can also be used to take the new web-based assessments aligned with the state’s instructional standards.

The Register’s Kushner said Chromebooks have the capability to enhance interactions with students while promoting technological proficiency.

“To the extent that we as a community can connect to one another, and unlock students’ passion for learning,” he said, “the ultimate outcome will be improving and strengthening our communities.”

Set to be divvied among 18 sites, IUSD’s Chromebooks are helping to move educators away from the traditional “computer lab” mindset toward an environment where technology can be deployed anywhere and anytime, Superintendent Walker said.

“Historically, if a teacher has wanted her students to conduct research or write papers, she has had to reserve a computer lab weeks in advance,” he said. “With Chromebooks, teachers are able to wheel them in on a cart and work seamlessly in their classroom environment.”

“It is wonderful to see the community coming together to enhance our schools’ online capabilities by supporting the laptop program,” added county Superintendent Mijares. “Technology facilitates how students can learn, collaborate and apply their knowledge toward complex subjects. The laptop program is a wonderful extension of our vision to lead the nation and the world in how we integrate technology into Orange County’s classrooms.”


Uni High theater department to bring ‘Stardust’ to the stage Nov. 19-22


Uni showThe University High School Theatre Arts Department will present “Stardust,” a comedy written by Walter Kerr, Nov. 19 through Nov. 22 in the big theater. All shows are scheduled to start at 7 p.m.

Set in 1946, “Stardust” is considered a spoof of method acting and the Actor’s Studio, following students at the Dramatic and Allied Arts as they wait for the arrival of a well-known Broadway actress who’s set to guest star in their summer repertory production.

Uni drama teacher Ranae Bettger tells us more than 50 Uni students in the cast and crew are currently working to bring the show to the stage.

Tickets are $20 for orchestra seats, $13 for general admission, $10 for Uni students with ASB cards and $7 for senior citizens and children.

You can secure your seats now at www.seatyourself.biz/iusd or by visiting the little theater — also known as Room 223 — weekdays during snack and lunchtime. Guests may also purchase tickets from the box office on the night of each show.


City of Irvine records nation’s lowest violent crime rate for 10th consecutive year


A safe city generally means safer schools. So we felt it was newsworthy to mention here that, for the 10th straight year, Irvine boasts the nation’s lowest per-capita violent crime rate among cities with a population of at least 100,000.

IrvineFigures indicating as much were released this week as part of the FBI’s latest Annual Uniform Crime Report. Spanning all of 2013, the report reveals that last year marked a new per-capita low for violent crime in Irvine, which is home to nearly 250,000 residents.

“This is really great news for our community,” Irvine Police Chief David Maggard said. “This is clearly a city-wide effort, and I am most grateful for the incredible work of the men and women of the Irvine Police Department.”

The Irvine Unified School District is also extremely grateful to the IPD, which has been a model for effective and proactive community service. Among its many assists to IUSD, the department provides school resource officers for the district’s middle and high school campuses and dispatches D.A.R.E. officers to Irvine’s elementary schools.


IUSD adds more solar panels, forecasts up to $8 million in long-term savings


IrvineHS-010 (2)

IUSD has reached another milestone in its ongoing drive to offset energy costs with solar power.

Last week, it was announced that solar installations at three schools have been completed, capping the second phase of the ambitious district-wide initiative.

Vehicle shade structures topped with solar tiles are now producing electricity at Stonegate and Woodbury elementary schools, as well as University High School. With these new structures online, IUSD now powers 22 sites with the help of photovoltaic systems, and the district is expecting to avoid $5 million to $8 million in utility costs over the next 20 years.

“We accomplished this with zero up-front costs and zero maintenance costs through a power-purchase agreement with SunEdison,” says Mark Sontag, IUSD’s director of math, science and career technical education. “That extra budget means more resources for our teachers and students.”

NorthwoodHS-039 (1)Since 2010, IUSD has authorized the installation of solar panels on the rooftops of more than a dozen schools — that’s Irvine High School pictured above — and vehicle shade structures capable of harnessing the sun’s rays have been constructed in the parking lots of 11 sites, including the District Office and the Maintenance and Operations center. (Shade structures at Northwood High are shown to the right.)

The systems were all built by SunEdison, which agreed to sell power back to IUSD at a rate that is both predictable and consistently below what the local utility charges. In exchange, SunEdison qualifies for tax incentives that public agencies can’t access.

IUSD’s solar panels generate about 25 percent to 60 percent of each campus’ electrical consumption, but Sontag notes that the benefits go way beyond savings. The installations also serve as the basis for standards-based instruction, allowing students to learn about photovoltaic technology on their own campuses as they track energy production and consumption in real time.

“The Irvine Unified School District is a wonderful success story and a role model for other school districts,” said Sam Youneszadeh, managing director of west coast distributed generation at SunEdison. “They’re inspiring to us, and we hope many more schools are able to follow their lead and invest more on education by reducing their energy bill.”

A third phase of IUSD’s solar initiative would add panels at Cypress Village and Portola Springs elementary schools in 2015.


All IUSD schools and offices to be closed Tuesday in honor of Veterans Day


Just a friendly reminder that all IUSD schools and offices will be closed on Tuesday, Nov. 11, in honor of Veterans Day. The federal holiday honoring the men and women who have served in the military is observed annually on Nov. 11.

To learn more about the history of Veterans Day, click here. And we’ll see you back at school on Wednesday.


‘Reading is the Goal’ for Greentree Elementary students and the Anaheim Ducks


Giant Duck

Greentree Elementary students took advantage of a pretty fortuitous power play last week, sharing their campus with representatives of the Anaheim Ducks for a daylong literacy celebration.

“Reading is the Goal Day” was the name of the event that drew a flock of Ducks out to the Manzanita Avenue school, including left wing Matt Beleskey, right wing Devante Smith-Pelly, broadcaster Kent French, members of the Power Players squad and, of course, Wild Wing, the prominent-billed mascot.

Presenting the jersey“It was so cool,” Principal Tamara Brown said, “I became a hockey fan.”

Starting at around 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, Nov. 6, Ducks staff members began visiting Greentree classrooms to read stories, field questions and discuss the importance of literacy. The day wrapped up with a 45-minute assembly for a sea of orange fourth- and fifth-graders, featuring Beleskey and Smith-Pelly.

Naturally, there was some hockey in between.

During lunch, students had an opportunity to play street hockey on the playground thanks to the Anaheim Ducks Street Team, which set up a pair of rinks and provided personnel to man them.

“There was so much excitement and enthusiasm around here,” Principal Brown told the NewsFlash afterward. “It was just electrifying. And there were people here from all parts of the organization, from food services to H.R. to P.R., all talking about how important reading is in their jobs. Our kids were just ecstatic.”

Street hockeyReading is the Goal Day is an annual component of the Ducks’ S.C.O.R.E. program — the acronym stands for Scholastic Curriculum of Recreation and Education — which was created to reward students for their time spent reading within a 30-day period.

Greetreen has participated in the S.C.O.R.E. program since its inception in 2005-06. For hosting Thursday’s celebration, the school was presented with a framed jersey signed by the entire Ducks team, books for the school library and street hockey equipment.


District security supervisor recognized for his role in October burglary arrest


IUSD’s security supervisor was honored this week by the Irvine Rotary Club in partnership with the Irvine Police Department for actions that led to the arrest of a burglary suspect last month.

Don GrudemDon Grudem, who joined the district as a campus control assistant in 1994, was presented with the Public Safety Partnership Award on Wednesday morning during a Rotary Club meeting at the Irvine Rancho Community Center.

“It is an honor to receive this award,” Grudem told the NewsFlash, “especially when it’s for doing your job.”

“You don’t set out to win awards,” he added. “You do your job because it’s what you love to do.”

Grudem was on the job at about 4:30 in the morning on Oct. 7 — which also happened to be his birthday — when he ran into a stranger exiting a classroom at Canyon View Elementary School. After a brief conversation, the quick-thinking supervisor took a photo of the man with his smartphone and contacted police.

The suspect fled the scene but was arrested about three hours later.

To recognize his vigilance, Grudem was presented with a framed certificate — he’s pictured holding it above — as well as a modest cash award. But there are even greater rewards for his daily work.

“The real honor for me is being part of this partnership with the community, the Irvine Police Department and our staff,” he said.


Incumbents Wallin and Glasky re-elected to the IUSD Board of Education


Incumbents Sharon Wallin and Ira Glasky will retain their seats on the IUSD Board of Education after receiving the most votes in Tuesday’s election.

Sharon and Ira FEATUREDTwo seats were up for grabs on the five-member school board, which sets policy for the district. With ballots tallied from all 92 precincts, Wallin, who currently serves as board president, has earned a fourth four-year term with 15,845 votes, or 39.3 percent of the total. Glasky, an attorney who joined the board following a special election in June, secured his first full term with 15,150 votes, or 37.6 percent.

Challenger Bob Vu, an educator, scientist and entrepreneur, finished third with 9,332 votes, or 23.1 percent.

The Board of Education is the chief policy-making body for the Irvine Unified School District, comprising five members elected at large by IUSD voters. Its next meeting is Tuesday, Nov. 18.

For more local election results, visit the Orange County Registrar of Voters website.

[Editor’s note: This post has been updated to include the latest vote count.]