Board of Education Votes to Put School Facilities Improvement Measure on June Ballot


Over the past several months, the Irvine Unified School District (IUSD) has been communicating about the possibility of IUSD placing a School Facilities Improvement Measure on the June 2016 ballot, which would enable the District to begin modernizing schools that are more than 30 years old so that they have the same academic and safety features as Irvine’s newer school sites.  During Tuesday’s Board of Education meeting, which included a public hearing on the matter, the Irvine Unified School District Board of Education voted unanimously to place the measure on the ballot and to establish a School Facilities Improvement District (SFID).  The Board heard IUSD staff presentations and public comments from a capacity audience of parents, students and Instagram-logocommunity members before making their decision.

If approved by 55 percent of voters in the areas identified by the SFID this June, the measure will provide an investment of up to $319 million in addressing the serious school facility issues that have been identified. The cost of the measure will be $29 per $100,000 of assessed value, (as opposed to market value, which is typically much higher) over a 30-year period. To provide some perspective, the estimated approximate cost to the average property owner will be about $10 per month.

Funds from this measure would be used to upgrade Irvine’s oldest schools by:

  • Providing the facilities and equipment needed for career and technology classes so students are prepared for college and good paying jobs in fields like science, engineering, technology and skilled trades.
  • Providing classrooms, science labs and school facilities that meet current academic, technology and safety standards.
  • Ensuring that all schools have the classrooms and instructional spaces needed for Irvine’s world class art and music programs.
  • Improving traffic and safety in and around schools.
  • Updating instructional technology in the classroom for improved student learning in core subjects like reading and science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).
  • Replacing aging roofs, plumbing, electrical systems, and heating and cooling systems.
  • Ensuring classrooms, labs and other facilities are accessible for students with disabilities.

Only voters in the neighborhoods served by the oldest schools will vote on this measure and all property owners within the SFID will contribute to this investment in these schools. These are neighborhoods that are not currently receiving local facilities funding.  Most property owners in the newest areas, who are already paying Community Facility District (CFD) fees toward infrastructure and school facility construction, will not be impacted by this measure. However, all IUSD students and families will see benefit from the bond, as most IUSD high schools and middle schools serving graduates of Irvine’s newest and oldest elementary schools will receive significant improvements.

The possibility of a modernization measure comes at a critical time, when funding for IUSD is at an extreme low. As recently reported in the Orange County Register, “Compared to unified districts across the nation, Irvine Unified – with more than 32,000 students enrolled – gets nearly $5,000 less per student; unified districts statewide, on average, get roughly $1,500 more than Irvine Unified does per student.

Schools included under the measure are: 

Elementary/K-8 Schools Middle Schools High Schools

Bonita Canyon          Meadow Park

Brywood                    Northwood

Canyon View            Oak Creek

College Park             Santiago Hills

Culverdale                Springbrook

Deerfield                   Stone Creek

Eastshore                 Turtle Rock

Greentree                 University Park

Meadow Park           Westpark

Northwood                Plaza Vista K-8

Lakeside

Rancho San Joaquin

Sierra Vista

South Lake

Venado

Creekside

Irvine

Northwood

University

Woodbridge

For more information and ongoing updates about the School Facilities Improvement Measure, visit iusd.org/schoolimprovements or email SFIMinfo@iusd.org.  In addition to the information above, the School Facilities Improvement Measure webpage provides the following information:

  • An overview of the need and why the Board voted to place the measure on the June 2016 ballot
  • Frequently asked questions
  • A map of the SFID
  • PDF copies of mailers and information the District has sent to voters
  • IUSD’s Legislative Priorities (including an overview of significant underfunding from the state)
  • General information points
  • Fiscal accountability information
  • Contact information
  • Key definitions

 


IUSD Board Elects New President and Clerk and Certifies ‘Positive’ District Budget


During the Irvine Unified School District’s annual organizational meeting on Tuesday, December 8 — the final session of 2015 — the Board unanimously voted to elect Paul Bokota to a one-year Board Organization Meeting 12.9.15

term as Board President and Ira Glasky to a one-year term as Board Clerk.  Lauren Brooks and Paul Bokota had served as 2015 Board President and Board Clerk, respectively.

After the election, the Board turned its attention to other matters including, the establishment of meeting dates through December 2016, certified the District’s First Interim Report of 2015-16 as ‘positive,’ approved a first and second reading of proposed revisions to the Board Immunization policy, and approved solar vehicle shade structures at the new Beacon Park School and Portola High School.

2016 Board Meeting Dates

The first two regular meetings of 2016 are scheduled for Jan. 12 and 26.  For a full list of meeting dates, click here.

District Budget Update is ‘Positive’

Later in the evening, Assistant Superintendent John Fogarty presented a brief budget update, and the Board voted unanimously to certify IUSD’s First Interim Report of 2015-16 as “positive,” meaning the District will meet its financial obligations for the current and two subsequent fiscal years.

Every school district in California is required to examine and certify its financial condition as positive, qualified or negative twice during each fiscal year. Positive is the ideal certification.  Qualified indicates a district may not be able to meet its financial obligations for the current year and two subsequent fiscal years.  A negative certification is rare and would indicate a district was unable to meet its financial obligations.

Recognizing the length of the current economic recovery and the volatility of the state economy, which is heavily reliant on income taxes, the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) has once again outlined three possible scenarios for California’s economy, ranging from slow, steady growth to a slowdown or worst case scenario, a recession. Fogarty, who oversees Business Services for the District, told the Board that the LAO’s main scenario projects moderate growth through 2019-20, which may lead to steady increases for K-12 schools.

California’s new Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), meanwhile, has increased the amount of base funding for school districts and allocated more dollars to serve English-language learners, low-income students and foster youth. Projected increases have also enabled IUSD to strategically invest the reserves it built up to weather the state’s fiscal crisis, Fogarty said.

That said, there are a number of potential challenges and uncertainties for school districts, which must take a multi-year approach to budgeting. The state’s plan to address the unfunded liability in the California State Teachers’ Retirement System, or CalSTRS, requires districts to contribute significant dollars to help close the gap, and temporary tax increases that went into effect under Proposition 30 will begin to expire in 2016, eliminating a dependable source of state revenue.

In addition, Fogarty highlighted the discrepancies in funding per school district, based on the LCFF, which is heavily weighted to support school districts with higher disadvantaged student populations.  In 2014-15, IUSD received approximately $1,500 less per student than the state average for unified school districts, making IUSD one of the lowest funded districts in California.

Board Immunization Policy

The Board also heard the first reading of changes to the Board Policy 5141.13: Immunization and moved to approve the second reading and amend the policy in accordance with state law.  The law mandates the only reason for immunization exemption is medical and it repealed the personal belief immunization exemption.

Solar Installations

The Board approved solar vehicle shade structures at the new Beacon Park School and Portola High School. This is a continuation of the District’s solar initiative, which was put in place in 2009 and to date has offset District energy costs by nearly $1 million.  Solar vehicle shade structures are installed at 22 District sites, totaling 5.3 megawatts of solar energy production.

Solar vehicle shade panels are scheduled to be installed at both new schools beginning in September 2016.

About the IUSD Board of Education

The IUSD Board of Education is a five member Board, elected from the school district at large, serving four year terms.  The role of the Board is to serve as a policy-making body for the District and is charged with providing the best possible education for the children of the Irvine Unified School District in accordance with the desires of the community, and federal and state laws. Among the Board’s duties is the adoption of the annual budget; approval of expenditures; approve the employment of personnel; approval of the curriculum, textbooks, and courses of study; approval of facility plans and construction contracts.

The twice monthly Board Meetings are typically scheduled on the first and third Tuesday of each month at 6:30 p.m. and are broadcast live on Channel 39.  Members of the public are also welcome to attend in person at 5050 Barranca Parkway, Irvine, CA 92604.  For a list of the 2016 Board Meeting dates click here.


Board selects new president, certifies financial health and OKs advisory committee


The IUSD Board of Education voted unanimously to elect Lauren Brooks to a one-year term as president and Paul Bokota to a one-year term as clerk before turning its attention to the budget and other matters on Tuesday.

LaurenBrooks2The school board’s annual organizational meeting — and the final session of 2014 — began with Superintendent Terry Walker administering the oath of office to incumbent members Sharon Wallin and Ira Glasky, who were the top two vote-getters in the November election. Moments later, Brooks (pictured to the right) was announced as president, and her first act was to commend the leadership of her predecessor, Wallin.

The five-member board also approved school site liaison assignments, appointed representatives to various committees and established meeting dates through next December. The first two regular meetings of 2015 are scheduled for Jan. 13 and Feb. 3.

Latest budget update includes ‘positive’ news

Later in the evening, Assistant Superintendent John Fogarty presented a brief budget update, and the board voted unanimously to certify IUSD’s First Interim Report of 2014-15 as “positive,” meaning the district is expected to meet all of its financial obligations over the next few years.

Every school district in California is required to examine and certify its financial condition as positive, qualified or negative twice during each fiscal year. Positive is the ideal certification, while qualified indicates a district may not be able to meet its financial obligations for the current year and the two subsequent years. (A negative certification is rare and would indicate a district was unable to meet its financial obligations.)

Recognizing the volatility of the state economy and Sacramento’s heavy reliance on income taxes, the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office has outlined three possible scenarios for California’s economy, ranging from a slowdown to a temporary surge. Fogarty, who oversees business services for the district, told the board that the LAO’s most likely scenario projects moderate growth through 2019-20, which may lead to steady increases for K-12 schools.

“It was very unusual for (the LAO) to have three scenarios,” Fogarty told the NewsFlash afterward. “They’ve never done that before. While things look good right now, we know they could change very quickly.”

California’s new Local Control Funding Formula, meanwhile, has increased the amount of base funding for school districts and allocated more dollars to serve English-language learners, low-income students and foster youth. Projected increases have also enabled IUSD to strategically invest the reserves it built up to weather the state’s fiscal crisis, Fogarty said.

That said, there are a number of potential challenges and uncertainties for school districts, which must take a multi-year approach to budgeting. The state’s plan to address the unfunded liability in the California State Teachers’ Retirement System, or CalSTRS, requires districts to contribute significant dollars to help close the gap, and temporary tax increases that went into effect under Proposition 30 will begin to expire in 2016, eliminating a dependable source of state revenue.

As we’ve mentioned here before, the state’s new funding model mandates that school districts develop comprehensive accountability plans with stakeholder input that show how local resources are being directed toward measurable objectives for student achievement and school climate, and because these are three-year plans, funding is often earmarked in advance. IUSD crafted its first Local Control and Accountability Plan last year and will soon be reaching out to the community to update priorities for the 2015-16 and 2016-17 school years while considering options for 2017-18.

Board approves new education advisory committee

Lastly, the board voted to establish a new education advisory committee that will review and discuss critical educational issues and district initiatives.

The committee, requested by board members in November, will comprise two appointees from each board member along with the superintendent, the assistant superintendent of education services, a PTA representative, three teachers, a student representative and a representative of the California School Employees Association.


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.

IUSD Board of Education approves accountability plan, adopts budget for 2014-15


The IUSD Board of Education has adopted a spending plan for the 2014-15 school year.

The plan, which reflects the state’s latest projections from May, as well as the district’s priorities from a brand new accountability report, outlines $257.8 million worth of expenditures – both restricted and unrestricted – against $246.9 million worth of total revenue. The difference will be offset by one-time dollars, as IUSD looks to strategically spend down reserves it built up to weather the state’s fiscal crisis.

IUSD 2014-15 Adopted BudgetJohn Fogarty, assistant superintendent of business services, led a brief presentation on the district’s finances on Tuesday, June 24 before the board approved the plan by way of a 3-0 vote. (The “yes” votes came from President Sharon Wallin and members Lauren Brooks and Ira Glasky. Michael Parham and Paul Bokota were not in attendance.)

This is actually IUSD’s second budget under the state’s Local Control Funding Formula, which has increased base levels of funding for K-12 education while channeling greater resources toward English-language learners, low-income students and foster youth. Yet it’s the first budget to factor in priorities from the district’s new Local Control and Accountability Plan, or LCAP, which documents measurable objectives for achievement and school climate with input from parents and other community stakeholders.

Based on the new funding levels and the district’s LCAP, IUSD’s budget calls for a decrease in class sizes by two students in kindergarten through grade six and one student in grades seven through 12. In addition, the district is investing in professional development opportunities for staff, as well as curriculum development, technology and mental health.

Before the budget vote, board members unanimously approved the Local Control and Accountability Plan, which had been recently revised based on stakeholder feedback. Alan Schlichting, director of student support services, said changes included the addition of a full-time mental health coordinator and an online learning coordinator, along with the restoration of site mental health support, including guidance assistants at the elementary level and Project Success staff at the secondary level. (You can access IUSD’s completed LCAP here.)

Here are some other takeaways from Tuesday night’s budget presentation:

●  Governor Brown’s new formula — the aforementioned LCFF — establishes a target level of funding for school districts for the 2020-21 school year. Until then, districts can expect to receive annual increases called “gap funding,” referencing the gap between what they currently get and the target amount for 2020-21. IUSD’s gap funding in 2014-15 is approximately $20 million, and an increase of nearly $18 million is projected for the 2015-16 school year, meaning IUSD will go through a similar process of analyzing its needs and priorities next year. (By contrast, IUSD was forced to make approximately $38 million worth of one-time and ongoing reductions during the state budget crisis.)

●  California’s proposed budget includes a plan to address the unfunded liability in the California State Teachers’ Retirement System, or CalSTRS. Though the remedy asks employers, employees and the state to contribute additional dollars to resolve the shortfall — which has been estimated at $74 billion — much of the burden would fall on employers, which would see gradual increases through 2021. Under the plan, IUSD would pay $800,000 in 2014-15, part of a projected cumulative total of more than $15 million by 2020-21.

●  Though the state budget picture is bright for school districts, there are still a number of challenges and unknowns. Fogarty said there are no guarantees that the Local Control Funding Formula will continue to be implemented as planned — or that school districts will receive their targeted levels of funding. Moreover, the temporary tax increases that went into effect under Proposition 30 will begin to expire in 2016, drying up a source of state revenue. Enrollment growth, the Affordable Care Act and shifts in the state and national economies could also impact IUSD’s budget, Fogarty said.

●  IUSD’s budget projections were developed with the guidance of the Orange County Department of Education, School Services of California, the California Association of School Business Officials and other agencies.


Ira Glasky leads trio of candidates in special Board of Education election


With nearly all ballots tallied from Tuesday’s special election, attorney Ira Glasky has emerged as the top vote-getter in the race for an open seat on the IUSD Board of Education.

[Updated at 12:54 p.m. on June 10]

Ira GlaskyGlasky, formerly a member of the district’s Finance Committee, has received 7,529 votes, or 43.3 percent of the total, with all 88 precincts reporting. Carolyn Inmon, a retired teacher, is second with 6,247 votes, or 35.9 percent. Bob Vu, an educator, scientist and entrepreneur, has 3,627 votes, or 20.8 percent. (You can access official results from the Orange County Registrar of Voters here.)

After Dr. Gavin Huntley-Fenner announced his resignation in October, board members had to decide whether to hold a special election that would cost IUSD hundreds of thousands of dollars or make a provisional appointment for the one-year balance of the term. They chose the second option and selected Glasky to serve through November 2014. But petitioners later gathered enough signatures to invalidate the appointment process and force a special election.

Pending the tally of some additional absentee ballots and certification of the results, Glasky is poised to once again take over a seat set to expire in December, though he has indicated his intent to run for a full four-year term in the Nov. 4 election.

The Board of Education is the chief policy-making body for the Irvine Unified School District, comprising five members elected at large by Irvine voters.


IUSD buoyed by improving economy and state’s renewed investment in K-12 education


At its March 18 meeting, the IUSD Board of Education voted to certify the Second Interim Report as “positive,” meaning the district expects to meet all of its financial obligations for the current year and two subsequent years.

That may have been a given, but it’s been a while since the state economic outlook was this promising.

Prior to the board’s vote, Assistant Superintendent of Business Services John Fogarty shared very encouraging revenue projections and outlined the impacts of Governor Jerry Brown’s new K-12 funding model.

Second Interim Report for 2014“The governor’s proposal provides a very strong investment in education (and) the greatest increase in per-pupil spending that we’ve seen in over a decade, since 2000-2001,” Fogarty told board members. “So not only are we coming out of some very bad years, but we’re coming out in a big, strong way.”

The 2012 passage of Proposition 30 and an improving state economy have led to the robust revenue forecasts, which are key to implementing the governor’s Local Control Funding Formula, also known as the LCFF.

Intended to channel more funds toward students with greater needs, the LCFF begins with a base level of funding that is the same for all districts, though the amount allocated per student differs slightly by grade level. Next comes a layer of supplemental funding that adds 20 percent of the base for every English-language learner, low-income student and foster youth. There is a third layer known as a concentration grant that’s equal to an additional 50 percent of the base, but only for schools and districts where English-learners, low-income students and foster youth make up 55 percent of the total enrollment. IUSD doesn’t qualify for the latter.

The governor’s spending plan allocates about $4.5 billion in LCFF funding, providing an average increase of approximately $755 per student. That equates to a projected increase of $20 million for IUSD, which has an annual unrestricted budget of about $230 million.

In anticipation of the restored funding, the district is working to develop a list of needs and priorities that will be presented to the board for discussion and further direction in April. Superintendent Terry Walker said IUSD was also collecting feedback from local stakeholders in the community as part of the process of developing its Local Control and Accountability Plan, or LCAP.

IUSD was forced to make approximately $38 million in one-time and ongoing cuts as a result of the state budget crisis, and that’s left a number of significant needs to address. Though big decisions lie ahead, Tuesday’s financial update was certainly welcome news after years of troubling forecasts.

“It’s hard to imagine for those on the board and those of us in education that just 16 months ago we were looking at some very dire cuts that were facing education without the passage of Proposition 30,” Fogarty said.

“The district has done a really good job of setting itself up financially, so we can make some really sound decisions moving forward,” he added.


Board of Education discusses potential options for district’s fifth comprehensive high school


IUSD’s planned fifth comprehensive high school was once again the topic of an in-depth discussion at Tuesday night’s Board of Education meeting.

Among the key takeaways this time around, staff members and planning consultants affirmed that the potential location known as Site A — owned by Heritage Fields, developer of the Great Park Neighborhoods, and situated near the northeast border of the Orange County Great Park — has undergone a rigorous environmental review and will likely be cleared by the Department of Toxic Substances Control in early April. Approval by the California Department of Education would presumably follow. By contrast, the alternate location known as Site B, which is on west side of the former El Toro base, could require extensive environmental mitigation.

IUSD has been working with Heritage Fields to carry out the terms of agreements that call for construction and operation of a fifth high school on property to be transferred from Heritage Fields to IUSD. The campus would serve students generated by the Great Park Neighborhoods and accommodate other enrollment growth within IUSD. Meanwhile, the agreements also call for kindergarten-through-eighth-grade facilities to be constructed to serve incoming Great Park Neighborhoods students.

But even with Site A emerging as the preferred option for the fifth high school project — if not the only viable option — there are no guarantees that IUSD can start construction in June of this year as planned.

Lloyd Linton, IUSD’s director of facilities planning and construction, outlined four construction schedule scenarios for the board based on when the district might officially acquire Site A. Under the first two, which are possible if the land is secured by either April 30 or August 15, the campus could be completed on time for its scheduled opening in the fall of 2016. Beyond that, the completion date would be pushed further into the 2016-17 school year.

While IUSD will continue to abide by the terms of the agreements with Heritage Fields, the board, on the motion of member Michael Parham, voted unanimously to create another possible scenario Tuesday night, directing staff to confer with the neighboring Saddleback Valley Unified School District to determine if it’s feasible to transfer land to that district. Such a scenario would not impact families currently living in IUSD.

“I look at this and I say, either we have a school that’s built immediately and ready to fill,” Parham said, “or we cede the land to Saddleback and let (students) go to another school.”

IUSD has indicated it must open its fifth comprehensive high school by fall 2016 to accommodate development from the Great Park Neighborhoods, as well as other developments, and to avoid crowding at Irvine, Northwood, University and Woodbridge high schools. With the planning process spanning several years, the district and its developer partners have agreements in place for the 40-acre Site A. Meanwhile, a member of the Irvine City Council has advocated for the alternative Site B, but that property has not been fully removed from the EPA’s Superfund list of hazardous sites.

A boundary change could eliminate the need to move further with either site by shifting the incoming residential development to the Saddleback Valley district. But that possibility is only a topic of discussion at this point, as the board’s vote merely directs staff members to open a dialog with their Saddleback Valley counterparts. Moreover, IUSD would still need to open a fifth high school eventually because more growth is anticipated. For that reason, the board also directed staff to explore land acquisition options with the Irvine Company.

While school districts generally hold a favorable view of enrollment growth, board member Parham expressed concern that new homes to the north might bring in more students than projected, and that could jeopardize the high school experience for the families IUSD has already been entrusted to serve.

“I’m not getting comfort that we’re going to have enough seats,” he said, “and I’m not getting comfort that (our current) middle school students aren’t going to get stuck in a very overcrowded high school.”

Board President Sharon Wallin agreed, noting that the district was also planning on building a K-8 school and perhaps another elementary school and middle school on the former site of the El Toro Marine Corps Air Station.

“That’s a lot of schools in the area,” she said. “Look at how long it took to determine that (Site A) is a clean piece of land. Every single site, we’re going to be going through this because it’s all going to be on the base.”


Board of Education approves first reading of three-year plan outlining technology goals


IUSD board members on Tuesday approved the first reading of a three-year Technology Master Plan detailing the district’s goals for leveraging technology to improve student outcomes.

Chief Technology Officer Brianne Ford led a comprehensive presentation on the document, which outlines current technology use, instructional objectives, staff development, infrastructure needs, costs and ongoing oversight. Guided by a 32-member steering committee, the plan, which has been in development since May 2012 and has already been shared with district leaders, post-secondary institutions and business leaders.

Specific curriculum goals are accompanied by measurable benchmarks and address the use of collaborative classroom tools, as well as problem-solving techniques, presentation skills, complex analysis and responsible use. Kris Linville, IUSD’s educational technology coordinator, said these goals were designed to align with another important document — IUSD’s Continuous Improvement Efforts, which outlines essential capacities for students and staff.

“As you go through the tech plan, you’ll notice that the essential capacities are reflected in all of the goals,” he said.

Linville added that professional learning is also embedded in the plan, ensuring teachers and staff will be capable and comfortable using 21st century tools.

While district leaders have acknowledged that technology will never take the place of great classroom teaching, there’s no doubt that its reach is expanding exponentially, requiring college students and career-seekers to possess a broader technological skill set. Meanwhile, schools and districts across the nation are utilizing web-based innovations to make the work of educators and support staff more efficient and effective.

Still, IUSD has some infrastructure obstacles to overcome if it hopes to realize its technological ambitions. Marty Danko, director of information services, told board members that the district’s data center is underpowered and network bandwidth is insufficient to support modern teaching and learning. Out at the school sites, he said, the majority of cabling is more than 17 years old, and most of the hardware is at least eight years old. Wireless equipment is also aging and unable to support current bandwidth needs.

IUSD has an ongoing technology budget of approximately $5 million, or about $160 per student. Upgrades, Ford said, will require additional resources.

The board is expected to approve a second reading and adoption of the tech plan at its December meeting. A technology steering committee — this group will comprise teachers, administrators, support staff, parents, students, business leaders and post-secondary partners — will ultimately be responsible for implementing and monitoring the plan, meeting quarterly starting in February 2014.

To access the plan, click here. To view the slide presentation from Tuesday’s meeting, click here, or on the photo above.


IUSD Board of Education discusses district’s fifth high school and proposed alternative site


This week, the IUSD Board of Education engaged in a marathon discussion over the district’s fifth comprehensive high school and a possible alternative location.

No action was taken by board members on Tuesday night, but over the course of several hours district staff and consultants delivered a detailed presentation that covered the pros and cons associated with both sites, as well as IUSD’s mitigation agreements with developers, the state’s process for site approval, joint-use possibilities with the City of Irvine, timing and the financial implications of switching locations.

With residential development on the rise, IUSD has repeatedly articulated the need to open a fifth comprehensive high school in the fall of 2016 to prevent significant overcrowding at its other high school campuses. To that end, the district and its partnering developers have agreements in place for a 40-acre chunk of property near the northeast border of the Orange County Great Park, generally referred to as Site A.

But a member of the Irvine City Council has proposed an alternative parcel for the school, and on Sept. 10 the City Council voted to offer 40 acres of city-owned land on the west side of the Great Park, known as Site B, for the district’s consideration.

IUSD is now reviewing both sites. But, as was shared on Tuesday, it’s far more complicated than simply deciding between two locations. For starters, there are complex legal agreements in place with multiple developers, and the review process for Site B is just beginning, making it highly unlikely that a campus could open at that location in 2016. There are also significant costs associated with changing sites, including hefty state fees and the price of temporarily housing an influx of high school students elsewhere if the project is delayed a year or two.

The bottom line is that any location is bound to have its pluses and minuses. While proponents of Site B have noted that Site A is slated to be part of a residential development that is closer to the minimum-security James A. Musick Facility, there is no evidence to suggest that facility poses an increased safety threat. Meanwhile, there are safety concerns and questions that need to be answered as part of the evaluation process for Site B, which would be located in a more heavily trafficked area of the Orange County Great Park.

“We know what Site A is,” board member Sharon Wallin said. “So do you take Site A, or do you take what’s behind the door? … At this point I don’t know that it’s been unveiled.”

Needless to say, state and federal agencies have high standards for building new schools, and IUSD’s school board members expressed their commitment to putting students first. IUSD will continue vetting both sites on concurrent tracks, leading up to complete site reviews by the California Department of Education.