IUSD cautiously projects positive balances, though state budget outlook is uncertain

While the state budget picture remains cloudy, IUSD is cautiously projecting positive ending balances through 2011-12, Assistant Superintendent Lisa Howell told the Board of Education this week.

That means IUSD, which has cut nearly $38 million over two years, should not have to make additional reductions to file its First Interim Report with the preferred “positive” certification. (First Interim Reports are submitted to the Orange County Department of Education every fall. They essentially signal a district’s financial health.) Still, Howell noted during Tuesday’s Budget Study Session that uncertainties remain in Sacramento, where legislators have yet to adopt a budget for the current fiscal year.

Meanwhile, school districts throughout California are hoping for some relief via a federal jobs bill that was signed into law in August. Howell said key details of that allocation have yet to be announced, but it is believed IUSD’s share will be approximately $5 million.

Tuesday’s budget session was followed by a regular meeting of the Board of Education. To read a recap, click here.

IPSF’s inaugural Spirit of Excellence Gala and Auction raises more than $200,000 for schools

“Live from Irvine, it’s Friday night!”

So proclaimed Nasim Pedrad, a “Saturday Night Live” cast member and former Trojan from University High School, during the Irvine Public Schools Foundation’s inaugural Spirit of Excellence Gala and Auction, which was held Sept. 10 at the Irvine headquarters of Kia Motors America.

The black-tie event, which featured a cocktail reception and silent auction followed by dinner, a live auction, performances and dancing, honored five exceptional IUSD graduates – and raised more than $200,000 for schools in Irvine. Nearly 400 guests attended, including IUSD Board of Education members Sharon Wallin, Sue Kuwabara, Gavin Huntley-Fenner and Carolyn McInerney, Irvine Mayor Sukhee Kang, Congressman John Campbell (R-Irvine), city officials, district staff, community leaders and various movers and shakers from the business community.

IPSF CEO Neda Zaengle

In addition to Pedrad, the IPSF gala recognized Jeremy Siskind, a former musical wunderkind from Irvine High who became a pianist for Eastman Jazz of New York City; Dr. Richard Baick, a Uni High grad who is now a physician with the Irvine Family Practice Medical Group; Garrett Atkins, another Uni grad who went on to play with the Colorado Rockies and Baltimore Orioles; and Woodbridge High’s Adam Keefe, a former member of the NBA’s Utah Jazz and the fifth leading scorer in the history of the PAC-10.

Foundation CEO Neda Zaengle, addressing the crowd, said IUSD’s alumni were emblematic of the district’s successes.

“If you really want to know about a school system, if you really want to rate its quality, meet a few of its graduates,” Zaengle said. “Who did they become? What did they bring to their communities, and how have they enriched their work, their relationships and their everyday deeds?”

Prizes displayed for the silent and live auctions included upscale dinners, artwork and signed sports memorabilia. In the end, these items – and the generosity of those in attendance - helped IPSF raise more than $200,000 for local schools, shattering all expectations.

Corporate sponsors for the gala included Kia, Wells Fargo, Hoag Hospital Irvine, Kaiser Permanente, Vizio, Schools First Federal Credit Union, Grandpoint Bank, the Great Park Communities, MVE and Partners and the South Coast Chinese Cultural Center.

IPSF reports brisk ticket sales for next month’s inaugural Spirit of Excellence Gala and Auction

The Irvine Public Schools Foundation says tickets for its inaugural gala are selling briskly, and corporate sponsorships for the event are still available. 

The Spirit of Excellence Gala and Auction, which will be held on Friday, Sept. 10, at the KIA Motors America headquarters in Irvine, aims to celebrate the achievements of five accomplished IUSD alumni while generating much-needed funding for local schools. 

“We are delighted with the support we have received from the local business community and Irvine families for this event and we’re looking to make this gala the biggest event for supporting education in Irvine’s history,” said IPSF chief Neda Zaengle.

“Great schools make it easier for local employers to attract exceptional professionals,” Zaengle said. “We’re looking for additional corporate sponsors to help us help them make Irvine a great place to live and send your kids to great schools. We’re grateful for the support we have so far and there’s still room to join us.”

The five honorees to be recognized at the gala are: Nasim Pedrad (University High), an actress and comedienne who recently joined the cast of NBC’s “Saturday Night Live”; Jeremy Siskind (Irvine High), a pianist for Eastman Jazz of New York City; Dr. Richard Baick (University High), a physician with the Irvine Family Practice Medical Group; Garrett Atkins (University High), a three-time All-American baseball player at UCLA who went on to play with the Colorado Rockies and Baltimore Orioles; and Adam Keefe (Woodbridge High), a former member of the NBA’s Utah Jazz and the fifth all-team leading scorer in the PAC-10 for Stanford.

For tickets, or to learn more about sponsorship opportunities, please contact IPSF at (949) 265-6409. Or visit www.ipsf.net.

Cash-strapped school districts hope federal bill will provide relief by preserving teaching jobs

President Obama signed into law an emergency bill from Congress this week designed to preserve jobs, including those of approximately 160,000 teachers who have been laid off or who might have been laid off this year. The Los Angeles Times has the story here.

School districts including Irvine are closely monitoring this legislation and hoping the bill will provide some much-needed relief. However, it has not yet been determined at the federal and state levels how or when these dollars will be allocated.

It’s also worth noting that California is still without a budget for 2010-11, and lawmakers in Sacramento are struggling to close a gap of approximately $20 billion. Whether these factors play a role in the distribution of the federal funds remains to be seen.

For more information on IUSD’s finances, visit the district’s Budget Watch page.

Friday is your last chance to win a home through IPSF’s 7th annual Dream Stakes Home Raffle

This is it – the end of the line.

Friday marks the final day to purchase a ticket for the Irvine Public Schools Foundation’s 7th annual Irvine Dream Stakes Home Raffle, which is offering up a $700,000 condo – or $500,000 in cash – as the grand prize.

IPSF has already given away a bunch of early-bird goodies, including $10,000 in cash, a new BMW, a vacation package for six oceanfront resorts and free rent for a year.

But there’s still the matter of handing over a high-rise luxury home at 3000 The Plaza. The winner will be announced at 10 a.m. on Aug. 21 at Woodbury Elementary School, and it could be you – but only if you buy a ticket by Friday.

Raffle tickets are $150 each, and the proceeds benefit schools in the Irvine Unified School District.

For more information, or to purchase tickets, go to www.irvinedreamstakes.com or call (949) 734-6873. To read more in the Orange County Register, click here.

Board approves a balanced budget for 2010-11 as uncertainties abound in Sacramento

The Board of Education on Tuesday voted unanimously to adopt IUSD’s budget for 2010-11.

The final spending plan, which can be accessed here, outlines approximately $200.6 million worth of expenditures – both restricted and unrestricted – against $196.8 million worth of total revenue. The difference will be offset by onetime carryover funds, said Lisa Howell, assistant superintendent of Business Services.

As a result of the state budget crisis, IUSD was forced to make a number of reductions and adjustments in March to bridge a fiscal gap of approximately $20 million. While the district will submit a balanced budget for 2010-11, IUSD continues to project significant shortfalls for the two subsequent years and will therefore be required to explore additional reductions and revenue enhancements.

Irvine is annually required to submit its budget to the Orange County Department of Education on or before June 30. Other districts share this deadline, as does the state, though the Legislature rarely meets it. That forces educators to make important financial decisions based on the governor’s proposals from January and May. Once the state officially adopts its spending plan – some believe this might not happen until after the November election – IUSD will have 45 days to make any necessary adjustments.

To view the slide presentation that was shown prior to Tuesday’s vote, click here. To read more highlights from the meeting, click here.

IPSF to give away resort package as latest prize in 7th Annual Irvine Dream Stakes Home Raffle

First, a lucky winner walked away with $10,000 cash. Then a local couple was handed the keys to a brand new BMW.

Now, someone’s about to win a vacation at no less than six of Orange County’s finest oceanfront resorts, and it could be you – but only if you buy a ticket before Saturday.

The resort package is the latest “early-bird” prize in the Irvine Public Schools Foundation’s 7th Annual Irvine Dream Stakes Home Raffle, which is offering up a $700,000 condo – or $500,000 in cash – as the grand prize.

Raffle tickets are $150 each, and anyone who buys one before July 30 is eligible to win the high-rise pad. But IPSF has made things more interesting with additional drawings for those who purchase their tickets sooner than later.

For example, early birds who buy before Saturday, June 19, qualify to win a night at each of the following destinations: the Hilton Waterfront Beach Resort, the Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort & Spa, the Balboa Bay Club and Resort, the Montage Laguna Beach, the Surf & Sand Resort and the Ritz Carlton, Laguna Niguel. We’re told dinners and spa sessions are included.

If all that weren’t enough, those who get their tickets before July 9 will be entered to win a year of free rent at The Park at Irvine Spectrum Center in Irvine. (If you’re like us, you’re already scratching your head and thinking about what you’ll do if you win the free rent and the condo. Some early birds have a tendency to count their chickens before they’re hatched.)

Again, the proceeds from IPSF’s Irvine Dream Stakes Home Raffle will benefit IUSD’s cash-strapped schools.

For more information, or to purchase tickets, go to www.irvinedreamstakes.com or call (949) 734-6873. To read more in the Orange County Register, click here.

The City of Irvine is once again supporting the health and guidance needs of IUSD students

In May, the City of Irvine generated headlines when it offered to kick in more than $875,000 through a challenge grant to help ease the impacts of larger class sizes in IUSD – the latter coming as fallout from the state budget crisis.

But that’s certainly not the only way the City is supporting our schools.

In fact, our municipal partner provides more than $4.5 million a year to pay for things like school resource officers, crossing guards, special events and the D.A.R.E. program. And, for the fifth consecutive year, the City of Irvine will support the health and guidance needs of IUSD students through the Educational Partnership Fund, allocating more than $440,000 to fund a number of successful district initiatives in 2010-11.

A portion of that money was secured by the nonprofit Irvine Public Schools Foundation to help pay for school nurses and health clerks. The balance will be used by the district to fund strategies designed to reinforce positive school behavior at the middle and high school levels, as well as targeted intervention services for students in kindergarten through the sixth grade.

Here’s a breakdown:

  • School Nurses (Funded through IPSF)  $83,430 
  • Health Clerks (Funded through IPSF)  $63,322
  • High School Project Success  $76,367
  • Middle School Project Success  $73,895
  • Elementary Counseling Assistants for Grades K-3  $67,122
  • Elementary Counseling Assistants for Grades K-3  $76,826

Superintendent Gwen Gross says the Educational Partnership Fund “represents an incredibly generous and valuable contribution, particularly as we work our way through the state’s budget crisis.”

Added Dr. Gross, “This is a powerful testament to the remarkable collaboration between our district, the City of Irvine and the Irvine Public Schools Foundation, which has made an ongoing commitment to help fund nurses, health clerks and health curriculum.”

With two more furlough days coming to IUSD, officials plan a Water Safety Day on Tuesday

Once again, all schools in the Irvine Unified School District will be closed on Monday, June 14, and Tuesday, June 15, to accommodate districtwide furlough days.

Far be it from us to tell you how to spend the free time, but the Orange County Fire Authority is presenting a “Water Safety Day” from 10 a.m. to noon on Tuesday, June 15, at Waterworks Aquatics, located at 25 Waterworks Way in Irvine.

Kids who attend can learn the basics of water safety and open water swimming, and as an added bonus the OCFA’s Swift Water Rescue Team is scheduled to make an appearance.

The event is free and open to the public. For more information, click here or call (949) 450-0777.

Of course, for those who are already pretty comfortable in the water, Wild Rivers is opening its doors to furloughed students and staff on Monday, June 14. Tickets are being sold in advance at the discounted price of $22, or $18 for children ages 3 to 9, and park officials say a portion of the proceeds will go to participating schools in the Irvine and Saddleback Valley unified school districts. For more information on Wild Rivers, click here.

Budget Update: Board discusses the governor’s latest proposal and IUSD’s plan for 2010-11

At Tuesday night’s Board of Education meeting, Assistant Superintendent Lisa Howell presented an update on the governor’s latest budget proposal and outlined IUSD’s spending plan for fiscal year that begins July 1.

Though California is grappling with a $19.1 billion shortfall, experts are now claiming that the longest and deepest recession in the post-Depression era is likely coming to an end, and the revised deficit for 2010-11 is approximately $800 million less than projections from January.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has proposed closing the gap with a plan that includes $12.4 billion in spending cuts, including deep reductions to health and social programs. Education is again part of the equation, yet the reductions outlined – they total about $2.5 billion – are similar to those included in Schwarzenegger’s January proposal, and they were already built into IUSD’s budget plans for 2010-11.

It’s also worth noting that, as written, the proposed cuts to education impact districts funded under the “Revenue Limit” funding model. IUSD is now funded as a “Basic Aid” district, meaning our unrestricted operational dollars come directly from local property taxes. That doesn’t necessarily mean IUSD will avoid the latest round of cuts from Sacramento – remember that much of the state budget language will change in the months ahead as deliberations continue.

Howell said school districts probably won’t have any definitive information until a final budget is approved by both houses and signed by the Governor, and that may not occur until November. In the meantime, IUSD projects a balanced budget for 2010-11, though a shortfall is expected the following year as employee furlough days are scheduled to come to an end.

Update: To read highlights of Tuesday night’s meeting in a PDF recap called “Board Briefs,” click here.