IUSD Board of Education to hold public hearing on latest draft of district accountability plan

The IUSD Board of Education will hold a public hearing during its regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday, June 3 to hear comments on the latest draft of the district’s new accountability plan.

LCFF-LCAPThe Local Control Accountability Plan, or LCAP, is an important component of the state’s new Local Control Funding Formula. Starting this year, all districts are required to prepare LCAPs that describe how they intend to meet annual goals for students, addressing both state and local priorities.

The reports, which must be adopted on or before July 1, also require input from local stakeholders, including parents, staff and community members. Though Tuesday’s public hearing represents the latest opportunity to weigh in, IUSD began soliciting input back in March.

Each LCAP must focus on eight areas identified as state priorities, but the plans also have to demonstrate how district budgets will help improve student outcomes — and how progress will be measured.

To meet the eight state priorities detailed in the LCFF legislation, IUSD has developed these four goals:

  1. Ensure all students attain proficiency in the current content standards
  2. Ensure access to rigorous and relevant learning tools, resources and skills for all staff and students
  3. Cultivate a positive school culture and system of supports for student personal and academic growth
  4. Communicate effectively and form strategic alliances to secure the support and resources necessary to deliver our vision

And, according to the latest draft of Irvine’s LCAP, the goals above will be supported by the following proposed actions:

Student learning

  • Reduce class sizes by two students from transitional kindergarten through grade six and by one in grades seven through 12
  • Increase site allocations by 25 percent and return site carryovers from 2011-12
  • Fund curriculum development and textbook adoption
  • Fund science specialists in grades four through six

Site-level support

  • Fund a districtwide Teacher on Special Assignment (TOSA) school support facilitator, as well as assistant principal allocations
  • Fund site-level technology support
  • Invest in districtwide technology infrastructure upgrades

District-level support

  • Fund support for Education Services, including TOSA support
  • Provide support for Maintenance and Operations, as well as school grounds
  • Restore deferred maintenance funding


  • Provide for fiscal stability

Of course, that’s just a rough overview of the plan. To access a draft of IUSD’s Local Control and Accountability Plan, click here. Or take a look at this slide presentation from the Board of Education’s April 29 Study Session.

Tuesday’s Board of Education meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. in the Board Room of the District Office, located at 5050 Barranca Parkway in Irvine. It will also be broadcast on channel 39 for local Cox Communications subscribers and via AT&T U-verse’s government and public television menu.

To access the full agenda for the June 3 session, click here.

Woodbridge High vocal music director a quarterfinalist for national Music Educator Award

Woodbridge High Vocal Music Director Rob Blaney has been named a quarterfinalist for the prestigious Music Educator Award presented annually by The Recording Academy and the Grammy Foundation.

Rob BlaneyMore than 7,000 nominations were submitted for the national honor, which was established to spotlight K-12 teachers and college instructors who have made significant contributions to music education while helping to preserve its place in our schools. The 222 candidates who were announced as quarterfinalists this week are from 208 cities, fanned out across 41 states.

“This is an incredible honor, and I am blessed to be a part of a community that places such a high value on music education,” Blaney told the NewsFlash. “I love the diversity of our music program at Woodbridge and am grateful for our administration and parents, who have allowed me to create a vocal music program that provides students with opportunities to create, discover, and, as cliché as it sounds, find their voice.”

“The students and faculty that I collaborate with each day are simply the best,” he said, “and they inspire me to be the best that I can be.”

According to the official news release, semifinalists will be announced in September, and the field will later be narrowed to 10 finalists. One of them will pick up The Music Educator Award and a $10,000 honorarium in L.A., but that’s not all; he or she will also get to attend the 2015 Grammy Awards.

The other nine finalists will each receive a $1,000 honorarium, and the schools of all 10 finalists are set to receive matching grants. All grants and honorariums are made possible by Converse, Disney Performing Arts, the Ford Motor Company Fund and Journeys.

New principal for Westpark is well-versed in curriculum, instruction and Common Core

IUSD Superintendent Terry Walker has announced a new principal for Westpark Elementary School.

Deanna Rutter, who is currently vice principal at an elementary school in the Anaheim City School District, will succeed Principal Ann Marie Simmons, starting July 1.

Deanna Rutter 5.29.14Walker on Friday touted Rutter’s credentials, saying she is well-versed in curriculum, instruction and the new Common Core instructional standards.

“She is also a leader in technology who has experience with numerous school programs, including Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS), Response to Instruction (RTI) and special education,” the superintendent said.

Rutter’s career in education began in 2004 at Key Elementary School in Anaheim, where she taught fifth- and sixth-grade Gifted and Talented Education, as well as a regular fifth-grade class. From 2008 through 2010, she served as a Teacher on Special Assignment, and, after teaching third-grade GATE at Edison Elementary for a year, she was named vice principal of Juarez and Guinn elementary schools in 2011. Earlier this year, she was named vice principal of Anaheim’s Ponderosa Elementary School.

A resident of Irvine with her husband, Neal, and their two daughters, Rutter has a bachelor’s degree in sociology from UCI and a master’s degree in teaching with a specialization in reading from National University, along with teaching and administrative credentials.

Westpark won’t be the only school with a new leader next year. On April 4, IUSD announced new principals for Canyon View, Meadow Park and Stonegate elementary schools, and district officials announced a new principal for Plaza Vista School later that month.

Greentree Elementary students and staff part ways with ponytails for charity hair donation

Greentree students and staff donate hair

Audrey Coburn, 9, could feel a weight had been lifted — and for good reason. Eight inches of red hair that was swinging from the back of her head moments earlier was now clutched in her right hand.

“It feels very different,” the fourth-grader said Friday. “I used to have hair all over the place.”

Audrey Coburn gets a haircut as her friend look onAudrey was one of 15 girls from Greentree Elementary School who volunteered to donate their long locks to a pair of charity organizations that make wigs for children experiencing hair loss for medical reasons. Sitting in a row of folding chairs, the altruistic students were joined by a pair of staff members, including science specialist Alison Garza, who came up with the idea earlier in the school year.

Garza, who was planning to donate her own hair, said she asked if any students or staff members wanted to join. To her surprise, more than a dozen stepped up, so she reached out to both Audrey Coburn shows off her locksLocks of Love and Pantene Beautiful Lengths.

“I’m so proud of them — every one of them,” said Ms. Garza, holding a pair of her own recently detached ponytails. “They wanted to donate as much as they could, and they all did it out of the kindness of their hearts.”

Magnifying their bravery, the cuts were made during an afternoon assembly on the Greentree blacktop as classmates wildly cheered them on. Lori Hillman and Danielle Penz, two scissor-wielding stylists from local salons, did the honors.

Audrey was one of the first to go. After a few snips, there was no turning back.

Though she said it wasn’t an easy decision, she knew it would benefit another little girl or boy who was already going through a difficult time.

“I’d feel bad if I had no hair,” she said.

Latest proposal for high school boundary changes presented to Board of Education

The IUSD Board of Education engaged in a special study session this week to discuss proposed changes to the district’s high school attendance boundaries.

As we’ve reported previously, planning for Irvine’s fifth comprehensive high school necessitates a modest boundary reconfiguration in time for the campus’ projected opening in the fall of 2016. Though most IUSD families won’t be affected, changes could impact some Irvine students who are currently enrolled in kindergarten through the sixth grade, as well as currently enrolled kindergarten through seventh-grade students who live within the boundaries proposed for the fifth high school.

Back on March 4, Tony Ferruzzo, a facilities consultant and former IUSD principal, unveiled an initial recommendation for boundary changes made by the district’s Boundary Advisory Committee, which includes one principal, one teacher, one student and two parents from each of IUSD’s comprehensive high schools, along with district staff.

That recommendation generated discussion by the board and was later the subject of four parent forums. On Tuesday, May 27, Ferruzzo returned to board with a revised proposal based on the latest community input.

Board members are expected to take action on July 8, though any changes wouldn’t take effect until the 2016-17 school year. [Update: The board is not expected to take action on proposed boundary changes until Aug. 19 at the earliest.] In the meantime, a map of the current recommendation is posted below, and here are a few of our takeaways from Tuesday’s session:

  • Under the revised recommendation, students from Irvine’s Laguna Altura community would continue to send their children to University High School rather than the new high school campus. In addition, a non-contiguous portion of the Stone Creek Elementary School attendance area would remain in the Woodbridge High boundary, along with the rest of Stone Creek.
  • Current high school students and those who will start high school in the fall won’t be impacted either way. That’s because the youngest will already be in the 11th and 12th grades before any changes take effect. Again, even though the board is expected to take action on July 8, altered boundaries in Irvine wouldn’t take effect until August 2016 at the earliest.
  • IUSD is growing – and fast. Without a fifth comprehensive high school, moderate projections indicate Northwood High’s student population would swell to 3,140 by 2017. Irvine High would similarly expand to 2,946 students, University High would grow to 2,842 students and Woodbridge High would hit 2,488, which is still above the district’s maximum enrollment target for high schools.
  • There are essentially three enrollment options for opening the fifth high school. The district could require all ninth- and tenth-graders living within the school’s attendance area to enroll. Or it could start with just ninth-graders. Or it could require ninth-graders to enroll but give tenth-graders a choice. Each of these options has its pros and cons, but the Boundary Advisory Committee is recommending the first scenario — requiring freshmen and sophomores to attend — because that would ensure a viable enrollment and a comprehensive program for all students. The final decision will ultimately be made by the Board of Education.
  • Ferruzzo said the work of the Boundary Advisory Committee was based on an established criteria, along with guiding values. For example, in addition to creating a viable enrollment for the fifth high school, committee members sought to balance long-term student enrollment across all five high schools while doing their best to keep students from smaller communities together as they transition to middle and high school.

You can take a look at detailed slides from Tuesday night’s presentation by clicking here. And here’s a map of the current proposal. (Click to enlarge.)

Revised high school boundary proposal from May 27

IUSD Board of Education approves location of district’s fifth comprehensive high school

A rendering shows the performing arts center that will be part of IUSD's fifth comprehensive high school.

At last it can be said: Barring delays, the Irvine Unified School District will open a brand new state-of-the-art high school near the northeast border of the Orange County Great Park in 2016.

The IUSD Board of Education on Tuesday night passed a long-awaited resolution selecting the site of the district’s fifth comprehensive high school and allowing ownership of the property to be transferred from developer Heritage Fields to IUSD.

The 4-0 vote capped nearly three years of due diligence that recently led to site approval from the California Department of Education and the state Department of Toxic Substances Control for what has been commonly referred to as Site A. Escrow is now on track to close by May 29, and construction could begin next month.

“Getting this done is a big deal,” board member Michael Parham said, “and I think it’s time to celebrate that fact and to move forward, because it’s really a transformational time for this district.”

“It’s going to be an awesome school,” Parham added. “In my opinion, it’s going to be one of the best high schools in the country.”

School board President Sharon Wallin lauded her colleagues on the board for going “above and beyond” in their questioning and analysis to ensure the property meets the strict standards for an Irvine-quality school.

“I’m very excited,” she said, “but I’m mostly excited for those students.”

In 2011, IUSD and its developer partners initially agreed on the 40.2-acre site adjacent to Irvine Boulevard and west of Alton Parkway. Though the district also considered an alternative location on the west side of the former Marine Corps Air Station El Toro based on a request by the City, that property – generally referred to as Site B – has not been fully removed from the EPA’s Superfund list of hazardous sites and could require extensive environmental mitigation.

Site A, by contrast, has been through an exhaustive evaluation and testing processes and has been fully reviewed and approved by regulatory agencies throughout the state. The Irvine Unified Council PTA also produced a report in December endorsing the location over Site B after examining such factors as safety, traffic and timing.

Speaking of which, timing remains critical for the development of IUSD’s next high school. Projections indicate the district needs to open the new campus by the start of the 2016-17 school year to accommodate thousands of new homes while preventing overcrowding at Irvine, Northwood, University and Woodbridge high schools.

Before Tuesday night’s vote, attorney Andreas Chialtas of Atkinson, Andelson, Loya, Ruud & Romo clarified that the resolution before the board was composed of several components, including selecting the site, ending the district’s review of Site B and approving an Implementation Agreement with Heritage Fields.

Chialtas said that Implementation Agreement clarifies the project schedule, grading information, the site plan and timing issues while allowing for the close of escrow. It also documents the value of the land, which was recently appraised at $127.4 million. While IUSD doesn’t pay that cost, the district will turn over to Heritage Fields its share of any state funding received pursuant to a contractual formula between IUSD and its development partners.

The evening wrapped up with a unanimous roll call vote, but not before additional environmental questions from board member Paul Bokota and a few words of praise for those who have gotten the project to this point.

Board member Lauren Brooks thanked the public for raising important issues “and asking the questions that we could research and really vet.”

“I’m really excited for our students, our future students, our current students, and what the future is going to bring for us,” Brooks said. “And I think we’re really going to have a fabulous high school to look forward to.”

Outstanding IUSD workers honored as 2014 Classified Employees of the Year

In February, IUSD made surprise visits to local schools to announce its elementary, middle and high school Teachers of the Year.

And now the day has come to reveal the district’s top classified employees.

The classified ranks include secretaries, custodians, paraeducators, bus drivers, maintenance technicians, clerks, food services workers and all the other non-certificated staff members who support students and schools. Most are represented by the California School Employees Association, and this morning five of them will be surprised at their work sites as this year’s Classified Employees of the Year.

The good news will be delivered by a throng of well-wishers set to include board member Lauren Brooks, Superintendent Terry Walker, local CSEA President Janelle Cranch and district staff. We’ll also be riding with the caravan to post live dispatches from each location, so check back with us throughout the morning. (And, as always, please forgive any typos.)

This year’s Classified Employees of the Year were selected by a committee comprising CSEA President Cranch, IUSD Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources Eamonn O’Donovan, Human Resources Director Rena Thompson and the five winners from last year.

In all, there are approximately 1,400 classified employees in the district. To honor their collective contributions, the Board of Education recently passed a resolution proclaiming this week “Classified School Employee Week.”


8:40 a.m., Northwood High School

Our first stop of the morning is Northwood High, where, as it turns out, there are two Classified Employees of the Year.

20140521-085734-32254843.jpgErnesto “Ernie” Medina, the custodian and equipment manager, has earned the honor along with James Adling, the school’s theater manager. Both are pictured with Principal Leslie Roach. (James is on the left; Ernie’s on the right.)

Ernie was announced first during a staff meeting in the theater. Cranch read a summary of his award-winning qualities before finally revealing his name.

“I was looking around to see who it was,” he said.

Soon after, he was embraced by his wife, Lorena: the couple’s children, Celeste and Jaycob; his mother, Sarah; his sister, Veronica; and his brother, Freddie.

All schools should have an employee like Ernie. An IUSD employee of 18 years, he arrives before dawn, works exceptionally hard and is always available to assist and support others.

Fellow staff members say they admire his professionalism and his passion for the job, and he has a great rapport with students. In every aspect of his job, he can be counted on to make sure things are done right, and often with a smile.

A standing ovation broke out for Ernie’s announcement, but there was another big surprise in store.

Cranch told the Northwood staff that James Adling was also a Classified Employee of the Year, igniting another ovation.

James is another great pick. He’s professional, dependable and extremely personable, and there’s seemingly no technical challenge that’s beyond his skill set.

Hired in 2001, James ensures that school performances and presentations go off without a hitch, and he works seamlessly with University High theater manager Brian Des Palmes to broadcast IUSD Board of Education meetings while overseeing the district’s cable station.

No matter the task, James cheerfully finds a way to “make it work,” often improvising creative workarounds until a permanent solution can be found.

“It feels good to be recognized,” he told the NewsFlash. “Not that I like the attention.”

That’s two down, with three to go.


10:25 a.m., Greentree Elementary School

Kimberly Pyatt, an instructional assistant at Greentree Elementary, has just been announced as the next Classified Employee of the Year.

20140521-094202-34922649.jpgKim’s name was called out after a fire drill brought the students and staff onto the playground, and it wasn’t long before she spotted her daughter, Megan, standing with district leaders. (Kim is on the left in our photo, with Principal Tammi Brown.)

As colleagues rushed to congratulate her, Kim remained humble.

“This is not my thing,” she said, smiling. “I just like to work.”

For nearly 20 years, Kim has been considered a cornerstone of her school, maximizing support for students with Individualized Education Programs.

She meets each new challenge with dedication and enthusiasm, and since starting at Greentree she has earned her teaching credential and her master’s degree to better understand the children in her classes.

Meanwhile, she has also taken on additional responsibilities, including managing the California English Language Development Test and organizing newer exams aligned with the Common Core instructional standards.

Kim may not seek the spotlight, but she certainly represents a worthy selection, evidenced by the crowd of students and staff that quickly enveloped her at the end of the brief ceremony.


10:10 a.m., Irvine High School

Our current location is Irvine High, where Ruth Codde, the school’s activities account technician, is the latest to earn Classified Employee of the Year honors.

20140521-100733-36453967.jpgThis time the announcement was made in the staff lounge. Waiting in the wings to help celebrate were Ruth’s husband, Bob, and her son, Matt. (We’re told the couple’s other son, Kevin, had finals and was unable to attend.)

A district employee since 1998, Ruth is a model of diligence and ingenuity as Irvine High’s ASB accountant. Not only does she work long hours, she attends many school events on her own time to support students and staff.

Despite her enormous workload, Ruth is positive, cheerful and always willing to assist others, both professionally and personally. Colleagues say she is a team player who continually evolves to meet new challenges and to ensure her school’s practices align with current policies.

“I’m just so surprised,” Ruth said before being mobbed by students and fellow staff.

So those are the first four Classified Employees of the Year, and that means we’ve got one more stop on our tour. Cue the drum roll.


11:05 a.m., University High School

And the fifth and final Classified Employee of the Year is … Theater Manager Brian Des Palmes of University High School.

20140521-110948-40188865.jpgBrian — that’s him on the left next to Superintendent Walker — was surprised with the good news in front of a group of visual and performing arts students in the Uni High theater. His wife, Cheryl, was waiting backstage.

“This is a complete surprise,” he said. “I am absolutely floored.”

Brian, who joined the staff in 2008, provides a level of service that goes above and beyond his job description. Along with Northwood’s James Adling, who won the same honor this year — see above — he provides audio and visual support for student performances and helps broadcast Board of Education meetings.

Often times, Brian is faced with technically demanding tasks that keep him working late into the evening. But he is the consummate problem-solver, and he’s always willing to share his expertise with other staff members, as well as students.


That’s it for today’s live coverage, but before we check out, we’d like to congratulate the 2014 Classified Employees of the Year.

We should add that each honoree will receive $1,000 courtesy of CSEA’s Chapter 517, as well as a jacket and a commemorative plaque. All five employees will also be recognized at the June 3 Board of Education meeting.

There’s still time to enroll your child in IUSD’s preschool program for 2014-15

Irvine Unified’s preschool program still has space available for the 2014-15 school year.

ECLC-cubThe program, open to children ages 3 and 4 who live within the district’s attendance boundaries, is run by the staff of professional educators at IUSD’s Early Childhood Learning Center, and a sliding scale is available for income-eligible families.

Established in 2002, the Early Childhood Learning Center has worked collaboratively with local families to build a world-class learning community that supports each child’s social, emotional and pre-academic needs.

The ECLC campus is located at 1 Smoketree in Irvine. To learn more about registration and enrollment, visit the center’s website, or call 949-936-5890.

Board of Education Study Session will focus on proposed high school boundary changes

Proposed changes to IUSD’s high school boundaries will be the subject of a special Board of Education Study Session on Tuesday, May 27.

The meeting, which is open to the public, will begin at 6:30 p.m. in the Board Room of the IUSD District Office, located at 5050 Barranca Parkway.

[Update on May 21:  It's just been announced that the meeting will also be broadcast on channel 39 for local Cox Communications subscribers and via AT&T U-verse’s government and public television menu.]

Board Study Session on May 27The Study Session agenda will include further analysis of potential high school boundary changes, as well as considerations for adjusting the most recent proposal based on community input — including feedback from a series of parent forums held in March and April.

As noted previously, the vast majority of IUSD students would not be impacted by the boundary changes under consideration. But planning for the district’s fifth comprehensive high school necessitates a modest reconfiguration that would affect some Irvine students who are currently enrolled in kindergarten through the sixth grade, as well as currently enrolled kindergarten through seventh-grade students who live within the proposed boundaries of the fifth high school.

An earlier staff-recommended proposal, illustrated in the maps below, was the subject of four public meetings held in March and April. While board members will not make a final determination on May 27, they will discuss possible adjustments and may provide additional direction to staff before voting in June or July. Either way, high school boundary changes would not take effect until August 2016.

A little more background

IUSD is currently proposing to open its fifth comprehensive high school by the fall of 2016 with just freshmen and sophomores, adding juniors in 2017 and seniors in 2018 as the inaugural classes advance. The campus will serve Irvine’s newer communities and prevent overcrowding at Irvine, Northwood, University and Woodbridge high schools.

In addition to needing its own attendance area, the new high school would necessitate boundary adjustments to ensure enrollment is balanced districtwide. (IUSD’s Board Policy calls for high schools of no more than 2,400 students when possible.)

The original recommendation for addressing both needs was drafted by the district’s Boundary Advisory Committee, which began meeting in October. That panel includes district staff, as well as one principal, one teacher, one student and two parents from each of IUSD’s comprehensive high schools.

At the March 4 Board of Education meeting, Tony Ferruzzo, a facilities consultant and former IUSD principal, discussed the proposed changes and delivered this presentation. The Boundary Advisory Committee then met again on April 28, and the Steering Committee met on May 16 to review possible changes to the proposal.

Again, below is a map showing the original high school boundary proposal from March. The revised proposal will be presented to the board for discussion at Tuesday’s Study Session.

IUSD's proposed high school boundaries IUSD's current high school boundaries

Irvine High raises money for charity with first ‘Dancing with the Staff’ competition

Unfortunately, we don’t have any incriminating photos from Irvine High School’s first-ever “Dancing with the Staff” competition. But we do have these rehearsal shots, courtesy of student-journalist Jenny Seo.

IHS Dance Director Sheryl Sloate tells the NewsFlash that more than a dozen teachers, administrators and staff members recently paired up for a dance contest not unlike a certain television show featuring gyrating B-list celebrities.

Monica Colunga and Susan WexlerBut there was one added twist (pun intended): The Irvine High teams all performed moves choreographed by the school’s Dance Ensemble, which varied genres including hip hop, jazz, hula, zumba and country.

The photo above shows Principal Monica Colunga getting in sync — almost — with Spanish teacher Susan Wexler. The one below features IHS football coach Erik Terry and English teacher Morgan Rosser holding for applause.

Erik Terry and Morgan RosserThe idea for “Dancing with the Staff” came from dance Captain Rachel Blevins-Boor, but it took the entire ensemble collaborating with the Irvine High staff and ITV, the school’s broadcast station, to pull it off. The show was ultimately staged on April 25 in a gymnasium that was transformed into a studio with black curtains, spotlights and video clips.

Proceeds from the competition benefited a charity called The Wooden Floor, which aims to improve the lives of underserved students through dance.

“We wanted to spread our love of dance to others,” Sloate said. “That is our hope.”