Beacon Park Dedications Showcase IUSD’s Newest K-8

IUSD hosted two Beacon Park K-8 dedication ceremonies to welcome students, their families and community to the District’s newest school.  bp-ribbon-cutting-9-28-16Participants of both ceremonies learned about the features of this state-of-the-art educational facility, which is designed to leverage the talents of teachers and staff as they work to develop each student’s full potential.

Community Dedication
The first dedication ceremony, on September 28, was led by Superintendent Terry L. Walker, Board President Paul Bokota and Principal Bob Curley.  The community event included the Board of Education, parents, students, teachers, staff, the District’s development partner FivePoint, city of Irvine officials, community partners, and other local dignitaries.  All participants had the opportunity to tour the school site and experience innovative features such as design and science labs, high-tech and flexible-design classrooms, dedicated music and performing arts spaces, collaborative work spaces, and a production space, where students film and produce the daily school news program.

“Beacon Park is not just a school,” said Walker.  “This is a place where our students will form connections with learning, new possibilities, the community and with each other – ultimately forming a connection with an exemplary education.”

Board President Paul Bokota echoed similar sentiments, noting that innovative features, which IUSD is working to implement in all of our schools, foster 21st century college and career readiness.  Principal Curley concluded the dedication by highlighting his vision for Beacon Park to be an innovative school, that supports the highest learning standards for both students and teachers, and is a place of community for Beacon Park families.

To view a video of the community dedication event, click here.

Student Dedicationbp-student-ribbon-cutting-9-29-16

The following day, the school held a special dedication ceremony for students only.  It was an opportunity for students to come together and celebrate their school and school culture.

Student representatives from each grade-level joined Principal Curley on stage to place items in a time capsule that will be opened in 10 years.  The items ranged from messages about students’ hopes for the future to what they believe Beacon Park will be like in 10 years to artwork and posters referencing current pop-culture to mark this special moment in time.

When asked if they love their school, students cheered and raised their hands with excitement.  Many expressed that they love their teachers, the new classrooms and facilities, and of course the expansive playgroundbp-student-dedication-9-29-16
and athletic fields.  The ceremony concluded with the students learning the school song, “Bengal Roar.”

Beacon Park serves the Great Park Neighborhoods and will accommodate approximately 1,000 students at capacity.

Irvine Company Renews Enrichment Fund with $20M Commitment to IUSD Students

board-checkThe Irvine Company has extended the Excellence in Education Enrichment Fund with a renewed grant of $20 million over the next 10 years.  The Enrichment Fund supports science, music and art programs for IUSD students in grades four through six.  This most recent donation brings the Irvine Company’s commitment to IUSD students to more than $43 million over 20 years.  Each year, more than 7,000 students are positively impacted by the Enrichment Fund – that’s more than 70,000 children who have benefited from the Irvine Company’s generosity.     
“This gift from Irvine Company allows us to continue an enrichment program that distinguishes Irvine schools nationally,” Irvine Unified Superintendent Terry Walker said. “This is vital, especially during the shift to Common Core and new science standards requiring substantially more hands-on instruction.”
Robin Leftwich, Vice President of Community Affairs for the Irvine Company, presented IUSD with a $20 million check during an Enrichment Fund appreciation event, surprising teachers, students and parents in attendance.  The event, held on Monday, September 26 at Portola Springs Elementary, was to honor and thank the Irvine Company and Chairman of the Board Donald Bren for their partnership with IUSD.   In addition to speaking presentations from the Superintendent Terry Walker, School Board President Paul Bokota, Leftwich, students and teachers, the event also featured student musical performances, science demonstrations and art displays. 
The afternoon began with a performance by the Northwood High School String Quartet; two choral performance by fifth and sixth graders from Brywood, Canyon View, Bonita Canyon, Cypress Village and Portola Springs elementary schools; and finally, a performance by violinist Kevin Muira, an eighth-grade student at Sierra Vista Middle School and 2nd place winner in the Junior Division of the prestigious Menuhin International Violin Competition in London. 
Established in 2006, the Enrichment Fund has provided IUSD $2 million each year over the past decade.  The funds pay for specialists to work in IUSD’s upper-grade elementary classrooms.  To learn more, click here. 

To view a brief video of the event, click here

Irvine Unified Council PTA to Host Board of Education Candidates Forum

The Irvine Unified Council PTA will host a candidates forum for the Irvine Unified School District Board of Education on Wednesday, October 5 at 7 p.m. at the IUSD District Office,vote-300x298 located at 5050 Barranca Parkway, Irvine.  This free event is open to the public and will be broadcast live on Cox Channel 39 and AT&T U-verse Channel 99.

This year, six candidates are running for three seats.  They are: Governing Board Member Paul Bokota; Governing Board Member Lauren Brooks; Irvine businesswoman Betty Carroll; Irvine businesswoman Naz Hamid; Army captain Mark Newgent; and Geri Zollinger.  

During the forum, each candidate will have the opportunity to make a statement and answer uniform questions presented by an unbiased moderator from the League of Women Voters. The questions were developed by the Irvine Council PTA Executive Board. There will also be a limited amount of time for questions from attendees.

The Irvine Unified Council PTA, which comprises of around 13,000 members from 37 individual PTA units, has traditionally invited school board candidates to share their views in advance of local elections.

“We are proud to host the Candidates Forum for the upcoming School Board election,” said IUCPTA president Tracey Rinard.  “An important aspect of the PTA mission is advocacy.  Bringing all the candidates together allows us to engage our parents in the legislative process and hear the candidate’s solutions to the issues that impact both our PTA parents and students.”

IUSD to Host Ask-A-Scientist/Engineer Night

The Irvine Unified School District, in partnership with the Irvine Public Schools Foundation, will host Ask-A-Scientist/Engineer Night on The Irvine Unified School District PresentsThursday, October 13 from 6-7:30 pm. at Rancho San Joaquin Middle School.

This event is the perfect opportunity for 6-12 grade students, who are doing a science inquiry project or making a Rube Goldberg Machine, to ask science and engineering experts important questions.  Participating scientists and engineers are from the local education and businesses communities, including UCI Irvine, USC, Chapman University, Irvine Valley College, Allergan, Rockwell, the Irvine Ranch Water District and more.  In addition, IUSD science teachers will be on hand to also answer questions.

Rancho San Joaquin Middle School is located at 4861 Michelson Road. Visitors may park on Michelson and Yale without being ticketed, even though it says “No parking.” (Note that this special privilege applies only to Ask-A-Scientist/Engineer Night.)  No registration is required.  All students must be supervised by an adult.

For more information, contact the STEM department at 949-936-5057.

IUSD Board of Education Takes Action on Measure E

ps-camposDuring the Irvine Unified School District Board of Education Meeting on Tuesday, September 13, the Board voted on and unanimously passed two Measure E motions; the appointment of the Citizens Oversight Committee members and the issuance of the first bond series.  Measure E, a school facilities improvement measure, was passed by Irvine voters on June 7, 2016.

Citizens Oversight Committee
California state law, for measures passed with 55 percent of the vote, requires that a Citizens Oversight Committee be appointed by the Board of Education to monitor bond expenditures and ensure bond revenues are allocated in compliance with the voter approved measure.  The focus of the committee is to provide transparency and maintain public confidence in the use of Measure E bond funds.

Applicants must commit to a two-year term of service and reside or own property within the School Facilities Improvement District (SFID) boundaries.  Click here to view the SFID boundary map.  Membership is voluntary, without compensation, and members must be 18 years of age.  Employees, vendors, contractors, consultants, or IUSD officials are not eligible for appointment to the Committee.

The Education Code requires a minimum of seven (7) members representing the following categories:

  • One (1) member who is a parent or guardian of a child enrolled in the District within the boundaries of the SFID
  • One (1) member who is both a parent or guardian of a child enrolled in the District within the boundaries of the SFID and active in a parent-teacher organization, such as the PTA or school site council
  • One (1) member who is active in a business organization representing the business community residing in the District within the boundaries of the SFID
  • One (1) member who is active in a senior citizens organization residing in the District within the boundaries of the SFID
  • One (1) member who is active in a bona-fide taxpayers association residing in the District within the boundaries of the SFID
  • Two (2) members of the community at-large residing in the District within the boundaries of the SFID

After careful consideration and based on their respective qualifications and interview, staff recommended 11 candidates for appointment to the Measure E Independent Citizens Oversight Committee.  Below is a list of the Board appointed candidates along with the required category each member represents.

Name                                                                Required Category Fulfilled

Roza Mansouri                                               Parent/Guardian
Jeffrey Schmehr                                             Parent/Guardian
Todd Cope                                                       Parent active in Parent-Teacher Organization
Ryan Larson                                                    Parent active in Parent-Teacher Organization
Connie Stone                                                   Parent active in Parent-Teacher Organization
Kristi Smemoe                                                Parent active in Parent-Teacher Organization
Terri Elia                                                          Business Organization Representative
Betty Jo Woollett                                            Senior Citizen Organization Representative
Patti Ragland                                                   Bona-fide Taxpayers Association Representative
Kenric Stone                                                    Member of Community At-large
Adele Heuer                                                    Member of Community At-large

Issuance of the First Bond Series

During the August 23, 2016 Board Meeting, staff presented a draft Measure E Project Implementation plan, which identifies project planning to begin this fall. The motion voted on during the September 13, 2016 meeting authorizes the first issuance of bond funds in an aggregate principal amount not to exceed $95,000,000. Approval of this resolution enables IUSD staff to execute the financing documents required for the marketing, sale and issuance of this first bond series.

Measure E will provide a maximum available bond issuance of $319 million to provide modernizations to the District’s aging schools. This funding is currently planned to be issued in four series over 12 years.

Measure E funds will ensure all IUSD schools meet the same safety and academic standards as new schools and that all students have equal access to 21st-century educational facilities.  IUSD will continue to regularly communicate important milestones and updates through our school communities and on our website  For more information about Measure E and the Citizens Oversight Committee, please visit

Related News and Information:
Reminder: Measure E Citizens Oversight Committee Applications Due Aug. 10 – July 26, 2016
IUSD Seeks Applicants for Measure E Citizens Oversight Committee – July 6, 2016
Irvine Voters Pass Measure E – June 8, 2016
Measure E – School Facilities Improvements – May 3, 2016
Board of Education Votes to Put School Facilities Improvement Measure on June Ballot – March 1, 2016
Board of Education to Hold Public Hearing March 1 on Facilities Measure – February 24, 2016
School Facilities Informational Mailer – February 2016
School Facilities Improvement Letter from Terry Walker – December 5, 2015
School Facilities Improvement Measure Informational Mailer – December 2015

IUSD Ranks Top in State and County for California Assessment Scores

The Irvine Unified School District’s state standardized assessment scores have outperformed both state and county score averages, with IUSD ranking the highest in the state among public school districts of 25,000 or more for students who exceeded the standards in both Math and English Language Arts/Literacy.  IUSD was also the top performing district overall in Orange County.

Last spring, IUSD students in grades three through eight and grade 11 participated in the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP), which provides information on each student’s progress on state standards.  While the scores are just one of many measures of student performance, they help to enhance our understanding of each student’s needs and inform our educational efforts.

“I am incredibly proud of Irvine Unified students’ outstanding performance.  These results are a testament to our collective efforts and the special partnership between our hardworking students, dedicated families, and talented staff,” said Superintendent Terry Walker.  “As a key driver of excellence, IUSD is guided by our Continuous Improvement Efforts, which are focused on critical thinking, creativity, communication, collaboration and other learning outcomes also found in state standards. These student capacities have been an integral part of IUSD’s educational mission and vision since our inception. As we strive to ensure that the Irvine Unified School District remains one of the highest-performing districts in the country, we will continue to leverage collaboration and connections with our students, parents, staff and community partners.”

California released this statewide aggregate data on Wednesday, August 24, 2016.  IUSD anticipates that individual student score reports will be mailed home in the next few weeks.

In the interim, please keep the following in mind about these assessments.

Scores are One of Many Measures

Assessment scores should be recognized as only one measure when evaluating student learning; they provide some but not all information about a student’s knowledge and skills.  Results from tests should be reviewed in combination with other measures, such as in-class assignments, classroom tests, and teacher input.  For more information about your child’s academic progress, please stay in close contact with your child’s teacher(s) and school.

How Test Scores are Used

IUSD will use these scores to better understand each student’s learning and help us continue to improve upon the high-quality instruction we provide.  The scores will not be used to determine student advancement to the next grade level or as the sole piece of information when making academic decisions about students.

For additional information, please visit the following resources:

IUSD Opens Portola High School and Beacon Park K-8

As IUSD kicked off the 2016-17 school year on August 24, it opened two new schools; Portola High School, the District’s fifth comprehensive high school, and Beacon Park K-8.  Serving the Great Park Neighborhoods and parts of north Irvine, both schools are state-of-the-art educational facilities designed to foster collaboration, innovation and integration of technology to ensure students are prepared for 21st Century college and career opportunities.

Common features between Portola High School and Beacon Park include:

  • Design Labs – These spaces become easily accessible extensions of classrooms to facilitate small or large group learning and project-based learning.  They also provide students with collaboration skills they will need to be college and career ready.
  • Dedicated Music Classrooms – Such dedicated spaces improve music instruction and student learning with better acoustics and less time to transition from a general use space.
  • Innovation Labs – These labs are designed to foster flexible learning and technology spaces for a variety of projects and various group work.  They create a robust environment for students to learn, collaborate, innovate and brainstorm.
  • Flexible Furniture – Each school site is equipped with flexible furniture, throughout each campus, to foster student-centered learning. This flexibility enables teachers and students to reconfigure their space for large or small group instruction and collaboration.

Both schools have been designed to meet criteria developed by the Collaborative for High Performance Schools, which helps establish campuses that are healthy, comfortable, energy efficient and aligned with modern teaching and learning as reflected by IUSD’s Continuous Improvement Efforts.  In addition, many of the features at both schools are designed to mirror innovation and design lab features at such universities as Stanford and UCI.  As IUSD also continues to strengthen our relationships with the business community to ensure our students are prepared for 21st Century careers, we have developed the flexible student-centered spaces to be reflective of innovative workplaces.

Below is a list of features by school site.

IMG_9490Portola High School
This year, Portola High School welcomed approximately 400 freshmen and will add additional classes each year, resulting in a full 9-12 comprehensive high school by 2019-20.  The school is designed to support up to approximately 2,400 students.  In addition to a dedicated team of high-caliber educators, this state-of-the-art facility offers the latest educational technologies and a variety of amenities, including:

  • 21st-Century classrooms with common areas for collaborative learning
  • Dedicated science labs and visual and performing arts classrooms
  • A student union featuring collaborative learning environment, a library with dedicated quiet rooms and an Innovation Lab
  • Design lab for students’“Senior Passion Project” development
  • An elective building that will house a video production studio, 2D and 3D art, acoustically designed music rooms and more
  • A performing arts building with a 720-seat theater, black box and dance studio
  • A special education facility to facilitate essential life skills
  • A green roof that will enable hands-on, sustainable learning
  • A 2,940 seat stadium with rubberized track and artificial turf
  • An aquatics center with a 50-meter pool
  • A 2,044 seat gymnasium that includes training facilities and dedicated team rooms
  • Eight tennis courts
  • Varsity and JV baseball and softball fields
  • Track and field facilities
  • Two full soccer fields

To learn more about Portola High School, visit  Additional resources include:


To view a video of the first day at Portola High School, click here.

Beacon Park K-8
Beacon Park will accommodate approximately 1,000 students at capacity.  Similar to Portola High School, this state-of-the-art campus will also include the latest educational technologies and a variety of amenities including:

  • Student collaboration spaces across all grade levels
  • Dedicated music classrooms
  • Dedicated science classrooms in grades 6-8
  • Innovation Lab
  • Design Lab
  • Parent Center
  • Full-Court Gymnasium
  • Dedicated kindergarten play area
  • Large outdoor play field
  • Hard court activities including handball and tetherball equipment
  • Dedicated fitness lab for students in grades 6-8– Mirrors athletic spaces found at the high school level.

 To learn more about Beacon Park, visit

IUSD is pleased to welcome back to school all of our more than 32,000 students and their families and we hope those attending our new schools feel at home as they settle in for a great year ahead.

Portola High School Welcome Message from Principal Pehrson

Dear Portola High School Community,

We are excited to open our doors for the first class at Portola High School on August 24, 2016.  This historic graduating class of 2020 will be the beneficiaries of more than five years of expert vision, design and construction on our 42-acre campus, which is adjacent to the Great Park.  While we are opening with only freshmen in the 2016-2017 school year, we will add an additional class each year resulting in a full 9-12 comprehensive high school by the 2019-2020 school year.

Portola High School will offer the same opportunities for ninth graders as those offered at any other high school within the Irvine Unified School District.  These opportunities include a rigorous and relevant curriculum, a visual and performing arts program, an athletics program with a complete offering of freshman level teams, and a robust activities program.

Portola High School was designed in partnership with the best experts in the industry.  The planning involved numerous stakeholders throughout this multi-year process, resulting in a state-of-the-art 21st century facility complete with a performing arts complex, centered around a 700 seat theater, an aquatics complex including an Olympic-sized pool, an indoor gym (with three full sized courts) that is able to seat 2,000 guests, a 3,500 seat athletic stadium, a student union, and a learning commons designed to spark innovation.  The school also contains several dedicated student and teacher collaboration meeting rooms.  Finally, a fully equipped innovation lab (also known as a “Maker Space”) is located off the Student Union near a design room which will be used for a variety of purposes but most importantly, it will provide a space for our learners to create and develop their “Senior Passion Projects.”

Technologically, Portola High School boasts a WIFI system capable of up to five devices per person at full capacity.  As we move closer to a paperless system, our learners and instructors will use the latest software to manage and facilitate learning.  Furniture is flexible and stackable throughout the campus, allowing each space to convert readily from one learner-centered arrangement to another.

There is no doubt that the school site and all its amenities are beyond incredible.  That being said, what really elevates Portola High School is the quality of the staff that has been assembled.  The leadership team has been in place for more than a year prior to our opening.  Notable support from the District has afforded us time for the research and mind-work necessary to put structures and protocols in place that form the foundation of this unique and innovative 21st century school.

Our vision is that Portola High School will be a place where every learner belongs, contributes, and thrives.  We purposefully use the word “learner” to include not only students but adults, as well.  In this rapidly changing world, we all need to be continually growing, taking risks, and experimenting with new knowledge and skills.  From this vision, came our mission and our Bulldog PRIDE (Perseverance, Respect, Integrity, Drive, Empathy) motto, which describes the characteristics we want each of our students to demonstrate on a daily basis.

The core of our work and what we are about as educators are what we call our “learning outcomes.”  Our efforts each day are driven by our commitment to help each learner become capable, creators, communicators and contributors.  Each of these learning outcomes are defined by a set of 21st Century skills that will be specifically addressed across the curriculum and through our advisement program.

The Portola High School bell schedule is unique in that it is a mixture of an eight-period alternating block schedule with one day per week in which all periods meet for an abbreviated time.  The Portola Leadership team decided that it was in our learners’ best interest that instructors teach six classes rather than five in an effort to minimize class size.  Rather than the typical class size of 38-40, Portola will run classes at an average of 32 students per class.

Within the bell schedule, we have established designated time for teacher collaboration (professional development and staff meetings included), Office Hours (a time for students to receive extra support two times per week), and Advisement (a time for each teacher to meet with 25 students twice a week in a non-academic yet structured setting).  The schedule has been purposefully designed to give students flexibility and options in selecting their courses, as well as fewer classes each school night to focus on for study.

When Portola High School students are in their fourth year, they will participate in what we call the “Senior Passion Project.”  This course, designed across disciplines, will support the students throughout a four-year process, from grade nine to grade twelve, so that, by the time they enter their senior year, they will be ready to address one problem or issue of personal interest and relevance, to research a possible approach or solution, and to create a product or model which they will present to a panel of experts from the community—whether academic, artistic or entrepreneurial.

Needless to say, we are excited beyond what words can describe.  Our staff has fully embraced the concepts of intellectual risk-taking, learning through failure, continuous improvement, and Portola PRIDE.  We eagerly await what 2016-2017 has in store for us and the students we serve, and we very much look forward to your partnership with us.

Serving with PRIDE,

John Pehrson, Principal
Go Bulldogs!

IUSD High Schools Ranked Top in the Nation

Newsweek magazine has published its annual list of the top public high schools in the U.S.  IUSD was the only Orange County school district with Newsweek Top Schools Ranking 2016schools in the top 100 nationally.  Equally impressive, three IUSD high schools were ranked top three in Orange County.    Northwood High School ranked first in the county and No. 25 nationally, University High School was second in the county and No. 57 nationally, and Woodbridge High School was third in the county and No. 69 nationally.

Newsweek selected 500 of the nation’s best from more than 20,000 public high schools.  The ranking process included indicators such as standardized test scores; counselor staffing; college acceptance and enrollment; SAT and ACT participation and performance; Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate and Advanced International Certificate of Education (AICE) participation and performance; and dual enrollments.

Below are the 12 OC high schools on the top 500 list:

  • Northwood High School, Irvine Unified School District (25)
  • University High School, Irvine Unified School District (57)
  • Woodbridge High School, Irvine Unified School District (69)
  • Corona del Mar High School, Newport-Mesa Unified School District (100)
  • Yorba Linda High School, Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District (172)
  • Aliso Niguel High School, Capistrano Unified School District (252)
  • Arnold O. Beckman High School, Tustin Unified School District (295)
  • Tesoro High School, Capistrano Unified School District (323)
  • Trabuco Hills High School, Saddleback Valley Unified School District (335)
  • Huntington Beach High School, Huntington Beach Union High School District (346)
  • San Clemente High School, Capistrano Unified School District (403)
  • Marina High School, Huntington Beach Union High School District (475)

Other publications, including U.S. News & World Report and The Orange County Register, have also curated lists of top-performing high schools over the years, using their own respective formulas. While no ranking system can tell the full story of what goes on inside a school or classroom, each adds something to the discussion of educational success.  IUSD schools have been consistently recognized.

Reminder: Measure E Citizens Oversight Committee Applications Due Aug. 10

The Irvine Unified School District (IUSD) is seeking 10 qualified volunteers to serve on the independent Measure E Citizens Oversight Committee.  Measure E, which was passed by voters in June 2016, is a $319 million school facilities improvement measure.

California state law requires that a Citizens Oversight Committee be appointed by the Board of Education to monitor bond expenditures and ensure bond revenues are allocated in compliance with the voter approved measure.  The committee provides transparency and maintains public confidence in the use of Measure E bond funds.

Applicants must commit to a two-year term of service and reside or own property within the School Facilities Improvement District (SFID) boundaries.  Click here to view the SFID boundary map.  Membership is voluntary, without compensation, and members must be 18 years of age.  Employees, vendors, contractors, consultants, or IUSD officials are not eligible for appointment to the Committee.

The Committee will meet quarterly, with all meetings conducted in the evenings, after work hours, and open to the public. Dates and times to be determined.

Applications will be accepted from July 6 through August 10 and are available online at  or at the front desk of the Irvine Unified School District Office, located at 5050 Barranca Parkway, Irvine, CA 92604.  Completed applications must be received no later than 4 p.m. on August 10.  Committee appointments are expected to be approved by IUSD’s Board of Education at the August 23, 2016 Board Meeting.

Applications may be returned by:

  • Email at (Subject Line: Citizens Oversight Committee Application)
  • Fax to 949-936-5259 (Att: Citizens Oversight Committee)
  • Mail or hand-delivered to the District Office at 5050 Barranca Parkway, Irvine, CA 92604 (Att: Citizens Oversight Committee)

For additional information or questions, please email, call 949-936-5251 or visit