State Of California Cuts Back “Federal Surplus Personal Property Program” That Allowed California School Districts To Purchase Equipment At Extremely Low Cost

At precisely the time when a faltering economy means cities and schools need to save money, the state of California has decimated one of the very programs that helps local governments cut costs.

For decades, schools districts like the Huntington Beach Union High School District and the Anaheim Union High School District have depended on an obscure program that allows nonprofits, small businesses and local governments to acquire surplus federal equipment at dramatically reduced prices.

Under the Federal Surplus Personal Property Program, you can get a$15,000 forklift for $1,000, an $8,000 Dodge van for $750.

“That’s how we’re sending money to the classroom. We don’t have to buy a $60,000 truck,” said Steve Bradford, fleet manager for the Huntington Beach district. He said his district has acquired staff cars, trucks, vans, electric carts, forklifts, trailers and portable lights through the program.

“It’s been a life saver for us,” said Scott McDonough, garage supervisor for the Anaheim district, who estimates that 35 to 40 percent of the 150 vehicles in his “white” fleet (non-school buses) were obtained through the program.

To cut costs, however, the state recently closed the program’s headquarters in Santa Ana and moved the operation to Sacramento. That might not sound like a big deal, but McDonough and Bradford say it’s been a disaster. They say the program doesn’t work now and they can’t figure out what equipment is available.

Charter Renewed For “Nova Academy” In Santa Ana, CA, A School Focused On High School And College Courses Taken Simultaneously

The Santa Ana Unified School Board renewed the charter Tuesday for Nova Academy, a school focused on allowing students to simultaneously take college courses and high school classes.

Nearly 100 students, parents and teachers from the school attended Tuesday’s meeting to support the new five-year charter.

Nova Academy, with 79 students, allows some students to earn associate arts degrees from Santa Ana College at the same time they earn high school diplomas. The campus was originally granted a charter as a school for foster children and orphans, and is sponsored by Olive Crest Homes and Services for Abused Children.

Charter schools receive funding directly from the state. They have to provide their own facilities and other services. School districts provide oversight of charter schools’ finances and curriculum and can deny charters if districts believe the schools are falling short of their obligations.

Santa Ana Unified officials had said there were concerns that the number of instructional minutes of many students did not meet minimum state standards. Some students left their high school courses early, or arrived late, so they could attend their college courses, district officials said.

But Nova Academy administrators said students now make up the lost minutes in extra classes during the week.

Orange County Schools Compete At El Modena High In “Orange County Mathematics Field Day Program”

Hundreds of 4th-, 5th- and 6th-graders showed that it’s cool to be smart as they proved their math skills at the Orange County Mathematics Field Day Program at El Modena High School.

Top math performers from nearly 30 elementary and middle schools in north Orange County teamed up and practiced for months leading to the event, pouring over pre-algebra and geometry problems and learning mental math techniques to prepare for the competition.

Kathy Kim, a fourth-grade teacher and the math coach at Canyon Rim Elementary School in Anaheim Hills said some students, especially girls, shy away from doing well once they reach eighth grade.

Girls scored an average of 542 – 35 points lower than boys – on the SAT math section, according to 2004-2005 California Department of Education data – the most recent statistics available in revealing the gender gap.

“Some kids might be interested in trying out, but they feel like they’ll be labeled,” Kathy said. “What I try to let them know is you can be popular and outgoing and still be good at math.”

Fifth-graders from Anderson Elementary School in Garden Grove put their geometry skills to the test when constructing a boat out of card stock and a sticky label that was to hold pennies inside without sinking.

Huntington Beach And Fountain Valley Schools Honored As “California Distinguished Schools”: Dwyer Middle School, Edison High School, Marina High School, Vista View Middle School, Fulton Middle School, And Masuda Middle School

california-distinguished-school1Dwyer Middle School and Edison and Marina high schools in Huntington Beach joined Vista View, Fulton and Masuda middle schools in Fountain Valley for the honor, which recognizes the top public schools in the state.The schools were among 136 middle and 125 high schools around the state to receive this year’s honor, out of nearly 2,400 schools statewide. State Supt. Jack O’Connell called each school’s principal Wednesday to give them the news.

This was Fulton’s first Distinguished School honor, and comes on the heels of big gains in its students’ math scores, Principal Chris Christensen said. The school surpassed 900 points on its recent API exam, giving it one of the top grades in the state.

After taking a dip in 2007, the school made a concerted effort to raise its math scores above even 2006 levels, which may have caught the eye of the nominating committee.

Fulton also has run a Spotlight program over the last two years that Christensen said gives struggling math and English students the chance to get extra tutoring during their regular elective period.

The school also has focused on improving its eighth-grade science program, and has become knowledgeable of data-driven instruction methods that allow the school’s Professional Learning Communities, groups of teachers who work together to improve student achievement, to go back to challenging portions of the curriculum and give students additional assistance.

Edison High chose to focus on its ways of integrating the school’s special education population in its application, as well as the parent partnership the school has developed, Principal D’liese Melendrez said. She has already notified parents of the achievement through the school’s phone system, and was delighted to find that the county Department of Education planted signs and balloons in front of the school last Thursday morning.

Principal Don Ruisinger said this is Dwyer’s third Distinguished School honor, but the first since he took the school’s helm.



RealSAVI Number For Garden Grove Unified School District

Orange County 2008 API High School Index Average Price Per Sq Ft RealSavi Number Average Price Per Sq Ft RealSavi Number
Garden Grove    Feb-09 Feb-09 Mar-09 Mar-09
Bolsa Grande 770  $ 263.40 2.92  $ 309.23 2.49
Garden Grove  782  $ 272.17 2.87  $ 282.92 2.76
La Quinta 849  $ 292.06 2.91  $ 305.92 2.78
Pacifica 798  $ 291.62 2.74  $ 285.78 2.79
Rancho Alamitos 740  $ 254.94 2.90  $ 239.58 3.09
Santiago 720  $ 225.08 3.20  $ 267.47 2.69


Tustin Unified School District: $12.5 Million To Be Eliminated From $160 Million Budget; “Categorical Money” From Federal Stimulus Funds Are Very Restrictive Says Superintendent

Some school leaders said that restrictions on how stimulus dollars can be used are boxing them in.

“Getting more categorical money—that’s nice for the few of our schools that are Title I schools, but not all of our schools are Title I schools,” said Richard Bray, the superintendent of the 21,000-student Tustin Unified School District in southern California.

The district plans to cut about $12.5 million in the next fiscal year from a budget of $160 million. Teachers will be laid off, and programs such as elementary school music will be eliminated, Mr. Bray said, noting that the city plans to start providing a music program.

There are dollars available that can be used for general education purposes, Mr. Bray said, but superintendents will have to lobby for them in competition with colleges and universities.

Orange County Schools Receive Thirty-One “California Distinguished Schools” Designations


Thirty-one Orange County public middle schools and high schools have been named California Distinguished Schools, the state’s top honor for campuses.

The prize goes to just 10 percent of campuses statewide.