Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Scenes from Silverado's 103rd Open House

The parents gathered, teachers were introduced, pizza was sold by Girl Scouts, proud students shared their work, classrooms were visited and admired - all was well except for the looming closure.

One wonders why the board of trustees and the superintendent didn't take the time to visit the little school in the canyon on this warm spring evening.

Surely if they believe so much in their decision they should stand behind it publicly, facing the very children and people it affects the most.

Their silence is deafening.


Thursday, May 14, 2009

OUSD to Receive over $7 Million in Federal Stimulus Money

The Monday May 11 edition of the OC Register carried Fermin Leal's story on the federal stimulus money headed toward OC school districts.

The county's school districts will receive a combined total of $125.6 million.

What's our share?

Orange Unified School District is slated to receive $7,533,299.

Leal writes:
The money will go toward districts' general funds, meaning districts will have flexibility over where to spend. Much of the funding will go to help reduce the number of layoffs, state and local officials have said.

To read the rest of the article, click here.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Superintendent Dreier Writes a Letter

Parent and Silverado school supporter Jeff Wilson received the following letter yesterday:

Good Morning, Dr. Wilson:

On behalf of Dr. Dreier, the following letter is being forwarded to you:

May 7, 2009

Dr. Wilson:

With regard to your request to place an action item on the May 12th agenda regarding the closure of Silverado Elementary School, please be advised that this subject is governed by the provisions of Government Code 54954.3

“The agenda need not provide an opportunity for members of the public to address the legislative body on any item that has already been considered by a committee, composed exclusively of members of the legislative body, at a public meeting wherein all interested members of the public were afforded the opportunity to address the committee on the item, before or during the committee's consideration of the item…”

The Board of Education took formal action to close Silverado School at the March 12th meeting due to the impact of budgetary pressures on the District. After consultation with the Board President, it has been determined that your item request to reconsider the closure of Silverado Elementary School will not be placed on the May 12th agenda.

Renae Dreier

Concerned parents and community members will be meeting Monday May 11 at 8 AM at Silverado Elementary School to discuss this and other matters. Please join us.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Traffic Report and Analysis

With the assistance of the county transportation department and the Office of Supervisor Bill Campbell and the dedicated work of the usual suspects, the following report was complied and distributed this week to the OUSD Board of Trustees and Superintendent Drier. I've had to adapt it for blog posting as my limited computer skills don't allow me to post the tables of statistics.

Silverado Elementary School is located at 7531 Santiago Canyon Road, about a half-mile from the entrance to Silverado Canyon and about two miles from the entrance of Modjeska Canyon. Buses travel through Silverado, Williams and Modjeska canyons to pick up and drop off students each morning and afternoon. Roads in the canyons are narrow and winding, with low tree branches and other obstacles. Live Oak Canyon Road and Trabuco Road are included in this report because if Silverado Elementary closes, a number of families will use those roads to drive their children to Trabuco Elementary, a school with a similar teaching and administrative philosophy and similar in size to Silverado.

Orange County provided traffic counts for the years 2006, 2007, 2008 and January through March 2009. The figures indicate that Santiago Canyon is heavily traveled, carrying an average of 6,000 vehicles a day. In an average year, Santiago experiences 19 traffic accidents, with an average of 12 injuries and one fatality.

While Live Oak carries about half the number of vehicles per day as Santiago, it has almost twice as many accidents. The annual average is 38 accidents, with 21 injuries and three fatalities.

Silverado Canyon Road averages 6.7 accidents a year and the two Modjeska Roads (Modjeska Canyon and Modjeska Grade) average 1.3 accidents a year.

Buses will likely pick up children from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m., then bring the kindergarten students home between 12 p.m. and 2 p.m. Other students will travel home from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. From 2006 through 2008, Santiago Canyon Road experienced 27 accidents during these hours. Live Oak Canyon Road had 31; Silverado had 8 and the two Modjeska Roads, three.

The statistics reveal that the canyon roads are dangerous to travel and the risk of collision increases with mileage gained on Santiago Canyon Road toward the city of Orange or Live Oak Road toward Trabuco Elementary School.

When road closures occur, as they often do along Santiago Canyon Road, at Jamboree or the 241, it creates a significant hardship for our parents who need to transport the children to and from downtown schools. When the road is closed parents and/or buses must go all the way south to Lake Forest to get on the 5 freeway or 241 toll road, then travel to Orange to deliver or pick up children. This commute takes an additional hour (and the tolls are expensive). It is a distance of approximately 25-30 miles each way. As many of the elementary school children also attend the Silverado Children's Center (25 ages K-6), they are currently safeguarded from this problem. Since they are in nurtured professional care until 6 pm, their parents delayed by emergencies as this one can arrive to pick them up safely regardless. They are not sitting at a city school awaiting someone to get them….whenever they get there.

We feel that the singular solution to these safety and welfare issues is to keep Silverado Elementary School open in its current location on Santiago Canyon Road, where it is more safely and easily accessed by those going to and from school from both Modjeska and Silverado Canyon directions.

In conclusion, we respectfully but urgently offer that this traffic report and analysis, combined with the negative community economic impact report we provided OUSD at the last meeting --- in addition to the ongoing effort to create an Environmental Science Education Curriculum plan for our school --- warrants not only your renewed attention but your support of Silverado Elementary, a California Distinguished School and an important and essential facility among OUSD schools.

Please consider writing additional letters to the OUSD board and the superintendent citing this critical information.

The next OUSD board meeting is Tuesday May 12.