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VIDEO: Capo Unified Drops After-School Classes

A new law prompted by an ACLU lawsuit makes it harder for the district to charge fees for enrichment programs. Alternatives are being sought.

After-school enrichment classes run by the Capistrano Unified School District have been canceled for December and January because the district is no longer allowed to charge fees for them, Superintendent Joseph Farley said at a town hall-type meeting Wednesday.

About 80 or so parents gathered at Aliso Niguel High School to raise various concerns with Farley, including the recent notice that all classes offered through the district’s Activities Camps Enrichment program are canceled.

“Most of us already paid, and then we’re getting calls there will be no class,” a mom shouted from the back of the audience.

Farley said they will get refunds. The classes were canceled because of a new law that came about after the ACLU sued the state because many school districts – including Capo Unified – were charging fees when education is supposed to be free for all students, he said.

The district is already developing a work-around solution, Farley said. While the district itself no longer can provide the enrichment classes, nonprofit foundations that raise money for the schools can, and so can for-profit organizations, as long as they pay to use the school facilities at the market rates.

However, attorneys have advised the district to only allow classes that are substantially different than the curriculum offered during the regular school day, Farley said. So while a Lego engineering class is probably OK, musical theaters classes may not be, he said.

“We’re literally right in the middle of figuring out what can be legal,” Farley told parents. He’s hopeful many of the classes will be back online for the second semester.

“I think it will be OK,” he said.

Other topics raised by parents included:

  • Technology – parents were concerned that CUSD seems behind the technology curve. Farley said the district has a very comprehensive technology plan but did acknowledge that schools with more aggressive parent fundraising has created “haves and have-nots.”
  • The budget – parents said they were unhappy with class sizes and fewer instructional days on the school calendar. Farley said the district had no choice when it was forced to cut $30 million from the budget. “If and when income improves, furlough days will be the first thing that will improve and then probably the class sizes,” he said. He said no one wanted these cuts, but the district had nothing left to cut.
  • The unions – one parent said the teachers are looking out for themselves, not the children. Farley said that wasn’t a fair representation. “At least in our district, the association gets a bad rap when it’s perceived that they weren’t cooperating with us when they were. … We’d like to have longer years, we’d like to have more days. We don’t want furlough days either. We can’t wait to get that erased.”

Farley also outlined some initiatives he’d like to see on the horizon, including addressing the needs of aging schools that have had large maintenance projects deferred because of the ongoing budget crisis, mandatory drug testing for student athletes and a massive public relations campaign to encourage parents and the community to brag about the great schools in the district.

randy December 01, 2012 at 06:21 AM
CP2, remember 20:1 ratio and at least 180 days and longer school days with free music, sports and many activities? Seems people forget how blessed kids had in 2000s. 2010's is disaster news for innocent american parents.
Capo Parent Too December 01, 2012 at 06:45 AM
What's your point Randy? Dawn is saying that funding is up, it's not! The fact is this, since 2006 the CUSD budget has been slashed by more than a 3rd, this district has taken a disproportionate hit to their budget. Should teachers take a pay cut? Yes, but furlough days are pay cuts and right now, they are missing 5 days this year, 15, not 20. In an ideal world would I like to see less students in a class? yes, but that also isn't the largest thing that determines a child's success, what we want to do is try to get and retain the best teachers and we need to compete.
bbq December 01, 2012 at 11:34 AM
Shelly wrote: "randy, gas prices in the summer of 2008 were $4.11. But they flucuated wildly that year as they did this year http://gasbuddy.com/gb_retail_price_chart.aspx. The average 4 years ago was less than it is now. Do you not believe that prices go up?" On the other hand, Shelly, Do you not believe that prices also go down? http://www.zillow.com/local-info/CA-home-value To quote you: "I really believe that you should research what you are writing." See, everybody can "spin" their view.
Dawn Urbanek December 01, 2012 at 01:27 PM
Shelly- The economy does have an affect on costs- but, as we have seen in California, Governments policies can have an even greater affect on the Quality of life for its citizens. Our Nation, and many economies around the world have suffered because of irresponsible fiscal policies. When you are in a recession you do not borrow money to cover employee compensation increases. California has done that and every level of Government and it is now bankrupting itself just as CUSD is. Orange County schools will be the first to fall into fiscal insolvency because you cannot increase taxes fast enough to keep pace with the ever rising costs of our employees (now over 100% of the District's budget) with six years of deferred maintenance, cuts to all programs, the largest class sizes in the State. We just voted to pass Prop 30- thinking it would "save schools" only to find that that money is already spent. It is back filling the unfunded State pensions and being used to pay for a high speed rail project. Now the State Senate is busy finding more ways to increase taxes to help the failing school Districts- their answer to write a constitutional amendment to make it easier for School Districts and local municipalities to pass local taxes. See the following article: http://blogs.sacbee.com/capitolalertlatest/2012/11/senate-democrat-wants-lower-
Dawn Urbanek December 01, 2012 at 01:36 PM
Sorry- here is the full link http://blogs.sacbee.com/capitolalertlatest/2012/11/senate-democrat-wants-lower-hurdle-for-library-taxes.html The fiscal Policies of this State have become abusive- as have the demands of CUSD on its parents and children. You cannot put at jeopardy the future of 47,000 children to protect the compensation of a few thousand employees. Alexander Fraser Tyler lived from 1748 to 1813 and wrote a book entitled: The Decline and Fall of the Athenian Republic: "A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the majority discovers it can vote itself largess out of the public treasury. After that, the majority always votes for the candidate promising the most benefits with the result the democracy collapses because of the loose fiscal policy ensuing, always to be followed by a dictatorship, then a monarchy." I think that California has reached this point. There is no effort to solve fiscal problems in an intellectual and meaningful way. The only solution ever brought forward is to increase revenues.
Dawn Urbanek December 01, 2012 at 01:51 PM
Forbes Magazine recently published an article entitled "Do you live in a Death Spiral State" which warns investors not to invest in States where private sector workers are outnumbered by people that are dependent on government- http://www.forbes.com/sites/baldwin/2012/11/25/do-you-live-in-a-death-spiral-state/ Something to consider: Eleven States have been identified as danger spots for investors based on: 1) The Ratio of tax takers to tax payers which includes the number of state and local government workers plus the number of people on Medicaid plus 1 for each $100,000 of unfunded pension liabilities. 2) State credit-worthiness which looks at the size of a States debt and the competitiveness of the business climate. The Article warns against investing in California stating- "Don't count on a property tax limit to protect your homes' value. If other taxes are high enough, there won't be any buyers. 2)
Dawn Urbanek December 01, 2012 at 01:56 PM
If we do not correct the path we are on- the quality of life in Orange County will go down- California's rising standards of living and outstanding public schools and universities once attracted millions seeking upward economic mobility. But then something went radically wrong as California legislatures and governors built a welfare state on high tax rates, liberal entitlement benefits, and excessive regulation. The results, though predictable, are nonetheless striking. From the mid-1980s to 2005, California's population grew by 10 million, while Medicaid recipients soared by seven million; tax filers paying income taxes rose by just 150,000; and the prison population swelled by 115,000. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304537904577277242682364690.html
randy December 01, 2012 at 06:47 PM
As a result, your kids or unborn grandkids will suffer unless they will kiss, brownose the plutocrats once democracy is going to be a showcase. Current parents like us need to invest children and their freedom of the future. Many private sectors are now kissing bosses' large ringstones. Live their way or you find a way to dig. Same old stuff since Egyptians' Pharaoh era. Are we backpedaling? Can't you see a big theory as well as big bang ones?
shelly December 03, 2012 at 12:33 AM
Dawn, "liberal etitlement benefits" and "excessive regulation" please define.
shelly December 03, 2012 at 12:34 AM
randy, Where is your research?
shelly December 03, 2012 at 12:39 AM
bbq, Yep, housing prices went down because banks and financial institutions oversold bogus loans over and over and over again. But things are looking up. And the price of our home in SJC is still about twice as much as when we bought it. Teachers did not cause the downturn in housing prices. Gas is up. Milk is up.
Dawn Urbanek December 03, 2012 at 02:59 AM
Shelly- Read the article- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304537904577277242682364690.html
randy December 03, 2012 at 06:47 AM
Dawn, pretty much similar what I know based on research. However, I, for one, believe union is still reasonably needed for the certified professionals working with children daily. The teachers with credentials are considered a "cream of the crop" and I get tired hearing public bashing or suing them. If not union, much worse; however, I have heard some kind of abuse on seniority clause which is unfair for the children who need more role models and professional guidance by teacher. Headcount, ratio is unnatural for children with minimal supervision (35:1) when there are many prison guards watching inmates in this state. In one juvenile hall in OC, what is the ratio per classroom? Check with OCDE. Govt needs reorganization and prioritize how to lower the class sizes and adding more credentialed teachers in the clssroom (flowchart).
Dawn Urbanek December 03, 2012 at 02:13 PM
Randy- I agree with you. We need more local control of schools. More classroom teachers ans less educational entities- US Department of Education- California State Board of Education- Orange County Department of Education- Capistrano Unified School District- School Site administration- That is a lot of very expensive people that are not actually teaching our children.
shelly December 03, 2012 at 03:08 PM
Dawn, Your article is an opinion piece and it is not my designation but the designation of the wsj.
Dawn Urbanek December 03, 2012 at 03:59 PM
Shelly- The Article contains links to all of the data that supports the statement. Look at the data.
shelly December 03, 2012 at 05:04 PM
Dawn, The opinion piece does not contain links to support the statements. And your whole comment above is taken directly from this opinion piece. You really should put quote marks around it to indicate this otherwise it reads as something that you wrote and seems like plagarism which I know you did NOT mean to do.
Don James December 03, 2012 at 05:55 PM
You know, Shelly, if you really need to ask for those definitions, you should be on another blog discussing Cat in the Hat book reviews. Get real!
shelly December 03, 2012 at 07:45 PM
Don James, It is really easy to throw out sound bites that sound good but harder to define them. If people are going to state something then they should be able to define and explain. Oh, and “And this mess is so big And so deep and so tall, We cannot pick it up. There is no way at all!” ― Dr. Seuss, The Cat in the Hat But they do pick it up, together.
shelly December 03, 2012 at 07:54 PM
Dawn, I read the opinion and there are no links. And you should use quotation marks when you are copying and pasting things from anyone's writing
Don James December 03, 2012 at 09:27 PM
Well Shelly, I will tip my hat (pardon the pun) to your witty reply. Still, any person with some common sense knows there are no dictionary like definitions for those two terms. But there are plenty of examples. For example, CA is known to have 33% of welfare cases in the US while only having 16% of the country’s population. It is much easier to manipulate and game the system than in other states as well. As for the excess regulation, do yourself a favor and look at all of the bureaucracies in our state. It is an eclectic mix of alphabet soup agencies which often serve as no more than a termed out politician getting back on the government payroll for a job that has very little responsibility. If you want revenues to flow back into public education, look no further than kicking half of these agencies into the ditch. It would save millions for sure.
OCmomof3 December 04, 2012 at 02:12 AM
Isn't anyone else concerned about Farley saying he wants to see a "massive public relations campaign to encourage parents and the community to brag about the great schools in the district"? Who will that benefit? How will we pay for a massive PR campaign? Instead we should use those funds to create enrichment programs that benefit all of our kids, which will benefit our community and organically create a positive PR campaign. Let's hold our superintendant and school board accountable and not allow them to spend our tax dollars on a campaign that will only benefit themselves and not our kids.
Dawn Urbanek December 04, 2012 at 02:46 AM
Reply to OC Mom- I am- thank you for pointing that out. That is what an Organization on a sinking ship does. A responsible leader would be honest with parents and the public and have everyone work together to find solutions. The only time this District asks parents and the public for input is to help raise money- other than that they want us to go away.
shelly December 04, 2012 at 03:27 AM
Don James, I didn't ask for a dictionary definition. Still no definition just generalities. No specifics.
Dawn Urbanek December 04, 2012 at 03:29 AM
Interesting Read from the State of California- 21. How many state employees are there now v. 20 years ago? The Department of Finance tracks Personnel Years, which are the actual or estimated portions of positions expended for the performance of work. The number of Personnel Years is roughly equal to the number of full-time equivalent employees. See: Chart M — Historical Data, Personnel Years Chart M-1 — Historical Data, Personnel Years by Program Area and Percent Change Schedule 4 — Personnel Years and Salary Cost Estimates (Revised) Schedule 6 — Summary of State Population, Employees and Expenditures
Dawn Urbanek December 04, 2012 at 03:30 AM
Sorry- here is the link: http://www.dof.ca.gov/budgeting/budget_faqs/#2 #21
Dawn Urbanek December 04, 2012 at 03:39 AM
Look at Schedule 6: Employees 2006 317,593 2012 341,106 Expenditures per capita: 2006 3,323.85 2012 3,661.84 Why is the State hiring more Government employees and spending more when we are in a recession and cutting days off of our school year?
randy December 04, 2012 at 06:09 AM
Another amazing thing they did while kids' loss! Interesting illusion. I think when economy declined since 2008, govt must have done more to spend.
Dawn Urbanek December 04, 2012 at 02:25 PM
Also of interest: CUEA Public Disclosure of Collective Bargaining Agreements Annual Cost Prior to Agreement 1. Salary Schedule November 14, 2011 $178,480,183 June 27, 2012 $179,288,782 Salary expense went UP by $808,599 #7 Total Number of Represented Employees November 14, 2011: 2083 June 27, 2012: 2155 The Number of Employees has increased by 72 Penny do you know if these 72 new employees were classroom teachers?
Penny Arévalo (Editor) December 04, 2012 at 02:51 PM
I don't see how they could be, as class size went up by 1.5 students across all grades, per the contract. And parents seem to be confirming this. I'll ask.

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