Thank you to the OCBOCC for conducting a public meeting earlier this week with the two traditional public schools. I attended my first such joint meeting at the end of OCS Superintendent Wirt's tenure and have tried to make every subsequent one as I find the content valuable and the discussions are reassuring that children's preK-12 education remains a priority.
Based upon some remarks at the most recent joint gathering, here is a link to find some school growth data and scatter-shots:
What could the amazing school-level teachers & staff in OCS & CHCCS do if more financial resources reached them and the children they educate during the school year, for extended learning, for summer programming? Some additional questions that came to my mind as I sat through the joint meeting:
* Where is the urgency and where are the tangible changes to redress exceptional children services in both of the traditional public schools through local funding?
* What tangible services are actually reaching OCS & CHCCS students who lost learning in math and/or reading? How do all families connect with the tangible services?
In my opinion, the required level of OCBOCC oversight of the complex and (sadly) sometimes seedy aspects of the education business, wherever Orange County taxes flow, is missing right now. Of further concern, is Orange County government preparing, and how so, to safeguard the flow of their residents' tax dollars if and when it widens further beyond the two traditional public school districts located here?
Can or should the lack of fiscal and policy controls, at the levels seen in OCS and in CHCCS in recent years be considered unintended? Accidental? Unrepeatable?
As for OCS, I have shared with the Board of Education that is my opinion (only) that the entity needs an external forensic audit. What a mess (understatement) which matters, from my perspective, as the lack of adequate fiscal and policy controls are two major contributors to the negative educational outcomes befalling some children.
What systemically is Orange County government doing to prevent waste & worse with local tax dollars? More specifically, is the OCBOCC satisfying its fiduciary obligation over the tax dollars they generously allocate toward the education of children in the light of current circumstances?
As a suggestion for both better accountability and public transparency, would the OCBOCC please consider adding to its newer and appreciated follow-up chart --the one that I last located on the OC government webpage -- the questions/responses/records that arise out of the "chairs" regular education meetings, the education capital needs assessment group, and all other Commissioner education-specific inquiries? Of course, if this type of information is already available to the general public without a public records request, thank you, and will you please let me know where it is located?
An earlier suggestion I made is for the consideration of an Inspector General role at the Orange County government level. That role creation is still an option worth exploring, from my vantage, and I hope you will make it an agenda topic to discuss this Fall.
Thank you for reading my note. I appreciate your service.
Regards, Kari (Hamel)
* There have been eight (8) different people, by my count, in the superintendency role in OCS & CHCCS combined in this 5-6 year period. The short term tenures of central office executives (beyond just the superintendency role) who may also be holding second jobs that take away from focusing on children's learning loss and gaps, along with the proliferation of education consultants with low-to-no public visibility or measurable accountability that I have been seeing, seems a calling to Orange County government for different models and tangible practices of oversight and public transparency as to the acceptable uses of local tax dollars.
Please excuse the grammatical and typographical errors.