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ORANGE : School Board Drafts Its Goals for Education

Less bilingual education, more early reading, leaner legal bills and promoting voluntary community service were some of the goals set by newly seated members of the Orange Unified School Board at a workshop this week.

This is the second consecutive year the board has set district goals before tackling budget decisions in the spring.

Addressing concerns about the thousands of students suspended and expelled under the district’s “zero-tolerance” policy toward criminal behavior on campus, some of the goals aim to stop problems before they erupt.

Some members suggested a reading tutorial program that could help detect academic trouble in the early grades, but such a program carries a high price tag.

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Board members also were united behind the goal of decreasing the amount of time foreign-speaking children spend in bilingual transition programs. But officials warned about pushing too hard, too fast.

“Reclassifying kids [as English speakers] too fast just to make numbers is a danger,” Assistant Supt. Neil McKinnon said. “Once they are re-designated, we take those services away from them.”

Trustee Martin Jacobson suggested a new community service program for seniors that would either be voluntary or fill graduation requirements. But board members agreed to keep that program optional after Trustee Bill Lewis objected.

“It’s one more thing we’re doing that shouldn’t be in public education,” Lewis said. “As a libertarian I’m against it, because optional always turns into compulsory.”

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The trustees will adopt the final draft of the goals at their Dec. 14 meeting.


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