School board approves guitar, ukelele course

Laguna Beach Unified School District board members approved a guitar/ukelele course at Laguna Beach High School next fall during its regular board meeting Tuesday night.

The board voted 5-0 for the elective course that will count toward the high school's fine art graduation requirement or general elective credit, according to a district staff report.

Twenty-three students already had signed up for the class as of Tuesday, said Deni Christensen, the district's assistant superintendent of instructional services.

Students will learn proper playing technique and instrument care, standard notation, chords and symbols. They will also study music theory, key composers, historical context and significant performers.

Jeremy Chung, Thurston Middle School band conductor, wrote the curriculum, Christensen said.

The projected cost for instruments, tuners and textbooks is $6,650, according to the staff report.

The $500 for books is covered by the school district's budget while the estimated $6,150 for guitars, ukeleles and tuners will be covered by the Marjorie Nelson Music Trust budget fund, which was bequeathed to the district for music programs and instruments.

Board member Theresa O'Hare questioned whether the $6,000 for 20 guitars and ukeleles, including cases, is too much since some students could bring their own equipment.

Christensen didn't think so.

"I have run a guitar class, and it won't be a waste," Christensen said. "Less students will bring ukeleles."


School crossing guard approved

The board also approved a school crossing guard at Thurston Middle School.

Staff will enter into a contract with All City Management Services Inc. to provide a crossing guard for the 2013-14 school year, according to the district staff report.

The district and city will share the $11,000 for the crossing guard, the staff report said. The district would not be liable to All City Management Services for any costs or expenses paid or incurred while the guard performs duties.

School districts are not required to provide crossing guards adjacent to schools, but the district factored in the issue of liability when considering a crossing guard at Thurston.

"Given the heavy traffic and large number of students who cross the street in front of Thurston, it is prudent to provide crossing guard services to reduce possible safety risks to students," the staff report said. "The district has been advised by its liability carrier that district employees should not attempt to control traffic on city streets because they are not on district property and traffic control is generally a municipal responsibility."


Employee recognized for work

Board members and staff also recognized Raymond Lee, budget analyst and accountant, as the district's 2013-14 Classified Employee of the Year.

Lee, 38, received a standing ovation during Tuesday's meeting, which he attended with his wife, Jennifer, and his parents.

"Ray is a pillar for us," said Dean West, assistant superintendent of business services.

Lee joined the district in 2009. He uploads and compiles reports and financial data for district staff.

"In addition to his technical skills, he has strong, polished communication skills," West said in a prepared statement.

Lee is fluent in three languages: Spanish, Chinese and English, and earned a bachelor's degree in Spanish from UC Irvine.

He volunteers at the Orangewood Children and Family Center.


Assistant principal leaving Thurston

Thurston assistant principal Mike Modeer is set to leave to become principal of Rancho San Joaquin Middle School, according to the Irvine Unified School District website.

Modeer's last day at Thurston will be June 28, said Gerald Vlasic, Laguna Beach Unified School District's human resources director.

He is replacing Scott Bowman, who will be the principal of Irvine's Jeffrey Trail Middle School when it opens this fall.

Modeer is in his second year at Thurston, and has extensive experience with college-readiness support systems and educational technology, the Irvine school district website said.

He graduated from Woodbridge High School, earned his bachelor's degree in managerial economics from UC Davis and a teaching credential from Cal State Fullerton.

Laguna Beach Unified is accepting applications, but will not interview for the vacancy until the Irvine school district board approves Modeer's hiring, which is expected in May, Vlasic said.

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