OCDE in 30 Seconds: A brief look at the ‘Move More Eat Healthy’ program


Once again, we’re challenging staff members to explain Orange County Department of Education programs or services in under half a minute.

For our latest installment of “OCDE in 30 Seconds,” we caught up with Program Coordinator Chris Corliss to talk about the “Move More Eat Healthy” initiative. Take a look.

If you want to learn more about the program, check out this story from the OCDE Newsroom or visit this webpage.


Is there an OCDE program or service you’d like to see explained in 30 seconds? Send us a request at communications@ocde.us.

What is MTSS? Here’s your four-minute primer (video)


As we’ve mentioned here before, education offers more than its share of buzzwords, acronyms and jargon, but some are definitely worth getting to know a little better.

MTSS is one.

The initials stand for Multi-Tiered System of Supports, and it’s essentially a comprehensive framework that a number of schools are using to address each student’s academic, behavioral and social-emotional needs.

Because MTSS is becoming so prevalent on campuses across Orange County, we enlisted our Media Services team and experts from OCDE to produce the brief explainer video above.

Take a look!

OCDE teams with community partners to open a new Fit Kid Center in Santa Ana

This week, Lydia Romero-Cruz Elementary School in Santa Ana became the latest Orange County campus to host a ribbon-cutting ceremony for its brand new Fit Kid Center.

FitKidAs we’ve previously reported here, Fit Kid Centers transform empty classrooms into engaging health and fitness rooms that can be used similar to computer labs. Each offers 30 minutes of fun, DVD-based exercise sessions, rotating small groups of students through a half-dozen self-directed stations that hone motor skills and promote overall fitness.

The center at Romero-Cruz was made possible by OCDE’s Move More Eat Healthy At School initiative with funding from the multi-agency Orange County Partnership to Improve Community Health, which in turn secured a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Santa Ana Unified Superintendent Rick Miller took part in the opening ceremony, which also featured Principal Erica Graves and dozens of students. You can check out some of the action in the video below, courtesy of the Santa Ana Unified School District’s Media Production team.

OCDE has now helped install approximately 20 Fit Kid Centers throughout the county and distributed more than 1,500 classroom Fit Kits, which can be used by elementary school teachers to facilitate quality P.E. lessons with little to no prep time.

Partnership between OCDE, OC Waste & Recycling wins top environmental award

GEELA2A waste-reduction partnership between the Orange County Department of Education’s Inside the Outdoors program and OC Waste & Recycling has received the state’s highest environmental honor.

On the heels of netting a major accolade from the California School Boards Association, Project Zero Waste, a service-learning program that empowers students with hands-on environmental science instruction, has earned its collaborators the prestigious Governor’s Environmental and Economic Leadership Award, or GEELA.

OCDE and OC Waste & Recycling were jointly recognized — along with just 11 other organizations — Tuesday night at the California Environmental Protection Agency headquarters in Sacramento.

In the photo above, CalEPA Secretary Matt Rodriquez, left, is joined on stage by Dr. Al Mijares, Orange County’s superintendent of schools; Isabel Rios, recycling and environmental programs manager with OC Waste & Recycling; Lori Kiesser, development director for Inside the Outdoors; and state Assemblyman Matthew Harper, R-Huntington Beach.

“This is a tremendous honor for our program,” Kiesser said. “The GEELA represents the top environmental award in the state, and it’s a testament to the collaborative efforts of Inside the Outdoors and OC Waste & Recycling, which are promoting sustainability and changing lives.”

Project Zero Waste teaches students the science of solid waste through Inside the Outdoors field trips as well as in-class lessons taught by Traveling Scientists. Program participants get to apply what they’ve learned to the design and implementation of solid waste reduction campaigns, which include campuswide recycling efforts, school gardens, community clean-up activities and other student-led activities.

The program, which in December earned the California School Boards Association’s Golden Bell Award, has offered science instruction to more than 325,000 students since it began in 2009. Follow-up assessments show these lessons increase STEM knowledge by an average of 14 percent, and schools engaging in Project Zero Waste have reduced their trash by up to 20,000 pounds annually.

Geelaseal“The lessons learned by students participating in Project Zero Waste extend beyond academics,” Orange County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Al Mijares said recently. “In applying science lessons to develop solutions to real-world problems, students gain team-building, creativity and leadership skills.”

Established in 1993, the Governor’s Environmental and Economic Leadership Award is presented annually to individuals, companies and organizations that use sustainable business practices to conserve energy, reduce waste or prevent pollution while contributing to their local economy.

Finalists are selected by a panel of judges that includes the Governor’s Office and the secretaries of the California Environmental Protection Agency; the Natural Resources Agency; the Department of Food and Agriculture; the State Transportation Agency; the Business, Consumer Services, and Housing Agency; the Labor and Workforce Development Agency; and the Health and Human Services Agency.

Each year, the panel evaluates and announces winners in the following categories: Environmental Education; Ecosystem and Land Use Stewardship; Climate Change; Zero Emission Vehicle Dealers; Sustainable Practices, Communities or Facilities; and Waste Reduction.

For more information on the GEELA program and this year’s recipients, click here. To learn more about Project Zero Waste, check out the video below, and be sure to visit the Inside the Outdoors website to get involved. 

OC educators will be able to remotely attend this year’s CUE educational technology conference

This coming March, scores of tech-minded teachers and administrators will once again descend upon Palm Springs for the annual CUE National Conference, featuring the latest educational technology innovations.

CUEBut what about those who can’t make it out to Palm Springs? Well, now there’s a way to participate remotely from Orange County. (Because technology!)

“CUE Connect” will enable registered educators to watch all three keynote speeches at the March 17-19 event and virtually engage in the breakout sessions from a conference center at the Orange County Department of Education, located at 200 Kalmus Drive in Costa Mesa. This is a first for CUE, which says it intends to explore other venue options in future years.

Founded in 1978, CUE works to advance student achievement by offering insight and training on the latest educational technologies. More than 6,000 teachers and administrators annually attend CUE’s signature conference, billed as the largest and oldest education technology gathering in California. It’s also among the largest in the U.S.

This year’s CUE National Conference will be held from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 17; 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Friday, March 18; and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, March 19. The CUE Connect registration fee is $149 for all three days.

For more information, or to register, go here.

Marina High students tackle ultimate woodworking project with handcrafted viking ship (video)


In October, we read an intriguing story about an ambitious project over at Marina High School, home of the Vikings.

Students at the Huntington Beach campus, led by their enterprising wood shop teacher Bob Meade, were building a full-scale Viking ship — and planning to launch it in Huntington Harbour.

Naturally we had to check the thing out for ourselves.

The video above was edited by our own Greg Lammers, who was joined on the shoot by fellow OCDE Media Services team member Richard Rodriguez. Lammers, a Marina High graduate, pitched the assignment and plans to return for the ship’s maiden voyage in May.

Will the vessel prove itself seaworthy? We’ll find out this spring.


Is your school working on a cool project that you’d like to see featured on the OCDE Newsroom? Drop us an email at communications@ocde.us.

Governor’s latest spending plan calls for increased school funding

A new state spending plan unveiled Thursday by Governor Jerry Brown would provide a $5.4 billion increase for California’s K-14 public school system.           

IMG_1647Indeed, the budget proposed for the fiscal year that starts July 1 reflects California’s steady economic improvement — and the governor’s commitment to fully implementing California’s new education funding formula.

“Overall, this budget is welcome news for Orange County students,” said Wendy Benkert, OCDE’s associate superintendent of business services. “We eagerly await a number of key details that will shed light on how this plan specifically impacts Orange County, but the governor continues to demonstrate his support for full implementation of the Local Control Funding Formula, and for the third year in a row, schools are poised to receive one-time dollars to support critical investments.”

The Local Control Funding Formula or LCFF, was designed in 2013-14 to channel more resources to students with the greatest needs. Along with a base level of funding by grade span, it sends additional dollars to districts based on their number — and concentration — of English-learners, low-income students and foster youth.

When it was created, the LCFF established target levels of funding for school systems that were to be achieved by the 2020-21 school year. Until then, districts have been receiving annual increases in the form of “gap funding,” referencing the gap between what they currently get and the target amount. Based on his proposal, the governor wants to increase the gap funding by $2.8 billion this year, or about 5.4 percent. 

Brown’s plan also includes more than $1.2 billion in one-time discretionary spending for school districts, charter schools and county offices of education. This funding could support key investments for districts, including standards implementation, technology, professional development, training for beginning teachers and deferred maintenance.

“The ongoing economic recovery in California will increase the Proposition 98 budget guarantee for schools up to $71.6 billion, a dramatic improvement from the $47.3 billion budget share in the depths of the recession five years ago,” State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson said Thursday in a statement. 

Note that the governor’s proposal serves as a starting point for budget deliberations that typically go for months. The next fiscal milestone at the state level is May, when Brown is expected to release a revised spending plan based on the latest economic data and projections. 

OCDE staff and school district leaders will continue to analyze details of the governor’s proposal as they emerge.