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COSTA MESA / NEWPORT BEACH : New School District Chief Lists 10 Goals

Orange County Focus

October 18, 1993|BOB ELSTON

Four months into his tenure, the new Newport-Mesa school superintendent has made public a set of goals that promise to significantly change several aspects of the district's administrative performance and its accessibility to the public.

Announced last week, the list of 10 objectives for this school year include plans to consolidate the Newport-Mesa Unified School District offices, overhaul the computer system, and create a decision-making structure that invites input from teachers, parents and students.

"It is a real plan for the future," said Mac Bernd, who was hired this summer for the district's top post. "These are things that people are concerned about and want the district to accomplish."

Bernd said he hopes his forward-looking objectives will help the district shake off the sting of last year's $4-million embezzlement scandal involving the district's former budget officer, Stephen Wagner. The goals will also give the community a means to evaluate his leadership.

"I will be willing to be held accountable to get them done," Bernd said.

Though Bernd collected suggestions from parents, students, teachers and administrators in recent months, the goals represent his vision.

Probably the most ambitious of the objectives is to consolidate the district's fragmented administrative structure.

Currently, the district's main offices are several miles from the budget and transportation offices, which in turn are miles from adult education offices.

"It is really crazy," he said. "It causes us to spend a lot on clerical services . . . and is inconvenient for anybody who has to get things done around here."

Bernd said that in coming years the district may try to sell or lease unused school property to raise money to purchase mobile-home-sized buildings and locate them all on a single site.

On Wednesday, the district's Board of Education approved by a 4-3 vote Bernd's recommendation to commission a $32,000 curriculum audit to be done in the coming school year.

The outside audit, Bernd said, will tell the district how well teachers are teaching and students are learning. That, in turn, may help the district allocate its resources more efficiently.

The dissenting school board members, Judith A. Franco, Edward H. Decker and Martha Fluor, each said that $32,000 is too much money to spend at a time when the district is facing a potential $1.9-million deficit in its 1994-95 budget.

Other objectives include modifying the annual teacher evaluations, creating advisory groups made up of teachers, students and principals to report to the superintendent, and developing a "Platform for Progress" that incorporates community concerns.

"I think we have made strides in looking to the future," Bernd said. "We have to get the focus away from the problems we had last year. Now people want to know to know what is going to happen in the future."

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