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Author Archive for Rita Robinson

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Sea Star Die Off Remains a Mystery

Sea Star Die Off Remains a Mystery

After six weeks of investigation, scientists still have yet to pinpoint the underlying cause of a disease that is killing sea stars along the West Coast and wiping out Laguna Beach’s population. “It’s certainly into the tens of thousands and maybe in the millions,” said Pete Raimondi, chair of the ecology and evolutionary biology department […]

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Getting High Tech Up to Speed

Getting High Tech Up to Speed

The school district’s new tech director vouched for the necessity of spending $900,000 over the next year to get the district up to speed with the high-tech direction public education is rapidly taking. “Speed is our biggest issue,” Mike Morrison, who was hired in February as the district’s chief technology director, told school board members […]

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Taking a Lesson in New Math Standards

Taking a Lesson in New Math Standards

Many students fall off the math train when the tracks switch between algebra and geometry.  If algebra doesn’t make sense, it’s hard to make the leap, much less go on to calculus, say experts in math education who spoke at a special school district board meeting Monday about new state standards for teaching math. Understanding […]

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Schools Brace for Debt Shock

Schools Brace for Debt Shock

Next year, Laguna Beach’s public schools will be req­­­­­­­­­­­­uired to carry a $68.7 million debt from the state’s teacher-pension fund, an amount that has the potential to overwhelm the district’s $46 million budget and one school officials say they have no clue how to repay. The debt represents Laguna Beach’s share of the currently estimated […]

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Special Ed Goes Common Core

Special Ed Goes Common Core

In this class, acting out is encouraged. With its emphasis on less is more, the new Common Core state-mandated academic standards still require teachers to cover certain subjects, but at a less hectic pace. The focus is depth rather than breadth of subject to engender greater understanding of one idea instead of the scattershot approach […]

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Price Spikes for Tennis Court Repairs

Price Spikes for Tennis Court Repairs

By Rita Robinson | LB Indy Unexpected costs to replace a wheelchair ramp will hike the estimated price to renovate the high school tennis courts to $1.8 million with another $35,100 approved by a disgruntled school district board Tuesday. The latest expense adds to project costs that have hugely escalated from the original $620,000 estimate […]

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School Pay Will Post Online

School Pay Will Post Online

By Rita Robinson | LB Indy In an effort to promote financial transparency, total wages of all employees of Laguna Beach’s public schools will be posted online by early May. State Controller John Chiang’s office sent out a letter last month requesting all public schools to submit wages, including benefits, of every employee for public […]

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Computer Smarts Put to First Test

Computer Smarts Put to First Test

By Rita Robinson | LB Indy Every fifth-grade student at El Morro Elementary School will fire up a personal computer on April 7 to take the first computer-based test of new state academic teaching standards known as the Common Core. No more paper, No. 2 pencils or best-guess multiple-choice questions here. The statewide pilot tests […]

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Rooms Close, Displacing Homeless Back to the Street

Rooms Close, Displacing Homeless Back to the Street

One of Laguna Beach’s rare private refuges for local homeless people to find a permanent place to live was recently ordered closed by city officials, displacing five people back to the street and confounding homeless advocates. The five residents living at the row of rooms in a mobile trailer in Laguna Canyon once used as […]

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Laguna Beach Unified School District

Schools Required to Survey Parents

A first-time, state-mandated survey of parents soliciting their input on the Laguna Beach school district’s plans and goals will arrive in inboxes on Friday, a district official said Wednesday. During Tuesday’s school board meeting, Superintendent Sherine Smith described the survey to board members, which she assumed had already been sent out until she was challenged […]

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Sea Stars Dying in Tide Pools

Sea Stars Dying in Tide Pools

At least 40 visible sea stars were alive and well in the Treasure Island tide pools in South Laguna at noon this past Saturday. But by 3 p.m., eight had disintegrated like wet bread. An epidemic, which has destroyed sea stars along the West Coast beginning last June, has reached the shores of Laguna Beach. […]

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School Principal Pursues Encore Career

School Principal Pursues Encore Career

Ron La Motte, Top of the World Elementary School’s long-time principal, will retire in June after 27 years in the district, though he’s not about to quit his profession. La Motte said he’s starting an “encore career” as director of the master’s program at Irvine’s Concordia University where he will fulfill a desire to assist […]

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New Tech Chief Hired

New Tech Chief Hired

Also Schoolpower fundraising earns ‘A’ grades Drawing from applicants nationwide who went through several rounds of interviews before a district-wide panel, school board members unanimously approved hiring a new technology director Tuesday who is currently employed at Saddleback Valley Unified School District. Michael Morrison, a technology specialist at the south country district since 1996 and […]

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Church Opens Second Homeless Shelter

Church Opens Second Homeless Shelter

Without government aid, a group of determined human rights activists opened a second shelter for homeless people in Laguna Beach last week when it rained, taking in the overflow crowd turned away from the city’s at-capacity, year-round homeless shelter on Laguna Canyon Road.   Twenty-five people bedded down in the temporary overnight shelter in St. […]

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Finding a Key to Unlock the Ivory Tower

Finding a Key to Unlock the Ivory Tower

Technical classes, traditionally geared for students uninterested in college, are taking a new direction lately.  College-bound students from Laguna Beach High School make up half of the enrollment in trade-school like courses offered by San Juan Capistrano’s South Coast Regional Occupational Program. Students say it gives them a needed edge. ROP courses were traditionally geared […]