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Author Archive for Rita Robinson

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Laguna Hires Strategic School Administrators

Laguna Hires Strategic School Administrators

With emphasis on new learning standards and student discipline, three new school administrators, an assistant superintendent, the director of human resources and an assistant high school principal, were officially hired by the school board Tuesday. Darlene Messinger is the district’s new assistant superintendent, Leisa Winston is the new human resources/public communications director and Lisa Brackez […]

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Still Adrift from Laguna Sands

Still Adrift from Laguna Sands

After being displaced for more than a month, residents of four oceanfront Laguna Beach condominiums, who were evacuated after the building creaked loudly and began separating, still don’t know when they’ll be able to move back home. “We’re waiting to hear the final decision,” said year-round resident Barbi Walters.  “Everyone’s having to scramble for their […]

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Thurston Copes With Enrollment Spike

Thurston Copes With Enrollment Spike

School officials say they will know by December exactly how many portable classrooms will be needed at Thurston Middle School.  But they can’t say exactly why. As the school year got underway this week at Laguna Beach’s four public schools, more than 800 students arrived at Thurston, the largest enrollment ever. Portable classrooms are being […]

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Laguna's School Lunches Cater to New Food Rules

Laguna’s School Lunches Cater to New Food Rules

High school students miffed about not being able to order customized Subway sandwiches for delivery have taken their complaints online even as the school board learned Tuesday about an upgraded lunch menu with fresh ingredients and vegan offerings available when school reopens next week. The district nixed daily deliveries of Subway sandwiches that occurred at […]

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District’s ‘Go to Guy’ Resigns

District’s ‘Go to Guy’ Resigns

Darrin Reed, longtime, well-liked and highly efficient administrative assistant at Laguna Beach Unified School District for the past 15 years, officially resigned from his job, district officials announced at Tuesday’s school board meeting. Reed worked for a series of superintendents at the district and was regarded as everybody’s favorite “go to” guy for whatever was […]

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Teacher Jazzed About Award

Teacher Jazzed About Award

Bringing violins, oboes, flutes, even tubas to the jazz ensemble at Laguna Beach High School has more than one person amped. Roger Shew, a part-time music teacher for the past 10 years at the high school as well as Thurston Middle School, recently received a statewide award for innovation in the classroom, the California All-Star […]

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Finding His Footing Fluidly

Finding His Footing Fluidly

At 6 years old, Julian Williams-Goldberg probably could have fit into one of the 10 duffle bags his parents jammed with clothes and toys and piled into their old Mercedes wagon, along with their young family.  They were heading cross-country from St. Paul, Minn., to Laguna Beach. Packing some business equipment and memorabilia in boxes […]

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Drowning in Sand?

Drowning in Sand?

Regulars at south Laguna beaches are noticing what they’re calling a relatively new phenomenon, believed to be borne of urban encroachment:  a slow build-up of sand on beaches that’s covering fragile tidepools and curtailing desirable side-swell breaks for wave riders. Charles “Tex” Haines, a 40-year skimboarder and founder of the Victoria Skimboard company, says beaches […]

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Schools Hire New Tech Director

Schools Hire New Tech Director

Initiating new hiring practices to ensure transparency in a process that was highly criticized in recent weeks, a new director of technology was hired for the Laguna Beach Unified School District. Sean Colt was unanimously approved as the district’s chief technology officer by the school board in a special meeting last Friday.  He will replace […]

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Avoiding Mountains of Trash

Avoiding Mountains of Trash

Recycling and composting food scraps will keep trash collection fees low as well as lessen the amount of trash taken to overflowing landfills, according to the terms of a renewed 10-year, $43 million waste collection contract approved by the City Council on Tuesday. After nine years of providing the basic collection service removing curb-side discards […]

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Assistant School Chief Resigns

Assistant School Chief Resigns

Deni Christensen, the assistant superintendent in charge of curriculum for Laguna Beach public schools, resigned Friday within hours after a regularly scheduled performance review of her boss, the district’s superintendent.  Christensen’s resignation is effective July 19. Christensen was hired a year ago as recommended by Supt. Sherine Smith; the two worked together previously in the […]

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Teacher Fights in Court to Clear Her Name

Teacher Fights in Court to Clear Her Name

It was a bad week in early December 2010 for science teacher Joanie McKnight. Her gravely ill brother had a heart attack and was diagnosed with colon cancer.  Her husband, Mike, called late on Thursday night and told her about narrowly missing a potentially serious road accident. So she prepared some tabouleh, a Middle Eastern […]

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Schools Accused of Bad Hiring Practices

Schools Accused of Bad Hiring Practices

With residents accusing school district administrators of filling high-salaried jobs and even creating them for friends and former co-workers, it was a tense face-off at Tuesday’s Laguna Beach Unified School District board meeting. Superintendent Sherine Smith and Assistant Superintendent Deni Christensen, a former colleague of Smith’s from the Capistrano Unified School District, both faced the […]

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Accelerated Academics Puts Teacher at the Wheel

Accelerated Academics Puts Teacher at the Wheel

A second-grade teacher will grab the helm of a state-mandated program to bring students in Laguna Beach public schools up to par with the educational standards of other countries. Linda Barker, a 29-year teacher at Top of the World Elementary School and president of the teachers’ union, was reassigned by administrators last week to serve […]

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Updated: San Onofre Power Plant Closed

Updated: San Onofre Power Plant Closed

San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station was permanently closed today, Southern California Edison announced. “I didn’t think Edison would throw in the towel so early,” Arnie Gunderson, a 40-year former nuclear industry engineer and co-founder of the anti-nuclear nonprofit Fairewinds Energy Education Corp, said Friday at an impromptu press conference held on the frontage road at […]