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District News



May 11, 2017



The Orinda Union School District is excited to announce the appointment of Mr. David Schrag as its new Director of Curriculum and Instruction. The Board of Trustees unanimously approved his appointment at their May 8, 2017, Board Meeting. Mr. Schrag will begin on July 1, 2017.

Mr. Schrag started his career in education as a fifth and sixth grade teacher in the Hayward Unified School District. He was quickly recognized as a teacher leader and mentored colleagues in the areas of differentiated instruction, assessments, coordinated team teaching, and cross-age tutoring by students. Following eight years of service as a teacher, Mr. Schrag was hired as the Vice Principal of Ralston Middle School in the Belmont-Redwood Shores Elementary School District. Since 2007, he has served as Principal of Stanley Middle School in the Lafayette School District. Under Mr. Schrag’s leadership, Stanley Middle School was honored as a California Gold Medal School and twice as a California Distinguished School.

Mr. Schrag earned his Bachelor of Arts in English at the University of California, Davis, and his Master of Arts in Education, Administration, and Policy Analysis at Stanford University. He has demonstrated success in shaping a school culture that focuses on the success and health of the whole child. As Director of Curriculum and Instruction, Mr. Schrag looks forward to implementing a collaborative approach through which all stakeholder perspectives will be honored and will contribute to building and executing a shared vision for all of Orinda’s K-8 students.

When asked about his new position, Mr. Schrag expressed his enthusiasm to begin this important work. “I'm greatly honored and excited to be a part of the Orinda Union School District team.” Added Schrag, “Orinda USD represents educational excellence, and I am deeply committed to upholding the District’s and community's high expectations for its schools. I am indebted to the Stanley Middle School community in the Lafayette School District for providing me with the opportunity to work with amazing students, staff, parents, administrators, and community members for the past ten years. I am very proud of our many collective achievements and look forward to implementing what I have learned in my new position.”

The position of Director of Curriculum and Instruction was posted in February following the announcement of revered Orinda USD Director Kathy Marshall’s retirement. An impressive sixty-five candidates submitted applications. Mr. Schrag was one of eight candidates selected to interview before a committee comprised of administrators, teachers, and parents. He emerged as one of the finalists interviewed by the Superintendent and other District leadership. Ultimately, Mr. Schrag was recommended to the Board of Trustees to fill this important vacancy because of his vision for teaching and learning in Orinda schools and his impressive record of innovative, student-centered initiatives in Lafayette.

Jason Kaune, Orinda Union School District’s Board President, stated, “On behalf of the Board of Trustees of Orinda USD, I am delighted to welcome David Schrag to our District. David’s background and experience make him a perfect match for this position. I am confident that he will collaborate with all members of our school community to build upon the lasting legacy of Ms. Kathy Marshall.”

“Several outstanding candidates applied for this position,” stated Dr. Carolyn Seaton, Superintendent. “Mr. Schrag impressed me as an exceptional instructional leader, a colleague who will work extraordinarily well with all employees, and as an educator who always places students first in his decision-making process. He possesses the organizational, communication, and technical skills required to be highly successful as Director of Curriculum and Instruction.”

David Schrag resides in nearby Walnut Creek with his wife, Elizabeth, and their three children.



eGovernance Solution Enables District to

Save Time, Money and Increase Governing Body Effectiveness



SEPTEMBER 8, 2016 — ORINDA UNION SCHOOL DISTRICT is leveraging the power of the Internet to greatly improve the governance process while saving time, taxpayer dollars and the environment. This new eGovernance initiative will replace the old and costly method of compiling, printing, binding and distributing paper agenda packets by hand. The remarkably powerful, easy-to-use solution will enable the organization to maximize the effectiveness of their board meetings with increased transparency, providing a basis for better and more open communication with the public, while increasing productivity and incurring cost savings.


The paperless meeting solution, called “BoardDocs®”, was initially developed in the year 2000 for a Georgia school district. Since then, hundreds of governing bodies nationwide have adopted the system. By making meeting agendas and supporting documents available on the Internet, ORINDA UNION SCHOOL DISTRICT will be able distribute documents associated with board meetings more efficiently, at a dramatically reduced cost to the organization.


Electronic distribution will not only save time and resources, but it will also provide easy public access via the District’s web site to agenda items and supporting documents. After the meeting, individuals can review the agenda items and see what action the governing body took, along with voting results. All documents associated with the meeting are automatically archived and can be accessed by meeting date or by using the system’s comprehensive search feature.


Dr. Carolyn Seaton, Superintendent

August 30, 2016


The California Department of Education recently released the results of last spring’s 2016 California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) online tests in English language arts (ELA) and mathematics.  This is the second year of CAASPP online testing for California’s public school students in grades three through eight and eleven.  Scores on these assessments fall into one of four achievement levels: standard exceeded, standard met, standard nearly met, and standard not met.


Orinda USD serves students in grades K-8.  The following table reflects the percentages of Orinda USD students in grades 3-8 who received a score of standard exceeded or standard met for 2015 and 2016 in ELA and math:


Percent of State Standards Exceeded or Met





Grade Level



































Overall OUSD





Overall Contra Costa County





Overall State of CA






With 87% of students meeting or exceeding standards in ELA and 86% in mathematics on the 2016 CAASPP assessments, Orinda USD remains one of the highest performing school districts in the state.


Orinda USD Superintendent Dr. Carolyn Seaton commented, “I applaud our teachers and instructional leaders for the incredible amount of work they have dedicated toward learning and implementing best instructional practices for teaching California’s content standards in English language arts and mathematics.  I look forward to studying the data further to determine where we excel and our areas of needed improvement.”


Orinda USD Board President Julie Rossiter added, “The Board remains committed to providing our teachers with high quality professional development and instructional materials that support teaching challenging and innovative curriculum.  We applaud the rigorous standards of the CAASPP, and we look forward to doing all that we can to help all Orinda students meet or exceed standards on future CAASPP assessments.”


Kathy Marshall, Director of Curriculum and Instruction noted, “As a district, we are committed to providing ongoing, in-depth learning experiences that engage students toward mastery of the California standards.  Teachers and parents are truly collaborative partners in this process, and we are so proud of our students as they “show what they know” by demonstrating their knowledge and abilities on this new state assessment.


Ms. Marshall will be presenting an overview of Orinda’s CAASPP results to the Board of Trustees at their regular meeting on September 12th.  To learn more about Orinda USD’s CAASPP program including how to interpret student score reports and the testing window for 2017, click here.  To access the State Superintendent’s press release on the 2016 CAASPP results, click here.


A Note of Appreciation

I want to take this opportunity to thank the Orinda community for the incredibly warm welcome I have received since beginning my new position as Superintendent of Schools on May 2.  Many of you have likely heard of Jim Collins and the book he authored, Good to Great.  My goal is to collaborate with all Orinda USD stakeholders to take our District from great to extraordinary.  Since my arrival, I have been incredibly impressed by our teachers' rigorous and creative instructional practices, our knowledgeable and dedicated support staff, the support of our parents and community, and the visionary site and district leaders who are committed to implementing researched based programs and practices to ensure our students are prepared for their future. 


Though I have held several administrative positions during my 32 years in education - middle school Assistant Principal and Principal, Executive Director of Educational Services, Executive Director of Human Resources, and now Superintendent of Schools, I am a teacher at my core.  I have had the privilege of serving as a fifth grade teacher, an elementary science specialist, a middle school gifted and talented specialist, and a middle school science, math, English, and language arts teacher.  I know firsthand the magic that can occur in a classroom when students discover a new concept or skill.  Every day Orinda parents and guardians are entrusting their most precious resource, their children, to Orinda USD educators and staff.  My pledge to the Orinda community is that I will use the lens of what is best for our students to guide every decision. 


I am eager to meet and get to know many of you as I begin to familiarize myself with our schools and community.   

Honoring Our Retirees

We have six treasured Orinda USD employees who are retiring after many years of dedicated service to our students and our District.  They are:

  • Terri Brasch, Fourth Grade Teacher, Del Rey
  • Sandra Buscheck, Second Grade Teacher, Del Rey
  • Ted Harwood, Woodshop Teacher, Orinda Intermediate
  • Maribeth Renno, School Secretary, Sleepy Hollow
  • Catherine Shipp, Kindergarten Teacher, Sleepy Hollow
  • Bethany Valentine, Second Grade Teacher, Del Rey

These dedicated members of our Orinda USD family have provided 81 collective years of service.  They have contributed so much to educating, mentoring, guiding, and supporting students and staff.  Their effect is immeasurable, and our District will not be the same without them.  They will be honored at the Board of Trustees' June 13th meeting.  We wish all of them well as they begin this exciting new chapter in their lives. 

Orinda USD Secures Credit Rating Upgrade 

and Refinances Existing Bonds to

Reduce Taxpayers' Bills

Earlier this week, the District sold $8.16 million of refunding general obligation bonds in order to generate savings for taxpayers.  Due to historically low interest rates in the municipal bond market combined with high investor demand for the District's bonds, the refinancing resulted in savings greater than expected.  Investor reception was further helped by a credit upgrade from Standard & Poor's to "AA+," the highest rating of all Contra Costa County school districts. Through this refinancing, property owners in the District will save over $975,000 (in today's dollars), which equates to roughly $120 for the median homeowner in the District over the remaining term of the bonds (based on fiscal year 2015/16 assessed value data).


In a school district general obligation bond refunding, similar to refinancing a home mortgage to a lower interest rate, proceeds of the new bonds are used to retire the older bonds.  Unlike refinancing a mortgage, the term of the original debt is not extended.  With municipal bond rates near historic lows, the District was able to refinance at an all-in cost of 0.97 percent compared to prior interest rates ranging from 4.5 to 5.0 percent on the original bonds issued in 1998 and 2001.  The lower interest rates reduce the debt service payments, which results in savings to taxpayers. 


The refunding reflects the commitment of our Board to manage its bond program, which is funded by taxpayer dollars, effectively. As the 1995 bond measure is paid off in the next 6.5 years, this refunding is a final step to ensure remaining payments are as low as possible.


Regarding the District's credit rating upgrade and subsequent savings to taxpayers from bond refunding, Board President Julie Rossiter stated, "The Orinda School Board takes its fiduciary responsibility seriously.  We know that Orinda taxpayers count on us to be dedicated stewards of public funds, and the District's recent credit rating increase and bond refunding results demonstrate our commitment to meeting those expectations."  

Kindergarten Students' Advice for OIS Eighth Grade Students

Yesterday I had the honor of speaking to our eighth grade students during the OIS Promotion Ceremony.  As I pondered what to say to our students as they were completing their middle school experience and preparing to move on to high school, I reflected on their first year in our schools, Kindergarten.  Many of us have heard of the book All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten by Robert Fulghum.  I decided that I would meet with Kindergarten students at all four of our elementary schools to ask them what advice they might have to help eighth grade students to be successful and happy at the high school.  Perhaps not surprisingly, the students' advice was spot on.  Some of my favorite tips that our Kindergarteners provided for their older peers included:

  • Don't be a bully.
  • Don't take things that are not yours. 
  • Don't look at somebody else's paper. Just ask for help. 
  • Don't play rock, paper, scissors when the teacher is teaching something important like math. 
  • Include other people. 
  • If you have a problem, don't blame someone else. If you know something was your fault, say, "I'm sorry."
  • Introduce yourself to people you don't know. 
  • If you see a friend who is sad, invite them to play Pokémon.  That will cheer them up. 
  • Always be yourself. 
  • Go to bed at your bedtime.
  • Sound out the words you don't know yet.
  • Don't brag about your work.
  • Don't get upset if you don't win. 
  • Let everyone play. 
  • When you miss your old school and your teachers, go back and visit. 
  • If you're in trouble, don't hide or run. It's just going to get worse.
  • Be empathetic. Try to understand how other people feel. 

I so appreciate the Kindergarten teachers and Principals at Del Rey, Glorietta, Sleepy Hollow, and Wagner Ranch for providing me with the opportunity to meet with and be inspired by these sage young students at such a busy time of year.  The OIS Promotion Ceremony is truly a community event.  The students behaved wonderfully, and the student speakers were so eloquent and poised.  As I said at the end of my speech, "Congratulations, OIS Class of 2016.  Make us proud!"  


Please feel free to contact me with your ideas, questions, and/or concerns.  I look forward to an excellent school year ahead.  Enjoy the summer and encourage your children to read as often as possible. 




Carolyn Seaton, Ed.D

Superintendent of Schools

Orinda Union School District