Irvine news and notes for September 2018
Irvine Unified School District is the best school district in Orange County, according to Niche.com. Additional accolades for IUSD include a No. 5 ranking among districts in the greater LA/OC area, twelve in the state of California, and No. 236 out of 10,738 school districts in the United States. The Niche 2018-19 rankings are based on data from the U.S. Department of Education as well as test scores, college data and reviews and ratings collected from Niche users, including students, parents and residents. The analysis, according to Niche, used advanced algorithms and statistical techniques to “compare, normalize and connect millions of data points.” Niche gave IUSD an overall letter grade of A+; the district received a grade of A+ in academics, teachers, and college prep. IUSD also received an A in health and safety and an A- in diversity. Niche awarded the school district a C+ in the category of clubs and activities. The research and data company based in Pittsburgh concluded that IUSD is No. 2 in the O.C. district when it comes to best teachers and is the No. 2 safest district, but ranks tenth for athletics and 16th for diversity. Ten O.C. school districts made the top 100 in the California rankings and nine were among the top 100 schools in the country.
The excellence of education in Irvine has undoubtedly played a part in the dramatic rise in the value of homes and property in the city. From March 2017 to March 2018, the median home list price in Irvine rose some 15.5 percent from $888,000 to $1.02 million, according to the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price NSA Index. Irvine was named one of the “Top 20 Cities Where Home Prices are Skyrocketing,” according to median home price data cited on gobankingrates.com. Meanwhile, the Orange County Office of the Assessor cited an increase of 9.43 percent in Irvine property values, so far in 2018-19. Irvine’s cumulative property value of $78.4 billion is also the highest among all Orange County cities. “The robust increase shows the continued strength of our master-planned city,” says Mayor Don Wagner. “People want to live here because they want what we offer – the nation’s leading public safety; world-class public schools; vigorous conservative fiscal management; an unparalleled park system; robust job opportunities; and a renewed commitment to the Master Plan that protects our quality of life.” In Orange County overall property value has increased 6.23 percent countywide last year, according to the O.C. Assessor’s 2018-19 Preliminary Assessment Roll, a study required by state law. Property value affects property tax, which, along with sales tax and hotel tax, is a major revenue source for the city. The three represent 75.6 percent of the fiscal year’s $199.8 million budget in Irvine, according to the city.
UCI is a national leader when it comes to being green. Sierra magazine described UCI as “a living laboratory of sustainability,” and has included UCI as one of the top 10 most sustainable colleges in the country for eight years in a row. And that streak will likely rise to nine years in a row when this year’s rankings are revealed. A myriad of elements and initiatives go into the sustainability effort, from an all-electric bus fleet to increased efficiency in heating, lighting and air conditioning. A case in point: with a ceremony celebrating the recently completed renovation of the campus’s Central Plant, UCI now uses 80 million gallons of treated recycled water annually to cool 65 buildings across campus, replacing the previously used drinking water. Using chilled water to cool also reduces the amount of electricity that would otherwise be needed for air conditioning. The water savings is equivalent to what 3,300 households use in a year, according to Irvine Ranch Water District, UCI’s partner in the conservation effort. UCI was already saving 70 million gallons of drinking water per year by using recycled water in irrigation projects on campus, also completed in collaboration with IRWD. In fact, UCI has slashed its per capita water consumption by 42 percent since 2007.