Lowell Joint School District celebrates one year anniversary with OCDE

Lowell Joint School District Supt. Jim Coombs
The Lowell Joint School District became the 28th school system supported by the Orange County Department of Education on July 1, 2021. Superintendent Jim Coombs, pictured above, says the transfer from L.A. county will save Lowell Joint nearly $250,000 a year while enabling his district to participate more fully in Orange County educational initiatives.

The beginning of the month marked the one year anniversary of Lowell Joint School District blazing the way as the first district in the state to transfer from one county to another via a ballot measure. 

In March 2020, more than 70 percent of Lowell Joint voters backed Measure O, which formally authorized the transfer of governance to Orange County from Los Angeles County. The move was estimated to save the district nearly $250,000 annually. 

District Superintendent Jim Coombs commemorated the anniversary by speaking before the Orange County Board of Education and Superintendent of Schools Dr. Al Mijares on July 7, as he stood beside Lowell Joint school board President Melissa Salinas.  

“It is a huge honor and privilege to be part of the family,” said Superintendent Coombs. “We will work hard to make sure that our district is worthy of being part of the Orange County Department of Education.”

Jim Coombs OCBE meeting
Superintendent Coombs was joined by Lowell Joint school board President Melissa Salinas when he spoke at the Board of Education meeting on July 7.

Providing a strong academic program of 21st century skills with a well-rounded program of diverse and innovative subject offerings, Lowell Joint serves more than 3,000 K-8 students in La Habra, which is in Orange County, and La Habra Heights and Whittier, which are both in Los Angeles County. 

Three of its five elementary schools are in Orange County, but its only middle school is within Los Angeles County lines. And while two-thirds of Lowell Joint’s students reside in Los Angeles County, 98 percent of them matriculate to the Fullerton Joint Union High School District, which happens to be in Orange County. 

The transition proved to be a learning experience for everyone involved, necessitating multiple cross-agency collaborations. 

“It was the staff of OCDE who helped us,” said Superintendent Coombs. “No disrespect to Los Angeles County, but we were one of 80 districts. Now they have 79 and we are number 28 (in Orange County). We appreciate being 28.”

Click here to watch Superintendent Coombs’ speech before the board.