OUSD gives OK to calendar
by Kelly Feser Eells
At its March 19 meeting, Ojai Unified School District board members
voted unanimously to approve the modified 2002-03 instructional
calendars presented at a special meeting held Feb. 19.
The approved calendars, one for kindergarten through eighth grade
and another for grades nine through 12, have K-8 students starting
school on Aug. 26 - two days, rather than the originally proposed
nine days, earlier than high school students. The lower grades,
however, still receive an additional week's vacation at Spring
Break under the modified calendar, and end the school year two
days later than the upper grades, on June 20.
Joe Evans, who has children attending both Meiners Oaks Elementary
School and Nordhoff High School, noted that, while he appreciated
the fact that the board was willing to work with the teacher's
union on reaching a compromise, "I was kind of dismayed
to see this back on tonight's agenda."
Referring to Supt. Van Riley's
letter of Mar. 7, which included the modified calendars and noticed
the district's intention to submit them for the board's approval,
he added, "Soliciting input about this calendar was truly
a step in the right direction. But, for it to be submitted at
the very first meeting (noticed in the letter), and for the board
to ratify it, shows that there is still a problem with communication
within the district.
Again, I know there has to be a compromise. But please don't
split my kids' calendar up. Why don't you have the high school
step up to bat for one year?"
Board vice-president Tim Peddicord said, "I understand your
concerns. However, this is a negotiable item. And I think this
is the best we're going to get here."
Member Bob Unruhe agreed. "I think this is a compromise
we can live with; at least we're all starting and ending the
"I think what we have here," said board president Kathi
Smith, "is a classic compromise." That, she smiled,
is "when nobody's happy." Echoing Peddicord's sentiments,
she said, "I do think that they're the least split as they
can be. I'm sure the teachers who adopted that first calendar
aren't thrilled, but neither are the parents who want a traditional
Concluding that, while "I definitely hear what you're saying,
Mr. Evans, it's my firm belief that the only reason I'd vote
for this calendar is that the committee we set up will be charged
to craft a calendar from scratch. And they will not be under
any kind of institutional pressure to work from this school year
calendar. Also, I think the clear message to the teachers' union
was that the community wants a common calendar."
Matilija PTA member Susan Malkin expressed concern about the
financial aspects of operating under two calendars. "With
such a budget crisis as we seem to be in, I wonder: has there
been a cost valuation done with this? Taking additional food
costs, buses running at half capacity into account? Plus, are
we (the district) going to get paid for the kids who don't show
up to these intervention classes?"
"It seems about a break even situation," said Riley,
explaining that buses run a route whether full, at half or nearly
empty capacity. He further pointed out that, while the intervention
classes were voluntary, and the district, therefore, would not
be paid for students who do not attend, transportation was up
to the parents. "Just like summer school."
The board, following its unanimous approval of the modified calendars,
discussed the formation of a community advisory committee for
future calendars. It was agreed that there will be one site council
representative and one PTA member from each school - including
Chaparral - and two community members appointed by the board.
No formal action will be taken until the next meeting, scheduled
for April 2.
Evans conceded that, while he was encouraged by the board's decision
to survey parents and the community to determine what, exactly,
the committee should be looking at, his overall response was
one of disappointment. "I understand that the board had
to reach a compromise with the teachers' union in reference to
this contract. But the problem is, and has been from the very
beginning, that the district has not apprised the public about
why this change was occurring, and that's what the public outcry's
all about. There's clearly a problem with communication, even
though the board was clear in their direction that this issue
would be worked out at the committee level, for both the betterment
of our community and the district. I truly hope the district
sticks to what the board's directing them to do." He added,
considering "the way everything's been handled, not just
here but statewide," he understood why there was an increasing
outcry for school vouchers.
© 2002 The Ojai Valley News
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