Big money at stake in school
district transfer issues
by Bret Bradigan
Many Oak View students have naturally gravitated toward Ojai
schools. Until last year, that is.
Ventura Unified School District began more strenuously denying
those transfer requests for the 2001-02 school year, which, according
to a report by district officials at a recent board meeting,
lost the Ojai Unified School District an estimated 120 students
- 60 of which successfully appealed to the Ventura County Superintendent
of Schools office and were subsequently allowed to transfer in
- and cost them about $300,000 in average daily attendance revenue
from the state of California.
Those lost students have made up a big part of the declining
enrollment at the 4,000-student Ojai district, which is down
130 students this year, and expects to be down 189 students for
The declining enrollment and revenue has forced the district
to cut $1.8 million from its $25 million budget, and led to contentious
board meetings, with classified staff questioning whether those
cuts have been fairly made.
The situation isn't much better at Sunset Elementary School in
Oak View - built in 2000 for a capacity of 500 students, it currently
enrolls about 300, according to Jerry Dannenberg, assistant superintendent
for education services with
the Ventura Unified School District. He said that De Anza Middle
School, just north of Stanley Avenue, is also underenrolled.
"We're trying to maintain our enrollment," he said,
and these transfers into Ojai "are having a severe effect
on our enrollment."
Just how severe can be gauged from the transfer requests that
have been approved. According to Gail Albertson, the Ojai district's
attendance specialist, there have been 155 transfers approved
from Ventura into Ojai, most of which are Oak View residents,
most of which are for students who have been attending Ojai schools
for several years.
At $5,000 per student in Average Daily Attendance revenue, those
155 students earn the Ojai Unified School District $775,000,
and cost Ventura the same amount.
New transfer applications are being denied by Ventura Unified
School District, as are those of children making the shift from
fifth to sixth grade. Instead of allowing those children to attend
sixth grade in Ojai schools, they are being corralled back into
De Anza Middle School.
Ojai Unified Assistant Superintendent Jim Berube said that these
transfer denials are troubling, because "parental choice
is very important." When districts tighten up transfer policies,
it splits up families and causes transportation and schedule
"Parents should be able to send their children to any district
they want," Berube said.
If denied by Ventura Unified School District, parents can appeal
to the next level - the Ventura County Superintendent of Schools
office. It appears that many, if not most, of those who appealed
Ventura Unified's pro forma denials won their appeals.
According to county schools policy, appeals are stamped and scheduled
for a hearing with 10 days. That hearing takes place within 30
days after the filing.
There are eight criteria the Ventura County Superintendent of
Schools uses to approve appeals:
· The district cannot offer a particular educational program
required by the pupil.
· Danger to the pupil's health or safety.
· Change of district boundaries that places the student's
residence outside the school they previously attended.
· A curriculum change in the desired district that results
in improved educational services for the employee.
· The student's residence is so situated that they must
travel through the desired district to get to the current school.
· Student's residence is located within the boundaries
of two school districts.
· Child care needs.
While Ojai Unified School District doesn't assist parents with
the appeals process, Berube said, "We feel parents should
have knowledge of their rights, especially of their right to
© 2002 The Ojai Valley News
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