OUSD deals with budget cuts
by Bret Bradigan
With a unanimous vote, the Ojai Unified School District board
of trustees approved a resolution Tuesday that met most of their
classified staff budget-cut goal - trimming $110,000 of the needed
$195,000 through a combination of voluntary cuts, reduced hours,
fewer special needs students, and declining enrollment.
The resolution followed months of negotiations with the local
California School Employees Association, said Jim Berube, assistant
superintendent for buildings and grounds. "We have a great
relationship with CSEA, and we're working very hard at it."
Berube said there is no end in sight for the district's difficult
choices. "There are harder times down the road." Board
member Vince France said the staff reductions "are something
the board can look at every year. It's not something permanent."
Before getting down to the unpleasant business of formalizing
the budget cuts, the meeting opened with a report about Nordhoff
teachers literally singing the praises of the school's sports
The report was the first from new student representative Lauren
Wyatt, and came despite the Rangers football squad having lost
their home opener, 18-3, to Moorpark.
The previous student representative, Morgan Johnsen, who was
announced as the new student-body
president, also gave a report about the trip she and Jessica
Johnsen took to Washington, D.C., for the National Young Leaders
Conference. During the 11-day program, the Nordhoff students
were among 400 top students who received a first hand look into
the process of governing. They met with California's senators
and congressmen, formed legislative models to lobby for and enact
bills and amendments to those bills, dealt with a mock foreign
crisis, and visited landmarks. "We saw almost everything
there was to see in Washington," said Johnsen.
The district's finance officer, Danielle Pusatere, reported on
the district's unaudited actual financial report for 2001-02
school year, which sums up where the district ended up after
the past school year. Among other highlights, the district met
its 3 percent reserve goal, with $772,792.42 and carried forward
another $205,803 to this year.
Berube also presented an update on the district's $5.4 million
construction project at Nordhoff High School. The project will
go out for bid Sept. 27, with the bid awarded Nov. 7. Ground
should then be broken on the year-long expansion and improvements
by the next week. The project, which includes a new gym and athletic
fields as well as new classrooms, should be complete by December
The board also voted to support Proposition 47, a $13 billion
statewide bond issue that would, if passed, put the district
in line for $9 million, which could be used to cover any shortfalls
for the Nordhoff projects, as well as future needs.
The school calendar committee was being formed, Riley said, as
was agreed upon during the contentious meetings during the spring,
when the district announced plans to shorten summer vacation
and add longer mid-year breaks. Board members were asked to submit
their two representatives by Tuesday so that committee could
start planning the 2003-04 school calendar.
During the Superintendent's report, Riley said that seven classes
were added to Nordhoff to ease overcrowding; some math classes
had 40 students. He also noted that school board candidates were
encouraged to attend a workshop Sept. 24 at 6:30 p.m. in the
district board room.
© 2002 The Ojai Valley News
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