OUSD vows to fight Ventura for valley's students
By Jesse Phelps
The members of the board of Ojai
Unified School District don't like the pressure being applied
by their counterparts in Ventura over nearly 250 students living
in Oak View, and in a bid to keep as many as possible from leaving
the district, they have vowed to take a hard-line stance, if
"We're basically at war with (Ventura) over 237 students
that live in the valley," said an incredulous Tim Peddicord,
board president .
A special meeting will be held Monday at 7 p.m. to finalize certificated
layoffs and "consider other items as needed." Presumably,
the district will use some time at that meeting to further plot
a course of action, potentially the creation of some local charter
schools. These new non-public schools would allow Oak View parents
to legally reject Ventura's mandate to bus their kids out of
The district would have only a few short weeks, until the end
of May, to gain state approval for the new charters and some
members of the board expressed serious doubts about succumbing
to pressure and making hasty changes.
Vice President Rikki Horne, stressing that parent responsibility
is key, urged the board to consider helping parents to appeal
every individual decision at the county level as another option.
When Superintendent Van Riley pointed out the necessity of moving
forward with the charter idea, considering the short time frame,
whether it ultimately comes to fruition or not, all members of
the board agreed it would be the wisest course of action.
The meeting, which lasted a solid four hours, had its moments
of harmony. Peaceful resolution was reached over a form recently
created that will allow each student at Nordhoff and Chaparral
to choose whether to release personal information to both military
and post-secondary school recruiters. Parent signatures are not
necessary on the form and the idea is to hand it out to all ninth-graders
entering the school. Then, at any time during their high school
years, kids will be allowed to change their minds by simply requesting
a new form and filling it out again.
Board clerk Bob Unruhe quoted president Dwight D. Eisenhower,
who some 40-plus years ago warned of the burgeoning power of
the military industrial complex. "This is just one small
way we're putting the breaks on it a little bit," said Unruhe.
"I think we're leading the way."
David Howard of Ojai Citizens for a Peaceful Resolution, who
has two children at Nordhoff, commended the board on its decision
to create the form. He also asked that it "facilitate peace
education" to "provide balance to the ad agency portrayal
of military life as a sexy, fun-filled initiation into macho
One form of education the board does plan to implement is a new
program in conjunction with local foods, which will be provided
by Ojai farmers at reduced cost to the district for student lunches.
Meanwhile, the price of those lunches will go up by 25 cents
next year as part of a massive 18-point program to cut costs
during the current budget crunch.
Meanwhile, and somewhat incongruously, the District has laid
out a comprehensive plan for how to spend heaps of cash it received
from the Proposition 47 bond initiative.
Bathrooms will be redone for many local schools and board member
Kathi Smith pointed out the very real need for such in the Nordhoff
gymnasium. Another structural project being undertaken with the
funds is the Matilija Auditorium, where wheelchair access will
be provided and new sound and lighting systems integrated. New
heating, air conditioning and more comfortable seating will be
introduced, creating what maintenance director Lowell Orcutt
called "a 300-seat theater we can be proud of."
While Matilija's auditorium will get an upgrade, Nordhoff still
doesn't have one and that's a huge concern for some locals. So
much so that one group has presented the district with a plan
outlining the idea of community members who will match funds
with the district to get plans underway for a new "state
of the art" auditorium on campus.
The district is being asked for $800,000 to complete plans and
begin the permitting process, half of which will be paid back
should the project fail to get off the ground.
Joan Kemper, representing the coalition attempting to get the
project going, estimated that, with district financial support,
there would be a 75 percent chance of completion. She promised
that, in the event that everything went smoothly, the board would
be paid back its initial investment in full.
Horne was not ecstatic about taking such a risk and several alternate
plans were proposed. No final resolution was reached but the
board will continue to consider options and will delegate one
or two members to help steer the project.
Student representative to the district Lauren Wyatt got the night
off to a nice start. She brought good news regarding better attendance
and results of standardized testing at Nordhoff. She also said
preparations are underway for the Spring Showcase, slated for
May 22 at the high school. Dinner will start at 7 p.m. and a
full program of entertainment will begin at 6:45 p.m.
The Ojai Valley News
to the news