OUSD board commits to new theater
By Jesse Phelps
Tim Baird looked comfortable
behind the reins at his first school board meeting as the new
Superintendent of Schools for the Ojai Unified School District
on Tuesday evening.
Happily flexing the muscles of his newfound authority, Baird
convinced the board to authorize the spending of $800,000 for
two significant projects in the coming months.
The money will help pay for a new "state-of-the-art"
performing arts center on the campus of Nordhoff and fund a new
system of telephones, Internet connectivity and related communications
for the district and valley schools.
The $300,000 that will go to the performing arts center comes
from bond money allocated to the district for capital improvements
and was described as more of a loan. The money will be repaid
through a combination of grants, according to center organizer
"When we get the final construction funding, well pay (the
district's money) back, from both state and fed sources and miscellaneous
grants," Kemper said.
Eventually, she said, the community will also be given opportunities
to contribute in small or large fashion.
"After construction begins, we'll go into a local campaign.
We feel it is a community theater for the valley. There will
be naming opportunities on backs of seats, dressing room doors
and the like. I feel it's necessary for locals to get involved
or they won't feel it's their theater."
The construction funding alone for the project could exceed $15
million, all available, according to Kemper, through the grants.
The district, she said, "really isn't risking much, just
the interest until it's complete." For its investment,
the district will own the plans for the center.
Ojai resident and self-described "enthusiastic bystander"
Bill Miley said he was excited about what he was hearing about
the project and looked forward to contributing in some way.
"We'll put your name on the building for $15 million,"
quipped board member Bob Unruhe to the laughter of all present.
With the mood light, the board voted 4-0 to approve the investment.
Board member Rikki Horne was absent from the proceedings.
The other major expenditure for the evening, $500,000 for a new
telephone system replacement and data system upgrade, also passed
After some deliberation, board members approved the plan, which
would include the installation of telephones in every classroom
of eight Ojai schools. Teachers will be able to make 911 and
other calls directly from their classrooms in the event of an
Mira Monte and Summit are not "line-of-site" schools,
and cannot be integrated into the system for the time being,
said Jade Morris, a representative of 3Com who has been working
on the system.
Morris said the new carrier class wireless system has a 99.99599
percent reliability rating. Communications are encrypted and
virtually impregnable. "This is the system the government
uses," he said.
Baird echoed his confidence, saying that "once it's up and
running, we'll have less maintenance than we usually do."
The system would replace disparate Internet access points throughout
the valley with multiple T1 lines feeding directly to the district
offices. The valley's schools would then tap in to those lines.
Features of the new system include the ability for teachers and
administrators to download voicemail messages onto their computers.
And it would replace a system
The $500,000 dollars, according to Baird, will come from facilities
funding. In what he called "kind of a fun little game,"
the district actually gets more money from the state for that
fund as they hit certain spending marks.
With the expenses coming from bond money, Baird said, savings
of approximately $30,000 to $40,000 will be realized in the general
This is a real positive for a district he termed "facilities
rich and general fund poor."
Board member Kathi Smith had some concerns about a system where
each call can be tracked and said she hoped that troublesome
dialing codes would not be a part of the system. Her main concern
was that teachers be able to make all necessary calls and know
that all calls they make can potentially be tracked and inputted
into spreadsheets for review.
The Ojai Valley News
to the news