OUSD board sifts through mixed news
By Bret Bradigan
Charter schools and swimming
pools dominated discussion and decisions at a brisk Ojai Unified
School District board of trustees meeting Tuesday evening.
The Valley Oak Charter School was given a clean bill of health,
in contrast, the pool at Nordhoff High School, which failed a
Monday inspection, was shut down for two days.
Not all pool-related news was bad, however, as Mark and Jill
Davis were honored for dedicated volunteer service at the Nordhoff
pool. The couple recently moved to Santa Barbara, but assured
the board they would ease the transition.
"They shepherded that pool every day for 12 years,"
said Assistant Superintendent Jim Berube, in presenting the pair
with a plaque with the warm applause of the board members. "They
put in all this time and effort for this community and for our
The transition to the next group of pool stewards has been less
smooth than hoped. The pool's control board was apparently accidently
turned off Friday, creating a mismatch in the chemical mix and
water temperature. That, coupled by a surprise visit from a state
inspector Monday morning, led to the pool being closed. It was
expected, at press time, to be reopened Thursday after the inspector
delivered a clean bill of health.
Another issue the inspector listed
was the absence of changing rooms - which, Berube said, were
overlooked, as they were nearby in trailers, and the absence
of hot water for showers, which was fixed Thursday.
"It was a huge setback for water polo and other aquatic
users," said Superintentent Dr. Tim Baird. The team missed
several practices, but no home matches were scheduled for this
The 2-year-old charter school appeared to be running even more
smoothly than expected, given that the small, state-sanctioned
but largely independent schools, with teachers doubling up on
administrative and accounting duties, often neglect financial
The charter school presently has three teachers, 62 students
and a budget of $255,000.
Berube, who represents the district
on the charter school board, said the school has performed well,
despite several changes of staff and administration. Board member
Kathi Smith urged Berube to inform the district - which has ultimate
accountability for the tax dollars being spent - if anything
were to go awry with the finances or operation of the school,
"and we will revoke their charter at the earliest opportunity."
Baird said the charter has an accounting plan in place and will
soon receive expert scrutiny of its bottom line.
The district's bottom-line expert, budget officer Danielle Pusatere,
informed the board that the district was well within in its Gann
limit, and gave her annual recitation of its origin and purpose
for the benefit of new board members. The Gann limit was enacted
by Proposition 4 in 1979 to limit the growth of school expenditures
to inflation and population growth. Nearly all school districts
are well within their Gann limits each year, she said.
Two agenda items dealt with the construction project at Nordhoff
High School. Berube said construction of the new locker rooms
began earlier this week and should be completed by early December,
the same as the administration building will be ready. The new
parking lot, which ties together the old lots "from one
end to the other," Berube said, should be ready by Thanksgiving
In other business, the board approved a new biology textbook
from publisher Prentiss-Hall, which, board member Tim Peddicord
said, came highly recommended.
Kevin Horswell, the student representative, got the meeting off
to a spirited start. He said the student senate at Nordhoff High
School has been meeting to establish their priorities, one of
which is expanding sports programs to include, possibly, field
hockey, lacrosse and intramural competition against local private
With the aid of counselor Janice McCormick, the students were
a few steps closer to realizing the dream of Deno Lepas, a long-time
teacher at Nordhoff who died Oct. 7, 2002, to build a large ceramic
mural as part of a "Peace Through Understanding" project.
Baird's superintendent report ended the meeting on a somewhat
more somber tone, as he said, in response to a question from
Smith about transportation delays, that the issue would be taken
up at the next board meeting on Oct. 21. "It's a safety
issue," Smith said about that some students were waiting
up to half an hour for bus rides home.
Baird said about this year's cuts to the transportation budget,
"We can't disguise the cuts anymore. Everyone can see them."
The Ojai Valley News
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