Letters to the Editor April 30

So much to cheer about
There are great things happening in Ojai Unified.
Here are some highlights you may not have heard about. Our students are getting a new bus! Pre-COVID, a bus was needed, but now more than ever, an additional bus will help us safely transport students to and from school as well as to sporting events!
We are also putting the finishing touches on the new library at Nordhoff High School, and it is beautiful! 
I wish I could add a picture here, but instead invite you to the OUSD website and look forward to a time we can invite the public to come on campus to see it in person. 
The new cafeteria at Matilija Middle School is up and running and is a must-see also. The bright Matilija red and the large doors that open on to the shaded patio are an incredible improvement. 
If you haven’t had the chance to see San Antonio School, swing by and see for yourself. 
We are so grateful to the community for their support of Measure J and Measure K! Improvements have been made at every school, but the biggest improvement is having smiling student faces back on campus. Their joy is contagious this spring.
But that won’t end with the spring. Summer school will continue bringing students on campus for fun, engaging learning! And it is free to any student wishing to participate. So much to cheer about!
I would be remiss if I did not mention how these exciting improvements were brought about. Every single staff member in our district has spent the last year working above and beyond for our students. 
At the helm of this work has been Dr. Tiffany Morse, our superintendent, who since joining us has been named Woman of the Year in Ventura County and Superintendent of the Year. 
We are lucky to have such excellence throughout the district and, as a community member, a parent, and a school board member I am grateful for the work that has been done and excited for the future of our schools. 
— Shelly Griffen is a member of the OUSD school board.

Let’s work together
At the April 20 Ojai Unified School District school board meeting, I mentioned that an item I wanted the district to improve was its relationship with the Ojai Valley News.
Within the next 24 hours, the OVN Editorial Board chose instead to print a cartoon attacking the board and its superintendent.
 I believe it is the job of both the board and the local paper to build support in the community for working together to create and ensure a positive climate in our valley. Friday’s editorial quoted me as
 saying our board handbook was “not us.”
I feel the paper’s constant barrage against the district is also “not us” as a community. I believe a vast majority of the community does not wish the local paper to only persistently attack OUSD.
However, I believe our community has the right to voice input on the decisions the board makes. I believe it is important for the board to listen to all comments, positive and negative.
When a new member is elected, as in Ojai this election, it is important to help the newly elected member orient to the role. We are working on a handbook to improve this process. Our work is not complete as we try to set commonly agreed upon principles and practices for effective board governance on how best to work together.
In response to the April 23 editorial cartoon, a “no surprises” rule is merely an extremely common practice of letting the superintendent know if we have questions that require collecting data not already in our
 packets, so that she can come prepared. A question to clarify an issue or one prompted by discussion, is entirely appropriate to ask it at the board meeting.
 Let’s work together to recreate the community we all moved here for!
— Jane Weil is president of the OUSD school board.


One of best leaders in valley
The April 23 editorial cartoon depicted Ojai Unified School District Superintendent Dr. Tiffany Morse jogging along, ponytail swishing from her baseball cap as she pulls a little dog representing the school board.
Whatever the Ojai Valley News hoped to convey by this cartoon was lost in the firestorm over its personalization, which trivializes one of the best leaders in our valley. 
It is hard to imagine a male leader being depicted in this way. This is just one tiny example of the tsunami of stereotypical images and language our girls and young women see and hear all the time. The 100-plus comments on Superintendent Morse's Facebook page in reaction to this cartoon attest to her high regard in the community. Of course, the OVN has a right to be critical. Hopefully, that criticism won't also contribute to a society that still struggles to see women as powerful, competent leaders.

Shelve fever dream projects
Re: your April 16 article, “Electric motions spark debate”:
Kudos to Councilman Randy Haney for showing disappointment in the efforts of the “Climate Emergency Mobilization Committee” in a recent meeting. 
Bringing sophomoric suggestions for actions and expecting the city staff to do the legwork and analysis is a waste of precious resources. 
A serious effort begins with an analysis demonstrating measurable improvement in air quality for Ojai for any proposal, followed by a return on investment analysis. 
City Manager James Vega pointed out the obvious prohibitive cost impact of converting to electric vehicles now. It’s a noble effort to have a goal of going to electric everything, but the reality is that battery technology requires one more quantum improvement before it is competitive with fossil fuels. The electric grid in California is clearly not up to major increases in power demand from more electric cars or homes.
As a taxpayer, in these financially troubled times, I encourage the council to focus its time and resources on critical infrastructure, state water, and health and safety issues that benefit all residents and shelve any progressive fever dream projects.


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