Written public comments for Ojai Unified school board meeting July 12, sent to OVN July 13

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Ojai Unified School District trustees have a new policy, implemented for the first time at its July 12 meeting, not to read aloud written public comments during school board meetings.
The Ojai Valley News has requested that written public comments be available for public review when the school board receives them. Instead, the Ojai Valley News, which has requested them, receives them the day after the school board meetings.
Below are three written public comments submitted to the school board between the June 21 and July 12 meetings, including one from the Ojai Valley News requesting that the public have access to the public written comments when the board receives them.
The comments submitted from the OUSD on July 13 are:

June 22, general public comment from Craig Andrews:

"Dear Governing Board Members of Ojai Unified School District: I have taught full time within this district for 30 years. During my first ten, teachers and the District agreed to include a clause in their Agreement to maintain our salaries within the top third of the county's districts. Of course, amid shifting budget priorities and declining enrollment for fifteen years, that clause was stripped out as teachers watched their salaries sink to the lowest in Ventura County's public school districts. It has been sad to watch.

The result of deprioritizing faculty salaries is stark. For example, let's compare Ojai's salary at just one 2019/20 data point to those of nearby districts: District: Bachelor + 45 units @ 10 years of service Ojai Unified 62,768, Santa Paula 72, 611 Fillmore 76,988 Ventura 69,145
The gap widens significantly as one looks to the lower right of salary schedules and compares, with the example of Fillmore paying $17,051 more than OUSD per year for teachers at the maximum of years and education.
While the public we serve may not realize how Ojai teachers' pay lags, rest assured that the teachers know. Even in calculating for total compensation including health benefits, we fall short based upon my research - -way short in some cases.

Now, it is true that OFT chose to suspend salary negotiations during the worst of Covid-19 due to uncertainties. This has resulted in two years without an on-schedule raise.
Moving forward, putting raises onto the salary schedule must be an important priority because off-schedule enhancements do nothing to help the retirement of teachers, most of whom do not receive much -- or any -- Social Security. As we know, the state suspended the COLA for last year, when OFT was contracted to receive the COLA, which we now know has been reinstated at 2.31%. When adding that to this year's augmented COLA, along with a windfall of COVID monies, the District will be in a good position to restore its teachers' salary schedule, even beyond state COLA's. This would be good considering how OUSD teachers lost so much ground in salary from 2002-2012.

I hope herein to have increased public awareness so that when the teachers negotiate for a sizable onschedule raise, citizens will understand that our request reflects heading into a third year with no raise on our salary schedule.
With inflation concerns already manifest, it is of utmost importance that the District help prevent further stagnation and erosion of faculty compensation. Failure to do so will likely result in OUSD becoming less attractive to prospective recruits. We do not want that. We had nearly seven percent of our colleagues retire or leave the district this year.

Thank you for reading and sharing my comment.

Craig Andrews

Instructor, Chaparral High School Secretary, Ojai Federation of Teachers. "

July 9 from Stephen Weed regarding the July 12 agenda item 5.2.1 regarding textbook adoption for AP Government):

"This looks like a good text. I hope that a replacement gen ed text will be reviewed sometime soon."

July 9 from Stephen Weed regarding July 12 agenda item 5.4.1 on the update to the "Board Governance Handbook":

"What’s not to like? It’s written in simple language and Section Six has a light but clear touch especially when it touches on the Brown Act and collaboration."

July 12 — Marianne Ratcliff, editor, Ojai Valley News, general public comment regarding public access to OUSD public comments when the school board members receive them:

"Dear school board members: Thank you for all your hard work on behalf of students, parents and the community. The Ojai Valley News respectfully requests that public comments provided for school board meetings be provided to the public (and the OVN, which requests them) when the board member receives them.

Since some public comments are received after the board packet has gone out to the public, the OVN requests that the public comments be posted for the public to read as soon as the board receives them, perhaps on a link to the live-streamed and recorded meetings.
That would save the public from going to the OUSD office to inspect the public comments, an option provided in Government Code 54957.5 and OUSD Board Bylaw 9322.

This is more important than ever since the July 12 meeting agenda states: 'Written comments ... will be sent to Board members and entered into the public record, but WILL NOT BE READ AT THE MEETING.'
This request is for the school board to comply with the Brown Act (Government Code 54957.5) regarding public comments and the OUSD Board Bylaw 9322.

Even without the law and bylaw, the school board members and district as a whole benefit from hearing about the issues from their constituents who are integral to providing the best education possible for students.

Thank you very much again.

Sincerely, Marianne Ratcliff

Editor, Ojai Valley News

NOT NECESSARY TO READ THIS PART, if you do happen to read them! :) Just for your reference. OUSD Board Bylaw 9322 reads: ""At least three days before each regular meeting, each Board member shall be provided a copy of the agenda and agenda packet, including the Superintendent or designee's report; minutes to be approved; copies of communications; reports from committees, staff, citizens, and others; and other available documents pertinent to the meeting. ... 'Each meeting agenda shall list the address designated by the Superintendent or designee for public inspection of agenda documents that have been distributed to the Board less than 72 hours before the meeting. (Government Code 54957.5)'

Link to Government Code 54957.5:
GOVERNMENT CODE 54957.5. reads: (a) Notwithstanding Section 6255 or any other law, agendas of public meetings and any other writings, when distributed to all, or a majority of all, of the members of a legislative body of a local agency by any person in connection with a matter subject to discussion or consideration at an open meeting of the body, are disclosable public records under the California Public Records Act(Chapter 3.5 (commencing with Section 6250) of Division 7 of Title 1), and shall be made available upon request without delay. However, this section shall not include any writing exempt from public disclosure under Section 6253.5, 6254, 6254.3, 6254.7, 6254.15, 6254.16, 6254.22, or 6254.26. (b) (1) If a writing that is a public record under subdivision (a), and that relates to an agenda item for an open session of a regular meeting of the legislative body of a local agency, is distributed less than 72 hours prior to that meeting, the writing shall be made available for public inspection pursuant to paragraph (2) at the time the writing is distributed to all, or a majority of all, of the members of the body. (2) A local agency shall make any writing described in paragraph (1) available for public inspection at a public office or location that the agency shall designate for this purpose. Each local agency shall list the address of this office or location on the agendas for all meetings of the legislative body of that agency. The local agency also may post the writing on the local agency’s Internet Web site in a position and manner that makes it clear that the writing relates to an agenda item for an upcoming meeting. (3) This subdivision shall become operative on July 1, 2008. (c) Writings that are public records under subdivision (a) and that are distributed during a public meeting shall be made available for public inspection at the meeting if prepared by the local agency or a member of its legislative body, or after the meeting if prepared by some other person. These writings shall be made available in appropriate alternative formats upon request by a person with a disability, as required by Section 202 of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (42 U.S.C. Sec. 12132), and the federal rules and regulations adopted in implementation thereof. (d) This chapter shall not be construed to prevent the legislative body of a local agency from charging a fee or deposit for a copy of a public record pursuant to Section 6253, except that a surcharge shall not be imposed on persons with disabilities in violation of Section 202 of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (42 U.S.C. Sec. 12132), and the federal rules and regulations adopted in implementation thereof. (e) This section shall not be construed to limit or delay the public’s right to inspect or obtain a copy of any record required to be"



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