Disturbing and Disappointing News from WH

Several hundred protesters outside the White House on Wednesday chanted, “No hate, no fear, trans students are welcome here.” Credit Al Drago/The New York Times

Today I learned with dismay that the Trump White House has rescinded Federal Title IX rules allowing transgender youth to use the school bathroom of their gender identity.  With all the problems in the world today, and with his own disorganized administration, our President still had the time to wrest away from some of our most vulnerable students the protections they deserve.

Even Education Secretary deVos, whom many say knows nothing about her new job, had the common sense to understand the potential tragedy of this shift.  She initially opposed this change, but the President listened to Jeff Sessions, who wants to roll back civil rights to the 1950’s, and told Betsy to get in line.  She did.

But she also pledged that the Department of Education will protect student rights, saying that the Office of Civil Rights remains committed to “investigating all claims of discrimination, bullying and harassment against those who are most vulnerable in our schools.”

Last year, the OUSD passed policies protecting transgender students, and assuring them a welcome and supportive environment at our schools.  Regardless of the misguided and wrong approach of this federal administration, I remain fully committed to maintaining the protections we have put in place.  All our students deserve a respectful and safe learning environment.

There are tough times ahead.  We must stay strong, united, and active.

School closed on account of rain!

storm season mojave rainstorm mojave rainstorm

Ojai Unified School District has announced that it will close schools on Friday, February 17th, due to the heavy rain predicted.  Students should enjoy the unexpected respite, while the rest of us rejoice in the rain!

A pretty slick production!

Nordhoff productions are first rate, and this is a fun show.  The perfect combination!  Don’t miss it!grease-poster

A great breakfast…

Had the pleasure of attending the LULAC Leadership and Recognition Breakfast this morning.  Inspiring stories, inspiring leaders.  It’s amazing the people this county has to offer.  And the food was delicious!

Discussion about Downtown Property This Tuesday

3-17-16 Agenda

Image result for OUSD "Chaparral"After months of deliberation, the Board has finally decided to retain all elementary schools for the foreseeable future, and to expend Measure J funds on all facilities.

Now, consistent with recommendations from two 7-11 citizens’ committees, the OUSD Board will begin discussion of the potential sale or lease of all or part of the downtown property on Ojai Avenue.  This is a major conversation that must involve the community at large as well as the OUSD community.

The land as the potential to significantly contribute to the vitality and sustainability of the downtown area, as well as add to the amenities for Ojai residents.  But only if you participate in the conversation.

Green Heroes

Congratulations to Meiners Oaks Elementary for being a “Featured School” at the Green Ribbons School web site! Whether its their outdoor learning spaces, waste reduction program, or outdoor skills training, Meiners Oaks is at the forefront of healthy and sustainable learning and bringing important recognition to our District.  Go Mountain Lions!!

OUSD 7-11 Committee Holds Public Hearing

On March 17th, the OUSD 7-11 Committee will hold a public hearing to present and discuss their tentative recommendations regarding elementary school property to the OUSD School Board.  This is a very important meeting. 

Here’s the agenda: 3-17-16 Agenda

You may recall the 7-11 Committee was formed to provide advice and recommendations to the Board regarding surplus elementary school property. (There was already a 7-11 Committee held in the past to discuss the District office property where Chaparral High is located.)

It’s no secret that enrollment is down about 35-40% and may go lower still before stabilizing.  The falling numbers suggest that the District may have property or facilities that we do not need, and that we should not spend precious dollars on.  Especially now that the District has bond funds to spend on facilities improvement, due diligence requires that the Board investigate all possibilities of maximizing the benefits of the bond money.

The committee, comprised of volunteers from throughout the District, has been meeting for months and has reviewed voluminous data and reports.  You can find all the documents they’ve seen, as well as agenda, meeting minutes, and meeting videos here.

So, discussion has boiled down to these very important questions.

  1. Given ultimate enrollment at around 60% of the District’s peak, is there surplus elementary school property?
  2. If there is surplus property, what is it and what should be done with it?

The challenge for OUSD is the possibility that we actually are using more property than we can properly take care of.  The committee has concluded that there is surplus property.  There are options including:  sale, lease, repurpose within the District, or do nothing at all.

The Committee has been discussing a possible recommendation to close Meiner’s Oaks Elementary School.  But it wasn’t the only school mentioned for closing and it may not be the final recommendation.  This discussion has real implications affecting all students and families in the District.  Many questions have been raised about how this conclusion was reached, and what considerations led to it.  Many people feel that no schools should be closed, no matter that the consequences.

The meeting on the 17th is the first opportunity for the community and the committee to dialog about the committee’s potential recommendation.  Following the public hearing, the committee will continue its discussion, considering the feedback from the community.

As usual, the meeting will be recorded for later viewing, and I am told that Spanish translation services will be available as well.

Whether your children attend Meiner’s Oaks or another school in the District, this meeting involves you.  Please attend and share your thoughts, or watch the meeting and share by email.  Thank you!