Earlier this year, the OUSD board of education approved sending the City of Ojai, and other public agencies, a letter offering them first right of refusal to negotiate leasing the downtown Ojai property where the District administrative offices and other facilities are located. This was an action also recommended after long and intense deliberation by the resident/volunteers of the OUSD 7/11 Committee, when they voted to consider the property “surplus” due to declining enrollment.
Given the loss of revenue from declining enrollment, the District must seek financial sustainability, and the OUSD Board accepted the 9/11 Committee recommendation after several public hearings. This opened the door to considering other uses, which would be intended to contribute revenue to the school district.
When this was discussed by the OUSD Board, several members made it clear that this was a process that must include significant public input, and ideally, partnership with the City of Ojai.
Tuesday of this week, at the Ojai City Council meeting, the Council discussed whether to express interest in leasing the downtown property. In the course of the discussion, in urging the Council to respond with interest, one member stated that the OUSD’s next step is to publish a request for proposals from developers if the City didn’t express interest.
Nothing could be farther from accuracy. I am not alone in my commitment to public involvement and input in major Board decisions that affect our community. This Board has demonstrated that commitment repeatedly. It has also stated publicly that part of the process of developing a request for proposals will again include extensive public and municipal input.
Contrary to the implication made by a Council member, there is no “rush to development” by the OUSD. We take our responsibility seriously, and seek to protect both the OUSD finances, and the heritage property itself.