February 12, 2020
Value and Volunteer Recognition Awards were given to Yilian Ponte-Gonzalez of San Antonio School and Kara Hooper from Matilija Middle School.
Ojai Federation of Teachers Comments
Angie Genasci, OFT President, spoke to the School Board about the Schools and Communities First Initiative.
Dr. Morse, Superintendent, told the School Board about the staffing changes that will be made next year. Dawn Damianos will be moving to the DO to oversee the independent and home school program and to do other needed administration jobs. While Javier Ramirez will be moving to Topa Topa Elementary School.
She also reported that administrators Rebecca Kirkland and Carol Paquette are retiring.
Introduction of the New Fiscal Services Director
Taiwo Madison was introduced as the new Fiscal Services Director.
Elementary School Spanish Language Program
Sherrill Knox explained that the school district administration is researching the possibility of either a Dual Language Immersion program or a Spanish Acquisition school focus for one of the elementary schools next year. She explained how difficult it would be for a school district of our size and with our financial difficulties to have a Dual Immersion school but did state that there is definitely a need and a desire from the public for Spanish language acquisition classes for elementary students.
Governor’s Budget Overview
Dr. Morse reviewed the state budget. She stated that we are in a Prop 98 Test 1 funding year and could be in Test for the next 3 years. This means that school districts are given approximately 39% of the General Fund revenues plus local property tax. If we continue in Test 1 funding and continue to be in declining enrollment our district could benefit because we would be dividing 39% by less students.
Our Base grant ADA will be increasing between $179 to $214 dollars depending on the grade span.
There is a lot of one-time funding in the current budget that will limit what can be done with the money. One-time funding does not allow for program expansion or salary enhancements because it is not ongoing.
Special Education Moderate to Severe Update and Consideration
Dr. Morse discussed the possibility of having a Moderate to Severe program at the high school. Having this program locally would eliminate the need for students to travel to VCOE each day and would save the district roughly 11,000 or more depending on the year.
Reopening of Summit School Site for the 20/21 School Year
Dr. Morse and Dr. Knox recommended to the School Board the reopening of Summit School as a non-traditional, non-classroom-based school.
TK -5 students would use an adopted curriculum and meet with a credentialed OUSD teacher once a week.
Students in grades 6 -12 would either have designated learning coach or participate in independent study that is directed by a credentialed District teacher.
Summer School Program
Dr. Morse would like partner with the charter school Learn 4 Life to support a summer school program for OUSD. According to Dr. Morse:
1.With this program the summer school students register with Vista Real Charter School.
2.Vista Real would collect the ADA and then hire and pay OUSD summer school teachers at the rate of $50 an hour.
3.OUSD determines and designs their classes.
4.Vista Real reimburses OUSD for the expenses of custodial, principals and office support.
5.As long as we have 20 students in a class Vista Real will accept any course, classes can be either academic or enrichment.
The program would allow for OUSD to bring back custodians at schools during the summer months, provide for teachers to earn extra money in the summer, and provide opportunities for aspiring administrators.
It would also allow for high school and middle school credit recovery.
Summer school courses will be for Ojai Unified students only.
Recognition of Women’s History Month
The School Board approved a resolution of Women’s History Month.
Public Library Partnership
Dr. Morse discussed with the School Board a proposal to partner with the County of Ventura and relocate the Meiners Oaks public library to Meiners Oaks School. The Board agreed to have the administration continue seeking information about this topic.
License Agreement with Rock Tree Sky Enrichment Program
The School Board agreed to extend the license agreement with Rock Tree Sky for three years.
Approval to Support the Current Prop 13
Proposition 13 provides money for school facilities.
Measure J Updates
Measure J projects are moving along. Nordhoff Library is ahead of schedule. The concrete foundation for the Matilija Dining Hall and Kitchen project will be poured on February 17. Many other projects are being worked on at most school sites and projects are planned for this summer.
Measure J has money allocated for solar projects in Ojai Unified. Alan White and Adam Dutter met with several solar groups to discuss the scope and feasibility of solar electricity for the School District. They will continue to look into this and form a plan for the coming year. The electricity cost savings will be significant for the District.
At the current time there is enough money to have either solar electricity at Nordhoff and Matilija or Matilija and the elementary schools but not at all schools.
December 13, 2019
Election of Governing Board President, Vice President, and Clerk
Shelly Griffen was approved as the new Board President, Jane Weil was approved as the new Vice President and Kevin Ruf was approved as the new Clerk.
Certification of the School Board Representative to the Ventura County Nominating Committee
Jane Weil was certified as the School Board Representative to the Ventura County Nominating Committee.
Ojai Unified School District Value Award
Dave Monson, Denise Rimpa, Alisha Hicks, and Evan Elder introduced the Nordhoff Diversity Inclusion Ambassadors and awarded the entire group for helping to create an inclusive culture on the Nordhoff campus.
Several of the Summit Charter petitioners spoke about the petition
Craig Andrews spoke to the School Board against the Summit Charter petition.
Several members of the community spoke for and against the petition.
Robin Monson announced that the first Community Classroom Program was held at Mira Monte and it was a huge success.
Employee Union Presidents Comments
Chuck Crawford stated that CSEA member’s roles were to support the District teachers and other employees and he appreciated recent volunteer efforts on school campuses.
Angie Genasci spoke to the issue of the Charter petition and how it has polarized the school community. She said that teachers are professionals and as such have been concerned with the inadequate provisions in the petition for intervention, English Language instruction, and the proposed pay for experienced teachers.
After many thanks to the petitioners the School Board denied the petition.
Review of the California School Dashboard
Sherrill Knox presented the most recent results of the California School Dashboard. Both Meiners Oaks and Matilija Middle School are no longer identified as schools needed Comprehensive Support and Improvements (CSI).
It is important to note that Chaparral is the only alternative high school in the county that has never been on CSI.
Overview of School Plans for Student Acheivement for all Schools (SPSA)
All SPSA’s were approved by the School Board.
Approval and Certification of the First Interim Financial Report Ending October 31st
The School Board approved the First Interim budget.
Monthly Update Regarding Measure J Projects and Finances
The Nordhoff Quad and Library projects are continuing, however there have been delays due to grading issues.
The Matilija Dining room project has also experienced delays. They are hoping that the repairs to sewer, gas, and electrical lines can all be repaired over the winter break and they can get back to work in January.
School Board Meeting Notes
Student Recognitions and Awards
Tiffany and the School Board have begun recognizing students around the district. Each month two students are given a Values Award. The reason for the award changes month to month and is chosen by the school.
They have also begun recognizing community members who have volunteered time and energy to the school district.
School Bond Issuance
The district will issue a third sale for 8,000,000 in order to fund continuing projects.
Possible School Bond Measure
The School Board has retained the services of Isom Advisors to conduct a survey and explore the feasibility of another local school improvement measure.
This measure will include funding for a new swimming pool and pool facility at Nordhoff.
Grants and Donations
There was discussion about how both grants and donations are held in the district. The School Board and administration want to be clear that all grants awarded and donations given to the school district are ultimately school district property.
The state of California has once again changed their policy on suspensions. Previously students between kindergarten and third grade could not be suspended for willful defiance, the state has now increased the grade level to fifth grade and is piloting the same policy from sixth to eighth grade.
The School Board wants to the reasons a student can be suspended explicitly spelled out in the Parent/Student Handbook and all agreed it is not their place to decide when a child is suspended.
Tiffany reported that she will be forming Guiding Coalitions for the four values on our new vision statement. Applications for the guiding coalitions are due on November 1st. She is hoping to have many different stakeholder groups in these coalitions. If you are interested get your applications in to Kathy Smith.
The School District will not be implementing the new start time for Matilija and Nordhoff until 2022. The district is holding off for two reasons: 1. To figure the new schedule and 2. To make sure we are in sync with the rest of the school districts regarding sports schedules.
Charter School Petition
The Summit Charter School Board presented their petition for a charter school in the Ojai Unified School District. The board room was filled with families and supporters for the charter school.
A public hearing has been scheduled for November 5th at 5:30. If you feel strongly against this Charter School please consider speaking out at the public hearing.
Presentation on School Suspension and Expulsion Rates
Sherril presented information on the district’s suspension and expulsion rates. The number of incidents has increased from 78 in the 2015/2016 school year to 105 in the 2018/2019 year. The increase is mostly at the high school level. The district is looking for ways to decrease suspension rates. Suspension rates effect our Dashboard and even though schools can be doing well in academic areas suspension rates can throw them into CSI.
Gifted and Talented Education and High Achieving Students
OEF has granted money for two teachers to become GATE certified through the Tri-Counties GATE Council. Once these teachers are certified they can then lead training of other teachers in the district. The administration has a goal of all teachers in third through fifth grade becoming certified through this program.
The program would not only offer GATE opportunities to actual GATE students be to all high achieving students.
Local Indicators for California School Dashboard
Sherrill Knox and Marilyn Smith reviewed the state performance and local indicators for the California School Dashboard. They reported that any data that is not collected by the state OUSD measures and reports on progress based on locally collected data.
It was noted that the administration is collecting data from the students and parents but not staff. This was specifically noted in the School Climate indicator. The administration and board were asked to include staff in their surveys in the future.
Health Care Technician
The school district has been trying to hire a school nurse but has been unsuccessful. Sherrill explained that for a nurse to work in a school district they have to get an extra certification but usually get paid much less than they would regularly.
Because of these issues and the lack of interest in the position, the administration has decided to hire a health care technician who can work more hours and get benefits for the same amount of pay that was budgeted. This position would provide support for students in our district with various medical conditions.
Measure J Update
Both the Nordhoff Quad and the Matilija Gym are set to be finished on November 8th.
The School Board approved contracts for a change order to finish off the Matilija Gym and to begin work on the Matilija Dining Hall, Nordhoff Library building and the final work on A Place to Grow.
Second Reading of the School Board Policies
The School Board approved the changes to the School Board Policies. It was noted that School Board polices are on the OUSD website.
Approval of Updates to Board Policy and AR5141.31 Immunizations
Changes to the number of immunizations children must have in order to be at school were approved by the Board.
Rescheduling of Board Meeting
The November School Board meeting has been changed to Wednesday, November 20th.
The December School Board meeting has been changed to Monday, December 16th.
Approval of New School District Logo
After considerable input from all stakeholders, the School Board has approved a new logo for OUSD. Please check on the website for the logo.
School Board Meeting Notes
May 6, 2019
Student Representative – Sofia Moreno Boyd-Barrett
Sofia reported that the student representatives have discussed that all of the representatives might begin coming to School Board meetings in the future. Currently only the junior and senior representatives attend. There are four representatives one from each grade level at the high school.
They have proposed repurposing an unused room at Nordhoff as a “nap room” for students to use to take short naps during finals or testing. They made the suggestion that a teacher should be in the room correcting papers to keep an eye on things.
The student representatives would like to begin using the Nordhoff bulletin or create their own system to communicate out issues and gather input from the student body.
Third Public Hearing Regarding the Establishment of Trustee Areas for Elections
The demographic company Cooperative Strategies presented two different mapping scenarios for the trustee areas taking into consideration such things as each trustee area having nearly equal number of inhabitants, complying with the Federal Voting Rights Act, respecting the community’s interest and incumbency.
This company used the 2010 census data and said that if the data changes in the 2020 census that maps may have to be adjusted to comply.
Michael Shanahan and Jane Weil are in the same trustee area so either one or the other will not be on the School Board after the 2022 election.
The two trustee area maps are posted on the District website. There will be one more opportunity to comment about the maps.
Based on this new system Shelly Griffen suggested that the School Board may need to change their current stance on incentives for being on the School Board.
Certificated Roll-Up of Step and Column
The Board approved the annual step and column roll up of step and column salary increases.
Directing Service of Final Notice of Reduction or Elimination of Particular Kinds of Certificated Services
Three people were given their final lay-off notice however, Andy assured the School Board that all three of these teachers will have employment in our District either through vacancies, increased enrollment or through the TOSA positions.
Andy also stated that we are seeing good enrollment numbers for the coming year.
English Learner Reclassification
Marilyn Smith asked the Board to change the number of criteria in which students are reclassified. The Board approved the change.
Nordhoff Waiver for Graduation Requirements
The Board was asked to waive the College and Career requirement for students who enrolled at Nordhoff after the course was offered their freshman year. Currently, students who enrolled after their freshman year had to find a way to take this one course.
The waiver includes the requirement that students write a report to cover the requirement of taking the course.
The Board had a lively discussion about the report requirement and asked Andy and Sherrill to drop that requirement.
Measure J Update
Adam Dutter reported that the Matilija gym roof and locker room renovations are underway. The roof will begin after school is out. The locker room renovations have already begun.
The new HVAC units being installations at Matilija are progressing. They have begun pouring concrete and getting the area ready for the units. The new units will arrive on May 10th and installation should begin on May 13th.
The School Board approved the bid for the new shade structure at Mira Monte.
Discussion about Holding Town-Hall style meetings to Solicit Community Input on Innovation and Growth Opportunities
Tiffany Morse presented her idea of holding town-hall style meetings to listen, learn, and develop ideas for innovation and growth for the District from the community.
Dr. Morse said that she would invite local organizations to the meetings for developing partnerships. She also wants to include a student panel. Meetings would begin with a short video meant to inspire creativity and innovation.
These meetings would happen this summer, one each month.
The Board approved this idea and asked Dr. Morse to go ahead and plan the meetings.
School Board Meeting Notes
April 17, 2019
Student Representative – Stella Moore
Stella spoke about the number of students from Nordhoff who were accepted into colleges around the state and the senioritis that is catching at the school.
Approval of Dr. Morse’s Contract
Dr. Morse was offered a four-year contract that included:
Approval of the Citizen’s Oversite Committee Annual Report
Dennis Corte from the committee reported that the auditors found no inappropriate expenditures of Measure J funds. Auditors normally look at 15% to 20% of expenditures, the auditors our District used looked at 80% of the expenditures.
Up until February 2018 only 8.4 million of Measure J funds had been spent. The District has scheduled 20 million in expenditures for this coming year.
The Committee recommends that the School Board does not incumber all Measure J funds but leaves 2 million for emergency expenditures.
The also supported the hiring of a second Bond Manager.
Nutrition Services Report
Julie Chessen reported about the Nutrition Services Department. At this time, we have 49% free and reduced students. The department has been sourcing 70% of our produce locally. They have been assessing their program and testing recipes to increase desirability while using cost effective USDA food products.
Presentation of Culture Literacy
Sherrill Knox presented the District plan for improving Cultural Literacy. All schools are looking at Social Emotional Learning Curriculum and implementing both Anti-Bias and Historical Lesson. Some schools and grade-levels will have targeted assemblies to address cultural literacy, equity, and bias.
Second Public Meeting of Trustee Areas
The discussion continued regarding the new trustee areas.
Resolution to Recognize both Certificated and Classified Employees.
Jane Weil and the rest of the School Board spoke to their gratitude for having such amazing employees and thanked the PTA’s and PTO’s for their taking on the task of celebrating employees.
New Courses for Matilija
Sherrill Knox discussed the new courses that will be offered at Matilija this coming year. Because the 6th grade is moving and the teachers are required to teach an elective, there will be some interesting options for students. New courses included: Aerospace, Art 6, Beginning Band, Beginning String Orchestra, Coding, Environmental Studies, Drama, Introduction to Spanish.
At the 7th and 8th grade level there will be a new S.T.E.A.M. elective.
Measure J Update
Wow, there is a lot of work being done in the next six months in our district. Three elementary schools and the Junior High School will all have roofing projects. Topa Topa will see two portables being removed. Two elementary schools will be painted. The locker room at Matilija will be painted. These are all in addition to other projects already approved.
Andy reported that the OUSD, as part of the Ojai Valley Consortium, received a million dollar grant to address watershed issues in the Ojai Valley.
OUSD will get a portion of the grant monies to use for water collection and runoff issues.
Upcoming School Board Meeting
The May 8th School Board meeting has been changed to Monday, May 6th.
School Board Meeting Notes
April 8, 2019
Appointment of New Superintendent
The School Board unanimously appointed Tiffany Morse as the new Superintendent for Ojai Unified. Dr. Morse spoke to the Board and public and about her excitement to lead Ojai Unified into the future.
Andrew Cantwell was appointed to be the labor negotiator to negotiate Dr. Morse’s contract.
New HVAC units for Matilija
The School Board approved new HVAC contracts for certain rooms at Matilja Junior High School. The work should begin in April.
Public Hearing Regarding the District’s intent to Establish Areas and Elections By-Trustee Areas
The School District is being forced to change the way School Board members are elected. Currently School Board members are elected at large, meaning that everyone can vote for all School Board members during elections. The change would mean that each School Board member will be elected from a specific area and only by voters in that area.
During public comments there was a rich discussion about this new process and whether it will create problems getting people to run for the Board or it will allow for more diversity.
The change is happening because law firms are bringing lawsuits against school districts and cities for having “at large” elections and not addressing the issue of under representation on elected boards. At this time not one of the Boards that have fought the lawsuit have won. The cost of fighting these lawsuits for most cities and school districts have amounted to half a million dollars.
Upcoming School Board Meetings
April 17, 2019
School Board Meeting Notes
February 13, 2019
Student Representatives to the School Board
Representatives Stella Moore discussed the upcoming show Crazy for You.
Representative Gray D’Angelo commented on the lack of Black History Month activities and focus by the teachers at Nordhoff.
Annette Mendoza-McCoy spoke as a representative for a parent and community group forming to address diversity, equity, and bias issues in the school district. They publicly asked to be part of the vetting for the new school Superintendent.
Presentation on the school district’s new website.
David Rogers went through the new website. Explain how much faster and easier the website is to use. The new website has taken the place of the many other websites being used in the district and has consolidated everything into one comprehensive site.
Because of its easy usability, Principals and site secretaries are already uploading information and replacing photos that have been on the old websites for years. The new website links school Facebook and Twitter accounts so that the information that goes onto the website can be automatically posted.
The School Board held a public hearing and received input on the Board response to the OFT proposal. OFT negotiations can begin.
Low Performing Block Grant
Ojai Unified School District is applying for a one-year block grant to address low performing student’s needs in the District. The block grant if accepted by the state would allow the District to hire three Teachers on Special Assignment.
“Their duties would entail teaching academic support classes for targeted students in each of the three grades at the middle school; the TOSA will also teach intersessions of three weeks after school at each of the four elementary sites.”
“In addition to directly serving students, the TOSA’s will work together to create a compilation of formative assessments for grades three through eight in the areas of reading, writing, and mathematics.” (Ojai Unified School Board Meeting Agenda and Notes, February 13, 2019)
It is the District’s hope that by creating these positions and paying for the new ones through the grant less people will be laid off in the 2019/2020 school year.
Climate Change Resolution
The School Board approved a resolution for a Call to Climate Change Action.
Summit Elementary School 7-11 Committee
The School Board approved eleven people to the committee. They specifically chose people that were either required like a teacher and administrator or from the Summit area.
The committee members are James Beaty, Bob Daddi, Emily Dodi, Jeanette Espinoza, Sherrill Knox, Christina McGinley, Louise Osequera, Trevor Quirk, Kate Spiva, Jessica Colborn, Lauren Ward Coyne.
Thank you to Kate Spiva for applying to be a member of the committee
School Board Meetings Rescheduled
The new meeting dates are as follows;
Wednesday, March 6th
Thursday, June 6th
School Board Meeting Notes
January 13, 2019
Ojai Federation of Teachers formally asked to be part of the vetting and interviewing process for the new superintendent.
The School Board was asked to allocate half a million dollars of the Measure J fund to repair the Nordhoff pool.
There was an hour of discussion as to whether the money needed to be put aside and used as seed money for a building fund which would be used to build a completely new pool in a new location or whether the money should be used now to repair the current pool and keep the same footprint.
Besides the current pool falling apart it is also too shallow for water polo and swimming. Other schools are refusing to come to Ojai.
The repairs to the current pool will ultimately create a new pool on the same footprint with the shallow issue remaining. This pool could last 10 to 15 years.
Andy explained that we are unable to change the footprint to the current pool because there are utilities that run under the pool.
The School Board ultimately voted to use the 500,000 Measure J dollars now and repair the pool.
Remember, Measure J dollars can only be used for structural improvements.
A public hearing was held to determine whether Summit School will be closed indefinitely.
The public asked for the school to be closed on a year to year basis instead of indefinitely.
Because a 7/11 committee is being convened to gather information as to what other uses there are for the school, the School Board voted to close the school one year at a time until they have more information.
Incident at Matilija
Several people spoke to the School Board about the issue and the underlying issues in Ojai Unified.
The Board decided to put together a diversity and equity committee to look at the issue in our district.
WASC Report on Chaparral School
Becky Beckett reported that Chaparral School received a favorable report from the WASC committee.
Recognition of African American Month
February is African American Month. Kevin Ruf read the School Board resolution.
Greater Good Leadership Program
The School Board approved the Greater Good Leadership Program that is an elective course being put on in partnership with Thacher School.
Students learn leadership skills and are invited to Thacher School’s Golden Trout camp in the eastern Sierra. Thacher School has a benefactor who has granted all funds to put this program on at Nordhoff.
LEA planning Efforts and Title One Programs
Marilyn Smith reviewed the programs and requirements from the State.
Support for Early Literacy
Sherrill Knox presented information on what Ojai Unified is doing currently and could do to support early literacy in the district.
Auditor’s Financial Report for the District and Measure J
Vavrinek, Trine, and Day &Co presented their yearly report on Ojai Unified’s budget.
They said that everything looked good. We had no weaknesses in the budget, no significant deficiencies, and no specific issues.
There were a few areas that we need to focus on as a district.
No discrepancies or issues were found in the Measure J budget.
School Board Meeting
December 14, 2018