Throughout the past six years serving as your superintendent of schools, I have occasionally shared with you one or more communications with our District staff to be certain all parties in our community were hearing the same message. I feel that my welcome (back) e-mail to the staff is one of those key points of confluence among the staff, parents of our students and the community.
Presented below is the text of that e-mail.
I wish our students the most exciting and fulfilling school year, and for their parents a true sense of joy as they watch their children grow academically, emotionally as well as physically.
For the great majority of our certificated staff who completed two of their four staff development days last week, today’s e-mail is a belated welcome back. Let me offer a special greeting to our almost 40 new staff members (as of today, 24 faculty and 14 classified staff), by far the largest contingent in the past decade.
The most wonderful point of departure this late August from the late Augusts of the previous seven years is the reality of improved salary schedules. As I said at the August 18, 2015 Board Meeting, since I’ve come to Ojai in 2009 there is nothing that gave me more satisfaction than partnering last spring with the Board, Andy Cantwell and the OFT negotiating team finally to make this happen. I am very confident that the same result will be part of the negotiations agreement with the classified staff in the upcoming weeks.
To give you a sense of the early emphases in the 2015-16 District agenda, presented below are the key issues from the August 18 Board Meeting.
1) The Board appointed Balfour Beatty Construction as the construction manager to provide counsel to us to implement the first $10M in bonds from the $35M Measure J. Josh Koenig-Brown, Andy Cantwell, the Balfour Beatty staff, and I will be meeting with each principal and any interested staff members to discuss priorities for projects to be completed in the next 12 months, predominantly in the summer of 2016.
2) The Board received an enrollment study report from the senior director of the Dolinka Group, the firm we engaged to complete studies on space utilization (presented at the June 30, 2015 Board Meeting) and demographic projections. Their conclusions show a decrease from 2,615 students in 2014-15 to 2,489 students in 2016-17 and then a flattening out at about 2,500 through 2024-25. The elementary enrollment is projected to increase by about 10-15% toward the end of that 10-year period, with the junior high numbers dropping slightly and the high school enrollment decreasing by about 10-15%.
3) The Board authorized the creation of a District-wide committee of no less than seven and no more than eleven members, with significant representation from elementary school parents. The specific charges to the committee will be determined at the September 15 Board Meeting. The overall focus will be to study options for the number and sites of our elementary schools in the future.
4) In my Superintendent’s Report, I addressed two items: improved class sizes this school year and an update on the alleged theft of funds from the District by a former member of the Business Office staff.
- Relating to the first item, class sizes are predominantly lower than last year, with an average decrease of about two students, PK-12. Once the first several days of classes are over, I will know more specifics.
- My comments about the stolen funds were well documented in the July 8 and August 21 Ojai Valley News, in addition to the phone message I sent to you soon after the alleged theft was found in early July. LaDonna Fulcher, the person who resigned in my office immediately upon being faced with our evidence and who was arrested two days later by the police, is out on bond and awaiting trial.
I look forward to seeing as many of you as possible later this week and next week. Of course, the temperatures will be high in Ojai in late August and early September, so let’s do our best to keep everyone as comfortable as possible. Thanks.