Dear Ojai Unified School District Community,
It is hard to believe we are less than a week away from starting our 2018 - 19 school year! I hope you and your family had an enjoyable and restful summer. As our district prepares for the start of school, I am proud to share that our staff has been working tirelessly over the last couple of months to get our schools ready for our students. Teachers met with each other over the summer to collaborate and improve instruction; our custodial and maintenance staff has cleaned and fixed our campuses; and our district office staff spent the summer updating our technology systems and streamlining operations to better serve you - our families and community.
In addition to these efforts, key improvements to our district-wide building infrastructures also took place over the summer and will continue during the year. Your Measure J facility bond dollars have been hard at work with 93 classrooms and buildings across five of our school sites receiving new roofs. This $3M project has eliminated leaky roofs, improved climate control and comfort in the classroom, and restored protection of our school structures. This summer also saw the completion of our major energy efficiency project. LED lighting was installed across the district and air conditioning units were replaced at Nordhoff, Matilija and Topa Topa. In addition to reducing necessary repair and maintenance costs, this initiative is projected to reduce the District’s electrical bill by more than $80K per year, critical savings that will be reallocated to fund other basic budget needs. Another major campus improvement will include the modernization of the Nordhoff Library. This multi-million dollar project will start this fall and convert this dated space into a 21st Century Technology Media Center. Upgrades and enhancements include expanded space, new laptops and audio visual equipment, small breakout study rooms, moveable furniture to adapt to study and tutorial needs, and more.
Inside our school classrooms, elementary students will experience the smallest class sizes and fewest number of combination classes the district has offered in more than a decade. Also, students and parents are likely to see a few new faces on our campuses this year, as we celebrate the hiring of 11 new teachers and seven new classified staff. We also look forward to making many special memories for this year’s 5th graders who will be the inaugural sixth grade class at Matilija Middle School next year. Likewise, this year brings excitement for the administration and staff who will be preparing for the middle school transition throughout the year.
As the new year gets underway, you will also notice shiny new school buses traveling around the valley. This summer, we invested in three air-conditioned, seat-belt-equipped buses, and we are expanding home-to-school routes. We encourage students to take a ride in the new fleet. And for those who choose to find other means of getting to school, we appreciate and encourage those of you who have your children walk, ride a bicycle or carpool to school to reduce traffic congestion around our campuses especially at the start of the year.
As you and your family settle into the school year, you will learn about many resources and assistance our district offers to help improve your student’s educational experience. Among these programs includes the Free & Reduced Priced Meals program, and free student counseling offered in partnership with Help of Ojai. And if you and your family are inclined to offer additional support at our schools, I encourage you to consider volunteering inside or outside the classroom, joining your school PTA/PTO, or making a donation to your school PTO/PTA/Booster Club and the Ojai Education Foundation. Each act of generosity improves the quality of our education experience throughout all of our schools.
As we look ahead to the new year, I am filled with gratitude and pride, particularly as I reflect back on where we are today, given what was an unprecedented year for all of us last year. I continue to see and hear about the countless acts of compassion and generosity that defines who we are as residents and friends of the Ojai Valley. Among them, I want to thank our extraordinary team of 300+ principals, teachers, administrators and staff members across our district for their continued hard work and efforts. And on behalf of all the people who make up our district, we want to thank you for entrusting your child with us. It is our honor and privilege to provide each child in our district a quality public education experience that will help them develop into the best version of themselves. Together, we are proud to serve our families and this community. Here’s to the start of a wonderful year with your family!