Election 2020

Letter to editor: No on Measure K: OUSD bond

No on Measure K:
OUSD bond
Since 1997, Ojai Unified School District has steadily been losing attendance from a high of 4,772 to less than half that number today. We have struggled with too many failed ideas and costly studies predicting growth, and they have all been proved wrong.
Years ago, before past Superintendent Gwen Gross pushed through a bond, we had been growing as a school district. Half-a-dozen superintendents later, over the last 25 years, we have not been able to solve this problem of enrollment decline. OUSD may lose another 25 percent of its enrollment over the next two years and drop to 1,500 students. This bond measure — Measure K on the November ballot — could not have worse timing.
When a former superntendent was questioned as to why we couldn’t be an Oak Park, where my children graduated, or a Foothill Tech in Ventura, he said we would never achieve that. I guess if we decide it can’t be done, it can’t be done.
What is interesting is that our school district holds out charter school High Tech High in San Diego as an example of excellence (documentary “Most Likely to Succeed,” shown at OUSD “Engage to Impact” meeting in July 2019). That is where two of my grandchildren attend and one nephew is a recent graduate.
When we have a successful model, is it a bigger risk to change to that successful model or continue to keep the failed model we have followed for the last 23 years?
Many residents, parents and I agree that a change to include a magnet school (in one of the many half-full schools we have now) would be a bet- ter choice for stemming the consistent hemorrhaging of students.
The continual focus on upgrading buildings that become more empty each year should not be the primary focus of this district. It should be on student achievement and excellence in learning, and it isn’t.
Too much focus has not been on scholastics.
For that reason, along with a crippled economy and jobs outlook, another bond will not best serve our purpose with an eighth-of-a billion dollars in school bond indebtedness that Ojai takes on if this bond measure passes.
Bring up the test scores, change direction and wait to assess the needs of the district post COVID-19; then bring a bond back up with a better purpose. Measure K proposes a $45 million bond ($86.4 million payback over 30 years) for buildings and not a dime for the kids’ education.
— This letter was corrected to state that Ojai Unified School District has steadily been losing attendance from a high of 4,772  in 1997 to less than half that number today.