h2

Articles

Budget Cuts Again Top OUSD Meeting

By Linda Harmon

Cuts to education were again the elephant in the room at Tuesday night’s Ojai Unified School District’s board meeting. Even though the budget was barely discussed its effect was felt as the board voted to close the district-run A Place to Grow Infant Center, effective June 30.

“At the December meet-ing I articulated the issues that brought us here,” said superintendent Henry Bangser. “It is one of the hardest things to do as an administrator, to close an effective program … The reason is our declining resource base and our need to do anything we can do to stretch our resources. Closing the center allows us to focus on our preschool expansion.”
According to Bangser, “in an optimal world,” he would keep the center open and have early childhood education available to everyone as an entrance to kindergarten.
Supporters of the center hit the same note, but asked that the center be given a chance to become self-supporting.
“I believe a cost-effective program is possible,” said Jean Smith, an educator with a background in early childhood development and a parent of former students. “Whatever you vote, I hope you learn from the experience of having an early childhood program.”
Mary Mashburn, an Infant Center parent, also asked that the center be spared and, if not, that special arrangements be made so that students now in the program and younger than 3 next fall, can be accepted into the expanded preschool program.
“Let these children who have already made friends and are secure with the staff be integrated into the program,” said Mashburn, whose 1.5-year-old son is in the center two days a week. “Where else am I going to put him? … This is a great preschool.”
Director of the Infant Center, Bonnie Patton, closed out the public comment.
“It’s been a long time, four and a half years now. I want to thank you for your patience and support,” said Patton. “I have children in my program from out of the district, we bring children into the school district … We don’t have to stay in this building. If you do close us, we’d like to see our 2-year-olds accepted into the new program.”
While Pauline Mercado, board member, noted she considered the center part of the district’s “vision,” the majority of the board expressed regret but spoke in support of closure.
“I have been continually moved by the discussion both inside the meetings and outside of them,” said Board Member Rikki Horne, recommending closure. “I remember a year ago talking about this and discussions of it becoming

Cuts to education were again the elephant in the room at Tuesday night’s Ojai Unified School District’s board meeting. Even though the

Register to read more...

Advertise on our site

Overview
Packages
Register