Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor

OVN OPINION page, Letters to the editor about Nordhoff schedule change

3 12 SCHEDULE APPEAL

If students are unable to sign up for the classes they need, due to the school district changing the class schedule from seven periods to six for the 2020-21 school year, affecting 10th- through 12th-graders, they need to get this form from the Nordhoff school office, fill it out and turn it in at the school office. The school board will then be able to assess the benefits or drawbacks of the schedule change, based on how many students may need more classes to achieve their academic goals and participate in extracurricular activities. If the form is needed in Spanish, a Spanish-language form should be requested. For more information, call Nordhoff High School at 805-640-4343. 

 

3 12 OPINIONPAGE half copyagain

 How do we
move forward?
JIM JOHNSON, Ojai
I have spoken out about this a lot and wanted to follow up on the concerns I’ve expressed regarding the sixth-period changes and the way this was handled at Nordhoff High School.
I want to thank the school board and administrators for their time and attention Wednesday night. I also want to thank all the parents who showed up and spoke. When it comes to our kids, our teachers and our community, we become very passionate. I don’t think that’s a bad thing.
I still strongly believe this was not handled properly and that the issues that have arisen are because it wasn't handled properly. These parents and students are rightfully upset. Had this been properly planned out and placed before the board, subcommittees could have been formed, questions could have been answered, the parents and students could have been included.
That being said ...
We can't change the past, and the administration has owned up to the mistake and apologized. The problem we face now is still what to do about the budget cuts. As referenced many times Wednesday night, cuts and steps should have been taken years ago. So, how do we move forward and how can we help? In the words of Linda Jordan: “How can we be supportive?” Nordhoff High School Principal David Monson and the staff tasked with implementing this new schedule need our help and support to work with our kids.
The school board agreed that the sixth-period schedule would move forward and that they would closely monitor its progress and the waiver process to try to accommodate and support as many students and families as they could. As recognized Wednesday night, there may be a lot of students for whom this six-period schedule works perfectly and there may be students who need waivers for a seventh period. However, we don't know what we don't know. So, let’s find out. 
I encourage parents and students to go through the process and register for what works best for them. If you need that seventh period, fill out the schedule appeal (see form on this page). With this, the school board and the administrators will have the data they need.
In the meantime, the school board and administration still face some really difficult decisions financially.
Our parents, our community are here to help. We stand here ready to help. We show up when tables and benches need to be built. We show up when playgrounds need to be built. We donate time, we donate talent, we donate financially. I have yet to see a lack of involvement and support when the call has gone out. Please use our time and talents and let this community help.

 

OUSD can and must

do better by students
]JEFFREY STARKWEATHER, Ojai
(The writer made these comments to the Ojai Unified School District board on Wednesday.)
I want to express my grave concerns about both the manner in which the “transition to a six-period schedule” was developed and communicated to students and parents, and the proposed schedule change itself. It will harm both our high school students’ college and career prospects and the future of our school system. 
We want to be a high-performing school system. To maintain or achieve that, we need complete transparency from school leaders on all decisions impacting the educational effectiveness and equity of all school programs and offerings. 
That means before major decisions like this are considered, we must have parent, school board and community engagement and input. We cannot be successful as a school system without mutual trust. Some of that has been lost in this process, but tonight (March 11), you can begin to repair that trust by listening to Nordhoff High School parents and voting down this proposed class-schedule change.
I was incredibly impressed by how articulate and passionate the parents were at Monday’s (March 9) meeting at Nordhoff. I took note of how so many parents praised the current in-person course offerings, which they asserted made Nordhoff unique in the area in providing “whole-child” educational options.
I heard that families moved to Ojai just to give their children this educational experience, and that this schedule change from seven to six periods could result in a considerable loss of students from our district to other schools.
In allowing children to take rigorous college or career and technical tracks, play sports and also participate in or take courses in music, dance, art, theater, career and other noncognitive-skill development courses or activities, Nordhoff, in essence, has structured its course offering to promote social and emotional skills, along with cognitive academic skills.
These include self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, such as social interaction, collaboration and team building, persistence, and a sense of purpose. There is mounting evidence that employers, colleges and career educators, the board and public value these skills and see them as essential for success in and beyond school. There is also empirical evidence that these offerings will improve students’ prospects in college and careers and give them the confidence to be more engaged citizens. 
I would add to this equation the “majority-minority” and economically diverse world of work and living today’s students will face. The current in-person course offering are helping these students prepare for that world by getting them out of their academic or career tracks to participate with a more diverse group of fellow students in dance, music, performing arts, sports, etc. 
And you cannot develop these social and emotional skills by taking class by yourself online. Nor are you likely to have the same diverse student body in summer school. 
Moreover, the proposed changes discriminate against children from lower socioeconomic families, and from Spanish-speaking families, putting the burden on students and parents to seek formal appeals to maintain seven classes and be able to successfully utilize online course offerings.
We cannot afford to lose any more students, any more parental and community trust in our school leaders and any further damage to the educational reputation of our schools. I ask the school board to please consider finding another way to save this $200,000. The future of our children, our schools and our community is at stake.

To view the March 11 school board meeting, recorded by the Ojai Valley News, of the discussion of the schedule change, visit:

https://www.facebook.com/ojaivalleynews/videos/199558747970341/

To view the March 9 Nordhoff parent meeting to discuss the schedule change, recorded by the Ojai Valley News, visit:

https://www.facebook.com/ojaivalleynews/videos/841910526283146/

 To view the Dec. 13, 2019, first interim 2019-20 school budget report, starting at time stamp 1:58, visit:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6wM1Kai-_0s&feature=youtu.be

 

OUSD contact information

OUSD administration phone number: 805-640-4300, ext. 3
OUSD Superintendent Tiffany Morse:
OUSD Assistant Superintendent Sherrill Knox:
OUSD school board member emails:
Board President Shelly Griffen 
(Term: December 2016 through December 2020)
Board Vice President Jane Weil
Board Clerk Kevin Ruf
Board member Michael Shanahan
Board member Thayne Whipple
(Term: June 11 through December 2020)