Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor Oct. 2

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.


Becker for Ojai council
I’ve been in the Ojai Valley for 41 years. I am a Rotarian and volunteer on many projects. I enthusiastically support Jeri Becker for Ojai City Council. I have known her and her family for many years. She is highly qualified to be an outstanding member of the Ojai city Council.
Her background is tremendous — an attorney, real estate broker, business executive and very experienced with city government.
She plans to work with all citizens, not just a select group.
She is committed to :
• Long-term solutions to water security.
• Better planning for wildfire preparedness.
• Revitalization of local businesses.
• An energy-efficient Ojai, 100% clean energy.
• Raising our air-quality standards.
• More affordable housing.
• Bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly streets
Vote Jeri Becker for Ojai City Council.


Becker brings voice of reason
I have known Jeri Becker both personally and professionally for more than 20 years and I am very excited about her candidacy for Ojai City Council. With her background in law and business, I know that Jeri will bring balanced and intelligent consideration to all the issues that the city is facing. 
In these times of uncertainty and chaos, she will be a strong voice of reason, fiscal responsibility and practical good sense. Now, more than ever, we need someone like Jeri who builds bridges and strengthens relationships. As we face the daunting task of recovering from the COVID crisis, we can count on Jeri Becker to help our neighborhoods and businesses revive and emerge stronger than ever.

Starkweather for school board
Jeffrey Starkweather is a homegrown Ojai Unified School District graduate who has moved back to his hometown to retire. Lucky for us he likes to stay busy in his retirement and has been interested in helping making our school district the shining star it can be. 
His experience as a civil rights attorney and his work with students with disabilities will serve him well. He has got a great vision for transparency, equity in education, and real interest in supporting our students, teachers, parents, and community members who all have vested interests in our school community.
I highly recommend you visit his website at www.jeffreystarkweather.com to check out his ideas and urge District 2 voters to vote for him in November.


Lowell Martinson for OVSD Board
I have been a resident of the Ojai Valley for over 30 years and value our “hometown newspaper” for its commitment to presenting so much more than just news to our residents. I especially enjoy the in-depth interviews with candidates as they run for local and county positions that will affect us all.
I guess that is why I am writing this letter to the editor. After reading the interviews with the two candidates running for the position on the Sanitary District Division 3 vacated by Pete Kaiser, I was baffled by the disparity between the two gentlemen. 
One has advanced degrees from recognized universities, is an engineer, has been a project manager, a negotiator, and seems to have an understanding of the issues facing our community in the future. His interest in our community and motivation to do this job conscientiously seem genuine.
The other candidate is woefully unprepared for the job. He has no experience in the industry and states his background as “being an OVSD customer for 30 years. (Oh golly gee! Does that qualify me to run, too?) Simply having a personal vendetta against Matt LaVere and his “puppets,” or with the city of Ventura, does not seem like the proper motivation to run for this position. Neither does having a website as “The Ojai Valley Trail” and no way to contact him.
Now, more than ever, we need to have someone who understands the situation, has good negotiating skills, and is totally qualified and prepared to step up and do the right thing for everyone in our Ojai Valley. Sorry, Jeff Ketelsen, I’m voting for Lowell Martinson.