Fillmore Unified School District
Fillmore Unified School District

To the Editor of the Fillmore Gazette:
By: John Garnica, Fillmore Unified School District Board President
I was disappointed to read the “article” submitted by the Fillmore Unified Teacher’s Association. First, the article was presented on the Gazette’s front page as factual, instead of opinion. Secondly, neither the administration nor the board was given the opportunity to counter any of the claims made in the article. Last, there was no by-line under the headline of the article - it is only at the end of article that we discover the authors the article are the teacher’s union leadership. That said, let me point out factual errors, and let the reader decide whether that “article” was actually news, or just opinion.
First, the board’s stated goal has always been to keep the cuts as far away from children as possible. The union leadership claims we only cut teachers and classified staff who are closest to children, instead of administration. In fact, the administration was the first to feel the pain, as we decided in January not to fill one administration position (technology director) and later cut another full-time quasi-administrative position at the district level. Out of senior administrative staff, this represents 2 positions out of 8, or a 25% reduction. Later, the board authorized to reduce administrative pay through a decrease in their work days. I personally spoke to Ms. Marvel and reminded her of these facts after one particular board study session, but apparently Ms. Marvel has forgotten our conversation. To set the record straight, the district administration took the first cuts, and continued to take cuts as we moved through the budget building process. CONTINUED »

 


 

“The District is aware of the allegations raised in the May 14 issue of the Gazette. Please rest assured that a full investigation is underway; however, because the article is directed at one or more District employees, at this point the investigation must be regarded as a confi dential personnel matter”.

 


 
A crowd gathers to watch the attempted rescue of Denise Arredondo, of Piru, Saturday. Denise drowned after wading into the lake while on a family picnic.
A crowd gathers to watch the attempted rescue of Denise Arredondo, of Piru, Saturday. Denise drowned after wading into the lake while on a family picnic.
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On Saturday, May 16, 2009 at about 3:10 P.M, a nine year-old female [Denise Arredondo] Piru resident drowned at Lake Piru.
The young Piru girl was wading in water about 50 yards off shore in the Lake's day use area. She was being supervised by adult family members. Suddenly, she slipped underwater and her family immediately ran through the water to the area she had been playing. They searched for her and Lake Rangers were contacted by her father. She was not wearing a flotation device.
Rangers responded immediately in a rescue boat and started searching underwater. They were assisted by an off-duty Sheriff's Helicopter Paramedic. A Sheriff's rescue helicopter arrived and deployed a rescue diver.
Senior Deputy Shane Matthews conducted a diving search for the missing girl in about 8 feet of water. The visibility was less than 3 inches due to the high winds on the lake. Shortly thereafter, Senior Deputy Matthews found her submerged. He brought her to the surface and began resuscitation efforts with the assistance of rangers and other emergency personnel. She succumbed and was pronounced deceased at the scene.

 


 
Sheriff’s Deputy Tony Biter suffered minor injuries following a traffi c collision at the intersection of Hwy. 126 and Central Ave., Monday. A motorist accidentally turned in front of his motorcycle. He is recovering at home.
Sheriff’s Deputy Tony Biter suffered minor injuries following a traffi c collision at the intersection of Hwy. 126 and Central Ave., Monday. A motorist accidentally turned in front of his motorcycle. He is recovering at home.
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Ventura County Sheriff's Department
Ventura County Sheriff's Department

On 3-11-2009, a male subject fired several handgun rounds at a group of individuals standing in the 3900 Blk of Citrus View Drive, in Piru. No one was hit but several of the rounds struck a neighboring house.

Gang investigators later identified the suspect as Fillmore gang member Jose Aguilar, 22 yrs. On 3-20-2009, Gang investigators served four search warrants and arrested Aguilar for attempted murder. Gang investigators also identified the person who drove Aguilar to the shooting scene as Arturo Isarraras, 18 yrs. He was also arrested on 3-20-2009.

On Friday, 5/15/09, the Sheriff’s Gang Unit and several members of the Ventura Police Department served six additional search warrants in an attempt to locate the gun used in the March 11th shooting. Four guns were seized and one person was arrested during the searches. All of the locations searched were the homes of fellow Fillmore gang members. CONTINUED »

 


 
Houston, We Have No Problem

On Wednesday, April 29, 2009, Brandi Walker, a fourth grade teacher at San Cayetano School, took two students to the 2009 NES National Student Symposium in Houston, Texas. Angelica Mercado, age 11, and Taylor Wright, age 9, were chosen to present their robotics project at the symposium. Taylor and Angelica had previously been part of the two robotics teams that competed at the Southern California NES NASA JPL Robotics Competition winning first and fourth place respectively. The teacher and students were flown, free of charge, to Houston, Texas. The girls presented their power point in front of a panel of NASA engineers and scientists. The panel asked the students follow up questions when they were done with their presentation. Following this, the students went to activities where they were able to touch rocks from the Moon and engineer machines to shoot water at a target. The afternoon was spent touring Johnson Space Center, where students were able to see the Neutral Buoyancy Lab, while the astronauts were training, life-size mockups of the US and Russian space shuttles and space station, as well as Rocket Park. The following day, the students were taken to Space Center Houston, where they learned about the history of space flight. An education specialist led them through an activity on building rockets. The girls were then able to test their rockets in a game of Rocket Golf with their fellow rocket engineers. After lunch, a space-suit engineer gave a demonstration and seminar on the space suit. The afternoon finished with a panel of NASA employees speaking and answering questions about their careers at NASA. A closing ceremony was held on Friday evening, in which each student was recognized for their participation in the symposium and given a NASA medal and certificate. This was a once in a life-time experience for the students and teacher who were invited to participate in the three days fully funded by NASA.

The NASA Explorer Schools Project establishes a three-year partnership between NASA and school teams to help fourth through ninth grade education communities improve teaching and learning in science, technology, math and engineering. The project works primarily with diverse groups of students who are underrepresented in these disciplines or who are traditionally underserved in rural or urban parts of the country. The project joins educators, students and families in sustained involvement with NASA's research, discoveries and missions.
The opportunity to participate in the symposium was open to all current NASA Explorer Schools. Students were required to complete a research investigation focused on NASA missions or research interests, including science, aerospace, reduced gravity, robotics, plant growth in space, or living and working in space.

 


 
Press the play button above to listen to the two messages left on the Gazette's answering machine. The answering machine time stamp heard at the end of each message is slow by 1 hour and 22 minutes. The actual times of the calls are approximately 8:43 a.m. and 3:19 p.m.
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The YouTube audio/video located here may not appear for some readers. Some institutions choose to block all YouTube content. If you do not see an audio/video player located here, please use the audio/video player located above. Sorry for the inconvenience.

Confusion surrounds much of the controversy between the District Office and School Employees. Issues include a debate over how many employees are needed at the District Office, limited access to public information, uncertainty over administrators’ salaries, and anonymous communications to the Gazette.

At the April 21st Board Meeting, FUTA President Theresa Marvel had accepted the Board’s offer to hear alternate proposals from the public, and handed out a written budget-cutting proposal suggesting that the District reduce the number of top-level administrators, primarily by demoting administrators and reducing the number of work-days in their year. Marvel argued that the District Office was over-staffed, based on her analysis of other districts’ staffing levels. Marvel’s analysis of the number of top-level administrators in Fillmore, Ojai, Oak Park, and Ventura was based on data she gathered from the Ventura County Public Schools Directory (VCPSD), as published on its website. Assistant Superintendent Evalene Townend disputed those numbers, and provided the Gazette with her own lists based on phone conversations with employees of the referenced districts. The Gazette examined Ventura Unified’s numbers as a sample to determine whether Marvel’s analysis was inconsistent with the data provided. Marvel counted only Supervisors, Assistant Supervisors, Directors, and Coordinators, because she was primarily interested in reducing top-level staff. Townend’s lists of District Office staffs listed many more employee at each office, including specialists, secretaries, and clerks. She noted that Ventura Unified had 135 employees at the District Office. The Gazette based its analysis on the VCPSD but counted Managers and Assistant Directors, in addition to the top-level employees that Marvel counted. Marvel’s count of Ventura Unified included 1 Superintendent, 3 Assistant Superintendents, 13 Directors, and 1 Coordinator. The modified count included 1 Superintendent, 3 Assistant Superintendents, 13 Directors, 2 Coordinators, 4 Assistant Directors, and 2 Managers. From the job titles listed on the web site, it was difficult to tell whether some positions were top-level or support staff. In fact, a person listed as “Risk Manager” on the web site was listed by Townend as “Director of Risk Management”. Whether Marvel is correct in concluding that Fillmore is top-heavy with school administrators is a matter for the School Board to determine, but her data is not inaccurate enough to damage her argument. CONTINUED »

 
J.T. Erickson of Ojai, does a Crailslide at last Saturday’s skate event at Fillmore Skate Park.
J.T. Erickson of Ojai, does a Crailslide at last Saturday’s skate event at Fillmore Skate Park.
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Leo Contreras of Fillmore
Leo Contreras of Fillmore
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Scott Petuoglu of Fillmore
Scott Petuoglu of Fillmore
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Miguel Yepes of Fillmore
Miguel Yepes of Fillmore
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unknown skater doing a nose grab.
unknown skater doing a nose grab.
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Zach Casas of Newbury Park
Zach Casas of Newbury Park
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Zander Gabriel of Ojai
Zander Gabriel of Ojai
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Twenty high school skateboard teams descended on the Fillmore Skate Park this past weekend to compete in region #1 of the National High School Skateboard Association competition. This is Fillmore’s 2nd event and they skated very well and placed 6th as a team. Skating for Fillmore was Nick Avila, Leo Contreras, Joey Liu, Scott Petuoglu, and Miguel Yepez. In the individual top 20 scores, Leo Contreras placed 6th, and Joey Liu placed 16th out of 90 skaters. Jeff Stern, Founder of NHSSA built the first ever organization to hold a season of skateboard competitions where high school skateboarders come together as a team to compete against other high schools. Forty teams are competing, with each team made up of 5 of the best skaters from each high school. There are two regions with 20 schools in each region. After three competitions in each region, the top 10 teams from each region will advance to the finals, hoping to win “best skate team” for the season. After the finals, the top 20 individual skaters will have the opportunity to compete at the X Games in a “best trick” contest. Mr. Stern, President of NHSSA, felt a need to get the sport of skateboarding recognized as a legitimate sport. He states, “The talent these kids have is incredible, and I don’t believe the parents or the community understand what it takes to get to the level some of these skateboarders have reached.” Find more information and standings at www.sk8nhssa.com.

 
Here Comes the Bride
The Fillmore Historical Museum is displaying vintage wedding dresses and photos from 1886 to the 1960s, 340 Main Street, Fillmore. Call for hours.
The Fillmore Historical Museum is displaying vintage wedding dresses and photos from 1886 to the 1960s, 340 Main Street, Fillmore. Call for hours.
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Beginning on May 15, 2009, the Fillmore Historical Museum located at 340 Main St. in Fillmore will be displaying wedding dresses and photos from 1886 to the 1960s. The display includes a century-old hand crocheted wedding dress, a lovely dress made from a silk parachute, a dress worn by a mother and her daughter, and a 70 year old dress that is modern enough to be found on the fashion runways of today. Courtesy of Mathias Gonzalez, we include the Hispanic tradition of the father of the groom writing the father of the bride, asking for the bride’s hand in marriage. Pictures of the families and a copy of the letter, written in Spanish and translated into English are on display. We invite you to visit the museum and discover the joys of romance and marriage during the time period since Fillmore’s establishment until the mid 20th century.

The Museum has been fortunate that over the years local Fillmore residents have donated numerous of their family treasures to be displayed for all to see. This is your hometown museum dedicated to showing how Fillmore and its surrounding communities of Bardsdale, Sespe and Piru grew and developed.

The restored 1887 depot now is home to many railroad related photos and artifacts. There are tools used by the farming community, photos of the early days and a beautiful mural created by local artist, John Brothers, depicting Central Avenue about 1910. CONTINUED »

 
A beautiful Memorial Garden has been created by the teacher Laurie Merrill’s 3rd period class. Shown are just four of the students who participate in the garden project: (l-r) Silver Perez, Isaiah Martinez, Isaiah Mendez, and Justin Beach, who is working on a video of the project.
A beautiful Memorial Garden has been created by the teacher Laurie Merrill’s 3rd period class. Shown are just four of the students who participate in the garden project: (l-r) Silver Perez, Isaiah Martinez, Isaiah Mendez, and Justin Beach, who is working on a video of the project.
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