Letters to the Editor
December 10th, 2009

To the Editor:
To the Communities of Piru and Fillmore:
While the Piru Neighborhood Council realizes it has no jurisdiction over the policies which affect our local school, we do wish to express our concern and disappointment that we could not bring both the petitioners for the Piru Charter School and parties concerned by the proposal to a forum that would allow the public to ask questions of both sides.
We chose a format that we hoped would avoid conflict, and planned to have the public write their questions down. The PNC Board would then have taken turns asking questions of the groups concerned with the school. We invited everyone on November 5th and reminded them on November 12. On that weekend, a petitioner called me, requesting assurance that the meeting would not be confrontational, which I gave. Then I received a text message November 16 stating that “the two-sided format doesn’t work for us”.
The general Piru Community, and apparently many parents and teachers, were unaware of the proposal to break Piru School away from Fillmore Unified until after the petition had been officially recorded and a special Board of Education meeting scheduled the night of our October meeting. We postponed ours to allow the public to attend the District’s October session, and later that month received a request from the Charter petitioners to appear at our General Meeting November 18.
The Piru Neighborhood Council Executive Board met on November 3 to finalize our agenda, and agreed on several points: taking a position for or against the proposal was outside our area of concern as defined in our by-laws; we had a duty to try to provide the community with information that would help them decide what position to take; four out of five Board members felt that another presentation was unnecessary, as the petitioners had already explained their ideas in a well-attended public meeting.
The Piru Community has gone from a total lack of information to an abundance of discussions, rumors, statements that are incomplete or unclear, and contradictory “information”; we are now in a state of confusion. The PNC regrets that the opportunity to clarify information and reduce confusion has been denied to the public, and hope that when the issue is finally resolved, the result will be a healthy thing for the school and the community that depends on it.
Janet Bergamo, President
Piru Neighborhood Council

To the Editor:
I really feel sad that a parent of a student in the Fillmore Unified School District is pitting one school team against another. Christina Carrizal-Vasque feels that soccer was slighted because the Fillmore Football team won league and then went on to successfully go to the second round of the playoffs. She asks does football come first? Yes, when a team has been successful they are given the opportunity to continue to use the field to practice and play. Why did the soccer coach schedule a PRACTICE game when he/she knew there was a good possibility that the football team would go to the playoffs just as they did last year? The football coaches probably had no idea that a game was scheduled. When the soccer team has won an gone to the playoffs every effort has been made to give them support including usage of the field for practice and games. Should the football team not be afforded the same opportunity?
Perhaps, Christina does not understand that we are in bleak financial times. The fact that the district can support the soccer program is BECAUSE of the football program. The revenues taken in by the football program is given to the ASB. This revenue pays for the soccer program, swimming program, track program and basketball program etc. Without the funds raised by the football program her child and many others would probably have to pay a large amount of money so that the high school could have a soccer program. Football happily supports all the other sports and the more successful the football program is the more funding other programs have. The football program wishes all teams continued success. I hope this misunderstanding and criticism of the Football program was the result of lack of information. The Fillmore Flashes of 2009 deserve nothing but praise. I attended all but on game and the football team and their coaches well represented Fillmore. They were fantastic!!
I am saddened that Christina is not happy for every team’s success. A positive supportive letter congratulating the football program and thanking them for all they do to financially support the many wonderful sports programs at Fillmore High School would have been more appropriate. The school and all the teams are equally important and deserve all the parents support not criticism. Go Flashes!!
L. Durand

To the Editor:
Attention Greg Spaulding:
Your arguments against a Charter School in Piru are flawed. The most ridiculous might be your opening argument that “there just aren’t that many Charter Schools in Ventura County.” I won’t waste anyone’s time describing how dumb that is and move right into what you describe in your own words as “the most relevant question, how charter schools perform.” You cite a Stanford University study: 37% of charter schools report gains worse than traditional public schools, 17% report gains better than traditional public schools, and 46% demonstrate no significant difference. You also claim that I have a “rather active imagination.” Is it just my imagination or did you “forget” to include any positive information from the report about Charter Schools? Since you chose selective information from the study, I’ll do the same. You failed to mention the report concludes “Nationally, Elementary and middle school charter students exhibited higher learning gains than equivalent students in the traditional public school system.” Piru Charter is an Elementary school with plans to add Middle School. The report goes on to conclude “In addition, some subgroups demonstrated greater academic growth than their traditional public school twins. Specifically, students in poverty and ELL (English Language Learning) students experience larger learning gains in charter.” Many Piru students are low income and ELL. According to the study, there are good arguments for a Charter School in Piru. Why would you not include such critical findings from the report? I guess it was also my imagination that Board Member Garnica gave you a big smile and congratulatory handshake after the Piru Charter hearing.
Since you brought up your email regarding administrative overstaffing and claim it “put the issue to rest”, let me state, for the record, you did not put the issue to rest. Fillmore Unified, along with public schools throughout the nation, is clearly overstaffed at the top. This bloated bureaucracy takes money away from students and forces bad decisions onto principals, teachers and students. These problems are compounded in Fillmore with unethical administrators, a weak superintendent, and a school board unwilling to think for themselves and question their actions. Is it just my imagination or did one administrator just slither away in the middle of the night? What? No going away party for Townend?
You are a true champion of the “status quo” Greg. Perhaps it’s this type of “inside the box” thinking that keeps our schools trapped in state improvement. After decades of increasing district administration resulting in declining student achievement, the LA City Board of Education voted against the “status quo” by converting 250 campuses into charter schools. One of the definitions of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Apparently the LA Board of Education is tired of acting insane.
One thing you are right about Greg. Under the leadership of Richard Durborow, along with the great work of Piru teachers, parents and community, Piru is the most successful campus in the District.
Regardless of what happens outside the classroom Greg, you are one of Fillmore’s finest teachers and we are fortunate to have you. Thank You.
An ashamed FUSD employee

To the Editor:
Recently our city council was remediated in a Brown Act workshop as a result of a settlement between the City of Fillmore and Richard McKee of Californians Aware. Evidently the county’s district attorney was satisfied that our city council cured its ills and with how it handled its unintended violations. But why the settlement unless the city was more guilty than innocent? And why would it agree to pay Mr. McKee’s attorney’s fees for something unintended?
What hasn’t happened is an apology, or has our council become politically calloused? We’ve all been bumped into in a crowd and typically, both parties exchange an apology. Here, our city council hasn’t seemed to notice where it steps or how it can brush public contact aside.
We’ve seen enough of the acrimony surrounding this legal embarrassment. Isn’t it time that our city fathers just walk circumspectly and move towards the civic matters that improve our community?
Bert Castel de Oro