Letters to the Editor
June 29, 2017

To the Editor,
As a member of the Fillmore Unified Teachers Association bargaining team, it is prudent to offer clarification of the unresolved calendar issues that have halted progress in negotiations. Fillmore Unified School District was informed that 94% of their teachers wished to continue the tradition of the Fall break that has been a staple within Fillmore for over 25 years. A welcome respite that FUTA members feel benefits both student and teacher attendance, then directly benefits student learning. Without warning or discussion, Fillmore Unified sought to remove it. Rather, Fillmore Unified has felt the 2017-2018 calendar could best be used as a bargaining chip to obtain a collaboration model that adds 30 minutes to the school day. FUTA members have awaited a collaboration model that allows teachers to meet regularly to plan, evaluate, and fine tune instructional strategies for the benefit of students and were hopeful this could allow for an appropriate resolution. However, FUTA feels that a model that adds 30 minutes to the school day, when Fillmore students are already in excess of the Ed Code recommendation of minutes, is not what is best for students, and frankly unfair. Many of our students begin their school day long before the first bell rings with transportation in the rural community, and end their day long after due to sports and other activities.
The Chicago Tribune states there is not a single study linking academic improvement with a longer school day and increased instructional minutes simply sweep the real problem under the rug. Rather than increase instructional time, FUTA members feel it would be more beneficial to increase instructional effectiveness via collaboration to target specific areas of student need for improvement, directly impacting student achievement. It is not enough to solve the achievement difficulties of Fillmore students by simply adding more time; rather, teachers are desperately seeking to improve the quality of student time.
FUTA proceeded to propose a collaboration model that worked within existing minutes, with collaboration weekly for 90 minutes, but again was met with an increase of 15 minutes a day. The district’s position to add 60 minutes was intended to account for instructional minutes perceived lost due to the collaboration schedule, but they neglected to consider the potential instructional impact of a weekly collaboration model. The value added potential that collaboration provides student learning far exceeds 60 minutes of instructional time. As administrators, our leadership should know that this is imperative to effective instruction for students. While FUTA seeks to improve the quality of Fillmore student’s education, the district’s solution is to increase the quantity of instruction.
Ultimately, to bridge the gap towards a calendar resolution, FUTA was willing to meet half way, increasing the instructional day by seven minutes, a net loss of 32 minutes a week to existing instructional time, but the district would not budge. Over 32 minutes, under the leadership of Superintendent Palazuelos and via representation hired with district funds, Fillmore Unified left the bargaining table, left the calendar, left our teachers, and ultimately left our students. For 32 minutes, Superintendent Palazuelos was willing to further the wedge between FUTA members rather than unite to work collaboratively with teachers to solve a problem that is vital to the success of students in the Fillmore community. For students, we need to do better than this.
Kelley Hess
FUTA member
Fillmore Teacher


To the Editor,
Unbelievable! So there we were again, after we have told our City Leaders and City Manager Rowlands over and over at earlier meetings, trying to get them to hear us at the "Listening Meeting". We overwhelmingly showed in numbers and voice our opposition to bringing the pot growing industry and its ensuing effects into our community. Yet it seems we just can't get OUR voice heard.
I was talking to a council member that justifiably said the Council just wants everyone to come out to say their feelings on the subject. Well there has been at least three city meetings on this topic, and now a 'listening session' Sunday afternoon- so I ask you the Council: just how many of these gatherings do we have to stand up in before the City Leaders are satisfied with what the vast majority of our town wants for its future. It sure feels like it is a study in who can hold out the longest. The Council member said they are doing this because pro pot folks are uncomfortable talking about this- really? How about my time and discomfort? I know that I gain five pounds and a dozen white hairs every time I force myself to stand up to speak about this topic- but I do it because I love this town! Again I ask, at what point will the Council and City Manager be satisfied?
When it was my turn to speak I said that my criteria of a business that would be good for our town should be whether the kid's athletic teams could go to a business to ask it to support it with a banner at the athletic field. It was then the mostly out-of-town pro pot growers yelled 'yah!', they would love to advertise it there at the children's play areas...I was floored. Here is an industry that professes it will not involve children as it is a 'adult decision' to take pot, but yet these same people have no qualms advertising their product to our kids...(catch 'em young and get those brains fried early!) Please City Council, did you not see and hear the same thing as I did?
The two pro pot individuals that stood up, talked about it being a booming business and boost to agriculture. Seriously? The truly Medicinal pot growers (growing strains of marijuana lacking the 'high' inducing THC, but leaving the chemical components for pain control) can't find a decent market for their product and are struggling. It is the drug-high producing marijuana that is the overwhelming pot of choice, that is the 'booming business'- a "medicinal use" that is seven to twenty times stronger in THC then anything when I was growing up. A 'medicine' that has no precise dosage, no purity standards, that is absolutely known to permanently lower the IQ of young people's brains.. I can go on, but why? Can't we be honest about what is going on here? Is this a product that any true farmer will want to be involved with? And we haven't even mentioned the known cartel issues, the water issues, the transparency issues of an all-cash market, the huge amounts of fungicides and miticides poured on this indoor monoculture crop...Do you not have the same problem seeing this as the future of our agricultural industry in Fillmore?
I have tried up to now to stay respectful and open-minded about what our City is doing on this issue, but the end of last Sunday's gathering really shook me up. The designated moderator asked of us two questions that the City Leaders gave him to end the meeting with: and they were 1. How did you feel about how the session was run? and 2. What would you want the City to do with all the tax monies that would be collected through pot growing? Have you or I ever been asked in our entire lives what we want our possible tax money to be spent on?!! It's all about the almighty dollar folks! The Marijuana Santa Claus wants to enter our town and shower us with its gifts so it can grow the stuff here...and once they get their toe in the door to grow, it is a slippery slope to all the other aspects of the pot industry that destroy communities. City Leaders and City Manager Rowlands, our town is NOT for sale!
For sure there will be more meetings to come, and we will continue to ask the City to end this issue...without a doubt, I will continue to gain weight and my hair will go silver every time I stand up at these meetings - but I, and so many others, will be there to speak for the safety of our community...our voice will be heard in the end because I do believe in the basic goodness of our people.
Regina Stehly Nunez