DA claims city records unreliable
Pete Egedi
Pete Egedi

All criminal charges pending against former Fillmore Fire Chief, Pete Egedi, 41, were dismissed by the Ventura County District Attorney, Tuesday. In October, 2008, Egedi was terminated as Chief, and later that year charged with four felony counts of embezzlement.

In a brief telephone interview with Mark Pachowicz, attorney for Egedi, Pachowicz expressed disappointment with the tenor of some news reports regarding the dismissal. The District Attorney’s office determined Fillmore’s sloppy financial record-keeping made it impossible to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Egedi had embezzled $27,950 from a city Fire Department stipend account. He characterized the City’s financial records for the account as “a mess”. In his motion to dismiss the case, Pachowicz said, “The City of Fillmore did not have any written rules and guidelines concerning the operation of this checking account.” He also emphasized that the case turned on the fact that the 20 checks in question, payable to Egedi and his wife, were reimbursements for equipment purchased for the Fire Department, not embezzled funds. He also said that Egedi’s use of the Department stipend funds was completely consistent with historical use by prior department heads, that is there were no guidelines or rules regarding the fund’s use.

Senior Deputy District Attorney Kevin Drescher reported that his office reviewed thousands of pages of evidence during discovery and interviewed many witnesses. It was determined that the Fillmore Volunteer Fire Department’s stipend checking account was not monitored. In Drescher’s opinion, this made it impossible to overcome Egedi’s defense of reasonable reimbursement, and therefore the burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt could not be met despite the fact that a prima facie case of embezzlement existed.

A civil action against the City of Fillmore was filed Tuesday, May 17, 2011. The discovery period for this action will begin June 6. At that time multiple causes of action are expected to be developed following depositions, to include alleged Brown Act violations and alleged violations of Egedi’s due process rights as he was not permitted to defend himself before the Fillmore City Council. Egedi’s lawsuit will seek compensation for wrongful termination, reinstatement to his position as fire chief, and to recover back pay.

Among those Pachowicz says he will depose are former Finance Director Barbara Smith and City Attorney Ted Schneider.

Schneider would not respond to the Gazette’s questions beyond his remarks to the Ventura Star. The Star reports him as saying, “I can’t really comment on the DA’s decision”... “The city was never consulted with respect to the DA’s decision to prosecute or his decision to dismiss the charges. That was completely their decision. But the DA’s decision does not mean that he’s (Egedi) vindicated from the actions for which he’s been accused.” Schneider is also reported (by the Star) to have stated that the city “is against reinstating Egedi to his old job as fire chief and is fighting his wrongful termination lawsuit in court.”

The Egedi case was based upon an investigation by Sheriff’s Detective Sgt. Cary Peterson, head of the Financial Crimes Unit who concluded Egedi misappropriated more than $27,000 from the stipend account.

Now that criminal charges have been dismissed and civil litigation has begun, the burden of proof is substantially reduced to a preponderance of evidence, rather than beyond a reasonable doubt.

Migrant Student of the Year Arturo Luna.
Migrant Student of the Year Arturo Luna.
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Superintendent hiring process begins, Classified Staff layoff objections heard
Leticia Vasquez and Lola Rogers read a statement prepared by the President of the Fillmore chapter of CSEA (California School Employee Association).
Leticia Vasquez and Lola Rogers read a statement prepared by the President of the Fillmore chapter of CSEA (California School Employee Association).
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The regularly scheduled Fillmore Unified School Board of Education meeting took place on Tuesday, May 17, 2011. The Board had to relocate to the Sespe Auditorium to accommodate those present for the first item of business, recognizing the students and coaches who participated in the Migrant Speech, Spelling and Debate Tournament.
FUSD Special Populations Coordinator Jennifer Weir presented certificates to coaches and students for their accomplishment.

FUSD has been participating in the tournament since 2006. The program has expanded and this year every school in the District participated.

On April 2, 2011, at the Marriott Hotel in Ventura 34, fourth and fifth graders participated in the Speech and Spelling Tournament resulting in four spelling team winners and seven speech winners. On April 30, 2011 twenty students in grades six through twelve competed in the Speech and Debate Tournament held at Santa Paula High School with FUSD taking 11 wins in Speech and one Debate Team win. Those who came in first went on to the Statewide Migrant Speech and Debate Tournament held on May 14, 2011 at Ventura High School. Four students from FUSD competed, and three were awarded trophies in recognition of their speeches.

First place Speech and Debate winners who went on to the State competition were Rocio Zavala, 6th Grader from Piru Elementary, Coach-Claudia Cornejo; Viridiana Quintana, Fillmore Middle School, Coach-Kayce Betzel; Banely Arevalo and Daniela Valdovinos from Fillmore High School, Coach-Jennifer Fitzpatrick. The fourth and fifth grade students who placed first, second or third and received a trophy in Speech and Spelling are: From Piru Elementary School- Luis Piceno, Eduardo Amezcua, Norberto Armenta, Francisco Jimenez, Coaches-Randy Garcia, Delia Silva, Kristina Renelli: From San Cayetano Elementary School- Stephanie Magana, Coach-Tammy Ferguson: From Sespe Elementary School, Eric Gonzalez, Coach-Beverly Garnica: From Mountain Vista Elementary School- Adrian Alcala, Mirey Avila, Lina Mendez, Alejandro Rojas, Alejandro Rodriguez, Daniel Mendoza, Gina Munoz, Daylene Valdez, Briana Vargas, Juan Villegas, Coaches- Raina Arellano, Mary-Allyn Garcia, Tricia Gradias (all participants and some winning speeches will be posted at www.fillmoregazette.com/school-matters). Board President Virginia De La Piedra presented Fillmore High School Senior Arturo Luna with the award for Migrant Student of the Year. De La Piedra read, “[this award is presented to a student] who exhibits exceptional leadership, maintains a grade point average of 3.5 or better and plans to continue their education and involvement in their school and community.” De La Piedra went on to read Luna’s impressive accomplishments and activities, “He plays on the varsity football team, works in the cafeteria and is the Sergeant of Arms in MEChA (Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan or Chicano Student Movement of Aztlan) club.” He is also a mentor to younger students in the District and helps at the after-school migrant homework center and “…is a natural mediator among his peers.” She reported that he plans to attend college and is the son of Pedro and Lourdes Luna and has four siblings. Luna accepted the award to loud applause and he stated, “If it was not for my family and community I would not be here, so thank you.”

Next parent Ernesto Quintana was presented with the award for Migrant Parent of the Year for his dedication and support of the program. He was unable to attend, but his wife accepted on his behalf.

The crowd had thinned by the time the Board heard from County Superintendent Stanley Mantooth and Associated Superintendent of Educational Services Sandi Shackelford. Mantooth explained “it is not a normal function of our duties” but that they do generally make themselves available to assist in recruiting and retaining new superintendents. He reported they currently are working to fill or have filled six superintendent or interim superintendent positions in the County, that is six including FUSD. Shackelford presented the Board with three possible options that their office recommends for moving forward with the recruitment process to replace retiring Superintendent Jeff Sweeney, who was not present.

Option one is to CONTINUED »

Last Thursday, Quest Relay for Burn survivors visited the Fillmore Volunteer Fire Department, raising money for burn victims throughout the country. This year the Fillmore Volunteer Fire Department presented them a check in the amount of $501.
Last Thursday, Quest Relay for Burn survivors visited the Fillmore Volunteer Fire Department, raising money for burn victims throughout the country. This year the Fillmore Volunteer Fire Department presented them a check in the amount of $501.
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The Fillmore Chamber of Commerce is proud to announce the events that will be taking place this year at the Fillmore May Festival slated for May 19th – 22nd. The Festival will be located in the downtown area on Central Avenue, just off Highway 126, Ventura Street in Fillmore. Thursday is family day and everybody has free entry to the Festival. The carnival will begin at 3:30 pm and will end at 10:00 pm. On Friday the event starts at 3:30 pm and goes all day until 11:00pm. Entry fees are as follows: 4 years of age and under is free, 5 years of age to 11 is $3.00 and 12 years and up is $4.00. The carnival will continue and the food & game booths will be open. House Arrest will perform from 7:00-11:00pm at the Bud Light stage located at City Hall, and a showcase will be provided by Central Music at the Trade School Stage at 5:00pm. Saturday begins with the Heritage Valley 5k run at 8:00am, the Parade at 10:00am on Central Avenue, and the Event gates open at 11:00am and closes at 11:00pm. The carnival rides continue along with the food, game, information, arts & crafts vendors. The diaper derby will start after the parade at the city hall area, along with the parade awards. The live entertainment continues at the Bud Light Stage with the Skinny Little Twits starting at 1:00 and playing until 3:00, Sound Effect from 4:00 – 7:00, then HindSite closes Saturday playing from 8:00pm – 11:00. At the Trade School Stage starting at 3:00 Relay for Life will hold a “Relay Idol” competition for those that enjoy singing. The winner will perform “Live” at the Fillmore Relay for Life this year. To sign up to sing call 805-524-0149. Then at 7:00 pm the Last Dog & Pony Show will perform. For Sunday the Events will continue and the entertainment lineup is as follows: at the Bud Light Stage from 12:00-1:00 a DJ, then from 2:00-3:00 Community Groups will perform, then at 3:00-5:00 live music by Juano & Friends, then closing from 6:00-9:00 is the Suzie Hansen Band. On the Trade School Stage from 1:00-2:00 is local talent, at 2:00 is Community Hour, then at 5:00 a live performance by All Roads to Canada. Pre Sale Carnival tickets are available to purchase at the Fillmore Chamber of Commerce office located at 557 Ventura Road, Highway 126, Fillmore, CA 93015. Tune your radio into 95.1, 100.7 and 104.7 FM to win your family four packs and VIP passes! For more information call 805-524-0351 or visit our website at www.fillmorechamber.com. See you there! (Courtesy of Cindy Jackson)

Superintendent Sweeney announces retirement
Fillmore Unified School District
Fillmore Unified School District

On Thursday, May 5, 2011 Fillmore Unified School District Superintendent Jeff Sweeney sent an email to all staff members announcing his retirement. He explained that he had presented the School Board with a letter on Tuesday, May 3. His letter simply stated “I wanted to thank you for the last five years of serving the Fillmore Unified School District. It has been a distinct pleasure working with you, the staff, the students, and the community. I wanted to let you know that I plan on retiring effective June 30, 2011. I will carry with me lifelong memories of working with all of you.”

School Board Member Lucy Rangel commented, “I was surprised with Jeff's retirement. I had heard from colleagues that either last year or the year before he had mentioned that he planned to retire in a few years. I had thought that he might wait another year or two.” When asked about what process the Board will use to find a new superintendent, she indicated that the Board will be notifying the press and added, “It is my opinion, however, that the process include community members since it is their school district.” By press deadline Sweeney did not respond to requests for an interview.

Sweeney’s retirement comes amid calls for accountability at Piru Elementary School regarding an apparent failure by the Principal to utilize all funds available to the school for tutoring and interventions with students who are below grade level.

In an online (www.greatschools.org) statement made on April 13, 2011 a person claiming to be “a parent of a kindergartener at Piru School” stated “I am very concerned about the administration here…the principal did not even read the school budget so our kids lost out on around 70 thousand dollars…Things like this should never happen our kids deserve a proper education and that includes educated and qualified administration.”
Sweeney explained, “At a recent School Site Council (SSC) meeting the Council was reviewing its budget and determined there was approximately $70,000 in categorical fund that was still available for this year [and allocated for various uses including tutorial interventions].” These funds were “use it or lose it” and according to staff members the school has been rushing to spend the money this year. Sweeney reported, “Teachers at the school were conferred and made recommendations to purchase instructional materials that will augment the instructional program for years to come.” Items purchased include “computers, supplemental workbooks and instructional materials.”

The District has confirmed that a parent of a student at Piru has filed a uniform complaint regarding the matter and the District is investigating. When asked for a response the Principal stated, “My outstanding error as a new principal… was taking my eye off the school plan. If I had done things correctly in this arena…I would have caught that … School Site Council designated $36,000 in funds to after school interventions.” She went on to explain that after discovering this error and taking it to staff it was determined that a “between the bells” intervention program was in fact preferred. Teh Principal pointed out that this means “our overall program now has a huge, unexpected boost in the arm next year.”

As their technology meets are now met, and categorical monies can be focused where it’s needed on intervention. Parents and staff have commented that is all well and good but wonder about the effect this mistake had on students this year.

A FUSD School Board Member responded to a request for comment by stating, “Superintendent Sweeney is resolving the issue to minimize the impact to students and ensuring that the principal, fully understands the SSC budget process and her obligations regarding Categorical Funds (meaning funds which must be spent in a particular way), as well as ensuring that she communicates effectively to the parents and staff about the School Site Council budget process.”

When asked how oversights like this will be avoided in the future Sweeney commented, “The District will provide additional training next year for Piru’s School Site Council. This will include processes to ensure the Council is provided budgets at all meetings to ensure greater transparency. In addition, the Council will be encouraged to adopt bylaws that will help guide the group in all matters.”

Piru Elementary School is in Program Improvement, meaning for several years it has failed to meet State benchmarks in the number of students which test at grade level on State assessment tests in Math and Language Arts. School Plans are part of the State mandated processes for “PI” schools and School Site Councils are responsible for creating the annual plan, overseeing its implementation and ensuring that expenditures meet the goals of the plan. School Site Councils are made up of parents, staff members and may have community members as well. The principal has a spot on the Council with staff members being elected by the staff and parent and community members being elected by parents.

Councilman Conaway gave a brief explanation of the independent auditor’s findings of the city budget’s history at Tuesday’s council meeting.
Councilman Conaway gave a brief explanation of the independent auditor’s findings of the city budget’s history at Tuesday’s council meeting.

There was a great deal on the May 10th Fillmore City Council agenda with the meeting continuing on until close to midnight. This was a joint meeting with the Council and the City Film Commission. The Film Commission started the meeting with a review of past years items and activities, then addressed their trade show participation and ended with the budget/revenue for fiscal year 2010/2012.

On the Councils agenda was the cost of the Fourth of July Fireworks Show, approval of a letter of opposition regarding AB438 (Libraries withdrawal), addressing the number of homes to be built to balance out the General Plan and Specific Plan, first reading of Ordinance No. 11-3290 Heritage Valley Parks Development, Resolution No. 11-3290 Abatement of weeds and rubbish, a claim for reimbursement for the damage to a Fillmore resident’s car by a City’s tree, review of the request for a dog park, review results of the Citizens Survey, Resolution No. 11-3291 declaring a State of Fiscal Emergency, Reimbursement Agreement with Fillmore Riverview and much more.

The City’s budget was once again up for discussion and had most of the Council on edge as they continued to face the challenges of a projected 2011/2012 General Fund deficit of approximately $1.9 million. The Towne Theatre has already been closed, saving $4,700 and $23,000 annually in 2012, perhaps just the beginning of what needs to be trimmed down or eliminated.

City Manager Yvonne Quiring presented a progress report on proposed efforts to close the budget gap. A meeting has been set for May 20th to discuss Santa Paula’s interest in providing police services to Fillmore. City Staff has provided 30% across-the-board cuts and prioritized the services the City provides to the public, but it appears to be inevitable that positions will need to be eliminated which could involve employee layoffs. Employees who qualify have been asked whether they are interested in a voluntary retirement. Five to six employees have shown an interest, but once this is done, the positions are to stay open permanently.

The City employees have all taken a 5.5% cut through furloughs and the unclassified employees will be asked to take another 13% decrease in compensation and benefits in fiscal year 2012, bringing the total reduction to 18.5% over the next two years. Quiring informed the Council that other local cities are asking for only 3% cuts, but those cities are not facing the magnitude of a 26% cut to their General Fund that Fillmore is dealing with.
Quiring asked the Council to adopt Resolution 11-3291 declaring a state of fiscal emergency; and directing the City Manager to take appropriate and lawful measures to achieve a balanced budget. There was some question as to the wording of the Resolution by the Council. Council Member Patti Walker explained that what the City Manager is asking for is “the latitude to meet this problem.” With Mayor Pro Tem Jamey Brooks adding “We are in a state of fiscal emergency.”

A meeting was scheduled for CONTINUED »

Last Thursday, May 5th, Sespe School held a celebration in honor of Cinco De Mayo. There was great dancing and food at the festive celebration.
Last Thursday, May 5th, Sespe School held a celebration in honor of Cinco De Mayo. There was great dancing and food at the festive celebration.
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On May 8, 2011, at approximately 3:30 p.m., an accident occurred between a semi and a passenger vehicle resulting in two people being transported to Ventura County Medical Center, one transported by ambulance and the other by helicopter.
On May 8, 2011, at approximately 3:30 p.m., an accident occurred between a semi and a passenger vehicle resulting in two people being transported to Ventura County Medical Center, one transported by ambulance and the other by helicopter.
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The Miss Fillmore Pageant was held Saturday April 30th at the Veterans Memorial Building. Twentythree girls ranging in ages 13 to 18 years participated. Pictured above (left) Miss Teen Fillmore Ashley Bravo and (right) Miss Fillmore Riley Wright. Photos courtesy of Dale Crockett Photography.
The Miss Fillmore Pageant was held Saturday April 30th at the Veterans Memorial Building. Twentythree girls ranging in ages 13 to 18 years participated. Pictured above (left) Miss Teen Fillmore Ashley Bravo and (right) Miss Fillmore Riley Wright. Photos courtesy of Dale Crockett Photography.
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2011 Miss Fillmore and her court. (l-r) 1st Princess Taelor Burhoe, Miss Fillmore Riley Wright, 2nd Princess Mariah Perez. Award recipients were as follows: Samantha Wokal Miss Photogenic, Riley Wright People’s Choice, Mariah Perez Miss Congeniality.
2011 Miss Fillmore and her court. (l-r) 1st Princess Taelor Burhoe, Miss Fillmore Riley Wright, 2nd Princess Mariah Perez. Award recipients were as follows: Samantha Wokal Miss Photogenic, Riley Wright People’s Choice, Mariah Perez Miss Congeniality.
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2011 Miss Teen Fillmore and her court. (l-r) 2nd Princess Desirae Perez, Miss Teen Fillmore Ashley Bravo, 1st Princess Jessica Mayhew. Award recipients were as follows: Teen People’s Choice Jacqui Guerra, and Teen Congeniality Desirae Perez.
2011 Miss Teen Fillmore and her court. (l-r) 2nd Princess Desirae Perez, Miss Teen Fillmore Ashley Bravo, 1st Princess Jessica Mayhew. Award recipients were as follows: Teen People’s Choice Jacqui Guerra, and Teen Congeniality Desirae Perez.
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Out going Chief of Police Tim Hagel (center) was presented the “Students First” award during Tuesday night’s school board meeting. Also pictured Virginia De la Piedre and Superintendent Jeff Sweeney.
Out going Chief of Police Tim Hagel (center) was presented the “Students First” award during Tuesday night’s school board meeting. Also pictured Virginia De la Piedre and Superintendent Jeff Sweeney.
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Graduation and further layoffs were on everyone’s mind at the May 3, 2011 meeting of the Fillmore Unified School Board of Education. All action items were approved including the use of tickets for graduation ceremonies this year at Fillmore High School. A handful of seniors were in attendance listening to the discussion and when asked what they thought of the final plan one senior replied “I like it…that everyone will be able to attend.” Following last weeks meeting, Fillmore High School Principal John Wilber sent a form home with all 231graduating seniors asking how many tickets their family would need. As of the meeting he had received 200 forms back with requests ranging from 4 to 64 tickets. “[I keep thinking of the song] ‘We Are Family’…One third of the seniors requested 15 or more tickets…3000 [seats] could accommodate all requests” Wilber informed the Board. After a presentation from Assistant Superintendent Michael Bush the Board voted to direct staff to move ahead with a plan for 3044 attendees and numbered seats on the bleachers. According to Bush the standard width of a seat is determined by safety officials and “Chief Landeros measured my [backside] and said we could get by with 18 inches.” Using that measurement 2324 “choice seats” will be available in the stadium seats, “Butt to butt, we are going to be cozy” Bush commented. Portable bleachers will be brought in on either side of the stadium seats and some standing room only areas can be used along the fence. Bush’s report reminded the Board that occupancy cannot be exceeded for safety reasons, aisles must be clear; four-foot walkways around bleachers must be maintained and when capacity is reached the gates will be closed. He informed the Board regarding the restrictions regarding putting additional seating on the track and field. This option is not viable due to emergency evacuation requirements and the need to keep students separate from the public in the case of an emergency. There can be no additional seating on the field or track. Only those participating in the graduation ceremony will be on the field. The Board directed Wilber and staff to work with parents and students to come up with a fair plan for distributing tickets that deal with various issues such as handicap access, fairness in seating location and so on and instructed them to use “numbered tickets” with assigned seats, meaning no more saving seats or disagreements about who sits where. The plan is likely to include volunteer ushers to seat attendees. Wilber informed the Board that there is a meeting scheduled for the evening of Thursday, May 5 (today) with parents and seniors to begin this process. The Board rejected staff’s recommendation to broadcast the ceremony live on Channel 10 mainly due to the $3000 estimate to pay for it. Total costs are not determined yet for the plan; there will be ticket printing prices, cost for security and it will likely take one week to set up where usually set up is about three days. Board Member Tony Prado emphasized the need to inform families of the graduation procedures as early as possible for next year. Following the meeting Wilber stated, “As soon as the School Board meets in August and approves a graduation plan the information will be sent to senior families with the senior contract.” In other news related to graduation it was decided that Board Members Lucy Rangel and Prado will be handing out diplomas at Graduation this year. Rangel commented that this year’s class was the last class she taught when they were in 6th grade.

Public Comment: Fillmore resident Noel Villa for 11 years and a parent spoke of the “daunting task” which school boards have of involving the community. He spoke of his own experience working as a school based social worker in Oxnard and applying philosophies based on the “understanding that parents and children see things differently and asking them to give us that perspective…there was a value that all kids can learn, no matter what.” He spoke of “working with the Spanish speaking community and bringing the parents together, addressing the themes of parental involvement, school attendance, school behavior and academics” and the importance of parents feeling welcomed in the community. “Teacher conferences were packed…parents were embraced, [made to feel] like familia.” He went on to state that Sespe School Principal Rosemarie Hibler “has brought [this philosophy] to Sespe School. That confianza, that trust.” He believes that Sespe School needs “this type of foundation in order for kids to learn, to engage parents, to raise academics, and improve student behavior.” Next the Board heard from Sespe student Valerie Villa who spoke eloquently regarding her support for her principal. “Changes can be good or bad like the one when Ms. Hibler came to Sespe school, that was one of the best changes…but letting her go is exactly the opposite.” Villa explained that Hibler brought a program to the school “that taught me how to know what a word means by its Greek or Latin roots.” She went on to state “But the thing I love most about Ms. Hibler is she always wears a beautiful smile every minute of every day, and again letting her go would not do any of us any good.” Hibler is among the many FUSD staff members to have received a layoff notice due to budget cuts in the District. Maria Hernandez joined with the Villa Family in speaking in support of their principal at Sespe School. Her son had previously attended Piru Elementary but this year she chose to move him to Sespe. “I don’t think I could have made a better decision.” She spoke of the group of parents she has met and the work they do for the school with Hiblers support. The school will be hosting a Cinco de Mayo celebration today from 5 to 7pm with food, and games, including a “Ballet de Cueca” a performance of Mexican folk dancing. The public is encouraged to dress in Mexican attire for a costume contest as well. Cinco de Mayo is a Mexican holiday celebrated by communities all over the world to commemorate this day in 1862 when nearly 2,000 untrained Mexican peasants commanded by General Ignacio Zaragoza bravely fought and won the Battle at Puebla against 6,000 French soldiers under the command of Napoleon III. Hernandez spoke of the support that Hibler provides in helping the children learn about their heritage and background she added, “She has offered my son the best of the resources available for him to succeed.” She commented that he has made tremendous progress with the tutoring and after school programs available at Sespe School. Lastly the Board heard from Karen Ashim, a counselor at Fillmore High and former assistant principal about her objection to the proposed plan of cutting an assistant principal position at the school, and creating a part-time Dean position. This proposal has been made and was accepted by the Board at the last meeting as a measure that will take place even if no further reductions are required when the State budget is released. Ashim told the history of the assistant principal positions at the high school and explained that the District had already tried the proposed configuration but it does not work. “[This plan] is unfair to the teachers, students and administrators. We tried it. It didn’t work. We need to learn from history and our own history [demonstrates] that this proposal did not work then and it will not work now.” She stated, “It may save a few dollars…its not very cost effective decision [in the long run].” She asked that the Board think about it carefully.

Superintendent Jeff Sweeney spoke about CONTINUED »

On Thursday April 21st, motivational speaker Ernie G. spoke to Sierra High students.
On Thursday April 21st, motivational speaker Ernie G. spoke to Sierra High students.
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On Thursday, April 21, 2011, Ernie G held the rapt attention of 60-plus lucky Sierra High School students who got to listen to one on the best motivational speeches of their lives. Ernie G, as stated on his professional website, is one of the hottest, multi-talented, young Latino entertainers in the country today. His comedy has been seen by millions of TV viewers on shows such as Comedy Central’s “Make Me Laugh,” B.E.T.’s “Comic View,” Ed McMahon’s “Next Big Star,” & Sí TV’s “Funny is Funny!” He is one of the original stars of Galavisión’s hit comedy show “Qué Locos!” hosted by George Lopez, appearing six times, along with two appearances on “The Best of Qué Locos!” He has appeared on HBO Latino’s “Habla Again,” MUN2’s “Loco Comedy Jam,” as well as Sí TV’s “Latino Laugh Festival!” and their hip new show, “Inside Joke!” Currently, he be seen on MTV Tr3s’ “Los Súper Icons” and viewers might also remember him as the “Angry Angelino” from the Channel 13 News in Los Angeles.
Ernie G is a graduate of Loyola Marymount University with his B.A. in Psychology and a minor in Chicano Studies. Ernie has developed his own unique form of Comedy he calls “Latino Edutainment – Educating and Entertaining with a Latino Flavor!” and has performed for many of the country’s top organizations and corporations, including: Disney, Pepsi-Co, General Mills, U.S. Armed Forces, National Council de la Raza, Latin American Educational Foundation and the Hispanic College Fund. He was honored by the City of Los Angeles with the first ever Mario
Moreno “Cantinflas” Award for “representing the Latino community with the same humor and distinction as the legendary Mario Moreno “Cantinflas” and who, like Cantínflas, utilizes his power to help those most in need.”
Ernie performs his rip-roaring, high-energy comedy as Host and Producer of “Ernie G’s Comedy Fiesta!”-- a National Comedy Tour featuring the country’s top Latino comedians performing in clubs, colleges and universities throughout the nation. He was the Keynote Speaker at UCLA’s 32nd Annual RAZA Graduation, and continues to spread his message of Empowerment & Transformation through Laughter as the National Spokesperson for the Hispanic College Fund and Inspirational Comedian nationwide.

Ernie G will be back to perform at Fillmore High School in May to encourage and motivate more of our Fillmore and Piru students. Ernie G was at Fillmore High School a couple of years ago. He always stays to sign autographs and to give a special message to the very last student waiting in line. Many a student has connected with Ernie G in a special way. He has continued emailing with Fillmore High School students for a few years now. Some Sierra High School students approached him after his motivational talk on Thursday and told him that he had truly reached them with what he said and that he really made a big difference in their lives.
Ernie G's performance was made possible by a private donation.

Fillmore Unified School District
Fillmore Unified School District

A list obtained from the Fillmore Unified School District Director of Human Resources Todd Schieferle lists a total of 80 staff members who have received ‘preliminary notices of layoff’ due to potential budget reductions for the 2011-2012 school year. This information was provided in response to a request for a complete list of all staff members who have received notices from the District. Just prior to the print deadline information was received that several names are missing from the list. FUSD is eyeing the budget cuts coming with a wary eye and is recommending the School Board create maximum “flexibility”. The plan is to “over notice” staff layoffs in accordance with legal deadlines so that if the budget is a worst-case scenario the District is prepared, and if funding is better than anticipated the district can rescind many of the notices. Superintendent Jeff Sweeney emphasized at a recent School Board meeting that these notices have nothing to do with job performance.

Specifics have not been given about the exact process of determining what positions will be noticed, negotiations with the two unions (FUTA, CSEA) may play a decisive role although the Board has passed resolutions prior to completing negotiations. In relying on potential layoffs to solve the looming budget issues FUSD joins districts across the State in business as usual budgeting practices when cuts are needed. Districts continue to appear wary of considering new or creative means of meeting budget needs while keeping cuts as far from the classroom as possible. The public appears stunned as the school year shortens, class size grows while teachers and staff prepare to pack their bags.

This list was complete as of Thursday, April 21, 2011. Twelve staff members who received notices later received a “letter of rescission” which rescinded their layoff notice but notified them they “may not continue in their present assignment” or salary next year. According to FUSD “the District may reassign them to a classroom teaching position according to the credentials they hold” next year. They will be notified of their new assignment before July 1, 2011. Those who received these “letter[s] of rescission” are indicated on the following list with a star by their first name. The Board has expressed hope that they will be able to rescind many of the layoff notices but that is dependant on the final state budget. A revised State budget is expected mid May. Budget discussions and negotiations continue between the District and the unions representing the teaching staff and classified staff. Those noticed include: 50 teachers, 3 Coordinators (all rescinded), 7 principles (some rescinded), 2 assistant principals (one rescinded). Those whose positions are not indicated were not listed on the District’s website and were not obtained by the press deadline. (Note: Due to directions taken at a Special meeting on Tuesday, April 26, several of these notices are expected to be rescinded, see article for positions affected)

First Last Position
Eduardo Angel
Kari Appleford Teacher, High Schl Phys Ed
Raina Arellano Teacher, MountVist 4th Grd
Heather Atwood Teacher
Raymond Barrera Teacher, Piru 3rd Grd
Carol* Barringer Coordinator, After School Program, Educational Services, District Office
Kathleen Berrington Teacher, MountVist 1st Grd
Kayce Betzel Teacher, MiddleSchl
Loriann Boon Teacher, MountVist PE
Jenny Bortins Teacher, MiddleSchl
Jill Capra Teacher, SanCaye Kinder
Larry Carroll
Heather* Casanave Teacher, High Schl English Dept.
Lynda Catalano Teacher, Piru Kinder
Melanie Chisholm
Claudia Cornejo Teacher, Piru 6th Grd
Matthew* Dann Teacher, High Schl English Dept.
Sheila DeMerritt Teacher, Sespe 5th Grade
Andreana DeMoss Teacher, Sespe 1st Grade
Kristen Dunst Teacher, SanCaye Kinder
Veronica Duran
Maria Enriquez
Paul Fitzgerald Teacher, High Schl Social Studies
Jennifer Fitzpatrick Teacher, High Schl English Dept.
Cynthia Frutos Principal, Sierra High
Joseph Fry Teacher, MountVist Kinder
Randy Garcia Teacher, Piru 4th Grd
Mary Allyn Garcia-Lovett Teacher, MountVist
Patricia* Godfrey Principal, Piru
Jennifer Graves Teacher, MountVist Kinder
Carrie Gray
Ellen Green Asst. Principal, High Schl
Amber Henrey Teacher, MountVist 1st Grd
Susan Hersh Psychologist, Special Services, District Office
Rosemarie Hibler Principal, Sespe Elem
Steven Kandel Teacher, High Schl Math & Science Dept.
Heather Kanning Teacher, MountVist 3rd Grd
Nancy Kirtkpatrick Teacher, High Schl English Dept.
Kristin* Lairson Coordinator, Special Projects, Education Services, District Office
Kristy Lim Teacher, High Schl English Dept.
Debra Louth Teacher, Sespe 5th Grade
Jeremiah MacMahon Teacher, High Schl Math Dept.
Sandra Magana Teacher, MountVist
Viviana Magana-Laureano
Jan Marholin Principal, SanCaye Elem
Alison* Marschewski Teacher, SanCayet Reading/Science
Marisa Martinez Teacher, Middle Schl
Theresa* Marvel Teacher, High Schl Health
Ashley McClain Teacher, Middle Schl
Julie McKeever
Maria Meza Teacher, Middle Schl
Kevin Molloy Teacher, Sierra English/Lang Arts
Joshua Overton Teacher, High Schl English Dept.
Norma Perez-Sandford Counselor, High Schl grades 9 & 11
Ernesto Quiroz Athletic Director, High Schl.
Martha Ramos Teacher, Middle Schl
Rebecca Raskin Teacher, Sierra SocStudies & Science
Aide Recendez Teacher, Piru 5th Grd
Kristina Renelli Teacher, Piru 4th Grd
Juliette Resor Teacher, SanCaye, Sespe Band
Ronda Reyes-Deutsch Counselor, Middle Schl
Joe* Ricards Teacher, High Schl Vocational Ed
Brian Ricards Teacher, High Schl Vocational Ed
Christine* Schieferle Principal, MountVista
John Schweller Principal, Middle Schl
Erin Sebek Teacher, High Schl Social Studies
Mark Sebek Teacher, High Schl Math Dept.
Carolyn Shea Psychologist, Special Services, District Office
Delia Silva Teacher, Piru 5th Grd
Kathryn Spore Teacher, Sespe Science
Matthew Stockton Teacher, High Schl English Dept.
Lacy Swensen
Laura Todis Teacher, Sierra
Epi* Torres Asst. Principal, HS
Cara Waterman
Jennifer Weir Teacher, MounVist 3rd Grd / Coordinator, Special Students Populations, Educational Services.
James White Teacher, Sespe 3rd Grade
John* Wilbur Principal, High Schl
Mary* Williams Coordinator, Special Education, Special Services, District Office
Janelle Williams Teacher, Sespe 1st Grade
*indicates a rescinded notice.

Fillmore’s new Chief of Police Monica McGrath.
Fillmore’s new Chief of Police Monica McGrath.

Monica McGrath was recognized by the City Council Tuesday night as the new Ventura County Sheriff’s Captain in Fillmore. She began her duties last week. McGrath, who lives in Ventura, stated “I’m very impressed with your town…I’m very happy to be here.”

But there was a somber feel to the April 26, 2011 Fillmore City Council Meeting as budget matters continue to take a toll on services. One item on agenda was ballot measure Proposition 218 which will have a direct impact on some property owners by increasing the assessment amounts on six separate tracks in Fillmore’s District 2. Also included with that item was a discussion on the annexation of Central Station Townhomes and Perry Ranch to the City’s Landscape and Lighting.

Other items on the agenda included a proclamation, the Council’s desire to withdraw from the County Library Memorandum and remain in the reformulated Ventura County Library system, the adoption of the Temporary Use Permits to allow Christmas tree sales to begin the day after Thanksgiving, a request by Williams Homes to reassess the Impact Fees on Heritage Valley Specific Plan and support for two State Assembly bills and resolutions.

There was a great deal of discussion between the Council and City Staff regarding the proposed ballot proposition. Several areas in Fillmore are presently not paying enough in assessment fees to cover ongoing maintenance for lighting and landscaping. Those properties assessment fees must be increased or current levels of service will have to be reduced and some may have to be cut altogether.

A proposition and balloting process is required to increase assessment amounts on property which is a lengthy process and takes preparation. The process requires creating an engineer’s report, approval of levy amounts and an election that includes mailing of ballots to the property owners. A public hearing is then scheduled to receive the public comments, determine the election results, approve levy amounts if any and order submittal of the data to the County Assessors for collection of assessments with property taxes. The added assessment costs to the property owners if approved will range from $4-$24 per month per property. The cost to the City for the ballots is $14,500.

The areas in question are: CONTINUED »


Thank you for the opportunity to provide information about the pool. A leak detection company was brought in and confirmed there was a leak in a return drain line in the bottom of the pool. The leak was fixed on April 12th, we worked hard to ensure the high school swim team and club swim were not affected. The leak was created during construction of the pool. When the pool piping was laid down it was tested and all the pipes and fittings passed a pressure test. After the piping was complete the contractor put a protective cage over the piping. The leak was created when a piece of rebar was hammered into a recirculation pipe. When the leak was found the rebar was still in the pipe.

There have been ongoing issues with the chemical balance in the pool. It was originally thought to be a mechanical issue and worked with HMH Construction Company, Nadar, and Knorr. With a leak being found under the pool and repaired we hope to have the chemical issues resolved. The pool has been open a week since the leak was fixed and so far the pool chemical balance has been fine.

The City is new to having and operating a brand new aquatics facility. There has been a learning curve and some challenges have come our way during the learning process. We realize it is very frustrating to arrive at the pool and find out that it is temporarily closed. We apologize for any inconvenience it has caused our patrons
The City has spoken to the contractor regarding all costs associated with the leak, including a requesting reimbursement for a portion of the water and chemicals used since construction.

Please join us at the pool for a fun filled summer of events! Hours and schedule of events are posted at the pool window, City of Fillmore, website and on Channel 10. Story courtesy The City of Fillmore.


On Tuesday, April 26, 2011 all seats were filled for a special meeting of the Fillmore Unified School District Board of Education. In addition to public comment just two items were on the agenda, graduation tickets and a budget discussion including prioritizing with a welcome opportunity to rescind some notices.

In public comment the Board heard first from Sheila Duckett, Fillmore resident and computer lab instructor at San Cayetano Elementary school reporting “There are several classified employees, [myself] included who find themselves drifting afloat at sea, [we are] puzzled and are trying to come to a decision…based on the information as we know it.” She went on to explain that several classified employees received their 45-day notice following the recent Resolution passed by the Board. She explains that the one day of negotiations set for May 4 with the classified union (CSEA) will be inadequate “This is not a one day process, it will take days of planning, calling people, verifying seniority [and so on].” Duckett also explains that due to missed or looming deadlines several employees feel forced to make a decision regarding retirement or opting for possible layoff which can affect retirement benefits. All this prior to any negotiations taking place and that “The delay in starting the negotiation process has contributed to the sinking ship that some of us classified people find [ourselves] on.” Next for public comment Kassaundra Chambers a first grade teacher at San Cayetano Elementary School reported some data to the Board to demonstrate “what the classified staff has helped us achieve this year in implementing the RTI [intervention program].” She stated that 16 out of her 23 students are reading at grade level or “proficient” and “that is the highest number [she’s] ever had.” She explained “I have taught for 16 years… there are more students coming out of my classroom this year …that are at or above grade level standards and I really think that is in large part due to Sheila [Duckett] and other classified staff that have enabled us to implement the RTI so successfully at our school.” Duckett has reportedly received a layoff notice from the District. Tammy Ferguson a first grade teacher at San Cayetano, teaching in the district for ten years who also has two children in FUSD schools stated “we can’t do our job without the support staff”…programs…services [for our students] are starting to dwindle because of the state of the budget… when you are making decisions… [Remember without the students] there is no need for me and there is no need for you…they are the most important [thing].”

The Board moved to Sespe Auditorium so all in attendance would have seats for the first action item on the agenda, the proposal to use tickets for all spectators at this years Fillmore High School graduation ceremony. Several students, parents and others came to ask the Board to reconsider the proposed plan for this year. Seniors on hand wondered at the lack of communication and even suggested that some of their senior funds could be used for more bleachers if needed. They were reminded that this would not deal with the exit capacity nor put a dent in the nearly $30,000 that it could cost to accommodate a larger crowd making changes for emergency exit access. Principal John Wilbur brought forward the plan in a response to safety concerns following last year’s graduation and the 100th Game with Santa Paula. During Bush’s update on the history of this issue he informed the public “[According to Chief Landeros last year graduation] was unsafe. The facility was beyond capacity; all the exits [and aisles] were blocked. Chief Landeros [was considering] whether or not to close graduation [at that time] and empty out the aisles.” The District does not want that to happen this year, Chief Landeros has been clear that safety is their primary interest and that while the District does have options for expanding capacity for seating and emergency exit access, once that capacity is reached the doors will be closed, making it possible that some waiting family members would not get in at all. Wilbur has come under fire from some parents and students who wonder why they are just hearing about this plan five weeks before graduation. Wilbur takes full responsibility for the timing, offered an apology, and an affirmation that he thinks the plan will work out. The plan as presented made space for 2000 spectators in the bleachers which means each senior would be guaranteed seven tickets, leaving about 400 tickets for families to apply for if needed. Wilbur commented that a “change in culture” regarding graduation may need to take place in Fillmore. Ideas presented included not bringing young children to the event, or having non-family members watch a live broadcast of the event from home. The Board was reminded that some families have already spent as much as $300 on graduation announcements, which indicate that recipients are invited to the ceremony and that limiting families to seven tickets may mean choosing between grandparents. Most parents in attendance emphasized that it is not the tickets they oppose but the short notice and wish they had been told sooner. The Board made no inquiry as to why there was such a long delay in communicating the plan to parents since the District was notified of the issue as early as the end of last school year, and again just following the 100th Game last fall. The District sees tickets as a way to ensure that families of graduating seniors have the seats they want. The Board voted to table the proposal with directions given to Wilbur to obtain accurate numbers. Seniors will be bringing home a letter in the next few days asking families how many tickets they would need to accommodate their family. The Board will use this information to work with staff, parents and safety officials to develop a plan.

The Board began its budget discussion by CONTINUED »

Above are several of the participants who were awarded ribbons for their entries into the Flower Show held Saturday, April 16, 2011.
Above are several of the participants who were awarded ribbons for their entries into the Flower Show held Saturday, April 16, 2011.
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The 2011, Fillmore Flower Show, “ Fantasy of Flowers in Fillmore” sponsored by Vision2020/Civic Pride Committee has come & gone leaving memories of willing volunteers, sweet fragrances, beautiful flower specimens, bouquets and arrangements in all their glory for those who attended.

This year brought 498 entries, nearly double what there were last year! Among the nationally certified judges, Barbara Schneider, Susan Diller & Una Lopez, comments were overheard about the quality of exhibitor finesse in Fillmore & that this was one of their favorite shows to judge.

Violin music on Saturday by Asher Smith brought an unknown lady attending to break into song because she knew the words to his music. Sunday classical pieces were played on the piano by Nathalie Miliken, adding ambience.
It was decided that this year’s “Best of Show” award would be presented in memory of Tillie Spitler. Conway & Tillie were major contributors in keeping the Flower Show organized & running par excellence over the years and Conway’s detailed record book, kept meticulously, gave us the courage to undertake the effort to bring back this worthy community event in 2009. Fillmore’s Historical Museum has a scrapbook with news clippings & photographs, documenting the show from around 1925 to the 1990’s.

2011 Flower Show winners by division were: Best of Show, Mark Ortega with his unusual potted plant, Abutilon.
Division I, (Rose: cut, single stem) Michelle Smith; Division II,(Iris: cut, single stem) Charlene Smith; Division III, (Other single stem, cut) Jim Stehly; Division IV, (Bouquets) Tim Klittich; Division V, (Arrangements) Janet Foy; Division VI, (Miniature Bouquets & Arrangements) Helen Archer; Division VII (Potted Plants) Mark Ortega; Division VIII, (Dish Gardens) Dorothy Hunt; Division IX, (Youth Arrangements) Jared Fairall; Division X, (Youth Compositions) Tim Klittich.

We, who work on the shows’ planning team, value the support of Fillmore city staff like Joe Zuniga, Evelia Hernandez, Annette Cardona and Patrick Maynard for helping us with the brochures, the use of the Senior Center location and the brochure layout. Cindy Klittich designed & printed the bookmarks for the youth entrants, the Boy Scouts for use of tables, S Club members for helping with set up & take down, Marcie Thompson & Sarah Hansen for hosting workshops & plant propagation, Ari Lawson for help with the Succulent Wreath sales at Railroad Days, Charlene Smith for leading a workshop, & all who stepped up to volunteer with set up & operation.

Others to be recognized and given “thanks” were: Otto & Sons for donated rose bushes, providing a welcoming entry with roses “For Sale”, giving the show 50% of the profit and a door prize, Carolyn Lasky with shared profits from her beautiful cymbidium orchids & a door prize, Attractions Spa gift certificate, AmPet with gift certificates, Element Computer with gift certificate, Patterson’s Hardware with Seed Tray Kit, King & King Ranches with fruit baskets, The Scented Path with gift certificate, and The Treasure Station with a gift.
It is hoped that all who expressed an interest in entering next year and getting their children or youth groups involved, will begin to plan and prepare their yards now with a little extra care to be ready for 2012.
And please, remember that you are all invited to participate in bringing the flower show and other worthy community projects like historical plaques, “Yard of the Month” awards and flower plantings in the downtown area to fruition. Come add your voice and effort to improve quality of life and esthetic appeal to our community.

Civic Pride Committee meets the third Wednesday of each month at 1:30 PM in City Hall.


Fillmore City Attorney Ted Schneider told the Gazette Wednesday that the recent appeals court ruling had little impact on the outcome of the Livermore-City of Industry lawsuit over sales tax revenue. Schneider stated that the court’s ruling was “very technical, procedural” and in his view did not effect Fillmore’s right to performance under the contract with Owens & Minor. The dispute arose over a 2007 contract permitting Fillmore to receive 15 percent of state sales taxes generated by Owens & Minor, a Fortune 500, Virginia based medical supply company. A sales office was opened in Fillmore but products are stored and distributed from the Cities of Industry and Livermore.

Fillmore collects about $1 million per year under the 20-year contract. Livermore and Industry claim the office and contract are a sham. Fillmore won its main case but, due to a technicality, must pay the other plaintiff’s receipts from October 2007 to December 2008. Following this dispute, then Governor Schwartzenegger signed a law prohibiting such agreements. However, Fillmore’s existing contract with Owens & Minor will stand, according to Schneider.

Fillmore Lions Club presented five organizations with donations during Monday night’s meeting. Jack Stethem presented Raelene Chaney from Grad Night Live $750; Mary Tipps presented Elias Valdes from Santa Clara Valley Hospice $750; Victor Gongora presented Daniel Gonzales, Brian Ayala, and Francisco Enriques from One Step Program $1000. Also pictured Barbara Olsen. The Lions Club also donated $200 to the Sespe Players and $300 to Friends of the Library.
Fillmore Lions Club presented five organizations with donations during Monday night’s meeting. Jack Stethem presented Raelene Chaney from Grad Night Live $750; Mary Tipps presented Elias Valdes from Santa Clara Valley Hospice $750; Victor Gongora presented Daniel Gonzales, Brian Ayala, and Francisco Enriques from One Step Program $1000. Also pictured Barbara Olsen. The Lions Club also donated $200 to the Sespe Players and $300 to Friends of the Library.
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Pleaded guilty to Preparing False Income Tax Returns and Wire Fraud

The owner of B.A. Income Tax Services, located in Santa Paula, was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison for preparing income tax returns that allowed clients to claim false deductions and helping an individual secure a home loan they were not qualified to obtain.

Benjamin Aparicio, of Fillmore, California, was sentenced today by United States District Judge Dean D. Pregerson. Aparicio pleaded guilty last year to aiding and assisting in the preparation of false income tax returns and committing wire fraud with respect to mortgage loans.

In addition to the prison term, Judge Pregerson ordered Aparicio to pay restitution. The amount of restitution is the amount of the criminal tax loss of $176,100, plus the loss associated with the defaulted residential home loan, $185,000.

According to his plea agreement, Aparicio aided and assisted clients in the preparation of a false partnership tax return and a false individual income tax return for the tax year 2003. Furthermore, in 2006 Aparicio falsely verified by telephone the contents of a tax reference letter used to secure a residential home loan for an unidentified individual, knowing that the tax reference letter contained false information and causing the home loan to be funded.

According to documents filed with the court, in the months before Aparicio was first contacted by the IRS’s Criminal Investigation Division in 2005, defendant was put on clear notice that his tax return preparation activities were under scrutiny by the IRS. The IRS’s civil division proposed civil penalties against Aparicio for understating the tax liabilities of his clients. Instead of taking into account the clear warning from the IRS that his tax return preparation activities were under scrutiny, Aparicio continued to prepare false tax returns that understated the tax due.

Even after being confronted directly by the IRS’s Criminal Investigation Division in 2005, Aparicio continued to disregard the IRS. In 2006, Aparicio counseled a client to create false documents for the client’s IRS audit. Aparicio was present at the audit when the false documents were presented to the auditor. Also in 2006, Aparicio provided false information with respect to the residential mortgage loan application.

The investigation and prosecution of Aparicio was conducted by IRS - Criminal Investigation and the Federal Bureau of Investigation in conjunction with the Tax Division of the United States Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles.


On Tuesday night the Fillmore Unified School Board of Trustees met for a regularly scheduled meeting to another full house. Items before the Board included naming more classified employees that will receive lay off notices pending further state budget information, as well as a consideration before the Board for changing graduation requirements specifically whether or not to keep Health as a required class.

First during public comment the Board heard from Fillmore High School Junior Class President Taelor Burhoe and Vice President Taylor DeZavala regarding the upcoming Junior Prom on May 14th, 2011. The theme is “City and Color” and the event will take place at the Museum of Ventura County on Main Street in downtown Ventura. “It is the first time anyone has had a prom at this location, we are very lucky… it is a really cool venue.” Burhoe reported. They also reported that a slideshow regarding the dress code for the event has been shown to all students and is posted on the high school web site. They want to make sure that no one is turned away from prom due to violating the dress code.

The Board then heard from this reporter who spoke at the request of and on behalf of Fillmore resident Scott Duckett who had prepared a statement for the Board but was unable to attend the meeting. In the statement Duckett proposed a solution to the budget situation that should be considered because “Not one service to one student will be lost…Not a single district employee will lose their job… It’s fair to all district employees.” The proposal was an across the district pay cut. “From the Superintendent on down [each employee] takes an equal percentage salary cut.” Duckett suggested that the Board request Assistant Superintendent Director of Business Services Mike Bush to calculate the savings for different percentage cuts in salaries. “If salaries and benefits make up roughly 90% of the districts $30 million budget…if everyone…took a 3% salary cut, the district would save $810,000… a 5% cut would save $1.3 million.” The statement concluded with “I believe going through another round of budget cuts business as usual will only result in the painful process we’ve all witnessed over the past few years [all options should be considered.]” Board Member Tony Prado indicated he thought this proposal was “interesting” and later in the agenda the Board discussed it and directed Bush to calculate the actual savings from a 1% cut across the district. Board President Virginia De La Piedra stated that an action such as this would need to be negotiated with the unions and “We [the Board] do not negotiate, they do.” indicating the District staff members on the collective bargaining team. Contrary to De La Piedra’s statement FUSD Board policy 4143 states, “The Board of Education recognizes its responsibility to represent the public's interests in the collective bargaining process. In negotiating agreements on employee contracts, the Board shall balance the needs of staff and the priorities of the district in order to provide students with a high-quality instructional program based on a sound, realistic budget.” While the policy does state “The Board shall establish a bargaining team to assist in analyzing contract provisions and conducting contract negotiations.” The following portion of this policy clearly retains the oversight and power of the Board to direct the negotiating process, “The Board and Superintendent shall provide its negotiator(s) with expected outcomes and clear parameters for acceptable contract provisions which promote the realization of district goals and priorities.” In addition Board policy 9000 titled “Role of the Board” states “The Board of Education has been elected by the community to provide leadership and citizen oversight of the district. The Board shall ensure that the district is responsive to the values, beliefs, and priorities of the community.” Should the Board want to move forward in exploring and/or implementing such a proposal they need only request the information from the appropriate staff members, and then direct their bargaining team to move in that direction with the two unions they negotiate with. Early response to the ‘Duckett Proposal’ from CSEA members in attendance is positive. At print deadline CSEA had a scheduled meeting for Wednesday, April 20, 2011 to discuss ideas and options to bring to their negotiations with the District.

Superintendent Jeff Sweeney CONTINUED »

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