State of Education

Ms. Nan Drake E.J. Harrison & Sons Inc., Joseph Richards Jr.  Interim Superintendent VUSD, Dr. Erika D. Beck President, CSUCI, Dr. Greg Gillespie  newly appointed Chancellor of the Ventura County Community College District,  Stephanie Caldwell President and CEO, Ventura Chamber of Commerce.

by Jennifer Tipton

On Thursday, April 27 the Ventura Chamber of Commerce hosted the State of Education, the event took place at the Wright Event Center here in Ventura. The event focused on presentations from the Ventura Unified School Superintendent and the Ventura College President who provided their perspective on past accomplishments, current state and a future forecast of education in the City of Ventura.

Ventura Unified School District Est. July 1, 1966 is the largest land owner in the City of Ventura which is about 165 sq. miles and serves 21,656 students with 576 of these being special education students.

Many attended the State of Education including our Mayor Eric Nasarenko, representatives for other leaders in the community, the Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and countless others that support education in our community.

The first speaker was Nan Drake from E.J. Harrison who emphasized that making children successful meant much more than just providing an education, but preparing them for life.

The second speaker was Joseph Richards Jr. the Interim Superintendent of Ventura Unified School District who spoke about the changes that have taken place including the cultural population we serve and economic uncertainty.

For instance, 52% of students are Hispanic, 40% are Caucasian, 2% are African American while the remaining are of other cultural descent and 25% of these are English learners.  The cultural population of the students has changed dramatically over the years.

Regarding the economic uncertainty, in 1978 proposition 13 limited taxes which put schools at the mercy of the State, in 2012 proposition 30 increased revenues and they have been increasing ever since but we are still significantly below the State average for funding. Mr. Richards encouraged businesses to assist schools by collaborating partnerships and described the many ways to accomplish this.

Dr. Greg Gillespie the President of Ventura College since 2013 and the newly appointed Chancellor of the Ventura County Community College District was the third speaker. Dr. Gillespie stressed that education is critical to opening doors to our community and again he spoke of how the demographic has changed with a decrease in student age and a dramatic increase in the need for financial aid. He spoke of a six-year educational masterplan in which priority #1 would be to put Ventura College in the top 5 colleges in the State and explained, “because we want to do a better job to provide a future to our community.” Dr. Gillespie wants to see kids “grow up here, get an education here, get a job here and raise a family here.”

The last speaker was Dr. Ericka Beck the President of California State University Channel Islands, she was excited to see some of her alumni in the audience and spoke about the changes taking place on her campus including a new program that builds drones to support the bee population using “swarm technology”.

The Traveler’s Café, (a new family owned restaurant located on Front St.) provided an outstanding buffet luncheon.

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