At Ventura’s Board of Education meeting passion and intensity took center stage

The voices were loud and at times raucous throughout the passion filled meeting.

Part 2 of 2 .Continued from September 21 issue
by Ross Williams

The beauty of small learning communities such as DTech and Bioscience Academies is that we can truly connect with students, bond with them, guide them, provide them with sustained and deep memorable experiences over three years (not just a one-time speaker or a one-time field trip). Our small cohorts are intimate. We know our kids. We know when they need to be pushed, when we need to hold back… we know what to say when they are hurt, when they are struggling. We know how to build them up and know when they need tough love. We guide them with precision. Bioscience Academy is my legacy, MY gift to this community. All I ask is for the time needed to make the magic happen for my students.” Mika Anderson

VESPA (Ventura Education Support Professionals Association) and VUEA (Ventura Unified Education Association) were there to show their frustration and anger over the compensation plan that had been proposed by VUSD. VUSD had proposed a 1% increase in total salary compensation with a 4% one-time bonus. While the district had received an ongoing raise in funding of approximately 12.84%. Meetings were in no way final, but the offer felt like a slap in the face of teachers who one after the other went up to the podium to declare that they could not live off of current wages due to inflation, health care cost increases and other costs of living increases.

Over and over again each speaker reiterated that they are committed, love the community, the students and that they don’t want to go anywhere. But other districts in neighboring cities offer more compensation and at some point tough decisions will need to be made.

The students and families of Ventura deserve the best we can give them. A 1% on going salary increase isn’t enough. It doesn’t keep up with inflation, it doesn’t close our gap with neighboring districts, and it is demoralizing for our educators. Ventura Unified received much more than 1% in new funds this year but they choose to not to compensate the employees fairly. Other districts in our area, Santa Paula and Las Virgenes, have settled for 7.9% and 8% respectively. VUSD can do better because the families of Ventura deserve better. We can’t keep excellent teachers with bottom-barrel salaries.” stated VUEA President Dan Nelson. With sentiments repeated by VESPA President Carol Peak.

The voices were loud and at times raucous throughout the passion filled meeting with the occasional clang of a tambourine, toot of the jug and cheering heard throughout the room and parking lot.

What is understood is that this meeting was all about the voice of community. Teachers, students and parents alike all standing together to make sure that they were heard and supported. On the backs of many of those present read a quote by Nelson Madela “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” And everyone there was ready to fight for what was best for our students and their education.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email