Letters to the Editor
October 9, 2019

To the Editor:
Re: Statement to Fillmore City Council, October 8, 2019.
I'm Bruce Johnson. I know all of you, and I think you all know who I am. I have a small shop here in Fillmore where I build musical instruments, expensive hand made bass guitars. This is a nice quiet retirement business for me. I started the business in 1990, as a part time thing, while I was working as an R & D Engineer at Disney. I had my shop in Burbank for 21 years.
I moved my business here to Fillmore 6 years ago, the fall of 2013. I was looking for a quiet shop space away from the big crowded city. I met David Storrs, who had just bought the old packing house building on Sespe. It's a fascinating old building with a long history and a huge basement that stays cool all the time. It had some mild earthquake damage that needed to be repaired, but otherwise was in great shape. David's overall plan was to clean the building up on the outside, keeping it historic looking, and rent out spaces inside for storage, for small private craftsman shops. Like me. He thought this would be the best use for this interesting old building.
David convinced me to move in, not just to have my shop here, but to help him build the place up. Bring in other craftsmen, help manage them, and turn the building into a showcase of craftsman shops and history. A centerpiece for the city. Trying to establish a theme for Fillmore. Hopefully encourage more craftsman businesses to move in here, in our empty old buildings. Build an identity for the city. We met and talked to all of you, and you all enthusiastically welcomed us and supported our plans.
So, that's what we did. David got the earthquake damage repaired and approved, got the sprinkler system certified, had the Fire Department inspect us. All the basic safety things. I moved in and got my shop operational, and started inviting my craftsman friends to move in here too. By 2016, we had about 10 small shops in and operating. We called the place the Secret Underground Laboratory and started participating in city events with open houses. Private tours of our shops for special groups. We were becoming part of the city. The local folks were surprised to find out that we were here. They thought that the old packing house was abandoned. It was fun.
Then, after four years, things ground to a crawl. The Building & Safety department stepped in and refused to approve our occupancy of the building. They stopped us from bringing in more tenants, or doing more improvements. They insisted on new levels of safety requirements and modifications, way beyond what was in the agreements when David bought the building. I won't get into the details, but it turned into a big mess. From our point of view, they just kept on piling on new issues, changing the rules, moving the goalposts. And most of the things they wanted weren't sensible or realistic. David hired Architects and Lawyers and sincerely tried to help them work it all out.
This went on for several years. For us tenants, everything was on hold. We ran our businesses and tried to be patient, hoping you guys could solve this.
Then in August, it all turned ugly. Without warning, you slapped a Red Tag on our building; locked us out of our shops. Effectively shut down our businesses and seized all of our assets. After five days of us screaming at you, you reduced us to Yellow Tag status, where you are now allowing us to work in our shops, but only in limited hours, with your permission. Because of your concerns about possible safety issues. Which you can't seem to figure out or define.
Do you have any idea how insulting and degrading this is? Deliberately punishing us, the tenants, like we were children. This is how you treat businesses? And here it is, October, and this is still going on. Why? Just to try to get us to put pressure on David in the negotiations? Did you think that stomping all over us was going to help? Whose bright idea was this? Well, it's completely backfired.
The result of all this is that you've crushed our project. David has thrown up his hands in disgust and has put the building up for sale. He doesn't want to have anything more to do with the city of Fillmore. All of us tenants have had it too. We're completely disgusted with the way you are running the city. Several tenants have already moved out in the last few weeks, and the rest are planning it. Our enthusiasm for building up this Craftsman Center and helping Fillmore is gone.
I may be the last one in the building. I'm going to stick around for a while, because moving my shop is such an enormous job, even if I had a place to go. I'm hoping a few of my Luthier buddies will stay too. We'll see what happens with the new owners of the building. Hopefully they can get some sense out of your Building & Safety department, and we can stay for a few years. But, we're going to lock the building down and keep the shops private. We're done helping the city. You crushed the dream.
Bruce Johnson

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To the Editor:
Speaking of children, what would you do if your child constantly bullied and lied, never took responsibility for his/her own actions but instead found his exact faults in other people to deflect, didn’t keep his promises to his acquaintances, and followed neither the family nor school rules. He always demanded the prize and vilified the actual winner. He was just this miserable kid being himself. This is a child who would need professional assistance in becoming an intelligent, caring, honest and responsible adult. Unfortunately, our president is long since past childhood. He is who he is, never got the help, advice, and apparently love, that he needed. What he got was Roy Cohn. If you don't remember who he was, you can Google him.
Some people who would not stand for the conduct described in their child, or a friend, happily sign on to Trump Being Trump. This last week or so we have all seen the blatant lawlessness of this president in calling on one of our chief international rivals, dictatorial China, to trade dirt for a possible political advantage in our country. He did the same with Ukraine by dangling Congressionally authorized payments to them while he asked for "a favor, though.” He eventually came up with the story that he is trying to root out corruption worldwide, though he still insists that Russia did not interfere in the 2016 election on his behalf. Increasing piles of evidence point to Trump enlisting government officials to do his bidding on this personal political quest (and one organ-grinder monkey named Rudy).
This president knows only his own interests, his own will, his own horribly tortured view of the world. Everybody is out to get him, no one has ever endured the harassment and political pain he has, all news with which he does not agree is “Fake,” if you don’t back him 100% you are the enemy, and he always has to be right. He can attack people who are disabled, are gold-star parents, are the prime ministers of countries who do not want to sell Greenland, are political enemies (until they fold up under his relentless cruelty and lies…and many of them are in the US Senate, Rubio and Cruz are two).
Is this all right with the American electorate? Are we ready to settle for this president and his scandal-plagued administration? It is really OK that he calls on (jokingly, of course) foreign countries to do political dirty work on one of our citizens and his political rival? It wasn't a joke, it isn't something to trivialize, and he’s done it more than once. The truth is, he doesn't get that it's wrong, ethically and constitutionally and he does not care.
Where are all the Congressional persons “of good will” in all this? They all took the same oath to uphold the constitution, and presumably, their mommas told them to always do the “right thing.” So far, it looks like neither of those things took. Everybody makes mistakes. The only problem is if those mistakes are not corrected. We, the People.
Kelly Scoles, Fillmore, Ca

 


 
Letters to the Editor
October 2, 2019

To the Editor:
Fillmore High School Drama is blessed to have the support of so many in our community, from parents to local service organizations. Once again, the Fillmore Lions Club has donated to our program, ensuring we have the funds to provide valuable equipment for our students. Every year, these donations provide so many opportunities to our actors and crew members to bring a performance to the stage. Thank you, Fillmore Lions Club!
Josh Overton
Director, Fillmore High School Drama

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To the Editor:
We break it, we buy it. Aside from the not-so-fresh hell of recent politics, let’s not forget what many of the children under our protection, and to whom we owe the possibility of a decent future, are experiencing, and which will provide the foundation for the future.
First, families with children at the border are still being separated and some may never be reunited because of the deplorable records kept by this administration. What does Homeland Security and ICE – and what do we - think is going to become of those children and their families in the next 20 years and after? The depression, PTSD, and hopelessness that are already being recognized in children forcibly removed from their parents will only fester. We now know that PTSD in children can affect their brains at the cellular level, and so may not be subject to cure later in life. We broke it, we buy it.
Second, there may be hundreds of thousands of children who are homeless, whose parents are attempting to live a normal life along freeways, in cars, and in parks (Sacramento is a vivid example where there are signs “Watch Out for Pedestrians” along I-50 and I-80 and the signs of habitation abound). Poverty and stress are invading their lives often, again, at a cellular level. They are being left behind by the rush to riches, and by our tolerance for the corrupt abuse of democratic capitalism as demonstrated in vast economic disparity. We broke it, we buy it.
Third, children the world over have been protesting for their futures on the planet while ecosystems are collapsing due to the dark side of the Industrial Revolution, and all the while we had the means to curtail it. But it will cost money and we may be dead before climate change catastrophically alters our world. Those kids won’t. We helped break it, we ignored the warnings about it for decades, we buy it.
All of this is happening, and is largely being ignored, in our names. Do we care? In due time, there will be nowhere for any of us to hide, not even in the bushes along a highway. This generation will tell us what they think of the system and of us and they will act. They already are.
Kelly Scoles, Fillmore

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To the Editor:
Fillmore Unified educators are tired. Tired of being placed at the mercy of a school board and administration that fails its greatest assets among our students time and time again. We have consistently stepped up to support the district during difficult times with furlough days and work with dedication to implement the vast array of programs given to us on an almost yearly basis with minimal real support, and we are tired.
We are tired of watching our health benefits shrink and our bank accounts empty, making up for the 24% loss in benefits last year, while members of our leadership and other employees enjoy over $10,000 more in district contributions for health care this year and a $900,000 savings fund created by our educators. We are exhausted, waiting for our leadership and our school board to show their appreciation and return to us what we lost.
We are tired. Tired of listening to the call of our board for full and fair funding of our schools when year after year our superintendent is awarded hefty annual raises and countless other perks, while Fillmore educators are told with exhaustive consistency that there simply isn’t enough to offer even a cost of living allotment to its most dedicated professionals.
But tired is part of our job. Day in and day out Fillmore educators cultivate learning with tireless dedication and profound passion for students. Tired might be what we do, but tireless is who we are. Fillmore educators will not settle for less than we deserve and we will be unwavering in our efforts.
Kelley Hess
Fillmore Middle School

 


 
Letters to the Editor
September 25, 2019

To the Editor:
Last week on Wednesday September 18, 2019, the educators of Fillmore Unified School District, voted down by 82% the tentative agreement brokered during mediation between FUSD and FUTA. Why would members would vote down a 2.5% raise? The simple answer if fairness. The superintendent over the last 2 years, has received an 11% salary increase while the educators of Fillmore have received 1.5%. 2.5% doesn’t even begin to help teachers reach parity. The District would argue they are being fiscally responsible and yet they approved an additional 6% raise for the superintendent along with other financial compensation for the same year they are offering FUTA 2.5%. The District would argue they need to be financially prudent. The facts show what FUTA is asking for is not unreasonable.
• Fact: The District projected a 6.19% increase in health benefits for 2018-2019.
• Fact: The difference in health benefits between 2017-2018 and 2018-2019 was a cost savings to the District of $742,585.00. This is equivalent to 4.15%.
• Fact: At the 2nd interim budget for 2018-2019, the savings in health benefits increased to $908, 074. This is equivalent to 5.06%.
We are not asking for a raise. We are asking to receive the compensation we lost based on estimated insurance costs that did not materialize. Over the years, the educators of FUSD have sacrificed much to help Fillmore Unified through dark times. These are not dark times. There is no pending financial crisis. It is about priorities and the educators of Fillmore are not a priority. Until teachers are made a priority, we will continue to lose quality teachers and our students will suffer the consequences.
Respectfully,
Tammy Ferguson, FUTA President

 


 
Letters to the Editor
September 18, 2019

To the Editor:
I’d like to tell my story as a FUSD Teacher and member of the community. I had two emergencies with two of my daughters that required me to visit the hospital. My district provides me with the lowest paid PPO. I’m grateful I have insurance, but taking both to the emergency room gave me a $500 bill for each daughter, one with a 102 fever and the other with a head injury that led to a mild concussion.
My problem is why do others in the same district I work for, not have the same healthcare plan and not have to worry about ending up with these bills. How is this a unified school district if we all are not in the same plan? Unified? I don’t think so.
As a parent, I have a great concern. We are not retaining teachers. Last year alone, we lost more teachers in this district than what was hired. Teachers are leaving to much better paying districts with better healthcare plans. I can’t blame them. I have stayed with Fillmore because I believe I need to give back to the community that shaped me. Even if I’m paying the price. The last few years, I’ve been forced to look to other offers of employment, something I never thought I’d do. It’s becoming too expensive to work in my community with the current healthcare plan, and the income we are receiving.
FUTA has asked for a fair 5% raise and better healthcare (same as others in our district) with no cap. Our District presented us with only 2.5% raise and no cap on insurance. This would be great if everyone in our district got the same raise right? This is not the case. Unified? I don’t think so.
Since being a teacher here, minimum wage has gotten a raise at a much higher and more alarming rate than our FUSD teachers. We have taken pay cuts to help our district during budget cuts. The offer given to FUTA members does not fix the problem for my children being educated in this district. We will continue to say goodbye to teachers leaving to other districts. We will continue to get the short end of the stick, while administration whom usually have about 5 year stay get the raise and the committed teachers/counselors continue to be not valued. Why do we always give money to short termed leadership? Why not invest our money in the classroom?
How will children including my daughters benefit as students in this district? Will they benefit from getting new teachers yearly? Will they benefit from teachers that don’t feel they are valued? Will they benefit from a non-unified district? Will they benefit from Leadership getting a much greater raise? 17% will never equal 2.5% This administration has been given a higher raise by percent in the last 4 years than I have gotten in my 19 years with the district. Unified? I don’t think so.
You can keep my 2.5 percent. I rather fight for what is right. Fight for retention of teachers, for the sake of the kids growing up in the same streets I bleed for, cried for and competed for all my life. 73 teachers gone in the last 4 years is not what’s best for kids. This is a pattern that needs to be corrected. Our community deserves better; our children deserve better. Unified? I don’t think so.
Jr Lomeli

 


 
Letters to the Editor
September 11, 2019

To the Editor:
I am absolutely shocked by your "Realities" column from September 4th (the polemic against women in the armed services). It is biologically incorrect to claim that women have "weak wrists" or are not "physically fit." Males and females of all species are on a continuum of size and strength; for humans the mid-range of physical strength and size are larger for males than females (in many species, the females are the larger and stronger), but this does NOT mean that most women who enter the armed services are less strong than most men who do so. It is ignorant -- and unfair -- to claim this as if it's a fact.
It is also NOT true that armed services around the world have never used women in combat positions before. Please consider the countries of Israel, Northern Ireland, and Russia, for example.
I also cannot believe that a person in this day and age would claim that a man couldn't handle a woman being his boss and calling the shots. How rude this is to men! I would love to point out your opinion to Margaret Thatcher, or Teresa May, or the many other women in charge of entire countries, as a start.
I request that you please retract your rude and condescending remarks immediately.
Cynthia Tuthill, PhD
Resident of St. Helena

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To the Editor:
I am disabled. My car was parked in a disabled parking when it was towed by cited for abandoned vehicle and towed to impound. I did not receive notice until after the car was impounded. The release form cost me $115 and $495 to get my car out from impound. I was told that a disabled person cannot park over 72 hours in disabled parking. I spoke to Mike at Fillmore city hall code enforcement and was just as baffled as I.
Sincerely,
Melissa Southworth-Ramos

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To the Editor:
As a teacher at Mountain Vista Elementary, I find it very distressing that my union, the Fillmore Unified Teachers Association, has to go to mediation with the school district on Sept 11th over what I view as mishandling of funds. At this time of year teachers should be able to focus fully on enriching the students in our classrooms - not fighting for our insurance benefits and our salaries which have stagnated at the very lowest levels in Ventura.
This is all happening while our administration has the highest salaries in the county with full benefits and no caps! I am personally being put in the position of having to worry about whether or not I will be able to financially survive if my husband has another heart surgery. I worry that if my cancer returns, I will not be able to afford my treatments because the board wants to cap teacher’s health benefits. I am also having to question why the school board, who is supposed to help balance salary and benefits for teachers and administrators, are instead, continuing to approve one salary hike after another for our superintendent, while trying to cut benefits of employees who directly serve the students of Fillmore, our teachers.
My experience with fellow teachers here in Fillmore is one of passion for serving the students of our community. Over the summer during our unpaid break, I personally witnessed many of my peers continuing to work to prepare for a successful school year. Teachers at Mountain Vista continued to meet and prepare for supporting students and their many needs. We also met to plan workshops we would present in order to meet the training needs of staff to benefit students. On Facebook, there were several posts and pictures of colleagues shopping for supplies out of their own pocketbooks. Weeks before school was in session, I saw many teachers setting up their classrooms and curriculum to ensure student success.
Teachers need “fair and equal” pay and benefits.
Susan Agostinelli
Resource Teacher, MS Sped
Mountain Vista Elementary

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To the Editor:
FUSD issued a letter to regarding their view of negotiations this past school year. It’s disheartening that district leadership has omitted facts that as a history teacher are the base that all my lessons come from.
FUSD is trying to convince parents that a hard cap in educator health benefits is necessary to alleviate the rising cost of premiums in the future is unfounded. Our Superintendent, management, and other district personnel will have fully paid benefits without the same proposed hard cap. So why only propose a hard cap on teachers? How does this attract more good teachers to teach your kids?
Similarly, Dr. Palazuelos expressed that limiting the annual contribution to educators’ health benefits premiums will provide a “substantial” salary increase. What increase? The district’s 2.5% proposed salary increase would then equal only 4% over the last four years while Dr. Palazuelos 17% increase is substantial over that same period. Not having a real pay increase means students are the ultimate ones effected by the fact that many great teachers are leaving the district.
Finally, left out is the fact that the increase in state educators’ retirement contributions are not isolated to Fillmore educators. All Fillmore’s certificated management, (administrators) which includes, Dr. Palazuelos, have the same increases. The fact that certificated management salaries are significantly more substantial than Fillmore educators, they will have higher contributions than teachers. Truthful facts and fairness is what Fillmore educators want. Great teachers staying in Fillmore for your kids is what Fillmore educators strive for.
Jennifer Beal
FUTA Vice President

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To the Editor:
On August 20th the Fillmore USD Board of Trustees unanimously approved the Full and Fair Funding resolution requesting appropriate funding from the state. Our school district now stands alongside hundreds of other organizations across California calling on the state legislature to increase school funding to the national average by 2020. I am honored to be a part of a Board of Trustees that supports Full and Fair Funding and I am now asking for the community to join us in this work.
Putting California’s funding into perspective compared to the national average, if California increased funding per student just to the national average, a classroom of 25 students would receive an additional $61,875, as shown on the www.fullandfairfunding.org website. A school with 500 students would receive over $1,000,000 per year to spend on additional support staff, counselors, tech support, salary increases, art, music and theater programs or whatever else is determined to benefit the students.
Prior to joining the Board of Trustees, I volunteered in my children’s classrooms and participated in school parent groups for over fifteen years. As an involved Trustee I have learned firsthand how our school district operates on a every day basis to keep this large organization running and I have witnessed the efforts of the district to further public education. It is no easy task to ensure there is a balanced budget considering the many challenges before us as we work to provide students with the best possible education.
First and foremost, school districts are challenged with providing safe and secure schools. Keeping students physically and mentally safe encompasses many areas from maintaining buildings for optimal performance and long-term cost savings to the increased need in counseling, for both academic and social emotional needs. Additionally, school districts have the duty and obligation to provide students access to emotional counseling making it necessary to hire additional counselors.
School Districts are tasked with helping students with basic necessities including meals, after school care and all-day preschool. Athletic clubs and teams are available for students to learn the strengths of teamwork as well as how to strive for individual goals. These programs are beneficial and enrich the lives of our students as we help them reach their academic goals and endeavors.
State mandated testing in now completely online, forcing school districts to update computer systems and internet infrastructure in order to administer the required test. No additional ongoing funding was provided by the state for these changes. School districts must constantly explore ways to improve technology capabilities as well as hire tech support staff and train teachers on the new requirements.
The national health care crisis is affecting all industries including the education sector. With the average company paying 51% more for benefits and families paying an average of 67% more than they did ten years ago, according to a study by the Kaiser Family Foundation. We all need answers to the burdensome health insurance price hikes.
Last, but certainly not least, is the academic education school districts are charged with providing students. From preschoolers learning their colors to high school students taking Advanced Placement classes the teachers and staff work diligently to provide each student what they need to become successful members of society. Classified staff, certificated teachers and management staff all deserve our respect.
Education today is so much more than teaching reading, writing and arithmetic but sadly state funding has not increased to keep up with these needs. The many facets of the bureaucracy of public education can’t be covered in a letter but I wanted to highlight some of the challenges faced when budgeting. School districts are given a finite amount of funding from the state and must decide how to divide the funds for long term stability. I feel all these areas mentioned are important but I’m finding our representatives in Sacramento have not been willing to make educating youth a priority.
Please consider reading the Full and Fair Funding resolution at www.fullandfairfunding.org and if you agree sign the petition to encourage our state to increase spending on public education.
I’m tired of trying to figure out how to spend the leftovers sent from the state. I want education to be a priority, I want Full and Fair Funding for schools.
Respectfully,
Kelli Couse
FUSD School Board President

 


 
Letters to the Editor
September 4, 2019

To the Editor:
Greetings community members and former Fillmore Graduates,
It has been an honor to work in the Fillmore Unified School district for the past 27 years. For the first 2 years I was a substitute teacher, the last 25 years I have worked as a Science teacher at Fillmore Middle School and now currently at Sierra High School. I have taught thousands of students over the years and many of these are your children or perhaps yourself. I was asked several times over the years by administrators in Ventura Unified to teach science at both Anacapa Middle School and Buena High School. While this would have benefited me financially, instead I continued my career with FUSD because I felt a strong connection to the students and community of Fillmore.
During my tenure in Fillmore, the certificated staff (teachers and counselors) have had to make sacrifices such as pay cuts during recession years and have gone many years without raises. We also we have been furloughed which drastically lowered our salary. In spite of all these hardships teachers have been loyal to our district, many of which are your family and friends that live in the community.
Even though certificated salaries have been well below the rest of Ventura County we always had full health care coverage and only in the last few years have we been required to have a small employee contribution. Last year this was no longer the case and substantial out of pocket contributions created a financial burden for teachers. Fortunately our classified staff did not suffer this health care cut. In the past the classified and certificated both stood together for benefits, I wish this were still the case.
There is often a misconception that teachers get a paid summer off. In reality, teachers choose to set aside money every month from their paycheck, which lowers their monthly pay. This enables them to get a summer check while they are not teaching. Many teachers work over the summer to make ends meet and over the years I have had to supplement my income working additional jobs.
The cost of living continues to rise annually, while are salaries don not keep up with this inflation. It is well known that Fillmore teachers are the lowest paid in Ventura county and rank number 15 out of 15. Currently our teachers union (FUTA) is at impasse and trying to negotiate with the district for a well-deserved raise as well as increase in our health benefits.
I have valued the opportunity to make an impact on my students present and future.
But I am not feeling the same value from my district. Unlike many jobs ours does not end when we go home from work. Our jobs continue into the evening and often weekends. I know teachers who work in their classrooms on Sunday’s to get caught up for the week. It has been said before but most all of you reading can do so because of a teacher. We have a lot daily responsibilities besides teaching. We in the classroom often act as counselors, nurses, authority figures, role models, and also in loco parentis during the day. This is a great deal of responsibility that we are entrusted with.
We are asking for what is fair & right, that our health care benefits be restored and comparable to the classified staff so as to prevent the out of pocket burden and that we are given a reasonable raise to help get closer to parity with the rest of the county. Please stand with us, and support those who you have entrusted your kids with over the years.
Michael S. Karayan
Sierra High School

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To the Editor:
The last few months my colleagues and I have been sharing our stories, our love for our schools, our students and our crazy, amazing jobs. We have done this in the hopes of affecting a positive change. We had hoped to impress on the Administration and School Board that investing in our salaries and health care is an investment in our students. We have seen how the school board values the Superintendent but when we ask to be valued, we are told there is no money and that we have all the power and we should be complaining to the state for more funding. So, what happened to the money the district saved in the cut to our benefits last year? That is the amount we are asking for. What did you do with it? It is the cost of the Administration and School Boards healthcare benefits that are sky rocketing this year, why are we footing the bill? We took our cut last year and we have all felt the impact of that cut. We have all the power? If we did there would be smaller class sizes, robust reading and math interventions, and our teachers wouldn’t have to beg for reasonable salaries and benefits. The Administration and School Board can do better for our students and their teachers.
Respectfully, stop making excuses. The buck stops with you,
Inger Overton - FUSD employee 25 years

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To the Editor:
Re: A Spirit of Fairness.
As a former teacher for the Fillmore Unified School District, it has been exceedingly distressing to read of the current struggle for fair utilization of the District’s budget.
Several teachers have submitted letters to the editor requesting a fair salary raise and a decent health care package. Their pleas have seemingly been unheard and ignored.
Interestingly, since 2016-2017, the Superintendent has enjoyed an accumulated 17% salary increase while teachers have struggled with 1.5%. The teachers’ health care insurance plan is far inferior to the one offered to classified, (e.g. teacher aides, office personnel, etc) administrative staff and to the Board members. In my opinion, the salary discrepancy and the absent of a fair insurance plan is immoral. Is the FUSD so lacking in morals and a spirit of fairness?
Fillmore Unified has less than 4000 students while Ventura Unified has about 18,000. However, FUSD has about the same number of administrative staff. It is highly likely that FUSD spends more money for their staff than any other district in Ventura County. A school district the size of Fillmore Unified should not require such a huge staff. As a consequence of this highly inflated budget, teachers suffer and the students suffer. Why do we need so many on administrative staff? What are their duties? How do students benefit? Surely there is duplication of efforts and jobs. Do we need to ask about the competency of some of those in the District Office?
For a least the past two years, Superintendent Palazuelos has refused to bargain with the teachers for a salary increase even though it is his legal duty to do so. I remind the Board that the Superintendent serves at their pleasure. They are his boss; he is not theirs. It is the legal and moral duty of the Board to rectify this situation. We have good people on the Board. They need to demand a spirit of fairness in teacher salary negotiations and offer the same health insurance enjoyed by other district personnel.
Fillmore is blessed with wonderful teachers who truly care about their students. Our teachers work very hard and do not adhere to the idea that our students’ ability is related to our zip code. They do not deserve to be the lowest paid teachers in Ventura County with inadequate medical insurance. I encourage the citizens of Fillmore and Piru to join with your children’s teachers and request to the Board that it is a moral imperative and duty to safeguard our teachers with equitable compensation in a spirit of fairness.

 
Letters to the Editor
August 28, 2019

To the Editor,
As a special educator for over 15 years in several school districts throughout Ventura County, serving some of our most challenging students, I have learned that students do well when they are in good systems. Systems that involve boundaries, expectations, respect, and support for a variety of needs. The same can be said for adults. Adults thrive in successful systems where their skillsets are valued and their contributions to student growth, learning, and support are respected as an integral part of the educational process. Both teachers and students thrive when district leadership is able to come together with all of its parts equally valued as an alliance working for the common good of education.
It is disappointing to see FUSD leadership and our school board failing so many quality educators, and ultimately Fillmore students because our system is broken and teachers are not valued the same as other employees in FUSD. From the 2016/2017 school year, through last school year, our Superintendent has received an accumulated 17% salary increase, while during that same time, Fillmore’s teachers have only received a total 1.5% increase. The difference is quite staggering and alarming, but tragically reflective of our broken system. A system of leadership and a school board that fails to recognize the value of Fillmore teachers as the heart of the Fillmore Unified School District and seek to cultivate a coalition of teachers working in coordination with leadership for the ultimate benefit of students, rather than consistently being cast aside. Enough is enough.
Kelley Hess
Fillmore Middle School Teacher, FUTA member

 
Letters to the Editor
August 21, 2019

To the Editor:
My name is Megan (Baker) Andrade and I am an alumni of FUSD (Class of 2007). I teach moderate/severe special education at Fillmore Middle School and I have in the past taught catechism at St. Francis of Assisi.
I received an amazing education from quality educators such as Miss Beal, Mr. Anderson, Mr. Dollar, Mr. Fischer, Mrs. Ford, Mrs. Merrill and so many more. I have a daughter who I hope to send to FUSD, but I am extremely concerned as a parent that we are not keeping quality teachers such as those mentioned above within our district. We need to keep quality teachers in our district, but we cannot do this without quality pay. I know my worth, but I choose to stay because this is my home. I know I could be paid more elsewhere, but again I stay because this is my home. I ask you to please respect the worth of our teachers, our amazing teachers, and pay us what we are worth. We are worth more than being number 15 out of 15 on the pay chart of the county in education. I want to know that my daughter, when she is finally of school age, will have great, quality teachers inspiring her to achieve her dreams and giving her the education she deserves to actually achieve those dreams. I became a teacher because of the teachers I had as a student in FUSD. We need future students to be able to say the same.
Thank you,
Megan (Baker) Andrade

 
Letters to the Editor
August 14, 2019

To the Editor:
I have some questions I'd like answered or at least pondered. In today's political climate we are supposed to believe some very extreme ideas. One being, that there are White Supremacist lurking on every corner and preventing people labeled "People of color" from succeeding in life. It's been said so many times, over and over and over again; like the saying goes, you hear something enough times you begin to believe it. The constant buzz words: racist, bigot, xenophobic, homophobic, White Supremacist, blood on their hands, etc. are pounded into our ears. My question is "Is our failing education system caused by White Supremacist?" Is it because of White Supremacist that 75% of Black intercity boys can't read or do math at their grade level? Is it White Supremacists who are pushing Blacks to kill other Blacks or Browns? Is it White Supremacist who are causing millions of people to flood our border or overstay their visas? Is it White Supremacist who are creating the homeless in major cities throughout the country? Is it the White Supremacist who are attacking the police or shutting down free speech?
We have had some horrible mass shootings in recent days, one who proclaimed to be right leaning and the other leaning left. But, compare those to all the other killings here in California this month that didn't get the day after day media coverage and the later are practically forgotten. Those killings were practically ignored because the media couldn't put a political spin on it.
The fact is there's a huge amount of money to be made cashing in on failure; nonprofits through grants, politicians from both State and federal and schools. Public education from grammar schools to universities is a huge beneficiary of failure. Teachers unions protect the teachers, but not the students and it doesn't matter how badly students fail, the teachers still get paid and an increase every year that's often in their contract. A business would have a hard time succeeding with that model. Have you ever heard of a Mission Statement that read, "We fail, but will try harder." Those students that want to succeed should and could; but schools are not preparing them for success. It's profitable to have failure and labeling them victims; taking away any personal responsibility for success. Why does a certain political party wants you to think it's RACISM, WHITE SUPREMACISTS, BIGOTS, that are the cause?
Today even the poorest among us can afford to buy a completely cooked meal just about any time of day. They don't have to grow it, harvest it, cook it. No, they just have to buy it. Today we have a more prosperous life style than at any time in history; even the poor have it so much better. So why are politicians trying to divide us? Divide and conquer, it still works today. But they need an enemy. So why not the invisible White Supremacist? I'm still looking for them; they must be around the next corner.
Jean McLeod
Fillmore

***

To the Editor,
I was offered a teaching position at FHS in 2015. Although the salary offer was $10,000 less than my previous district, there I had to pay $800/month extra to cover healthcare costs for my wife and myself. Fillmore’s great health benefits, despite the lower salary offer, made working in Fillmore possible. I’m glad it did, because I love teaching in Fillmore!
In 2018, my wife and I welcomed our first child into the world. He was 7 weeks early and spent a week in the NICU, costing over $100,000. Thankfully, most of this was covered by my insurance.
However, in 2019, the District went from paying $1500/month towards my insurance to $1100/month, effectively cutting my salary by $4400/year. No reimbursement was offered for this pay decrease. Because of this, I reluctantly switched to a cheaper plan with inferior coverage. My wife and I are expecting another child in March 2020, but instead of worrying about baby names and nursery decorations, I’m worrying about my second child’s birth possibly costing me more than I pay for my mortgage in an entire year!
Should FUSD implement a hard cap on health benefits, I would again be stuck paying out of pocket for any further premium increases. Teacher salaries in Fillmore are the lowest in Ventura County, but great benefits helped to make up the difference. Changing that would be a pay cut for teachers that Fillmore can’t afford.
Michael Jennings
FHS teacher, FUTA member

***

To the Editor:
I am a teacher and two-time cancer survivor who has benefited greatly from our existing insurance coverage. In 2012, I was diagnosed with head and neck cancer, requiring 62 radiation treatments and 6 chemotherapy sessions simultaneously over a 31-day period. In 2017, I had a foot of my large intestine removed due to colon cancer. The cancer has been destroyed and removed, but the lingering effects of the treatments have badly damaged many other functions of my body, requiring multiple scans and tests every month. Last month, I spent three days in the hospital due to pneumonia caused by neuropathy from these treatments.
I share this to illustrate the importance of insurance for everyone. Imagine if an insurance cap was suggested for members of the school board. Would they still be as interested in the position? This is what is on the table for all teachers – not district administrators, not principals… just teachers, the professionals who are directly responsible for the education of our community’s youth. If the district is so intent on saving money, why isn’t this cap applying to everyone?
John Wilber, our amazing principal at the high school, is very fond of the saying, “Be the change you wish to see in this world.” So, are district administrators and board members willing to be this change? Are they willing to cap their benefits? If not, why not? Their answer will be the same as ours.
Josh Overton, proud Fillmore High School teacher.

 
Letters to the Editor
August 7, 2019

To the Editor:
Fillmore Unified needs to show its teachers that it values, appreciates, and respects their dedicated commitment to our district. Our community should know that FUSD teachers’ compensation ranks LAST of fifteen school districts in the County while administrators rank highest. Teachers are leaving for other districts and careers.
Students’ lives are positively shaped by the dedication of hard-working, engaging teachers in our community. Our own daughter began her K-12 FUSD school career at Piru Elementary. Our family became multi-cultural by hosting AFS international students who each spent one special year at Fillmore High School. I have the unique perspective of seeing our community teachers through the eyes of exchange students. They were impressed by the caring attitude of our teachers. Contrasting what they are used to in their home countries, Fillmore teachers are genuinely interested in their students personally and academically. These interactions positively impact future decisions.
Mr. Sebek’s lunchtime math assistance helped our student who pursued further studies in business. Ms. Huxtable had engaging science lessons. Mr. Anderson encouraged our German daughter’s writing while inspiring her with history. She changed her career interest from law to teaching. Mock Trial, drama, swim, soccer, volleyball, track, and softball coaches made the American high school experience extraordinarily memorable.
Teachers make the difference! Our School Board and Superintendent must acknowledge and support the positive impact Fillmore’s dedicated teachers have on the lives of our diverse student population. Show you value your teaching staff! Provide what they deserve: salary and benefits without a cap that are balanced equally or greater with the median of districts in Ventura County.
Sandra Butts
19 years Fillmore Teacher and
FUTA member

***

To the Editor,
Under LCAP, FUSD’s goal is to attract, hire, support, and retain high performing staff. Over the last four years, FUSD has hired and trained 91 educators from classroom teachers to school counselors, psychologists and other employees who work directly with students. During the same period, 73 FUSD educators have resigned both tenured and non-tenured positions. These include professionals who were newly hired, or chose to leave after working in Fillmore for years. This past school year alone 18 educators were hired in FUSD, yet 23 have resigned before this current school year has even started.
Retaining high quality professionals means students learn in classrooms with teachers who stay and grow careers here in Fillmore. This benefits students with consistency in classrooms and educators veteran enough to have a refined craft. It is alarming, as both a parent of FUSD students, and as a 20-year employee of FUSD, to see so many educators leave our schools.
While we don’t know the reasons why so many professionals have left FUSD, it’s possible to speculate that many moved on to districts with more competitive salaries given Fillmore’s rank of 15th out of 15 districts in the county. Some may have chosen to leave for districts that offer more quality, less restrictive benefits for the needs of their families, and still others in search of more supportive and collaborative leadership. Fillmore students deserve educators who will stay and it’s time our school board and leadership took notice and work harder to keep quality teachers in Fillmore.
Tammy Ferguson
Fillmore Unified teacher, FUTA president

 
Letters to the Editor
July 31, 2019

To the Editor:
Not long ago I was a student of Fillmore Unified. Growing up in Fillmore was a wonderful experience and being a student in FUSD, even better. What made school so great was my love for learning, but mostly the teachers I had in Kindergarten through 12th grade. Teachers that remained here for multiple years and stayed until retirement. They inspired me to become a teacher here in Fillmore. I took their advice, collaborated with them, and gave back to my community in a positive way. I wanted nothing more than to share with our students what was given to me.
Unfortunately, Fillmore has changed for teachers. Retaining quality educators has become increasingly difficult. While I am still a teacher in FUSD, I am saddened by the high turnover of quality teachers leaving the district for higher pay and benefits. These teachers aren’t being selfish or ungrateful. They are leaving so they can provide a better life for their families. Fillmore teachers use the same standards as all California teachers, attend staff development opportunities to better their craft, and spend hours above and beyond the school day, yet they are 15th out of 15 districts in salary for Ventura County. Fillmore teachers are not asking for the moon; rather, a fair increase in pay and equal benefits. My hope is that the community of Fillmore understands and supports great teachers staying here. Our mission has always been to give students of Fillmore the best education so they can thrive in the future.
Sincerely,
Karen Lippert,
Fillmore Middle School Teacher

 
Letters to the Editor
July 24, 2019

To the Editor:
Surprisingly, there are two landmark places in Fillmore that are in jeopardy! -- within a month's time!
Declared Historic Landmark #156 - Arts and Science Buildings' defacements, and the second Historic Place is the Presbyterian Church, aka Fillmore Bible Church, which has been sold and they are turning the Church into a NON CHURCH! That is where the Apartments will be in the former Sonshine Christian School=26 apartments. The developer is named but there is no mention of the actual owner, who could eventually become an absentee owner! I only heard 24 hours before the Planning Commission re the Church and had little time to prepare some historical review comments and support the Cultural Heritage Board review status. This was the discussion at the Planning Committee. The Church is not a declared landmark, but is named in the 1983 Cultural Heritage Survey and as listed must be reviewed by the Cultural Heritage Board. However, Planning is not following all the steps, so the Cultural Heritage Board is not notified in order to review proposed historical projects.
If you want to see the entire 1983 Cultural Heritage Survey, you can visit the Fillmore Historical Museum and review it. The City should be using their copy for historic places in Fillmore. There is other documentation there at Museum you can review also.
In my presentation before the Planning Commission re Church, I told Chair in advance my comments, not part of the citizens' 5 min. complaint section, may extend a bit past 5 min. My presentation was a policy issue to include cultural heritage/historical viewpoint. Well, as you saw on TV or in person, they tried to squelch me in my presentation, but I did finish my speech and hope all of it was heard, despite the interruptions by the City Attorney, I believe.!
Sincerely,
Kathie Briggs, Architecture Historian and, Former President of Fillmore Historical Society/Museum

***

To the Editor:
I have been a teacher in Fillmore for 29 years. I was welcomed by a warm, supportive staff when I was hired in July of 1990. I knew very few people, and I had just lost many of my family members. So Fillmore and the school became my family and my life. Over the years, I have taught hundreds of children to read, to learn foundational math skills, to be creative writers and thinkers, to be self-confident, to use a computer, to write in cursive, to work as a team on stage and on the playing field ( just to name a few things). I have worked hard to learn Spanish so that I can communicate better with my students’ families. I have given Fillmore my heart and soul. I have worked countless unpaid hours directing holiday productions, talent shows, tutoring children after school, rehearsing with them at lunch, creating curriculum with colleagues etc. Now, as I near retirement, it saddens and frightens me that I am getting a pay cut for my long years of service. Now, when we really need the health insurance, we have had to use most of our life savings paying out of pocket fees as I work even harder to keep up with the changes in the school system. I am being paid less, and asked to work more. Teachers are the backbone of our children’s future. We should be honored and paid fairly to keep up with the costs of living.
Respectfully,
Lisa Gosselin
Third grade teacher
San Cayetano School

 
Letters to the Editor
July 17, 2019

To the Editor:
Re: Respecting and Protecting Fillmore's Locally Declared Historic Landmarks
When a building is officially declared a Historic Landmark by the Cultural Heritage Board, it encompasses all the guidelines and amenities that go with this declaration. This includes the Historic Preservation Guidelines as set forth by the Federal Department of the Interior/Parks. This information is sent down to the State, which in turn, sends the guidelines to local knowledgeable governmental agencies=historians. This process serves to preserve and protect the architectural integrity of the building.
When a landmark is declared especially to represent a particular time period as well as history, the exterior and facade appointments/decoration of the building are to remain untouched/intact. So the exterior is not modernized.
The Fillmore Union High School identical Arts and Science buildings, built in 1937-1938, were designated Declared Historic Landmark No. 156 in September, 1994. They are probably the most ornate Mediterranean architectural example buildings in Fillmore and represent the 1930's era. The School was in favor of the Buildings' designation. These buildings were named in the extensive 1983 Fillmore Cultural Heritage Survey of Historic Structures. E. H. Palmer even wrote his master thesis on the high school historical buildings!
So what happened? In about June, 2019, all the windows were seen boarded up in the Arts and later the Science Building. This is what occurred and is very drastic. It was observed the very many architecturally decorated raised iron bar grates at the many windows were torn out--with difficulty! Plans are to install modern windows (tinted? so that adds a different color--brown?-- to buildings!). Tinted windows did not occur in the 1930's. The brown tinted windows look is very pronounced and detracts from other decorations. The close window line-up will look like a permanent brown window stripe more than 1/2 the space of the sides of the wall around exterior of buildings. The iron grates need to be reinstalled. Windows being flush to the walls with no grates make the buildings' decorated entrances look overbalanced. All this work irreparably damaged the architectural integrity of the landmark. Returning alumnae will recognize the buildings do not look the same!
Since Declared Historical Landmarks have very specific Cultural Heritage guidelines, making parts of Arts and Science Buildings inexcusably modern diminishes its importance and the pristine architectural features example. It could affect the designated landmark status.
Overall, not showing care and concern, not following local guidelines' review, or not giving courtesy notice to Cultural Heritage Board of pending, planned work for Still Standing Landmarks representing Fillmore's History, is very sorrowful.
Sincerely,
Kathie Briggs, Architectural Historian, Former President of Fillmore Historical Society/Museum

***

To the Editor:
Fillmore Unified must show teachers are valued employees whose dedication and talents are respected. To attract and retain qualified teachers is a motto of FUSD – make it a reality! Increase benefits from being the lowest in the County.
Fillmore teachers work tirelessly for student success; time reveals outcomes. I saw a former student a few years ago and he grinned and hugged me. Teachers impact students’ lives beyond our classroom year. Marcos was my student in the first 5th grade class I taught, and he’s become a computer technician!
Since kindergarten, his teachers nurtured and encouraged him for success, but he resisted. He explained to me that in high school he decided that he should be the first in his family to graduate. He worked with his counselor and teachers, improved his attendance, and completed assignments. He proudly stated that after graduating he began working with computers, and that he would like to advance to the next level. He was concerned that it would be challenging. I cheered him on assuring that he would do well taking college classes. I’d like to meet Marco again to learn what he is doing today.
I hope that our School Board and Superintendent recognize the positive impact Fillmore’s dedicated teachers have on the lives of our diverse student population. Show that you value your teaching staff and provide the benefits they deserve. Provide the salary and benefits without a cap that are balanced with the median of districts in Ventura County.
Sandra Butts
19 years Fillmore Teacher

***

To the Editor:
My roots are in Fillmore. I was born here, graduated from Fillmore High, and now am proud to teach here. I love my job and the wonderful students, staff, and the families I serve. However, the increases in health insurance costs and a lack of equitable salary have made me wonder whether I can afford to stay in Fillmore.
This past year, my health insurance increased by around $400 per month. Since I couldn’t afford this, I had to downgrade to a cheaper healthcare option. This leaves me and my family financially vulnerable whenever we need to see a doctor. And I have a child who has special needs who requires specialists.
Why has FUSD’s leadership continued to try to cut back teachers’ benefits and offer us the lowest salaries in the county? This strategy defies reason. They say they are dedicated to hiring quality teachers, but still act like we are not worth paying fairly. In contrast, Fillmore’s administration has the highest pay in the county and their benefits have increased.
I care deeply for Fillmore and its people. It pains me to write this letter because I want to assume the district cares about the lives of its teachers. My hope is that the leaders of FUSD will change course and offer us equitable benefits and salaries. If not, Fillmore will continue to lose quality teachers and hurt students.
Yours sincerely,
Erika Henderson, Rio Vista Elementary Teacher and FUTA member

 
Letters to the Editor
July 10, 2018

To the Editor,
In first grade the concept of fairness is difficult for students to understand. They can’t see it directly. It’s best taught using sharing or turn-taking activities to show students that being treated fairly and treating others fairly are essential skills to show others they are valued and respected.
The same is true for adults, and in this case, the members of the Fillmore Unified Teachers Association. This year, FUTA members saw a 24% reduction in their health benefits that established an on-going savings for Fillmore Unified of $900,000, while premiums for management and classified staff increased 8.5%. Simultaneously, FUSD proposed a hard cap on future medical benefits for teachers, but failed to make that same proposal to classified staff and ultimately management who share the same medical coverage. For 2020, FUTA will not see a significant increase in medical benefits, while premiums for management and classified staff will increase by 14%.
The concept of fairness often means a shared responsibility, but it appears this is lost on district leadership. FUSD’s proposal to place a cap on FUTA health benefits, knowing that we had already taken a substantial hit to our coverage without making that same proposal to classified, and by default management staff, is unfair and inequitable. We don’t teach students about fairness by taking things away or asking one group of students to do all the work, but rather, to share the responsibility with relative equality. FUSD leadership seems to have more to learn about fairness than my students.
Kassie Chambers
Rio Vista Elementary School

 
Letters to the Editor
July 3, 2019

To the Editor:
This year will be the 13th Annual Mammoth Lakes Cross Country High Altitude Running Camp. The Fillmore High School Cross Country team takes a trip every year to Mammoth for an 8 day high altitude training course. Each member of the team that is invited must pay $400 to attend. As a team we try to raise as much money as possible by selling Krispy Kreme Doughnuts and having car washes. It would help if we could get a little extra money in donations from our community to help pay for the trip. I am on the Fillmore High School Girls Cross Country Team and have attended the last 2 years, as a team we ran some difficult trails. This challenges the runner physically and mentally so we can become better runner’s that makes a better team. It is a very fun experience to be able to spend time with each other as a team and do different activities. Both the girls and boys team are very determined to do what it takes to become champions this upcoming season. This year we want to train hard in the summer to see better results. We want to go out, race and represent Fillmore.
If you would like to make a donation, please do so by making it out to Fillmore High School Cross Country Team and mail to P.O Box 672 Piru ca 93040.
Thank you in advance,
Vanessa Avila

***

To the Editor:
Good teachers are not staying in Fillmore. At the middle school alone this year, 8 out of 39 certificated staff have left for other districts. That’s 20% of our middle school staff. The FUSD school board and superintendent need to change this because it only serves to hurt our students.
Teachers who have dedicated their careers to the kids of Fillmore are not staying anymore. A board member previously stated in open session that Fillmore has “high tier and low tier teachers.” Granted, they retracted that statement afterwards, it still makes me think that if that is the feeling, then what is being done to attract better teachers? FUSD’s current salary and health benefits proposal does not do this.
FUSD must have competitive teacher salaries to keep quality teachers here. It’s just common sense. FUSD teacher pay compared to the other 15 districts in Ventura County is 15th. That’s right, our teachers are at the bottom for pay in Ventura County, while FUSD administrators are first in the county for pay. However, who is in the classroom with your kids’ day in and day out? The teachers. So why do Fillmore teachers have the least value?
To attract more hard working, excellent teachers who devote their careers to your kids it’s just common sense to pay a competitive wage or they just get a job in another district. Our students don’t deserve less than the best, help us be treated fair and equal, for Fillmore’s future.
One proud teacher of Fillmore’s kids,
Jennifer Beal, Fillmore Middle School Teacher, 2018 FUSD Certificated Teacher of the Year.

 
Letters to the Editor
July 26, 2019

To the Editor:
I want to write a short letter complimenting Ms. Cindy Jackson from Ocean Gold CBD for providing us with a CBD infusion for our dog McDuff. He is almost 13, and suffers from arthritis in his rear leg, which has slowed him down on walks and causes him to be depressed around the house. I spoke to our groomer, Andrea, and she suggested writing to Cindy, who carries a line of CBD infusions, the infusions have apparently helped with other dogs and horses, and I thought a low dose mixed with McDuff’s dinner might be worthwhile trying to see if it helps with arthritic pain. I checked with our Vet and she also thought it was worth a try and might be better than prescription medications with side effects.
After just a week, McDuff is again playing with his toys, and is walking more normally without the pronounced limp from the pain. He still has a limp when running, but his attitude is more curious, alert and positive. We see a definite improvement and feel happy to find a product that improves McDuff’s day.
Dave Levy,
Fillmore

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To the Editor:
My name is Kelley Hess and I am a 14 year veteran in education and have been privileged to serve Fillmore’s students as a special education teacher for the last 6 years. Next to raising my own 3 children, advocating and facilitating learning for students with disabilities is the honor of my life. Similarly, I also serve as a member of the Fillmore Unified Teacher’s Association bargaining team.
My work as a special educator offers a unique parallel to the current impasse situation between FUTA and FUSD. It goes without saying that all educators work in collaboration and coordination with grade and subject matter colleagues for the benefit of students; but as a special educator, this is imperative. It is my responsibility to provide students with access to the general education curriculum in a manner that works for their varied individualized needs. Collaboration with general education teachers to modify and adjust content for student learning needs, consultation and coordination of services and learning goals with occupational therapists, behaviorists, speech pathologists, parents, and students all serve to benefit growth and progress over the long term and not something I am able to do with success in isolation. These collaborative processes are proof positive that when the cogs of collaboration work in sync across all areas, the results are remarkable and something I truly take pride in being a part of. Collaboration works well in my corner of education, but I am not convinced it is working in our current bargaining situation.
Let’s explore what it looks like to collaborate a little more closely. By definition, according to Merriam Webster, collaborate means “to work jointly with others or together especially in an intellectual endeavor.” Collectively, as a school board, as administrators, as educators, and as a community our goal must be to work jointly for the intellectual endeavor that is the success of the students of Fillmore Unified. Part of that intellectual endeavor means that in order to accomplish our goals, the mission that is Fillmore Unified, we must respect our professionals enough to keep and retain their talents here.
FUTA was prepared to collaborate and bargain as early as November of this recent school year when we sunshined our openers on October 2, but Fillmore Unified’s team failed to do so until late January, despite our requests to get started before then. Through the course of 8 negotiation sessions this year, rather than work jointly with FUTA to reach a middle ground that respects and values the efforts of all its professionals, our trustees and our district administration, on four separate occasions, offered FUTA the same 2.5% salary increase and hard cap on health benefits. FUSD possessed full knowledge that an unforeseen reduction in benefits beyond the district’s control resulted in a near $1 million dollars of on-going savings for the district and failed return that savings to FUTA members.
FUTA’s proposal for a 5% on schedule increase and status quo on health benefits pending the recommendations of the benefits committee is not unreasonable. It serves to fill the gap that FUTA members experienced with the dramatic change in costs and is respectful of the process of the current committee. Our trustees and our administration failed to provide another way for FUTA members to recoup what was lost because they have not been willing to collaborate with us to reach an agreement and jointly solve this problem. The FUTA bargaining team spent 8 instructional days away from students who need our talents only to be offered the same thing over and over again. Einstein had a name for that particular behavior, but still the FUTA team came to the table to address the district’s and school boards continued requests for collaboration for the benefit of students with good faith and our own well being at stake.
FUTA members are forever invested in the success of students, but we cannot continue to be committed to trustees and administration that fail to work with us. As employees of Fillmore Unified, we are directly connected to our trustees, administration, and community and we maintain a desire to cooperate for the direct benefit of Fillmore students. But that cooperation, and that collaboration must work both ways. Collaboration is not a one sided endeavor. Fillmore educators demand what is fair and equal for the benefit Fillmore’s future, our students, and we stand ready to work with both our trustees and the district’s team. When will they decide to collaborate and work with us too?
Respectfully,
Kelley Hess,
Fillmore Middle School Teacher, FUTA member.

 
Letters to the Editor
June 19, 2019

Supervisor Kelly Long Statement on Santa Clara Wastewater Restitution
To the Editor:
“I was appalled to learn that full restitution has not yet been paid to the victims of the Santa Clara Waste Water (SCWW) facility explosion and subsequent fire that occurred at Mission Rock Road in November of 2014. This incident resulted in serious injuries to a number of employees and first responders. The SCWW agreement was released by the District Attorney and Attorney General’s offices on June 7, 2019. In reading through the agreement, I was extremely disappointed to learn the restitution amount of $2,647,621 is tied to the issuance of permits to reopen the site. Those that were injured have waited long enough and should receive their payments now without stipulation or constraints. If the site is to reopen, it should be considered on its own merits and with a full environmental review to ensure safety and transparency to our community.”
Kelly Long
Ventura County Supervisor, Third District

***

To the Editor:
Imagine a world where the letters A, B and O have gone missing. For example: _meric_n Red Cr_ss. You can’t help but notice that something is off. These aren’t just random letters. A, B and O are the letters that make up the major blood groups, and when there’s a blood shortage, types A, B, O and AB blood really can go missing from hospital shelves. This summer, the Red Cross will launch our second annual Missing Types campaign to encourage blood donations.
To help raise awareness for the need for blood donors, businesses, organizations and individuals across the country are joining the Missing Types movement by removing the A’s, B’s and O’s from signage, websites and social media. The goal of Missing Types is to get people to take notice and take action by donating blood.
The need for this campaign is real. Each year, more than 21 million blood components are transfused to U.S. patients, with the Red Cross providing about 40% of that supply. Despite blood’s lifesaving role, only 3 out of 100 people in the U.S. gives blood each year.
Blood donations help people undergoing cancer treatment, those receiving organ transplants, accident victims and other patients. As the Board Chair of the Ventura County Chapter of the Red Cross, there are so many people whose lives have been impacted, if not saved, by blood transfusions.
On behalf of the Red Cross, I’m inviting you to help fill the Missing Types by giving blood this summer.
Sincerely,
Jayme Garone
Board Chair
American Red Cross of Ventura County

***

To the Editor,
I am a Fillmore resident and a graduate of Fillmore High School. I have 2 children that attend Fillmore schools: a senior and a 6th grader. I am a veteran teacher of 19 years with Fillmore Unified, a former bargaining chair, and the proud president of the Fillmore Unified Teachers Association (FUTA). I am writing this letter representing many of the hats I wear: tax payer, parent, teacher and leader.
Last summer I had the distinct pleasure to go on a European tour with my son and some of his classmates from Fillmore High School. One stop we made was the Louvre in Paris. I was able to see many beautiful works of art such as the Venus de Milo and the Mona Lisa. The Mona Lisa is currently valued at $830 million. I was also fortunate enough to see Notre Dame Cathedral. A beautiful example of architecture. While the value of Notre Dame to the Roman Catholic Church and the art world is priceless, the estimated value before the fire was roughly $6.75 billion. Treasures such as these hold both financial and sentimental value to the world.
It’s easy to see the value in famous works of art and landmarks, so let’s think about the works of art our children and students create. We cherish them. We keep them on our fridge for months. How many of us have boxes or file folders full of art work that a child gave us? We keep them because they have a value to us that transcends monetary value. Bottom line, we value the greatest sculptures to the most simple macaroni covered plate. The same principle applies to people. Whether you are the President of the United States, a custodian, a CEO, instructional aide or the superintendent, you have value.
So how does one place value on dedication, work ethic and sacrifice? The school board has shown they value some employees by offering fully funded benefits and rewarding employees with salary increases. By capping insurance and not offering a raise that will offset the added expense of educator’s health benefits, they have given the message that FUTA members have less value than other employees. The school board has failed to show they value the members of FUTA. Just as all art has value, so do all who contribute to the education of our youth, our future. We dedicate countless hours to our profession. Our job is not a 9 to 5 job. We don’t just leave our classroom at the end of our contractual obligation and everything is done. We work nights; weekends and often sacrifice time with our families to prepare lessons, grade papers, fulfill district mandates, and lose sleep over students we are concerned about. How has the District leadership shown they value teachers, TOSA’s, counselors, nurses, coordinators, psychologists? Offering us a 2.5% raise and a hard cap on all our benefits does not make us feel valued. We make up approximately half of the work force for Fillmore Unified and yet we are expected to sacrifice the most. That does not show we are valued. The District reaped the benefit of the drastic decrease cost for the FUTA members health care plan for 2019. Current cost savings is a little over $900,000. Was that cost savings given back to the members who were impacted by that financial loss? No. It is an ongoing savings for the foreseeable future. Is the salary and benefits offer compensatory with what we lost? No. In actuality, what we are asking for isn’t even a raise. We are simply asking to be made whole. We are asking the District to give us the cost savings that they reaped but are now failing to honor the employees who were impacted by it. They need to show us that they value us. We need to be a priority not an afterthought.
Thank You
Tammy Ferguson
President, Fillmore Unified Teacher’s Association

 
Letters to the Editor
June 12, 2019

To the Editor:
The latest SCAM to hit Fillmore has been one involving Marie Wren and Dorothy Hunt who were contacted by e-mail to receive a senior grant from the Small Business Association where they could secure a large cash donation by paying a mailing and processing fee.
The original e-mail was sent to Marie by her friend Dorothy who said this was all legit and she had already gotten her cash money. The dubious Marie kept asking questions and soon decided to connect with Dorothy in person to verify “the facts” about the proposition. At that time both discovered the e-mail did not come from Dorothy, Marie never paid the fee to secure this wonderful wad of cash and no one was hurt.
Both Dorothy Hunt and Marie Wren are afraid that their names may be used by the scammers to try and involve others in Fillmore who know them. They want everyone to know they are not a part of this scam and to always be cautious because “if it is too good to be true” it probably is fake. If you have questions, call or talk directly to your friend to verify if any offer is authentic. Friends help friends stay out of trouble in scams and do not assume anything on your phone or computer is authentic. You never need to pay cash to secure a grant.
The Small Business Association is a well known reputable group but now posts over 15 illegal scams using their name, so buyer beware.
Marie Wren, Fillmore

 
Letters to the Editor
June 5, 2019

To the Editor:
By way of background, I grew up in Thousand Oaks. I began piano lessons when I was four, then added ballet, tap, Spanish, and cartooning. I also played soccer, participated in Girl Scouts, and so on, all in elementary school. I’m the kind of parent who knows a well-rounded education helps you in the future, because thereafter I attended La Reina, Westlake High, and graduated summa [!@#$] laude from Cal Poly. My law degree is from Lewis & Clark, and I’m a partner in the largest law firm in Ventura. I’m only telling you these details because I’m probably the kind of parent who would enroll my kids in private school or send them to Moorpark, as many of my peers have done.
But I don’t. I keep my kids in Fillmore public schools because Fillmore schools make me proud and have incredible opportunities. More important, there’s a spirit here that doesn’t exist anywhere else. The community is simply heartwarming.
Walking up to the all-elementary school band concert on Tuesday, I felt a sense of warmth for Fillmore families like the heavily-tatted man entering in front of me who held his daughter’s flute in one hand, and her hand in the other. Her hair was curled and in a sparkly ribbon. I also followed moms in scrubs, families who brought everyone from grandmas to uncles, little girls in softball gear, men in ties, and men in T-shirts. In this diversity, as families, we were all unified for our kids, and I felt this glow of appreciation for our town. I love Fillmore.
People are nice here. If your kid is in something, you have to show up early to get a seat. There is no cynicism, only participation. It’s glorious.
My fourth grader began band with Mr. Morey this year, and as someone who had to hear the loud trumpet practice, over the months, I could tell she was getting better.
But hearing all those kids at once? Wow, just wonderful. I heard the happy murmur in the crowd when the tiny Piru choir sang “Remember Me” from Coco. The way the beginning and second year bands played basics to more advanced stuff with gusto. While I watched my kid’s cheeks puff like Louis Armstrong, I saw other parents doing the same for their kids.
It was just so good. So, so good. They sounded wonderful. Kudos to all involved and thank you for providing this opportunity to our students.
Then tonight, we attended Mr. Spaulding’s musical play. More wow. How many elementary school students in the country are blessed with a teacher who writes plays and songs? Charming, challenging, winsome, and amazing. I’m so glad my daughter was part of this.
People don’t know these opportunities are here in Fillmore. People should know. Because they’d be blown away at how ten and eleven year old kids can play instruments, sing dozens of songs, memorize lines, and perform.
Please keep these things going. As a parent, I appreciate them so much. Thank you.
Sincerely,
Leslie McAdam
Fillmore

***

To the Editor:
I bought the Book by Gregg Jarrett. Russian HOAX, as you suggested. (Martin,, "short Read"? My eyes are crossed.)
First though I want to acknowledge my understanding of your writing three weeks ago with regard to the FBI,NSA CIA etc. being criminals. Only some of the top brass seem to fit that view. Thank you for your clarification.
You may be assured that I accept and understand that President Trump is the duly elected President and that any concern I have of Russian interference is solely their having the ability to hack in to our democratic system. Two counties in Florida have acknowledged they were hacked by Russia. I am not looking at this mess to unseat President Trump.
Again the fore fathers set up our written Constitution knowing there would be difference of opinion. So you have got to get over the Democrats, the constitution did not say if it pleased us, it is what it is. I am centrist I do not like either Parties stance on the whole. I vote for issues and people based on what I see as the best for America.
"The Russian HOAX " really brought out the (Clinton) seriousness of the server in Hillary's home, and the classified data on it. It shared the many contributors of doubtful integrity, It is clear there was no collusion, by the President, Thank God.
Obstruction of justice, if not a part of the 2016 to 2018 findings, then most certainly today.
Too many daily occurrences of interfering with congressional committees rightful over sight functions and responsibilities" Too many that are obstruction, It sends the View that the President thinks he is all powerful, and he is not.
That stance concerns me because it diminishes his position with regard to integrity, and his understanding of Functions and Responsibilities derived from the Constitution.
With all the referenced Statute and Federal code's it sure shows that Hillary got by charges, That should have been brought. Details that I believe the public did not get the full clear depth of the issue. Only bits and pieces of the events. the book set this right out front.
As you shared about using the New York Times not being one of your favorites, I have a similar view of FOX News. Well before there was a candidate Donald Trump.
So Mr. Jarrett, for me, should not reference FOX News it stains his choices of source.
Thank you for your time and views
Raymond S Brown Sr.
Fillmore

 
Letters to the Editor
May 15, 2019

To the Editor:
I cannot find a way to put your name in my letter greeting..
Your latest May 10 realities is way out of line and unlike your thinking as we have come to know you.
The forefathers established our political parties and wrote the Constitution to provide for difference of thinking and values.
Liberals, Conservatives, neither by that plan hold a dominant position over the other.. Neither is more right than the other. A better way for Americans is if we unite and recognize we by plan will have differences.
It concerns me to hear you say that the "FBI,CIA,NSA,IRS, and their top employees with the Democratic party have proven themselves criminal"
Absolute nonsense! that complete group of organizations are the elite Men and Women who protect this country . Highly educated and dedicated to America. To have the view that they are all criminals, is about the same as the Patient who visits a psychiatrist and tells him "it is not me who is crazy it is the rest of the world"
With regard to Hillary Clinton although there is this issue of Russian interference in our election that may have cost her the Presidency, that is all. It is quite clear that the investigation was caused by the Russian interference and so many of the Presidents Campaign officials having had contact with the Russians. We need to know, and no it is not concluded. Read the (Republican) Robert Mueller report Volume 2.
Ten listed potential obstruction of Justice by our President. those are not resolved.
They have along with the whole report, been temporarily put under Executive Privilege .
A.G. Barr: the only portion of the whole report that Barr is restricted from giving Congress the un-redacted report, are those areas where there is Grand Jury testimony or would unduly share names of those who are innocent. of any of this..
Barr did lie, did you watch his testimony? where he answered that he had no idea what Muller's view of his four page letter, was . As we now know he did know from a March letter he had received ( and he did not tell us about it) well before the date of his appearance with Congress. He is no saint. He is well educated but tarnished himself
The Brett Kavanaugh hearings were terrible and unforgiveable, Barr deserves no apology,.
I am astounded that so many well educated people have apparently come to the view that the Executive branch is all powerful, no one should question it.
Our forefathers set the Governing Powers at three elements. Executive, Congress, and the Supreme Court. None of them dictates or runs over the others. The Supreme Court is the final arbitrator of decisions as provided by law. They all have specific functions and responsibilities
I have written Chief Justice John Roberts via email. the question is, 'with today's American tenor", where it seems anything is up for change and questioning , "Why is the Supreme Court Waiting to be invited to join the issues shredding American civility and, values". The established process of running up through a series of levels of Court, is a waste of time and money when it is absolutely the Supreme Court who will have to make the calls. Particularly as they are set by the Constitution. False pretenses of understanding better than anyone else is boloney. Establishing policies , for example,, The Justice Department has a policy to not indict a President, contrary to the Constitution "Liberty and Justice for all" What happened to "Liberty and Justice for ALL. "? It does not say when it is convenient!
Do we need to rewrite the lyrics to our Pledge of Allegiance? and remove Justice for all ?
Does the Presidential oath of office need to strike out "I will preserve and defend the Constitution so help me God??" may be it should say, but just has it applies to me the Executive Branch ?
I do not think so. We did/do not want an autocratic system, or a king.
Congress has by Article 1 the power to subpoena whoever they see is needed for hearing information..
I am concerned that the Executive Branch is over stepping it's authority as provided by the Constitution, for Congress. investigations and subpoena power therefore are implied by Article 1, Section1 of the Constitution specifically for Congress. . It does not apply or provide for the Executive Branch to interfere. Oh Well here we go.
This has to come to a conclusion
It is time for the silent third of the United States governing authorities, The Supreme Court , to get involved and not wait to be invited, before there is another civil war.
We need by distinction of the Constitution for Congressional oversight, subpoenas to be honored, we need to let this fall where it may, by thorough review and over sight, we need this for America.
Raymond S. Brown Sr.,
Fillmore