Letters to the Editor
December 4, 2019

To the Editor:
This was written by a friend of mine whose family is considered by today's politically correct standards "a minority" due to their appearance and last name. But they just consider themselves Americans without a hyphen.
"I have spent the last ten years or so listening to those who are NOT native Indian demonize the Pilgrims and the white man for every evil or catastrophe that befell the indigenous people on this continent. First off, the primary settlers welcomed the Indians into their camps. They weren't all murderers, hell bent on enslaving or taking what the locals had. Those types came later, as they often do, because they are naturally born evil, and don't usually discriminate when they practice their craft. Secondly, Things could have gone far worse, had the white Europeans remained home, and left the Indians to their own gods. After all, Europeans were far from the only powerful cultures plowing the seas in search of new lands and riches. They could have just as easily ended up victimized by feudal Japanese lords, whose justice was served at the end of a beheading sword. Ask any Chamorro, Filipino, or Chinese how their people and cultures were treated during the Japanese expansion prior to WWII. Mayan and Mexican cultures were likewise already quite a threat to some indigenous tribes in the south, as they practiced slavery and plundered whomever was weaker while seeking to expand their own influences. Let's face it; The planet was full of warring, enslaving plunderer's during that period, and they could have fallen to the followers of Allah from the Middle East, where many of those cultures still practice slavery and indebtedness that forces a particular caste to be a permanent servant.
I'm not going to defend what the evil doer's visited upon the indigenous population; nor should anyone's sacrifice be in vain. My only point is that the pilgrims landing at Plymouth Rock was not the cause of every native Indians' fate. In some ways, it may have even been their salvation, for history and archaeology have proven that some cultures have fared far worse on this earth at the hands of less benevolent conquerors. But the Pilgrims, once again, were a welcoming group, and they blessed Indian and settler alike. But if we are to be fair, every native Indian should be as revered as the pilgrims on this day, as they were instrumental in keeping the pilgrims alive during their learning years in the new lands."
We have traditions and a culture that deserve to be respected and preserved, because even with its flaws, the United States is kinder than most and everyone would know it if true honest history were actually taught in our schools today.
Jean McLeod of Fillmore, Ca

 


 
Letters to the Editor
November 27, 2017

To the Editor:
We would like to thank the Rotary Club of Fillmore for their continued support of the arts programs at Fillmore High School. Their generous donation to the upcoming April 2020 Arts show will allow us to continue putting on this event. On behalf of the Visual and Performing Arts Department at Fillmore High School, thank you!
Rosalind Mitzenmacher, Visual & Performing Arts Dept. Chair of Fillmore High School

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To the Editor:
Meet Mireya Avila Mejia, a resident of Cabrillo's Fillmore Central Station Apartments and a graduate of Fillmore High School, who was inspired to become a nurse by those caring for her mother while she was undergoing surgery and radiation for thyroid cancer.
“I want to impact someone’s life in a positive manner and help someone’s mother in the way my mother was being helped. … As I embark on my nursing journey, I plan to get a job in the Ventura County area as a Nurse Practitioner. I will most likely be working in the Ventura County Hospital in the emergency unit, but it doesn’t matter where I am as long as I am saving lives,” Mireya said.
Mireya is now attending California State University, Channel Islands, in the Master's in Nursing program with help from a Rodney Fernandez Leadership Scholarship awarded by Cabrillo Economic Development Corporation.
Mireya’s life, and the lives of other Rodney Fernandez Scholarship recipients just like her, have been changed through the generosity of donors and the work of Cabrillo, which provides scholarships to local students to help them
• Excel despite financial instability
• Follow their dreams of a better future by attending college
• Give back to their community
Students like Mireya need your support. In the coming weeks you’ll be hearing more about our scholarship recipients and the impact your gift can make. We hope you will consider a gift that will bring a brighter future to local students.
With gratitude,
Margarita H. de Escontrias,CEO, Cabrillo Economic Development Corporation
Donote Here: https://cabrilloedc.dm.networkforgood.com/emails/401823?recipient_id=yD2GY4fjc5A00SFTE2FZNg||aW5mb0BmaWxsbW9yZWdhemV0dGUuY29t#https://cabrilloedc.networkforgood.com/projects/73438-rodney-fernandez-leadership-fund

 


 
Letters to the Editor
November 20, 2019

To the Editor:
I’m still in a glow thinking about what a special time Veterans Day in Fillmore turned out to be. Thanks to the many who were involved in making it all come together so successfully. They should be pleased with the results of their efforts. From the Sespe Car Club who carried Vets in their cars up Central Avenue to the rousing, patriotic music at the Memorial Building, the MC, the speaker, and the Grand Marshall as well as the Lulac Club who honored individual vets with medallions I spoke to many veterans that day and the rest of the week. Without exception, they felt honored and appreciated. Thanks again to everyone who put this together.
Sincerely, Susan M Cuttriss, Fillmore

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To the Editor:
The FUTA bargaining team will meet with FUSD on Monday, November 25th for a final mediation session. It is our hope that we will agree to a fair settlment that honors the dedication, commitment and sacrifice of every educator in Fillmore. We will be attempting to reach a Tentative Agreement for 2018-2019 school year. During mediation FUTA will walk away with a Tentative Agreement or we will be released to fact finding. Fact finding will bring Fillmore educators one step closer to a strike. We are prepared to stay as long as it takes. Let’s hope our leadership and school board are committed to settling this fairly and not drag it on any further. For the benefit of being able to move forward together, we must resolve this now.
Tammy Ferguson, FUTA President

 


 
Letters to the Editor
November 13, 2019

To the Editor:
We would like to thank the Women's Service Club of Fillmore for their continued support of the arts programs at Fillmore High School. Their generous donation to the upcoming April 2020 Arts show will allow us to continue putting on this event. On behalf of the Visual and Performing Arts Department at Fillmore High School, thank you!
Rosalind Mitzenmacher
Visual & Performing Arts Dept. Chair
Fillmore High School

 


 
Letters to the Editor
November 6, 2019

To the Editor:
In your editorial of October 31, 2019, you ask how a decorated Army Lt. Col. And intelligence officer could respond to a subpoena from the House to answer questions regarding a “perfect” phone call between the president and a foreign leader, Zelenskyy, to which he was an invited listener.
If he had testified that he heard nothing that would amount to a request for foreign assistance in US political matters, you would have been fine with it. But because his truthful answers did compromise the president, to you he is no better than a thief, and had a purpose to “bring him [Trump] down.” Worse, he is in league with the “lying Liberal Left” in their malicious scam in seeking to investigate whether said president violated campaign law, abused his power, and sought and seeks to obstruct the constitutional duty and prerogatives of the House of Representatives.
You assume, and not for the first time, that if an individual of whatever stature does not agree with you and your political and social views, they are liars, operate to undermine the republic, and are in fact guilty of evil intent.
Is it possible, Martin, that you are just wrong? That Lt. Col. Vindman simply told the truth, as one under oath is required to do? Trump has surrounded himself with spineless sycophants and many persons of questionable character and little principle. Half of his cabinet has had to resign for ethics reasons. And when someone of unimpeachable character raises his hand and takes a sacred oath to tell the truth, you choose him to vilify. Amazing.
Kelly Scoles,
Fillmore

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To the Editor:
It’s hard to believe I have to write another letter to the editor. I love these kids and I love this town. The school board is not listening to teachers or the community because if they were, we would not still currently be at impasse. I’m tired of speaking at board meetings where the reaction from elected officials is rolled eyes, stiff body language, and inattention. Teachers in this community would not be coming to speak if there wasn’t a real reason for it. We are not attracting or keeping the best teachers in Fillmore. In fact, our teacher of the year last year, Stacia Helmer, left the district this year.
Fillmore doesn’t attract quality new teachers. There are open math positions when almost half the year is over. Why? Because our educators the lowest paid in Ventura County based on percent of the overall budget. This has been said over and over and over. Looking at the data from the last four years we’ve hired 91 new teachers, over half the districts certificated employees, yet 73 have already left with many citing the low pay, long hours, large class sizes, and unsupportive administration. Fillmore must have competitive salaries to keep the great teachers that are left, and attract new ones to fill all of our positions. Our students deserve a qualified teacher in every classroom and not round after round of substitute teachers. Fillmore students deserve the best that we can give them and our leadership must do better.
Jennifer Beal,
31 year FUSD Educator
FUTA bargaining chair

 


 
Letters to the Editor
October 30, 2019

To the Editor:
We would like to thank the Lions Club of Fillmore for their continued support of the arts programs at Fillmore High School. Their generous donation to the upcoming April 2020 Arts show will allow us to continue putting on this event. On behalf of the Visual and Performing Arts Department at Fillmore High School, thank you!
Rosalind Mitzenmacher, Visual & Performing Arts Dept. Chair at Fillmore High School

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To the Editor:
HISTORIC BUILDINGS NEED REVIEW BY FILLMORE CULTURAL HERITAGE BOARD (FCHB)
The Citrus Packing House (“CPH") is just another Historic Building/Property that is not being vetted properly, that’s perturbing to historians, as well as other interested citizens!
This building is historically significant and listed in Fillmore’s Centennial History book 1888-1988, page 70-71, and the Fillmore-Piru Citrus Association History Book, 1887-1987, page 8-10. Beyond the Harvest. The historic name is Fillmore Citrus Fruit Association Packinghouse (FCFAPH).
The Fillmore Cultural Heritage/Historic Preservation program was started in I989. and unanimously approved by Fillmore City Council and 2013 Agreement was unanimously approved again. To a point, it recognizes/gives Fillmore leeway to operate/implement local regulations. This means the City of Fillmore should still network with Ventura County CHB, which serves as Fillmore Cultural Heritage Board (FCHB) for review and comments and recommendations. The CHB serves in the same capacity with other cities in the County, ie, Oxnard, Thousand Oaks.
When the City sees a project come in and it is noted it is a historic building, whether a declared landmark or a documented historic building, it should be sent to Fillmore Cultural Heritage Board for review so owner knows how to proceed and what is expected with the City of Fillmore.
However, the City of Fillmore is falling short in following its obligation to the agreement with CHB. The City has taken upon itself to be the expert on specialized historical matters and ignoring the CHB. The Cultural Heritage/Historic Preservation regulations and guidelines is a field that needs trained persons to review historic buildings. To ignore regulations does not mean they’ve gone away.
But the City has not been doing this! In fact, they hired a mitigation consultant who has admitted, (nor has the reputation as remarked by others in the field for this kind of detailed, specialized work), that he has no historic preservation training. Yet, his “expert” advice was used to determine the Faith Community Church/aka historic name: Presbyterian Church, did not have historic significance, when in fact, the value was seen/listed as such in the 1983 Fillmore Cultural Resources/Historic Survey, Appendix III.
A meeting recently between the Planning Director and 2 Cultural Heritage Board staff members to maintain better networking resulted in the CHB staffers being told “the Cultural Heritage Board was not needed” and "has to wait to be invited” for the CHB to do routine work. Then I wrote the City Manager encouraging him to follow the agreement and network with the CHB. The City Manager has never answered my letter, nor has City answered other paperwork I have sent.
So with this City attitude to press ahead and seemingly leaving out steps, explains in part the City having trouble now with a historic building = the "Citrus Packing House", when directions/guidelines could be confusing to complete requirements and with no CHB guidance. Two (2) years is a long time not to see work completion expectations culminate.
Perhaps if historic projects were called by their historic names, citizens can better understand the significance and the process. In particular, the fact that the current "CPH" historically was one of three citrus plants on 2 corners (At SW and NW corners of A St and then Sespe St.) interacting to complete the early, prominent activity at the height of citrus processing,. A convenient, efficient process succeeded with the adjacent railroad line to the south of the packinghouse and the nearby citrus grove on the now Sespe School NE corner.
Working together is the best route. Thank You!
- Kathie Briggs, Architectural Historian

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To the Editor:
Hugs or Handshakes: a hagiography
Watching the University of Tennessee’s head football coach yank his quarterback’s facemask in frustration on primetime television got me thinking about the nature of leadership and our varsity football coach. Over the last three decades I've been involved (on and off) with Fillmore’s football program - as a ball boy and player in the 90s, as a coach in the aughts, and now as a fan in the teens. Given that proximity I feel confident saying coach Sean Miller, and what he's building here, is special. Please don't misunderstand me, my proclamation has nothing to do with wins and losses, which are, by my lights, footnotes to the larger, more pressing charge of nurturing and developing the young hearts and minds of our student athletes. It is coach Miller's commitment to this higher purpose that I wish to underscore in this letter.
“A good game", writer Mark Edmundson says, "is a simulation of life. There we get a chance to learn, to prepare ourselves and to grow, so when the real losses come, as they will, we may be half-ready for them.” While sympathetic to Edmundson’s view, I want to suggest that the quality of growth one might experience within a given simulation is largely contingent upon the quality of leadership and guidance one receives playing said game. It is precisely for that reason that I believe coach Miller to be the leader our players need. Over two seasons I've seen him use football and its concomitant methodologies of mental and physical preparation to foster cognitive and emotional growth in our students. Beyond all the regular platitudes one might expect in a letter that is, admittedly, starting to read like a hagiography – such as, his positivity is infectious, or, he really cares about his players (all of which are true by the way) – Miller's greatest quality is that he models what Eric Weinstein calls "critical feeling". Loosely defined, critical feeling is the ability to retain one’s humanity and composure under pressure. Whether his team has just scored the winning touchdown or thrown the game losing interception, coach Miller is an exemplar of compassionate equanimity. (Qualities that seem to be falling out of fashion but which I find fundamental to facilitating the fellow feeling necessary to maintain our democracy).
Consider for a moment, how the behavior exhibited by Tennessee’s coach, mentioned above, might be interpreted by players, staff, and impressionable fans. One interpretation is that to get respect leaders need to occasionally fly off the handle and physically demean subordinates. Another plausible reading: outcomes are what matter. As such, it’s okay to let my competitive spirit trump my compassion for the people I lead. There is, of course, the possibility that those who witnessed this lack of comportment read it as an example of how not to lead (given the comments section on ESPN’s message boards, however, this seems depressingly unlikely). But it strikes me that we should want more from our coaches; they are after all, by word and deed, molding tomorrow’s leaders.
Make no mistake about it, coaching is teaching, and coach Miller’s actions and words instruct. In all of my time around the game, he is the only head coach I have ever seen regularly carry equipment to and from the field. That probably sounds trivial but in my experience the distribution of labor within a football team tends to follow a strict hierarchy. As you might expect, head coaches traditionally place themselves at the top of the pyramid. (Carrying equipment is a thankless job customarily foisted upon underclassman and the so-called walking wounded who constitute the pyramid’s base). That he does it without complaint communicates profound lessons about the nature of leadership and responsibility, to his players. In this light, his coaching can be understood as an extension of his pedagogy, and football a medium through which he conveys the values and ideals our young people need to successfully navigate life after school. Take his “hugs or Handshakes” policy as another example. At the end of every game and practice, coach Miller selects a player and asks “hugs or handshakes?” to which the player determines how many handshakes or hugs each player has to give before leaving the field. Superficially, it’s a team building exercise. On a deeper level, hugs or handshakes introduces a radically unique vision of masculinity and meaning to a culture derided, often justly, for perpetuating harmful norms like aggression, homophobia, and emotional repression.
I have faith that football is a good in the world. To some degree, it made me. Subjecting myself to the crucible of games and practices put me in contact with my best and worst self, deepening my self-awareness in a way that felt weighty. That is to say, football cultivates what the Romantic poet John Keats called “negative capability”, which, in the broadest of terms, is something like the capacity to know oneself and see the humanity in others. I see this capacity manifest in coach Miller. I see it in the foundational strategies and rituals he is building the football program upon. Going into Santa Paula week (and beyond) I would ask that you keep this in mind. Because win or lose, I think we’ve found the right person for the job.
Kindest Regards,
[Editor's note: The letter's author requested to remain anonymous.]

 
Letters to the Editor
October 23, 2019

To the Editor:
In February 2019, FUTA and FUSD began negotiations for the 2018-2019 school year. As a matter of practice, our negotiations have begun and ended in the same year. Unfortunately, Fillmore Unified was unwilling to negotiate a fair settlement prior to the conclusion of the school year in June. On Tuesday, October 29th FUTA and FUSD will once again meet with a state mediator in effort to reach a fair settlement for the 2018-2019 school year. FUSD has one more opportunity to provide a settlement that begins to honor the persistence and dedication of its greatest assets, the educators of this wonderful community. I implore the school board and the leaders of Fillmore Unified to bring this conflict to an end and begin building bridges that will benefit the students we are all here to serve.
Respectfully,
Tammy Ferguson,
FUTA President

 
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

***

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

***

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

***

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

***

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

***

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

***

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

***

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

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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

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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