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    Conejo School Board directs school staff to begin translating 9th grade sex curriculum into Spanish

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    By Michael Hernandez

    THOUSAND OAKS—“We’re not just providing instructional materials in Spanish but we must provide opportunities for Spanish speaking parents in our district to engage in our curriculum adoption process as other parents do,” said board trustee Betsy Connolly in regards to 9th grade sex curriculum being developed for next year.  “We should be trying to engage more effectively with Spanish speaking households not just focusing on English Learners.  We need to engage with parents who speak Spanish at homes and want to be involved and engaged in their children’s education.”

    Board members were informed by Instructional Services Assistant Superintendent Luis Licthl that 60 community members gave feedback on the district’s 9th grade sex curriculum with the district hosting another community feedback on Thursday, March 5th starting at 6 p.m. in the Board Room (1402 E. Janss Road).  An additional 21 public comment requests were made at Tuesday’s board meeting.

    Four comments addressed requests for including those with special education children and those with intellectual emotional disabilities to be included in the curriculum development process and a request to change slides referring to LGBTQ to LGBTQ+.

    The remaining comments  requested:

    • Medical experts to be included in the 9th grade curriculum development (Ohana Health Executive Director Teresa Menchaca and nurse Pam Borg—a nonprofit licensed medical clinic that has served 25,000 in the Conejo Valley since its founding in 1985—offered to assist the district with curriculum development); “For over 35 years, Ohana Health has offered sexual health services for school based counseling,” said Ohana Health Executive Director Teresa Menchaca.  “We would like to expand our relationships to be outside speakers for CVUSD students.”
    • Five public comments requested medical accuracy for the sex-ed curriculum and that changes be made to the supplemental slides developed by the district’s high school teachers (ie., the slide dealing with pregnancy options);
    • Four public comments requested how lessons plans were being developed with one person asking: “What are the learning objectives?  Learning goals?   Required outcomes?  Instructional activities?   What is the standard?   How will teachers measure if a student has mastered the standard?  What will be the types of assessments?  How will teachers deal with students with a conflicting worldview?
    • Two requests were made that that the district consider the HEART—Health Education and Relationship Training free curriculum (developed out of Capistrano Unified School District); (Editor’s Note:  This curriculum was created as a non-profit project guided by a board of subject experts with MDs and PhDs);
    • Two requests were made that the material be made accessible to Spanish speaking families.

    “The amount of input we have received from the community since our last board meeting shows that our process of open communication is working,” said CVUSD Superintendent Mark McLaughlin.  “Our community engagement piece is key to this process. We have heard from the gender diverse, the special gender and the language community.   With special education, parents of English Learners, nurses and psychologists our group is expanding.  I thank Conejo Valley for their feedback.”

    Board comments:

    • Jenny Fitzgerald:  “The legitimate question that needs to be asked; is how is this to be adopted especially for the various student groups in our district?”
    • Bill Gorbach: “Are we being medically correct?  We need to bring in doctors to meet with our teachers as they develop materials.  We also need to include special education teachers.”
    • Sandee Everett: “We need to adopt a curriculum we are proud to show all parents—that the majority of families feel good about.  It is important that it be medically accurate.  We must do our due diligence.”

    The Board approves the 2019-2020 Second Interim Financial Statements

    The CVUSD board approved the 2019-2020 Second Interim Financial Statements by a vote of 5-0 at Tuesday’s meeting.

    The estimated total revenue for this school year is $193,797,915 with the majority of  revenue coming as $165,108,150 through the Local Control Funding Formula.  The actual Federal allocation is $6,362,144; the California allocation is $8,532,962; with another $5,757,747 from Local revenue and $8,036,912 through transfers.

    Projected expenses for this year include:  $92,935,201 in certificated salaries; $26,843,799 in classified salaries; and $48,113,156 in benefits.  Books and supplies account for $9,379,357; Contracted Services and Operating Expenses for $20,435,942; capital outlay for $380,654 and other outgo is $1,641,175.

    This year’s projected ending fund balance is $22,134,94 which includes a 3 percent mandated reserve of $5,991,879 and a local fiscal stabilization reserve of $3 million.

    Planning factors for multi-year projections are based on an anticipated drop of 123 students next year from the current enrollment of 18,334 students and an additional drop of 308 students the following year.   The cost of living adjustment (COLA) for next year is projected at 2.29 percent and for the following year it is 2.71 percent.  The CalSTRS employer rate is projected to go from 17.1 percent this year to 18.4 percent next year and drop slightly to 18.1 percent the following year.  Meanwhile the CalPERS employer rate of 19.721 percent this year  will go up significantly to 22.8 percent next year and 24.9 percent the following year.

    Estimated beginning balances on July 1 will drop from this year’s $28,066,315 to a projection of $22,134,947 for this July 1st and to $16,746,015 for the following year.

    The district still has a balance of $20,357,463 in Measure I Building funds which this year will drop to an ending balance of $3,217,789.  The district also has a balance of $9,001,163 Measure I Technology funds which will drop to an ending balance of $6,853,742.

    In other action:

    • CVUSD is participating this week on Read Across America which is encouraging reading to children for 30 minutes every day;
    • Heard about Spread the Word Global Day of Action which focuses on those with intellectual and developmental disabilities;
    • Mark McLaughlin said the district was following the lead of both the Ventura County Public Health Office and the Ventura County Office of Education in regards to the coronavirus. “I recommend to our families that you follow the recommended guidance for preventive strategies:   Wash your hands frequently, cover your mouth when coughing, and use disinfectant protocols.”
    • Heard a parent who asked more information about a gun threat made last Friday at Sycamore Canyon School.


    Michael Hernandez, Co-Founder of the Citizens Journal—Ventura County’s online news service; editor of the History Makers Report and founder of History Makers International—a community nonprofit serving youth and families in Ventura County, is a former Southern California daily newspaper journalist and religion and news editor. He has worked 25 years as a middle school teacher in Monrovia and Los Angeles Unified School Districts. Mr. Hernandez can be contacted by email at [email protected].

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