Las Virgenes School district copes with budget cuts – Calabasas Real Estate News

School districts cope with budget cuts

By Stephanie Bertholdo

  MOVING ON—In early December, LVUSD officials did not renew Superintendent Donald Zimring’s contract.   STEPHANIE BERTHOLDO/Acorn Newspapers MOVING ON—In early December, LVUSD officials did not renew Superintendent Donald Zimring’s contract. STEPHANIE BERTHOLDO/Acorn Newspapers Las Virgenes and Oak Park unified school districts have struggled with less state funding, but both agencies have tried to put students first regardless of the economy.

Both school districts earned top spots in California standardized testing. The Oak Park district received the top ranking for Ventura County, with Medea Creek Middle School claiming the top middle school rank for the fourth consecutive year, and Oak Hills Elementary School garnering the top title for elementary schools for the first time this year.

Las Virgenes Unified School District also achieved high test scores and is ranked among the top school districts in the state.

Las Virgenes Unified

Budget troubles continued to plague Las Virgenes throughout the year. Volunteers raised about $450,000 through its Save Our Schools campaign early in the year, but when the district attempted to pass a second parcel tax—this one at $95 per year— the measure failed to meet the two-thirds “yes” vote benchmark.

  Marie Panec Marie Panec The LVUSD Board of Education did not renew Superintendent Donald Zimring’s contract. Dan Stepenosky, assistant superintendent of personnel, was promoted to deputy superintendent and is a contender for the top job.

Knowledge Countys replaced the Las Virgenes Educational Foundation to run the district’s summer school program.

Meanwhile, T. H. E. ( Together Helping Education) Foundation was created to host a wine festival with the potential to earn hundreds of thousands of dollars each year.

Many schools throughout Las Virgenes Unified are embracing some new educational techniques that allow for interactive, dynamic student learning. The first group of students to complete Agoura High School’s International Baccalaureate program graduated in June. The IB program, which was introduced in the 2009-10 school year, offers a student-driven curriculum with an international perspective. IB students are encouraged to explore their own passions and interests.

Another program launched at Agoura High was a social studies and English literature class team-taught by Jason Busby and Deb Frank. The students hosted a communitywide event called EduCon at the Agoura/Calabasas Community Center. Students developed surveys, analyzed data and, based on what they found, developed questions for a cross section of community leaders and activists who served on the event panel.

Some Las Virgenes elementary schools launched a Spanish language program starting in kindergarten. The district also expanded its Journeys kindergarten preparatory program to every elementary school in the district. The program is designed for children who turn 5 between July and Dec. 1 and need extra support to achieve school readiness. A t Bay Laurel Ele mentary School in Calabasas, one student in the Journ eys pro- gram has had violent outbursts toward other students, the teacher and aides, and the classroom was evacuated several times. Parents are threatening to pull their children from the class if the violent disruptions continue.

Online classes were introduced to LVUSD this year. Technology guru Phil Scrivano has been in charge of developing the program.

We moved to Calabasas for the Las Virgenes Unified School Disctrict. We put our daughter in Bay Laurel Elementary. We are one family among countless who moved to the area for the same reasons. The schools are very important to us and the community and we will all continue to support each of them. From Round Meadow, to Chapparal, to Lupin Hill to Bay Laurel for the elementary schools. And A.C. Stelle and A.E. Wright for Middle schools. Up into Calabasas High School. I’m sure the families who send their children the Las Virgenes schools in Agoura and Oak Park feel the same.

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