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New school board members will address budget, district improvements

Teacher's photos are on the board.
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Two new members took their seats on the Oxnard Union High School District board of trustees on Dec. 13.

Steven Hall and Gary Davis replaced longtime board members Dick Jaquez and Steve Stocks, both of whom retired from the board.

The board oversees seven high schools and about 16,000 students. The other members are Wayne Edmonds, board president; John Alamillo, vice president; and Socorro Lopez Hanson, clerk.

Davis, a former district superintendent, said he felt right at home during the meeting.

“It feels very comfortable to be up there,” said Davis, 69, who retired from the district in 2005 to pursue volunteer opportunities in the community. “I’m glad to be back in this capacity.”

Davis said that with the passage of Proposition 30, Gov. Jerry Brown’s income and sales tax increase to fund public education, the new board faces a less daunting challenge than it has the past several years with state cuts to education funding.

The former Oxnard High School English teacher said the district can move forward with top priorities, such as the construction of two proposed high schools—the Camarillo Academy Performing Arts Center and a new high school in Oxnard.

“There’s a lot going on for us,” Davis said. “I’m very appreciative for the passing of Proposition 30. Appropriate steps are being taken on the new projects, and it seems to be progressing quite well.”

Both new schools would be funded by Measure H, a ballot initiative passed in 2004.

Hall, the other newly elected trustee, said he felt prepared and eager for his first board meeting.

During his campaign for a board seat, the 44-year-old Camarillo resident did not talk with past or present board members because he didn’t want to give the impression he was aligned with a particular trustee.

Hall said getting to know the board he now sits on has been smooth and enjoyable.

“We’re not always going to agree on everything, of course,” said Hall, who teaches algebra at Oxnard College. “But we will always work to better the education of our students. The common ground is always the students.”

Edmonds said most of the decisions the board made in his first two years were crippled by a lack of funding. With the passage of Prop. 30, he said, the district can begin making those decisions based on the proper priority.

“It looks like we can return the focus to our students,” Edmonds said. “We have a very progressive district, and I feel honored that my colleagues elected me to lead it.”

The board president said his priorities include moving forward with new school construction and getting more technology into the classroom.

“When I took attendance it was with a roll book,” said Edmonds, laughing. “Things are instant now and moving at a much faster pace. It’s good for our students.”

Alamillo, a general contractor in Ventura County, said the post as vice president of the board is no different than any other.

“We still act as one body,” said Alamillo, who has lived in Camarillo for 52 years. “It’s just another seat at the table.”

Alamillo said the district is in a good position to continue its success of the past year. The district earned double-digit point increases in its Academic Performance Index at all seven schools for the 2011-12 school year. The third-year trustee said he hopes the district can continue to improve.

“I’m just excited to keep moving forward,” Alamillo said. “We’ve shown marked improvement at all our schools. I’m looking forward to another year educating students.”

The new board will have its first meeting of the new year Wed., Jan. 9, when Davis said some important data should be available.

“We’re just waiting for the governor’s info on the budget,’’ Davis said. “Then we can start planning for next year and even the one after.”

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