After a decade – Ventura County residents see their millions at work

In November of 2004, Ventura County voters passed a school bond, Measure H, which would begin construction on two new high schools for the Oxnard Union School District.

After more than a decade since the district was granted $135 million in funds for the project, construction is finally beginning to emerge.

The Oxnard Union School District serves an estimated 16,000 students among seven high schools, according to the Educational Data Partnership. Among those seven are: Hueneme, Oxnard, Channel Islands, Rio Mesa, Camarillo and the latest edition, opening in late 2001, Pacifica.

Courtesy of:

Map of Oxnard Union High School District Courtesy of:


“There has been increases to the enrollments for every [high] school year after year,” says Cecilia Ceja, Director Of Teacher Personnel for Oxnard Union High School District. “That is why the district requested money to build new schools in the area.”

According to Rio Mesa Principal William Dabbs, Pacifica is over capacity by about 1,000 students and Oxnard by 600 to 700.

Pacifica High School Overcrowded Image by Raelene Kajkowski

Pacifica High School Overcrowded
Image by Raelene Kajkowski

Measure H passed and the Oxnard Union School District was given the requested $135 million to renovate current facilities and build two new high schools.

Yet, it took the Oxnard Union 10 years to set proper plans and for construction to finally take place.

They were given a push by the Ventura County grand jury in June 2013, who investigated into the matter, with a statement given in the final report:

“The Bond Measure H passed by 62.7% of the District voters. The BOC was established as required by Proposition 39. It met once in March, 2005, and did not meet again until March, 2011. District officials delayed issuing funds from the $135 million in authorized bonds while the Camarillo school unification proposal was considered.”

The report calls out members of the district’s school board and bond oversight committee for failing to issue the funds in a timely manner.

Jay Whitney, grand jury foreman, told the Camarillo Acorn in 2013 that the [Oxnard] high school district should have formed a more organized plan for the use of the bond before asking Ventura County voters to approve Measure H.

Depending on their location, most voters did not know there was to be a new high school built in Camarillo.

During the election, political fliers distributed by district officials within the school district’s boundaries, varied drastically. In the Ventura County grand jury final report, it states how the advertisements changed depending on the location, meaning they came in two different formats.

Oxnard voters were notified that the bond money would help with the overcrowding in the high schools within Port Hueneme and Oxnard, however neglected any mention of Camarillo.

Hueneme High  Image by Raelene Kajkowski

Hueneme High
Image by Raelene Kajkowski

The flyer read: “Local high schools in Oxnard and Hueneme are overcrowded due to increasing numbers of students entering each year.”

Camarillo voters were handed fliers that encouraged them to support a new school within their very own community, reading:

“Measure H will add a new high school right here in Camarillo . . . Vote YES on Measure H to help Camarillo High School and add a new high school in our community.”

Each flyer was altered to persuade the individual communities. The Oxnard Union mentioned two different schools that would be built in previous statements and flyers.

Yet, Measure H neglected to mention the locations of each new school.

Sure enough, voters passed the bond due to the persuasing technique.

“No, I didn’t know there was a new high school being built in Camarillo. Didn’t even know they needed one,” said Anna Bruno, 15 year resident in the city of Oxnard and has two children in the Oxnard Union school system. “I voted to pass the bill [Measure H]. Oxnard really needs updated high schools. The ones now are from the 80s.”

According to the Educational Data Partnership, all the current high schools in the Oxnard Union district, with the exception of Pacifica, were opened in July of 1980.

“The overcrowdings are still there, and the bond authorized new school facilities to reduce overcrowding, but millions of bond dollars later, that’s still the case,” Whitney tells the Camarillo Acorn.

The process of eliminating the overcrowding for the high schools located in Oxnard and Hueneme are at a halt.

Overcrowded lunch area Photos by me

Overcrowded lunch area 
Image by Raelene Kajkowski

“Eating lunch is impossible, becuase there is so many people,” said Janelle Arevalo, freshman at Oxnard High School. “My brother goes to the high school down the street [Pacifica]. My mom couldn’t get us in the same school.”

The Arevalo family has a senior, Solomon, who attends Pacifica and a freshman, Janelle, who attends Oxnard High School, even though they are living in the Hueneme High School boundaries.

According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, nearly 40 percent of schools reported transfering students to accommodate overcrowding.

In the NCES 2005 Fast Response Survey System (FRSS), it found:

 “The percentage of principals who said that they considered their school to be overcrowded (15 percent; table 2) was not significantly different from the percentage who indicated that their school was more than 5 percent over their design capacity (10 percent at 6 to 25 percent over capacity, plus 8 percent at more than 25 percent over capacity).

Directing the school bond to help the Oxnard Union’s issue of overcrowding, continues to be in negotation.

In an Oxnard Union High School District board meeting of May 2012, district leaders have their eye on farmland north of Wooley Road and east of Harbor Boulevard. However, members of the Cooluris Family Trust, who own the land, have no intention to sell.

In a statement given at the meeting, Ann C. Diacos, property owner, said that they wanted to perserve the farmlands in Venutra County insisting that they decline the boards offer.

According to the California Department of Conservation’s Farmland Mapping Program, Ventura County in 2010 contained 316,666 acres of agricultural land.

The amount of agricutural land is less than the years before due to its lost to the development.

Even though voters have approved laws intended to protect farmland and open space from development, the county has lost nearly 9,000 acres of farmland to development since 1992, reported by Ventura County Agricultural Commissioner.

The members of the Cooluris Family Trust are looking to perserve their farmland and not lose it to the development.

In an interview with Ventura County Star, Superintendent Gabe Soumakian said the board might go through eminent domain to acquire the Cooluris property, which in his words “is very fair process. It forces the evaluation of the property to determine a fair value”.

If the Oxnard Union High School District can finalize the design phase of the project, then the new Oxnard high school is projected to open in 2016.

The new Oxnard High School is to accomdate 2,250 students and focus on marine biology and agriculture, reports VC Star.

Voters of Measure H can finally see some of their money be put into construction this year with the opening of Rancho Campana high school in Camarillo.

Camarillo’s new high school is looking to open Fall of 2015.

Courtesy of:

Rancho Campana under construction   Courtesy of:

Rancho Campana high school is a 28 acre site in Camarillo, near the Camarillo Public Library. According to the new high school’s website, RCHS will open with 200 ninth-graders and 200 10th-graders.

Adding 200 students in each of the following two years, will bring the school its capacity of 800 students.

A lottery system is in place if there is more than 200 students applying for enrollment within each class grade.

“We’re not exactly sure how many (from each school’s attendance area) will enroll,” said Rio Mesa Prinicipal, William Dabbs .

Camarillo currently has one high school, Adolfo Camarillo High School, which is home to about 2,600 students. It was designed to hold about  400 less than that.

Families in the surrounding Camarillo area will be recieving application packets November 1, which will have important dates listed like when the selecting process for students will begin, December 5 – January 16.

The new Camarillo high school will be a smaller campus then its neighboring campuses, however will provide enough room to help Rio Mesa and Pacifica from experiencing overcrowding the years to come.

In late June 2014, the Oxnard Union supplied an updated report on the “Building fund (MEASURE H) financial and performance audits“, stating the long-term obligations and where the bond money is getting directed to at what time.

District Interim Superintendent Bob Carter told VC Star that officials plan to work closely with the various agencies to help ease the planning for the upcoming Oxnard campus and fix the matter of overcrowding.

“We need to work in a collaborative way to go through this process,” Carter said.

Without a set plan and dates keeping the project on board, the Oxnard Union might lose the state grant money that continues to come in for the renovations and new schools.

Rio Mesa High School Image by Raelene Kajkowski

Rio Mesa High School
Image by Raelene Kajkowski





Oxnard High School Image by Raelene Kajkowski

Oxnard High School
Image by Raelene Kajkowski


Mexican girl wrongly sent to the U.S. based on a scar

(AP Photo/Mario Armas)

(AP Photo/Mario Armas)   

A 14 year old girl was abducted from her middle school in Guanajuato on April 16 by Mexican federal police. She was transported to a courtroom in the neighboring state of Michoacan after a Houston women claimed she was her long lost daughter.

According to Huffington Post, Alondra Luna Nunez has returned home to her family in Mexico after a week long trial.

“The other girl had a scar, but on the eyebrow, and I have one on my nose. I mean all this was stirred up over that,” said Alondra, 14, to The Associated Press on Wednesday during an emotional reunion with her real family. “The judge said, ‘No, it’s her,’ and that was that.”

The Nunez family tried to fight the allegations  and prove their daughter’s identity with documents such as birth certificates, baptismal records and family photos. However, the judge ruled in favor of Dorotea Garcia and Alondra was sent to the United States.

Alondra requested DNA tests to be done, however Judge Cinthia Elodia Mercado said it wasn’t within her authority to order a DNA test.

The video of her being forced into a police car after the trial went viral, causing an uproar and a public demand for an investigation. A Mexican consulate in Houston conducted the test and sure enough, Alondra was identified as a Nunez once more.

Watch the video of Alondra’s abduction by USA Today:

Say goodbye to the infamous dollar menus

With the cross country protests and marches demanding an increase on minimum wage April 15, Tax Day, fast food corporations are threatening to rise the amount of burgers and fries, putting an end to the dollar menu.

NZX 50 Index Constituent Companies

David Edgerton, Burger King co-founder, told Time magazine on Wednesday that the demand for $15 per hour minimum wage will come at a cost.

“You’re not going to get these dollar hamburgers anymore that both Burger King and McDonald’s had. I see a lot of $10 hamburgers arriving on the scene,” said Edgerton.

“An increase in pay to $15 would push up fast-food prices by nearly 20 percent,” said Arindrajit Dube, an economics professor at the University of Massachusetts in an interview with the New York Times. “Which means a $15 wage would mean wage increases averaging around 60 percent, raising the cost of a $3 hamburger to $3.50 or $3.60.”

That price is no where near the $10 hamburger Burger King co-founder is indicating.

So have no fear, the dollar menu is going no where. It might just turn into the dollar fifty menu.



Gas chamber executions now can be found in America

Oklahoma legislature approved a bill to bring back gas chambers as a form of death penalty on Thursday. Huffington Post reports that the vote was 41-0 in favor of the bill, which means that death row inmates may be executed by inhaling nitrogen hypoxia.

Photo By: Emily Kinni of

Photo By: Emily Kinni of

The primary form of execution by Oklahoma is the lethal injection, however due to a decrease in the drug Oklahoma needed to find a backup alternative.

Many state correction departments requested local compounding pharmacies to mix up an alternative drug, however the American Pharmacists Association insisted that pharmacies have no part in the executions.

Supporters of the bill say the nitrogen hypoxia is to be more humane, due to the nitrogen gas which drains the oxygen source  in the blood. According to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the earlier 1942 procedures involved gas that would cause suffocation.

Graph by Death Penalty Information Centre

According to the Death Penalty Information Centre, there has been 11 executions using gas chambers since 1976 by Arizona, California, Missouri, and Wyoming. As of October 2014, the DPIC reports Oklahoma has 49 death row inmates awaiting execution.

As the inmates await their sentence, the House waits for a signature by Gov. Mary Fallin on the approval of gas chamber executions.




Defense Secretary Ashton Carter speaks on national security and expanding budget

Defense Secretary Ashton Carter addressed the State Department’s Global Chiefs of Mission Conference Thursday afternoon in the Benjamin Franklin Room of the State Department in Washington D.C.

Carter’s keynote luncheon addressed expanding the defense budget for 2016, national security challenges, as well as support to strengthen inter-agency cooperation in terms of national security and trade priorities.

Carter opened up his speech with an update about his meeting with Afghan leaders, President Ghani and Dr. Abdullah, together they addressed Afghanistan’s political, economic, and military future.Secretary of State John Kerry brought them together into a national unity government, which will make adjustments that promote America’s goal of ensuring a long campaign in Afghanistan lead to lasting success.

Carter addressed the state’s need for a bigger budget in 2016 stating, “70,000 State Department personnel, including nearly 14,000 Foreign Service professionals, serve our nation around the world and here in Washington.” The expansion in the departments have required the need to expand the defense budget.

With the ability of action from each individual department, Carter states that working together and maintaining cooperation will lead to a lasting effect.

Defense Secretary quotes Benjamin Franklin who says, “well done is better than well said.” He makes a claim that investing in a whole-of-government way is better than theorizing or to strategize.

Deputy Secretary Blinken introducing Defense Secretary Ashton Carter. Photo Cred: CSPAN

Deputy Secretary Blinken introducing Defense Secretary Ashton Carter. Photo Cred: CSPAN

Working towards the future, Carter addresses Congress to support the desire to invest in future prosperity. He states, “new trade agreements, including Trade Promotion Authority for the President.  We must be allowed to clinch new and historic trade agreements spanning from Europe to Asia.”

Carter breaks down the emerging middle class statistics of consumers and the rise and fall of numbers within Asia and other merging markets outside of our borders. As global trade intensifies, he hopes America’s economy will not be left behind and by doing so, we must have security and lasting partnerships.

The Secretary of Defense ends his speech with the idea that it is our values that will sustain global leadership and continue to inspire new generations.