State intervenes in financially troubled Ojai Unified
State financial crisis consultants have intervened in the fiscal woes of Ojai Unified, which has been impacted by declining enrollment, budgeting errors, inflation and an impasse with the teachers union, the VC Star reported.
The small district in Ventura County has seen enrollment drop by almost half since 2000, according to the report. As revenues fell, district leaders planned to cut $3 million from the budget but then backed off the plan, in hopes that state Covid funding would make up the budget shortfall. The funding was not enough, however, and the district dipped further into its reserves, triggering an audit from the county, according to the report.
Meanwhile, talks with the teachers and classified staff unions have stalled.
“There are a lot of credibility issues that are having us question the validity of what is being told to us,” Richard Byrd, interim president of the Ojai Federation of Teachers, said. “The trust in the community has been very damaged. Teachers are feeling it.”
The district board held a special meeting last week to discuss the issues.