Panel Disagrees on Boundaries for High Schools : Ventura: A larger parents' committee reaches consensus on proposals involving the district's elementary and middle schools.


A committee of Ventura parents, charged with improving a plan to redraw boundaries for the city's public schools, has been unable to agree on how Buena and Ventura high school boundaries should change, committee members said Thursday.

The 63-member committee, which began studying a Ventura Unified redistricting plan more than three months ago, has reached consensus on suggested changes to boundaries for elementary and middle schools in the 15,000-student district.

But a smaller group of parents assigned to redraw boundaries for the city's two high schools, unable to agree on a single proposal, has come up with three separate plans, parents said.

The committee is scheduled to cast ballots and choose one of the three plans as its recommendation to the school board at a meeting at 7 p.m. Monday at Buena High.

One of the plans is to accept the district's suggested changes for the two schools, which were proposed a year ago, said Jean Rudolph, a retired district administrative assistant who assembled the committee's proposals. The other plans pit residents of Ventura's Montalvo neighborhood against hillside-area residents who live north of Foothill Road, she said.

"The basic thing from the beginning was the high school issue and it's still the issue," said Rudolph, who has served as the district's expert on the boundary changes. "It's never going to be resolved with 100% satisfaction."

Parent Sally Kosoff, who served on the high school subcommittee, said she favors the district plan, which would send some students north of Foothill Road who attend Buena High to Ventura High instead.

"I just think in the long term it's going to work out best for the city, even though some people are going to have to make sacrifices," said Kosoff, whose children attend Balboa Middle School and Serra elementary. Her children would go to Buena instead of Ventura under the district's proposed plan, but Kosoff said she believes that the two schools are equally good.

But some hillside parents who served on the committee want to keep the boundaries as they are, allowing their children to go to nearby Buena rather than to more distant Ventura, committee members said.

The committee's third high school proposal calls for continuing to send children who attend Montalvo elementary to Buena High later, rather than transferring them to Ventura High, as the district plan proposes, committee member Steve Magoon said.

"In some regards it is better; it cuts down on the busing," Magoon said.

Initially, the conflict over high school boundaries was rooted in part in a longstanding perception that Buena High is the better of the two schools, Rudolph said.

During committee study sessions, however, "everyone agreed that Ventura High was just as good a school," Rudolph said. "It boiled down to distance, and that's something that just can't be helped because of the location of the two schools."

One of the main reasons that the district is redrawing boundaries is because both Buena High and Ventura High are west of Victoria Avenue, but the bulk of the district's enrollment comes from neighborhoods east of Victoria Avenue. Many students who live in eastern Ventura, closer to Buena High, are now bused to Ventura High.

"It's a matter of who is going to be transported," Rudolph said. "I think a majority of the people have agreed that it is not fair to bus the students from the far east end just so that others can go to Buena. That will be the issue Monday night."

The parents will also decide whether to recommend elementary and middle school boundary changes, which were drawn up in separate subcommittees. Suggested elementary and middle school levels include:

* Keeping Cabrillo Middle School open rather than possibly closing it, but redrawing and simplifying the school's boundaries to send more children closer to other middle schools nearer their homes.

* Closing Oak View elementary and moving those students to Arnaz elementary. The two schools already share a principal.

* Retaining bilingual programs at Will Rogers and Juanamaria elementary schools to maintain current racial balances, rather than moving them to other schools, as the district plan proposes.

* Transferring elementary students who live in the Rincon area to Pierpont School rather than to Sheridan Way elementary.

After the committee vote Monday, the proposals will be presented to the board later this month, Rudolph said. Board members could decide to hold more public hearings, or may schedule a vote on the proposals for a later meeting, she said.

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