Bank Urging Businesses to Help School District

Ventura County National Bank's Westlake Village branch is launching a program next week aimed at getting businesses in east Ventura County and Calabasas to lend speakers, mentors and surplus equipment to the Las Virgenes School District.

The 13-school district borders Ventura and Los Angeles counties. It has been a customer of the Westlake branch for about eight years.

VCNB has invited 50 companies to participate in an Oct. 18 meeting announcing the planned Corporate Alliance. Amgen Inc., Procter & Gamble and other large corporations, along with Ventura County Cablevision, local restaurants, realtors, car dealers and other smaller businesses are being sought as participants.

"Our customers in the Westlake office are mostly businesses," said VCNB spokeswoman Mary Stanley. "With all the cutbacks in the schools, and all the advances in technology, schools are having a tough time keeping up. Rather than go to businesses and say, 'Give us money,' we're asking them for resources."

Stanley said the program would provide classroom speakers to lead workshops on business-related themes, such as the use of the Internet. Businesses, she said, would also be asked to donate equipment they are no longer using and to allow students to visit their work sites.

To sell businesses on the idea, Stanley said VCNB will stress the need for a well-educated student population.

"One of the drawing cards for economic development, to get businesses to locate here, is high SAT scores, but those are at risk," she said. "Every business in this area has a vested interest in seeing that our schools are high quality. And years down the line, when they go to recruit, are they going to have people who are qualified or who have a substandard education?"

Stanley said the Corporate Alliance will serve as a pilot program that VCNB officials hope will attract other area school districts and businesses.

"It would be wonderful if businesses embraced this," she said. "We'd love to help schools closer to our home office in Ventura too."

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