Dear OPUSD Families, Welcome to the 2022-23 school year! We are getting close to the first day of school: Tuesday, August 9, 2022 and our faculty and staff are looking forward to welcoming our students on campus. I am excited about the start of this school year. This is the first year in several that feels somewhat “normal.” This year #TeamOPUSD will be making an even stronger commitment toward strengthening our “ Culture and Climate of Care. ” The positive connections that our teachers, administrators, counselors, and support staff make with our students daily are critical not only to students' academic success but also to their overall wellness. I’ve always said, “ our students don’t care what we know until they know that we care .” At OPUSD, it is important to the Board of Education and my team that our students are at the center of every decision we make. We are also equally committed to academic excellence and character development to ensure all students have the knowledge and skills to achieve their potential and pursue their talents and passions. Moreover, we have highly skilled, dedicated, and committed teachers, support staff, counselors, and administrators who will be working hard each day to provide your child(ren) with a world-class education. As staff and as parents and guardians, individually and collectively, we must remind ourselves that some of our students will need additional care and support as we bring them up to grade level standards due to the learning gaps created by two and half years of impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, school closures, virtual learning, etc. This year mental health and safety are at the heart of our work in order to provide nurturing, impactful, and memorable educational experiences for our OPUSD community. Additional multi-tiered systems of support at elementary schools and wellness counseling at secondary schools will drive our focus on the social-emotional well-being of our students and staff. Perimeter school fencing, locked classroom doors, consistent use of the Raptor visitor check-in and management system at all school sites, and enhanced safety training and protocols will further support safe & secure schools districtwide. Please be assured that as we continue to remain vigilant about the mental health and safety of our students and staff, we are also committed to resuming as many pre-covid practices as possible, including day and overnight fieldtrips, back-to-school nights, staff meetings and gatherings, open houses, and other school events organized by the schools and our Parent Faculty Organizations. My fondest memories from last year were our in-person end-of-the-year events, concerts, musicals, award ceremonies, celebrations, and graduation honoring our students, staff, and families. These were a true reflection of our care and commitment to education, community engagement, and our students. COVID-19 PROTOCOLS OPUSD will continue to follow COVID-19 DK-12 Guidance for public schools , which was issued by CDPH on June 30, 2022. This guidance asks districts to manage COVID-19 in a “sustainable and adaptive manner.” Our COVID Safety team will review and share all updated guidance in a timely manner. The district will continue to make important COVID-19 decisions in collaboration with VCPH, CDPH, and VCOE. Masks are still strongly recommended indoors but not mandatory. It is critical that everyone is allowed to make their personal choice regarding masking. Our school offices will provide masks for students and staff who would like to utilize them. COVID notification protocols and dashboard updates will be the same as last year, with notifications being sent to groups rather than individual contact tracing. Here are a few reminders for students who test positive:
Monitor symptoms and stay home if sick and test if you experience covid like symptoms.
Report positive test results by submitting this form at www.opusd.org/COVIDReporting .
Stay home and isolate for at least 5 days.
Isolation can end after day 5 if symptoms are not present or are resolving and a diagnostic covid antigen test taken after day 5 or later is negative. These results should be sent to Covid@opusd.org, and a team member will provide clearance for return.
Students who return after day five and before day 10 of the last positive diagnosis are strongly recommended to wear masks until day 10 if cleared to return.
If fever or other symptoms are present and are not resolving, the isolation must continue until fever/symptoms resolve or 10 days.
For additional questions, please contact the COVID team at Covid@opusd.org . SCHOOL SAFETY Our district and school site leaders participated in a full-day team experience, which we call the Leadership Retreat. We connected with one another and reviewed expectations and opportunities to increase student learning, well-being, and school safety. Our Safety Consultant, retired Ventura County Sheriff Commander Pentis, also visited each school and reviewed safety concerns with the site administration. Commander Pentis will also be providing training for all staff at each school in the upcoming months. We will also be scheduling information sessions for families with Commander Pentis in the upcoming months. FOCUS AND PRIORITIES FOR THE 2022-2023 SCHOOL YEAR Our focus in 2022-23 will be on the whole student, and we will be working towards fostering a culture of celebration and recognition for the amazing things that happen at our schools each and every day. I want to assure you our focus on a positive climate and culture will guide us while we maintain our commitment to accountability and safety for all. Please continue to communicate openly with our team here at OPUSD, and as always, please remember to contact your child’s teacher first or our school counselors with any concerns. My team and I are committed to challenging ourselves as leaders to delve into deeper discussions of how we can work together to better support students, teachers, staff, and families this year. We have frequently been meeting to assess our strengths and opportunities to improve the district’s processes. Collaborative work between my staff and families will be key in providing an exceptional learning environment for all our students, which is focused on social, emotional, and academic growth. On behalf of the Governing Board, my leadership team, and the entire staff of OPUSD, I look forward to welcoming our students on August 9th. Dr. Jeff Davis, Superintendent #TeamOPUSD
Dear OPUSD families, I am very excited to begin my first full school year as the new Director of Student Nutrition! Our staff is working hard and is looking forward to welcoming back students! I look forward to continuing OPUSD’s mission of serving high-quality, sustainable, delicious, scratch-cooked meals to our students. Our goal is to provide a healthy and tasty breakfast and lunch to our students to fuel them for their day of learning and growing. We continually strive to improve our quality and service and always welcome suggestions or comments. Thank you for participating in our Child Nutrition Services program! For 2022-23, through the California Universal Meals program, all OPUSD students eat free – each student may receive up to one free breakfast and one free lunch daily. Due to a combination of federal and state funding sources that depend on free or reduced-price meal eligibility, all student meals must be tracked, and an accurate count of meals served needs to be reported to the state. MEAL TRACKING PROCESS
At MCMS, OPHS, and OVHS, we will be scanning student IDs.
At MCMS and OPHS, students should carry their ID cards with them and scan them as they go through the cafeteria line.
At OVHS, students should order meals through Elinor Wight, the Student Services Assistant. Students may pick up their meal, as well as purchase snacks, during the scheduled break at the OVHS Snack Shack window.
For OPIS, any students interested in receiving meals should contact the Office Manager, Jennifer Burstein.
At the elementary schools, the classroom teachers will take a count of students requesting a meal from the cafeteria and provide a list of those students for the kitchen staff to scan.
For OPNS, a count will be taken of students who would like a meal, and that list will be provided to our cafeteria staff.
Please note: all students who request a meal will be provided one, even if they forget to inform their teacher (grades DK-5) or don’t have their student ID (grades 6-12).
MEAL ORDERING PROCESS CHANGE
We will not be requiring any pre-ordering of meals this year unless students fall under the exceptions listed below. Every student who wants a meal can simply come to the cafeteria and receive one.
Pre-orders will be required: If your student has allergies or needs special meal accommodation, please 1) fill out our Medical Statement to Request Special Meals form, and 2) email us at email@example.com , indicating which dates and which meals (Breakfast/Lunch) are desired. If we already have a form on file for your child, you do not need to fill out the form again unless there is a change in their specific dietary restrictions.
If your student attends OVHS, they should contact Student Services Assistant Elinor Wight, and students at OPIS should contact Office Manager Jennifer Burstein to order meals.
Additionally, all students in grades 6-12 will have the option to purchase a second meal and snacks using funds in their meal accounts. Money may be added to your student's account through Q-Parent Connect , where you can also check your child’s existing cafeteria fund balance. Additional prepackaged snacks and drinks will be available for purchase at our snack bars at MCMS, OPHS, and OVHS.
Second meals and prepackaged snacks are not part of the FREE meals for students and are an optional purchase. Please make sure that funds are available in your student's meal account to facilitate the purchase. Our cafeteria staff is unable to assist students with snack purchases if there are insufficient funds in a student’s meal account. Due to the high volume of meals to provide during the limited time for breakfast and lunch and to keep the lines moving, our staff will not be accepting any payments at the register.
The CA Universal Meal program provides funding for only one free breakfast and one free lunch per day for each student.
THE STATE STILL REQUIRES FREE AND REDUCED-PRICE MEAL APPLICATIONS FOR FUNDING UNIVERSAL MEALS Although meals will be free for all, the state continues to require school districts to distribute and collect free/reduced meal applications. Free/reduced meal applications allow the district to collect essential data needed to qualify for additional school funding intended to support academic programs for your student. Additionally, free/reduced eligibility can qualify households for things such as discounted internet services, P-EBT benefits, discounted rates on your energy bill, and more. Households are encouraged to apply – HERE . MENUS Our staff is committed to sourcing and using seasonal, local, sustainable ingredients to produce delicious, globally inspired menu choices. We are continuing to serve scratch-cooked meals at lunch, but due to the high volume of meals being prepared with limited time and staff, we have had to pivot slightly and are serving some pre-made options at Nutrition. Given that, we are diligent about seeking out products made by small, local businesses that use minimally processed, non-GMO ingredients with no high fructose corn syrup, artificial colors, or flavors. We are increasing our percentage of organic ingredients and sourcing from local, family-run, regenerative farms. A big change this year is that we will be serving milk again.
Preschool and elementary will be serving 1% and nonfat plain milk in cartons.
At the middle and high schools, we will be offering nonfat plain cartons as well as dispensers with 1% Straus organic milk. Straus is a family-run regenerative farm that offers premium certified organic dairy products and is a leader in the sustainable farming industry.
August menus are posted below. We are excited to introduce some new items, as well as continue to serve some of the old favorites. Please note our menus are always subject to change without notice. I will be sending notifications on the upcoming month’s menu prior to the beginning of the month to help families plan ahead if their students would like to eat a meal at school. IMPORTANT: Our menus do not contain peanuts, tree nuts, nut butters, or nut-containing ingredients. BES & ROES August Menu OHES & OPNS August Menu Grades 6-12 August Menu We hope our students will enjoy our nutritionally rich and freshly prepared meals! Please feel free to contact me with any questions you may have. For up-to-date information and menu, please visit OPUSD Nutrition and Wellness webpage at - https://www.oakparkusd.org/Page/10593 . Katherine Adams, Director of Student Nutrition and Wellness firstname.lastname@example.org
NOTICE OF ELECTION
OAK PARK UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT BOARD OF EDUCATION
Notice is hereby given to all qualified persons that an election will be held in Oak Park, County of Ventura, State of California, on the 8th day of November 2022 consolidated with the general election for the purpose of electing: Three (3) Members of the Oak Park Unified School District Governing Board
If you are interested in running for the public office of a Governing Board member of the Oak Park Unified School District, the terms of Drew Hazelton, Derek Ross, and Soyon Hardy will end on December 9, 2022. Candidates, including these board members/incumbents seeking election or re-election for a 4-year term, must file their Declaration of Candidacy (nomination papers) during the Nomination Period – between Monday, July 18, 2022 and Friday, August 12, 2022 . This information is also posted on our website at - www.opusd.org/BoardElections .
THINKING ABOUT BEING A SCHOOL BOARD MEMBER? School board members are elected by voters within the school district. School board elections are part of the general election in even-numbered years. The Board of Education is the governing body of the Oak Park Unified School District. It is an elected five-member entity, with each individual board member serving a four-year term. The primary responsibilities of the Board of Education include setting district policy, establishing district goals, ensuring that the district is compliant with Federal, State, and Local requirements, creating/approving a budget that prioritizes the established goals, and maintaining contractual relationships with the Oak Park Teachers Association and the Oak Park Classified Association. The Board is also responsible for employing the Superintendent, as well as being the unit to whom the Superintendent is accountable. Together, the Board of Education and the Superintendent form the Governance Team, working collaboratively to fulfill the unique responsibilities of each entity. The Board fulfills its responsibilities by way of action at regularly scheduled monthly Board meetings as well as special meetings when warranted. Board policies and goals establish the structure and create the environment for ensuring that the needs of all students are met. The Board provides support to its organization by ensuring that resources available are aligned to meet established goals and provide for the needs of all students. BOARD MEMBERS MUST BE:
18 years of age or older.
A citizen of the state of CA.
A resident of Oak Park.
A registered voter.
Not disqualified by the Constitution or laws of the state to hold a civil office.
RUNNING FOR OFFICE
A district employee elected to the Board shall resign their position before being sworn in or shall have their employment automatically terminated upon being sworn into office. OPUSD Board Bylaw 9220 Governing Board Elections and (Education Code 35107)
The position of the Oak Park Unified School District Board of Education Member is unpaid.
Any person who has been convicted of a felony involving the giving, accepting, or offering of a bribe, embezzlement or theft of public funds, extortion, perjury, or conspiracy to commit any such crime, under California law or the law of another state, the United States of America, or another country, is not eligible to be a candidate for office or elected as a Board member except when they have been granted a pardon in accordance with law. (Education Code 35107; Elections Code 20)
All candidates, including current Board members running as incumbents, shall abide by local, county, state, and federal requirements regarding campaign donations, funding, and expenditures.
ELECTION PROCESS Nominations are currently being accepted for candidates (including incumbents) who are interested in running for the elected office of the Oak Park Unified School District Board of Education. Interested candidates may contact the Oak Park Unified School District Office at 818-735-3200 to begin the nomination process or the County of Ventura, Office of the County Clerk, Elections Division, Hall of Administration, Lower Plaza, 800 South Victoria Avenue, Ventura. Nomination documents must be filed with the Ventura County Elections Division, Office of the County Clerk, no later than 5:00 pm on Friday, August 12, 2022. For more information, visit https://recorder.countyofventura.org/elections/ .
If a declaration of candidacy for an incumbent is not filed by August 12, 2022, any person other than the incumbent shall have until 5:00 pm on August 17, 2022, to file a declaration of candidacy for such office. ADDITIONAL INFORMATION Election Filing Schedules
General Election Calendar
Filing Schedule and Offices
Filing For Office Information Guide And Overview
Candidate Information Guide
Six Steps to File for Office Overview
Ventura County Candidate List November 8, 2022 General Election Candidate List
Role of the Board - California School Board’s Association CSBA - Role of the Board Informational Flyer
For questions, please contact OPUSD’s Communications Coordinator, Ragini Aggarwal, at email@example.com .
Dear Oak Park USD Staff and Families, We are pleased to announce the appointment of Mrs. Gia Jantz as the new principal of Medea Creek Middle School. A broad group of stakeholders comprised of parents, teachers, support staff, administrators, and board members were involved in the selection of Mrs. Jantz.
With 16 years of middle school experience, Gia is an accomplished educator and leader. She is adept at building relationships that focus on creating a safe and welcoming school environment where all students can reach their full potential. Most recently, Gia has served as the Assistant Principal of A.E. Wright Middle School and Las Virgenes Independent School in the Las Virgenes Unified School District (LVUSD). Before this, she was the Dean of Students at Colina Middle School in the Conejo Valley Unified School District (CVUSD). Prior to her administrative experience, Gia taught seventh-grade English for several years and also served as English department chair at Sycamore Canyon School (K-8) in CVUSD. A lifelong educator passionate about middle school, Gia has also served as an instructional, restorative justice, and intervention coach.
Gia grew up in Thousand Oaks and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies and a Master of Arts in Education with a focus on teaching. She and her husband, Michael, live in Woodland Hills with their two fur babies, Rooney and Cali.
Gia’s philosophies and vision are grounded in the belief that all students can learn and that schools must prepare students to be compassionate members of the community who can truly reach their full potential when surrounded by a climate of care within their school. She is familiar with the traditions and successful practices at Medea Creek Middle School. I am confident that her passion for student learning and creating a collaborative school community, along with her diverse leadership expertise, is an excellent match for Medea Creek Middle School and the Oak Park Unified School District.
I have complete confidence in Gia’s leadership and ability to collaborate with a diverse school community. She will continue the long-standing tradition of excellence and work with our dedicated staff to ensure that all students are provided a positive learning environment and gain the skills they need to succeed in high school.
I want to thank the staff, parents, administrators, and board members who participated in the selection process. Please join me in extending a warm welcome to Mrs. Gia Jantz as the new principal of Medea Creek Middle School. Dr. Jeff Davis, Superintendent
Mrs. Gia Jantz
Dear OPUSD Families, I hope you are enjoying your summer break and finding time to do all the relaxing and restful activities that sometimes are difficult to schedule during the school year. Our entire school community deserves this much-needed time away from school after a highly challenging last two years. SCHOOL SAFETY The #1 priority we have as a school district is to do all we can to have the safest school campuses for our students and staff here in Oak Park. At the June 14th Board meeting, the Board of Education approved the hiring of retired Ventura County Sheriff Commander Randy Pentis to serve as our school safety consultant for the ‘22-23 school year. Commander Pentis has worked in tactical operations, critical incidents, SWAT, and mass casualty incidents. He is a leader and has served virtually in every critical incident position, from unit leader to incident commander. Commander Pentis has developed and delivered “Emergency Preparedness” training throughout the California Educational System from San Francisco to San Diego. Over 25,000 teachers and administrators have been trained in his “ Be Aware, Be Prepared and Be Safe ” presentation. His subject matter addresses life from work to home and beyond. We are very fortunate to have secured the services of Commander Pentis, a nationally recognized expert in school safety. Nationally and locally, the tragedy in Uvalde, Texas, in late May brought to the forefront the critical importance of reviewing and strengthening safety protocols in our district. Thank you to the staff for providing us with important feedback via the Safety Survey sent on June 7th by Mr. Benioff, Director of Student Support and School Safety. I have reviewed the feedback provided by staff with Mr. Benioff and Commander Pentis. OPUSD embodies Climate of Care, and we take the safety of our students and staff very seriously, whether this means implementing COVID protocols, social-emotional learning and wellness, and facilities upgrades such as additional security fencing/gates. In preparation for returning to school for the 2022-23 school year, our team with Commander Pentis will be:
Checking locks on doors and gates
Testing radios, phones, and PA systems
Scheduling emergency and situational awareness training for all employees
Review all of our current safety/security protocols, procedures, and communications
Review our lockdown and evacuation procedures
Reinstate the visitor sign-in, use of the Raptor identification system, and ID badges
Implement an Emergency Response Alert System
Hold Informational meetings for students, parents/guardians on school safety.
Together we will continue to ensure that the highest safety standards are in place for everyone on campus. In addition, we also have a strong and long-established partnership with the Ventura County Sheriff. Their deputies work closely with our school sites and are familiar with our campuses. Moreover, we also work closely and have a strong relationship with local Ventura County Fire Department Station # 36 on Deerhill and the California Highway Patrol (traffic on Kanan Road is their jurisdiction). COVID-19 GUIDANCE FROM CDPH The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) released new COVID-19 health guidance for K-12 schools . This new guidance addresses COVID-19 safety mitigation strategies, hygiene, and the responsibilities of schools and families. As we continue to live alongside COVID-19, our students and staff's safety and well-being will remain a top priority. Our collective actions to utilize proven safety measures keep students in classrooms for in-person instruction, which is critical to their development. Vaccinations The state strongly recommends all eligible people get vaccinated and remain up-to-date with their vaccinations to reduce virus transmission. Ventilation The District follows The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) standards for air quality and uses the highest-grade filters compatible with our HVAC systems. Masking Masks will continue to be strongly recommended at our schools, and we will provide school offices with masks for staff and students. COVID Testing CDPH’s schools testing framework for the 2022-2023 school year recommends that antigen tests be considered the primary option for detecting COVID-19 in schools, compared to molecular-based lab tests. This includes both the professional, on-site antigen tests as well as the OTC at-home antigen tests, which have been effective in identifying persons who have infectious levels of all known variants of SARS-CoV-2. We provided free on-site PCR testing at our schools through the end-to-end testing services funded by CDPH. Our district's operational support will end on July 31, 2022 and we will not be able to continue with the PCR testing. Please be on the lookout for information from the school administration regarding the distribution of free take-home antigen tests for students and staff. We will be requesting that all students and staff take a rapid antigen test prior to returning. Starting August 1, 2022, CDPH will be offering more distributions of COVID-19 OTC tests for schools. We will continue providing these tests for staff and students as needed. Protocols for COVID Symptoms It is strongly recommended that staff and students wear a mask and test immediately if they show COVID-like symptoms. Individuals diagnosed with COVID-19 must stay home for at least five days and provide a negative antigen test to return. We will be providing more details on COVID-19 Safety protocols before school begins. WELLNESS CENTER AND COUNSELING Another layer of safety in schools is to provide a “safe place” for students to go on campus who are dealing with anxiety and stress and/or in crisis or dealing with trauma. The Wellness Center(Room H-16) at OPHS is nearing completion and is scheduled to open in the first week of school to serve both students and staff. Two counselors and a clerk will staff the Wellness Center. Ms. Fatima Hernandez, who served as a counselor at MCMS last year, has been hired as one of our wellness counselors. We are in the process of recruiting a second counselor. Our wellness counselors will also be serving students at MCMS. In the coming weeks, we will provide more information regarding these services for OPIS and OVHS students. New Counselors at OPHS In addition, OPHS has hired a new College and Career counselor, Mrs. Amanda Fitts, and a new academic counselor, Mrs. Ranju Matson, to serve in the positions that Mrs. Julie Prince and Mr. Javier Licea previously served. Mrs. Fitts has served as the College and Career counselor at Arcadia High School for the past five years. She has also worked as a college and career counselor at Viewpoint School and Sierra Canyon School, as well as a high school academic counselor in Illinois. Mrs. Matson served as an academic counselor this past year at El Camino Real Charter High School in Woodland Hills and was a long-term substitute counselor at MCMS in the 2020-2021 school year. CHANGE IN LEADERSHIP AT MCMS Principal Jenny DaCosta has accepted the position of Chief Academic Officer at Granada Hills Charter High School. Therefore, we are currently recruiting for a new MCMS Principal. We hope to have a new Principal in place for the start of the school year. Interviews are being held early next week. Assistant Principal Samantha Gottlieb will work with the MCMS team to prepare for the start of school on August 9th. ELEMENTARY SCHOOL LEARNING SUPPORT TEACHERS To solidify and support our intervention programs at our elementary schools, the Board of Education approved the Learning Support Teacher on Special Assignment position. The following teachers will be moving into these positions at our elementary schools: Brookside - Nicole Baumann Oak Hills - Heather Sloan Red Oak - Jackie Longo These teachers will coordinate the MTSS (Multi-Tiered Systems of Support) program at their schools, which among their many responsibilities, includes the training and ongoing coaching and mentoring of our teachers and instructional aides on tiered intervention at each school Collaboration with site/district administration, site counselor and MTSS Coordinator to identify areas of student/staff needs, and improve processes based on feedback from staff, parents, and administration. ANNUAL RE-ENROLLMENT FORMS Annual Re-enrollment information will be posted on our school websites on July 25, 2022, at 9:30 am. School site-specific information related to the annual registration/re-enrollment, school schedules, and back-to-school notices will be sent by school principals next week. Our Nutrition Services department will be providing free nutrition and lunch (FREE TO ALL OPUSD students) in the 2022-2023 school year, and families will not be required to preorder meals this year. Look out for more details from our Director of Student Nutrition, Katherine Adams. DISTRICT AND SCHOOL COMMUNICATIONS OPUSD utilizes a variety of tools to communicate with students and parents, community partners, and other key stakeholders to ensure our messages are clear and our audiences are connected to all that's going on in the District. ParentSquare is a safe and secure platform for all school-to-home communication. OPUSD uses the ParentSquare platform for district, school, and teacher communications, primarily with email, text, and app notifications. ParentSquare automatically generates an account for each parent/guardian, using their preferred email address and phone number. Download the app or log into the ParentSquare web portal. If you are a current parent, you should have received an invitation to activate your account. You can also access it from parentsquare.com or by downloading the free app on Android or iOS. We hope that every family joins us on this platform. You will be able to receive information in a daily digest or email instantly. Be sure to set your preferences so that you can also receive the digest, app, and/or text notifications. Please take a moment to review the following helpful resources in ParentSquare
Click here for ParentSquare FAQs
3-minute Video Overview of ParentSquare
ParentSquare Tips for Parents/Guardians
I welcome all new to the district families and thank all our existing parents/guardians for your continued support, understanding, and cooperation this past school year. I look forward to welcoming our students and staff in the upcoming school year. Please enjoy the rest of your summer break. Dr. Jeff Davis, Superintendent