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April 19, 2014

AdministrationSuperintendent's Message    
Superintendent's Welcome Minimize


Dr. Henry S. Bangser

(805) 640-4300 ext. 1012


e-mail Hank Bangser at hbangser@ojaiusd.org


Superintendent's Message

March 21, 2014

Members of the Ojai Unified School District Community,

On March 13, I sent the report presented below to all District staff, detailing the important issues addressed at the March 11 Board Meeting. Since then, I have met with the parent leadership and the staff members from almost every school to discuss the items. Additional meetings are scheduled for next week and in early April. As always, I welcome an e-mail (hbangser@ojaiusd.org) or phone call (640-4300 x 1012) from you.

The committee’s study of the 6th grade potentially moving to Matilija in August 2015, as noted in #3, will begin soon after Spring Break. Committee meetings will be announced in the Ojai Valley News and will be open to the public. The committee will include representatives of the faculty, administration, Board of Education, and parents. The important conversation concerning the Local Control Accountability Plan will begin with public meetings in the District Office Board Room after Spring Break.  The dates and times of the meetings will be well publicized. 

Hank Bangser




1)  Danni Pusatere reported the great news that the $666,000 budget gap for 2014-15, projected in January 2014, has been eliminated. This occurred for two predominant reasons. First, after January, the state increased the pace of additional revenues to all districts provided by the new funding formula, known as LCFF. That change resulted in cutting our budget gap in half to about $330,000. Second, most of the remaining gap was eliminated by a 3.4 FTE reduction in certificated and classified staffing across the District. Most of these decreases were tied to retirements and occurred in schools where we will experience declining enrollment next school year (2013-14 District enrollment - 2,700; 2014-15 projected enrollment - 2,633). Danni also showed a 2015-16 potential budget with projected revenues that provide options we have not seen since the 2008-09 school year (e.g., potential return of all furlough days beyond the four remaining instructional days that definitely will be returned in the school calendar that year; potential decreases in class size).

2)  The Board supported my recommendation that Danni and I complete the necessary research to the Board to make a critical decision in June; specifically, whether to present to the community either a parcel tax measure or a facilities bond measure on the November 2014 ballot. You are welcome to receive a copy of the 20-page report from our financial consultant describing these options.  Based on the phone survey of our community in January, there is support for one measure or the other at some level of tax tolerance (see p. 20 for the consultant’s recommendations). Also, on p. 4 you will learn that 63% of the respondents rated the quality of education in the District as excellent or good compared with a 23% rating of either fair or poor (14% did not know). 

3)  The Board supported my recommendation to convene a committee, which I will chair, to study the advantages and disadvantages of moving the 6th grade to MJHS in August 2015.  The report of the committee would come to the Board no later than the October 14, 2014 Board Meeting.       Any Board decision would take place no later than the November 18, 2014 Board Meeting.

4)  The Board received an extensive report from Director of Elementary Education and Special Projects Marilyn Smith concerning the Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP) component of the new Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF).

5)  I reported to the Board that next school year, there will be no kindergarten at Summit School. Space will be provided for Summit kindergarteners at San Antonio.

Hank Bangser


August 27, 2013


Members of the Ojai Unified School District Community,


I offer each of you a most enthusiastic welcome to the 2013-14 school year. Whether you have ever been a parent or grandparent of an OUSD student, the school district, especially in a small town, is a treasure of the community.  As many of you are aware, the past four years have been a difficult test for the professional efforts of our staff members, with class sizes increasing and compensation decreasing due to dwindling resources from Sacramento.  I am proud to tell you that I can imagine no group of certificated and classified staff members who could have served the students of any school district in a more exemplary fashion than our faculty and support staffs have exhibited.


The revenue picture for the 2013-14 school year has improved somewhat compared with recent years. In the late spring and early summer, several important changes for the 2013-14 school year were implemented and the planning of others began. The paragraphs below describe three of these initiatives.


Due to some increases in enrollment since the June projections, all three grade-configuration components of the District (K-6, 7-8 and 9-12) now have more faculty positions allocated than were projected for the 2013-14 school year. In the next few weeks, I will be increasing by at least 50% the present $100,000 line item for classified and certificated hourly staff, designed to support our elementary school teachers, predominantly in grades K-3. When these additional staffing costs have been infused into the 2013-14 District Budget, Ms. Danni Pusatere, our District financial administrator, and I will analyze whether we can afford the expenditure required to reduce the number of furlough days for staff by a third day. On June 4, 2013, the Board of Education approved the reduction of two furlough days in the 2013-14 school year, thus returning one student instructional day and one staff development day to the school year calendar.  The third day would be scheduled as another student attendance day. 


In the academic arena, the 2013-14 school year represents the transition period away from the California Standards Tests to the enactment of significant changes in teaching and learning represented by the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). While it is unclear at this juncture what portion of the longstanding testing program will be retained in the spring of 2014, it is clear that during this school year our District will focus heavily on preparing for the full implementation of CCSS in the fall of 2014. In my opinion, CCSS is a very significant and positive step forward for the education of our students. I am excited to work with the staff on the complex challenges ahead.


In recent years, the devastating impacts of all types of bullying have challenged certificated and classified staffs around the nation. The Ojai Unified School District has not been spared from these events. While I am proud of the forthright and sensitive manner in which our staff members have handled the great majority of these cases, more formal and intensive training for all of us is needed. To that end, Jeanine Murphy, our District expert on issues involving students under the greatest emotional distress, will meet with the faculty at each school, all classified staff, students in many of our grades, and parents throughout the community to explain our more rigorous expectations and reporting protocols relating to bullying.


As always, I welcome your e-mails and/or phone calls. My relevant contact information is listed next to my photograph above.




Hank Bangser


May 30, 2013

Members of the Ojai Unified School District Community,

The month of June in Sacramento will be characterized by intense negotiations between the governor and the legislature regarding the amount of additional revenue each school district will receive next school year. My communication to you today is designed to keep you informed about the status of the 2013-14 state budget and our district’s financial condition at this juncture. 

The State Budget
I am certain that you have been reading about the improved revenue stream coming into Sacramento from various tax sources (i.e., income tax, higher sales tax after Prop. 30). The governor is committed to paying down the state debt quickly and providing a disproportionate amount of any increased revenue for schools to those districts with high percentages of low-income and/or ELL populations. Our district has lower percentages of both populations than the state average.

On June 7, several other Ventura County superintendents and I will meet with Assemblymember Das Williams. My goal is to seek his support to help the legislature slow down the governor’s repayment of the debt and infuse the K-12 education arena with more funds next year. In my opinion, and in the opinion of our Board of Education, the state should place its highest priority on restoring the funding levels of the 2007-08 school year.

Our District Budget
We will certainly receive greater overall funding next year than this year. Unfortunately, we have a significant budget gap (lower projected revenues than expenditures) created by continuing declining enrollment and our use of all available one-time sources of revenue in recent school years to retain as many staff members as possible. In that domain, I am very pleased to inform you that every teacher and almost every classified staff member who worked with us this year and who wanted to return next year will, in fact, be offered a contract for next year.

Unfortunately, we still needed to include in our projected 2013-14 school year budget the ongoing furlough days program that has been in place since the 2009-10 school year. Nothing has been finalized in that area yet.  I can tell you that there is absolute agreement among the Board of Education, leaders of both unions, Danni and me that our highest priority is to reduce the number of furlough days in the 2013-14 school year, even if we can afford only one less day.

I will communicate with you about these state and local subjects before and after our school year ends on June 12.

Hank Bangser

About Dr. Bangser Minimize

About The Superintendent...

Henry S. Bangser, Ph.D.

Dr. Bangser began his Ojai superintendency on August 17, 2009.  He spent the first eight years (1971-1979) of his 35-year career as a teacher (U.S. History, Political Science, and Constitutional Law), student council advisor, athletic coach (assistant varsity football), and assistant principal at New Trier East High School in Winnetka, IL.  From 1979-1983 he served as the Principal of Lake Forest (IL) East High School. 

He completed the first of his four superintendencies in Pelham, NY from 1983-1987.  Dr. Bangser was then appointed in 1987 as the superintendent of the St. Charles (IL) Community Unit School District, approximately 50 miles west of Chicago.  In 1990, he returned to New Trier and served as its superintendent for 16 years until he retired from that role in 2006.

Before coming to Ojai, Hank was the Chief Executive Officer of Hazard, Young, Attea, and Associates, the nation’s largest executive search firm predominately serving school boards.  He accepted the role with the understanding that he would seek to return to the superintendency in no more than four years.

Hank grew up in a small town in suburban New York City, graduated from Williams College in Massachusetts in 1970 and received his master’s degree and doctorate from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, in 1971 and 1977, respectively.  He and his wife Sara, a former Director of Major Gifts in the Development Department at Northwestern, and present senior counsel for Netzel Grigsby Associates, a California - based development consulting firm, have three children:  Jill, a community development consultant, who lives in Ventura with her husband Marc and daughters Margo, Elyse and Penelope; Marc, a family law attorney, who lives with his wife Gina in suburban Chicago; and Matt, Director of the Blum & Poe Gallery in Los Angeles and New York City, who lives in New York City with his wife Abby.


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