Santa Paula Times

Letters to the Editor

June 23, 2000
Congratulations! To the Editor:We would like to congratulate all of the seniors that graduated from Santa Paula Union High School Friday evening. Job well done! You should be very proud of yourselves.Also, a big congratulations to all the seniors that received prestigious awards for scholarships and their achievements in high school. It was very nice to see so many receive awards and be recognized.To the Class of 2000, we salute you and wish you all the best in the future.Dennis and Susan Montoya & FamilySanta PaulaQuality of educationTo the Editor:As a senior at Santa Paula High School I responded to a questionnaire recently from the Santa Paula Times asking the opinions about our experiences at the high school. I answered a question in such a way that it was unacceptable to the powers that be in the school administration. It never passed the scrutiny of a school committee, and so I feel I must publish it on my own as a letter to the editor.The six question form asked what us seniors thought about the changes made at the high school during our stay. I took the opportunity to express the long felt sentiment of myself and many of my classmates who were perceptive enough to notice the defects of our school system to date. My response to this question was as follows:“I believe that the changes at the high school during my time there have been destructive to the institution. Students are forced to take tests not for their own good, but to enhance the supervisor’s own image, and make up for the school’s traditionally low SAT scores. School administrators have published lists of accomplishments which misrepresent the status of education going on at the school.The now popular ‘Ag. Academy’ is another change for the worse. It lures high caliber students away from high level math and science courses into the ‘fun-and-games’ curriculum of the Ag program. Although the program claims to provide good jobs in agricultural areas of employment the fact is that without classes such as chemistry and advanced biology, a fair paying job in agriculture is unlikely.Recently school supervisor Brand gave himself yet another raise, while the actual teachers got nothing. Brand’s job is meaningless and he shouldn’t be making a dime, yet he makes two or three times as much as the average teacher at Santa Paula High School. A new administration should be appointed with the objective of education in mind, not personal enrichment.The famous ‘de-tracking’ that has taken place, eliminating standard track classes and making all the classes not standard, College Prep (CP), or honors, but CP, honors and Advanced Placement (AP), has in effect done nothing. There are still three levels of education going on at SPHS, the very same three that existed before ‘de-tracking’ but with different names.The common thread which runs through every change is the benefit to the administration who bask in good publicity through their programs which do nothing to improve the quality of our education. If I had only one thing to change it would be to elect an honest administration who care about our future.”Why should this answer be unacceptable for anyone to hear? Why shouldn’t anyone be allowed to know what the school’s own students think of the quality of education they live with? The answer is simple. William Brand and his cohorts in the school administration are afraid of any bad news that might harm their reputations.They chose to ignore the comments of one of their students because it was deemed harmful to their own jobs; it probably didn’t occur to them that it might be harmful to our education if it was never known. The truth is that the so-called “college prep” class is an easy class filled with students who will never attend college. Even the higher “advanced placement” and “honors” classes have only a fraction of students headed for a four year college/university right out of high school. The truth is so many other things that if known will hurt Brand and the administration, but will it hurt education at Santa Paula High School? Isn’t truth what education is all about?David FerrierSanta PaulaConcerned about safetyTo the Editor:What if your house caught on fire today and you were trapped inside your bedroom - and even though one fire truck arrived, the firefighters could not come in to rescue you until 6-10 minutes later when a second engine arrived? It only takes four minutes for smoke to fill a room and kill the people trapped inside. OSHA federal regulation prohibits one firefighter from entering a burning structure alone. And, despite the fact that Santa Paula Fire Department has the second busiest fire station in the county (with an average of 1,800 calls per year), they still only run a two person engine company during weekdays. So essentially, the two firefighters in this situation would be rendered powerless until more firefighters could be paged, dispatched, and arrive on a scene - a delay that could be fatal.Or what if your child drowned in the bathtub today and help didn’t arrive until 11 minutes from when you placed the 911 phone call? In only four minutes, a child who is not breathing can begin to develop permanent brain damage.To further explain, the way that Santa Paula City runs its fire department is that only one station is manned all the time. So, if the two (or sometimes three) firefighters on duty are called to a medical call, and another call comes in while they are out, then part time, paid call firefighters are paged from their regular jobs to fill the second call. This can cause a delay of 5 or 10 extra minutes - which, when dealing with a drowning child, for example, is much, much too long. Having only two or three firefighters on duty at a time is hardly adequate for a city of 30,000 people.Any community would be outraged by the inadequacy of these emergency services, but in Santa Paula, our city officials KNOW the risk they put us at every single day, and still do nothing at all to improve the situation.Don’t get me wrong, I am not complaining about the firefighters themselves. As a matter of fact, I’d like to commend them for continuing to work under such challenging and unreasonable situations as these - for less than HALF the salaries of other firefighters in Ventura County. Not only does our City Council show complete disregard for our community’s safety, but it also refuses to fairly compensate these committed firefighters who risk their lives in these conditions every day!For example, a Fire Captain for Ventura City fire department makes an annual base salary of $64,668, while the SAME position in Santa Paula pays $34,520! An Engineer for Oxnard City makes $52,860. In Santa Paula the same engineer will make $33,169. And while a Ventura County Firefighter position will pay a base salary of $48,792, Santa Paula won’t even hire a full time Firefighter. As a matter of fact, this department only operates with eight full time employees: 1 Fire Chief, 1 Assistant Chief, 3 Captains, and 3 Engineers. Then they attempt to fill in the holes with up to 28 paid call firefighters that are expected to be on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for even less pay than the other positions. Even the Chief of the department himself makes 43.24% lower than the county’s average. (The national average of a fire department’s cost per capita is $96.25, 750% more than Santa Paula’s cost per capita of only $12.77!) (These salaries were obtained recently by a telephone survey of neighboring departments.)In addition to this startling information, much of the equipment that belongs to our fire department is unsafe or outdated. For example, the NFPA recommends replacing all apparatus at least every 10 years - yet, out of the five fire engines that Santa Paula has, four of them are over 10 years old (one was manufactured in 1954!).It is clear that the people running Santa Paula have a complete disregard for our community’s safety and the well being of the firefighters who risk their lives for us every day. I am urging all of the citizens of Santa Paula to demand that our city council members reflect on the shortcomings of our undervalued fire department, and work immediately to change its condition. Because, next time it could be your family’s loss - a loss that could have been prevented, if only our council members had been forced to take their responsibility to our community seriously.
Genevieve BrancoSanta PaulaPriceless supportTo the Editor:On behalf of the Mupu School Community Club I would like to thank the following for helping to make our Chicken Bar-B-Que a success: Familia Diaz, Pollo Bravo, Laird’s Butcher Shop, Logsdon’s Restaurant, La Cabaña, Vons, Dr. Chuck Stewart, and Don and Debbie Johnson for the publicity they donate for school functions.A special thank you to our Community Club volunteers and all of you who generously helped us in selling 200 dinners in less than two hours.Being a small school and receiving this kind of financial support is priceless.Laura TeagueSecretary, Mupu Community ClubSanta PaulaFireworks S.O.S.To the Editor:HELP!!! You may or may not be aware of the cost to bring fireworks to our great city. On average it is close to $10,000 to put on a firework display similar to the one you enjoyed last 4th of July.Fortunately, some of the businesses have generously contributed by sponsoring, and some citizens around town have also chipped in, but as of right now our citizen donations are approximately $500 versus $3,000 by the same time last year.Please help all of the volunteers who have given so much of their personal time to bring a fun and colorful 4th to all the people of Santa Paula.We all are the ones who benefit from your generosity, $1 per person is all it takes (or more). Don’t let this be the last year for fireworks. Send donations to the Santa Paula Chamber of Commerce, 200 N. 10th St., Santa Paula, CA 93060.I personally would like to thank all who have contributed to ensuring a great 4th of July.See you at the Air Fair, 4th of July.Cheryl FairbanksSanta PaulaFor SOARTo the Editor:My decision to support and work on behalf of SOAR is not a shallow selfish or ignorant one. It stems from living in Orange County and seeing it change and being frustrated and powerless to stop it.My country became mini malls, housing tracts and a sea of cement and cars mired in endless traffic jams. The sky once so crystal clear and blue became a murky brown blue causing my eyes to tear and coughing spells.Most important is my religious faith which obligates me to be a steward of the earth.Marybeth K. PowerSanta Paula