One Big Move: Conejo Valley High School fights for a permanent and independent facility

High School is difficult; the relationships, the studying, the maintenance of grades. For some students, this pressure can lead to an inability to succeed academically or emotionally in such an environment. However, they have a safety net: continuation schooling.

A continuation school is an alternative educative environment for students who would not be able to succeed in a traditional public school environment. Continuation schools exist across the country, and the Conejo Valley has its own: Conejo Valley High School.  

Conejo Valley High School (CVHS) is one of the oldest schools in the Conejo Valley. However, a few years ago, the Conejo Valley School District (CVUSD) sold the land on which CVHS sits. The school district also forgot to created a plan on to where the 100 or so CVHS students will go.

The district was leasing the site for $25,000 per month–the plan needed to be decided upon as 2017 began.  

One initial option was to move the kids to Horizon Hills, where a preschool currently resides. The idea had huge parental backlash. A new proposed solution was to move the campus to Waverly, an adult continuation school. This was also met with backlash, but from students and teachers. Then was the the proposal to move CVHS to Thousand Oaks High School (TOHS). Again, this was met with even stronger resistance and criticism from CVHS and TOHS faculty as well as CVHS students.

The reason that students are enrolled into continuation schools, faculty and students argued, is to keep them away from the common public school environment. To bring CVHS to TOHS would contradict the purpose of a continuation school.

“The students have made it crystal clear that they have a couple of requests. They said ‘Please find us a site that maintains our independence. Please find us a site that maintains our sense of identity.’” said school board president Mike Dunn.

By moving CVHS to TOHS, the independence and sense of identity in CVHS students would be disrupted.

During a Feb. 21, 2017 board meeting, school board member Sandee Everett proposed a new solution: move the location of CVHS to the South Building of the Jannes Rd. District Office. The South Building of the District Office was previously a school, but was currently unoccupied.

“It’s been over a year since we’ve been trying to find a solution,” Everett said.

The move was planned to take place in August, as to allow students to finish the current school year on the current property. They would then begin the next school year at the new location.
The proposed location of the district office would also have the benefits of having already up to code infrastructure and being close to the Thousand Oaks Teen center, library, senior center and a bus stop. This would give teachers the opportunity to incorporate service projects into the classroom and, although the new bus routes and commute plans have yet been planned, a simple transportation solution.
The move itself is one of the most concerning aspects of the matter. Since it is the most cost-effective decision, Everett believes that movement is unavoidable, and recognizes that moving is difficult for both students and staff.

“There is gonna be a certain difficulty in moving over there and starting anew, but no matter where we move them, there’s always going to be some kind of impact,” Everett said.

She is confident that the CVHS staff will play a key role in maintaining the positive atmosphere and effective learning environment.

The CVHS staff is specialized in supporting the specific needs and obtuse schedules of its troubled students. The school is effective, and boasts a 97 percent save rate of its students.

Aaron Loy, CVHS graduate, felt that he did not fit in when he attended Westlake High School.  
“I wasn’t up to date, I had street clothes. I didn’t look good. I always got looks like ‘what is this kid? He looks like he belongs in the garbage,’” Loy said.

He describes CVHS as more socially accepting, and having “no slander, no prejudice and certainly, I could not find anyone who would sell or give or solicit drugs”.

Small classes, with around 20 to 25 students, make the learning experience of continuation schools personal and effective.

“The staff, they treated me like family, and they cared for me. Even though I was rebellious, even though I caused problems, they did not give up on me,” Loy said.
The benefits of the continuation school onto the community are evident. As such, the continual success of the program is important.

CVHS has brought courage and pride not only to me, but I have pride in my own school. And I can can hold my head up high and say that I come from the school that led me on the correct path,” Loy said.

During the March 21, 2017 school board meeting, the CVUSD school board made a final decision on to where CVHS should go. The board unanimously decided on one big move of CVHS to the South Building of the Jannes Rd. District Office.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *