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Ventura County News Roundup

COUNTYWIDE : Simi Board Opposes School Voucher Bid


Parents and school officials across Ventura County are taking sides on a proposed initiative that would allow parents to choose whether to send their children to public or private schools.

Under the statewide initiative, known as parental choice or the voucher system, parents would receive a voucher allowing them to send their children to the public or private school of their choice. Schools would be paid based on the number of students enrolled.

Supporters call vouchers a way to solve the financial and academic problems in public schools, but detractors argue that the system would benefit private schools while public schools in poor areas would suffer.

On Tuesday, the board of the Simi Valley Unified School District adopted a resolution opposing the initiative, becoming the first district in the county to take a stand on the issue. The resolution says the voucher system would drain resources and "undermine free public education for all students" in California.

However, Ventura County parents who favor vouchers have formed a local chapter of Parents for Educational Choice, a statewide group that is collecting signatures to qualify the initiative for the November ballot.

The state leader, Stephen Guffanti, will address parents at 7 tonight at Santa Clara School, 324 S. E St., Oxnard.

Guffanti, a San Diego County physician, gave up his practice and resigned from the board of the Vista Unified School District to devote his time to the initiative campaign. He will discuss the voucher plan and answer questions.

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