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East Ventura County Focus

OAK PARK : Parents Told Why School Isn't Ready

September 04, 1993|DOUG McCLELLAN

A sign behind the stage of the school auditorium greeted parents with a cheery "Welcome to Red Oak."

But the real Red Oak Elementary School was still under construction a few blocks away, and officials of the Oak Park Unified School District were explaining to about 200 parents that building setbacks forced a delay of nearly two weeks in the opening of the school. All other Oak Park schools start Tuesday, but Red Oak will open Sept. 20.

"We really know that it's a frustrating, anxious, even angry circumstance for parents," Supt. Marilyn Lippiatt told the parents who assembled Thursday at nearby Oak Hills Elementary School. "This puts you in a situation you really didn't expect, and you have to deal with that."

Assistant Supt. Stan Mantooth said the main contractor on the $4.5-million school couldn't finish the job in time.

Most of the parents were upbeat, but a handful criticized administrators for waiting until seven days before the first day of school to announce the delay.

"I don't know why somebody couldn't have said two weeks ago, or at the beginning of August, that it doesn't look like the school is going to open on time," said Allen Eichner, whose son, Andrew, will start kindergarten at Red Oak. "I just feel like we're being pushed a little bit."

A more typical response was voiced by Sheryl Mandell, who said she was unruffled by the postponement.

"I think it's going to be a wonderful school. If the parents are calm about it, then their kids are going to be calm about it," said Mandell, whose two daughters will be attending.

Red Oak students will lose eight school days, which will be made up during the year.

For working parents, the district will pay for child care during school hours at Mae Boyar Park.

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