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Ventura County Focus

Grand Jury Report Covers Jails, Schools

April 01, 1997|TRACY WILSON

The Ventura County Grand Jury released its first interim report on Monday, a 33-page document examining eight subject areas ranging from technology to jail facilities and the impact of class-size reduction.

In the report, the watchdog group suggests that the county invest more money on technology, including training programs, new computers and software for county employees.

The panel notes that a $40-million technology modernization program already identified as needed by county leaders remains unfunded.

The authors of the report stress that the implementation of that program is critical if the county plans to keep pace with technological advancements.

"We feel it is the Board of Supervisors' duty to address this issue," the grand jurors wrote. "It is imperative not to nurse existing systems but rather to replace obsolete systems."

The panel reported that in the area of computer training, only 5% of the county's courses pertain to Internet or e-mail capabilities.

In other findings the grand jury concluded:

- The county's Todd Road Jail was well run.

- There was no misallocation of $650,000 by school officials for construction of a swimming pool at Oxnard High School. An unnamed Oxnard resident made the allegation.

- That reduction in staff of the Weights and Measures section of the county's Resource Management Agency has affected its ability to do inspections. That staff has lost six positions in recent years.

- That 222 classrooms were needed as of December to house the students divided into smaller classes as part of a statewide program to reduce class sizes in primary grades.

With portable buildings on back order and campuses pressed for space, the group recommended that local school districts oppose class-size reduction efforts for fourth-graders until full funding for the primary grades can be secured.

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