Focus on Education - August 2023

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Focus on Education - Ventura County Office of Education

August 2023

Focus on Education provides news about K-12 public schools for families and educators in Ventura County. It is published by the Ventura County Office of Education (VCOE).

A Back to School Message from Dr. César Morales, Ventura County Superintendent of Schools

Welcome Back to School!

Supporting Students is a Communitywide Priority

As we begin the 2023-24 school year, there's a lot to be excited about in Ventura County. The worst of the pandemic is behind us and students are receiving all of the academic, social and developmental benefits of an in-person education. The new Transitional Kindergarten grade level for four-year-olds is available to more students than ever. Many of our high schools and middle schools now have Wellness Centers to help students deal with emotional stress, so they can better focus on learning. And we're celebrating the opening of the beautiful new Del Sol High School in Oxnard, the first new high school to be built in Ventura County since 2015.


But the new year is not without its challenges. More students are missing school than before the pandemic and our high cost of living continues to make teacher recruitment difficult. The good news is that our entire community is engaged in finding solutions to these problems for the benefit of our kids. I invite you to read more about this in my back-to-school message for the 2023-24 school year.

School wellness center

Middle School Wellness Centers


Over the past few years, Wellness Centers have opened their doors at many high schools and some middle schools throughout Ventura County. The centers are playing a vital role in addressing the current student mental health crisis, and they will soon be serving more students.


The Ventura County Board of Supervisors recently approved new funding that will allow the expansion of Wellness Centers to several more local middle schools. The Board approved just over $2 million to pay for this effort, which is a joint project between the Ventura County Office of Education, Ventura County Behavioral Health and local school districts.

School safety training

Keeping Kids Safe at School


An unprecedented effort to respond to the threat of violence on school campuses is entering its second year in Ventura County. During the last school year, all Ventura County school districts joined with local law enforcement agencies for a series of workshops designed to maximize safety on our campuses.


The US Secret Service provided insights and training on how to identify threats and proactively intervene. Participants also learned techniques to secure classrooms and protect students in the event of an active assailant incident.


This year, a new slate of workshops will provide additional resources and strategies to enhance school safety. And newly produced training videos will make this vital information available to all school employees.

Fentanyl Town Hall Meeting

181 Fentanyl Overdose Deaths in Ventura County in 2022

The ongoing opioid crisis in our community is the topic of a town hall meeting that will take place in the VCOE conference center in Camarillo on Wednesday, September 27 at 6:00 PM.


Facing Down Fentanyl is geared toward parents, educators and anyone else who is concerned about this critical issue.


The town hall is being presented by the County Opioid Abuse Suppression Task Force (COAST). This free event includes a light dinner and Spanish language interpretation will be provided.

Students participating in Battle of the Books

2023-24 Competitions & Events

We're seeking student participants and community volunteers for a variety of student competitions and events that will be held in Ventura County during the new school year. They all provide excellent opportunities for students to have fun while learning. The events include Mock Trial, where students play the roles of participants in a simulated trial at the county courthouse. And Battle of the Books, a high-energy trivia game that tests students' knowledge of books they have read.


You can learn more about the events at the links below. For information about how to participate, email Andrea Rubin at

We also have upcoming opportunities to celebrate our amazing local educators. The Ventura County Teacher of the Year program will select one outstanding local teacher to be in the running for California Teacher of the Year. And the Impact II Awards provide cash grants to teachers who develop innovative ways to engage their students. Find out how to participate at the links below.

Binational Program Serves Children of Migrant Farmworkers

Smiling student in classroom

Educational agencies on both sides of the US/Mexico border teamed up over the summer to provide learning opportunities for children of migrant farmworkers in Ventura County. Students in grades two through six took classes in math, English and computer coding at the Bilingual Summer Institute that was held at Somis Elementary School.


A unique aspect of the program is that two visiting teachers from Mexico incorporated cultural enrichment into the lessons to help students learn about their heritage and better connect to the material that was taught.

Volunteers stuff backpacks for kids

“Stuffing the Bus” for Homeless Kids


Hundreds of homeless students are starting the school year with new backpacks and school supplies thanks to the annual Stuff the Bus campaign. VCOE is a key partner with the Ventura County United Way in this annual effort that distributed about 1,750 backpacks and 2,200 hygiene kits. A big thanks to everyone who donated and the volunteers from Aera Energy, Coach, Proctor & Gamble and Bank of America.

Master Calendar for All Local School Districts


See school holidays and vacation dates for all 20 Ventura County School districts on one convenient calendar. Click here to download it.

Spelling Bee registration graphic

Spelling Bee Registration is Now Open


Local elementary and middle schools can now enroll in the Sage Ventura County Spelling Bee. Click here to register.

Graphic of three people under an umbrella

How to Maintain Your Medi-Cal Coverage


During the pandemic, Medi-Cal recipients didn't need to prove eligibility, but they do now. Click here to make sure your coverage continues.

Food arranged in a heart shape with the word Health

Take the Community Health Needs Survey


If you work in education or public service in Ventura County, please take this survey from the Ventura County Health Care Agency.

People attending a workshop

Upcoming Events and Workshops


The Ventura County Office of Education and its partners present a wide variety of workshops and events for educators, students, and community members. Some upcoming offerings are below, and you can browse our full calendar of events at



Constitution Day Conference

Civics workshops and resources for teachers

September 9, 2023



A.I. EmpowerED:

Transforming Education for Tomorrow

Tools for educators to leverage the power of artificial intelligence

September 12, 2023



School Attendance and Its Problems

A multi-tiered approach for parents and guardians

September 18, 2023



IEP Basics

For Parents and Caregivers

October 4, 2023, in Oxnard

October 17, 2023, in Simi Valley



Ventura County CABE Conference

Local chapter of the California Association for Bilingual Education

October 13, 2023



Navigating the Discipline Process

for Students with Disabilities

For parents and caregivers

November 28, 2023, in Oxnard

November 30, 2023, in Simi Valley

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