An Historical Sketch
In 1868, three years following the end of the Civil War, the settlers located in the area known as Pleasant Valley sought to educate their children closer to home. It was a beautiful valley where the primary revenue source was raising cattle for sale throughout the state. Some grain, but not the row crops that are so prevalent today in the valley, was planted to feed the stock. In that same year the first stage coach route was also established.
John and Rebecca Mahan and their family arrived in Pleasant Valley early in 1868. It took them many weeks to reach here from their previous home in Sonoma County. They purchased land just south of what is now Glenn Drive, but unfortunately this land was part of the disputed area of Rancho El Rio de Santa Clara. They would later lose it and much of the money they paid. They bought 120 acres west of their original home and spent the rest of their lives there.
They had three school-age children. If the children had transportation, and the weather was cooperative, they might have attended the only school located in San Buenaventura (Ventura), which was then an eastern part of Santa Barbara County. However, their schooling was continuously interrupted whenever it rained, and the Santa Clara River became too dangerous to cross by horse. Concerned about their education, Mr. Mahan made the one-day trip to the Santa Barbara County seat to secure a permit to establish Pleasant Valley School District.
On November 10, 1868, he obtained the permit from the acting Santa Barbara County Superintendent, Rev. T. G. Williams. Mr. Frank K. Davenport and Mr. Jeremiah Sisson, also instrumental in starting the district, accompanied Mr. Mahan to Santa Barbara. It is surmised that Mr. Mahan was the spokesman for the group for the permit was issued in his name. These three men were to become the first Board of Trustees of Pleasant Valley School District.
Pleasant Valley School District is the oldest existing school district in Ventura County. It began operations soon after receiving its organizational permit. Although Santa Clara School District received its permit on August 13, 1868, it was not founded and operational until 1873.
For 145 years the district has retained its original name, Pleasant Valley School District. The name Pleasant Valley was derived from a nearby governmental land area. In 1906, when the Camarillo railroad depot was built, Pleasant Valley became known as Camarillo. It was so named in honor of the two brothers who had inherited Rancho Calleguas.
Located about 10 miles east of the Pacific Ocean and midway between Los Angeles and Santa Barbara Counties, the District covers approximately 65 miles. It serves the children of Camarillo as well as surrounding unincorporated areas. Originally Pleasant Valley School District boundaries included the nearby community of Springville. In 1887, Springville formed its own school district. It was dissolved in 1943, and the major portion was reannexed to the Pleasant Valley School District.
In 1868-69, there were six pupils in the first class held in an abandoned granary on the Hugo Carlson Ranch on Somis Road. In the fall of 1869, another granary, situated on a small hill west of the original Camarillo settlement, was obtained as a classroom. The frontage road, Daily Drive, runs across the location of the old building which stood on the Hartman Ranch north of the present freeway and east of the Carmen Drive offramp. Pupils from outlying areas had either to walk or ride horseback. Books were scarce and pupils were expected to supply their own writing materials.
In 1869, the first salaried teacher, D.D. DeNure, was hired. His salary was $40 a month. DeNure became Ventura County Superintendent of Schools in 1882. As women teachers were finding it difficult to control their active students, George Riley, the first male teacher since DeNure, was hired in 1889. It was reported that he sometimes carried a shotgun to class to shoot squirrels from the school window. This may have acted as a deterrent to the mischievous behavior of unruly boys.
Funds became available in 1871 for the District to construct its first wood-frame school on the Hughes Ranch south of the present freeway. This new building had seats, handmade desks, and a blackboard. At this time the school board voted to supply books and all necessary school supplies. This building served as the instruction center for children in grades one through nine for twenty-three years.
On January 1, 1873, Santa Barbara County was divided and the eastern part became Ventura County. When it was formed there was a total of 809 school children in the County. Records show that 66 were children in the Pleasant Valley School District.
On the site of the present Pleasant Valley Instructional Center, the fourth school building was constructed in 1895 at a cost of $4,700. The building was octagonal in shape and had a large hall from which opened two classrooms, a library, and a storeroom. There were 57 students and two teachers. The trustees at that time were Adolfo Camarillo, J.C. Hartman, and John Rice.
The 1906 Ventura County Schools office records indicate there were 40 families in the district. These families accounted for 96 school-age children. The following year, there were only 80 students enrolled. The difference probably occurred because some of the students were now attending Oxnard High School, organized in 1901.
Rural population growth was slow but continuous, and this led to the construction of an eight-room classroom structure in 1921-22. Five classrooms were added in 1928. Following the disastrous 1933 California earthquake, a state law required examination of the structural condition of all schools in districts requesting said examination. Pleasant Valley's 1895 and 1925 classrooms did not pass state requirements because they were found to be structurally unsafe; the 1928 addition was declared sound, and it remained in use for another thirty years.
In 1922, there were 155 students; in 1940, 270 students; in 1952, 592 students; and in 1958, 860 students. From 1958 to 1969, as people discovered this beautiful valley, the growth was phenomenal. Student population escalated to nearly 6,000. With visionary planning, the District withstood the enrollment escalation better than most school districts. Through the 1960's, approximately one school was built per year. The pressure of escalating enrollment necessitated staggered sessions during one year only.
In 1945, the Board purchased four acres from rancher John Arneill. This land was adjacent to the existing school. The cost was $4,000, and construction began in 1947 under the direction of trustees Adolfo Camarillo, Clint Hutchins, and Robert Pearson. With the added space in 1948, the District hired its first full-time physical education director and coach at Pleasant Valley School, Charles Jones, who later became superintendent of Somis School District.
In 1969, Oxnard Air Force Base was closed, and the district experienced a sudden enrollment decline. Children living in Capehart military housing and attending Las Posas School left the attendance area. During the early 70's enrollment figures declined by almost 500. When the Navy acquired Capehart for its personnel, enrollment figures began to stabilize.
Trustees and Superintendents
Adolfo Camarillo, elected to the Board of Trustees in July of 1895, served until July of 1951 with fifty-six years of dedicated public service. Mr. Jeremiah Sisson served from November, 1868 to November, 1880. He returned to the Board in November of 1882 and served until July of 1891 for a total of almost twenty-one years. The first woman ever elected to the PVSD Board of Trustees was Mrs. Betty Rutherford in July of 1969. She served for twelve years.
The present trustees are Mr. Ron Speakman (elected in November 1998, reelected November 2002, 2006, and 2010); Mrs. Suzanne Kitchens (elected in November 2000, reelected November 2004, 2008, and 2012); Debra Kuske (elected in November 2010); Bob Rust (elected in November 2010); and Kelly Long (elected in November 2012).
Onorinda Jones, who retired in June, 1957, was the first superintendent of PVSD. Charles Honn was appointed as her successor. In March of 1977, the school district experienced a successful Board recall election. It was the first recall attempt in the history of PVSD and one of the few successful recall elections ever held in Ventura County. The recall was the result of the Board of Trustees' efforts to force the retirement of Superintendent Charles Honn. Mrs. Betty Rutherford was the sole supporter of the superintendent and was reelected to a third term. Mr. Honn was granted a one-year contract through July of 1978. His successor, selected by the Board, was Dr. Floyd W. Davis. Dr. Davis remained with the District until June of 1987, when Mrs. Shirley Carpenter was appointed the new superintendent. She completed her doctorate within one year of her appointment. When Dr. Carpenter took a position at Masters College in 1999, she was replaced by Dr. Andre R. LaCouture. Dr. LaCouture resigned as superintendent in December 2000 and became a special consultant to the superintendent for the remainder of his contract (expiring 6/30/2001).
Dr. Howard M. Hamilton was initially appointed as interim superintendent and then appointed as superintendent in January 2001. He retired on January 31, 2004 and the Board appointed Dr. Thomas R. Dase as superintendent on January 15, 2004 with a starting date of January 20, 2004. Dr. Dase departed PVSD in September 2006. The district hired Ken Moffett as Interim Superintendent in September 2006. Trustees hired Dr. Luis C. Villegas, Jr., as Interim Superintendent in july 2007, coming from the Santa Paula Elementary District. In October 2007, Dr. Villegas was appointed Superintendent and given a three-year contract. Dr. Villegas retired in June 2012 and RaeAnne Michael was appointed Interim Superintendent on June 15, 2012 and on October 18, 2012, she was appointed Superintendent and given a three-year contract. Ms. Michael has been in the District for 33 years.
Campuses and Programs
Until 2002 Pleasant Valley School District had fourteen school sites. The second school, Camarillo Heights, opened in 1956; followed by Las Posas School in 1959; El Rancho in 1961; Los Altos Intermediate in 1961; Dos Caminos in 1964; El Descanso in 1965; Monte Vista Intermediate in 1967; Los Nogales in 1967; and Valle Lindo in 1969. Santa Rosa School was added to the district in 1975, having previously been part of Conejo Unified School District. This annexation was done at the request of local residents who felt Santa Rosa Valley identified more closely with Camarillo. Las Colinas was added in 1982. Ground breaking for Tierra Linda was in the spring of 1993, and the dedication was held on September 8, 1994. La Mariposa, which opened in August 2002, held its dedication ceremony on September 13, 2002. Finally Rancho Rosal, the district's newest school, opened its doors to students at the end of the winter break in January of 2007. Developers of the Village-at-the-Park housing development several years earlier had agreed to donate a K-5 elementary school (Rancho Rosal) to the district.
The District established several alternative programs: Bedford Open School, located at the El Descanso campus, 1976-77; the Fundamental Program located at the Dos Caminos campus, 1983; Los Primeros Structured School, 1976-77; and El Rancho Structured School, which opened its doors as a structured school in 1988.
In 2002, the Board of Trustees consolidated campuses in eastern Camarillo. Valle Lindo School was closed and space was rented to other agencies. Bedford Open School was moved to the Los Nogales campus and renamed Los Senderos Open School. Santa Rosa School was renamed Santa Rosa Technology Magnet School. El Rancho Structured School converted to the CSU Channel Islands University Preparation School, a charter school, in a partnership scheduled to run for a minimum of five years. La Mariposa School was built and opened as a K-5 school in August 2002. Tierra Linda School became K-5 and Las Colinas School became a middle school serving grades 6-8.
Beginning with the 2005-06 school year, three elementary schools, University Preparation, Santa Rosa Technology Magnet, and Los Senderos Open, began the process of expanding their grade levels from K-5 to K-8 adding a 6th grade the first year, 7th the second year, and 8th the third year.
In 2007, the Board of Trustees consolidated campuses once again. Los Altos Middle School was closed and its space rented to other educational agencies, including the CSU Channel Islands University Middle School. Los Senderos Open School was also closed. Los Primeros Structured School became Los Primeros School of Sciences and Arts and was relocated to the site on Kendall Ave.
Each school annually prepares a School Accountability Report Card (SARC) covering various assessment areas. Student achievement, student attendance, expenditures, and services are but a few of the important covered areas. SARCs are available for public perusal.
Pleasant Valley School District employs approximately 400 certificated and 275 classified employees including administration. Total enrollment for the District's 11 schools as of August 28, 2013 was 6,600 students.
The school board approved a multi-phase plan for the reduction of K-3 classes to a 20:1 ratio. Phase I, implemented in September, 1996, reduced all first grade classes and some second grade classes where feasible. Phase II was implemented in February, 1997, and reduced the remaining second grade classes to 20:1. Phase III was implemented in September, 1997, to reduce all third grade classes to 20:1. A multi-part implementation program was approved by the board in March, 1998 to reduce kindergarten classes to 20:1 beginning September, 1998. The pupil-teacher ratio for grades 4-6 is 29.7 to one; for grades 7-8 the ratio is 24.1 to one.
Pleasant Valley School District has achieved excellence for 145 years. Thirteen of PVSD's schools have received state or national recognition for academic excellence. Recent scores for Camarillo's elementary students in the California Assessment Program, addressing five areas of educational concern, are at the high end of the county scores and well above state scaled scores in each area.
Many in the Camarillo community have devoted their time unselfishly to ensure the District's success. Generations of Camarillo students have been provided a vision of the future, made aware of the past, and been prepared for life today. Pleasant Valley School District will continue to make an important contribution to children's lives for many more years.
Mr. Donald D. Howard; master's thesis: A Historical Study of the Pleasant Valley School District. January. 1959.
Mr. J. R. Bright, archivist and author of the Centential Booklet. Pleasant Valley Baptist Church, June. 1969. Camarillo, California.
Mr. David White. Greater Camarillo ... Then and Now. 1980. Camarillo, California.