District OKs Cloud-Based Security System

First published in the Jan. 13 print issue of the Outlook Valley Sun.

The La Cañada Unified School District took a major step in beefing up its security at all school sites with the Governing Board’s approval of a contract that will replace the existing system with one that is modern and cloud-based.
Board members voted 5-0 in favor of purchasing hardware, software and a 10-year licensing agreement from Verkada, a California company that specializes in cloud-based security systems. The total cost amounts to $508,706. The district will also require additional wiring for the cameras, which is estimated at $189,759, but La Cañada will seek funding from the federal government through the Schools and Libraries Program, which was created to give discounts to schools looking to make telecommunications and information services upgrades.
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LCUSD’s COVID Precautions Pay Off

First published in the Jan. 13 print issue of the Outlook Valley Sun.

One week removed from having to postpone the return to in-person instruction following the winter break due to a concerning number of COVID-19 positive cases, the La Cañada Unified School District had better news for stakeholders during the Governing Board meeting on Tuesday.
The precautions taken worked, with the positivity rate dropping from 10% last week to 1.8% on Monday. After having nearly 300 students and staff test positive for the coronavirus at testing sites on Jan. 3 and 4, the district distributed at-home COVID-19 test kits provided by Los Angeles County to families and staff and asked them to test on Sunday and submit the results by the evening.
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Governing Board Appoints Jeffries as President

First published in the Dec. 16 print issue of the Outlook Valley Sun.

In the La Cañada Unified School District’s annual organizational meeting Tuesday, the Governing Board unanimously voted to have Dan Jeffries to serve as president in 2022 and appointed Joe Radabaugh and Josh Epstein as vice president and clerk, respectively.
Jeffries commended outgoing Board President Kaitzer Puglia for her leadership during a difficult time.

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LCUSD Board, Families Briefed on DEI Practices

First published in the Dec. 9 print issue of the Outlook Valley Sun.

Four months into the school year and the La Cañada Unified School District is already taking big steps toward the implementation of its diversity, equity and inclusion initiative.
The Governing Board held a special meeting on Tuesday to be counseled in restorative practices and culturally responsive education by Aaron Bruce, a consultant hired by the district six weeks ago to assist in La Cañada’s three-year DEI plan.
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Holidays Spark Concerns of Possible COVID Surge

First published in the Nov. 18 print issue of the Outlook Valley Sun.

As California continues its recovery from the coronavirus pandemic largely resulting from having a majority of its population vaccinated against the disease, people are reverting back to normalcy.
A return to holiday traditions was evident on Halloween with more trick-or-treaters out on the streets, and with more gatherings being planned for the Thanksgiving holiday. Though COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are lower in California compared to last year, health and government officials still worry about the possibility of a winter surge similar to 2020.
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LCUSD Goal: Helping Students Catch Up After Distance Learning

First published in the Oct. 28 print issue of the Outlook Valley Sun.

The coronavirus pandemic has posed numerous challenges to students and educators throughout the nation since March 2020, and now the La Cañada Unified School District has made it a priority to begin the recovery process.
The district Governing Board this week unanimously approved Superintendent Wendy Sinnette’s goals for the 2021-22 academic year, two of which focus on helping students continue to make the transition from remote and hybrid learning to regular in-person instruction.
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Edited Video Reignites Debate Over School Diversity Plan

First published in the Sept. 2 print issue of the Outlook Valley Sun.

The La Cañada Unified School District’s diversity, equity and inclusion initiative once again took center stage at a Governing Board meeting on Monday, with stakeholders voicing their concerns — and in some cases launching accusations — regarding whether critical race theory is being taught in the classroom.

The debate was recently resurrected when an anonymous account with the username of “vlancer” posted a series of edited videos which allegedly show a private, virtual book club meeting among La Cañada Elementary School teachers and administrators. The videos seemingly depict the staff discussing “White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism” by Robin DeAngelo, a professor who researched whiteness studies and critical discourse analysis. Continue reading “Edited Video Reignites Debate Over School Diversity Plan”

LCHS Seeks to Reintroduce Peer Counseling Class

Hoping to cultivate student wellness, school district officials recommended at Tuesday’s Governing Board meeting that the district reintroduce a peer counseling elective for the upcoming academic year.
“The goal here is to have a class which, in essence, trains schools in peer counseling skills for about three quarters and the last quarter [students will] begin to work with students,” said Jim Cartnal, the La Cañada Unified School District’s executive director of pupil and personnel programs and services. Continue reading “LCHS Seeks to Reintroduce Peer Counseling Class”

LCHS Class of 2018 Is College Bound

Brent Kuszyk

By Brent Kuszyk
Special to The Outlook

One of the true highlights of serving on the LCUSD Governing Board is having the privilege of distributing diplomas to our graduating seniors each spring at graduation. Their sense of optimism and excitement is contagious.
The future looks very bright for our class of 2018 graduating seniors. This year our students will be disseminating around the country to 33 states as well as to South Korea and the United Kingdom. Of the 322 who reported matriculating to a college 202 (63%) will be attending institutions in the state of California. The second most popular destination is the state of Washington with 13 students headed to our northern neighbor. Among the students who will be attending two-year schools, Pasadena City College is the most common destination with 60 students. Continue reading “LCHS Class of 2018 Is College Bound”

LCUSD Task Force Tackles Student Safety, Traffic, Wellness

Photo by Mirjam Swanson / OUTLOOK
Superintendent Wendy Sinnette addresses the newly formed community task force at its first meeting last week on Thursday, May 24. The task force was created to help the La Cañada Unified School District improve its safety, security and student wellness policies.

The especially sobering thing about discussing safety, security and student well-being is how deep those conversations go, La Cañada Unified School District Superintendent Wendy Sinnette said last week during the first meeting of the district’s task force to address those topics.
“Everything’s connected,” she said. “And as soon as you talk about one thing, it makes you think of another. The work will never be done, but it’s really empowering to have such wonderful people here committed to doing the work.”
Twenty-three members of the community — including parents, students, administrators, teachers and staff members — joined district administrators and Governing Board members in the district’s meeting room on Thursday, May 24. They signed up for subcommittees and got an overview of what they’re expected to accomplish in the next year. Continue reading “LCUSD Task Force Tackles Student Safety, Traffic, Wellness”