School Board Considers New Ideas on Campus Safety

An updated security assess-ment presented recently to th suggested ways of funneling campus visitors into a single controlled entry point to mitigate potential threats to students and faculty.
The board did not make any decisions regarding the recommendations, but it will include its updated information in an overall facilities needs assessment. Hal Sibley, vice president of the consulting firm gkkworks, made the presentation to the board at its Sept. 25 meeting. Continue reading “School Board Considers New Ideas on Campus Safety”

School Board President Seeks to Continue Her Work

Shelley Ryan
Shelley Ryan

She’s capping her first term on the San Marino Unified School District Board of Education by serving as its president, but Shelley Ryan hopes to bring her perspective as an educator to the table for another term in this year’s election.
Ryan said she wants to continue improving the district’s offerings to students, using the momentum from the past several years of accomplishments, not least the continuation of SMUSD’s No. 1 ranking in the state’s annual academic evaluations of school districts. Course innovation — such as collaborative efforts with the Huntington Library and Caltech — are key developments, Ryan said. Continue reading “School Board President Seeks to Continue Her Work”

SMUSD Aces Test Again: No. 1 in State Evaluations

The news is pleasing but probably not surprising: San Marino Unified School District has retained its position atop the state Department of Education’s annual academic evaluations, making it the No. 1 public school district in California for nearly two decades.
The evaluations, known as the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress, were publicly released this week. In a separate statement, SMUSD officials noted that this was the fourth year the district had the top overall CAASPP scores and that for 15 years prior to CAASPP, it also placed first in whatever evaluations the state had used. Continue reading “SMUSD Aces Test Again: No. 1 in State Evaluations”

SMUSD Finds Its Niche High in Rankings Again

The San Marino Unified School District continues to reap superlatives, with the community research website placing the school system and its individual campuses at or near the top of their categories in Los Angeles County this year.

The district — which has long received glowing assessments from the state — and each of its four schools earned A+ grades this year from the website. In appraising districts, Niche combines standardized evaluation metrics with data concerning academic and other offerings and demographics and also considers student and parent reviews to determine its grades. Food, extracurricular activities, academic resources and student diversity are among data points considered.
In L.A. County, the district shines. Carver Elementary School is ranked as the top elementary school in the county, while Huntington Middle School took the crown as the No. 1 middle school.

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Board of Education Hopeful Cites Budgeting Skills

John Gabriel
John Gabriel

Wanting to bring what he said is his “good, strong track record of conservative but effective spending techniques” to the table, John Gabriel is vying for a seat on the San Marino Unified School District Board of Education in November’s election.
A business turnaround consultant for a firm that works internationally, Gabriel said he believes his skills there, as well as those earned as a noncommissioned officer and paramedic in the U.S. Army, would translate effectively on the board and add to the diverse skill set already there.
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Schools, City Discuss Whether to Hire Campus Officers

School safety dominated discussion at a joint meeting last week of the City Council and the San Marino Unified School District Board of Education, specifically on the viability of sharing the employment of one or more school resource officers to provide security at local campuses.
Outgoing district Super-intendent Alex Cherniss told the council that the school system was analyzing safety and security issues as part of a wider facilities assessment and was awaiting input on that report from local first responders.
“That report looked at the physical plan of all the schools and also looked at other options for securing our schools,” he said. “We’ve given the report to your police chief and fire chief for comment. Once we get those back, we’ll get that ready for presentation at the board.
“There are examples of cities funding resource officers for the schools, so we are compiling that information as well,” Cherniss continued. “Before we come to the city for a request, we’re going to want to have a lot of information.”

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School Board Hears Ideas for Safer Student Drop-Off, Pickup

Changes in drop-off and pickup traffic at San Marino Unified School District campuses might be considered after the Board of Education reviewed a professional traffic study at its meeting last week.
Transportation engineers representing the firm Albert Grover & Associates told the board that, according to their assessments, three schools could benefit from modifications in parking lots and other aspects of how and where students are dropped off. The board accepted the study but did not take any action on it.
Recommendations for San Marino High School addressed three separate locations: the half-circle lot along Huntington Drive, the alleyway behind a series of commercial storefronts at the corner of Winston Avenue, and signs at Winston and Cumberland Road.
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Norgaard, SMUSD Reach Settlement in Civil Suit

One month after the parties agreed on a framework to resolve their dispute, the San Marino Unified School District and one of its Board of Education members, Chris Norgaard, have signed a formal settlement to his lawsuit against the school system and several of its officials.
In the agreement, Norgaard agreed to drop his lawsuit with prejudice — meaning he cannot later try to litigate the issue again — and there is no monetary award to him or the former defendants. Nor is there an admission of liability from either party.
The agreement, reached Monday, also introduces a new code of conduct that significantly restricts board members’ ability to interact with school faculty and staff members during school hours. In a joint statement, all parties affirmed that the issue that began in January was resolved.
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School Board Candidate Thinks Long Term

Steven Sommers
Steven Sommers

Seeking to help usher San Marino Unified School District into “a new era,” educator and philanthropist Steven Sommers aims to join the district’s Board of Education by way of November’s election.
Sommers, a vice president and senior philanthropic specialist for Wells Fargo’s Private Bank, said a variety of issues motivated him to join the pool of candidates, including enhancing school safety, continuing educational excellence, improving financial sustainability and repairing what he views as the eroded trust between the district and its stakeholders. He and his wife have three — soon, four — children at Carver Elementary School.
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