La Cañada Unified School District Governing Board President Dan Jeffries issued a public service reminder at last week’s meeting: Schools will start at 8:30 a.m. this year and run until 3:15 p.m., a decision the board reached late last school year after reviewing evidence that later school start times are better for the mental health of students.
Because it’s unknown yet how moving back start times by 45 minutes will affect local traffic patterns and possibly complicate construction on the 210 Freeway, Jeffries encourages parents to budget extra time in the first week when dropping off their children.
“The message is, especially for the first few days of school, to please be patient and allow for some extra time,” he said.
The drop-off zone on the south side of LCHS will remain open in the morning, but it will be bus-only for after-school pickups, Jeffries explained, to accommodate student athletes who must expeditiously leave for games.
“The signs will be changed and the sheriff’s department will be out there to remind everyone,” Jeffries said.
LCUSD is expecting an enrollment increase of at least 100 students for the 2017-18 school year, more than half of whom are newly permitted Sagebrush residents.
“We have very healthy enrollment and we still have people trickling in to register, so we’re very excited about that,” Superintendent Wendy Sinnette said at the LCUSD Governing Board’s meeting on Thursday, Aug. 3.
As of last week, there were 678 students enrolled at La Cañada Elementary School, 751 at Paradise Canyon Elementary School, 644 at Palm Crest Elementary School, 695 at La Cañada High School 7/8 and 1,441 at LCHS.
Of the new Sagebrush permits, 39 of those students are attending elementary schools and 18 are at LCHS.
The Governing Board also briefly discussed the Coalition for Base Funding Fairness, a group of six relatively small but high-achieving school districts in Los Angeles County that plan to lobby the state for increased base funding.
LCUSD plans to formally unite with South Pasadena, Manhattan Beach, Redondo Beach, Arcadia and San Marino unified school districts to cultivate a stronger voice with state legislators in Sacramento. Board member Ellen Multari said state Sen. Anthony Portantino recently said the average public school district received more than $11,000 per student per school year in state funding.
“Ours is $7,800 per student,” she added. “That is $2,300 less per student than other districts within a stone’s throw of ours. This is really an effort to create awareness and hopefully to whet peoples’ appetite to solving this issue.”
Multari said she initially contacted officials from South Pasadena Unified School District to discuss joining forces and from there it expanded to include the other four districts. LCUSD said the coalition hopes to grow the effort to include other districts, eventually.
“By ourselves, we’re just like Cindy Lou Who,” Multari said. “Collectively, I think we can have a much more powerful voice.
“That being said, the expectation is that it’s going to take a lot of groundwork,” she added. “This isn’t going to be a six-month process. It’s going to be a two- or three-year process.”
Sinnette expressed support for the coalition and also emphasized the effort will be for long-term results and likely will not bear fruit during the remainder of Gov. Jerry Brown’s term.
“The group does have some plans to expand and is looking for a long-term wrap up for when we have a new governor,” Sinnette said. “I think this is important work and it extends beyond just this district.”