LCUSD Deficit Narrows, but Official Issues Warning

With the 2019-20 school year having ended last week, the La Cañada Unified School District has shifted its focus to the future — most notably the upcoming budget and instruction in the fall.
Mark Evans, associate superintendent of business and administrative services, presented to the LCUSD Governing Board on Tuesday a first draft that included estimates for the current year and forecast a bleak future based on Gov. Gavin Newsom’s May revision of the state budget — a proposal of $203.3 billion that would significantly cut school funding due to the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“There’s great work being done in La Cañada and we want to keep that going,” Evans said during a virtual meeting. “The May revise is going to make that a challenge. Our budget is facing some uphill battles.”
The deficit for this year came in at $827,071, far better than anticipated in March, when Evans estimated it at $2.4 million.
“This puts us in a good state as we head into this economic situation,” he said. “It will help us weather that storm.”
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District Fields Complaints About Palm Crest Project

Illustration courtesy LPA
A rendering of modernization plans for Palm Crest Elementary School shows the proposed two-story building that some neighbors have criticized.

The governing board of the La Cañada Unified School District has directed the designers of a Palm Crest Elementary modernization project to investigate making changes to the plan after its proposed two-story building attracted criticism from nearby residents.
The $31.7 million project is aimed at remodeling Palm Crest by building a new parking lot, increasing playground areas, modernizing classrooms and replacing some of the school’s portable buildings with the new two-story structure.
However, many residents on nearby Solliden Lane expressed concern that the building would intrude on their privacy and stick out over fences and trees. Some also believed that the design’s color palette clashed with the look of the neighborhood.
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School Board OKs Financial Figures

The La Cañada Unified School District Governing Board unanimously voted on Tuesday to approve a summary of district revenue and expenditures for the 2017-18 fiscal year, including an unaudited fund balance that increased by about $2.1 million from the previous fiscal year.
The California Education Code requires that unaudited financial information for the previous year be submitted to the board and the county Office of Education by Sept. 15, according to a report from Mark Evans, assistant superintendent of administration and business services.
Even though the previous fiscal year ended on June 30, final totals are not completed by the district and the Office of Education until the end of August, Evans wrote. A state-approved firm then audits the reports and documentation, and everything is finalized for submission to the LCUSD board and the state by Dec. 15.
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LCUSD Seeks to Improve Messaging to Community

Jamie Lewsadder, La Cañada Unified School District’s chief technology officer, said she learned recently that a relative’s school in Porterville was locked down when a LCUSD intern told her. He’d seen it on Twitter before Lewsadder or any of her family members learned of the situation, she said.
“So I really experienced that panic first-hand,” she said during Tuesday’s Governing Board meeting, at which she introduced a first draft of board policy revisions to improve LCUSD’s communication plan.
“We need to create a plan that allows us to have fast and reliable communication,” Lewsadder said. “News travels so fast; we have to be prepared for it.” Continue reading “LCUSD Seeks to Improve Messaging to Community”

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”

Local Investors Can Consider LCUSD Bonds

Representatives for Stifel Financial Corp. have been spending time recently in La Cañada Flintridge — where 71% of voters supported La Cañada Unified School District’s Measure LCF general obligation bond on the ballot last November — informing community members that the bond offering is expected to be available in the first half of May.
Their message to local constituents has been: “Basically, as voters, you approved this measure, the first part of which is coming onto the market, so we wanted to reach out and make sure to keep you in the loop,” said Hovick Babajanian, an associate vice president for Stifel Nicolaus & Co.
Babajanian grew up nearby in La Crescenta and spoke of frequent visits to See’s Candies and Sport Chalet. Continue reading “Local Investors Can Consider LCUSD Bonds”

LCHS Family Lawsuit vs. School District Set for Trial Jan. 22

The family of a La Cañada High School special education student is suing the school district, claiming that negligence by district employees resulted in the boy being seriously injured when he fell from the bleachers during an assembly on May 20, 2016 in Hotchkin Gymnasium.
The case is scheduled to go to trial Jan. 22. Attorney Robert Glassman will argue that the district’s failure to install guardrails on the bleachers from which Ethan Kalnins, who suffers from cerebral palsy, fell. The fall caused a fractured hip and led to resulting physical, emotional and psychological duress, Glassman said.

Guardrails have been added to the bleachers in Hotchkin Gymnasium at La Cañada High School following a lawsuit that stemmed from the fall that injured student Ethan Kalnins, who suffers from cerebral palsy.

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Measure LCF Could Deliver $149 Million to LCUSD

Supporters of the La Cañada Unified School District have been busy the past few weeks, making calls and knocking on doors in an attempt to drum up votes for Measure LCF, the proposed $149 million general obligation bond on the Nov. 7 ballot.
On Election Day, La Cañada Flintridge voters will choose three LCUSD Governing Board members and decide whether to approve the bond, which would fund improvements to the district’s four campuses. Each of the five board candidates supports the measure, as did 65% of prospective voters who responded to a survey conducted earlier this year. It needs 55% voter approval to pass. Continue reading “Measure LCF Could Deliver $149 Million to LCUSD”