Governing Board Wants More Details on School’s Makeover

Mark Evans
Photo by Wes Woods II / OUTLOOK
Mark Evans, La Cañada Unified School District’s chief business and operations officer, discusses parking options for a Palm Crest Elementary School modernization project at a Governing Board meeting Tuesday.

Members of the La Cañada Unified School District Governing Board on Tuesday agreed on a general layout for Palm Crest Elementary School, which is set for a major modernization, but asked the district’s staff for a more detailed plan for the endeavor, due for a groundbreaking in 2021.
The board unanimously voted for more information on an option that includes two two-story buildings forming a V shape, with open space in between, and outdoor corridors.
Superintendent Wendy Sinnette noted that Palm Crest staff members liked that plan, called option B, because it helped bring the campus together and did not have a noisy interior hallway compared to another plan, named option A.
“The noise issue was one factor,” Sinnette said. “They also liked the common space that this created. They also felt like if there was an opportunity to tie the upper campus to the lower campus, this was more inviting.”
The aging campus will use funds from the voter-approved Measure LCF, a $149 million general obligation bond that passed in November 2017. The measure is a main source of revenues for the Palm Crest makeover, budgeted at $27.5 million.
The project will include modular classrooms, which will save on project costs, officials said.
Resident David Haxton told the board he preferred option A, which was described as a two-story building with interior corridor circulation, and some modifications such as having classrooms enter from the outside.
Haxton said he didn’t think option B has as many exits as are offered in option A, a disadvantage in a crisis such as a campus shooting incident, and that its proposed parking, near a baseball field, could mean anyone could get inside the school perimeter.
He also felt the district should have a security expert examine the plans, in light of attacks on campuses elsewhere.
Board member Dan Jeffries said an expert will look at the project when the plans are more developed, similar to the way the La Cañada High School pool was designed.
“We have some flexibility” about the safety plans, said Mark Evans, the district’s chief business and operations officer.
As for parking, the board appeared to favor greater traffic circulation over additional spaces.
Option B would present “a cost of a significant number of spaces [to better enable student drop-offs] but the flow from traffic and the safety aspect is pretty valuable,” said board member Joe Radabaugh.
According to a handout distributed by the school district, option A has a total of 109 new parking spaces while option B has 97 spaces available.

INTERVIEWS SET FOR EQUITY, INCLUSION CANDIDATES

Sinnette said full-day interviews for a new equity and inclusion officer would take place on Aug. 30 at the district office. The panel will consist of Sinnette, board members, human resources staff member Debra Cradduck, teachers, counselors, classified staff members and parents.
There were more than 73 applicants, with 10 recommended candidates being asked for interviews.
“An invitation will go out to select people,” Sinnette said.
According to the district’s job description, the new officer will oversee “the development and implementation of proactive equity, inclusion and diversity initiatives in support of La Cañada Unified School District’s vision and mission to create learning and working environments committed to personal growth, academic excellence and core values of inclusion, wellness and empathy.”
The district is offering a one-year contract, advertised as effective this month through next June. The deadline to apply for the position, which pays $55,000-$95,000, was noon on July 30.
“I look forward to finalizing that recommendation” for the position, Sinnette said.

BIG DIG MONITORING IS SCHEDULED

Sinnette said the district plans to have real-time air quality monitoring of the Devil’s Gate Dam sediment removal project in place within 10 working days, with the help of its environmental consultant, York Engineering.
The so-called Big Dig involves a fleet of haul trucks removing sediment from the project site. The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved a scaled-down project in November 2017 to remove 1.7 million cubic yards of sediment behind the dam at Hahamonga Watershed Park to increase flood protection and restore habitat within the Arroyo Seco Watershed.
Sediment removal began on May 21.
Information from the monitoring will go to principals and alert the district to unhealthful conditions, Sinnette said. Unhealthful readings can result in the cancellation of after-school sports or other actions, she said, adding that reports will also be distributed bimonthly to the community.
The district has also upgraded air filters at La Cañada High School and, with the help of an advisory group, was able to get a change, beginning today, in the haul trucks’ route near LCHS as well as the haul schedule.
Kelly Davis, a member of LCF 4 Healthy Air, told the board that the local residents’ group wants parents who have issues with the project to contact the city of La Cañada Flintridge, the county Department of Public Works and the South Coast Air Quality Management District. LCF 4 Healthy Air seeks to reduce safety and health hazards to the community affected by the Big Dig.
The Arroyo Seco Foundation and Pasadena Audubon Society are currently negotiating with the county Flood Control District over the controversial project in the aftermath of a judge’s ruling regarding the nonprofit groups’ December 2017 lawsuit over the Big Dig. The two sides are scheduled to meet again at 1:30 p.m., Oct. 15, in a Los Angeles courtroom.

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