The La Cañada Unified School District Governing Board on Tuesday took time to hear from concerned parents over the initial process of sediment removal from Hahamongna Watershed Park behind the Devil’s Gate Dam to increase flood protection and to restore habitat within the Arroyo Seco Watershed.
During the discussion, board members said that they were writing down questions and suggestions of attendees and that they plan to measure the air quality surrounding the schools during the sediment removal project, known as the “Big Dig,” with an air-quality monitor.
The board has discussed the Devil’s Gate Dam Sediment Removal project previously — beginning in 2013 — and has passed two resolutions since then that identify concerns about student, staff and community health, according to a statement.
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved a much scaled-down project to remove 1.7 million cubic yards of sediment in November 2017 after a nine-year process and input from local residents, environmental groups and the cities of La Cañada Flintridge, Pasadena and the community of Altadena. However, with work set to begin in a few weeks, parents and residents are again sounding the alarm about potential health risks resulting from diesel trucks making 425 round trips per day next to local schools. Opponents of the plan are displeased with the approval of trucks that follow only 2010 emission standards.
Esther Kornfeld, the mother of two La Cañada High School children, voiced her concerns to the board.
“I simply could not believe how any person, or any agency, could approve such an immense project that involves 425 diesel trucks per day over such a long rate of time going back and forth right next to so many schools,” Kornfeld said. She said she learned about the Devil’s Gate project only recently, and has spent countless hours and some sleepless nights researching it.
Some of the attendees of the meeting said they will meet with an aide of county Supervisor Kathryn Barger later this week in Pasadena. Additionally, a PTSA meeting to discuss the Devil’s Gate project is set for 8:45 a.m. on Thursday, Nov. 15, inside the teachers’ lounge at LCHS.
Board President Kaitzer Puglia suggested that all those concerned call (626) 458-2507, a hotline for the project. More information on the project can be found at the website at devilsgateproject.com, and a more detailed report, including a slide show, can be found on the LCHS website lchsspartans.net/.
P.E. COURSE MOVES
CLOSER TO REALITY
The board moved closer to adopting an independent-study physical education course to support its student athletes in grades 7 and 8.
Assistant Superintendent Anais Wenn was unanimously given direction to continue to work on and develop policies for the potential program.
The course will provide options for student athletes who participate in non-LCUSD sponsored competitive sports, according to a district statement. It requires at least 15 hours or more of weekly practice and training that does not include competitions.
Currently, all 7th- and 8th-graders are assigned to a P.E. class, but each year administration officials receive requests from students in competitive sports to excuse them because of fear of injury or other reasons. The administration would like to help but there is no alternative to P.E. and the education code does not have an exemption, the statement said.
Additionally, when youths become injured and give a doctor’s note to be excused temporarily from P.E., they often spend the time in counselors’ offices or work on assignments under a teacher’s supervision. That’s because the education code forces schools to provide a P.E. period even when students are unable to perform the actions.
Under the new plan, the school would offer a 6th-period independent study physical education course to support competitive athletes and students who are temporary excused from P.E. because of injuries or other health-related issues.
LCHS offers a similar plan, called the Elite Athlete Contract P.E. program, for students in diving, gymnastics, swim and tennis, said Kristina Kalb, an assistant principal at the high school. The program typically has around 10 or fewer students, but this year there are 13, Kalb said.
In an interview before the meeting, Wenn said the requirements for 7/8 athletes will be different from those of the high school program, adding that the district is working to have the flexibility to work with principals in “one or two cases” in which a 6th-grader could also qualify for the same type of program.
At the board meeting, Wenn said a state-mandated physical fitness test will also be required.
A contract extension for Superintendent Wendy Sinnette was unanimously approved.
The Governing Board approved a 2% increase to Sinnette’s annual salary and a one-time off-schedule bonus of $6,821.33.
She currently makes $255,800 and her annual salary would increase to $260,916 on Nov. 1. Her contract was extended through 2021-22.
“The work and guidance you provide is tremendous and most appreciated,” Puglia said.
Added Sinnette: “I’m grateful and fortunate to work with all of you.”