La Cañada Unified District Governing Board members this week selected their new leaders for the next year, choosing Joe Radabaugh as president, Ellen Multari as vice president and Dan Jeffries as clerk.
Radabaugh, who was elected to the board on his first try in November 2017, takes over for outgoing President Brent Kuszyk. Congratulating Radabaugh — who touched briefly on his objectives — and the others at the general meeting on Tuesday, Kuszyk handed his successor a document he had prepared that included Governing Board tips and a calendar.
“This is a sign I have some homework to do,” Radabaugh said. He was selected as vice president last December, when Multari was chosen as clerk.
After the meeting, Radabaugh said in a statement he felt fortunate to live in La Cañada Flintridge because of its great schools, wonderful families and supportive community.
“It’s been a privilege and an honor serving on the school board and I’m humbled by the opportunity to take on this new role,” he said. “I know firsthand LCUSD has an extremely talented and dedicated staff focused on helping our kids succeed each and every day. We do a lot of things right but great schools only stay great if they continuously reflect and evolve.”
Radabaugh said he wanted to collaborate with the board to make sure the district is positioned to achieve the goals that were developed for its Local Control Accountability Plan; ensure Superintendent Wendy Sinnette is on track to achieve her individual goals; and also make certain additional focus is given to areas such as student and staff well-being and safety, diversity/equity/inclusion, improved community engagement and the district’s financial health.
Board members said they felt Radabaugh was a good fit for the position.
“I’m just so impressed how you hit the ground running in your first two years on the school board,” Multari said.
Jeffries added that Radabaugh was “one of the most thoughtful, respectful, deep individuals that I’ve ever worked with.”
The board’s next general meeting will take place Jan. 14.
DISTRICT WELLNESS, SAFETY AND SECURITY DISCUSSED
The board listened to an update on safety and security projects at the LCUSD’s three elementary school sites and La Cañada High School, including LCHS 7/8.
Karen Hurley, the district’s director of programs and services, said all school site safety plans are being updated and reviewed by district staff members, some school site personnel and the city of LCF, with final plans to be presented to the board for review and approval in February.
Hurley said all sites have safety drills taking place — with all schools having participated in at least one fire drill — and have started to focus on lockdown drills. Sinnette said she spoke to all district principals after the tragedy at Saugus High School in Santa Clarita, where a student shot five youths, killing two, on Nov. 14. The shooter later killed himself.
“They do fire drills on a regular basis,” said Sinnette, adding lockdown drills are scheduled for the future.
Hurley said the Community Safety Group has been established and includes church leaders, public and private school leaders, staff members and community members, who are “sharing best practices and learning from each other.”
Additionally, Hurley said with regard to suspension and discipline procedures, the district has increased its “sensitivity to students who may be a concern” and officials are being “thoughtful” about checking in on suspended students and following up to make sure they’re not on campus.
“Our polices are set and, we think, solid. It’s just the sensitivity of checking in,” said Jamie Lewsadder, LCUSD’s chief technology officer.
Lewsadder said a camera security upgrade project is being developed, with each school site reaching out to her about its general safety scenarios. Once all of the information is received, it will be sent to a security consultant who will add input to come up with possible systems that match the schools’ wish lists. She said the work will continue through January and then they’ll start testing new systems.
Hurley said teachers and staff for grades TK-8 are learning social and emotional training and will have it again in March.
Board members also discussed the Aeries Communication platform being used for email, voicemail and text messages for the latest news, with a lower priority for the LCUSD’s website and individual school sites as well as the district’s Twitter and Instagram.
One of the goals discussed was reducing the number of entry points at LCHS — possibly with work starting in the summer — to help monitor who is on the campus, but a consensus could not be reached.
“We need to focus on what do we want access to look like,” Jeffries said.
INTERIM FINANCIAL REPORT
The board also approved a second reading of the first interim financial report, which showed the district will meet its financial obligations for the current fiscal year and the two subsequent fiscal years. The report is an evolving view of the district’s future obligations.
There were some changes between the first reading in November and the second reading issued on Tuesday.
Projections for federal revenues, certificated salaries and employee benefits in 2019-20 all increased since the first reading, resulting in expected total expenditures rising from more than $50.4 million to more than $50.5 million. In the year 2020-21, anticipated expenditures decreased slightly from $51.1 million to $51 million. In 2021-22, the expenditures are expected to be $48.8 million.
“Employee benefits continue to run higher,” said Mark Evans, associate superintendent of business and administrative services, adding an audit in January will be conducted to see why.
Total revenues are still forecast to drop from more than $49.4 million in 2020-21 to more than $47.8 million the next year. District reserves remain slated to decrease from about $1.8 million in 2020-21 to about $1.7 million the following year, officials have said.
Despite the changes, there continues to be a sharp decline in revenues in the 2021-22 fiscal year because the current parcel tax is scheduled to expire then. Revenues and like expenditures of $2.5 million were removed from the budget year, officials have said.
The local revenue amount is expected to decline from more than $8.4 million in 2020-21 to more than $5.7 million in 2021-22.
The district is seeking a parcel tax renewal on the March 2020 ballot. The tax finances programs, in contrast to Measure LCF, which funds facilities. Consultants recommended that the tax be offered at the current rate of $450 per parcel, with adjustments by the annual Consumer Price Index to offset inflation. The vote would extend a tax that was passed in 2014 and is set to expire in June 2021.