LCUSD Extends School Closures Through May 5

Photo by Wes Woods II / OUTLOOK
The La Cañada Unified School District board and staff members met virtually on March 31 at a special meeting that included Anais Wenn (front, from left), Dan Jeffries and Brent Kuszyk. Middle: Mark Evans, Ellen Multari and Kaitzer Puglia. Back: Joe Radabaugh, Jamie Lewsadder and Wendy Sinnette.

The La Cañada Unified School District board voted to extend school closures through Tuesday, May 5, at a Tuesday night special virtual meeting, and acknowledged that the timeline could be further pushed back.
The vote took into account the recommended May 5 date put forth by the Los Angeles County Office of Education. The meeting featured governing board members attending virtually, or via video conferencing site Zoom, and was broadcast live on YouTube.
Before voting, Superintendent Wendy Sinnette spoke of the statement from the California Department of Education, sent earlier on Tuesday, which said it “currently appears” students will not be able to return to school campuses before the end of the school year.
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LCUSD Superintendent’s Message on Status of District

By Wendy Sinnette, Special to The Outlook

Wendy Sinnette

I hope everyone is managing during these unprecedented times as we engage with Gov. Newsom’s “Safer at Home” order and work together to flatten the curve of infection with the COVID-19 virus. I am grateful to The Outlook and Charlie Plowman for giving me the opportunity to update the larger community regarding the status of our schools in the La Cañada Unifed School District.
I have been regularly emailing district families, students in grades 7-12 and staff, but given the support that the community of La Cañada Flintridge continually demonstrates for its schools, it is important to keep everyone informed regarding district updates. Our schools closed on Friday, March 13, in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Teachers were provided two days to prepare for distance learning, which officially commenced on Tuesday, March 17. Our teachers and students have access to Google Classroom, and student textbooks and learning apps are stored in Classlink, an online centralized platform. Other resources available for distance learning opportunities are Screencastify, Google Hangouts, Zoom, YouTube and EdPuzzle. Teachers are designing lessons according to their instructional style and working hard to ensure a continuation of learning throughout the school closure period.
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LCUSD Cancels Student Trips Amid Coronavirus Precaution

The La Cañada Unified School District Governing Board instructed Superintendent Wendy Sinnette this week to cancel student out-of-state field trips involving air travel because of the coronavirus pandemic, and the district is also assessing the importance of large group activities amid social distancing precautions.
At a regular meeting of the board Tuesday night, Sinnette and LCUSD’s Chief Technology Officer Jamie Lewsadder delivered a detailed report about the district’s plans regarding the possibility of school closures. The board also discussed upcoming air-travel field trips outside California as an agenda item and voted to cancel them.
Following the meeting, Sinnette sent out a district-wide letter about the decision.
The coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, is a respiratory illness that has spread worldwide. In a statement Wednesday, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health said there were 27 cases in the county, including three reported by the city of Long Beach. Officials also reported the county’s first coronavirus-related fatality; the woman who died was an older woman with underlying health issues and a nonresident who had been visiting friends.
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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”

School Board Likes Late Start in 2018-19

After hearing that students at La Cañada High School are getting more sleep this school year, Governing Board members voted unanimously Tuesday to recommend that the school bring back its “late start” bell schedule next fall.
For 2017-18, La Cañada Unified School District became one of the first districts in the state to start the school day at its high school at 8:30 a.m. (later than the previous 7:45 a.m. start). The initiative was inspired by the Challenge Success program, which is focused on improving students’ overall well-being.
A series of surveys were conducted and an oversight committee composed of students, parents, faculty and administrators met four times to evaluate the later start, said Jim Cartnal, executive director of pupil and personnel programs and services. Continue reading “School Board Likes Late Start in 2018-19”

PCY Principal Promoted to District Role

Debra Cradduck

Paradise Canyon Elementary School will have to share Debra Cradduck with the rest of La Cañada Unified School District after the school year ends.
The current PCY principal was appointed Tuesday to serve as the district’s executive director of personnel services, following the Governing Board’s unanimous approval.
“It’s pretty amazing, I’ve been here for eight years, so I’m definitely ready for a new challenge,” said Cradduck, a La Cañada High School graduate. “But I’m going to miss PCY.”

Cradduck’s new duties will include recruitment; coordinating assignments, promotions, leaves, transfers and retirements; managing evaluation programs; serving on the district’s negotiating team and much more. She’s scheduled to step into the new role at the close of the current school year, Superintendent Wendy Sinnette said. Continue reading “PCY Principal Promoted to District Role”

‘Data Queen’ of LCUSD to Retire

Photo by Mirjam Swanson / OUTLOOK
Lindi Dreibelbis will retire from La Cañada Unified School District on June 29.

As titles go, Lindi Dreibelbis’ is substantial: She is (deep breath) La Cañada Unified School District’s Chief Director of Assessment, Research, Consolidated Programs and CALPADS.
Her duties put her in charge of state-mandated assessments and have her making reports to the state and federal government, as well as monitoring the state accountability system for school and district progress. She’s charged with pursuing grants, overseeing daily attendance practices and providing leadership for the English Language Development Program. She’s also tasked with maintaining individual-level data on student demographics, courses, discipline, assessments and staff assignments.
In essence, she’s the district’s “data queen.”
And on June 29, after 20 years with the district and 38 in the field of education, Dreibelbis plans to retire. Continue reading “‘Data Queen’ of LCUSD to Retire”

Leininger Honored for Service to City

Photo by Mirjam Swanson / OUTLOOK
Longtime La Cañada Flintridge resident and educator Mike Leininger encouraged his audience to find ways to give back as he was recognized by the Noon Kiwanis Club as La Cañadan of the Year on Wednesday at Descanso Gardens’ Van de Kamp Hall.

Mike Leininger challenged the 110 people who came to lunch Wednesday, including grandsons Jeff and Johnny, to get involved in their community, citing a saying he learned as a coach at Bellflower High School: “What you do will speak so loudly,” he said, “I can’t hear a word you’re saying.”
Leininger’s actions since moving to La Cañada Flintridge 30 years ago this month with his family have spoken volumes. Several accounts were shared by fellow community leaders during the Noon Kiwanis Club of La Cañada’s annual La Cañadan of the Year recognition luncheon at Descanso Gardens’ Van de Kamp Hall.
For 26 years, Leininger was a member of the La Cañada Unified School District, moving up the ranks as a La Cañada High School assistant principal, principal and then as LCUSD assistant superintendent. He earned his doctorate of education from the University of La Verne during that span and was known for hosting homecoming float building sessions in his front yard.
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