Joint meeting held
The Laguna Beach City Council and School Board met jointly Oct. 28 to discuss matters of common concern.
Traffic issues discussed
Supt. Robert Fraisse said traffic is a key issue in the schools, and City Manager Ken Frank agreed, noting that particular problems exist at Top of the World Elementary and Thurston middle schools.
Traffic jams are common when parents drop off or pick up their children, and a group called the Dad's Strike Team has been formed to monitor traffic.
Additional help is needed from the city during back-to-school events, emergencies and on graduation days, school officials said.
State park near school
Fraisse updated the council on the Crystal Cove State Park project near El Morro Elementary School, reporting that a meeting had been held that day at the school to inform parents about the project, which has generated some concern over a joint entry for the school and park campground area.
A committee has been appointed to oversee issues involving the park project, which is expected to break ground in the next year.
Board member Jan Vickers, who sits on the committee, noted that campfires will not be permitted during school hours, and that the committee is working to reconfigure traffic patterns.
Councilwoman Toni Iseman suggested that funds could be obtained to convert the district's school busses from diesel fuel, but Assistant Principal of Business Services Norma Shelton responded that the busses are all "green" and no longer use diesel.
Artists Theater use
Board member Theresa O'Hare reported that progress has been made on the issue of public use of the Artists Theater at Laguna Beach High School, which has been a source of conflict for the community and school district.
Shelton noted that a calendar has been put in place on the school's website showing the usage, and that the theater was able to accommodate all those who requested its use for the current year due to new protocols that have been put in place.
"Cadance [Laguna Dance Festival] is OK for next year, and we will see if we can accommodate them in the future," Shelton said.
Fraisse added that, although the theater can now be booked up to a year in advance, some groups need to reserve it a year and a half in advance, so exceptions have been granted.
Assistant City Manager John Pietig said the pool at the high school, which is also used for city purposes, is due for a number of improvements, including replastering. This spring, the pool will be fitted with a new shade structure, and an energy-efficient heater and pump, as well as a solar clock, and new lane lines, Pietig said.
The city-operated swimming lessons at the pool increased by 20% this summer, he added.
Drug, alcohol abuse issue raised
In response to a comment from Councilwoman Cheryl Kinsman that a drug abuse task force had been discontinued, board members noted that drug and alcohol prevention measures were among the top district goals in its strategic plan for the next two years.
Some recent drug incidents on school property have raised concerns, Councilman Kelly Boyd said.
Vickers said the board is considering bringing in a consultant to address the issue.
"We'll see a lot of push in this direction," Fraisse said. "We have to address it head on."
Pajama party for girls
Nancy Hubbell, assistant superintendent for Instructional Services, said the district is sponsoring "safe" evening activities for students.
"For girls, we are holding a pajama party and showing the movie 'Mean Girls,'" she said. "We want kids to know they don't have to party like rock stars." The Oct. 30 party was called "'Mean Girls' for Nice Girls."
Alcohol in town
Iseman said she wants the council to find ways to cut down on the amount of alcohol use in Laguna Beach.
"Alcohol is very prevalent and we need a discussion about what culture we are inviting in with the bars and restaurants," she said. "We don't want to be a destination for drinking."
Boyd, who owns the Marine Room Tavern, responded that fake IDs are easy to obtain.
"It [drinking] starts at home," Boyd said. "I've owned a bar for 21 years, and I've seen no serious problems."
Boyd said the bar owners are now policing themselves and meeting with the Police Department for advice.
Board meeting follows
During the School Board meeting that followed the joint meeting, the board:
?recognized retiring employee John MacDonald;
?heard a report on a trip to Washington, D.C., by high school Principal Don Austin and instructor Walt Hamera to receive the school's Blue Ribbon award;
?approved $45,000 in priority safety expenditures at the schools;
?approved disclosure of collective bargaining agreements negotiated Aug. 26 that resulted in a 4.8% salary increase and an 8.4% increase in health and welfare benefits, retroactive to July 1, an expenditure of $1,324,313 for salaries and $284,099 for benefits.
El Morro traffic issues
The board also approved hiring a traffic consultant for the El Morro school project, to conduct a study of existing traffic conditions.
Parent Bryan Menne proposed an alternative entrance to El Morro Elementary School to avoid a conflict with the adjacent state park usage.
"” Cindy Frazier