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Devil’s Gate hauling plan shifts to ease traffic at key times near LCHS

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A water truck washes down Oak Grove Drive as a hauler exits out with a load of dirt from the Hahamongna Watershed Park L.A. County Public Works Department’s Devil’s Gate Dam Sediment Removal project. Their route will be shifted during peak traffic hours near La Cañada High, according to the LCUSD superintendent.
(Raul Roa/Staff Photographer)

Supt. Wendy Sinnette reported the district will also install a real-time air quality monitoring system by the end of this month.

Trucks hauling sediment out of Devil’s Gate Reservoir will travel a new route during school start and dismissal times to avoid the heaviest traffic periods on Oak Grove Drive, La Cañada Unified School District Supt. Wendy Sinnettee told the school board during its regular meeting Tuesday night.

The new haul route takes effect Thursday, the first day of the new school year.

“Our concern was the traffic impacts with dismissal,” said Sinnette, sharing the new schedule. “From 2:30 to 3:30 [p.m.] the entrance and exit of the trucks will be on the Arroyo [Boulevard]/Windsor [Avenue] side.

“That helps with no traffic on our side during dismissal time,” she added, noting the trucks will follow the same route from 7 to 9 a.m. Trucks will exit the project site onto Berkshire Place between 9 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.

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An advisory committee that includes Sinnette, school board member Dan Jefferies, resident Elizabeth Krider and representatives of other communities affected by the project met Aug. 5 to recommend the schedule change. A push to reduce the percentage of loaded trucks exiting onto Berkshire Place from 75% to a more balanced rate failed at that meeting.

Sinnette also reported Tuesday the district will install a real-time air-quality-monitoring system by the end of this month. The system will notify her and school principals of unhealthy air conditions. Sinnette assured the board the data from the district’s monitoring system will be user-friendly, compared to the delayed data currently made available by Los Angeles County Public Works.

A bimonthly report will share findings from the monitoring and actions in response to those findings, which may include excusing sensitive individuals from physical education or through canceling after-school sports activities.

Sinnette added progress has begun on a long-awaited tire wash that will remove sediment from truck tires as they leave the reservoir to help mitigate dust issues associated with the hauling project.

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Palm Crest modernization plan B approved

Also during Tuesday’s meeting, the school board directed district staff to move forward with one of two conceptual plans for modernization at Palm Crest Elementary, a project to be funded by Measure LCF bonds. The selected plan — concept B — would replace 13 existing classrooms at the north end of campus with 16 classrooms in two two-story modular buildings.

Concept B places the two proposed classroom buildings in a V-shaped placement with an outdoor collaboration area in between. Sinnette explained this placement “would open up opportunities in that area for outdoor work, and [collaboration], and tying together the campus.”

Associate Supt. Mark Evans added this concept was the school-site staff-preferred option. The alternative proposal would place the buildings parallel to each other, a configuration which Evans said is likely to cost more.

Board members also directed staff to plan for a new drop-off parking lot with 48 spaces at the corner of Palm and Jessen drives. Board members also opted for a new back parking lot with eight spaces instead of 20, due to the placement of the new modular building, and selected an altered front parking lot layout that removes 17 parking spaces to create a drop-off lane. The decision to reduce available parking in the front lot, according to Sinnette, will “help with traffic and congestion in the neighborhood” and “ensures student safety when they’re exiting vehicles.”

The changes would result in a net gain of one parking space, increasing the total to 86. “Parking is important, but most important is instructional space,” Sinnette said, explaining the district’s recommendation.

Latest enrollment numbers

“We have really good enrollment numbers,” Sinnetter said. At La Cañada Elementary, 651 students start school Thursday with full capacity in first, fourth and fifth grades. At Paradise Canyon, 734 students are enrolled with full capacity in third and sixth grades. Palm Crest has 663 students, with third grade at full capacity. There are 739 students at La Cañada High 7/8, including 35 new residents in seventh grade and 14 new residents in eighth grade. At LCHS, 1,337 Spartans in grades nine through 12 are kicking off the new school year.

The district received 34 permit applications from residents of the Sagebrush territory on the west side of La Cañada that fall within Glendale Unified School District boundaries. Of those 34, 24 were accepted. Nine of the 24 accepted applicants are siblings of current students. The district accepted 34 of 128 Allen Bill applications, which concern students whose parents work full time within district boundaries. Twenty-eight applications from LCUSD employees were also accepted. Total enrollment for the 2019-20 school year is 4,160 — 36 more students than last year.

Also Tuesday, the school board:

• Heard an update about the recruitment of an equity and inclusion officer. More than 70 individuals applied. Ten applicants have been selected for a panel interview this month. The panel will consist of district officials, counselors, classified staff, parents and community members.

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Kurdoghlian is a contributor to the Valley Sun.

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