School board tackles safety and security from all angles, reviews survey results

The La Cañada Unified Governing Board plowed through a packed meeting agenda Tuesday, discussing the possible size, scope and duties of a safety and security task force and approving a number of safety-related items and contracts across all school sites.

They also heard the results of this year's Panorama Ed survey, which annually gauges stakeholder feedback on a range of campus and districtwide issues.


Formation of an LCUSD task force on safety, security and student well-being was suggested during a Feb. 27 meeting, during which several parents expressed concerns about drugs, threats made to campus and the high school's discipline policy.

Officials confirmed 40 parents have so far applied for a seat, while another 16 to 20 staff members and eight to 12 students have expressed an interest in joining the effort. The school board discussed the possible size of the panel and whether ad-hoc subcommittees might work on stakeholder-level issues or particular areas of concern.


The board agreed the main task force would play an advisory role, presenting recommendations to the board, and possibly meet on a monthly basis.

"I think we'd need to give them very specific things [to work on]," commented board member Dan Jeffries. "It seems we'd want to give some very directed input."

Supt. Wendy Sinnette appointed Jeffries and fellow board member Joe Radabaugh to a subcommittee that will read through the applications to see which candidates might fit where. She promised to report findings back at a future meeting and said the new task force would meet at least once this school year before embarking on a one-year term next year.

The board also approved two contracts related to campus safety and security — one to authorize an assessment of LCUSD's threat, risk and vulnerability and another for the design of perimeter fencing around all elementary school campuses.

Rick Musto of Irvine-based LPA Architects shared some concept designs depicting what security gates and fencing might look like at the elementary schools. The board approved the $86,000 contract, which will be paid for with Measure LCF bond money.

They also approved a $19,880 contract with Woodland Hills-based Chameleon Associates to evaluate the district's campuses, identify potential threats and collect staff concerns while reviewing emergency plans and addressing online and social media exposure. Representatives would also identify areas for additional training.

"I think this contract will provide us with the kind of audit the community has been asking for," LCUSD Supt. Wendy Sinnette told board members.

Survey says ...

Sinnette shared highlights from the 2017-18 annual districtwide survey, which polled students in grades 4 through 12, parents of all students and certificated and classified employees on issues ranging from overall school culture and student safety to administrator and board performance. The latest data was presented alongside figures from previous years' surveys.

Sinnette said while some data points remained steady and encouraging, others fluctuated significantly or fell flat in areas where progress was anticipated.

Elementary school parents approved of their school office personnel's abilities (92%), while 86% said their children were treated with respect. Among high school parents, 88% reported confidence in the district's ability to manage their school's financial viability.

Although the district has focused on improving its discipline policy in recent years, only 60% of seventh- and eighth-graders said discipline was fair and applied equally on campus, down from 71% last year. Similarly, 47% of high schoolers said that was true in grades 9 through 12, compared to 58% last year.

The survey showed significant drops in satisfaction among classified employees, only half of whom felt principals inspired their professional growth (compared to 68% last year) and those who believe principals provide the support, resources and time for them to do their jobs effectively fell from 83% to 69%.

"Obviously, we have some morale issues with our classified staff," the superintendent said.

Sinnette said school administrators have received full survey results and said the district will post a summary online and consider the data points when developing superintendent's goals for next year.

Also Tuesday, board members:

• Authorized the issuance of $30 million in Measure LCF School bonds to fund capital improvements outlined in its long-range facilities master plan. The issuance will go before the L.A. County Board of Supervisors in May for authorization, allowing the district to begin selling bonds on the open market.

• Adopted a developer fee increase, raising the rates on the assessable space of residential developments from $3.36 per square foot to $3.79. Commercial fees will increase from $.54 per square foot to $.61, with an additional $.12 per square foot for the development of enclosed public storage space. The increase will take effect 60 days from Tuesday's approval.

• Approved a one-year lease extension for the Child Educational Center, Caltech/JPL Community, to run through June 30, 2019, for 16,800 square feet of classroom and support space. CEC requested the extension to allow time for consideration of a new long-term lease in 2019. The one-year lease is expected to generate $42,175 for the district.

Twitter: @SaraCardine