Foundation raises $2.23 million in 2017-18 for LCUSD schools

Representatives of the La Cañada Flintridge Educational Foundation attended Tuesday night's meeting of the La Cañada school board with a presentation check in the amount of $2.230,000, representing the amount the foundation raised in support of LCUSD schools in 2017-18.
(Matt Sanderson / La Cañada Valley Sun)

Keeping a brisk pace Tuesday, the La Cañada Unified school board accepted a $2.23 million presentation check from the La Cañada Flintridge Educational Foundation and approved a contract to install automatic locks at La Cañada High School.

The board also discussed the district’s process for identifying and supporting students with dyslexia, invited the public to a series of free upcoming events and recognized the work and talents of 12 National Merit Scholar semifinalists.

The educational foundation annually seeks tax-deductible donations from parents, individuals and local businesses to benefit all children enrolled in La Cañada Unified schools. Its contributions keep class sizes small, and allow for the hiring of counselors, technology updates and enhancements to arts and music programs.

Foundation executive director Marilyn Yang said the March spring gala raised a total of $533,495, while this year’s paddle pledge funds were earmarked to “empower teachers to enrich our students’ exposure to science, technology, engineering and math as well as improve students’ advanced problem solving skills” by establishing STEM-related instructional innovation grants available to all LCUSD teachers.

Paddle pledge funds will also be used to upgrade and expand STEM labs at La Cañada High School, to encourage students’ experimentation and problem solving capabilities.

“This represents a huge amount of work,” Supt. Wendy Sinnette said of the contribution. “We could not accomplish what we do as a district (without it).”

As part of an effort to improve security at La Cañada High School, board members approved Tuesday a nearly $1.35 million bid from Los Angeles-based Ollivier Corporation to install wireless locks and an access control system on the campus.

Funded with bond money under LCUSD’s facilities master plan, the project will install locks that can be controlled by remote control software, giving site administrators more control over campus access.

The new system will feature single database management, lockout and lock down capabilities, enterprise network solutions, remote verification of locked and unlocked status of doors, instant school emergency notifications and video surveillance integration.

Mark Evans, assistant superintendent of business and administrative services, said the district received seven replies and one bid submission from Ollivier Corporation, whose bid was over the initial budget of $900,000.

Chief technology officer Jamie Lewsadder said 10 doors with panic bars were ordered, and there will be tap security cards for high school administrators, teachers and staff.

“We want to increase security for everyone with a badge,” Lewsadder said. “Sign-in security can be done by time zone. We can track people who come and go.”

Evans added there may also be potential for future upgrades to the elementary schools.

Also on Tuesday, board members:

— Heard a report from Dr. Tamara Jackson, executive director of special education, on district’s guidelines regarding the identification, assessment and instructional planning provided for students with dyslexia. This discussion was made at a parent’s request to mark October as Dyslexia Awareness Month. Several parents shared their personal experiences raising children with dyslexia during a public hearing.

— Reminded the public about two upcoming family programs at La Cañada High School. On Oct. 18, held from 6:30 to 8 p.m., Dr. Madeline Levine of Stanford Graduate School of Education’s Challenge Success program will be speaking on the topic “Engaging Multiple Contributors to Healthy Childhood Development.” Challenge Success meets again Oct. 20 at LCHS for a 2nd annual “Building Your Path” lecture series featuring two keynote speakers and 34 presenters.

— Recognized 12 semifinalists in the 2019 National Merit Scholarship Competition. High school semifinalists include Jared Ahn, Andrew Chae, Jared Cheng, Harrison Cho, Ryan Choi, Justin Hyon, Andrew Kwon, Amanda Laus, Kyle Lee, Kevin Mo, Veronica Muller and Diya Razdan.

“That’s an amazing number of recipients,” Sinnette said.

Matt Sanderson is a contributing writer to Times Community News.