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La Cañada Unified board appoints Kuszyk next president, Radabaugh VP

Outgoing La Cañada Unified School District Governing Board President Kaitzer Puglia, far left, oversees an annual board reorganization on Dec. 13. Brent Kuszyk, center left, was appointed president, while Joe Radabaugh was named vice president and Ellen Multari, right, clerk.
(Photo by Sara Cardine)

In their annual reorganization meeting last week, La Cañada Unified School District Governing Board members passed the mantle of board president to member Brent Kuszyk for the upcoming calendar year, appointing Joe Radabaugh vice president and naming Ellen Multari clerk.

Outgoing President Kaitzer Puglia thanked school families and district staff for their commitment this past year. She also thanked Supt. Wendy Sinnette, her cabinet and board members for their contributions.

“It’s been a pleasure and it’s been a lot of work. But we managed, and I couldn’t have done it without the amazing team that we have,” Puglia said.

The shuffling on the dais Dec. 13 followed a full regular meeting during which board members heard a presentation on the district’s process for identifying and assisting students with dyslexia and weighed possible layouts for a $27.5 million renovation planned for Palm Crest Elementary School.


Recommendations for dyslexia identification, intervention

Tamara Jackson, LCUSD’s executive director of Special Education, shared strategies her department would like to employ to identify students who have dyslexia and strengthen its support of their instructional needs.

She described a three-tiered approach that involves supporting students in the general educational program who may need help or accommodations, implementing targeted reading instruction and intervention programs for children needing assistance beyond core classroom work and, finally, how assessments and referrals for special education services and instruction planning work.

Jackson made four recommendations to help identify and assist students — teacher training, early screening, implementing the Sonday System for reading intervention and providing students access to the appropriate assistive technology.

Although plan aims its focus at students in pre-kindergarten through eighth grade, Jackson said her department hopes to identify kids by the time they start reading in kindergarten.


“I’m pretty confident that this would be an excellent program,” she added.

LCUSD parent Deborah Cohen thanked the district for its work, and suggested general education staff and faculty be armed with lists of dyslexia’s red flags.

“There are those clear dyslexia warning signs,” she said, naming trouble rhyming and tying shoes as examples. “But sometimes kids can mask [symptoms]. If gen ed teachers know to look for those red flags, that can be useful.”

Palm Crest makeover mulled

Mark Evans, assistant superintendent of business and administrative services, asked the board to weigh in on the modernization of Palm Crest Elementary, the first of LCUSD’s campuses scheduled to be renovated with Measure LCF bond funds as part of the district’s facilities master plan.

A site design committee was previously presented two concepts, one placing a two-story classroom building on the northwestern corner of campus facing Jessen Drive and one that put the building just north of the southwest play field.

The first plan would allow for the removal or relocation of 11 portables, while the other would affect five portables and might cost more, Evans explained.

“If you needed to bring in additional classrooms, you’d already have a flat space for portables,” he said of the second option.

After discussion about the placement of the two-story building — and whether it might be reconfigured to include “back doors” that could be used in the event of a lockdown or other emergency — the board asked Evans and consultants from LPA Architects to return with new plans and associated cost estimates.


LPA project manager Harold Pierre recommended the board decide on a standard that could be applied to the other elementary school campuses as the district moves forward in its renovation plans.

“It’s better we sort all this information out before we design, because it does cost to redesign things,” he said.

Twitter: @SaraCardine