Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy agrees to stick to enrollment cap

After neighbors criticized Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy for exceeding its city-mandated enrollment cap, the school will admit a smaller freshman class this fall.

A total of 385 students — the maximum number the school can hold under a conditional-use permit granted by the city in 1994 — will attend the school in August. The current enrollment is 410.

Last year, members of the group Protect LCF complained to the city that the school's enrollment was over its limit. They objected to the resulting extra traffic to the curvy, narrow streets that lead to the hillside campus. School officials agreed to meet the cap in the coming school year.

It's just one of the school's moves to appease neighbors as they prepare for an extensive campus renovation that includes an updated auditorium and 31/2-story parking structure.

Starting in August, Flintridge Sacred Heart will also unveil a traffic management program that will require all students to commute to the school via bus or carpool. Students will choose their preferred mode of transportation in April.

Students who drive will be given a preferred parking spot based on the number of passengers they pick up. But the school is encouraging students to instead take a bus to the campus, which would put even fewer vehicles on the road, said Margaret Kean, the school's chief development officer.

The school is thinking about having two buses — one that will come from the Pasadena area and another that will pick up students in the Crescenta Valley area. There would be late-pickup buses to accommodate students who have extracurricular activities. The school will hire one person to manage the program, Kean said.

“I think the traffic was a huge concern, and we're taking care of it with this plan,” she said. “We will show evidence of it [working] this fall.”

Last week, the school held two open house events to inform its residential neighbors of both the traffic management plan and the campus expansion plan. Only a couple of residents attended each one, including members of Protect LCF.

The group is working with public affairs consultant David Gershwin and law firm Jeffer Mangels Butler & Mitchell.

Gershwin said the traffic management plan is a step in the right direction, but the group wants to make sure that it is enforced.

Hera Benlian, who lives on Inverness Drive, studied the renderings of the plan that were on display last Thursday night.

She said it looked like a big project. “I didn't realize the scale of it.”

A mother of three daughters, Benlian said she is worried about construction trucks driving up the winding roads to complete the work.

“I'm scared for my kids,” she said. “I want to make sure the roads are safe.”

Benlian said a carpooling plan would help ease traffic in her neighborhood, but she is waiting to see how it turns out.

The school is still deciding which route trucks would take when construction begins, Kean said. Construction for the plan would take place over the course of four years, with breaks in between.

The city has begun the environmental review process for the school's expansion plans and will hold a scoping meeting in the Council Chambers at 6:30 p.m. Monday.

Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy will hold another open house and tour of the campus, at 440 St. Katherine Drive, from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday.


Follow Tiffany Kelly on Google+ and on Twitter @LATiffanyKelly.

Copyright © 2019, La Cañada Valley Sun
EDITION: California | U.S. & World