Smaller but better schools

After reading yet again that kindergarten enrollment for the upcoming school year is alarmingly and disappointingly low [“Drop in student count sets off alarms at school district,” Valley Sun, April 21], I suggest that we embrace, rather than resist, our future as a smaller — and hopefully better — school district.

First of all, we hardly have a choice. Enrollment of resident LC kids has been declining consistently enough over the last decade that we will never be able to fill the gap satisfactorily with out-of-district students; anyone can see that with 360 going out and 147 coming in, that the district eventually will be forced to make seismic changes to its schools.

Unlike many people, I am not alarmed by this prospect, but see it as an opportunity. There is evidence that smaller districts and high schools can be as successful, if not more-so, than larger districts. For example, the San Marino and Piedmont unified school districts both have lower overall enrollment figures than La Cañada and smaller high schools, and San Marino boasted the state’s highest academic performance index in 2010 while Piedmont ranks fourth, just 8 points below LCUSD. (Manhattan Beach USD was third and has an enrollment of about 6500 students).

The process of transitioning to a smaller district will be messy, for sure. Every program will have to be evaluated for its cost and benefit, and there will be bitter disagreements. The prospect of closing any one of our beloved elementary schools will bring heartache to our community. On the other hand, as our district slowly shrinks, I hope our board and district take the opportunity to fix the elements of our schools that are broken and frustrating to parents.

I, for one, am looking forward to watching our schools adapt to these changing circumstances and embrace the future as a leaner, smaller, and academically dynamic and competitive school district.

Ingrid McConnell

La Cañada Flintridge


Cut now, restore later

I am troubled by the article in the April 21 Valley Sun regarding the drop in the LCUSD student count. The article stated that because intra-district enrollment for the next year is not as high as expected, LCUSD is considering increasing out-of-district students to up to 15% of the total student body.

The downward trend of our schools’ enrollment is not unique. As a matter of fact, low enrollment has been nationwide phenomenon. From the current population’s age distribution, most people believe that this low enrollment will remain steady for a while. If that is true, we can’t keep increasing the out-of-district students to meet the district’s expected quota indefinitely.

As an LCF resident, my main concern is the fairness to the LCF residents and the quality of our children’s education. The high academic achievement of LCUSD is one of the few reasons we chose to live in the city and is also one of the few reasons our property values remain stable and desirable.

I don’t know how the out-of-district students will be chosen, so I can’t measure their impact to our schools now; but I am not ready to risk any negative impact that they may bring to our schools. Also, as a resident, I want my taxes to go to the students whose parents live in LCF.

I suggest that LCUSD either seek out other alternatives for dealing with the low enrollment by consulting with other schools, or provide options to the LCF residents and make final decisions based on our input and choices.

We are seeing employers cut back employees due to the economic downturn every day. When I first moved to LCF, Palm Crest Elementary was closed, and the high school was much smaller. If we have to close one of the elementary schools, or if we have to cut some high school extracurricular programs like other schools, we should consider doing those things.

I ask LCUSD not to make out-of-district-student policy decisions just for the sake of saving school jobs. We can always restore what we lost when the enrollment and economy become better.

Kathy Hsiao

La Cañada Flintridge


Lust for the community center

 What would a community center do for you? Would it be a place for you, your family, friends and neighbors to meet, grow, learn and thrive?

Since 1949, the Community Center of La Cañada Flintridge has been doing just that: enhancing the well-being of the community by bringing people of all ages together for enrichment, recreation and social programs.

Ask the generations of families who have been served by the center, its activities, resources and programs over the years. While the name has changed, the facility and its vital role in the community remain strong.

When was the last time you visited the Community Center of La Cañada Flintridge? Did you move your feet in a Ballroom Dancing class? Did you expand your creativity in the ceramics studio? Did your kids act in Theater Camp? If you haven’t been to the Center, ask yourself why not.

I invite you to reconnect with the center at its next unique event, the Lust For Life Senior Expo on Sunday, May 1, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. It will pull together the best resources of the Foothill communities in order to provide valuable information and ideas for seniors and their families who continue to have a passion for an active lifestyle.

Workshops, demonstrations and more than 30 local vendors will be available for participants to learn more about dance, travel, fitness, health, art and financial topics to enhance life. The event is open to all and free to the public.

For more information about Community Center programs or the Lust For Life Senior Expo, contact the Community Center of LCF at (818) 790-4353. Come see for yourself how one of the first centers of La Cañada continues to bring our whole community together.

Joel Smith

La Cañada Flintridge

The writer is board chairman of the Community Center of La Cañada Flintridge.


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