• a screengrab of a zoom meeting with boxes of videos lined up in a row

      A virtual PUSD meeting (Photo – screengrab, KRLN)

      The Pasadena Unified School District held a virtual Special Board Meeting on May 14, 2020, to discuss three main topics. 

      By Albert Martin

      The first topic on the agenda was the adoption of K-5 Instructional materials for Social Studies, the second was a resolution in support of keeping the Altadena Sheriff Station open, and the third topic was to discuss the impact of Covid-19 on the School District’s budget.

      The meeting was live streamed by KRLN and is available for viewing. The public hearing for the Social Studies adoption was via teleconference. The public was invited to participate in the meeting via Google Hangouts. Public comment was emailed to the Superintendent at Superintendent@pusd.us. If the public comment indicated that it was to be part of the public record it was read aloud by the Vice President of the Board of Education, Scott Phelps.

      Prior to the special board meeting materials for the Social Studies adoption were available for public review at: gopusd.com/historyreview. Parents were given an online survey asking if they found the materials inviting and appealing. They were also asked if the materials were user-friendly and easy to navigate. The final question asked if parents felt the materials were age and grade appropriate.

      During the public comment period, parents and other members of the public were encouraged to provide input relative to the textbooks and instructional materials under district pilot and review. Board member Larry Torres stressed that in light of the ever evolving, fluid environment of the Covid-19 pandemic that is was important that the Social Studies Adoption include an online component. The Superintendent, Executive Leadership Team and the full board were in support of this Social Studies adoption having an online component. It is still unknown if instruction set to begin on August 17, 2020 will be in person, online or hybrid model. Options may be given to parents as well.

      Resolution 2558: Retention of the Altadena Sheriff Station

      Next, Resolution 2558 to support retention of the Altadena Sheriff Station passed 6-1. All six board members voted in support of the resolution with Elizabeth Pomeroy not being able to cast a vote at all due to technical difficulties.

      The resolution recognizes that the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Station in Altadena has provided invaluable public safety services to the students, staff, and families of the Pasadena Unified School District for decades. The Pasadena Unified School District includes Altadena, unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County, Pasadena, and Sierra Madre. The Altadena Sheriff’s Station serves unincorporated areas of the Los Angeles County including Altadena, Northeast Pasadena, Pasadena Glen, Angeles National Forest Mount Wilson Area (Eaton Canyon), Chaney Trail, Kinneola Mesa, and La Vina.

      On May 4, 2020, the Los Angeles County Sheriff announced plans to close the Altadena Sheriff’s Station. More than 1,535 students attend schools served by the Altadena Sheriff’s Station, including Altadena Arts Magnet Elementary School, Eliot Arts Magnet Middle School, Focus Point Academy program, Franklin Elementary School, Jackson STEM Magnet School, and Webster Elementary.

      The Pasadena Unified School District recognizes that the Altadena Sheriff’s Station is an “integral part of the Pasadena Unified School District’s emergency preparation and response”. The Altadena Sheriff station provides active shooter and other school safety training for school and district staff. Closing the Altadena station and assigning service to a station located 9 miles away will increase response times and reduce patrol unit presence in our community.

      Impending Budget Cuts

      Finally, the last topic was the impact of Covid-19 on Pasadena Unified School District’s budget. State revenues are down by $41.2 Billion Dollars. The impact to the state Education budget is $18 Billion dollars. In 2019-2020, the Cola (Cost of Living Increase) added to the budget was 3.26%. The best-case scenario to the budget would be a (0-10%) increase.

      PUSD could lose more than $35 million in state funding for the 2020-2021 fiscal year alone. Estimated per pupil losses in PUSD could be as much as $2,300. In addition, PERS/STRS increases could be frozen at the current year level and relief from strict adherence to the 3% reserve for economic uncertainty in each year of the rolling three-year budget cycle.

      Covid-19 relief funds are also anticipated through SB117 to the tune of $267,885. The district is waiting for a FEMA manager to help with rising Covid-19 related costs such as: distance learning systems; professional development to support distance learning; health/safety/supplies and support to groups facing barriers. The State could provide 4.6 million dollars of funding through the Elementary and Secondary Emergency Relief Fund.

       Drastic Budget Cuts

      Board President, Patrick Cahalan, said that this budget is not giving the Pasadena Unified School District “a lot to work with” and that this budget is setting the Pasadena Unified School District up for an “impossible job”. The PUSD will need to make unimaginable cuts over the next 2-3 weeks. Input will be taken from teachers, parents and community partners. Kim Kenne, board member, wanted to make sure that this process was being communicated to all stakeholders. These drastic cuts will be discussed at the next Board Meeting on May 28, 2020. The budget for the 2020-2021 School year will be adopted by June 30, 2020. The state will most likely not finalize their budget until August. PUSD may need to revise the budget again once the state budget is signed.

      > Watch the full PUSD Board Special Meeting on May 14, 2020.

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      1. Rochelle Coombs says:

        Schools NEVER going to reopen. So who cares!!

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