Thursday’s PUSD meeting began with an appearance by the Pasadena High School Orchestra, playing Villodio’s El Chocho with gusto, followed by resolutions to promote student access to healthy food, all manner of art, and a promising kickoff to Women’s History month.
By Garrett Rowlan
All in all, a positive beginning to the evening, though when the board reconvened, after a two-hour delay for closed session, matters were passionate though direction uncertain. Open forum comments were followed by the night’s signature item, a public hearing allowing for public input on a petition submitted by Melkonian High School, a California Public Dependent Charter School. The petition followed last October’s announcement to close Manoukian High School due to declining enrollment.
The proposal suffered difficulties from some angles, clarity lacking as to what exactly was a “dependent” charter school, and what that entailed. In addition, and this was noted by board member Michelle Richardson-Bailey in a subsequent comment, opening a school might seem to suffer from bad timing in the wake of five schools in Pasadena about to be closed.
Despite the passion, willingness to help, and preparation of its advocates, the suddenness of the proposal seems almost to have caught the Board off-guard. Nor did the somewhat toxic term “charter” help, as both the board and members of the speaking community noted, among them Dr. Alice Petrossian, former Chief Academic Officer of PUSD. Absent, and conspicuously so, considering his apparent championing of this step, was Brian McDonald, Superintendent of PUSD.
Several board members requested more information before a decision could be made, and the discussion ended on that note, though the urgency of the matter remains crucial. The school year is drawing nearer to its end and student decisions concerning their potential landing spots in high school need to be made.
Once the matter seemed to have been exhausted by 8:40 pm, much of the crowd left. The meeting resumed with a talk by Davis Demographics regarding the redistricting of PUSD.
> Click to watch the full PUSD Board meeting on February 27, 2020.
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