Features

School District’s Campuses Set to Reopen Monday

The San Marino Unified School District discussed a strategy to bring students back to its campuses as early as Monday, Feb. 22, at its most recent school board meeting on Feb. 9. If implemented, the plan would reinstate at least partial in-
person education for students in transitional kindergarten through 2nd grade at Valentine and Carver Elementary schools.
The plan was fortified when the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health announced on Monday that they expect the state’s COVID-19 case threshold to reach the predetermined limit that had been deemed safe by health officials.
“The state permits elementary schools to reopen as soon as we reach an adjusted case rate of 25 per 100,000,” the public health department said in its news release. “We are informing Los Angeles County schools via an emailed letter that we expect to announce we have reached this threshold effective Tuesday, Feb. 16.”
At the meeting, Lena Richter, the SMUSD’s executive director of educational services, outlined an instructional model to bring TK-2 students back onto campus under the return-to-school waiver. The program includes a hybrid model where all students would have an online education component while a portion would also have an in-person education component.
In preparation for the reopening of its campuses, the SMUSD also generated a 44-page safety plan and video, part of which was shown at the board meeting. In the video, the SMUSD’s two elementary school principals, Alana Fauré and Michael Lin, presented information on subjects that include the daily health screening process, personal protective equipment, sanitation procedures, egress and ingress practices, and physical distancing requirements.
“This is an exciting event that’s really imminent now,” Fauré said at the board meeting. “We have been planning this for a long, long time.”
The SMUSD will begin preparation for the return to campuses by students in grades 3-5.
School board President Shelley Ryan, herself an educator by trade, was energized by the recent development
“I am very happy with the way the district has prioritized safety during this entire process,” said Ryan in a phone conversation Tuesday morning. “The district has been working since the summer to look at all the protocols and procedures associated with getting our students back on campuses. Teachers are working alongside community members on the safety committees. This is the end result of a great deal of collaboration, and I am very happy about that.”
The board also unanimously approved Resolution 13, which will provide guidelines for an oversight committee that would be activated if voters approve Measure E on March 2.
With its proceeds earmarked for education funding, Measure E raises $968 per parcel in San Marino as well as commercial properties and residences within the boundaries of the SMUSD. The special election will be held on Tuesday, March 2, by mail-in ballot.
First approved by voters in 2009 for a six-year term, the parcel tax was renewed in 2015 and is scheduled to expire this June. If Measure E receives the required two-thirds vote, taxpayers will be charged in perpetuity, as the six-year sunset clause has been removed from the measure.
The official ballot statement says that the tax will be assessed in each fiscal year “until ended by voters.” The proposed resolution was crafted as a response to public opposition to the permanent nature of the parcel tax and responsibility and costs of calling for a vote to end the tax that would be placed on the electorate. The cost to hold an election that includes voters in the city of San Marino and the school district has been estimated at $80,000.
Resolution 13 creates “an accountability structure” and a commitment to be transparent with the fiscal resources provided by the successful passage of Measure E as an ongoing parcel tax, if it is approved by voters. The resolution also creates “a trigger mechanism to end Measure E at some future time where the tax is no longer necessary to sustain the district.”
The resolution also calls for the board to appoint an oversight committee within 60 days of certification of the election, which will meet at least once a year. It also requires the district to “maintain a reserve account to pay for fees and expenses associated with an order to the county registrar to call an election within the boundaries of the district to submit to the voters the question whether the district shall discontinue, and effectively end or decrease, the levy Measure E special tax within the district.”
Additionally, the board received an update from San Marino High School Principal Jason Kurtenbach and Assistant Principal Carlos Kassam-Clay regarding a dual enrollment agreement with Pasadena Community College that would allow SMHS students to take classes that would simultaneously earn them both high school and college credit. Classes that have been proposed to begin in fall 2021 include American Sign Language, introduction to business and kinesiology.

Now in his 25th year at The Tribune, Mitch Lehman is Editor and Sports Editor in addition to being the public address announcer for ten sports programs at San Marino High School. Mitch is one of only a handful in the community to receive the ‘Very Special Person Award’ from the San Marino PTA at the annual Founder’s Day ceremony, was acknowledged as a 'Terrific Titan' by the San Marino High School PTSA, was named an Honorary Paul Harris Fellow by the Rotary Club of San Marino and received a National Honorary Merit Badge in Journalism from the Boy Scouts of America. He has received two independent Pulitzer Prize nominations and in the past three years, Mitch has won seven awards and is a thirteen-time finalist in the California News Publishers Association's Better Newspapers Contest. In 2015, the press box at Titan Stadium was re-named 'Lehman's Loft' in his honor. You can reach Mitch at mitchlehman@sanmarinotribune.com.

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