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Our Readers Write: Appalled at Palm Crest's class sizes

October 07, 2010

We moved to La Cañada in the summer of '09 not only because we wanted our children to attend the schools, but to also be part of this great La Cañada community.

Now in our second year in LCUSD, we are appalled to see 24 kids in the classroom of our first-grader. We are extremely concerned about the impact on the learning environment. If classrooms are crowded, supplies are unavailable and teachers are overworked, how can the district continue to provide the best for our students?

The district officials cite "declining enrollment" and "rising costs" as factors that required the increase in class sizes. The district officials further explain that the allowing permit nonresidents to attend our schools help reduce class sizes. What? The number of permit students has jumped to 10% in the district. I understand Palm Crest's permit student population is up 18% and Palm Crest's first-grade is up 26%.

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I recognize that there are exceptions where permit students make sense to our district. For example, the children of the teachers, administrators and other district staff who give so much to the school district are an integral part of this community.

Fundraising efforts should be increased to decrease class sizes and provide more resources to the district. I don't know many parents who wouldn't donate more than $1 per day per student to ensure the schools continue to excel for our children. According to the La Cañada Flintridge Educational Foundation handout, the suggested donation for LCUSD families is significantly less as compared to [donation amounts recommended at] other top school districts in California. For example, according to the handout, San Marino's tax and suggested donation is $5,100 for a family with two students as compared to La Cañada's total of $880.

As a La Cañada property owner and parent of children enrolled in LCUSD, I would like to see full disclosure of the district's enrollment, by school, grade and class, as well as complete detailed financial results for all programs. The information available on the district's website is severely lacking in detail. Why can't the detailed financials be posted on the website for both the LCUSD and the Educational Foundation? Family donations by school and grade level should also be publically reported. Full disclosure would allow for the property owners and parents of children attending LCUSD to provide input and partner with district officials to find creative solutions.

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