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Smaller but better schools

April 27, 2011

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).

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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.

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