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Working to improve the education product

April 18, 2012

La Cañada residents likely have heard of La Cañada Unified School District's request for another herculean fundraising effort from the community this year. Pummeled by a negligent state Legislature, our schools have suffered — year after year — the burdens of less and less money per student. Our district gets less than $5,000 per student—one of the lowest sums in the country.

Those who have spoken with me know that I believe we can't have a complete conversation about revenue without talking about the quality of our product. If we're asking the community to make up those gaps, we need to deliver a constantly improving product.

I am writing to assure readers that this line of thinking is strong within the district; efforts are being made to earn every dollar.

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Most importantly, the district has a renewed focus on improving teacher quality. Our teachers are evaluated more regularly. We have revived the Peer Assistance and Review program that enrolls teachers most in need of improvement to address areas of concern. Administrators also have a new tool: student and parent surveys.

Surveys are also part of efforts to improve two-way communication. To this end, the school board and district are moving into social media, and will be unveiling an improved website soon, as well as many other tools for keeping in touch and soliciting feedback.

In tandem with these communication efforts, the district is striving to make operations more transparent. This superintendent has made her annual goals public — an important document that empowers the community to hold us accountable. We are also creating simpler tools for understanding our budget online, and expect to have all school board agendas and materials online by this summer.

Of course, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Even with fewer resources, we know it's hard-earned money and extra contributions can't just translate into more of the same. So in addition to helping us preserve small class sizes, readers should know we are committed to providing an ever-improving service.

I am so grateful for the community's ongoing support, and hope residents will consider making contributions to the La Cañada school district today at http://lcfef.org.

Andrew Blumenfeld

La Cañada Flintridge

Editor's note: The writer is a member of the La Cañada Unified School District Governing Board.

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