It was a light turnout at the Los Altos Library for Daryl Supernaw’s ‘Tuesday before Thanksgiving’ 4th District Community Meeting, but what it lacked in size was made up for with intimacy.
Daryl considerately lets the guests speak first so they end their work day at a reasonable time. The Superintendent of Long Beach Schools, Chris Steinhauser, was the first and only victim of the evening.
The biggest news for our schools in the declining enrollment. When Chris first became Superintendent in 2002 there were 98,000 students, today there are 77,000. He reminded us that LBUSD is huge! The majority of California school districts are of 10,000 or less. I believe Steinhauser said seven elementary schools have been closed in recent years. On an interesting note, he said demographic studies show the student population is increasing in more affluent areas and decreasing in economically depressed areas.
Steinhauser has worked for the LBUSD for 32 years, first as a teacher. In the ‘old days’ approximately 19,000 students were bussed. Today only 175 are bussed and even that will be discontinued after this year.
Steinhauser noted that when he graduated from Wilson the student population was 2,700 and when his kids graduated, around 2008, it was 4,700. The goal is to reduce it to a more manageable 3,400 within the next few years. So the biggest visible change in the district, are the very visible new high schools that will help with this reduction.
There is McBride on the site of the old DeMille Middle School. This is a ‘thematic’ high school that offers engineering and medical/health tracts. Being built on Hill Street at Redondo Avenue is Browning High School, set to open in Fall of 2017. This school will offer tracts in tourism and hospitality. In 2019 Mary Butler Middle School will become Mary Butler Middle College with students able to attend City College classes and graduate with a high school diploma and an AA degree.
Hill Middle School is already transitioning to Sato High School which is a replication of the highly successful CAMS High School on the Cal State Dominguez Hills Campus, for which there is a 600 student waiting list. Most of these students will enter college as sophomores. Sato is offering Chinese that will give them 18 units in Asian studies for college. The future for these high schoolers will look much different; they expect 60% to 70% of their classes will be taken at CSULB.
A third CAMS school will be at the Jordan High School area that is undergoing a 7 year remodel. Upon completion in 2020 they will have increase the size by 65,000 square feet.
Steinhauser went on to talk about the College Promise program and the number of students who will be able to take the PSAT test for free. There were a few questions asked of the audience but the most interesting came from Daryl, who said the following was the 4th District’s second most frequently received question. “Who decides the re-naming or the naming of schools?”
The answer is the school board. There are guidelines in place and committees are formed to approve names for new schools and for re-naming old.
Steinhauser was dismissed with a round of applause.
Next to the podium was yours truly. I was excited to be on that side of the room after years of being on the audience side.
Daryl tied in my introduction by recalling City Prosecutor Doug Haubert’s announcement on July 28, 2015 that he had successfully prosecuted an airline for airport violations and won a settlement of $53,000. The city decided the funds could be put to good use and benefit the communities* most affected by the planes, by creating endowments through the Long Beach Community Foundation. The Los Altos Charity Giving Fund was created and a committee, of which I am a proud member, was assembled to decide best way a non-profit organization could use the $1000 available from the endowment’s interest.
As luck would have it, Bob Soukup who lives on Whaley Park, was taking baby steps to get the neighborhood interested in bringing back a Los Altos holiday tradition. In the 50s and 60s each house around Whaley Park sponsored a large cut-out letter that was covered in tinfoil and displayed with a spotlight. The letters spelled out “Happy New Year” on the lawns of the houses to the west and north and Merry Christmas was spelled out on the east side on San Anseline.
While there was not time to get a non-profit group involved with the manufacturing of the letters for this year, we will be holding a kick-off event at Whaley Park on Sunday December 6 starting at 2 pm. There will be music by the non-profit CSULB True Brass Choir - check them out here. Hot cocoa will be served by the LB Firefighters Association Local 372 and most exciting of all, our very own neighborhood Santa (who looks exactly like Santa) will be making a guest appearance. We are keeping it old-school by asking for neighborhood donations of cookies and treats. On display will be original letters and a prototype for next year’s completed project (hopefully by Long Beach Boy Scout troops).
Concurrently the 4th District office will be holding an event that will include a musical performance group, a bounce house for the kids and a YMCA kids fun table with face painting.
This is NOT at the Recreation building side of Whaley. It is on the north side of Atherton, on what was once called Little Whaley. Spread the word and let’s get this tradition back and up and going!
Lastly Daryl Supernaw held his question and answer period. Someone asked about requesting a clean up at Minnie Gant. I was sort of surprised since it always looks clean when I walk by. The person said there was a Shred Event there a few weeks ago and suggested it may have been the aftermath of this fundraiser. I just want to be clear, that wasn’t my sponsored event, but please mark your calendars for my Better Living in Long Beach Free Shred and E-waste on April 23 at Minnie Gant. It is the day after Earth Day! (Sorry for the shameless plug).
Supernaw used the last few minutes of the meeting to explain the guidelines he must abide by as a Council Representative, and why it is in our best interest he abides by them. Most of us think of city councils as legislative bodies. But city councils sometimes act in an adjudicatory capacity, that is, they sit in a role similar to judges.* He used the following story to illustrate his need for showing an unbiased opinion. A Newport Beach restaurant, partially owned by Chuck Norris applied for a conditional use permit and variance. A council member made public his objection to the permits approval. Ultimately the courts ruled in favor of the restaurant group and against the opinion of the councilperson using the case of BreakZone Billiards v City of Torrance which states:
When functioning in such an adjudicatory capacity, the city council must be “neutral and unbiased.” The rule against bias does not require the applicant to prove actual bias. Rather, there must not be an unacceptable probability of actual bias on the part of the municipal decision maker. Bias, either actual or an “unacceptable probability” of it, alone is enough on the part of a municipal decision maker is to show a violation of the due process right to fair procedure.
In more simple words, if you have an opinion on an upcoming vote you should absolutely write to your council members with it. Your councilperson is elected to represent their constituents. You should not expect your councilperson to come out swinging on an issue since this could do more harm then good.
*Proceeds of the lawsuit equally split to create the Bixby Knolls Charitable Giving Fund as well.