South Pasadena School Board Tackles Wide Array of Subjects

The School Board welcomed new middle school assistant principal Carlos Kassam-Clay, seen here, with his wife, Rabiya, and one-year-old son, Rumi. Photos by Steve Whitmore

The South Pasadena Unified School District Board of Education Tuesday night took a long, hard look at its nearly $49 million budget for fiscal year 2018-2019 and welcomed a new assistant principal to the ranks of the middle school.

Furthermore, the School Board received an update on the high school’s Physical Education and Athletic facility project, which is everything is going ahead as smoothly as expected, according to Superintendent Geoff Yantz, Ed.D.

The board welcomed 36-year-old Carlos Kassam-Clay as the new assistant principal at the middle school.

“I’m excited to be here,” Kassam-Clay told the School Board Tuesday night as Middle School Principal Dave Kubela sat in the audience.

Kassam-Clay was selected from a pool of about 97 candidates, having come from a charter school in Sylmar as well as working in Mexico City (for more on Kassam-Clay, see pg. 6).

The School Board was unanimous in its praise of Kassam-Clay and also focuses on the new assistant principal’s family, wife, Rabiya and one-year-old son Rumi.

In other business, Dave Lubs, district assistant superintendent of business services, broke down the 2018-2019 budget that comes close to $49 million. Lubs said the budget, which actually look at a three-year period, is always changing and the fiscal plan presented Tuesday was based on a May revision from the state. Lubs said there is going to be another modification and he will be back in August to present the board with those changes.

Dave Lubs, assistant superintendent of business services, briefed the School Board on the budget.

“This is all going to change,” Lubs told the School Board Tuesday night, but added the overall amount will “most-likely” stay the same.

A majority of the school’s budget comes from what is known as the Local Control Funding Formula or LCFF, a state law that requires districts to involve parents in planning and decision-making as well as developing Local Control and Accountability Plans or LCAP.

Lubs presented an update on both the LCAP and the LCFF and ultimately how that plays into the nearly $49 million budget.

Moreover, the state funding formula favors school districts that are considered “low-performing,” while districts like South Pasadena that are performing at a high-level receive less state monies, according to Yantz.

“But it’s important that we eliminated the operational deficit,” Yantz said. “South Pasadena and other districts like us are further penalized as high-performing districts,” the Superintendent told the School Board.

School Board President Jon Primuth echoed those comments, adding that performing at a level of excellence forces the district into “scrimping and saving.”

“We’re still being handicapped,” Primuth said. “We do more with less than any other district. What we are doing with our funding is amazing.”

The Board also heard from parent Katherine Chan who asked the board to reconsider what she called “mandatory study hall.”

“We understand that SPHS has always had a study hall period in place for students, but it is only an option available to its students as opposed to being a mandatory requirement,” Chan said in a prepared statement to the School Board Tuesday night. “Students, in the past 10 years at least, are free to choose an elective course over study hall. So, the study hall period has never become mandatory until now.”

Chan’s remarks were given during the section of the meeting reserved for public comment. It’s the board’s policy to listen to the comments from the public but generally not to respond.

The School Board also received a report on the state law that requires districts to have gender-neutral bathrooms. Officials told the board that there is “at least one on every campus,” and “anybody can use them.”

The School Board dealt with a wide array of subjects during its open session that lasted about two hours before adjourning to its next meeting June 26. School Board meetings are held at 1020 El Centro Street and open session begins at around 6:30 p.m.