Altadena talks, Antonovich listens

by Pasadena Weekly | Jan 5, 2006

Upset about the closure of two elementary schools in their neighborhoods, Altadena residents will have a chance to make their voices heard on Jan. 14, when LA County Supervisor Mike Antonovich hosts a community meeting at the Altadena Community Center.

As Pasadena Unified School District Board members voted Dec. 20 to close Altadena elementary schools Noyes and Edison along with two others, Altadena Town Council members voted 13-0 to create a committee that will look at seceding from the PUSD.

School board members closed the schools to fill a growing budget gap of more than $4 million.

The idea that Altadena should consider forming its own school system was advanced by newly elected Town Councilman Justin Chapman, 20 and a freelance writer for the Weekly.

"The supervisor is looking at all the information that the community is providing," said Tony Bell, a spokesman for Antonovich.

"I understand that there is a community meeting coming up and [PUSD Superintendent] Dr. [Percy] Clark will be there to discuss enrollment, management and budget issues, and we look forward to an informative meeting with community input. It is our hope that whichever decision is made, it will be for the benefit of the students of Altadena. The supervisor is aware that this has been discussed before, and it is an issue that needs to be looked at," said Bell.

The community meeting is from 9 to 10:30 a.m. at the Altadena Community Center, 730 E. Altadena Drive.

In a recent email to Chapman, Antonovich’s Education and Field Deputy Rita Hadjimanoukian outlined the process that Altadena should follow to obtain its own school district.

At the request of a community member, she wrote, the LA County Office of Education would prepare a petition that would need to be signed by 25 percent of registered voters there. A successful drive would force the office to hold public hearings on the matter and complete a feasibility study before the state Board of Education made a final decision.

"We want to take a look at the situation and decide on what’s best for Altadena’s kids. I think if there is no secession, we should have some type of guaranteed representation. We had little to no voice in the school closure decision," Chapman said.