Wednesday’s Long Beach Unified School District Board of Education meeting saw the board unanimously approve an $11 million Site Security Plan to fence the 28 LBUSD sites that currently have open plans. The Site Security Plan will also add a video-monitoring system to every LBUSD site that would require the office to buzz in any visitors.
On most sites the work will begin this summer and continue through January 2020, with funds coming from Measures K and E, a pair of bonds passed by the city to fund district infrastructure and construction costs.
The board typically votes unanimously on proposals after at most a perfunctory discussion, but Wednesday’s Site Security Plan was debated at the Board’s open meeting at length, with multiple Board members questioning the District’s financial priorities.
District 2 Boardmember Felton Williams asked where the $11 million was coming from and what other priorities would be ignored because of it. LBUSD director of facilities Alan Reising answered that the bond measures had significant unallocated funds, promising that the new safety measures would not delay any other Measure K and E plans, including air conditioning and sports facility upgrades.
District 4 Boardmember Jon Meyer questioned the impact of the move on neighborhoods were LBUSD schools serve as the primary green space. Superintendent Chris Steinhauser pointed out that the most urban parts of the city already have closed in campuses but also noted that the move would prevent the public from using LBUSD facilities without a permit. He lamented the loss of basketball courts and other neighborhood uses, mentioning that he’s seen campus fields used for weekend soccer and cricket games.
Under the new system, all future use of schools’ facilities and fields will be on a permit-only basis.
Wednesday’s meeting was also the fourth consecutive Board proceeding where there was public pressure to address campus security, two months after the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High In Florida. The meetings since has featured parents and teachers calling for action from the Board.
This week, Wilson teacher Patty Martinez brought up the fact that multiple LBUSD high schools were going to lose Campus Security Officers.
Steinhauser stated that each high school campus receives funding for one CSO plus an additional one for each 435 students on campus. Because the district is reducing enrollment at some of its comprehensive high schools, they are reducing the number of CSOs.
–In addition to the Site Security Plan, the Board unanimously approved a new $16 million construction project for Sato Academy of Mathematics and Sciences. The Sato campus (formerly Hill Middle School) will get a new science building that features a robotics lab and a new chemistry lab; construction will begin this summer with the building expected to open Fall 2019.
–In previous years the Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP) has given one presentation to the board updating them on the how local students are doing.
For the ’17-’18 school year the LCAP has instead been presented in waves. April’s update was specifically on closing the achievement gap and how Long Beach students are doing in terms of college-acceptance and success, and Wednesday night’s update was full of good news.
There has been a 71% increase in LBUSD student enrollment at Cal State Long Beach, and a 22% increase (from 43% in ’08 to 65% in ’17) in those LBUSD Students who are “college-ready” according to CSULB. There has been a 151% increase in LBUSD’s first-generation college students attending CSULB.
–The only student to use the public forum Wednesday night was Long Beach Poly student Antonio Jorgensen, who made a proposal to ban plastic straws at Poly. Jorgensen had previously addressed the Board about reducing carbon emissions by creating “No idling zones” for parents waiting to pick up their students.
This time with his classmate Cosmo Hebert, Jorgensen informed the board of how serious a problem plastic straws have become and requested that the Board use a ban as a starting point to help reduce LBUSD’s carbon footprint.