HomeBlocksFront-GridBoard OKs HMS Repairs, Discusses Safety

Board OKs HMS Repairs, Discusses Safety

By Eliza Partika
San Marino Tribune

The San Marino Unified School Board approved a measure to address flooding damage at Huntington Middle School at the meeting Feb. 14. Members also discussed PTA- and Rotary-funded class materials for San Marino High’s medical arts program and defibrillators for each school.
The board unanimously approved a resolution authorizing emergency repairs and restoration of Huntington Middle School’s basement, which was flooded during January’s rainstorms. The approval will allow the superintendent to begin contract negotiations and execute contracts with firms that will perform the necessary repairs.
Some of the flooded equipment in the basement are “showing signs of rust and electrical insulation materials are risking further degradation” after being submerged in water for an extended period. The memo warns of the potential for “unexpected, catastrophic failure,” the resolution warned, if repairs are not made.
The cost of the repairs is unknown, as school staff is still working with the insurance adjuster.
SMUSD Superintendent Linda de la Torre discussed the necessity for increased safety measures now that lockdowns are “becoming normalized.” One such measure is installing fencing around the perimeter of Huntington Middle School.
“We have to deal with what’s in front of us. We are working really hard to strengthen and improve upon current procedures and practices to help keep our kids and teachers safe,” de la Torre said.
The fencing project is supported by one-time state funding. Both the Sherwood Road side of campus and the front of campus on Huntington Drive will be fenced to limit access to those only to those with permission to be on campus in order to ensure students and staff are kept as safe as possible, de la Torre said.
On Feb. 4, a successful Lunar New Year event held at Lacy Park highlighted the importance of community, safety and mental health resources amid concerns about mass shootings in the area. Board member C. Joseph Chang commended the Chinese Club and the Chinatown Service Center for calling the community together to assist victims’ families in their recovery by providing mental health services.
In an email sent to SMUSD parents after the Monterey Park shooting on Jan. 21, de la Torre reiterated the mental health services available to students, faculty and staff and the district’s commitment to supporting students and staff during times of tragedy.
The Joint Regional Intelligence Center Report reviewing the safety standards of all four SMUSD campuses will be discussed at the next board meeting and study session.
Mentioning a recent San Marino school lockdown following a false report — also called “swatting” — of an active shooter on campus, Chang called parent and student safety concerns to attention.
“I know our school always pays attention to address [issues of safety],” said Chang. “Some of the students and parents who haven’t lived here long, they wonder if the community is safe. I’m not asking for a solution or an answer, but we want to educate our community.”
De la Torre also emphasized the necessity for personal medical safety equipment such Automatic External Defibrillator devices, which are critically important for the resuscitation of persons experiencing cardiac arrest. The PTA approved $28,000 for the purchase of easily accessible AED devices at each school campus, in light of a recent incident at SMHS where an AED device was instrumental in saving the life of a teacher who went into cardiac arrest. De la Torre commended the actions of the teachers and aides who performed CPR while waiting for paramedics to arrive, reiterating that the district is keenly aware that “every second counts when someone is in cardiac arrest.”

SMHS Receives Grants for Medical Arts Program
A PTA grant of $400,000 and a Rotary grant of $25,000 will go toward purchasing new anatomy tables and classroom virtual reality tools, as well as 40 new iPads and the support of consumables and instructional materials for the San Marino High School’s medical arts program. The VR applications will transport students into the operating room for mock surgery lessons.
The medical arts program was highlighted along with other classes during SMH’s Move Up Day on Feb. 10.
“Our rising freshmen were met with the band playing and a celebration of all the wonderful programs we have on the high school campus,” said de la Torre.
Board members toured each school for a “learning day,” meeting with students and teachers to talk with them about programs inside the classroom.
“It was great to meet with students, teachers and principals and see all the exciting things happening on campus,” said Board member Jane Chon.
Board member Joanna Lam added, “It was wonderful to see the instructions taking place.”
Other programs de la Torre highlighted included HMS’ equestrian club, as well as the Mandarin Dual Immersion program coming to Carver Elementary School in fall. The board is looking to hire two highly qualified teachers who will meet the needs of students. A lottery will be held for inclusion in the program, with testing to determine student eligibility. Half of the students will need to be native speakers, half Mandarin learners.
The program will open to resident students first. Space permitting, the program will open to interdistrict enrollment. A meeting will be held Feb. 24 to share more information about the program with parents.
The next board meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 28, at 7 p.m., at the HMS auditorium.


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