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SMUSD Talks Funding Amid Declining Enrollment

By Mitch Lehman
San Marino Tribune

The San Marino Unified School District’s Board of Education heard from the PTA organizations from each of its four school sites last Tuesday evening.
But first, they heard from Huntington Middle School 8th grader Angela Wang, who is a member of the school’s Math Team. Wang wasn’t solving geometry problems, on Tuesday, rather she was leading the assemblage in the Pledge of Allegiance that precedes each meeting.
The Board then welcomed San Marino High School’s varsity baseball team, which shared the Rio Hondo League championship before losing to Hesperia Christian by a final score of 3-1 in the CIF semifinals on Tuesday, May 16.
“It was a successful season that started right when the football season ended last fall,” said head coach J.J. Franklin. “I admire them because they set a goal, then went out and accomplished it.”
The board then heard from Jacki Chuang, the president of the PTA Council, Nicolette Fuerst, president of the SMHS PTSA, Jennifer Kang, president of the Huntington Middle School PTA, Mikah O’Mara, Carver Elementary School PTA president, and Erin Clougherty, Valentine Elementary School PTA president.
As part of their reports, each president mentioned the number of volunteer hours that were logged by each school. Fuerst said that her volunteers were responsible for a whopping 56,000 hours of service.
The Board then explained the goals that have been set for the 2022-23 school year.
“Develop and implement fiscal health and sustainability,” said Superintendent Linda de la Torre. “Create a culture of service and produce high-quality global citizens.
“We have had such a wonderful year,” she continued. “Our parent volunteers have been pouring their heart and soul into everything.”
The board discussed two projects that will be coming to the district this fall. The Medical Arts program and Dual Enrollment.
“We will have more dual-enrollment classes than any of the neighboring schools,” said de la Torre, who asked San Marino High School principal Jason Kurtenbach to confirm that claim.
She also mentioned that SMUSD receives only 70% of its funding from the state of California and must seek local revenue sources for the remaining 30%.
Chief Business Officer Michael Lin then discussed the governor’s May revise, the adjustment to the state’s January budget that is revealed in May. The two state expenditures of importance for SMUSD will be the K-12 education and health and human services. Lin said the district will discuss the budget on June 14.
Separately, Lin also said the state is forecasting an 8.7% decline in enrollment and that Los Angeles County is expecting an additional decline of 17.1%.
Board member Jane Chon asked the district for additional information, including student performance data, mental health statistics, college destinations for seniors and whether students are leaving the SMUSD.
The Board also heard from San Marino resident Bill Payne, who reprised his idea to erect a sufficient monument to Kathy Fiscus, who died in a well on the property of what is now SMHS. Payne said that he has contacted the city, the San Marino City Club, the Rotary Club and the San Marino Historical Society about their possible involvement in a memorial.


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