By SARAH SHMERLING | Editor-in-Chief
The Pacific Palisades Community Council hosted Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education Vice President and District 4 Representative Nick Melvoin at its most recent virtual meeting on Thursday, September 9, to provide area updates.
During the meeting, Melvoin covered a range of topics—including school reopenings, redistricting, LAUSD’s decision to require all students age 12 and older to be vaccinated for in-person learning and infrastructure improvements to Palisades charter schools.
“The LA City Charter requires the boundaries of LA Unified to be redrawn every 10 years to account for population changes documented by the Census,” Melvoin explained at the start of his presentation. “It calls for a creation of a 15-member redistricting commission, which has the authority to make recommendations on a redistricting plan to the City Council that sets new boundaries for LA Unified.”
Committee meetings are underway, so Melvoin encouraged interested residents to submit comments. He explained that there was growth in the West Valley area, which falls into District 4, so he expects other parts of his district to contract, but does not anticipate losing the Palisades or West LA during the process.
When addressing the LAUSD Board’s decision that same Thursday to put a vaccine mandate in place, Melvoin explained that it is “critical” to him “that we keep schools open, that kids stay in school, learning in person.”
“At the advice of Dr. Fauci and our Public Health experts, we made the decision today as a board to, by the start of next semester, require vaccinations for all those who are eligible, and we believe that other districts and states will follow suit,” Melvoin said.
He reported that at this time, throughout LAUSD, 98% of students are back in-person learning, full-time and complete with before and after school activities, sports, and performing arts.
When it comes to quarantining due to COVID-19 exposure or a positive test, Melvoin explained the district is working hard to prevent learning loss by implementing different programming. When the entire class is quarantined, virtual instruction will be put in place. When a few individuals are in quarantine, they will be able to Zoom into their class.
The district is also in the midst of a national search for a replacement superintendent for Palisadian Austin Beutner, who elected not to renew his contract at the end of the 2020-21 school year. They are also searching for a new principal for Marquez Charter Elementary School, with previously retired Principal Benjamin Meritt at the helm on an interim basis.
When it comes to area charter school improvements, LAUSD has assisted Paul Revere Charter School with traffic mitigation on Allenford Avenue and helped fund a community garden project on campus.
“We’ve been working on an upgrade of Canyon Elementary, removing bungalows and putting state-of-the-art new classroom buildings you’ll start to see in the coming months,” Melvoin said.
Allison Holdorff Polhill, Melvoin’s chief advisor and district director, spoke on forthcoming updates slated for Palisades Charter High School.
“The great news is Measure RR passed,” Holdorff Polhill explained “Nick worked hard and furious at advocating for that measure to pass. We have $7 billion in funds that are going for facilities projects.”
When the measure first passed, Holdorff Polhill added, Melvoin advocated that Pali High would be the first campus to get air conditioning, as it’s one of the few schools that does not have it throughout. Beginning this week, Holdorff Polhill said they would start working to “make it happen,” and that “it’s a matter of health and safety, and we believe we can get that over the finish line.”
After taking a series of questions from PPCC board and audience members, Chair David Card thanked Melvoin for his time and service with the school board before he signed off.
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