Pali High Board of Trustees Discusses Extending School Calendar

The Extension Would Account for Potential Future Fire Closures

JENNIKA INGRAM | Reporter

With fires affecting school closures for three years in a row, the Palisades Charter High School Board of Trustees met on January 14 and continued to assess whether fires are part of the weather pattern and if additional days should be added to the school calendar.

“We may have to look at our calendar and set aside fire days,” Dr. Chris Lee, assistant principal and director of academic planning and guidance services, said at a previous board meeting in November 2019. There are currently 175 school days per school calendar year at Pali High.

In the last couple of years, teachers were paid during emergency school closures because the school received a waiver from the state, according to Steve Klima, an English teacher at Pali High and UTLA representative, but “we’re not going to know until after,” if that’s the case.

Klima indicated that after receiving feedback from a survey, some teachers at Pali High were concerned about planning for the potential closures.

At the January 14 meeting, an official letter from the California Department of Education was shared with members, explaining schools can claim daily attendance credit during emergencies. The advisory, created in February 1990, was revised in February 2005.

A change in the school calendar to include potential school closures for fires “would be a material change,” Klima explained.

When a charter school determines that it is “necessary or desirable to seek an amendment of its current approved charter,” the district must approve any proposed change before the change can be implemented, according to the LAUSD website.

“While some proposed changes to a charter may be deemed non-material and, therefore can be handled administratively by the Charter Schools Division, any amendment that would constitute a ‘material revision’ of the charter must be approved by the governing board of the charter school and the LAUSD Board of Education.”

Potential dates to extend the school calendar discussed are December 18 and June 10.

Lee pointed out that the state mandates emergency closures if they have occurred consistently for five fiscal years, which will be the case if the trend for fire closures at Pali High continues for another two years.

“I don’t want to vote on anything tonight … I think that would be putting the cart in front of the horse,” Board Member Rick Steil said.

The board came to the conclusion to wait to vote on the matter until the school’s faculty could contribute more input and more negotiations could take place.

April 30 is the deadline for the 2020-21 school calendar.