By JENNIKA INGRAM | Reporter
At the Palisades Charter High School Board of Trustees Meeting on November 5, teachers presented to the board that it’s time to make funding lifetime health benefits a priority and to anticipate future school closures due to fires.
“Employees agreed to become an independent charter under the conditions that our lifetime health benefits would be protected,” said John Rauschuber, a teacher at Pali High for 23 years who supported the transition to having an independent charter in 2003. “For the last decade, I have not seen an appropriate level of fiscal devotion from Pali to support its former LAUSD employees, and this is especially true in the last few years.”
He added that there have been recent discussions about LHB but that there has not been enough action or renewal of the commitment.
“Moreover, Pali has not solved the problem of how to address lifetime health benefits in order to adhere to its ethical and contractual obligations from the past and for the future,” Rauschuber said. “Therefore, I request that the board vote on the following resolution by December the 31st, 2019.”
Rauschuber passed out a written resolution that he shared he hopes the Pali administration will present to the board and PCHS community by March 1, 2020, on how PCHS will address LHB for the long term.
“Teachers should be there and present, but I don’t think they should vote, since it’s a conflict of interest,” Board Member Dara Williams said at the meeting. Williams added that it was important for teachers to know the fund is not being depleted by the current expenses.
“You want the teachers to understand that, that fund, while being woefully underfunded, it’s not being depleted on a yearly basis,” Williams
Parent and Board Member Sara Margiotta explained that a new Lifetime Benefits Committee, which has been meeting for three years, is being assembled, with a goal of being organized by November 21.
“I know this is not an easy issue,” Community Chair Leslie Woolley said.
With fires affecting Palisades school closures for three years in a row, the board discussed whether it’s time to assess if fires are becoming part of the weather pattern and whether to add a few additional days to the school calendar so that students and teachers are able to satisfy the curriculum requirements without this added challenge to their time constraints.
“What I did want to draw attention to is that for the past three years, we’ve had [fires], so we want to be proactive on what that can mean for us,” said Dr. Lee, director of Academic Planning and Guidance Services, in a presentation to the board.
“We may have to look at our calendar and set aside fire days,” Lee explained, sharing a bulletin he found on natural emergencies. There are currently 175 school days per calendar year at Pali.
Together, several teachers looked at Big Bear’s school calendar, which starts before Pali, prior to the meeting to review what a school in a district typically affected by a weather pattern does for snow days: Snow days are typically allocated the week before spring break. If they haven’t missed them due to poor weather, students get an extra long spring break.
The board discussed ideas about possible dates to offset potential fire closures, noting that the first semester of the school year is shorter than the second semester, and if its calendar would align with LAUSD or not if there are changes.
Surveys including this topic will be sent out to faculty and students and feedback will be factored in.