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PUSD Meets With Longfellow Parents on Campus Relocation

Angry Longfellow parents attended a meeting with the school district officials and Mayor Victor Gordo last week to receive an update about upcoming renovations to the campus funded by Measure O

Published on Monday, May 20, 2024 | 5:23 am
 

Longfellow Elementary School parents attended a meeting with school District officials and Mayor Victor Gordo last week to hear an update and get questions answered about upcoming renovations to the campus funded by Measure O. Many of the parents were angry.

During the construction, students will be relocated to the Allendale campus.

However, local parents wanted students relocated to Jefferson Elementary School.

“Longfellow is a vibrant Community School that centers innovative learning and whole-child, whole-family engagement for some of Pasadena’s most vulnerable students,” said Amanda Getty in an op/ed to Pasadena Now. “And with opportunities like its Spanish language immersion and cultural magnet program and the Harmony Project/Pasadena Youth Orchestra’s music education program, Longfellow is becoming increasingly visible in Pasadena as an attractive public option for young families putting down roots in our city. It’s a center for empowerment and support with a focus on lifting up all. It is everything that is right about public school.”

Getty said a move to Allendale would fracture all of that.

“It is too far away from our neighborhoods, presenting a challenging commute for the majority of us [this will be true for every Pasadena Unified School District school east of Los Robles that will also need to move temporarily for Measure O upgrades.]”

The distance from Longfellow Elementary School to Allendale Elementary is 3.5 miles. Jefferson Elementary is closer, 1.5 miles from Longfellow.

“Shouldn’t we do whatever we can to ensure children can keep closer to their current routines and busy working families aren’t overburdened?” Getty said. “Staying closer at Jefferson would also allow us to stay actively involved in our school; moving across town threatens the growing family engagement that makes our school the important resource it is. Moving to Jefferson also makes the most financial sense for the District: it will save money on busing, and the campus will require less capital investment to be move-in ready.”

The City entered into a lease with the school District allowing the City to place services on the Jefferson campus.

The School Board voted to end the lease with the City, but the matter returned after it was determined that vote violated the state’s open meeting law.

The School Board voted to move the students to Allendale, which was the District’s original recommendation.

“Starting August 2025, Longfellow Magnet School will move to a temporary location for one school year and return to the campus when construction is completed the following school year,” the District said in a statement released on Friday. “The Pasadena Unified School District Board of Education has allocated $37.9 million to modernize and renovate Longfellow, with projects that include electrical systems, fire alarm systems, heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems, a new kitchen, new interior finishes, and restroom renovation.”

Pasadena Unified School District Superintendent Elizabeth Blanco, Longfellow Principal Erica Ingber, Board of Education Vice President Jennifer Hall Lee, Pasadena Mayor Victor Gordo, Director of Facilities, Maintenance and Operations, and Transportation Manuel Carrasco, and bond program interim manager Michael Dunning were on the panel.

Parents claim they were relegated to jotting down questions on cards.

The District said the purpose of the May 14 meeting was to update parents, staff, and caregivers about the District’s plans to accommodate the students, teachers, staff, and programs at the former Allendale Elementary site, which is being vacated and upgraded.

Maps of the Allendale campus and initial renderings of the Longfellow campus were shared, as was a Q & A that will be updated on an ongoing basis as more details become available. 

Information is posted at www.pusd.us/measureo/longfellow.

According to the District, the Mayor joined the panel to reassure the Longfellow community that he and his staff are working with the District to provide accommodations at Allendale, including more green space, access to the adjacent park, and activities at the Allendale branch of the Pasadena Public Library, which is also next to the Allendale elementary school site.

Gordo does not vote on school Board matters.

Information regarding the temporary relocation sites for schools undergoing Measure O renovations was introduced to school staff, parents, and caregivers during meetings with District staff and the assigned architect on the initial design process, which was held in late January and early February 2024.

The District provided buses for parents and school staff to tour the Allendale site in April, and parents had additional questions.

“We understand that the Longfellow community has continuing questions and concerns, and we are committed to strengthening communication with the communities of our schools undergoing major renovations,” the District said in its statement. “To bolster communication, a steering committee is established at each school undergoing major renovations. In addition, a program manager is assigned to liaise with the school principal. Q&As, fact sheets, and other materials are being prepared for each project.”

“We fully understand the difficulties and sacrifices the Longfellow students and families face with this move. In their time at Longfellow, students have overcome many challenges, including COVID-19. Our priority is to make the transition as seamless as possible. Our entire staff is committed to doing what is needed to accomplish this in the coming months.”

“The Allendale campus as it stands today will not be the same one that will welcome students in August 2025. Our extensive planning will improve the site to best accommodate the students.”

“We will continue to inform our Pasadena Unified School District community about the process of creating a comfortable and effective learning environment for Longfellow students.”

Pasadena Unified sent a statement about the meeting. Below is the text in full:

Longfellow Magnet Elementary Modernization

On May 14, 2024, the Pasadena Unified School District (PUSD) hosted a meeting at Longfellow Magnet School to answer questions about upcoming renovations to the campus funded by Measure O and the one-year relocation of the school during construction. 

Starting August 2025, Longfellow Magnet School will move to a temporary location for one school year and return to the campus when construction is completed the following school year. The PUSD Board of Education has allocated $37.9 million to modernize and renovate Longfellow, with projects that include electrical systems, fire alarm systems, heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems, a new kitchen, new interior finishes, and restroom renovation.

The purpose of the May 14 meeting was to update parents, staff, and caregivers about the District’s plans to accommodate the students, teachers, staff, and programs at the former Allendale Elementary site, which is being vacated and upgraded.  Maps of the Allendale campus and initial renderings of the Longfellow campus were shared, as was a Q & A that will be updated on an ongoing basis as more details become available. Information is posted at www.pusd.us/measureo/longfellow 

On the panel were PUSD Superintendent Elizabeth Blanco, Longfellow Principal Erica Ingber, Board of Education Vice President Jennifer Hall Lee, Pasadena Mayor Victor Gordo, Director of Facilities, Maintenance and Operations, and Transportation Manuel Carrasco, and bond program interim manager Michael Dunning.

The Mayor joined us to reassure the Longfellow community that he and his staff are working with the district to provide accommodations at Allendale, including more green space, access to the adjacent park, and activities at the Allendale branch of the Pasadena Public Library, which is also next to the Allendale elementary school site. 

Information regarding the temporary relocation sites for schools undergoing Measure O renovations was introduced to school staff, parents, and caregivers during meetings with district staff and the assigned architect on the initial design process, which was held in late January and early February 2024. The District provided buses for parents and school staff to tour the Allendale site in April, and parents had additional questions.  

We understand that the Longfellow community has continuing questions and concerns, and we are committed to strengthening communication with the communities of our schools undergoing major renovations. To bolster communication, a steering committee is established at each school undergoing major renovations. In addition, a program manager is assigned to liaise with the school principal. Q&As, fact sheets, and other materials are being prepared for each project.

We fully understand the difficulties and sacrifices the Longfellow students and families face with this move. In their time at Longfellow, students have overcome many challenges, including COVID-19. Our priority is to make the transition as seamless as possible. Our entire staff is committed to doing what is needed to accomplish this in the coming months.

The Allendale campus as it stands today will not be the same one that will welcome students in August 2025. Our extensive planning will improve the site to best accommodate the students.

We will continue to inform our PUSD community about the process of creating a comfortable and effective learning environment for Longfellow students.

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