First published in the Feb. 17 print issue of the Outlook Valley Sun.
The La Cañada Unified School District received yet another accolade recently in being named third-best district out of 698 in the state by Niche, a website that ranks schools and neighborhoods based on public data and user reviews.
LCUSD placed behind only Los Gatos-Saratoga Joint Union High School District and Palo Alto Unified, both in Northern California, and was No. 38 in the nation, but it did come out on top in the state rankings for districts with the best teachers.
“Whenever we get such positive reviews or information, I think it makes me exceptionally grateful to our amazing students and, as this report shows, our outstanding teachers and staff, especially during the last two years that have been so difficult for our teachers to continually pursue excellence and work so hard to adjust and learn new things and really keep student-centric focus,” said Superintendent Wendy Sinnette, who was also thankful for the support from parents and community members.
Of the four schools in the LCUSD, Palm Crest Elementary (PCR) ranked the highest at No. 6 out of 5,956 elementary schools in the state. La Cañada Elementary wasn’t far behind and placed ninth and Paradise Canyon (PCY) was 10th. La Cañada High School, which includes 7th and 8th grade, was No. 11 in California out of 1,898.
Niche’s methodology in ranking school districts considers academics, survey responses from teachers, students and parents, resources and facilities, extracurricular activities and culture and diversity grades based on user surveys. According to a company spokesperson, more than 50 million people used the site in 2021 and over 150 million user reviews have been submitted.
“We always think we have a great district; we always think we have really great teachers, but it’s really nice when you see something like [Niche] take a look at it and come to the same conclusion,” Governing Board President Dan Jeffries said during a meeting on Feb. 8.
Sinnette isn’t resting on her laurels and wants to build off the recent success of the district, which includes the high school earning exemplary scores and high placement in the U.S. News and World Report rankings and two elementary schools — PCR and PCY — earning Blue Ribbon Schools nominations. The longtime superintendent wants to create a system of support for students to “thrive academically, socially and emotionally” while maintaining the academic rigor LCUSD is known for.
“Our community is very vocal about the areas that they believe require attention, and so we’re obviously going to address those needs and issues,” she said. “We want to recognize and appreciate what makes every student unique and so they feel like they’re being well attended to. And that also goes for our staff and family so they feel like they have a home.”
When it comes to finding a home, Niche ranked La Cañada Flintridge as the No. 1 suburb to raise a family in the state and No. 13 among the best suburbs to live in out of 524 in California.