First published in the Sept. 29 print issue of the Outlook Valley Sun.
Following an annual tradition, Wendy Sinnette presented her goals as superintendent of the La Cañada Unified School District for the 2022-23 academic year to the Governing Board Tuesday, with an emphasis on high-quality instruction, safety and wellness for students.
Sinnette, who has outlined as many as 18 goals in the past, boiled it down to four main objectives this year with the top one being ensuring, maintaining and advancing a robust and rigorous academic program.
Under Sinnette’s guidance, La Cañada schools have been among the top-rated districts in the state. Earlier this year, Niche.com, a website that ranks school districts and neighborhoods based on public data and user reviews, placed LCUSD third in California and No. 38 in the nation.
To achieve her first goal, Sinnette said that she, along with her cabinet and site leaders, are very involved in diagnostic assessments of each school that help them monitor students’ performances throughout the year.
“It’s individualized, it’s fluid and it’s designed for students to be successful and for us to meet each child exactly where they are at that moment in time,” Sinnette told the board during Tuesday’s meeting.
The second objective she listed was to continue the implementation of the district’s initiative to promote and sustain positive school cultures and providing students and staff with a safe and inclusive environment.
Sinnette vowed to work in providing a “climate of care” at each campus.
“I really like this goal because it combines all of our areas of focus in relationship to what is the experience of our students on our campuses,” Sinnette said. “We want to make sure that our schools, each and every campus, promotes a sense of belonging and inclusion, safety and security and ensures that our health and wellness initiatives are being forwarded by the programs and services that we deliver.”
Another goal for Sinnette is to continue working with district staff and her cabinet in overseeing the district’s Measure LCF bond program and ensuring that each site’s biggest needs are being addressed.
The $149 million general obligation bond passed in 2017 to pay for capital projects, and the district has already put some of those funds to use in modernizing Palm Crest Elementary School and the south end of the La Cañada High School campus, including the pool.
The district is continually updating its facilities master plan to determine future projects, one of them being the modernization of Paradise Canyon Elementary, and Sinnette hopes to include the community in the process to be transparent and “engage in really good communication.
“Our infrastructure, our buildings and our facilities are aging, and so new priorities are emerging,” Sinnette said. “We’re also in an inflationary environment, so it’s increasingly difficult. … Projects are coming at us fast and furious.”
The final goal is one that Sinnette has included in previous years, which is to strengthen the line of communication between families, employees and LCUSD. She plans to develop a committee that will assess existing communication platforms, practices, scheduling and effectiveness, and update the district’s practices based on the recommendations from the panel.
“I’m happy to have this resurface as a key goal area,” Sinnette said. “It’s a lofty goal, but it’s reachable. And I think we have the capacity to make sure that we are communicating as effectively as possible, which is a real demand in this post-COVID era.”
The board commended Sinnette for setting lofty goals and unanimously approved her objectives.
“I just wanted to say I do think it’s a great list,” said board member Josh Epstein. “It does feel like you boiled it down to the essence of what we need to do. I was really excited to read this and happy with the direction of this year.”