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* * * * * Next Regular Board of Education Meeting is March 8th at 6:30 p.m. * * * * *

News & Highlights


Community Invited to Second Public Meeting on February 16, 2016; Written Response Deadline Extended


SOUTH PASADENA, Calif. (February 4, 2016) – As part of the analysis associated with the proposed Mission Place Project, Transpo Group -- experts in transportation planning and engineering -- completed a comprehensive parking study detailing the effects of the project on community parking issues.  This study will be released on February 4, 2016 and will be available for review at www.spusd.net.

The study is not a formal part of the draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) and does not by law require a public hearing or comment period due to the project’s proximity to the Metro Gold Line. Even so, School Board and District administration recognize the importance of this dimension of the project, value the community’s response to it and therefore added this study to the assessment.

In an effort to encourage broad-based involvement in this process, the School Board and District officials have taken the following steps:

  • A meeting has been scheduled for Tuesday, February 16 from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the board room at the South Pasadena Unified School District offices at 1020 El Centro Street. The proposed project developer, Legacy Partners, will make a brief presentation to the attendees followed by a question, answer, and comment period.
  • The deadline for written comments in response to the DEIR has been extended to March 4, 2016.

The School Board expects to vote on the certification of the DEIR, the Disposition and Development Agreement (DDA) and the ground lease at the end of April or early May 2016.  Both the School Board and District continue to welcome comments and input from the community.




For more information, contact: Andrea Fox, South Pasadena Unified School District, afox@spusd.net



January 28, 2016

Thanks to the South Pasadena community for the dynamic dialogue around the Mission Place project and the Draft Environmental Impact Report related to it. Your comments and this conversation are an essential and welcome step in this process. This letter is intended to provide some context and background as well as an update on where things currently stand.


By way of background, the idea for the Mission Place Project began in 2008. At the time, the school district was facing critical budget shortfalls and began exploring additional local revenue possibilities consistent with the School District’s strategic plan. With prime real estate in a significant part of the city, commercial development options were explored. After early community input and committee recommendations, a project was proposed that complied with the City’s Mission Street Specific Plan (South Pasadena’s intentions for development of this area) and involved a 99-year land lease that would lead to a long-term, sustainable source of local revenue for our schools.


Since that time, the economy has improved and the entire approach to funding education in California has been revamped. Many wonder why or if additional local funds are really necessary.


While the current Local Control Funding Formula serves some districts well, it’s important to understand that:

  • When fully funded in 2021, we’ll be returned to the purchasing power of funding we received in 2007-2008.
  • The way funds are calculated and distributed results in South Pasadena being one of the lowest funded public school districts in California.
  • As an example, we currently received $1561.00 less than our neighbor Alhambra on a per student basis. Multiplied by our student population, that difference would mean an extra $7.2 million for our district.
  • Educational funding continues to be volatile and affected by the highs and lows of regular economic cycles. And Governor Brown has warned that what goes up must come down.


This is the backdrop for South Pasadena’s current dialogue around the draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) for the Mission Place Project. In the weeks to come, please know that:

  • Your elected School Board officials and District administration are invested in the success of our local schools and the community that generously supports them.
  • Community member comments are actively welcomed as an essential and valuable step in any development project.
  • All of the comments shared during this process are being carefully considered and explored.
  • The School Board has been meeting (and will continue to meet) in closed session to review public comments and consider the delicate balance of addressing long term student needs, the City’s development plans for Mission Street related to the proposed project, and public viewpoints.
  • We are working under an exclusive negotiating agreement with the developer; but neither the Disposition and Development Agreement (DDA) nor ground lease agreement has been approved. These conversations and negotiations continue and, given their nature, must be kept in confidence – which severely limits what School Board members can share at this point.
  • In addition to continuing to accept written comments, we are meeting with community groups including the PTA, WISPPA and the Chamber of Commerce.
  • A second public hearing will be scheduled in the weeks to come during which community members are invited to again share thoughts and concerns.


School Board members and District officials are committed to maintaining a climate of open communication, transparency, and accountability. We genuinely welcome and take seriously all comments from the community. Thank you for your contributions to this process.



Geoff Yantz, Superintendent, South Pasadena Unified School District

Julie Giulioni, President, South Pasadena Unified School District Governing Board


Program Emulates South Pasadena’s Box Art Project


SOUTH PASADENA, Calif. (January 26, 2016) – Students in Denise Tanaka’s eighth grade art class were ecstatic when they learned they had their teacher’s approval to paint several lockers around the school.  Through the “I Am” Project, a classroom of budding artists painted images reflecting their personalities and interests on lockers normally painted in the school’s Tiger Cub-orange hue.


“The ‘I Am’ Project gave students the opportunity to create something permanent that is a reflection of who they are,” said Ms. Tanaka.  “Middle schoolers are defined by a variety of activities and interests.  I wanted the students to have a positive experience sharing who they are with other students and the outside world.”


Ms. Tanaka developed the idea for the student art project after she learned about South Pasadena’s Box Art Project from the District’s Assistant Superintendent of Instructional Services, Christiane Gervais.  Both the Box Art Project and the I Am project aim to connect people with art in their daily lives.


“The Box Art Project, developed this year and supported by funds from the City Council, is the first public art project created by SPARC in South Pasadena, and SPARC is committed to a long-term program of enhancing the community environment through the inclusion of art in public places,” added Howard Spector, Director of SPARC. 


Students first discussed The Box Art Project in class, then worked in groups and brainstormed appealing topics.  Each group sketched their ideas on paper adding details and colors to enhance the image.  Ms. Tanaka painted the lockers white so that when the students transferred their ideas to the metal surfaces, the colors would show through clearly.  Students faced some challenges with the project including painting on bumpy, rough surfaces and making mistakes that were not easy to cover up – requiring a few groups to start over from the beginning but persevering and triumphing in the end.


“We both have strong personalities and picking one theme was hard,” said student Mea Limon. “We developed an image that someone like Andy Warhol might have created using words that describe us and ones that are part of our everyday language. We also used almost every color in this project – we really wanted it to stand out.”


Student project themes ranged from “I Am a Nature Lover” to “I Am STEM” to “I Am an Animator” and “I Am an Athlete” and groups of two to three students typically worked together.  Over the course of approximately four weeks, empty lockers or lockers that belonged to the art students were designed and painted.


“I painted this locker to remind people of their favorite books and the serenity of reading,” said Tristan Bragg.  “I moved here from Bakersfield a few months ago, and this image reflects my escape place and the peacefulness you experience when you read.”


Ms. Tanaka would like to continue the program in the fall by engaging students in painting the utility box on campus.  For now, the students enjoy having a few lockers brighten the halls during their daily routines.  Through this project, the hope is that students understand a little more clearly what’s involved in establishing a public art project.


For more information, contact: Andrea Fox, South Pasadena Unified School District, afox@spusd.net


I am a Nature Lover
Students Krystal Carranza, Ines Yang and Ella Lewis share their “I Am a Nature Lover” locker art project. (Photo courtesy of South Pasadena Unified School District)
I am STEM.jpg

“I Am STEM,” designed and painted by eighth graders Logan McDonald and Jared Mu. (Photo Courtesy of South Pasadena Unified School District)



Mandarin Program Planned for Marengo Elementary School

SOUTH PASADENA, Calif. (January 19, 2016) – Last August, twenty-four eager South Pasadena kindergarten students started school in a Spanish dual language immersion classroom at Monterey Hills Elementary School.  With the start of the 2016-2017, the second program offering dual immersion education – this time featuring Mandarin – will begin at Marengo Elementary School. The District invites all interested South Pasadena parents to attend the Dual Immersion Parent Information Meeting on February 4, 2016 from 6:00-7:00 p.m. in the District office boardroom at 1020 El Centro Street to learn more.


The format for the Mandarin program will be similar to the Spanish program in that students will learn the targeted language as well as English.  This program is designed for English learners and English speaking students and will follow a 90/10 instructional model, which means that approximately 90% of the class will be taught in the target language and 10% will be taught in English in the half-day Kindergarten class.  In grades 1-5, students will learn in the 50/50 instructional model so that students can excel in both an alphabet based language (English) and a language rooted in a logographic system (Mandarin), where symbols represent words.


“All the right tools were in place for a successful first year Spanish dual language immersion classroom,” said Christiane Gervais, Assistant Superintendent of Instructional Services.  “We are thrilled by the progress the Spanish dual language immersion students have made, and we applaud the teachers and leaders involved in designing this program and the Mandarin program to come.”


The District is looking forward to starting the Mandarin dual immersion program at Marengo Elementary where a great number of staff members already match the criteria of success such as being bi-literate, bilingual and bicultural.  Additionally, a 2014-2015 community survey indicated that a large number of Marengo families share an interest in a Mandarin dual immersion program.  Last fall, the District’s Dual Immersion Advisory Committee brought forth the recommendation to locate the program at Marengo to the South Pasadena Board of Education.


Students participating in the dual immersion program strive for academic excellence in all subject areas, meeting or exceeding the District’s Common Core State Standards as well as developing an appreciation of world languages and cultures.  For additional program information including enrollment procedures for both the Spanish dual immersion program at Monterey Hills and the Mandarin dual immersion program at Marengo Elementary, visit www.spusd.net and please attend the parent meeting on February 4, 2016.  Translation will be provided.




For more information, contact: Andrea Fox, South Pasadena Unified School District, afox@spusd.net

Today: 2/14/16

Key Dates for the 2015-2016 School Year

Click HERE to view the entire instructional calendar.

Click HERE to view the List of Important Dates.

First Day of School - Thursday, August 20, 2015

Thanksgiving Break - November 23-27, 2015

Winter Break - December 21, 2015 to January 1, 2016

Spring Break - April 4-8, 2016

Last Day of School - Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Key Dates for the 2016-2017 School Year

First Day of School - Thursday, August 18, 2016

Thanksgiving Break - November 21-25, 2016

Winter Break - Thursday, December 22, 2016 to Friday, January 6, 2017

Spring Break - April 3-7, 2017

Last Day of School - Friday, June 9, 2017