Hermon Local Issues Meeting

Wednesday, August 18, 2004



Welcome by John Acosta - called to order @ 7:12pm
Introduction of Dana Daniels


Dana Daniels spoke to the reason why we are here - to look at solutions, and to do so in a positive manner. Ms. Daniels read an excerpt from Echoes of a Half Century by Edna F. Goodhew and from EDCAL, "Team Effort Credited for Drastic School Turnaround", August 9, 2004. In addition, Ms. Daniels directed everyone's attention to items listed on the reverse of the evening's agenda on the subject of professional learning communities.


AJ Mora - introductions & prayer
AJ introduced principal and school board members as well as parent leadership representative. Also included on the panel; Hermon FM Church's chairman of Board of Trustees, Hermon Neighborhood Association Representative, Monterey Hills Federation Vice President, Arroyo Seco Neighborhood Council members, Highland Park Ministerial Association Representative and Highland Park Trust Representative.



AJ Mora: Alumni of PCHS and longtime resident of Hermon community - senior pastor of Hermon FM Church
· June 25, 2004: letter sent to alumni, parents and members of PCHS community (2,300) informing them of the school's immediate need - a shortfall of $750K for the coming school year.
$400K - operations
$50K - deficit from previous year
$150K - marketing plan
$150K - contingency for student enrollment for fall 2004
· Contributing factors: significant decline in contributions ($278K from one year to approx. $75K)
· Purpose of the initial letter was to inform and raise funds ($67K raised - $18K pledged)
· Brainstorming efforts took place on the part of parents, alumni and Hermon FM Church community
· Bottom line: needed to balance budget - addressing operating costs and carried over deficit from previous year was school board's number one priority
· Decision - could not open in the fall of 2004
· Parent meeting was held to inform them of the board's decision

Craig Takata shared that there was a much longer time frame as to the meeting/strategizing that took place and subsequently led the school board's decision.


A. Richard Vasquez - chairman board of trustees at Hermon Church
Richard reiterated the church/community's desire to show support to the school board of PCHS and the community interest. He affirmed Ms. Daniel's positive approach to the evening meeting

· Faith based organizations: live on budget/contributions
· Relationship between PCHS/Hermon Church has been one of support over the years - deep historical ties exist between the two organizations
· In the 1990's the Hermon FM Church and PCHS came together in a formal agreement - financial/loan - requiring that assets be combined between the two for a time
· Loan was repaid - at that time there was a formal agreement to separate - 1999
· Such agreement did not mean that school/church would not continue to cooperate w/ each other but there was no formal, legal agreement after that time.
· Provision: we would extend physical assets to the school for its use - because of both institutions being a faith based ministry and not knowing what the future might hold for either, a Right of First Refusal agreement was in place between the two
· If/When that question comes up, it will be taken by the Hermon FM Church society

B. Nicole Possert - Historical Preservation Society

· Advocacy in education resources
· Recognizing the historic value, protecting the buildings and landscape around it
· Incentives provided in property tax reductions if indeed the school falls under any of the criteria for historical preservation
· Available to provide assistance in connecting school board w/ the appropriate city officials/offices
· Different levels of historical preservations available

C. Tippi Manske - alumni/chairman of the board of PCHS

· Ms. Manske shared the School Board's desire to keep PCHS open - bottom line is that there are salaries to pay
· Several schools are interested in renting/merging with PCHS - many that they have met with have not been acceptable in terms of being more interested in the property rather than the school itself.
· Board will continue to look at options regarding schools interested in merging w/ the PCHS

D. John Acosta - spoke to the concern of development of the property

Does the school have any outstanding debt?
Yes - Outstanding loan of $750 (in addition to the operating expense)

Is there a danger of foreclosure?
No definite answer to that - still going through finances.

What schools are interested?
Several different schools all over the city of Los Angeles

Is there more land then really needed? Could part of the land be sold? Zoning? Residential/Commercial?
Board has begun to look at that.


Dana Daniels - Blair Magnet School
· Public/Private partnership
· Active ASB - parent involvement - many of which attend Lake Avenue Congregational Church.
· Interest in developing a sister school relationship

Scott Folsom -
· Has the decision been made?
· If the school is entertaining ideas of keeping the facility, which was established 100 years ago, it is assumed they would most likely want to keep it as a private school/Christian school. Idea of Charter Schools brought up - knowing that Charter Schools are indeed public schools.
· Is there money in place to maintain the facilities for a year while the board/community/school regroups?
· A decision needs to be made. If the decision to be made is one of keeping PCHS as a school, full support will be given.

Comment by Tippi Manske - It is not the administration/board's intention to "sneak off into the night". The school board's desire is to maintain a Christian school on the property.

Question: Is Azusa Pacific at all interested?
No determination as of yet.

Question/Comment: Brooke Fenwick - longtime Hermon resident
· Revisited the issue of Charter Schools with the main interest of seeing a quality school that is accessible to children in the area.
· Difficulty in maintaining this type of school (PCHS) - especially in this community
· High schools on the east side of Los Angeles are overcrowded and this area would be desirable for a quality/accessible high school as an alternative

Question brought up regarding federal bankruptcy protection

Randy Carrillo - Highland Park Ministerial Association
· Would like to see PCHS remain as PCHS!
· Borrowing to be able to get ahead and then continue fundraising/grants/etc
· Need to look at the criteria PCHS uses to accept students

Comment by Dr. Riesen:
· Addressed the issue of the types of students PCHS accepts
· Most students are very, very average students
· Not necessarily the top students but they are focused, hard working, strong Christian value.
· Financial aid students: 40%
· 50-60% Hispanic; 75% ethnic; less than 25% Caucasian students
· Give out over 100K a year in financial aid
· Would like to emphasize that PCHS is not an elitist school

Comment by Craig Takata - In informational meetings, questions of student qualifications/admission have come up. PCHS only turned away 2 students last year. It is difficult to recruit students because of the enormous amount of private schools in, for instance the Pasadena area. In addition these schools offer many more options than PCHS.

Comment by Tippi Manske - addressed issue of a loan/re-financing. School does not meet the qualifications of a loan from a reputable financial institution.

Comment by AJ Mora - read qualifications of student enrollment/admissions for PCHS. More important is that the school has not made the types of connections with the community, as it should.

Comment by a PCHS Parent (name unknown) - shared appreciation for the school staff/teachers/administration for the way her daughter has been impacted because of the school.

Words of support, encouragement and assistance were given to Dr. Riesen and the school board, in terms of being able to help continue the school as it seeks to minister to students in and around the Hermon community and greater Los Angeles area.

Comment by Maria Rojas - PCHS parent: Shared the plans to move forward with Pacific's 100-year celebration. The event will be a celebration/fundraiser in order to open the doors of PCHS once again. Scheduled date: November 20, 2004

Question by Dana Daniels: Has there been dialogue w/ the Free Methodist Conference (FMCSC) regarding the First Right of Refusal agreement?

Response by AJ Mora - Dialogue has begun. Hermon FM church is aware of the agreement and the responsibility - Hermon church is 100% committed to seeing that the property is maintained as a school.

Comment/Response by Richard Vasquez - There is an interest in exploring the idea of the PCHS/Hermon Church relationship and see how both can minister to students and families in the area - realizing the potential for donations to increase as people see how PCHS is impacting the community.

Comment by Dr. Riesen - PCHS seeks to provide a rigorous education, develop quality Christian character and to provide the opportunity for students who might not otherwise be able to attend a private school.

John Acosta recognized Monica Garcia, field deputy to Congressman Antonio Villaraigosa's office.

Greeting/comment by Monica Garcia - She was approached by parents, students, about the issues relating to the PCHS. Councilman Villaraigosa is concerned about the issues facing the school and the Hermon community. Assistance/resources have been offered.


1) Recommend a community liaison from the Hermon Neighborhood Association to the Pacific Christian Board of Directors - No Action
2) Community confirms that they do no want to see anything but a school on the present site of Pacific Christian on the Hill - Motion passed
3) Community confirms that application for historical preservation of Pacific Christian on the Hill should begin immediately and action taken by the ASNC - Motion passed

*All those interested in serving on either the Coalition of Liaisons or Historical Designation Committee were directed to sign in before leaving.

Next meeting of Hermon Neighborhood Association - September 1, 2004 - 8:00pm
Meeting Adjourned: 9:15pm

Respectfully Submitted
Debbie Mac Nair
August 20, 2004