School Supt. Vera Vignes and community leaders told more than 1,500 teachers, students and parents gathered at Lake Avenue Congregational Church on Wednesday morning that together the community can transform its schools this year.
"We're in a period of transition, a period of change," Vignes said.
The meeting was called to welcome the community to the new school year starting Monday--one that school officials hope will be a turning point for the district.
School administrators presented a summary of a reform plan for the troubled 22,000-student district that is designed to increase parent involvement on campus, produce safer campuses and set education standards.
The plan, New Directions: a Blueprint for Action, was developed with public input at two education summits during the last school year and refined by citizen committees. The plan will be presented at Education Summit III, scheduled for 7 p.m. Oct. 7 at Pasadena High School.
"We must rekindle the flame of hope and empowerment in the public school system," said Lydia Fernandez Palmer, executive director of El Centro de Accion Social, a Latino activist group endorsing the plan.
Taylor Morton, president of the local chapter of the NAACP, said the district was not so much embarking on a journey but a mission. "Never have so many worked so hard with so much at stake," he said.