October 08, 2008
The Long Beach Unified School District announced Wednesday that it will be suspending scheduled visits of fifth graders to Hi-Hill Outdoor School in the Angeles National Forest effective October 10. A letter is being sent to inform parents of the cancellation of their child’s visit this fall. Concerns about the current hot, dry weather, and forest conditions that pose increased risk of forest fire prompted the decision.
“It may be upsetting for some students who will not have the opportunity this fall to attend Hi-Hill as scheduled,” said Jill Baker, Assistant Superintendent, Elementary Schools. “This is a special week for students and something we value, but the maintenance of a safe learning environment is our first priority.
“Parents can rest assured that we will not be placing any children in harm’s way,” said Baker.
The district is exploring current options for providing students with an outdoor science experience that may or may not include the use of Hi-Hill, even if the fire safety hazard subsides. Parents who have already paid for their child to attend Hi-Hill later this year may request a refund or allow the payment to be held for a future outdoor science experience.
The Long Beach Unified School District was advised by the U.S. Forest Service — the owner of the Hi-Hill Outdoor School property — that the area of the forest where Hi-Hill is located has an elevated fire danger. Except for a caretaker and his family who live there, Hi-Hill will be vacated indefinitely. All Hi-Hill employees were notified this week that they will be reassigned to other jobs in the district.
Fifth graders from Cubberley and Naples schools now at Hi-Hill will return to Long Beach on Friday, October 10. Students scheduled to attend Hi-Hill in future weeks may instead be able to attend an alternate outdoor education later this school year.