Update Meeting Held on Proposed Territory Transfer

CV Weekly
August 28, 2014
By: Kevork Kurdoghlian
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About 110 people filled the auditorium of Mountain Avenue Elementary School on Tuesday evening to listen to a presentation by Glendale Unified School District Superintendent Dr. Richard Sheehan regarding the proposed territory transfer. In attendance were Mountain Avenue parents, who represented a majority of the crowd, Mountain Avenue Principal Rebecca Witt, PTA President Liz Blake, a scattering of pro-transfer Sagebrush residents, four members of the GUSD board of education and two members of the Crescenta Valley Town Council.

Sheehan and his staff distributed small blue question cards to the audience at the beginning of the meeting. The cards gave attendees the opportunity to write out their questions. GUSD staff collected the audience’s questions and will provide answers in a future FAQ document.

Sheehan made clear from the beginning that the purpose of this informational meeting was to provide parents with an update of GUSD’s status on the territory transfer and dispel rumors.

GUSD board vice president Greg Krikorian said the meeting was “specifically to help inform the Mountain Avenue students and families about “where we are in the process.”

During the 30-minute meeting Sheehan presented a timeline of the proposed Sagebrush territory transfer, starting on June 3, 2013 when GUSD first spoke to their legal council and ending with the Aug. 12, 2014 board meeting when the district again consulted with their lawyers in closed session.

At the GUSD board’s upcoming Sept. 2 meeting, it will decide in open session on an appointment process to fill the vacancy left by outgoing board president Mary Boger.

“That has an impact on everything,” Sheehan noted. “That alone will slow down the process a bit.”

During closed session at their Sept. 2 meeting, Sheehan confirmed the board will discuss Sagebrush again after having digested the new information from the August meeting.

To reassure the audience that a transfer would be a transparent and open process, Sheehan said, “Any potential decision one way or another will be discussed in open session.”

cont….

to read the full article, click here.

LCUSD seeks transfer talks on Sagebrush

La Cañada Valley Sun
August 27, 2014
By: Kelly Corrigan and Sara Cardine

Glendale Unified Supt. Dick Sheehan is making the rounds to three elementary schools that could be affected by the potential transfer of the Sagebrush area of La Cañada Flintridge into La Cañada Unified School District.

Meanwhile, La Cañada Unified officials are requesting that both districts sit down in a subcommittee meeting to discuss where negotiations stand. The last time the districts last met jointly in public was at a March 25 town hall forum at Crescenta Valley High School.

During a PTA meeting Tuesday evening at Mountain Avenue Elementary in La Crescenta, which currently serves the Sagebrush area, Sheehan recapped the events that have taken place over the past year, in which school officials on both sides have been in negotiations with each other over potentially transferring the territory.

Most recently, the Glendale school board met behind closed doors to discuss the issue, and the board intends to discuss it again in closed session on Sept. 2, he said.

He welcomed people to address the board with any questions during the regular school board meeting, and vowed that any looming decision would be transparent.

“Any potential decision one way or another will be discussed in open session with a following meeting to allow for input from the community,” Sheehan said. “It’s not going to be a discussion, and a decision made, and it’s over.”

Speaking at a La Cañada Unified school board meeting held the same night as the Mountain Avenue meeting, Supt. Wendy Sinnette said she and board President Ellen Multari recently asked Sheehan to consider a joint subcommittee meeting in the near future.

“We’d like to touch base on where they are in the process and our continuing interest,” Sinnette said. “We haven’t met for a while and we think that dialogue would be very important.”

to read the full story, click here.

Fiscal impact and number of students

Say What logo

In a recent newsletter to subscribers (below), the Crescenta Valley Town Council (CVTC)  forwarded an invitation to a community forum hosted by GUSD.  In their emails to stakeholders, CVTC added some figures which have raised questions from transfer supporters. 

2.5_million

In the past week, Dr. Sheehan has confirmed that GUSD has not used the figure “400 students,”  let alone “over 400 students.”  The “2.5 million a year” figure also needs significant clarification.  For one thing, no reduction in costs to serve the transferred students could have been considered.

Number of Sagebrush students under discussion

  • In September 2013, GUSD provided consultant, School Services of California, with the enrollment data of Sagebrush students attending GUSD schools as shown below:
    • 260 students, including 151 at Mountain Avenue, 58 at Rosemont and 51 high school students
    • Since GUSD excluded all high school students from phase-in eligibility, only 209 students are potential transfer candidates to LCUSD over a six-year phase-in and just 20 to 25 TK/Kindergarten students at Mountain Avenue are potential transfer candidates to LCUSD in the first year of the phase-in
  • In July 2014, GUSD presented updated enrollment data currently posted to its website as shown below:
    • 353 students, including 151 at Mountain Avenue, 58 at Rosemont and 144 high school students
    • Since GUSD excluded all high school students from phase-in eligibility, only 209 students are potential transfer candidates to LCUSD over a six-year phase-in and just 20 to 25 TK/Kindergarten students at Mountain Avenue are potential transfer candidates to LCUSD in the first year of the phase-in
  • In August 2014, GUSD staff provided updated enrollment data to its board as shown below:
    • 372 students, including 161 at Mountain Avenue, 20 at other GUSD elementary schools, 46 at Rosemont, 2 at other middle schools and 143 high school and “other program” students
    • Since GUSD excluded all high school students from phase-in eligibility, only 229 students are potential transfer candidates to LCUSD over a six-year phase-in and just 20 to 25 TK/Kindergarten students at Mountain Avenue are potential transfer candidates to LCUSD in the first year of the phase-in

Fiscal impact

The CVTC estimate of over 2.5 million, based on 400 transferred students, would suggest a loss to GUSD of $6,250 per transferred student.  However:

  • School Services of California was engaged in 2013 by both districts specifically address the fiscal effects of the proposed territory transfer.  This educational consultancy firm is highly regarded by the CA Board of Education.  In their independent and unbiased report they determined and published that GUSD’s net revenue loss would be $1,751.23 annually, per transferred student.
  • Using the number of 229 potential transfer candidates at $1,751.23 translates to, at most, a potential loss to GUSD $401,000.00 per year.
  • The amount is not lost specifically from the neighboring schools but from the GUSD budget as a whole.

To protect Mountain Avenue from any financial impact and to maintain its status as a neighborhood school, GUSD has offered to create permissive boundaries for certain Monte Vista families with TK/Kindergarten students to come to Mountain Avenue in sufficient numbers to back fill any of the estimated 20 to 25 Sagebrush TK/Kindergarten students who ultimately choose to go to La Cañada schools for each year of the six year phase-in.

So the next time you read about a “loss of over 400 students at a cost of $2.5 million a year” — ask yourself, Say What??

Analysis by Tom Smith, Chair, UniteLCF!

Around the neighborhood: facts and figures

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According to the California Department of Finance the total population of the County of Los Angeles was 10,441,080.  Approximately 90% live in the 88 incorporated Cities Approximately 10% live in unincorporated areas of the County of Los Angeles.

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Note: Both Glendale Unified and La Cañada Unified school districts include areas of unincorporated Los Angeles. Virtually all Glendale residents can attend Glendale schools, however, La Cañada residents on the west end of town cannot attend La Cañada schools. Off and on for 50 years, residents of the “Sagebrush” neighborhood have requested to be released from GUSD. The area in dispute is described as the 0.6-square-mile area, bounded roughly by Foothill Boulevard on the south, Ocean View Drive and Pickens Canyon on the west, High Rim Road on the north and Rosebank Drive on the east. The Sagebrush moniker was named after the bank of sagebrush that once separated the area from the rest of La Canada. The eastern edge of the GUSD boundary, Rosebank Drive, was selected as a matter of convenience, using an existing line from a prior subdivision of a parcel of land.

Pickens canyon was selected as the natural boundary line for the west end of the City of La Cañada, formed in 1976.  From Foothill Blvd to the top of the northern tip of the City, there are no roads that cross the canyon.  This poses a safety concern for  Sagebrush children attending Mountain Avenue, limiting all crossings to a single footbridge used in the case of an emergency.   Sagebrush residents feel that Pickins Wash is a natural boundary for the school district, as it is for the City since it is not passable from the City of La Cañada to the La Crescenta area by car.

— Compiled by Nalini Lasiewicz, UniteLCF!

School District vs. City Boundaries

 

Say What logoSome opponents to the transfer have focused on coterminous school district and city boundaries — but this is not the relevant point. These opponents are using this idea to create an impression that it’s a rarity for virtually all students residing in an incorporated city to be able to attend that city’s schools. This impression is false.

A statement made in public comment before the GUSD board, which has been repeated in conversations and e-mails is this:

“I mentioned this at the past board meeting, but it is worth repeating, there is not one school district, not one, in the entire LA County, that has the same boundary as their city boundaries. There are two school districts, San Marino and Beverly Hills, that have similar boundaries, but that has to do with when the city was formed and when the school districts were formed.”

The so-called alignment “rarity” was reportedly based on the speaker’s study of overlay maps where one can compare school district boundaries to city boundaries.

The truth is:

First, whether the “school district …..has the same boundary as their city boundary” is not the point. One of the core reasons for seeking the transfer is as stated above so that the children of virtually all residents of the City of La Cañada Flintridge have the opportunity to attend La Cañada Unified schools.

Second, the statement made before the GUSD board and repeated elsewhere is simply incorrect!

This can be confirmed using the LA Vote website. This site allows a user to overlay school district boundaries and incorporated city boundaries on a map so that a user can see, street by street, what portion of the residents within the city boundaries are able to have their children attend schools within their school district.

2013_Public_Schools_Directory_USDmap

ZoomLACountyUSDmapHere is what you’ll find if you do your own research at LA Vote:

There are a number of examples in LA County where virtually all students residing in an incorporated city have the opportunity to attend schools in that city’s school district in addition to the two acknowledged by the opponents to the territory transfer. In addition to San Marino and Beverly Hills, the following cities also meet this criterion: Burbank, Pasadena, South Pasadena, Claremont, Manhattan Beach, Redondo Beach and Torrance.

This is also the case for residents of Glendale. Like many school districts that pick up portions of unincorporated L.A. County outside its city limits, GUSD includes sections of Montrose and La Crescenta. More importantly, based on the LA Vote maps, virtually every student who resides within the City of Glendale has the opportunity to attend Glendale Unified schools, which is exactly what Sagebrush residents’ desire and why a territory transfer has been sought for more than five decades.

Community Forum – August 26, 2014

Glendale Unified School District Superintendent of Schools Dr. Richard Sheehan is holding a community forum to provide updates on the Sagebrush territory transfer.  The meeting will be held in the Mountain Avenue Elementary School cafetorium beginning at 6:00 pm.  The school is located at 2307 Mountain Avenue, La Crescenta.

Sagebrush Transfer Still a Waiting Game

La Cañada Outlook
July 18, 2014
By Mirjam Swanson

The Glendale Unified School District’s Board of Education tapped the brakes on the ongoing Sagebrush discussions Tuesday [7/15/14], delaying what might have been a monumental step in negotiations involving the proposed territory transfer of the neighborhood in westernmost La Cañada Flintridge.

An agenda item called for the board, at the recommendation of Superintendent Dick Sheehan, to authorize GUSD administration to finalize a territory transfer agreement before returning for final board approval at a future meeting.

But with the Los Angeles County Commission on School District Reorganization needing to review a plan at its Sept. 2 meeting in order for it to become effective for the 2015-16 school year, GUSD board members weren’t ready to finalize an agreement. They insisted on further negotiations over compensation and possibly more community outreach.

“There are downsides for Glendale Unified, mostly. We’re going to be losers. That’s why this is taking a long time,” GUSD board member Christine Walters said. “I’m sure La Cañada is sick of it because I’m sure from the La Cañada point of view, yes, most people in the area are very much in favor of it and, yes, we do represent those people.“From the Sagebrush point of view, it’s a very easy decision to make, but it’s very complicated and it will be very costly for Glendale Unified, regardless of how we approach this.”Former LCUSD Governing Board president Scott Tracy, who has served as a key negotiator in recent discussions, said he understood GUSD’s desire to proceed cautiously.

“The Glendale board has a very important decision to make. It’s a challenging decision for any school district, and there’s a lot of history here,” he said. “There seems to be a pathway to reach a joint agreement. … The pathway remains open but the step wasn’t taken today.”

LCF City Council members Donald Voss and Jonathan Curtis also attended the meeting.

The debate over which district students in the 385-acre section of LCF west of Rosebank Drive should attend dates back to the 1960s, when residents there initially petitioned to be included in what was then a new LCUSD. Since then, there have been three other citizens’ petitions — including the current one — as well as three failed legislative proposals.

To read the full story, click here.