Sagebrush Debate Continues for GUSD, Affected Families

La Canada Outlook
By: Mirjam Swanson
September 9, 2014

Though the latest round of negotiations have gone on for more than a year, there still is no resolution regarding the fate of students living in the La Cañada Flintridge neighborhood known as Sagebrush and attending schools in the Glendale Unified School District.

But the conversation continues.

GUSD Superintendent Richard Sheehan said at Tuesday’s school board meeting that the evolving FAQs posted on his district’s website soon will be updated to reflect about four pages of questions posed by parents whose children attend Mountain Avenue Elementary School, one of the schools that would be primarily affected by a territory transfer.

He also said that, despite suggestions to the contrary by some members of the public, discussions in the past few months between representatives from both districts did not amount to official subcommittee meetings.

“Those meetings got to a point where nothing new was being discussed,” Sheehan said. “And that was more negotiations opposed to subcommittees.”Newly seated GUSD board President Greg Krikorian supported Sheehan’s position regarding the meetings: “That’s what we’re elected for, to do these things.”

Krikorian, who was a key figure in those negotiations, has taken over as president for Mary Boger, who stepped down from the board last month citing an ongoing illness. Boger was the most adamant opponent of a potential transfer.

A fifth member of the board is scheduled to be chosen in October, Sheehan said.

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Report answers queries regarding possible Sagebrush transfer

Glendale News Press
By: Kelly Corrigan
September 16, 2014

Glendale school officials this week released answers to 63 questions posed by parents and residents during a PTA meeting last month at Mountain Avenue Elementary about the possible transfer of an area called the Sagebrush territory to the La Cañada Unified school district.

For more than a year, Glendale and La Cañada school officials have been in negotiations over transferring 385 acres to La Cañada Unified, and many residents are still raising questions over how the transfer could affect both districts in terms of student enrollment and revenue loss.

At the meeting in August, no one could ask questions in the public setting, though they could speak with Glendale Unified officials one-on-one. Instead attendees were asked to write out their questions, and school officials said they would answer them at a later date.

One question asked how much Glendale Unified has spent, so far, on the Sagebrush issue. As of July, the school district has spent $74,000 in general-fund dollars on attorneys, a financial analysis of the transfer’s implications and a survey to seek input from Sagebrush residents, according to the document.

Another question asked what Glendale Unified spent in fees during its most recent legal battle over Sagebrush that ended in 2000.

“We have tried to research this question and are unable to provide an answer,” Glendale school officials responded in the document. “The records from that period of time are not available and the legal firm that was utilized at the time is no longer in existence.”

The financial analysis the district paid for was completed by School Services of California last September, and indicated that Glendale Unified would stand to lose $1,751 per Sagebrush student it currently serves — and school officials say there are roughly 350 students in the Sagebrush area.

Therefore, the annual financial impact with that estimate would be $612,850.

However, Glendale Unified Supt. Dick Sheehan has publicly expressed his disagreement with that estimated loss.

Instead, Glendale Unified officials say they would lose about $7,200 per Sagebrush student, so the total would be $2.52 million using their calculation.

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Opinion: It’s time for a Sagebrush solution

La Cañada Valley Sun
By: Anita Brenner
September 4, 2014

Now that September is here, it’s beginning to feel like Back to School has actually begun. The La Cañada Unified School District kids returned to school in August, and this week, the doors of local private schools are finally open.

Some parents talk about how ready they are, that the summers seemed unending. Perhaps it is only with nostalgia that I recall feeling sad when the kids returned in September. I didn’t like homework when I was a kid and I liked it less when our kids were in school. One day, maybe, I’ll get more organized.

That’s why I was surprised to catch up with Valley Sun reporter Sara Cardine’s coverage of the Sagebrush issue.

The question of “one city, one school district,” a phrase I coined 25 years ago when I represented some Sagebrush families, is still, unfortunately, alive.

When I attended Palm Springs High School, we only had one school district. Granted, some kids from Cathedral City attended because they had no high school out there, but there was this feeling of cohesion. One football team. One tennis team. We played Indio and Banning. It was one town versus another.

Luckily most of us didn’t get arrested for painting Coachella High School red (our colors), or for enrolling an imaginary student named George Mason, or for uprooting rural mailboxes on Saturday nights. I never did any of those things. Honest.

It was an awesome way to grow up. We all still keep in touch. When I came to the city to attend UCLA, the differences were obvious.

If some 16-year-old throws an egg at my car, I’ll have a hard time getting my knickers into a twist about it. People in glass houses and all that.

So I find it sad that kids who live two blocks from Palm Crest have to file a petition to attend the elementary school down the street. It’s amazing to read Sara Cardine’s report that “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.” (Aug. 27, “LCUSD seeks transfer talks on Sagebrush”)

to read the full article, click here.

Sagebrush Transfer: Not Before 2016

La Cañada Outlook
By: Mirjam Swanson
August 14, 2014

If students in the Sagebrush area eventually do begin phasing into La Cañada Unified schools, it won’t be until 2016 at the earliest.

In March, it seemed as though there was a possibility that a transfer could be enacted as soon as this 2014-15 school year. Then, in June, both districts updated an FAQ document on their websites indicating that no transfer would occur until 2015.

This week, Eva Lueck, chief business and financial officer for Glendale Unified, said the Los Angeles County Office of Education advised both districts that an agreement reached this month — or even a couple weeks ago — wouldn’t allow enough time to complete the transfer processes for the 2015-16 school year.

“And La Cañada advised us that rather than work quickly to a false deadline, because we couldn’t effect it for 2015 anyway, their preference was to really work through it, not to rush into a decision,” Lueck said.

GUSD called off a workshop for its board members to study the issue further before their next meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 12, and  Lueck said she didn’t anticipate the issue appearing on the agenda.Sagebrush advocate Tom Smith said he thinks slowing deliberations could benefit the process in the end.

“Everybody is kind of taking a breath,” said Smith, who heads Unite LCF, the citizens’ group behind the latest request for a territory transfer that would send students living in westernmost La Cañada Flintridge to LCUSD schools rather than the GUSD schools they’ve traditionally attended. “The air was just being sucked out of the room by so much of the emotion, and a lot of it was just not completely true information. It’s good that everybody takes a stand-down.”

The tug-of-war over the 385-acre territory west of Rosebank Drive dates back to the 1960s and, in the past, has often turned contentious. This citizens’ petition is the fourth attempt for a transfer, in addition to three failed legislative proposals.

to read the full article, click here.

Consultant predicts growth’s effect on schools

More than 600 students could come from Glendale’s new housing developments.

Glendale News Press
By: Kelly Corrigan
September 3, 2014

In response to Glendale’s recent residential development boom, the Glendale Unified School District commissioned a study that projects more than 600 additional students could live in those new units and attend local schools 10 years from now.

Earlier this year, Glendale school officials hired the Irvine-based company DecisionInsite to gauge how the influx of nearly 4,000 residential units in various developmental stages in Glendale could impact the local schools in years to come.

According to results from the study, the growth downtown would have a “moderate” effect on the district, at most, said Bruce Terry, director of residential research for DecisionInsite.

“The bottom line on all of this is the residential impact — from what our findings are at this point — is mild to moderate,” he said.

Across the 21 new multifamily developments under construction, recently opened or coming down the pipeline, his company projected 3,106 of those units could be occupied by October 2019.

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Board moves to fill empty seat left by Mary Boger

The Glendale Unified school board will interview applicants early next month to fill a seat left open when former member — and past president — Mary Boger resigned.

Glendale News Press
By: Kelly Corrigan
September 3, 2014

Glendale school officials announced Tuesday they plan to swear in the new board member at their Oct. 21 meeting, after interviewing candidates publicly on Oct. 8.

The school district will accept applications Sept. 4through 19, and the existing term will run through April 7.

While the four board members unanimously agreed to appoint the fifth member rather than call a special election, they are still at odds over whether applicants should intend to run for another term in April.

School board member Christine Walters said she would prefer candidates applying for the appointment not run for another term for various reasons.

“One of them being,” she said, “you will find yourself in your own personal hell during the election, trying to be a good board member and trying to run for office at the same time, and probably not serve this board well.”

School Board President Greg Krikorian said that of the thousands of parent volunteers and residents involved in the community, there will likely be several good candidates.

to read the full story, click here.