Glendale school officials talk Sagebrush transfer terms

La Cañada Flintridge superintendent remains ‘cautiously optimistic’ over Sagebrush negotiations.

Glendale News Press
By: Kelly Corrigan
October 22, 2014

Glendale school board members unveiled a new proposal on Tuesday that they said they’re willing to offer La Cañada Unified as they prepare to vote on whether or not to come to a negotiated agreement in transferring the Sagebrush territory from Glendale Unified to the La Cañada school district.

School officials have been weighing the possible transfer for over a year, and the Glendale school board is slated to vote on the newly proposed terms on Nov. 4. It’s expected the plans would be delivered to La Cañada school officials by Nov. 10 for their consideration.

Not all five school board members were allowed to join in Tuesday’s discussion, however. Glendale Unified Supt. Dick Sheehan said that under the advice of the district’s attorneys, the board’s newest appointed member — Sandy Russell, who is a Sagebrush resident — has been prohibited from participating in any discussion on the issue.

“I have to say that right off the bat, it was a little frustrating to be muzzled on the very first issue with the Sagebrush [discussion],” Russell said in her closing remarks shortly before the meeting adjourned. “But I also understand the importance of that from the legal point of view, so I respect that, as frustrating as that is.”

Under Glendale Unified’s latest proposal, La Cañada would tally the number of students living within the Sagebrush area for 12 years. Each year, La Cañada Unified would pay Glendale Unified half of what each student is worth in state funding.

This year, the state will pay Glendale Unified about $7,200 per student, so La Cañada would pay $3,600 per student under that situation.

It’s still unknown exactly how many students would be considered in that calculation annually or how much La Cañada Unified would pay Glendale Unified because it’s expected the state will pay more for each student in the coming years.

Still, Glendale school officials believe asking for half of what they would be paid from the state to serve each student is fair. In all, a loss of 350 students in one year totals $2.5 million, according to Glendale school officials.

“We’re not going to be made whole, totally,” said school board member Nayiri Nahabedian, adding that the 12 years of proposed payments from La Cañada “goes a long way to give us some security financially.”

Fellow board member Christine Walters said the proposal offers a “reasonable compromise.”

“Glendale does not end up with 100% of what we had before,” she said.

La Cañada Unified Supt. Wendy Sinnette said she appreciates the work the Glendale school board has accomplished so far, and remains “cautiously optimistic” about the negotiations, she said.

She calculates that La Cañada would meet the potential of paying Glendale Unified about $10 million over the 12-year period under the new proposal.

“Having the cohesive boundaries between the city and the district we embrace, but we just have to look at the realities of what their proposal entails to see if it’s economically viable,” she said. “I’m not certain of our viability to negotiate an agreement. We appreciate the work they’ve done, but we also have to be very prudent in terms of the dollar figures our budget will allow.”

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