By Kevork KURDOGHLIAN
The Glendale Unified School District board members were greeted at their first meeting of the year on Tuesday by the drums of Hoover High School student percussionists and goodie bags with items from each GUSD high school. Crescenta Valley High School’s ceramics students contributed to the goodie bags with ceramic pots.
After the fanfare, the board recognized two Crescenta Valley High School students, Joseph Stiles and Patrick Yang, who marched in the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Parade as members of the Rose Parade’s Honor Band.
The celebratory mood that began the meeting soon mellowed as the subject changed to public comments, most of which focused on the first agenda item pertaining to the district’s dual language immersion program.
A majority of the dozen parents who spoke were from Balboa Elementary and critical of the dual language program, known as FLAG, since it has resulted in increased traffic and classroom overflows at their children’s school.
Addressing these parents, Glendale Superintendent Dick Sheehan said, “the last thing we want is [the FLAG issue] to become ‘us against them.’”
He also noted, “a lot of this has to do with the state budget,” and “unfortunately the Balboa class sizes are mirrored across the district.”
But with the return of some funds from the state as a result of the Local Control Funding Formula, the district is strongly considering expanding its FLAG program to the district’s four middle schools.
Rosemont Middle School is the only middle school that will offer only one language, Korean, which will be carried over from Monte Vista Elementary. Rosemont is also the only school projected to experience a decline in enrollment based on the proposed scenario.
Assistant Superintendent Kelly King explained that the decline was due in part because of the decline in students feeding into Rosemont from Dunsmore and Valley View elementary schools. The Korean program at Rosemont is expected to be phased in during the 2017-18 school year.
Despite the return of some funds to Glendale due to Gov. Brown’s 2014-15 budget proposal, there was a consensus among the board members to raise the maximum aggregate tax rate for Measure S from the $46.03 amount approved by voters in 2011 to $50. No action was taken on the matter.
The board is considering such a change because of Assembly Bill 182, which would alter current state regulations regarding school district bonds. The bill would shift the issuance schedule, which includes five $54 million issuances over 10 years, by one year per issuance.
Raising the tax rate would allow the district to receive its bond issuance at the current schedule of every two years.
Board member Mary Boger said in regard to the tax rate increase that the community “will readily be able to see the need.”
She did caution afterwards that an increase could “poison the well” for future boards of education seeking community support for a future bond.