By Jason KUROSU
The Glendale Unified School District recently met with members of the La Cañada Unified School District to discuss the GUSD proposal for the Sagebrush territory transfer, a meeting which GUSD Superintendent Richard Sheehan called “productive” but left both districts with talking points requiring further legal clarification.
Sheehan said that “it was reiterated at the meeting that La Cañada could not afford the current proposal.”
Key issues which the districts will review before meeting again include the park across from Mountain Avenue Elementary, which would have gone to LCUSD as per the original proposal but was removed from consideration by GUSD amid public outcry.
$6.8 million of the $23 million LCUSD would be required to pay according to the GUSD proposal would be to repay debts tied to Measure K and Measure S bonds, money which would have come from residents in the Sagebrush area. Without the park, Sheehan said this portion of the proposal comes under question.
“One area of dispute is the park and, should the park not change hands, would GUSD be able to recoup Measure K and Measure S bonds that were part of the proposal?” said Sheehan. “Under the La Cañada belief, if there is no exchange of property, then they are not bound to repay any part of the bond.”
Sheehan said another topic was a potential “dramatic reduction” in the number of students being transferred to LCUSD.
“They have made it abundantly clear that they could not handle taking all the kids at once,” he said.
Sheehan said that in addition to pending legal clarification, the upcoming GUSD board election could have an effect on further proceedings, potentially altering these aspects of the proposal.
GUSD Board Vice President Christine Walters called the discussions with LCUSD “friendly” and said the talks were more of a conversation than a negotiation.
“We’re working very hard to understand each other’s points of view and we’re willing to do what’s best for each of our districts and the students,” said Walters.
When asked for comment, LCUSD Superintendent Wendy Sinnette sent a statement highlighting LCUSD’s support of a phase-in period and the need for further legal clarification.
“The GUSD territory transfer proposal presented to LCUSD in November exceeds the financial means of the district and the city of La Cañada Flintridge. LCUSD continues to support a phase-in of students if the territory were to transfer. We are presently seeking legal clarification on this issue. GUSD is consulting legal counsel regarding the transfer of property and the bond indebtedness,” the statement reads.
The school districts will meet again on March 23.