By Jason KUROSU
The Vahan & Anoush Chamlian school in La Crescenta will be increasing its overall enrollment after the Glendale Planning Commission approved an increase in the school’s max enrollment during the commission’s April 16 meeting. Previously, there was a cap of 500 students, which has now been increased to a maximum of 700 students after the meeting.
Traffic concerns have been raised again by surrounding residents, as it did in 2011 when Chamlian received approval for a new gymnasium. In light of traffic concerns, the 500 student cap was mandated as a condition of the gym approval.
A traffic and transportation plan drawn up for the increased enrollment states that the school “will not see any additional traffic on residential-area streets.” The traffic control plan, which states that the enrollment will result in 143 additional vehicle trips, must still be approved by the Dept. of Public Works and the Community Development director before the enrollment increase can be officially implemented.
According to Rodney Khan, a land use consultant, the increase will not necessitate any additional buildings or construction on the Chamlian campus. Khan was also the project consultant for Chamlian’s gym.
Khan said that the extra enrollment would increase class sizes from an average of 20 students per class to 25, a figure Khan said was “consistent with elementary school classroom sizes in the Glendale Unified School District.” Khan also noted that a similar increase of students at a public school “would require no public hearings. The public school would simply add the additional children. We would have no discussions, no outreach. None of this would be taking place.”
Any new Chamlian students (those who exceed the overall 500 student mark) would have to sign a contract agreeing to be part of a busing program. Students would be bused for free from St. Mary’s Armenian Apostolic Church in Glendale, a trip estimated to take 15 minutes. A carpool program may also be implemented to accommodate new Chamlian students who do not live near St. Mary’s church, though the majority of Chamlian students reside near central Glendale. An incentive of at least a $50 decrease in tuition fees per month would be provided for those parents signing up for the carpool program, according to Chamlian Principal Vazken Madenlian.
Madenlian stated the case for increased enrollment to the commission.
“The school has enjoyed a positive reputation in the community and subsequently has a large number of applicants,” said Madenlian. “It has a long waiting list which continues to increase consistently every year. Unfortunately, due to number constraints, we have been turning down several applications, thus depriving many students from getting the quality education of their choice.”
Residents attending the meeting continued to stress traffic issues.
Susan Bolan, president of the Far North Homeowners Association, said that Chamlian can’t be compared to Glendale’s public schools in terms of its regular traffic.
“Chamlian is a commuter school. At other schools, the kids walk, use other means of transportation,” she said.
Bolan urged the commission to reject the requests, saying that upon the opening of Chamlian’s gym, “the community was promised no increase in enrollment.”
Bill Weisman of the Crescenta Valley Community Association echoed past statements that indicated that expansion of student enrollment would not follow the erection of the gymnasium.
“Why are we here when these representations were made years ago to sell to you and the [Glendale] City Council?” asked Weisman.
The enrollment increase was ultimately approved by the commission.
According to Principal Madenlian, around 45 families are currently on Chamlian’s waiting list.