The La Cañada Unified School District governing board began its first round of deliberations at its regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday on the recent citizens’ petition that was adopted in a resolution by the La Cañada Flintridge City Council two weeks prior.
After three citizens’ efforts and two legislative efforts over the past half-century, the area commonly called “Sagebrush” is once again being considered for a “territory transfer” into La Cañada Unified.
The LCUSD board is considering, as was on its meeting agenda, “supporting the community’s request calling for the ‘territory transfer’ of certain areas of the City into the La Cañada Unified School District boundaries.” The governing board plans on voting on the unification resolution at its next regularly scheduled meeting on July 9.
The specified area is west of Rosebank Drive in the western most part of La Cañada Flintridge, which falls under the jurisdiction of the Glendale Unified School District. Students living within those boundaries, instead of attending La Cañada schools, attend Mountain Avenue Elementary School, Rosemont Middle School and Crescenta Valley High School in La Crescenta.
“Enough time has passed where it is time for a relook,” said Tom Smith, Sagebrush resident who submitted a letter to the La Cañada City Council requesting they adopt a resolution in support of the territory transfer.
Mike Delaney, speaking for Smith at the board meeting, stated that one of the main goals of the transfer is to help students create “common identity between school and community.”
La Cañada City Council member Don Voss, who spoke during the board meeting, emphasized that this transfer would bring “greater community cohesiveness” and asked the board to join the legal process with their own supporting resolution.
The governing board’s adoption of a resolution in support of the transfer would be one of the major differences from any past efforts by the community. Citing La Cañada’s declining resident student enrollment, board president Scott Tracy said of a potential board resolution, “I have every reason to believe that the board will support this.”
LCUSD schools have close to 600 out-of-district students in attendance, which is near the 15% cap the board has set for itself. This number leads Tracy to believe that there is “clearly capacity for [LCUSD] to absorb” the approximately 300 students residing in Sagebrush.
Tracy said, “We’re going down parallel paths,” referencing the district’s simultaneous legal effort and ongoing dialogue with Glendale Unified School District.
“We have a great working relationship with the LCUSD and their board of education. We trust we’ll be able to continue that,” said Greg Krikorian, GUSD board member. Krikorian spoke of the issue’s complexity and cited the recently passed Measure S.
“There’s so much that goes into it. There’s so much history behind it,” he said of the area in question. “We’ve served these families for 50-plus years.”
GUSD board president Nayiri Nahabedian saw some potential problems with the issue moving forward.
“The important thing about this is neither district has the luxury of spending dollars on a costly and lengthy legal process,” she said.
Of La Canada’s efforts dating back to 1991, Nahabedian added, “I have no reason to believe that the court, committees, boards … that they’re going to come up with any different answer.”
Krikorian felt that La Cañada had done its “due diligence” on the issues in the 1991 effort. “My hope is that they’ll delay the [July 9] vote a month and give both sides a chance to talk.”