By Charly SHELTON
Since the 1960s, the area west of Rosebank Drive in La Cañada to Pickens Canyon, known as the Sagebrush territory, has been hotly contested. Sagebrush officially falls under the jurisdiction of the City of La Cañada, but the students who live there attend Glendale Unified School District schools due to boundary lines. The most recent effort to unify La Cañada addresses in the La Cañada Unified School District is aptly named UniteLCF and now, after three years, the possibility of a territory transfer is coming within reach.
Recently, a statement was released by UniteLCF celebrating that its petition for the territory transfer was accepted by the L.A. County Registrar’s Office. According to the release, the Registrar’s Office determined that there were 1,606 registered voters in the Sagebrush territory and the petition would need 25% of the total – 402 signatures to place the matter on the agenda for the Los Angeles County Committee on School District Organization. The petition received 724 verified signatures.
“Our efforts for a territory transfer are about empowering children and families who live in Sagebrush to be on equal footing with the rest of the La Cañada Flintridge community,” said Tom Smith, chair of UniteLCF, in the release. “Our goal is to provide them a greater sense of safety, educational parity, inclusiveness and belonging in their hometown. For over 50 years the Sagebrush residents and parents have sought this transfer and we are determined to be successful.”
GUSD and LCUSD had engaged in negotiations previously but after hiring consulting firm Capitol Advisors to explore its options, GUSD decided to end negotiations as there was not a manageable outcome.
“We remain committed to supporting the findings presented in the Capitol Advisor’s report and do not plan to participate in any further negotiations that might result in moving students from the Sagebrush residential area out of the Glendale Unified School District, thereby harming the district and our students in the process,” said GUSD Board of Education President Dr. Armina Gharpetian. “The schools serving the Sagebrush community are widely recognized as outstanding in quality and, in fact, each year we have many students from the La Cañada School District request transfers into our school district.
“That said, as in the past, the family of any student residing in the Sagebrush residential area who wishes to transfer their children to the La Cañada School District will be granted that request from the GUSD.”
Sagebrush consists of approximately 900 residential parcels with 364 total students, 278 of whom were enrolled in GUSD schools as of April 2016, according to the Capitol Advisors report.