By Mary O’KEEFE
Glendale Unified School District representatives were at the Crescenta Valley Town Council monthly meeting Aug. 18 and gave councilmembers an update on the Sagebrush territory transfer.
The Sagebrush area is the far west side of La Cañada Flintridge where the homes are within the City of La Cañada Flintridge but students attend GUSD schools. A coalition of LCF residents formed UniteLCF in 2013 and began working on a territorial transfer. This involved several negotiations between the two districts that included issues of the rate students would be transferred if approved and compensation to Glendale Unified for loss of students and parcel tax. A vote with GUSD had been scheduled in 2014; however, it was postponed as more discussion was needed to fine tune the issues presented by the transfer.
GUSD Superintendent Winfred Roberson told CVTC that UniteLCF had delivered its petition containing 724 signatures to the Los Angeles County Registrar’s Office and it had been accepted. On Sept. 7 the Registrar’s Office will officially present the petition to the L.A. County Committee on School District Organization and within
60 days from then public hearings will be scheduled.
“We are going to request that one hearing be held in Crescenta Valley and one in La Cañada Flintridge,” Roberson said.
He told the Council that the two districts had been in negotiations but those talks failed, and the process is now moving forward with the L.A. County Committee on School District Organization.
There are currently 351 students from the Sagebrush area enrolled in GUSD schools; in 2015-16 there were 393 students. The majority of those students are enrolled in Mountain Avenue Elementary, Rosemont Middle and Crescenta Valley High schools, according to Kristine Nam, GUSD spokeswoman.
For the 2016-17 school year GUSD has released 30 students living in the Sagebrush area to transfer to La Cañada Unified. In 2015-16 that number was 63.
“Although GUSD and LCUSD have had several discussions over the years, a legal proposal has never been submitted by either district,” Nam stated.
The superintendent asked for
the Council’s and community’s continued support.
Aram Ordubegian, CVTC alternate, thanked Roberson for being at the meeting and open
with information about Sagebrush.
“In the second half of 2014-2015 [school year] we felt the school district was reacting to La Cañada Flintridge’s [request] and just throwing up their hands and letting [Sagebrush] go,” Ordubegian said.
Present and former members of the CVTC had concerns about the transfer and felt the residents in Crescenta Valley had not been kept updated on the progress. Ordubegian thanked Roberson and his staff for working closely with
Harry Leon, CVTC vice president, presented a motion that became a focal point of a debate between the Council members.
The CVTC had in the past and has reiterated its opposition to the territorial transfer.
The motion presented included three points: The first was CVTC would write a letter to the Los Angeles County Of Education
board stating CVTC’s opposition to the territory transfer. That letter would be copied to Superintendent Roberson, the GUSD School Board and L.A. County Supervisor Michael Antonovich.
The second portion of the motion had three additional letters written after each public hearing reiterating the Council’s oppositions thus showing consistency in the CVTC position.
The third portion proposed a Territory Transfer Committee to be created by Leon. This committee would be tasked with attending public hearing meetings as well as GUSD and other meetings concerning Sagebrush. The members of the committee would be announced at a later date.
It was this last portion of the motion that seemed to set off a raucous debate between the CVTC members that included accusations of some members having specific agendas, concerns about Leon having too much power and the motion covering too many items and not following what had been discussed in the Council’s executive meeting.
The latter seemed to be the largest objection from President Leslie Dickson.
“We didn’t discuss this in our executive [meeting],” Dickson said, adding that she was not at the meeting but reviewed the minutes.
CVTC member Mike Claessens stated that not everything decided by the Council needed to be presented or discussed at the executive meetings.
Jo Ann Stupakis, alternate member, was concerned that having Leon create a committee would give him too much power. She noted that Leon is at several community events and said she is supportive of his efforts but she had some objections to forming the committee.
“I think we are [aligning] with what the superintendent wanted us to do and forming a committee is within that spirit of the district,” Ordubegian said.
Leon was not certain what the objection was over the committee. He stated it would be a committee that would gather information coming out of LCUSD and GUSD and share with the Council.
“We want to be part of the solution,” he said.
Leon was on CVTC when the Sagebrush issue first came up.
“Last time we almost lost the battle and it’s not going to happen again,” he said. “We would like to be on top of what is going on.”
He told Roberson that he and the Council respected the district, appreciated the open communication and wanted to act as partners with them.
CVTC member Mariam Barnes also objected to the motion, stating that there were too many aspects to it.
Ordubegian read the motion again, with three portions. Again it appeared the formation of the committee was the point most objected.
Desiree Rabinov stated these were three separate actions; however, those arguing in favor of the motion saw all three points in line with the GUSD request of support.
The arguments over the motion continued until the vote when the motion passed.