By Kevork KURDOGHLIAN
Voters in the Glendale Unified School District can expect to see a new board member on the dais by the end of October. On Tuesday, the four-member board voted to move forward with filling the vacancy created by the retirement of former member Mary Boger.
The application period starts today and ends on Sept. 19. The application will be available online at gusd.net and at the GUSD District Office. Board president Greg Krikorian encouraged all interested community members to apply.
Krikorian did warn perspective applicants against trying to influence board members during the process.
He said, “No phone calls to board members saying, ‘Hey, I want to get this.’”
The board will be appointing a two-member subcommittee at its Sept. 16 regular meeting to review all the applications. On Oct. 7, the board will announce the five candidates moving forward.
These five candidates will be interviewed in person at a public special meeting on Oct. 8. The board will announce its appointment at the end of that meeting and the new board member will be sworn in during the board’s Oct. 21 meeting.
The new board member’s term will run through April 7, 2015, the same day as Election Day for Glendale Unified. In 2015, board member Nayiri Nahabedian and the newly appointed board member will be up for election.
Greg Krikorian was the only board member to publicly say that he would not mind if the board appointee ran for office in April.
Referring to Mary Boger’s appointment in 2002, Krikorian said, “If we had limited Ms. Boger to that eight month term, we wouldn’t have had all the benefits.”
The remaining board members would not want the appointee to run for office in April.
“Serving in this capacity in this moment, that is their ultimate intention,” said member Nahabedian, who spoke to the role of the appointee.
Board vice president Christine Walters painted the difficulty of running a campaign while serving on the board.
“You will find yourself in your own personal hell,” she said.
Board clerk Armine Gharapetian had noted at a previous meeting that she wouldn’t want to restrict the appointee from running in 2017.
One political conversation led to another as the members also discussed the possibility of electing its board by trustee areas instead of the current at-large elections.
GUSD, along with the City of Glendale and Glendale Community College, face potential litigation for the use of at-large districts. The City of Glendale’s Charter governs all three entities’ elections.
The California Voting Rights Act “prohibits the use of at-large election systems which impair the ability of protected classes to elect their preferred candidates or influence the outcome of elections.”
African-Americans and Latinos are among the groups underrepresented in Glendale. Superintendent Dr. Richard Sheehan said a recent demographic study of the district showed an equal number of Armenians in areas of Glendale where there are large concentrations of Latinos.
“It would be difficult to draw a boundary that would be beneficial to Latinos,” Sheehan added.
Eva Lueck, GUSD’s chief business officer, encouraged the board to move forward with the issue.
“When this has gone to court, districts have not won,” she said. If such a case were lost, boundary lines would be imposed on GUSD without any local input.
As their next step, the board asked staff to prepare a resolution to encourage the Glendale City Council to amend the City Charter. The amendment to move to trustee areas can only be placed on the ballot by the Glendale City Council.
If this process goes according to plan, implementation can be expected for the April 2017 election cycle.
The board addressed another matter of demography at Tuesday’s meeting. It received a report from Decision Insite, a demographic company that analyzed the impact of new residential developments in Glendale on GUSD enrollment.
Conservative estimates show that over seven years Glendale may see more than 3,000 new multi-family dwelling units. Estimates also show that the new housing will bring a total of 636 new students over 10 years.
The new developments will affect areas covered by Columbus Elementary, Cerritos Elementary, Marshall Elementary, White Elementary and Edison Elementary, with Columbus Elementary bearing the bulk of the influx.
Of the 636 new students that will be entering GUSD over the next 10 years, 288 are estimated to be elementary school age, 148 of middle school age and 200 of high school age.
Despite the seemingly large numbers, Bruce Terry, director of Residential Research for Decision Insite, told the board, “[GUSD] has a minimal impact coming out of the residential development.”