After decades of waiting, a territory transfer may come as quickly as next month.
By Mary O’KEEFE
The Sagebrush area of La Cañada Flintridge has two identities: One as a member of the city of La Cañada Flintridge and the other as a member of Glendale Unified School District. Some La Cañada Flintridge residents, backed by the La Cañada Unified School District and the city, want to bring everyone home into one school district.
The area known as Sagebrush is located within the city of La Cañada Flintridge along Rosebank Drive at the east end and Ocean View Boulevard to the west, both north and just south of Foothill Boulevard.
Children living in the Sagebrush area attend GUSD. La Cañada residents and officials have attempted a “territory transfer” in the past including one in the 1970s and another in the 1990s. The last attempt put both districts in a long legal battle; however, this time the atmosphere appears to be more compromising and congenial than battle-ready.
“We are currently meeting with LCUSD administration and have asked an outside entity, School Services of California, to [work with the two districts],” said Eva Lueck, chief business and financial officer for GUSD.
Lueck said LCUSD and GUSD officials met with outside sources that both districts trusted. Both districts are looking at the ramifications of the possible transfer including how it will affect students and budgets.
“We are looking at what would be a transition plan,” Lueck said.
In past LCUSD governing board meetings, residents spoke during public communications on the matter of the transfer. Tom Smith is a Sagebrush resident and leader of the citizens’ group petitioning the city of La Cañada Flintridge.
“There have been so many on-off discussions between neighbors [about a potential] territory transfer during the [past eight years in Sagebrush],” he said, during a LCUSD board meeting and reported earlier in CVW.
“Why slice off a part of our community?”
Those in favor of the transfer pointed out their children attend a school in GUSD area but are in soccer or other sports activities that are determined by location. They are part of a team with kids they don’t go to school with, which creates conflict to community consistency.
The students from Sagebrush attend Mountain Avenue Elementary, then Rosemont Middle School and Crescenta Valley or Clark Magnet high schools. What the future holds for Mountain Avenue Elementary School and its students was a topic of conversation by some parents at the recent CV Town Council pancake breakfast.
One concern was that the transfer seemed to be happening very quickly.
“I just feel that things might happen soon,” said Melinda Karl Forster, a Mountain Avenue parent.
And she is right. The discussion, which began in La Cañada in mid-summer of this year, may be decided as early as the end of October.
There are several items that need to be decided upon like Measure K and Measure S bonds that are being paid by GUSD residents and the partial tax that is being funded by LCUSD residents.
That does bring up another aspect of the territory transfer – money. Districts receive money for each student who attends class. The transfer will have GUSD losing students; estimates of the number of students affected have ranged from 150 to 300.
Another issue of concern for Mountain Avenue parents is how the loss of students will affect the school.
“Will they make it into a magnet school?” asked Jackie Bodnar, a Mountain Avenue parent.
Other issues include those of students who are in both districts via out-of-district transfers and future transfers.
Forster wants GUSD parents to be aware of what is going on. She feels that because in the past the territory transfer did not succeed, people feel it will not this time or, at the very least, take years to complete.
“I just think we have to be as strong [about this] as La Cañada,” she said.
GUSD board members will discuss this at the Oct. 15 board meeting at the district office, 223 N. Jackson St., Glendale beginning at 5 p.m. There is a section for public comment at the meeting.