By Michael J. ARVIZU
Parents and residents gathered inside the Mountain Avenue Elementary School auditorium on Tuesday evening to listen to Glendale Unified School District Supt. Dr. Richard M. Sheehan speak on the latest efforts to transfer control of the Sagebrush area of La Cañada from his district and bring it under La Cañada Unified School District control.
Sheehan’s conversation with parents was just one in a series of conversations both districts have had with parents and neighbors.
The issue is not new, and dates back to at least the 1970s and 1990s. At issue is what effect placing Sagebrush under LCUSD control will have on students, specifically kids who attend Mountain Avenue Elementary School, a GUSD and National Blue Ribbon school.
As of Tuesday evening, no decision has been made on whether control of the Sagebrush area would be given to LCUSD, Sheehan stressed to a standing-room-only crowd. Sheehan also stressed that he himself would not recommend to the GUSD board to make a decision for or against transfer. That decision, he said, would be up to the GUSD board of education.
“I will not make accommodations to go after it or fight it,” Sheehan said Tuesday night.
The ramifications of a possible territory transfer include lower revenue for Mountain Avenue Elementary if, as Sheehan put it, there occurs a mass exodus of students from the Glendale school. According to the superintendent, the school may potentially lose upward of $200,000 to $500,000 if such a transfer were to take place.
However, Sheehan reassured parents that Mountain Avenue could become a dual immersion school. Students who go to Monte Vista Elementary in La Crescenta, for example, could feasibly attend school at Mountain Avenue if it becomes part of the La Cañada Unified School District, thus “helping to raise enrollment at Mountain Avenue,” Sheehan said.
But some parents were not convinced and are concerned that such a territory transfer could be detrimental to kids whose family legacy centers around going to a specific set of schools or those who play extracurricular sports, in addition to the potential monetary loss on the part of the schools.
“What is this going to cost financially,” said Mountain Avenue parent Tiffany Myers, a Montrose resident.
Sheehan attempted to assuage parent’s nerves by suggesting that GUSD could potentially begin a program that would give permits to GUSD students to allow them to attend schools in the La Cañada district.
“What we are trying to do is control the fluctuation of schools to protect teachers,” said Sheehan.
GUSD board members will discuss the Sagebrush transfer during its weekly board meeting at 5 p.m. on Oct. 15 at the district office, at 223 N. Jackson St. in Glendale. There will be a section for public comment at the meeting.