By Charly SHELTON
Tuesday night was the Glendale Unified School District’s monthly board of education meeting and topics have switched a bit. While the last few meetings have centered on the Glendale Teachers Association and the contract negotiations for teachers in the district, this issue seems to be making headway.
“I would like to begin my comments this evening by acknowledging and thanking you for helping to progress negotiations in a much more productive manner,” said Talin Arsenian, president of Glendale Teachers Association. “Since we began participating in more honest and open negotiations, we have moved in a positive direction.”
A new issue arose that was met with both opposition and praise from concerned parents at the meeting. An application was accepted from the International Studies Language Academy to create an independent charter school within the district to allow more students to take advantage of the already popular Foreign Language Academies of Glendale (FLAG) program that is found at nine elementary schools throughout the district. The application was accepted and will, within the next five days, be reviewed for “completeness,” which is noted during the presentation made at the board meeting to mean only that all required fields are valid, and not that any decision on the outcome will be made.
The application was met with opposition from one concerned parent who spoke during the public comments time.
“I can see no good reason for a FLAG-like independent charter to exist within the district that is already committed to serving my child and every FLAG child from K to 12, except I’m a product of Glendale schools myself and I remember the biases,” said Joal Ryan, a parent of a fourth grade student in the Korean FLAG program at Mark Keppel Elementary. She went on to explain that the biases are against Roosevelt Middle School, which is where the FLAG program is slotted to continue. This caused alarm in parents and students, Ryan said, because of urban legends and whispers that students pass along, such as “we don’t send our cheerleaders to the game over there anymore because they knifed one of us.” She has since learned, as a parent, that this is not true and that Roosevelt Middle School is not the pariah that it was made out to be in her youth. By opening a charter in the district, Ryan believes that it will weaken every other school and FLAG program in the district.
“[These biases are] not something to be debunked, they’re something you feel,” said Ryan. “And I’m guilty too. I have a bias against a movement that I feel is rooted, not solely in but at least influenced by, ‘Roosevelt panic.’ A movement, I feel, that would not exist if Franklin [Elementary] FLAG kids had been slotted to any other middle school except the perfectly fine Roosevelt.”
One young member of the audience looked up from his gaming device and said, “I’m not going to Roosevelt.”
Other speakers gave contrary opinions, voicing their support for the charter school. Reasons ranged from increased opportunity for new attendees to lower class size for FLAG students, among others. From the sampling of the speakers, there seemed to be strong proponents in favor of the charter school. No decision will be made until after the public hearing at the school board meeting on Nov. 17. The application is posted on the GUSD website and the board encourages any interested parties to read the application before attending the meeting to voice their opinions.
Another agenda item that caused some uproar, not only from public comments but also within the board itself, was the ongoing debate over the school calendar. The petition to move the school start date closer to late August currently has 2,360 signers and continues to be a hot topic for many speakers at the monthly meetings. The agenda item discussed at this meeting was intended to address the process in which the future (2017-2018 school year) calendar will be set. It quickly became a debate on the possibilities of changing the calendar for next year, the 2016-17 school year, start date. The resolution on the process was that three community outreach meetings will be held to get public input and a committee will be formed to try and accommodate as many requests as possible. This issue is still ongoing and CV Weekly will be closely following future developments.