By Jason KUROSU
The Glendale Unified School District board of education presented its updated proposal for the Sagebrush area at its Oct. 21 meeting, which established a tentative plan for managing the territory transfer with the La Cañada Unified School District. The proposal included how GUSD and LCUSD would share costs, a decision for GUSD to retain ownership of Pickens Canyon Lot, and details for the transfer of students from Mountain Avenue Elementary, Rosemont Middle and Crescenta Valley High schools.
GUSD Chief Business & Financial Officer Eva Lueck delivered a presentation on the updated proposal, in which she said that $6.8 million would be paid back from La Cañada as repayment for Measure K and Measure S bond money. According to Lueck, the projected impact to property owners within the La Cañada Unified School District is a tax increase of $3.78 per $100,000, which would decrease over time.
The number of current GUSD students within the Sagebrush area is still yet to be determined, though Lueck said the estimate over the past few years was anywhere from 350 to 427 students.
The proposal also includes a six-year phased-in enrollment period for students transferring districts, starting with students in the kindergarten/first grade, seventh grade and ninth grade levels. Within the proposal, legacy students and their siblings within the Sagebrush area would retain the right to attend GUSD schools if they wanted.
“If they are currently with us and they choose not to go to La Cañada Unified, that would be permissible,” said Lueck.
Students requesting to remain in GUSD would also receive an inter-district permit from LCUSD. Lueck said this provision would apply to students who are currently too young to attend GUSD schools, but may choose to do so when they reach school age. The proposal also requests that LCUSD limit the transfers of Allen Bill students, which are students whose district residency is determined if one of their parents works at one of that district’s schools, to students whose parents work at LCUSD schools.
Special Education costs would be shared by both districts during the six-year phase-in period, with each district paying the costs of services for students within their respective districts. The costs would be split 50/50 in the case of a special education student who utilizes programs from agencies outside of GUSD and LCUSD campuses.
The pedestrian bridge and drop off area of Pickens Canyon Lot would remain within the territory of GUSD should the proposal be approved.
The proposal also noted a $100,000 penalty for violations of the agreement, such as LCUSD defaulting by not making payments. The money received in the penalty would be used to pay the legal fees of GUSD incurred through the breach of contract process.
The GUSD board members were generally supportive of the tenets of the proposal.
Christine Walters said that she felt the proposal did a good job of addressing the financial impact to Glendale that would come as a direct result of a territory transfer.
“Glendale does not end up with 100% of what we had before, but it certainly is, I believe, a reasonable compromise for sharing the costs of losing those students to La Cañada,” said Walters. “The proposal that we’ve come up with is really trying to address both sides as best we can, so that we can come up with a solution that we can all live with.”
Walters did say there should be more in the language of the Allen Bill transfers section and that the proposal should provide incentives to LCUSD to limit those transfers to students whose parents work at LCUSD schools.
Nayiri Nahabedian felt there should be more assurances that legal remedies will be clarified in the case of LCUSD’s defaulting on the agreement.
But Nahabedian felt that the other portions of the proposal were “fair and realistic.”
Armina Gharpetian agreed with much of the proposal, particularly the long phase-in period that she felt worked well for both districts and also the Pickens Canyon Lot decision.
The board agreed to look at more incentives for limiting Allen Bill transfers and more development of the legal recourse section of the proposal.
The board of education will be voting on a further updated proposal at the Nov. 4 meeting. At that meeting, members of the public will be able to comment on the proposal and for longer than the usual 20-minute public comment period. According to GUSD board president Greg Krikorian, the update will be available to the public prior to the meeting, so that community members can formulate thoughts and questions for public comment.
After voting on the new proposal, the board will present an MOU – memorandum of understanding – to the LCUSD board on Nov. 10.