By Charly SHELTON
The bi-weekly Glendale Unified School District board of education meeting was held on Nov. 3 and the main focus for many in attendance was the petition for a charter school in the district to specialize in foreign language immersion. The district’s current dual language immersion program is Foreign Language Academies of Glendale, FLAG, and is offered at nine elementary schools throughout the district. The waiting lists and lottery process for admittance is cited as a concern for those in favor of the charter school, as expressed in the public comments section of the meeting.
“I’ve seen first hand the high demand within Glendale for dual immersion programs. I see this as being a nice complement to the programs that have started within Glendale, [and] also bringing an innovative approach, a new option to parents within Glendale with this charter school,” said Daniel Denny, father of five GUSD students and a strong proponent of the proposed charter school. “I hope that we can move forward together as you consider the petition and that the academy would be another jewel in the crown of the district.”
Not all of the six public speakers were in favor of the school. One, in particular, had reservations about what this would mean for the district as a whole.
“I feel that charter schools are a gateway to privatization of our public dollars,” said Ingrid Gunnell, mother of two students in the district and a GUSD graduate. “I really don’t feel that we need a charter school. I believe we need to work within the district as it is right now, maybe expand programs.”
Not only did she take issue with the idea of the charter school itself, but also with the petition and signatures, all of which can be found online at gusd.net/page/924, along with an online survey with which the public can share its thoughts with the district.
“I read a lot of the charter school petition and I read a lot of the charter school signatures. Many of the people who signed it are not residents of Glendale. Many of them are residents of L.A., and a few were residents of Burbank,” said Gunnell. “I feel that parents need to come together and not sell off our students to a for-profit organization such as Rocketship, Andre Agassi or the Turner-Agassi Charter School Facilities Fund.”
GUSD Board President Christine Walters spoke with CVWeekly via email about the charter school application moving forward.
“At this point in the process, we are still doing a full evaluation of the proposal and legal requirements,” said Walters. “I would encourage anyone who has interest to attend the public hearing on this topic at the board meeting next week.”