Offers Input on Sagebrush Territory Transfer

Thank you for your continuing coverage of the Sagebrush Territory Transfer [GUSD Sagebrush Position Unchanged,” Aug. 11], an issue of great interest to the local community. While most Sagebrush families desire to have their children attend LCUSD schools they also respect their neighbors’ preference to attend GUSD schools. For your readers’ background, in March 2014, the two school districts jointly issued a proposal that recommended a student transfer phase-in and approximately $6.5 million in payments to GUSD over time. Several months later, that proposal was discarded by GUSD, which then significantly raised its financial claims to $23 million.

This amount was untenable to LCUSD and both sides agreed to hire Capitol Advisors Group to evaluate available options to fund what GUSD sought. GUSD held to its claim of $23M and Capitol Advisors did not independently evaluate the basis of GUSD’s claim. In the end Capitol Advisors was not able to identify a path that provided GUSD the amount it sought.

Furthermore, the report did not evaluate the mitigating effects of some of the transfer agreement points used by other California school districts including, a five-year phase-in period prior to a transfer and a commercial property swap. Therefore the only “finding” that can be inferred from the Capitol Advisors report is that they could not identify a pathway to get $23 million into GUSD’s hands.

Meanwhile, GUSD acknowledged that Mountain Avenue Elementary would remain open as a neighborhood-serving school should a transfer occur. Your readers should know that in deference to community concerns regarding the sustainability of that school, the circulated petition specifically excluded from the transfer area the GUSD-owned lot serving that school. Therefore no GUSD school facilities would be transferred to LCUSD.

UniteLCF! has always strived to be a voice of reason and frame the territory transfer issues in a clear and fact-based manner. We seek a resolution to this 50-year old issue that is both reasonable and responsible and look forward to our petition going before the L.A. County Committee on School District Organization for evaluation of its merit and separate fact from fear.
Nick P. Karapetian
Co-Chief Petitioner
Note: The writer is a parent of two elementary school students in the Sagebrush neighborhood of La Cañada Flintridge.