Decision Reached on Sagebrush Territory Transfer

Map of the Sagebrush and surrounding areas.
Source: Terry A. Hayes Associates, Inc.


As reported earlier, the California State Board of Education (SBE) denied the appeal by Glendale Unified School District (GUSD) concerning the Sagebrush transfer. In 2019, the LA County Committee on School District Organizations had approved the petition that would lead to the transfer. GUSD then appealed, but a decision was delayed due to COVID. On Jan. 18, 2024 the issue was finally before the board.

This doesn’t automatically mean that students within the Sagebrush area of La Cañada will attend La Cañada schools but it is a win for the La Cañada Unified School District (LCUSD) and a group of parents and residents who have been working non-stop to make certain the decision went their way.

“It is only starting to sink in,” said Tom Smith, chair of Unite La Cañada Flintridge (UniteLCF), shortly after the decision was made. “It was a great win for the Sagebrush students and residents.”

He added those who were part of UniteLCF had put in tens of thousands of hours in their effort to get the transfer approved.

This decision was actually decades in the making; for over five decades La Cañada residents attempted to get this transfer approved.

“The 50-year history [is not] a point lost on the [SBE] staff. They realized when a community and grassroots fight for something for 50 years it’s not about a superficial [fight] but a deep heartfelt commitment,” Smith said.

The territory in question is described by GUSD as, “Averaging two miles long and 2,061 feet wide, the [Sagebrush] Territory is approximately 386 acres and contains approximately 879 parcels. The Territory is generally bounded on the South by Foothill Boulevard, on the West and north by the Pickens Canyon Wash, and on the East by Rosebank Drive,” according to GUSD.

Those students within the Sagebrush area presently attend Mountain Avenue Elementary School, Rosemont Middle School and Crescenta Valley High School or Clark Magnet High School.

The proposed transfer now goes to a vote by the residents within the Sagebrush area. This was another win for LCUSD and UniteLCF. The SBE rejected GUSD’s argument of who the district believed were the stakeholders of this decision: at the most would be all of GUSD and LCUSD residents and, at the least, those residents not just in the Sagebrush area but in La Crescenta where students attend Mountain Avenue Elementary.

The SBE voted to have only those residents vote on the transfer who live within the Sagebrush area; Smith is confident those residents will approve the transfer.

If the transfer is approved by voters, those within the Sagebrush district will be required to pay a property parcel tax that they presently do not pay.

“Presently residents [excluding Sagebrush] pay $486.95 [parcel tax],” according to an LCUSD spokesperson.

If approved residents within Sagebrush will also pay that amount. There is an expected cost adjustment, but that amount will not be known until after the election, according to LCUSD.

Residents within the GUSD area will also see an increase to support a voter-approved measure but that is estimated to be an increase of under $10 per household.

For GUSD, the transfer means the end to a long process, and a long fight, that often turned personal as both sides became heated at local meetings.

“Although we are disappointed with the result, we can take some consolation in the fact that we have finally reached a permanent resolution and can focus entirely on what is most important – providing GUSD students with an exceptional education,” stated Dr. Darneika Watson, GUSD superintendent. “By keeping the Sagebrush territory as part of GUSD as long as we did we were able to gradually put mitigation strategies in place to ensure the transfer would not disrupt enrollment, budget or operations at Mountain Avenue Elementary, Rosemont Middle and Crescenta Valley High schools. With that, we do not foresee any impact on the education program at any of these schools.”

Watson told CVW the district is done with the fight and no pending lawsuits will be pursued.