LCUSD seeks transfer talks on Sagebrush

Glendale Unified Supt. Dick Sheehan is making the rounds to three elementary schools that could be affected by the potential transfer of the Sagebrush area of La Cañada Flintridge into La Cañada Unified School District.

Meanwhile, La Cañada Unified officials are requesting that both districts sit down in a subcommittee meeting to discuss where negotiations stand. The last time the districts last met jointly in public was at a March 25 town hall forum at Crescenta Valley High School.

During a PTA meeting Tuesday evening at Mountain Avenue Elementary in La Crescenta, which currently serves the Sagebrush area, Sheehan recapped the events that have taken place over the past year, in which school officials on both sides have been in negotiations with each other over potentially transferring the territory.

Most recently, the Glendale school board met behind closed doors to discuss the issue, and the board intends to discuss it again in closed session on Sept. 2, he said.

He welcomed people to address the board with any questions during the regular school board meeting, and vowed that any looming decision would be transparent.

"Any potential decision one way or another will be discussed in open session with a following meeting to allow for input from the community," Sheehan said. "It's not going to be a discussion, and a decision made, and it's over."

Speaking at a La Cañada Unified school board meeting held the same night as the Mountain Avenue meeting, Supt. Wendy Sinnette said she and board President Ellen Multari recently asked Sheehan to consider a joint subcommittee meeting in the near future.

"We'd like to touch base on where they are in the process and our continuing interest," Sinnette said. "We haven't met for a while and we think that dialogue would be very important."

Among the most recent discussions, Glendale school officials have said they could lose about 350 students, who, according to the district's analysis, live in the Sagebrush area and would slowly phase in to La Cañada schools over a six-year period.

With the loss of the 350 students districtwide, Glendale could stand to lose about $2.5 million because the district currently receives about $7,200 to serve each student under the state's funding method.

Calling the partnership between both districts positive and ongoing, Sinnette emphasized the importance of both districts being thorough and deliberate.

"This is a time-consuming process," she said. "It has had over a 50-year history, and both districts need to take time to be strategic and intentional in assessing the individual and collective needs and interests, and working together on that."

If the territory were to transfer to La Cañada, Glendale students would not trickle into La Cañada schools until the 2016-17 school year.

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