Armenian School Must Cut Enrollment or Face Closure in Fall


Glendale's leading Armenian private school has been ordered by a city zoning official to reduce its enrollment by about 100 students and eliminate its ninth grade or else not resume classes in the fall.

City Zoning Administrator Kathleen Marcus also said officials of the Chamlian Armenian School must provide more on-site parking, build another driveway and provide buses for its students to reduce traffic and parking problems around the school.

In addition, the school has been ordered to improve the maintenance of its four-acre campus and to erect a wall around the playground to shield neighbors from noise.

Chamlian's new principal, Vazken Madenlian, promised that the school would satisfy the city's requirements, but he declined to specify what steps would be taken to reduce enrollment.

"We are not going to close the school," he said. "We are going to comply with all the decisions."

Marcus imposed the conditions after a June hearing to review alleged zoning violations at the school, which operates at the now-defunct Lowell Elementary School in La Crescenta.

Chamlian's 1984 zoning permit limits enrollment to 425 students in kindergarten through eighth grade. But in the past year, neighborhood residents began to write and call City Hall to complain of noise, traffic and older students attending the school in violation of the school's permit.

A city inspection found that the school's enrollment had grown to more than 500 and included a ninth-grade class of about 25 students.

Chamlian officials have applied for a permit to increase student enrollment to 600, and a hearing on the application is scheduled for Aug. 22. But city officials will not have ruled on the matter by the time school opens in the fall, so Chamlian will have to operate under the limitations of its current permit.

The school has been ordered to submit weekly attendance records to ensure that its enrollment does not exceed the limit.

Marcus, who said that older students have a greater effect on the surrounding area than younger children, added that no more than 20% of the school's students are allowed to be in the seventh and eighth grades.

"You're looking at different noise levels from youngsters versus older kids," she said. "Teen-agers are more rebellious, more defiant. It can affect a neighborhood."

The school will be required to have phased recess and lunch periods, so that no more than 50% of the students are outside at any one time and officials also will be required to build a 6- to 8-foot-high wall along the south and east sides of the playground.

In an effort to reduce the traffic congestion around the school, the city decided that the school must arrange to have its students bused to class. In addition, Chamlian must build another driveway, hire a crossing guard, install school crossing signs and add 25 parking places on the property for faculty and parents.

"This started out as a public neighborhood school. Most of the children walked and rode bicycles from home," Marcus said. "Now you have a lot more drive-up traffic than you would have from a public school."

To enable the city to gauge the traffic around the school, Marcus said Chamlian must provide records each week showing how many students traveled to and from school by bus, car, bicycle and on foot.

The city has also agreed to undertake several traffic mitigation measures around the campus, including expanding several no parking zones and prohibiting left turns into the school's south driveway during peak traffic hours.

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