Grant spices up Bistro program

GLENDALE — The school district has been awarded a state grant for career technical education that will allow for a modernization of the facilities used by Glendale High School's culinary arts program, which has expanded in scope and popularity in recent years.

The state Department of Education announced Wednesday that the State Allocation Board — the policy-making branch of the state's Office of Public School Construction — has granted $162,300 to the Glendale Unified School District to modernize the facilities used by the Bistro program at Glendale High. The grant program called for a 50-50 match, so the school district plans to contribute another $162,300 toward the $324,600 project.

The state funding comes from Proposition 1D, a $10.4-billion school facilities bond measure that voters passed in November 2006. One billion of those dollars has been set aside to fund facilities used by career technical education programs, according to the state education department.

Several board of education members said the renovations to the cooking and food preparation facilities at the school was a necessary and worthwhile endeavor, and the state funds would help make it happen.

“We count on those matching funds wherever we can get them,” said Joylene Wagner, vice president of the school board.

The funding will provide for new equipment like a walk-in refrigerator to store food, a washer and dryer for cleaning cooking aprons and towels, and more state-of-the-art cooking setups like mobile stove-top tables that can be operated in various locations by plugging them into cords that hang from the ceiling, said Scott Price, the school district's administrator of business services.

The new funding will also allow another classroom at the school to be renovated and turned into a space for cooking, Price said.

Currently, the culinary arts program occupies one classroom, one cooking lab and a smaller space used for cooking demonstrations, said Debbie Greenwood, who heads the school's culinary arts program.

But the program has increased in popularity to the point that a second full-time teacher was added to teach cooking classes for the first time this year, and now the two teachers are sharing the existing facilities, Greenwood said.

Close to 300 students are enrolled in culinary arts classes at the school this year, she said.

The new state dollars will hopefully give the culinary arts students more space to work with, and will modernize the tools and equipment the students are using, she said.

“We need to go into the 21st century in the field of culinary arts,” she said.

Students in the program learn not just how to cook, but about many aspects of food-related businesses, including restaurant management and safe food-handling practices, Greenwood said. Students with experience in the Bistro class have found jobs at local restaurants, and graduates have gone on to culinary academies and jobs in the food industry.

The new funding will help the school build on an already successful program, said Kathy Fundukian, the school's principal. And the timing of the state grant is good, Fundukian said, because the school is about to undergo a larger modernization project.

A $24-million modernization project at Glendale High is expected to begin this summer. That project may include components like renovations to the ceilings and floors of classrooms, the addition of three elevators for wheelchair accessibility and a revamping of the front entrance to the school, said John Fenton, the school district's administrator for planning, development and facilities.

The exact project scope will not be determined until bids for the work are solicited and selected later this spring.

About half of that project is funded through Measure K, a $186-million local bond measure for school facilities improvements passed by voters in 1997.


?ANGELA HOKANSON covers education. She may be reached at (818) 637-3238 or by e-mail at angelahokanson@latimes.com.

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