State of local schools is strong, officials say

SOUTH GLENDALE — Two-thirds of Glendale’s schools met the state’s target performance scores, two were named among the top 12 high schools in all of Los Angeles County, and none remains subject to federal intervention for poor progress, officials said at Thursday’s fourth annual State of the Schools breakfast.

The event, organized by the Glendale Educational Foundation, brought state and city workers, along with parents, local businesspeople, and police and fire officials, together at Edison Elementary School to hear about the district’s progress and to help raise funds in the process.

“The Glendale school district really is setting the bar for us,” State Supt. of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell said during his address Thursday, adding that he often discusses the district’s success with superintendents in other states. “I brag about it.”

Of Glendale Unified School District’s 31 schools, 21 surpassed the target Academic Performance Index score of 800 out of 1,000, and the district as a whole has improved its average score from 734 in 2002 to 818 this year.

The district also no longer has any schools that fall under the federal Program Improvement designation, which is given to schools that fail to meet complicated and group-specific Adequate Yearly Progress measures for two consecutive years. The achievement was a landmark step, officials said.

Also noteworthy was the inclusion of Crescenta Valley High School and Clark Magnet High School in Los Angeles Magazine’s list of the best public high schools in the region.

District Supt. Michael Escalante praised Glendale Unified for its improvements in the face of an $8 million budget deficit five years ago and continued budget shortfalls today.

“And they did it without a $700 billion bailout,” he said.

Although the presentation was overwhelmingly positive, school board President Joylene Wagner said there were concerns about the district’s upcoming budget, especially after the recent state budget impasse in Sacramento.

“We’re focusing today on what we can do and what we can do with the community,” Wagner said. “But we have to be cognizant of our upcoming budget . . . the state budget — we can’t not be affected by it.”

But that’s where contributions from the community and groups like the Glendale Educational Foundation come in, Wagner said.

The foundation raised about $40,000 through Thursday’s breakfast, and Disney contributed an additional $25,000 toward the creation of a digital arts and animation academy at Glendale High School, said John Sadd, the foundation’s president.

The Glendale Educational Foundation has more events planned this year, including a Nov. 12 EBay auction fundraiser, to help raise money that will be contributed to fund visual and performing arts programs this year.

Last year’s efforts generated $250,000, which was used to buy cardiovascular exercise equipment for fitness centers at secondary schools.

 ZAIN SHAUK covers education. He may be reached at (818) 637-3238 or by e-mail at

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