Officials bond during State of the Schools

GLENDALE — Officials on Thursday touted the success of the $186-million bond during the annual State of the Schools address, but laid the public relations groundwork for another round of taxpayer-funded assistance.

The Measure K bond, approved in 1997, touched every Glendale Unified campus.

But the well is starting to run dry, and district officials have explored the idea of a bond extension campaign in 2011.

"To move forward, we have to work together," said Greg Krikorian, president of the Board of Education. "We need your help."

The State of the Schools event at Edison Elementary School featured a short film about the legacy of Measure K. It ended with the phrase, "Promises kept," which morphed into "promises to keep" — although no one at the event directly referred to another bond measure.

A district survey released in August found that a majority of voters would support a bond extension, which would require 55% approval. A successful extension would preserve some tax rates.

Still, district officials said they have not committed to a bond extension campaign, even with an early-January deadline looming for attaching a ballot measure to the April election.

In his address, Glendale Unified Supt. Dick Sheehan highlighted districtwide student achievement and said he hopes to expand campus technology and occupational programs.

The early-morning address to hundreds of civic leaders doubled as a fundraiser for the Glendale Educational Foundation, which sponsors several school programs.

"If you look at the growth and speed at which technology is changing … education may not look the same in five years," Sheehan said. "The district needs to increase its capabilities so any high school class offered at one school site could be available to all students at each of the campuses."

He also said he'd like to create a partnership with the Brand Boulevard of Cars for a state-of-the-art auto repair program.

Sheehan also reviewed the district's outcome on the Academic Performance Index, a state benchmark that scores student achievement where 800 is the designation for high-achieving districts. Glendale Unified grew 13 points to 842.

He identified Clark Magnet High, Roosevelt Middle, Balboa Elementary and several other schools as leading the way for the district's gains.

"All district schools are demonstrating positive three-year trends," Sheehan said.

He did not mention more controversial federal standards, which are affecting some schools.

Hoover High, Glendale High and Toll Middle schools joined Roosevelt Middle School in Program Improvement this year, a status for schools that do not meet federal proficiency targets in consecutive years. District and state officials have said the state benchmarks are a more accurate assessment than goals prescribed by the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

The event was an upbeat assessment of Glendale Unified, a slight departure from last year's event, which took place as the Station fire subsided, delaying the opening of school several days.

In his address, California Supt. of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell referenced last year's environmental hazards while praising Glendale Unified as a district that exhibits a strong commitment to student achievement.

"You have a Board [of Education] that provides great vision for the students, that makes decisions based upon what's right for students," he said.

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