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County could decide fate of long-battled ‘Sagebrush’ territory transfer in May

County could decide fate of long-battled ‘Sagebrush’ territory transfer in May
In a March 28 Joint Use Committee meeting, LCUSD Supt. Wendy Sinnette told city officials the Los Angeles County Committee on School District Organization could decide the fate of the territory transfer from Glendale Unified to LCUSD at its May 1 meeting. (File Photo)

County school officials may soon decide the fate of a territory transfer of homes in westernmost La Cañada Flintridge, out of Glendale and into La Cañada’s public school system, possibly voting on the matter in May.

La Cañada Unified School District Supt. Wendy Sinnette told officials during a March 28 meeting of the Joint Use Committee — which considers properties and holdings shared by the city and school district — the Los Angeles County Committee on School District Organization will likely hear the matter at its May 1 meeting.

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The committee has yet to rule on a California Environmental Quality Act study submitted in October. Sinnette said both that and the transfer itself could come to a vote at the meeting.

In that case, school district leaders would have 20 minutes to argue in favor of a transfer of up to 350 students into the district’s boundaries. Residents in the so-called “Sagebrush” area live in La Cañada but attend Glendale Unified schools, and such a transfer has been discussed and disputed for decades.

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GUSD would also be given 20 minutes to plead its case, as would a group of Sagebrush residents who petitioned the county for the transfer in 2016 under the name Unite LCF.

“My ask of the city is if we could have a mayor or council member with us to present,” Sinnette said, adding the presentation would focus on the community benefits of a transfer.

The county committee has been asked to review, among other considerations, the impact a transfer would have on LCUSD in terms of student accommodation and housing. Sinnette estimated the district has already absorbed about half of the students living in the western territory through individual transfer requests.

Last year, the city earmarked $100,000 in undesignated reserve funds to help bolster La Cañada Unified’s claim it could support the transfer of remaining families. Since then, school officials have promised to honor the wishes of Sagebrush families who elect to stay enrolled in GUSD schools.

“Both districts have a strong interest in maintaining a positive relationship,” Sinnette said.

The Los Angeles County Committee on School District Organization meets May 1 at 9:30 a.m. in the Education Center Board Room, 9300 Imperial Highway, Downey.

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