Within 60 days, the Los Angeles County Committee on School District Organization will decide whether the 380-acre Sagebrush area of La Cañada Flintridge will remain part of the Glendale Unified School District or be transferred to La Cañada Unified.
That information was announced during a review of a California Environmental Quality Act study Wednesday morning at the Los Angeles County Office of Education (LACOE).
“We will let you know when we’re going to have a meeting to take a final vote on this,” committee member AJ Willmer said. “I suspect it’s going to be 60 days from now.”
The CEQA study was commissioned after the county committee gave preliminary approval to a transfer petition in May of 2017. The study’s purpose was to evaluate potential impacts resulting from the proposed transfer.
Wednesday’s meeting was the continuation of a process that began June 2016, when LACOE received a transfer petition from Tom Smith and Nalini Lasiewicz, backed by the unification group UniteLCF!
One blow to UniteLCF!’s efforts came when committee member Keith Crafton, the LACOE director of business advisory services, clarified that the committee never endorsed the transfer.
“At the May 2017 meeting, a number of preliminary or straw votes were taken — all non-binding as the committee discussed each of the conditions used to analyze the petition,” Crafton said. “The request to let the petition move forward and have a CEQA conducted is in no way an approval.”
The 66-page CEQA study noted that if the transfer is approved, a number of students may move from Glendale Unified’s Mountain Avenue Elementary School, Rosemont Middle School and Crescenta Valley High School to La Cañada Unified’s Palm Crest Elementary and La Cañada High.
How many students exactly are in the Sagebrush community was a point of contention. The CEQA study used Glendale Unified figures, which listed 356 students from 2016-17 school year attended GUSD schools.
That student estimate was admittedly a “worse-case scenario approach,” said Terry A. Hayes Associates Inc.’s Kevin Ferrier, whose firm conducted the study.
La Cañada countered that the number of GUSD Sagebrush students was around 151.
In total, 36 people spoke during public comment with the majority advocating the transfer. The transfer contingent was also backed by La Cañada Unified Supt. Wendy Sinnette and Mayor Terry Walker.
“I wanted to reinforce the city’s support and make sure the panel knew that it was not just verbal [backing] or words,” Walker said. “We actually put budget dollars in our current city’s budget for this.”