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Questions abound about magnet program

February 17, 2011

I live in northwest Glendale, walking distance from Keppel Elementary School. I’ve lived here for seven years, I’m active in the community and was looking forward to enrolling my son in kindergarten at our local public school — until I discovered the Glendale Unified School District recently instituted a lottery for all prospective new students.

That’s because Keppel is now a magnet school, funded by a three-year federal grant (“Magnet lottery system draws alarm,” Jan. 31).

The goals of the Magnet Schools Assistance Program include reducing “minority group isolation” and balancing “subgroup ethnic distribution district wide.” All worthy goals, but at what price?

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First-time applicants who live in the community, but more than a half-mile from Keppel, are only sixth in the lottery’s priority ranking. Keppel already offered Korean immersion and performing arts programs for parents and students who wanted them.

Was the community consulted prior to all this? To my knowledge, Glendale Unified’s sole outreach consisted of one sparsely attended meeting, where no lottery details were provided. What will this do to community support for Keppel, and for the home values in a neighborhood where attending the local public school could be dependent on the luck of the draw?

How is the grant being used? To pay for a full-time district project coordinator, a part-time desegregation/anti-bias specialist, a full-time site project specialist, an art/media coach, plus several part-time teachers, assistants, “grade level collaboration coordinators” and consultants.

The grant will also fund some laptop computers, digital cameras and “smart boards with document cameras.” Funds are also designated for travel expenses, conference memberships and “retreats” for administrators and principals.

What happens after the three-year grant expires? The district is crossing their collective fingers that Measure S will pass.

The Northwest Glendale Homeowners Assn. is holding a community meeting at Brand Library at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 23 to discuss details of the magnet program at Keppel Elementary. Glendale Unified Supt. Dick Sheehan and his deputy, John Garcia, will take questions.

The meeting is open to all residents — no lottery required.

Tammi Relyea

Glendale

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