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Glendale, La Cañada school boards ponder Sagebrush dispute

Some La Cañada students attend Glendale schools. Parents request change.

October 16, 2013|By Kelly Corrigan and Sara Cardine

This story has been corrected. See details below.

Glendale officials are looking into letting parents in the Sagebrush area choose whether to send their children to Jewel City or La Cañada public schools, a move they hope will resolve a decades-old dispute between the districts.

However, two disagreements may derail the whole effort: how many students in the area attend Glendale schools, and how property taxes in the area will be distributed.

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La Cañada Unified officials say about 260 Sagebrush students attend Glendale schools; GUSD claims the figure is closer to 400. Also, Glendale officials say property taxes due the district under voter-approved bonds will continue to be collected under an open-enrollment plan, even if parents choose to send their children to La Cañada schools.

“It would be just as though all of the students were coming to Glendale Unified as they are now,” said Eva Lueck, chief business and financial officer for Glendale Unified. “There would be no change in how taxes are currently being assessed.”

La Cañada school officials, for their part, are looking to put a $450 per-year parcel tax on the March ballot, one that would include all properties within the city limits. Not including the Sagebrush area would bring in approximately $2.7 million. Adding in the area would bring LCUSD an additional $391,000 per year, or nearly $3.1 million.

Additionally, they want the area, which has historically been served by Glendale schools, completely transferred to LCUSD.

One city, two districts

Sagebrush residents have long complained that their unique status unfairly sets them apart, something Glendale school board member Mary Boger said at Tuesday’s meeting that she was “stunned” to hear.

“I think of all the children who live in La Cañada who go to private schools. Do they feel equally left out of La Cañada community?” she asked. “The only truly ethical and moral decision to be made here is a quite simple one,” Boger added. “We simply create Sagebrush as an open enrollment area.”

During a meeting of the La Cañada school board, also Tuesday, a consultant hired by both districts to assess the number of affected students put the number at about 260. GUSD officials, however, say the number could be as high as 400, and say the district could receive as much as $2.6 million less in state funding per year if the students leave.

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