La Cañada, Glendale school boards ponder Sagebrush territory

Both bodies meet Tuesday to discuss the options of transferring students.

October 16, 2013|By Sara Cardine and Kelly Corrigan
  • The following illustration shows the "Sagebrush" region, which falls in Glendale Unifieds boundaries. Parents who live in the area have fought for decades for the opportunity to enroll their children in La Caada schools. A group of citizens recently formed to initiate the process once again.
The following illustration shows the "Sagebrush"… (Steve Greenberg…)

Members of the La Cañada school board on Tuesday expressed hopes that a territory transfer of homes near the city’s western border from the Glendale Unified School District into the LCUSD could be on the horizon. And they read a resolution placing a $450 seven-year parcel tax on a March 4 ballot.

While that meeting was taking place, their counterparts on the Glendale Unified School District board considered allowing parents in the affected neighborhoods, long known as the Sagebrush area, to choose whether to send their children to Glendale or La Cañada public schools. They hope such a move will resolve a decades-old dispute between the districts.

La Cañada Unified officials say about 260 students who live in the Sagebrush section attend Glendale schools; GUSD officials say the figure is closer to 400. Also, Glendale officials say property taxes due its district under voter-approved bonds would 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.”

But La Cañada officials are not talking about an open enrollment plan; they want the entire territory transferred to the LCUSD.

Millions of dollars at stake

If La Cañada Unified’s proposed parcel tax is approved by voters next spring, it would bring in approximately $2.7 million without the Sagebrush area parcels. But if La Cañada is successful in having all Sagebrush properties transferred to its district, the $450 tax collected from the approximately 870 parcels there would bring La Cañada schools an additional $391,000 per year, for a total of approximately $3.1 million into the LCUD coffers annually.

The board assured that school choice would be respected through permits if an agreement between the districts were reached and that after the transfer, residents will only have to pay La Cañada property taxes and the parcel tax, should it be approved in a spring mail-in ballot election.

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

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