HomeCommunity NewsAfter 60 years, State Clears Path for Sagebrush Transfer

After 60 years, State Clears Path for Sagebrush Transfer

The California State Board of Education last Thursday rejected an appeal which essentially lays the ground for the Sagebrush territory transfer to the La Cañada Unified School District from the Glendale Unified School District, resolving a more than six-decade jurisdiction dispute over students in the westernmost territory of La Cañada Flintridge.
“[Last week] was an incredible affirmation of a decades-long community effort to unite the La Cañada Flintridge residents residing in the Sagebrush Territory with the La Canada Unified School District,” said LCUSD Superintendent Wendy Sinnette in an email to the parents in the community.
A petition for the territory transfer was first introduced in 1961, and as years passed, more petitions were proposed, but none came to fruition.
In 2016, a fourth petition was filed by UniteLCF!, a coalition of residents who resided in the Sagebrush area.
The Los Angeles County Committee on School District Organization voted to preliminarily approve the territory transfer and ordered a CEQA review. The CEQA report was then approved in 2019, and the L.A. County Committee voted to approve the transfer petition signed by more than 750 Sagebrush residents, which was then appealed by GUSD for various reasons that included loss of minority students, negative impact on English learners and DEI initiatives.
After years of delay due to the pandemic, the California State Board of Education denied GUSD’s appeal and approved the territory transfer for LCUSD in its meeting last week.
The move is pending approval via a vote among residents residing in the Sagebrush area. The Board of Education last Thursday voted to limit the voting area to only those affected residents, instead of including both Glendale and LCF voters.
Conditions were discussed within the state’s board meeting that would possibly make an impact on either school district, like facility impacts, racial makeup, funding and revenue. Since the majority of students residing in the Sagebrush territory — 268 out of 350 — attend LCUSD schools, there were no outstanding impacts to either district, the board said.
Countless community members from LCF, including Mayor Rick Gunter, La Cañada High School Principal James Cartnal and LCF Chamber of Commerce President/CEO Pat Anderson, took the time to voice their support for the territory transfer.
“I want to thank all of our LCUSD community who submitted written public comments and who called in yesterday to voice their support for the transfer,” said Sinnette in the email to LCUSD parents. “There were nearly 400 written public comments in support of the transfer and the SBE had to cut off public comment at 5:10 p.m. in order to have time to deliberate on the matter. I believe the overwhelming swell of community support for the ‘One City/One School District’ campaign really made a decisive difference in the SBE voting outcome.”
Chair of UniteLCF!, Tom Smith, was also in attendance at the meeting and was happy with the outcome.
“The case from the very beginning has always been that the Sagebrush neighborhood, the school district and the city of La Cañada really all came together with a common recognition that this transfer would be good for the community as a whole,” said Smith.
“It’s been a very long slog, but, in the end, we finally achieved something that this community has sought for 50-plus years, so it was a huge victory for us,” he added.
GUSD also issued an email to inform residents and parents of the Board of Education’s decision on the territory transfer.
“Over the years, GUSD has put mitigation strategies in place to ensure that, if the transfer were ever approved, it would not disrupt enrollment, budget, or operations at Mountain Avenue, Rosemont, or CVHS,” the district said. “With that, we do not foresee any impact on the educational program at any of these schools.”
Widely seen as a win for LCUSD, the transfer will not be official until voters in Sagebrush decide on the matter, according to Sinnette.
The earliest that the measure would go to vote is in November of this year, she said, adding that for the 2024-25 school year, Sagebrush students will still apply to LCUSD via permit. There are about 800 parcels in the Sagebrush Territory, according to Sinnette.
“If the Sagebrush citizens vote to transfer to LCUSD, then the Sagebrush Territory, as a part of the city of La Cañada Flintridge, will be transferred to LCUSD and the territory will be part of the LCUSD boundaries,” Sinnette told the Outlook Valley Sun.

First published in the January 25 print issue of the Outlook Valley Sun.


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