Sagebrush area

The following illustration shows the "Sagebrush" region, which falls in Glendale Unified's boundaries. (Steve Greenberg / Times Community News / November 22, 2013)

A Sagebrush resident pressed Glendale school officials this week to allow children in the La Cañada area to attend that city’s schools.

Tom Smith established “Unite LCF” last spring, essentially reigniting a decades-old fight to have La Cañada’s school boundaries match its city limits. Students in the Sagebrush area have historically been served by Glendale schools.

Glendale Unified Supt Dick Sheehan said recently that the two district continue to negotiate, but the Glendale board has not publicly discussed the issue since Oct. 15.

Partly at stake in the territory issue is its value. If Glendale Unified loses the Sagebrush area, it would lose about $210,000 in property taxes each year and $500 million in assessed value.

If La Cañada Unified folds the Sagebrush properties into its district, a proposed $450 parcel tax collected from about 870 parcels in the area would give La Cañada schools $391,000 more each year.

Glendale school officials are also uncertain how they would collect property taxes from Sagebrush residents on school bonds they have already issued.

Smith, who has said previously that he is leading the effort in part to make La Cañada more cohesive, expressed his disappointment on Tuesday that the two districts have not already reached an agreement over the matter.

“I was really hopeful that by now we would actually have some kind of negotiation or at least some of the details of the discussions coming a little bit more forward,” he told the Glendale school board this week.

While he hopes the districts will reach an agreement, he said that if they fail to, the Unite LCF group is prepared to take the matter to the Los Angeles County Committee on School District Organization.

The 11-member committee, elected by representatives of 94 school and college governing boards in Los Angeles County, would then vote on the redistricting issue.

“I just wanted to say that in the event the negotiations — the discussions — don’t go anywhere, then we are certainly prepared to proceed to the county committee,” Smith said, adding, “I just want to urge you that a great legacy for the board to leave behind is to resolve this long festering issue and just put it to rest once and for all.”

In early November, three newcomers were elected to the La Cañada school board. They will begin their official roles on the board in December.

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Follow Kelly Corrigan on Twitter: @kellymcorrigan.

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