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Magnet school questions keep coming

District officials address concerns about enrollment procedures at Keppel, Edison, Franklin.

February 24, 2011|By Megan O'Neil, megan.oneil@latimes.com

Glendale Unified officials Wednesday were called on once again to answer questions regarding the magnet designations and modified enrollment procedures at three local elementary schools during a special meeting hosted by the Northwest Glendale Homeowners Assn.

Last year the district applied for and received a three-year, $7.5-million magnet grant to enhance existing language programs and to develop additional education themes at Keppel, Edison and Franklin elementary schools. Accepting the federal dollars meant the district would also have to accept federal enrollment guidelines, blurring traditional geographic boundaries for the three campuses.

Glendale Unified and out-of-district families were required to complete an application and enter a lottery process — initiated last week — in order to secure a spot. Written into the grant is a tiered set of priorities that guarantees no Glendale child would be displaced by a child who lives in another district.

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But even as Assistant Supt. John Garcia announced that Glendale Unified anticipated accommodating all local families at their first- or second-choice schools, some community members said at the meeting Wednesday that they still have questions about the purpose of the grant, the lottery system and potential long-term impacts to neighborhoods and property values.

Attendees pressed administrators on why they chose Keppel, Edison and Franklin for the grant as opposed to elementary schools in north or south Glendale. They also questioned the order of enrollment priorities, the potential for increased traffic and a shift away from traditional neighborhood schools.

Glendale Unified did an insufficient job communicating with residents about the changes, said Peter Fuad, president of the Northwest Glendale Homeowners Assn.

“If I get a letter from the city of Glendale on a roof remodel, surely having a lottery system for my neighborhood school merits that,” Fuad said.

Tammi Relyea, also a member of the association and the mother of an incoming kindergartner, said she too was caught off guard. And while her child has a spot in September, Glendale families next year may face tougher odds if the popularity of the magnet schools increases.

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