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Flood of Students Brings Return of Busing at Schools : With Enrollment Nearing Record, Year-Round Sessions Are Discussed

September 21, 1989|MARTHA L. WILLMAN | Times Staff Writer

Enrollment in the Glendale Unified School District has boomed beyond projections again this year, forcing the district to initiate busing at two schools--the first such move in more than two decades, officials said.

In an effort to deal with the problem, the Board of Education on Tuesday appointed a 25-member task force to consider, among other things, the possibility of initiating voluntary year-round schools in the crowded district. The committee will hold its initial meeting Monday and plans to complete its study by February.

Enrollment had climbed to 24,170 by Monday, about 670 more students than the district had expected. The figure is a 6.5% increase over the number of students--22,703--enrolled at this time last year.

Officials said new students normally continue to enroll for about the first six weeks of school, which could bring the district near the record enrollment of almost 25,000 reached in the late 1960s.

Fewer Schools

Compounding matters, the district has five fewer campuses because of schools closed from 1979 to 1983 during a steady decline in enrollment.

Today's burgeoning population may force significant changes in policies and school boundaries in the district, officials said.

"We have always believed very strongly in the neighborhood school concept," said Donald W. Empey, deputy superintendent of instruction. "But we can no longer deal with the growing enrollment on individual school campuses."

In the past, the district has added portable classrooms at campuses to accommodate students--about 65 portables are in use--but new state laws that take effect in January will restrict the use of portables, said David M. Kanthak, assistant superintendent of business services.

Small Campuses

In addition, most of the school sites in the district are relatively small and portable buildings encroach on playgrounds and parking areas.

The district is adding 92 permanent classrooms at five schools in the downtown area--Horace Mann, John Marshall, John Muir and Thomas Jefferson elementaries, and Hoover High. But even that will not be enough to provide classrooms for a student population that has grown from 19,800 to more than 24,000 in just the last five years, officials said.

Busing became necessary for the first time this year after it was eliminated almost 20 years ago.

All new enrollment has been halted at two elementary schools in southeast Glendale--Marshall and Mann--where capacity was reached less than two weeks after school began Sept. 7.

Only 18 students living within the boundaries of Marshall and Mann are riding vans to nearby Glenoaks and Cerritos elementary schools, Empey said, but the number of students bused is expected to continue to swell during the next few weeks.

Enrollment also neared capacity at Eleanor J. Toll Junior High School on the midwest side of town, but officials said that as of Tuesday, busing did not appear necessary there. The most logical alternative site for Toll had appeared to be Rosemont Junior High in La Crescenta, a move that would have forced students to travel a considerable distance from their neighborhood.

Officials attributed the larger-than-projected enrollment to changing demographics, mostly in the mid-city and southeast Glendale areas, where new immigrant families appear to be living two and three to a household. The district plans to conduct a survey to determine how extensive the trend is toward multifamily households.

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