The Glendale Board of Education, which waited in the background for five months while a committee debated how to solve school overcrowding, will begin its own discussion of the problem next week, and with it, confront the ire of parents opposed to year-round classes.
The presentation Tuesday of recommendations by the board's task force on overcrowding will kick off two to three months of public hearings and discussions that will precede the panel's decision on solving the problem of burgeoning growth in Glendale schools.
Board members said they have not yet scheduled the hearings or established a specific process for solving the problem. But much of the discussion will take place at the public biweekly board meetings.
Administrators said a preliminary decision is expected by March 20. Some solutions could be implemented as early as this fall, they said, but a year-round system--if chosen--probably would not be in place before September, 1991.
"It would be nice to have six months to a year before making a decision," said Jane Whitaker, president of the board and a member since 1981. "But maybe we don't have that time. Maybe they're coming in so fast that we have to do something by September."
The report is purposely vague to allow the board to decide specifics, task force members said. It recommends a range of possible solutions, including year-round classes, construction of classrooms or schools, moving ninth-graders to high school campuses and boundary changes.
It suggests that methods such as adding portable trailers for classrooms, capping school enrollment and busing new students to less crowded schools be temporarily applied to accommodate a student population now at 24,400 and growing about 5% a year.
Board members, who appointed the task force last September but until now have remained detached from deliberations about overcrowding, praised the administrators, teachers, parents and business people who served as members.
But community reaction to the group's conclusions, particularly from parents frustrated with crowded classrooms, has been largely unfavorable.
At a public hearing last week, several parents in an audience of about 250 chastised the district for allowing its population--up 22% since 1985--to grow out of control.
Others lashed out at the district for closing five schools in the late 1970s and early 1980s because of declining enrollment and criticized Glendale politicians for failing to curb development.
"I am mad and not going to stand for it anymore," one parent told task force members, most of whom remained silent throughout the meeting. "I want the City Council to get off their duff and find the money to help us."
Board of Education and City Council members were not present at the meeting.
Several people, including a Glendale resident who is the principal at a Los Angeles year-round school, hailed the task force's approval of year-round education as a potential solution. Another Glendale resident who teaches in Los Angeles concurred.
"You know something? I've tried it and it really wasn't that bad," Judy Jacobsen, who taught for three years at a year-round elementary school in Los Angeles, told the audience. "I think it's something we're going to have to accept and give it a try."
But the majority of speakers criticized the year-round recommendation and threatened to leave Glendale or move their children to private schools if the method is adopted.
"If year-round is implemented, I will pull my children out of school, I guarantee you," Daniel Grant said.
Patti and Jim Ranshaw, who have two children at Balboa Elementary, urged parents at the meeting to sign petitions against year-round education. Several days later Patti Ranshaw said they had collected about 350 signatures and will gather more before her husband presents the petitions at next week's board meeting.
"Why should we have to change and sacrifice our schedule and what the kids are used to just because the district did not foresee overcrowding?" she said. "We decided that if we had petitions, we could show the task force and the school board that a lot of people don't want this."
After the meeting, in calmer tones, some parents reluctantly agreed to support a reasonable decision by the board. Their fear, they said, is that despite the promise of future public hearings, the board already has made its choice.
"My heart is in the public schools and my kids are there. It's just that many of us are really leery that regardless of what anyone says or does, year-round is it," Mary Boger said. "I am afraid that maybe we do need to go year-round, but I think we should go very slowly."
Board members said later that upon receiving the report, they will seek data from administrators and comments from parents during board meetings, and negotiate with teachers if contract changes are necessary.