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GLENDALE : Enrollment Growth Subsiding This Year

August 25, 1994|STEVE RYFLE

A decade-long trend of rapid enrollment growth in the Glendale Unified School District is subsiding, district officials said this week.

A preliminary enrollment report for the 1994-95 school year that was presented to the school board Tuesday night shows a drop of about 170 students from the 9,554 students last year at Glendale's nine elementary schools operating on a year-round basis.

A report for the entire district--which also includes 10 other elementary schools that run on a traditional calendar, plus the four middle and four high schools--won't be completed until after school starts Sept. 8. But officials say the early numbers show that the steady influx of students into the district from the mid-1980s to the early 1990s is over.

"Back in 1984, the district had 19,900 students," district spokesman Vic Pallos said. "Since that time we have been growing anywhere from 3% to 5% a year."

But for the upcoming school year, the district expects an overall increase in the student population of only about 1% over last year. Officials said they expect the student population to "top out" at about 29,000 during the 1995-96 school year, and then remain relatively stable or begin to drop as the students who entered the district during its growth spurt graduate.

The change in the once-homogenous district's ethnic makeup over the past 10 years was caused my massive immigration by families of Armenian ancestry into Glendale from Lebanon, Iran, Iraq, Russia and other countries, plus increases in the number of Latino, Asian and Filipino students, said Greg Bowman, director of instruction and student services.

Today, 60% of the students in Glendale schools speak a primary language other than English. In all, the students speak an estimated 67 different languages at home.

"The entire city has had to deal with this tremendous influx. It tested our capacity to deal with an inundation of families who didn't speak English, but I think the schools have had to deal with it more quickly and responsively than any other agency," Bowman said.

The latest evidence of the district's efforts to accommodate the student surge of the 1980s is a new four-story, 40-classroom building at Glendale High School, which will open in September, 1995.

The district has also added classrooms at Hoover High, Roosevelt Middle School and several elementary schools, and established programs like the American Culture Class and the Welcome Center for immigrant families and students.

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