School Board Candidates Address the Issues

Johnny Ruiz, Staff Writer

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Glendale Unified School District (GUSD) residents will vote next month for the first time in split districts as a result of a lawsuit under the California Voter Rights Act requiring that minorities get equal representation.

Some of the issues that the candidates face include challenges for students who are English learners and students who receive federal free/reduced lunch programs, an increase in special education students, and a fluctuating total general fund and supplemental/concentration grant.

There are 21 elementary schools, five middle schools, six high schools, and seven specialized programs in the school board. In 2016 there was a total of 26,117 students enrolled in GUSD.

The candidates for the new area B (from Brand Boulevard to Alameda Street) are incumbent Greg Krikorian, a 15-year board member and one-time president who is endorsed by the Glendale Teacher Union, and his opponent, certified immigration consultant Vardan Stepanyan.

“I have passionately served as a member of the Glendale Board of Education since 2001, Krikorian said “Through sound fiscal policies we have been able to minimize the impact of budget cuts from Sacramento to maintain and improve the quality of education in our schools.”

He has been able to maintain financial stability while also enhancing student performance, he said.

“I will continue to advocate for our students, teachers, families and our community for adequate funding for public education,” Krikorian said. “Serving as a member of the Glendale Board of Education, I will continue to develop innovative opportunities for our students to succeed in the global economy and to have a safe learning environment.”

Krikorian also hopes to expand on arts and music programs to offer more opportunities to the students.    

Stepanyan, a newcomer to the scene promises to bring a new direction to the board.

“My extensive experience in a legal field would allow me to analyze and provide better explanations to the Board pertaining to the various rules and regulations, collective bargaining agreements and contracts,” Stepanyan said.

Stepanyan has a passion for serving his community and it shows with his involvement with public school events and by serving as a board member of the Glendale Educational Foundation.

“My bilingual skills help me to effectively communicate in languages other than English such as Armenian and Russian,” said Stepanyan.

He believes that investing in the faculty is key to having a sound educational institution and district. He went as far as to mention that low performing schools need teachers with proper training to increase their credibility.

In addition, Stepanyan wants to improve special education programs to better serve students with disabilities and provide adequate resources to accommodate each and every student.

Armina Gharpetian is running unopposed in District C (Verdugo Woodlands, to John Marshall) and is endorsed by the Glendale Teachers Union. She has served on the on the Board since 2013.

“As the Board President, I have been the clear voice to represent every student, parent, teacher and staff, through transparency and collaboration,” she said.

“I am especially proud of my efforts in encouraging parent engagement and student connectedness as well as working towards improving our Career Technical Education programs.”

District D candidates (Adams Hill, Glenoaks Canyon, and parts of Chevy Chase) include Joal Ryan and Shant Sahakian.

Ryan is a journalist and writer and Sahakian is a Student Attendance Review Board Member and endorsed by the Glendale Teachers Union.

“I am the only candidate who has made neighborhood representation a platform cornerstone,” Ryan said. “I pledge to be an accessible, accountable presence in our schools and in our neighborhood.”

She has plans to make sure that the places where children learn are safe and that they are well off financially. She vows to avoid charter schools and provide education of the highest quality and pledges to fight for every possible penny of bond and budget money she can get.

Ryan said she wants to make sure that all the children are taken care of by promoting programs that invite students of other native languages to learn.

Sahakian has a plethora of experience working with nonprofits as the president of some of those non-profits. Through this he has served the local community.

“Over the years, I have volunteered for local organizations that support Glendale’s youth, enhance the city’s public services, and serve the most vulnerable in the community,” Sahakian said.

Sahakian plan’s include providing world-class education to our schools by moderning classrooms with the latest technology and enhancing STEM (Science, Technology, English, Arts and Math) education.

He wants to make sure that all students receive the proper support whether they have special needs or are foreign language speakers. He has  faith in small healthy classroom sizes and he wants to get the community to support schools by partnering with nonprofits and local business to teach the students real world experiences.   

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