HomeCommunity NewsGUSD Kicks Off New Year With Expanded TK, Child Care

GUSD Kicks Off New Year With Expanded TK, Child Care

First published in the Aug. 13 print issue of the Glendale News-Press.

Glendale school officials this week reviewed preparation for the 2022-23 school year, which kicks off on Wednesday, as they continue to fill in the last holes with regard to staffing and child care.
As of Tuesday, there were 24,654 students enrolled in the Glendale Unified School District for the upcoming year, including 12,498 elementary students and 11,858 secondary students. It also includes 298 preschool students. Of those elementary students, there was a 107-student increase in transitional kindergarten enrollment from the prior year — as GUSD joins other districts in setting the foundation for universal TK.
“This is a really huge deal,” said school board president Nayiri Nahabedian. “This is a huge celebration of universal TK and of moving in the right direction, where it becomes normalized that kids are in school doing age-appropriate activity — and hopefully lots of play — in a safe place, and everyone has the opportunity to participate no matter if their parents can pay for it or not.”
School districts in the state are gradually expanding TK enrollment for the next several years until they attain universal enrollment for the grade. This year, all students who turn 5 before Feb. 2 are eligible for TK, which — after adding classes to Balboa, Fremont and R.D. White elementary schools — is now offered at 15 of GUSD’s elementary schools. Additionally, a second TK class was added at Lincoln Elementary School for this year.
Superintendent Vivian Ekchian noted at Tuesday’s meeting that the district has gone to great lengths to avoid capping student enrollment at these schools.
“We have used every nook and cranny,” she said. “We believe in school being the center of our community and for every child who lives in the neighborhood to attend their ‘home school.’ We’ve really stretched as much space as possible on campuses where there was a possibility of having to cap our students.”
The district reported that it has also absorbed most of its requests for afterschool child care, with the assistance of numerous local organizations.
As of Tuesday, the district had placed 4,283 students in one of its child care programs, with another 497 on the waiting list. GUSD achieved these placements through a combination of staffing and working with outside entities to facilitate the care. For example, the city’s Community Services and Parks Department will handle services for Edison Elementary School students. Both the YMCA of Glendale and YMCA of the Foothills are providing care for students at Dunsmore, Franklin, Keppel and Monte Vista elementary schools. Honenetman Ararat is handling programming for Muir and R.D. White elementaries.
“I’m very excited to see all the great movement we’ve had in how we’re serving our youngest students, both with TK and with child care,” board clerk Shant Sahakian said, “and grateful to the staff that I know has been working furiously to bring together the staffing we need to meet the demand in the community for child care.”
District officials expressed hope that the state will make additional resources available in future budgets to help meet the needs of child care, requests for which have increased significantly in GUSD in recent years.
“This is a community need. This is not just a school district need,” Ekchian said. “We have reached out to anyone and everyone who will be able to support us in this process.”
Per guidance from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, face masks remain strongly recommended at school but are not mandatory. COVID-19 testing also remains voluntary, and the district strongly urges all students and employees to test before beginning the school year.
All school sites will have home rapid-test kits freely available for students and employees, and free in-person rapid testing available at three hubs — Crescenta Valley High School, Glendale High School and Toll Middle School — daily from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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