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Superintendent Provides Year-End Review

By Eliza Partika
Glendale News-Press

Superintendent Vivian Ekchian provided end of year updates regarding enrollment, food access, inclusion practices, new curriculum offerings and more at the June 6 Glendale Unified School District Board of Education meeting.
Ekchian went on to discuss enrollment statistics, noting that GUSD increased its enrollment this year, with a total of 25,038 students over all school sites. This increase primarily comes from the many new students who are from Armenia, Ukraine and Russia, she added. More than 3,700 students attended after-school programs this past school year, with 4,324 enrolled for the 2023-2024 school year.
Additionally, the district partnered with various organizations, including the YMCA and CalFresh Healthy Living, to provide more support for students and parents. These partnerships helped fund free breakfast and reduced cost lunch programs, child care and after-school programs. For the estimated 47% of Glendale students who were below the poverty line this year, Ekchian emphasized how crucial those services are. This summer, the district will continue its meal programs at Pacific Park.
“Meals matter to our students,” she said. “Our ability to offer free meals to all of our students, without asking them, without shaming them, is another commitment to our kids to be safe, to be happy and to feel supported.”
GUSD was awarded more than $28 million in grant funding over the course of the 2022-2023 school year. From the California Department of Education, GUSD received funding for the Tobacco Use Prevention Education Program, Anti-Bias Education and the Career Technical Education Incentive.
“In addition to [Woodrow Wilson Middle School], [J. Toll Middle School] just received a grant for their lab which will continue to support them in their ability to create interest around technology and create pathways for our students to go into the workforce knowing more, wanting more and being interested in technology altogether,” Ekchian said.
The “Super Tutors” peer tutoring programs continued, as well as a wide variety of classroom learning support. The district had 120 Super Tutors on record who were compensated for assisting their classmates with homework.
“There’s a saying, ‘You can’t master a subject until you teach it,’” said Ekchian with a nod to the excellence of the Super Tutor program and the opportunities the program gives students to become entrepreneurs and fully master their classroom curriculum.
Ekchian also highlighted new elective options introduced during the 2022-23 school year, including: AP music theory, philosophy, world history, AP African American studies and other professional development opportunities from GUSD’s partnership with Glendale Community College in dual enrollment high school programs.
“Developing leaders starts at a very young age, and we don’t underestimate the leadership opportunities that exist [for our students],” she said.
Diversity and health and wellness initiatives expanded across the district as well. This included new wellness rooms, courses in the dangers of vaping and fentanyl at high schools, new peer counseling and a telehealth counseling partnership with Hazel Health.
Monthly cultural celebrations were implemented in classrooms, and this year, the district began their “Culture of Care” initiative through a partnership with the Institute for Student Empowerment. For the first time this year, GUSD celebrated Armenian Heritage Month in March, highlighting “Armenians in Innovations.” The district also improved its response to — and tracking of — hate speech on school campuses.
Improvement to facilities exhausted funds this year as well, with updated classrooms, labs, fences and more so students have a safe place to learn.
Ekchian made sure to thank the Glendale Council PTA for their work throughout the district.
“They have been partners in our work at every one of our school sites without reservations, wanting to support every family,” she said, acknowledging “those in the room who are leading the work, and those at school sites who are volunteering hundreds of hours which we would not be able to afford if we had to compensate, but they do it with such love and care.”
For more information about school updates and future plans, community members are encouraged to attend the last meeting of the year on June 20.

First published in the June 17 print issue of the Glendale News-Press.

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