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Crowding Cures Ignore Learning, Parents Fear

October 22, 1985|PAMELA MORELAND | Times Staff Writer

Parents meeting with top Los Angeles Unified School District officials charged Monday that the district is more interested in supplying seats than offering a quality education.

The complaints came during a 2 1/2-hour meeting at district offices in Panorama City to discuss several proposals to alleviate classroom crowding, including a plan to place all of the system's schools on a year-round schedule.

Many of the representatives of parent-teacher organizations from schools north of Roscoe Boulevard grumbled that the district's proposals were confusing. They also said the proposals' effect on a school's curriculum did not appear to have been well thought out and argued that changes in the number of credits given for high-school classes could lead to colleges' not accepting high-school course work.

134,000 More Seats

Under the district's proposal, 134,000 seats could be created if the system adopted a far-reaching plan that includes a year-round calender. The recommendations include plans for the reopening of some closed West San Fernando Valley schools, increasing class sizes at racially isolated schools--which now have smaller classes than integrated ones--and, if the courts agree, increasing the number of minority students at an already integrated school.

There are now two versions of a year-round calendar under consideration. One is a five-term school year in which students would attend for four 45-day quarters, then have a 45-day vacation. This proposal would increase each school's capacity by 25%, district officials said.

The second is a four-term school year, under which students would attend for four 60-day quarters and have one 60-day vacation. This plan would allow each school to expand its enrollment by 33%.

Although many of the parents at Monday's meeting acknowledged that the district is nearing a crisis in classroom space, they accused school officials of making increased capacity their top priority.

"The emphasis seems to be on seats available, not a good education program," Joanne Jarrett, a PTA member from Grant High School in Van Nuys, said of the year-round proposal.

Sheila Lane of the North Hollywood High School PTA said she worries about how colleges will be able to compare a student's grades from a four-quarter system, in which each class is worth 2 1/2 credits, with those of students who attend traditional two-semester schools, where classes are each worth five credits.

But Santiago Jackson, head of the school utilization division, countered by saying that a year-round calender would not hurt the academic program and would help students who need to repeat courses.

Barry Mostovoy of the district's school operations section added that a year-round schedule with courses worth only 2 1/2 credits would allow students to enroll in elective courses they might not get in the traditional two-semester system.

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