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Long Beach Progressing in Year-Round School Plan

May 21, 1987|DAVID HALDANE | Times Staff Writer

LONG BEACH — Plans for converting at least two elementary schools to year-round operation are proceeding right "on schedule" despite the protests of some parents, according to the president of the Board of Education.

"We are not working in haste," board President John Kashiwabara said this week.

His comments came at Monday night's regularly scheduled board meeting--held at Jordan High School--following staff reports on the results of parent meetings held over the past four weeks at each of the seven schools being considered for year-round operation. Those schools are Burbank, Burnett, Lafayette, Lee, Stevenson, Willard and Twain.

Parent reaction at most of the schools was positive, reported Mary Anne Mays, deputy director of facilities funding. The one exception, she said, was Twain where an estimated 200 parents attended a meeting at which many voiced strong opposition to the plan.

Attendance at the other meetings, Mays said, ranged from 13 to 75. Unlike the other schools being considered, Twain--located in the Lakewood Village section of the city near Long Beach City College--has a majority Anglo enrollment of 69.2%. The next highest Anglo enrollment is at Burbank, with 35.8%.

Two Twain parents--Pat Tomlin and Robert Jenson--spoke before the board Monday to reiterate their opposition.

"Twain has something special," Tomlin said. "We don't have to be on year-round to make room for our neighborhood children--we have room. What are we supposed to do with our kids who now stay (after school) in YMCAs that don't operate (during the winter)? I don't want my 8-year-old to be a latchkey kid."

Jenson said: "I wonder what year-round education really will do for my kid?"

In addition, Frank Berry--representing the National Assn. for the Advancement of Colored People--said the plan could unfairly affect black children, and Rodney Guarneri, another parent, said it would undermine family life by eliminating traditional summer vacations.

Under the plan being discussed, students would be divided into four groups, each of which would attend school for 60 days followed by 20 days of vacation. School officials say that year-round operation would increase each campus' capacity by 25% to 30%, thus helping to alleviate overcrowded conditions in the 65,000-student district, which is growing at a rate of 1,500 students a year.

In about two weeks, said Deputy Supt. Charles Carpenter, the board is expected to ask some of the seven schools to conduct feasibility studies regarding year-round operation as it relates to specific conditions on their campuses. In October, he said, the board will designate at least two of the schools to begin year-round operation in the summer of 1988.

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