Faced with a worsening shortage of classroom seats next year, the Los Angeles school district staff Monday proposed three possible remedies, all of which call for converting more schools to year-round schedules.
The most far-reaching of the three proposals presented by district staff to the school board would change the start of the school year from the traditional September opening to July 5 for all of the district's 410 elementary schools, except for 83 that already operate year-round, officials said.
A second plan would affect elementary and junior high schools in only four areas of the district--sections of the West San Fernando Valley, the Harbor region, South-Central and South Los Angeles--while a third option calls for year-round conversion in four particular schools that offer specialized curriculums.
The seven-member board will make a decision on which, if any, of the three plans it will put into action next year at a special meeting scheduled for Oct. 12, according to Supt. Leonard Britton.
At Monday's session, however, some board members indicated that they wanted to examine other options such as reopening some of the 23 campuses that the district closed several years ago when enrollment was in decline.
The first proposal would replace the traditional two-semester calendar with a new "60/20" calendar. The school year would be broken into alternating terms of 60 days in school and 20 days on vacation, officials said.
Thus, instead of taking three consecutive months off during the summer, students would have three vacations of roughly 20 days each interspersed throughout the year--in August, December and April, said Gordon Wohlers, who helps oversee year-round school planning for the district.
This calendar would allow the district the flexibility to increase the capacity of a school by as much as 33% by dividing a school population into four groups, some of whom would attend class during the summer, Wohlers said. But under this plan, only 33 schools that face severe crowding would be required to use the summer term.
In the majority of schools, all students would have at least one month off during the summer, as well as one-month breaks in winter and spring.
Another major benefit of this proposal, Wohlers said, would be greater uniformity of scheduling. Currently, district schools use one of six different calendars--the traditional September-to-June system and five variations on the year-round calendar.
If the majority of elementary schools were placed on the same basic schedule, child-care providers and city recreation agencies would be encouraged to provide service year-round. That would help answer a major complaint voiced by parents of children currently attending year-round schools, Wohlers said.
This change would allow approximately 5,000 students to attend their neighborhood schools rather than having to be bused to distant campuses that have more space, officials said.
The district already transports about 31,000 students due to overcrowding at a cost of $1,000 per student.
The second proposal calls for converting certain elementary and junior high schools to the 60/20 schedule: Drew Junior High School in South Los Angeles, Carver Junior High School in South-Central Los Angeles, Nobel Junior High School in Northridge and Dana Junior High School in San Pedro, and all of the elementary schools that feed into those schools.
According to district estimates, this plan would provide about 2,100 extra spaces.
The third proposal would provide only 1,300 additional seats by placing four magnet schools on year-round operation--Brentwood Science Magnet, Los Angeles Center for Enriched Studies, Sherman Oaks Center for Enriched Studies, and the 32nd Street/USC Performing Arts magnet school.
These schools offer specialized approaches and integrated environments. Attendance is by application only, and district officials said these four schools have long waiting lists.