Uncertainty, confusion and opposition characterize public reaction to a proposal to place the Los Angeles Unified School District on a single year-round school calendar, according to a draft report on a recent series of public hearings on the controversial proposal.
The report, scheduled to be presented to the Los Angeles Board of Education next week, was handed out Thursday night at the ninth and final public hearing held by a board committee. The committee collected community response to a proposal to create a common calendar for district schools. This calendar would change the school year from the traditional September-to-June schedule to a 12-month calendar, with vacations scattered throughout the year.
District planners proposed the conversion as a way to bring equity to a system that operates its 618 schools on six different calendars. Also, a common year-round schedule would make it easier for planners to introduce multi-track, year-round schedules at overcrowded schools. Under a multi-track calendar, some students attend classes while others at the same school are on vacation.
According to the draft report, most parents are skeptical and antagonistic toward the district suggestions. They are concerned that a common year-round calendar would hurt family vacation plans and child-care arrangements and hamper opportunities for teen-agers to get summer jobs, according to the report.
Many said they are against the year-round proposals because their children might have to study in classrooms without air conditioning during hot summer months. Additionally, the report noted that many parents did not fully understand the difference in proposed calendars and held the incorrect view that a 12-month school year meant their children would never have a vacation.
The report's blunt criticisms of district proposals did not satisfy East San Fernando Valley representative Roberta Weintraub. She said the report's language was "not strong enough" to show other board members "how much sentiment there seems to be against year-round schools."
At the end of the final hearing, Weintraub penciled into the report several critical comments that parents made at the meeting at Birmingham High School in Van Nuys.
When the report is completed, it will be used as a guide for a scheduled March 14 board vote on whether to change the school calendar year in 1989, committee members said. Three board members, Weintraub, West Valley representative Julie Korenstein and Alan Gershman of the Westside, are considered solid votes against changing the school year.
At Thursday's meeting, board member Warren Furutani, who is considered the swing vote on the seven-member panel, said he will also vote against a 1989 conversion because he wants to wait for the calendar recommendations being prepared by a 17-member community task force. The task force's report is scheduled to be submitted to the district June 30.
A no vote by Furutani would likely create the majority needed to defeat the 1989 conversion proposal. If it is defeated, a district spokesman said the common calendar and year-round school issues could be resurrected in the future.