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L.B. Panel Calls for Year-Round Grade Schools

April 10, 1988|DAVID HALDANE | Times Staff Writer

LONG BEACH — The Board of Education here is considering a sweeping set of recommendations by a special blue-ribbon citizens committee. Among them are conversion of all elementary schools to mandatory year-round operation and the implementation of four-year high schools.

"This document is a masterpiece," said Frank Berry, one of 12 members of the blue-ribbon committee that presented a final draft of its recommendations during a special board meeting last week. "I suggest that we adhere to it."

Said board member Elizabeth Wallace: "It's a well-thought-out document that we can work with."

The committee was set up early last year to look into the problem of overcrowding in the district.

Besides year-round operation within five years and substitution of two- or three-year middle schools for the district's current junior high schools, recommendations included:

The continued use of emergency portable classrooms as a short-term solution to overcrowding;

Establishment of a temporary school at the former site of the Sears store downtown;

The formation of a private foundation to solicit donations for district use;

And an extension in the length of the high school day.

The district is already committed to most of the recommendations, said Supt. E. Tom Giugni, with the exception of year-round schools and the conversion to four-year high schools. The idea of adding early-morning and late-afternoon periods to the high school day, he said, is still under study.

Giugni said he plans to call a special board meeting early next month to consider the four-year high school option, which he favors.

"Once that decision is made, then we can deal with year-round schools," he said.

The blue-ribbon committee recommendations have become something of an issue in the current school board races, in which several candidates facing election this week have declared their opposition to mandatory, districtwide, year-round schools. A field of 25 candidates is competing for all five seats on the board. At least three of the five incumbents will be replaced.

Although the district designated four elementary schools to begin year-round operation this fall, the board has generally been reticent to implement districtwide, year-round operation on a mandatory basis.

"I have a lot of questions about putting it in concrete," said board member James Zarifes. "We have gone out of our way to make sure that (year-round operation) wasn't shoved down anybody's throat, and now that's exactly what (the blue-ribbon committee) wants us to do."

Although there is certain to be a new board majority beginning July 18, Giugni said, the district must begin dealing with the committee's recommendations right now. "I can't wait three months for some of these decisions," he said.

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