The summer will grind to a halt for children in the San Gabriel Valley in the coming weeks, as school resumes and districts launch a host of new programs, regulations and services.
To relieve overcrowding, Pomona Unified is opening two new elementary schools when students return Sept. 12. The schools are in the Diamond Bar area and in South Pomona, said Marilyn Hocking, director of instructional services.
The district is also starting an innovative partnership between Kellogg Elementary School and Cal Poly Pomona in which university teachers will work closely with elementary teachers to develop curriculum, write grants, and improve nutrition and physical fitness programs. The school, next to Cal Poly Pomona, has been rechristened Kellogg Polytechnic, Hocking said.
At West Covina Unified, students will return Thursday to find that a late summer fire destroyed the inside of a classroom at Monte Vista Elementary School. Officials believe that the fire was caused by a short in an electrical panel.
The damage, which amounted to about $95,000, will take several weeks to repair. Meanwhile, students from that class will be taught on the auditorium stage, which is equipped with blackboards and desks, said Erwin Jones, West Covina's interim superintendent.
Pasadena Unified, which resumes Sept. 10 for kindergarten through fifth grades and Sept. 12 for grades 6 through 12, is starting several weekend school programs this year.
A Saturday Scholars program will begin in October for students interested in enrichment classes. Assistant Supt. Michael Klentschy says other classes may serve as alternatives to summer school for students who need to catch up.
Working with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena is starting a "Young Astronauts" program at Jackson Elementary School on Saturdays.
Additionally, Blair High School is beginning a Health Careers Academy, which allows students to take health science and administration classes on campus, then work at Kaiser Permanente and Huntington Memorial Hospital to gain practical experience.
At Monrovia High School, about a third of the students will be filing into portable classrooms Thursday as the district starts a $4.5-million renovation project on the 60-year-old campus, said Donald Montgomery, superintendent of Monrovia Unified.
In Azusa, students will have to conform to a new district dress code when they return Thursday. Regulations prohibit such potentially dangerous items such as shoes with steel-reinforced toes and spike bracelets, officials said. The code also bans clothing such as bandannas and certain types of hats that could symbolize a gang affiliation.
To handle growing enrollment, the district has hired 75 new teachers. Azusa Unified has also installed air conditioning in all classrooms, officials said.
Alhambra Unified, which starts Sept. 11, will be sending home a letter to parents asking their cooperation in enforcing a dress code that is already in place, Alhambra school board member Dora Padilla said.
"A lot of kids are just wanna-bes, and parents have to be alerted," Padilla said, noting that accessories such as L.A. Raiders caps, especially when worn backwards, can signify gang membership.
Alhambra, which receives $500,000 a year as part of a special state-funded experiment called the Model Technology Program, will be expanding the use of computers and other high-tech equipment, putting them into business and English classes. The program is in its third year at Emery Park Elementary, where even kindergarten students are learning to use computers, and Alhambra High schools.
Rowland Unified, which starts Tuesday, will be offering students foreign language classes at the intermediate grade level so that students don't have to wait for senior high to start learning bonjour and como esta . Rowland is also implementing a new math program to expose elementary school children to concepts such as graphing, geometry and estimation.
'We want to teach youngsters a variety of skills early on," said Sharon Robison, superintendent of Rowland Unified. "With estimating, for instance, the first grade might start with taking a bag of M&Ms and estimating how many yellow and red ones there were and then actually counting them."