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Year-Round Schools May Try '60-20 Plan'

October 05, 1990|LORI GRANGE | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Beginning in July, students at Glendale's six most crowded elementary schools probably will attend classes three months on and one month off under a year-round education schedule proposed Tuesday.

Glendale school district staff members introduced the calendar to the Board of Education, which in June approved starting year-round education for at least eight schools during the next two years.

The board at that time also approved the concept of the so-called "60-20 plan," which refers to school days rather than calendar days. But members still must vote Oct. 16 on whether to adopt that specific schedule.

A year-round calendar will be put in place in 1991 at Balboa, Columbus, Jefferson, Keppel, Mann and Marshall elementary schools. Edison and Muir elementary schools are to go year-round in 1992.

District enrollment has grown by 26% since 1985, mostly in southern Glendale's elementary schools. The student population, now about 25,350, may reach 28,300 by 1992, school officials have said.

The schedule is expected to increase the capacity of each school by 25%, reduce the use of portable classrooms and cut the number of students now bused to less crowded schools. More than 200 students who live near Mann and Marshall elementaries are bused elsewhere. Even after going to the year-round schedule, enrollment at Mann and Marshall will exceed the schools' capacities in 1992, according to district projections. That means busing and the use of portable classrooms still may be necessary in addition to year-round classes to ease crowding, school officials have said.

Mann is expected to have 1,749 students in September, 1992. Its capacity as a year-round school is 1,538, according to district figures.

"If the growth rate continues as it has in the past, without any relief, then some other decisions would have to be made," Supt. Robert Sanchis said.

Under the proposed 60-20 plan, students at a school will be divided into four tracks. Three of the tracks will be in school at any one time, with the fourth on vacation, said Jim McGlashan, district director of testing and evaluation.

All four tracks will have the same eight-day winter break during Christmas, and each will have one of its breaks fall between May and September, allowing families to take summer vacations.

Parents will be allowed to request certain tracks for their children, although the district cannot guarantee that they will get their first choice. Parents who have more than one child can request that they be placed on the same track, McGlashan said.

And teachers who do not want to teach in a year-round school can ask to be transferred to a traditional school in the district, he said.

"Whenever possible, we'll try to accommodate scheduling of youngsters for parents," McGlashan said. "But we don't anticipate there will be a great number of exceptions."

There are at least 20 different year-round schedules used in schools. The Los Angeles Unified School District earlier this year chose the 90-30 plan, made up of two 90-day semesters separated by a 30-day vacation.

Glendale officials said they proposed the 60-20 plan in part because a shorter break may help students better retain what they learned while in school.

"The feeling was that if we went to a plan such as the 90-30, there would be a greater amount of time that students were not in school, therefore minimizing that advantage," Sanchis said.

District officials said they expect air-conditioning to make the schools more comfortable in hot summer weather to be installed in the schools by July. They said they are trying to notify parents and new Glendale residents with children of the schedule changes.

But, they said, there are still obstacles to getting the new calendar in place.

City and community groups will have to alter their after-school and summer programs to fit a year-round schedule, and parents may have to finance some of the changes.

The city's Division of Parks, Recreation and Community Services is working on a year-round activities schedule. But its programs will require fees from parents to be self-supporting, said Nello Iacono, the department's director.

"We know the first year is always chaos," McGlashan said. "We're doing our best to anticipate those things that could cause some disturbances."

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