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Lynwood Sticks With Plan for Changing to Year-Round Schools : Education: The district says overcrowding leaves it no choice. Some parents continue protesting the changes.

December 06, 1990|LEE HARRIS | TIMES STAFF WRITER

LYNWOOD — Despite continuing opposition from some parents and students, the Lynwood Unified School District is moving forward with plans for year-round schools to relieve overcrowded classrooms.

A year-round system is scheduled to start July 1, 1991, in five of the district's 13 schools. All schools will eventually go year-round except the adult school and the continuation school for troubled youngsters, officials said.

School officials have decided to set a year-round schedule at Lynwood High, the district's only high school; Hosler Junior High, and the three largest elementary schools--Roosevelt, Rogers and Lindbergh.

All five schools house hundreds more students than they were built to accommodate. A total of 3,400 students attend Lynwood High, which was built to hold fewer than 2,000 students, school officials said.

The district's school board had approved year-round plans last April for the three elementary schools, but decided in October to expand the program to include the high school and junior high school.

The elementary schools were selected for the year-round program last March, but the board postponed final action for a month after hundreds of parents and children protested the plan.

Board member Willard Hawn Reed said some students at the high school staged a brief walkout one day in October in opposition to the year-round system. He said he and board member Rachel Chavez met with students to hear their complaints. An estimated 300 reportedly participated in the walkout.

"People are objecting mainly because they are opposed to change," Reed said.

School Supt. Audrey Clarke said district officials have been meeting with parents, teachers and administrators since September in an effort to work out a suitable plan. "We still have parents who are protesting, but not as vehemently as in the past," she said.

Parents continue to object to the year-round system because it would be disruptive to families, especially those with children attending school at different times of year, said Matilde Zapien, a leading opponent.

Efforts are being made to accommodate those parents by making sure their children attend school at the same time, officials said.

District officials have not decided how they might divide the school year, but are leaning toward a plan in which students would attend classes for three months, then would have a vacation of about one month. Under year-round schooling, one group of students would be on vacation while the others would attend classes.

The board has appointed Roosevelt Principal Bernice Jacobs to coordinate the year-round program. A successor will be named at Roosevelt when Jacobs begins her new duties after the first of the year, Reed said.

Officials said they have been forced to schedule year-round schools to accommodate growing enrollment in the 15,000-student district. Enrollment has increased 400 to 600 students in each of the last five years, officials said.

In 1989, the state Department of Education fined the district $360,000 for placing students in overcrowded classrooms. Inspectors found that the district constantly violated the state's average limit of 30 students per classroom. All of the violations occurred in the elementary grades.

In 1981, the district tried to implement year-round schooling at five of its elementary schools, but a group of parents won a preliminary injunction halting the plan the day before the program was to start. The court ruled that the district had not given sufficient notice of the year-round plan.

The school board has been reluctant to take up the issue until recently, Reed said.

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