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Santa Ana's School Year Is Short by 2,200 Minutes

October 31, 1994|JON NALICK

SANTA ANA — It might not seem that way to intermediate school students, but the school day is too short. So now, district officials are scrambling to find a way to lengthen it before the year ends.

Auditors who recently completed an annual review of the district's performance interpreted an obscure state educational code as requiring schools to offer about 3,200 more minutes of instruction each year than the district currently provides, district spokeswoman Diane Thomas said.

Using a checklist provided by the state, auditors focused on the length of instruction this year and found the discrepancy.

While district schools have offered about 55,000 minutes of instruction each year--more than the amount usually required by schools statewide--they should provide 57,200 minutes, which is 2,200 minutes or close to 37 hours more. The higher figure is based on amount of instructional time the district offered in 1982-83, Thomas said.

As a result, the Board of Education is now studying how to lengthen the intermediate school day without unduly disrupting students' and teachers' schedules.

At its regular meeting on Tuesday night, the board studied three proposals to add the required minutes. However, after staff and parents pleaded for further consultations with them at school sites, the board opted to postpone its decision until Nov. 8.

District officials recommended that the board reinstate the seventh period, which was lost to budget cuts. But officials noted that doing so in the middle of the year would force every student and teacher to adjust to a new schedule. Other options include extending the length of every class a few minutes or tacking on a study or reading "mini-period" to each day's schedule.

The changes must be put into use by Jan. 3 for year-round schools and by Feb. 6 for the other schools to ensure the district meets its requirements, Thomas said.

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