Administrators at four San Fernando Valley high schools want to convert to a year-round schedule this summer to accommodate hundreds of ninth-graders who will be added to the top three grades in a districtwide reorganization.
The schools--North Hollywood, San Fernando, Francis Polytechnic and Monroe--would become the first year-round high schools in the Valley.
The Los Angeles Board of Education received a proposal Monday from the school district staff outlining the requested changes; the board is expected to vote later this month on the proposal.
Administrators at two other Valley high schools--Van Nuys and Grant--still are considering their options, but district officials said they probably would not make the change this summer. Nonetheless, those schools also are discussing how they will handle the influx of students.
The year-round schedule, in which three groups of students attend school on different calendars, significantly relieves overcrowding because at any given time one of the groups is on vacation.
Administrators at the four schools said they had no other choice but to go to a year-round calendar because of the huge numbers of new students that are projected:
* North Hollywood, which currently has 2,726 students, expects 3,600 next year; the campus' capacity is 3,171.
* San Fernando, which has 3,144 students, projects a whopping 4,306; its capacity is 3,600.
* Polytechnic, which has 2,824 students, expects 4,031; its capacity is 2,750.
* Monroe, which has 2,918, projects 3,539; its capacity is 3,000.
"In these cases, the decision was made by sheer numbers," said Assistant Supt. Gordon Wohlers, who oversees the district's school capacity program. "These four schools recognize--given the current situation--that there are no alternatives."
The district's reorganization program involves changing grade levels at elementary, middle and high schools. These high schools, which currently take 10th- to 12th-graders, would add ninth-graders. The middle schools will have sixth through eighth grades and elementary schools will encompass kindergarten to fifth grade.
"These [high] schools are picking up a whole grade level and they're not losing any kids," said Larry Carletta, a specialist in the district's capacity office.
Schools like Polytechnic in Sun Valley already are crowded and the year-round schedule will relieve those problems, he said. "They're in a tight situation now as we speak," Carletta said. "They're holding on until they reconfigure."
Converting to a year-round schedule is not without controversy. Van Nuys High sparked an uproar in the fall when administrators there said that in order to avoid going to a year-round calendar they would have to close its highly prized magnet program.
Board member David Tokofsky, an opponent of the year-round calendar, said he believes the schools should consider all alternatives first.
Tokofsky, who called year-round schedules "an evil beast," acknowledged that the schools could benefit financially under a year-round calendar because they receive special state funding and the district allocates money for air conditioning to year-round campuses before all others.
Nonetheless, Tokofsky asked the district staff to provide him with details of who made the decisions at the local schools.
The district also is considering putting the four continuation high schools located near the four high schools on the same year-round schedule, but that change would be contingent on the district's financial situation.
District officials said they could manage changing the four high schools first because of the additional state money for year-round campuses. Changing the continuation schools--Earhart, Einstein, Lewis and Mission schools--would cost the district $162,000 the first year.