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School Board Meeting Runs Long

November 22, 1998

Re "An Unneeded Marathon," editorial, Nov. 13: Deliberating, questioning and debating are the cornerstones of healthy democratic institutions, particularly when diverse interests are struggling to reach common ground on critical expenditures. When finite resources require board members to choose between one worthy program and another, more open discussion--not less--can help board members and the public understand the complexities of an issue.

Expanding class-size reduction to the ninth grade is conceptually sound. But the mechanics of executing it are far more difficult. What are the implications of such a policy on school facilities? What is the impact on teacher preparation time, if an extra period of instruction is added to the day to accommodate the reduction? I questioned the recommendation by staff to add another instructional period because it would eliminate teachers' conference time, an important component of the school day, especially since many of our teachers are operating with emergency credentials. In addition to the 6,000 teachers with emergency credentials that we have hired in the last two years, the district will need to bring on 143 new teachers in just two months, if the ninth-grade reduction is to occur. These are but a few of the questions that increased the length of our meeting.

Programs that help our children achieve academically are extremely necessary. But it is equally important to increase teachers' salaries so that we can attract the most qualified and competent teachers, as well as retain teachers. We either spend the money up front by attracting qualified teachers or we spend the money at the end in intervention programs for students who have fallen through the cracks.

JULIE KORENSTEIN, LAUSD Board Member

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