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LAUSD to vote on school year calendar shift

November 29, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
The Los Angeles Board of Education will soon be voting on a controversial plan to shift its academic calendar. The idea would see the school year start about three weeks earlier, but the first semester would end before the winter break.If the school board says "yes" when it votes next month, all schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District would go to the early start date next fall. As part of a pilot program, 17 schools in the district went to an early start date this fall. School district officials say from what they've seen, so far, so good.

If the LAUSD board votes to start the school year nearly a month early next fall classes would begin in mid-August as opposed to the traditional September start date.

"I feel that it's going to throw a lot of people's plans off 'cause some people schedule their vacations in July and August, primetime months," said LAUSD counselor Jose Diaz. "For people that have things going on in the summertime, it's going to be a shock to them knowing that school starts a little sooner. It could create a situation with attendance too."

As part of a pilot program this school year, school district superintendent Ramon Cortines says 17 schools in the district started the fall semester on the August schedule.

Cortines says it's been tough for teachers and students under the traditional schedule to leave for Christmas break, only to come back to review for tests and finals.

Under the early-fall start dates, schools end the winter break during Christmas and start the spring semester January 1.

"I think it makes educational sense. That's the only reason I'm recommending it," said Cortines. "It's because when a teacher teaches, they get a semester in, there's a break and then the new semester starts."

John F. Kennedy High School is one of the schools starting the fall semester early as part of the pilot program.

"Ultimately being done prior to winter break really helps with the number of academic days that we are really focusing on academics and not in preparation for a winter break, and then when we come back from winter break having a week or so to review what we've learned prior to winter break," said Kennedy High Principal Christine Clark.

One of the big criticisms has been of starting early next fall is that August is a very hot month. School district officials say given that all schools in the district are now air-conditioned, in their opinion that's a non-issue.

The school board is expected to vote on the issue early next month.


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