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Los Angeles Seeks Plans For Year-Round Classes

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The Los Angeles Board of Education moved one step closer last week to rendering the traditional summer vacation a relic of the past, authorizing district officials to submit plans for putting the entire district on a year-round schedule.

At the same time, board members agreed to study a plan for staggering schedules at the city's junior and senior high schools that--in combination with other options under consideration--might allow the board to delay year-round schooling for several years.

Massive Overcrowding Foreseen

The schedule shift is part of a master plan to relieve an overcrowding problem that officials predict could lead to a shortfall of 54,000 classroom seats by 1990.

Without deciding between a four- or five-term calendar, the school board directed Superintendent of Schools Harry Handler to include year-round scheduling and nine other board-adopted proposals in the final plans he is preparing for consideration next month.

At a series of meetings last week, the board also rejected two proposals that had been vigorously opposed by minority groups.

One would have removed schools with between 70 and 80 percent minority enrollment from the special category of "predominantly Hispanic, Asian, black, or other minorities" schools that receive extra resources from the district. The other would have increased the student-teacher ratio at those schools from the current average of 27 students per teacher to 29.

The board of education has examined 15 proposals to help solve the overcrowding problem in numerous special meetings and public hearings since last October, when Mr. Handler first proposed moving to a year-round calendar. (See Education Week, Oct. 16, 1985.)

He is developing two or more final plans, and the board is scheduled to consider and select one by the end of February, said Marty Estrin, a spokesman for the district.

The year-round schedule is opposed by some parents in predominantly white sections of the city who fear it would disrupt family vacations, special courses, and extracurricular activities.

The United Teachers of Los Angeles and other critics of the plan are also opposed to holding classes during the hot summer months in any classrooms that are not air-conditioned.

New Proposals

According to Mr. Estrin, the board also expressed considerable interest in the new proposal to adopt staggered schedules at junior and senior high schools.

Under the plan that garnered the most support, students would be divided into four groups with different starting and finishing times each day.

This option would allow school buildings to remain in continuous use from 7:00 A.M. to 5:30 P.M., thus increasing their capacity by 33 percent, he said.

Some board members have said that this option, in combination with others under consideration, could help the district delay moving to a year-round schedule for several years.

School officials cite an influx of both legal and illegal immigrants, as well as the high birth rate in the city, as the primary causes of the district's ballooning enrollment.

Enrollment rose by 13,000 students this year to 579,000, and the growth in the student body is expected to accelerate through the end of the decade.

Statistics compiled by the district last month showed that new Hispanic and Asian students account for much of the overall upswing in school registrations.

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