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Los Angeles Board Votes To Place District on Year-Round Schedule

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After years of debate and public resistance, officials of the Los Angeles Unified School District have voted to put nearly all of the district's schools on a single year-round calender.

By a 4-to-3 vote, the Los Angeles school board approved last week a plan that will also greatly increase the number of schools operating under multiple-track attendance schedules, in which students take their vacations at differing times during the year.

Although details of the year-round schedule to be followed by most district students have yet to be worked out, officials say it will involve shorter vacation periods spaced throughout the year and separating semesters.

The plan, which will take effect in July 1989, is designed to relieve severe overcrowding in rapidly growing areas of the city. Although enrollment growth was lower than expected this year, district planners say they are still expecting to gain between 10,000 and 15,000 new students a year for the next 10 years.

Adopting a uniform calendar will help ease some of the administrative problems that have arisen since the district first began converting schools to year-round schedules in 1980, said Sheldon Erlich, a district spokesman. At present, he said, five different calendars are in use.

The board's decision is the latest development in a long and controversial debate in Los Angeles over the merits of year-round schooling. (See Education Week, Oct. 16, 1985.) Citing strong community opposition, the board last year rejected a staff proposal to convert 76 schools to year-round schedules.

According to Mr. Erlich, a special commission will be asked to recommend a uniform calendar for the district. The board will also have to decide which schools should switch to multi-track schedules.

Because of the severity of the overcrowding problem, Mr. Erlich said, the parents of students in 14 schools will have to choose between converting to multi-track schedules a year early--in July of 1988--or having their children bused to less crowded schools in outlying areas of the city. The district will also reopen three mothballed schools, he said.

Although many experts have praised the educational benefits of year-round schooling, the idea has encountered fierce resistance in the suburban neighborhoods targeted for conversion.

According to Mr. Erlich, opponents of the plan are reported to be considering a recall campaign against one recently elected board member who voted for the new schedule.--wm

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