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Year-Round Schedule Extended to All L.A. Schools

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All public schools in Los Angeles must adopt a year-round schedule by July 1991, the district's school board decided last week.

On a 5-to-2 vote in the early morning hours of Feb. 6, the board approved a comprehensive plan to relieve overcrowding in the nation's second-largest school system. The part of the plan mandating year-round operation had passed on a vote of 4 to 3 earlier in the meeting.

The plan was approved after an 8-hour debate and despite opposition from some parents, many of whom had kept their children home from school earlier in the month to protest the board's consideration of a year-round plan.

More than 100 of the district's approximately 600 schools already are on a year-round schedule. In 1987, the board voted to convert the entire district to such a schedule by 1989, but later abandoned that plan after parental protest.

But the board's decision appeared to have broader support this time around. Observers said there was little chance the 1987 scenario would be replayed this year.

Said board member Letecia Quezada, who voted for the change: "I don't expect that the four people who voted for it will take their votes back."

Cecelia Mansfield, president of one of the district's parent-teacher organizations, called the board's decision fair. "Although no one's completely happy with the result, it's a beginning," she said. "It's something we can go forward with."

Jackie Goldberg, president of the board and also a plan supporter, said the board would not reverse its decision because, unlike in 1987, it now has no other options.

"We've used every nook and cranny," she said. "We don't have any place to put the kids."

Ms. Goldberg said the board should now begin to educate the public about the educational benefits of year-round schooling, which she said were underemphasized in the debate.

The Plan's Specifics

At its Feb. 5-6 meeting, the board approved a 19-point plan to ease overcrowding. About one-fifth of the district's 610,000 students already attend year-round schools, and enrollment is expected to increase by more than 12,000 students next year.

One part of the plan requires 109 severely crowded elementary schools to increase their capacity by 23 percent by July of this year. To do so, they must choose one of several options: convert to a staggered year-round schedule; increase class size; add portable classrooms; or implement any combination of these solutions.

Teachers, staff members, administrators, and parents must vote to select one of the options by April 4.

Every school in the district must adopt a year-round calendar by July 1991. The entire district would then have a "90/30 common calendar": two 18-week (90-day) semesters, with six weeks (30 days) off in between.

Depending on its situation, a school could use a single-track calendar--putting all its students on the same schedule--or a multi-track calendar, in which students' schedules are staggered to allow for higher enrollment.

The board adopted several related measures in addition to its action on year-round schools. It relaxed rules restricting the placement of portable classrooms, for example, and commissioned a study of air-conditioning needs in the district.

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