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L.A. Schools Choose To Ditch Year-Round Calendars

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Parents and school employees in Los Angeles have overwhelmingly voted to jettison the single-track year-round schedules they have operated under for two years and return to traditional calendars.

As a result of referendums held at schools late last month, all but one of the 544 eligible schools will return to September-to-June schedules in the coming school year, officials of the Los Angeles Unified School District said.

Preliminary tallies indicated that fewer than 30 percent of those who voted favored keeping the year-round calendar the schoolboard imposed for its supposed educational benefits in fall 1990.

The traditional calendar enjoyed lopsided support in most sections of the district, with support being especially strong in the San Fernando Valley and other areas where many schools lack air conditioning and face especially high summer temperatures.

Breakup Calls Defused?

The voting results were tabulated by high school complex, each of which consists of a high school and its feeder elementary and junior high schools. Of the 49 high school complexes in the district, only one opted to stay with the year-round schedule.

Mark Slavkin, a school board member who had pushed to allow the high school complexes to decide their own calendars, said last week that the across-the-board nature of the support for traditional calendars should reassure officials who feared the voting would result in a patchwork of different calendars.

The return to traditional calendars is expected to save the financially troubled district nearly $4.2 million a year, most of it in additional building maintenance and the added costs of keeping athletic programs running during their traditional seasons.

Moreover, Mr. Slavkin said, the school board, by allowing local communities to reject the year-round schedule, may have helped defuse calls by state legislators and local activists to break up the district. He noted that many advocates of a breakup have cited the calendar as "the first example of a centralized decision that fails to reflect their local needs.''

The school board is expected to ratify the vote results this week.

About 265,000 students--more than one-third of the district's K-12 enrollment--will still attend schools that are on multi-track year-round schedules and were not given the option to change. (See Education Week, June 2, 1993.)

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