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Options for Finishing Out Year Weighed at Three L.A. Schools

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Two schools in the San Fernando Valley that were severely damaged by last month's earthquake will be closed at least until next month, and a third school may be permanently closed, a spokesman for the Los Angeles Unified School District said last week.

Another six schools were expected late last week to welcome back their first students since the Jan. 17 earthquake. (See Education Week, Jan. 26, 1994.)

District officials were scheduled to meet with parents whose children attended the closed schools to discuss options for finishing out the school year. The schools are Kennedy and El Camino Real high schools and Van Gogh Elementary.

The 2,859 students who attend El Camino Real High and Kennedy High's 2,452 students probably will return to school on about March 1, said Patrick Spencer, a spokesman for the district.

After the schools reopen, portable classrooms will be set up at both sites to accommodate overflow from damaged classrooms, Mr. Spencer explained.

The high schools will allow students limited access to the campuses this week for college and financial-aid counseling.

But the ground around Van Gogh Elementary appears to have undergone a geological shift that may make it impossible to reopen the school, even with portables, Mr. Spencer said.

Van Gogh's 469 students probably will attend other schools, the spokesman said.

In addition to delaying the start of the spring semester at the two high schools, district officials are considering lengthening the school day or school year to make up for the lost instructional time.

Attendance Back Up

Superintendent Sid Thompson said last week that attendance in the San Fernando Valley schools, which averaged only 60 percent to 65 percent immediately after the quake, had returned to about 90 percent, the districtwide average.

In the meantime, workers have begun making repairs to damaged schools, which suffered a variety of problems ranging from buckled tile and warped walkway arcades to water damage and cracked walls. Bungalows have been set up to provide space for students whose classrooms are being repaired.

The U.S. House of Representatives last week passed a $9.8 billion emergency-spending bill that would provide $1.1 billion for education-related earthquake relief, including $845 million in Federal Emergency Management Agency funds to repair and rebuild Los Angeles schools. (See News in Brief, page 22.)

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