LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Classes next year will begin one week later in the Los Angeles Unified School District then begin another week later the next year under a plan approved Tuesday by the district Board of Education.
Board member Richard Vladovic, George McKenna and Scott Schmerelson initially introduced a resolution asking that the district begin future school years after Labor Day. Superintendent Michelle King, however, suggested starting classes next year on Aug. 22, one week later than this year’s Aug. 16 start date.
She said in subsequent years, classes could begin the week before Labor Day, with the 2018-19 school year beginning Aug. 28.
King said the compromise schedule allows the district to finish the fall semester before winter break, which will be reduced from three weeks to two weeks.
She said the compromise will also require students to attend classes on two days during the week of Thanksgiving instead of having the week off.
The board approved the compromise on a 5-2 vote, with Monica Garcia and Monica Ratliff dissenting.
Garcia opposed the idea because the district’s move to an earlier start date was designed to improve scores on midterm exams and Advanced Placement tests, ultimately boosting graduation rates. She said the move has worked, and the district shouldn’t change it.
“I feel that we have made improved effort in this district because we have been focused on achieving academic gains,” she said.
McKenna countered, however, that he does not believe changing the calendar will have a negative impact on students’ education.
“I think the quality of instruction does not change based upon the calendar,” he said.
Vladovic said other big-city school districts, such as Chicago and New York, both start school in September, after Labor Day. He also noted that Torrance began its school year Sept. 8, and it has a 96 percent graduation rate.
Board members who introduced the resolution said the district had received complaints about hot weather at the beginning of the school year forcing students to remain indoors and about the cost of running air conditioners to keep classrooms cool.
The resolution also states that the district received complaints from families “unable to travel due to affordability and time-off periods running concurrent with the August start period, or parents opting to travel when they can afford and/or have leave time from work, thus causing children to miss critical start-of-year classroom time.”
The 2016-17 school year is scheduled to end June 9.
Based on the school board’s direction, King will draw up the final calendar for the coming school year and bring it back to the board for approval.
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