LOS ANGELES (CNS) — Classes will begin one week later in the Los Angeles Unified School District next year, then begin another week later the following year under a plan approved by the Board of Education on Tuesday, Sept. 20.
Three board members — 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 a compromise to begin 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 on Aug. 28.
King said the compromise schedule allows the district to still finish the fall semester before the 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 entire week off.
The board approved the compromise on a 5-2 vote, with Monica Garcia and Monica Ratliff dissenting.
“I have heard from my constituents and have reviewed the data, and I am supportive of the superintendent’s compromise to revise the instructional calendar to begin later in August while ending the semester before winter break,” said Board Member Ref Rodriguez.
“It is important that we ensure that our district provides our high school students with meaningful opportunities to recover courses during break periods in order to be prepared for college, career, and life.”
Board Member Scott Schmerelson said the vote “addresses the instructional needs of our high school students, the health and safety of our children, and the summer planning concerns of parents and families. This later starting school year, phased-in over the next two years, is a tribute to the ability of the majority of my colleagues to work collaboratively with each other and our superintendent to best serve our L.A. Unified community.”
Vladovic added he was pleased that the superintendent “has listened to the voices of our parents and our communities and has found a compromise that will start school after the worst of the August weather, and still end the semester before the winter break.”
“This plan will give us the best of all solutions: meet the needs of our parent’s busy schedules, maintain our ability to perform credit recovery over the winter break, and keep our schedule as much as possible away from the hottest portions of the year,” he said.
Garcia said she 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.
According to the board members who introduced the resolution, the district has received complaints about the hot weather at the beginning of the school year forcing students to remain indoors — limiting their physical activity — and about the cost of running air conditioners to keep classrooms cool.