78 More L.A. Schools May Switch to Year-Round

Times Staff Writer

The ripple effect from overcrowded inner-city schools spread further through the city Monday when the Los Angeles Board of Education unveiled a plan that could place as many as 68 additional elementary schools and 10 more junior high schools on a year-round calendar beginning July 1, 1987.

A final decision on how many schools need to change to a year-round schedule will be made in December.

Schools from San Pedro to Woodland Hills could be switched to year-round schedules to accommodate the district's fast-growing student population. Schools in all areas of the district would have portable classrooms added to their campuses. In addition, integration formulas may be altered at 41 schools to allow a higher percentage of minority students.

Another Facet

The district needs to find classroom space before the end of June for an additional 10,500 students who cannot be accommodated at their overcrowded neighborhood schools and have to be bused.

The board is also considering placing elementary schools on a year-round schedule different from that of junior and senior highs. Elementary schools would operate on a 60/20 calendar, in which students would attend school for 60 days and then have a 20-day vacation. Plans for junior and senior highs call for a quarter system, in which students would attend school for three quarters and have one quarter of vacation.

By dividing the students into four groups, so that at least one group of students is always on vacation, schools can increase their capacity 33%.

Could Total 171

Currently, there are 93 year-round schools, mostly in the Southeast and Central City areas of the district. Since 1982, the district enrollment has increased an average of 6,700 students yearly. This fall, enrollment surged by a record 13,000, raising the district's total enrollment for kindergarten through 12th grade to 590,000.

If all 78 schools proposed for year-round schedules make the switch, 171 of the district's 618 schools would be operating on 12-month schedule.

According to Sara Coughlin, an assistant superintendent, if no new schools are opened by 1990, then at least 200 elementary, 47 junior highs and 45 high schools would have to be placed on year-round schedules.

The district has plans to build at least 23 new schools, but the earliest any could open would be 1988.

Last February, the board voted to place additional schools on year-round schedules as a last-resort for coping with crowded conditions. At Monday's meeting, the report showing the magnitude of the change needed to cope with the overcrowding silenced the usually talkative board members.

"I'm just awestruck," said Alan Gershman, who represents the Westside.

The number of schools that will finally be added to the year-round schedule will be based on a series of trade-offs, the most controversial of which may be changing integration formulas.

Adding Portables

The more portable classrooms the board votes to place at schools, the fewer schools will have to go to year-round schedules. The disadvantage to adding more portables to a campus is that it cuts into playground and physical education space.

The district could face legal challenges to any plan to change integration ratios.

The board is expected to take a final vote on a year-round calendar on Nov. 17. A decision on which schools will go year-round is scheduled to be made on Dec. 1.

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