18 Elementary Schools Targeted : Year-Round Class Plan to Get Hearing

Times Staff Writer

Year-round schedules beginning in June for 18 overcrowded elementary schools in San Diego will be recommended today to the Board of Education by city schools Supt. Tom Payzant.

The recommendation drops four schools from an earlier list adopted last spring for schools scheduled to convert to year-round calendars. Year-round scheduling is designed to expand capacity without building new schools.

The first of at least two public meetings on the year-round proposal, which is part of the district's long-range facilities master plan, will be held at 2 p.m. today at the district's administration building on Park Boulevard. Protests are expected from parents with children at some of the targeted schools.

Payzant has listed these schools for conversion to year-round in June, 1988:

Baker, Balboa, Bethune, Boone, Emerson, Encanto, Ericson, Euclid, Hamilton, Horton, Knox, Mason, Paradise Hills, Penn, Sherman, Valencia Park, Walker and Zamorano.

Payzant has taken four schools off the prior list. Audubon, Lee and Linda Vista have been removed because their projected enrollments for next year are less than previously anticipated, allowing for a year's delay in their conversion, he said. Central was removed because its multi-ethnic student population requires a complex and specialized curriculum of English-as-a-second-language courses that could not be easily converted to year-round, and because the school may be rebuilt as a result of Interstate 15 construction through the Mid-City area.

The year-round schedules anticipated for the 18 schools are known as multitrack, because they place all students on one of four nine-week attendance tracks. Three groups of students attend school at any one time while the fourth track enjoys a three-week vacation.

The move allows a campus to accommodate one-fourth more students without any more crowding of playgrounds, cafeterias and classrooms. District financial projections show that building 21 elementary schools by the year 2000, at a cost of more than $360 million, would be unrealistic.

Officials also believe that few, if any, parents would approve mandatory busing of their children outside their neighborhoods to schools in older areas that have been closed because of declining attendance.

With a change to multitrack, for example, a school with 1,000 students on campus at the same time under a traditional system will drop its daily enrollment to 750. Each group studies for nine weeks, followed by a three-week vacation. The only time that all groups are off together is during the Christmas break.

Two elementary schools are already on year-round multitrack: Jerabek in upscale Scripps Ranch, where the system started in June, and the heavily Latino Brooklyn Elementary near downtown, now in its second year. Both schools have reported widespread acceptance of the system by parents after initial fears that children of the same family would not be placed on the same tracks. (There are 18 other elementary schools out of the district's 107 that are on single track year-round. Those schools switched voluntarily to year-round as a result of neighborhood desires to test the benefits of a continuous education schedule, and not for reasons of overcrowding.)

But neither Jerabek nor Brooklyn is a magnet school, unlike several scheduled for year-round next June. Those schools are predominantly minority-student campuses with special enrichment programs to attract white pupils to voluntarily ride buses across town to attend. Parents at some schools, especially at Encanto, are worried that magnet programs would not be offered across all tracks, and that parents with one child in a special program and a second in another would be forced to have children on two or more tracks.

Payzant said last week that "the challenge (of working magnets in multitrack) will be great, yet we have no choice but to work through (any problems because) . . . most of the magnets are in schools which are the most overcrowded.

"I say that we will maintain the quality but we do have to overcome parental perceptions and some of the logistics. It's not going to be easy."

Another controversial part of the long-range plan to be discussed today involves the closing next year of Breen Elementary in Mira Mesa, which is a kindergarten-through-third grade facility. Breen has been a temporary primary school because of overcrowding at Erickson and Walker elementaries. But with those two schools targeted for multitrack year-round in June, the plan says that they can handle the Breen enrollment and that Breen will no longer be needed. Parents from Breen oppose the closure and have the support of board member Jim Roache, who represents the area.

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