Los Angeles school district officials this week adopted management plans for two Northeast-area schools that were drawn up by committees of teachers, parents, students and others under the district’s shared-management program.
Irving Junior High School in Glassell Park and Arroyo Seco Alternative Magnet School in Highland Park were among 13 schools whose proposals were approved by the district board Monday.
School-based management was adopted last year during contract negotiations between the district and the teachers union, United Teachers-Los Angeles. Under it, all schools were empowered to elect administrators, teachers, parents, students and residents to management committees with the authority to make decisions about school operations.
Those committees were authorized to draw up management plans, which must be approved by the district and the union before a campus is fully engaged in the shared-management program. Committees, however, were able to make some changes before the plans were approved--provided the adjustments did not clash with district or state policies.
Irving’s proposal included several changes already carried out at the school. In September, students were separated on campus by grade levels to create smaller, more personalized environments, said Al Powell, a teacher and UTLA representative.
All grade levels lunch together, but ninth-graders attend class in the school’s bungalows, eighth-graders study in a new campus building and seventh-graders use classrooms in the main building, Powell said.
Also, the schedule has been shortened and classes such as cartooning, sign language and archery were added at the end of the day. The subjects are intended to stimulate student interest and enhance relationships between students and teachers.
At Arroyo Seco, which serves students in kindergarten through ninth grade, some decisions were made jointly before the district adopted the shared-management program. For example, a committee of parents, teachers and students has been interviewing administrators and teachers for hire, and a similar council advises the principal about curriculum and budgets, teacher Brian Metzger said.
School officials submitted a shared-management proposal to codify and enhance their policies, Metzger said.
Under Arroyo Seco’s proposal, school officials will conduct a “needs assessment” by surveying parents and other neighborhood residents about their concerns. Teams of parents and teachers will be established to research progressive curriculum programs and teaching techniques, and help implement them, Metzger said.
Like Irving, Arroyo Seco already has changed its schedule to allow students to take special-interest classes during a final period four days a week. On the fifth day, students are released 40 minutes early to give teachers a common planning period, he said.
“For us, it’s not so much a radical departure from what we’ve been doing,” he said. “It’s a chance to redefine and re-energize our program.”
Franklin High School in Highland Park also submitted a proposal, but was asked by district staff to clarify several requests and resubmit them in January, said teacher Linda Tubach, the school’s UTLA representative.
Franklin officials want to link attendance to grades by withholding credit when students miss too many classes and do not make up the work. They plan to expand an interdisciplinary program in which teachers collaborate on subjects, such as American literature and American history.
They will also propose alternative school-day schedules, such as one that allows teachers to teach longer classes with fewer students, Tubach said. Teachers have not yet agreed on a specific schedule, she said.
The board’s decision brings to 40 the number of schools fully engaged in the program. The first 27, approved earlier this year, include Marshall High School between Los Feliz and Silver Lake and Allesandro Elementary in Elysian Valley, said Andy Cazares, the district’s director of school-based management.