Saturday Classes to Begin for Some Students in L.A.

Times Staff Writer

Beginning this weekend, 9,000 Los Angeles middle and high school students who attend year-round campuses will be offered optional Saturday classes in English and math to compensate for days lost due to reduced schedules.

Forty-one "extended learning academies" will open Saturday for Los Angeles Unified School District students who attend overcrowded campuses and receive two weeks less instruction than other L.A. Unified students.

The academies resulted, indirectly, from a reform proposed by Supt. Roy Romer in January. He suggested moving as many students as possible from 163-day calendars to 180-day calendars. That meant packing more students onto campuses at any given time. As a result, nearly 32,000 students who attended schools that had extra space were given 17 more instructional days this year.

But nearly 9,000 others could not receive extra class time because their schools already were packed, district officials said.

Board President Jose Huizar sponsored an amendment to Romer's proposal, requiring the district to provide extra classes for those students because they attend "our most impacted and overcrowded year-round secondary schools" and also need extra academic help, he said.

To run the Saturday academies, the district chose Beyond the Bell, an academic intervention program that provides tutoring and counseling to students. The $12-million program is to be paid for through federal funds for schools that enroll many students from low-income families.

"We are helping students who need the help the most," Huizar said.

"These students will not only have Saturday instruction ... but they also will have a counselor there."

Romer said "many of these youngsters have gotten through the system without adequate math or reading skills.

This is focused on really individual needs, and helping students acquire skills to go back into the other five days."

Classes are set to be held for nine weeks between 8 a.m. and 11:40 a.m. Approximately 15 to 20 credentialed teachers per campus will deliver instruction based on the needs of each student. The curriculum will focus on the California High School Exit Exam requirements, as well as English and math.

So far, between 300 to 600 students per eligible campus are enrolled in the Saturday sessions, said John Liechty, a district associate superintendent.

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