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Three L.A. board members will push for school to start after Labor Day

Students head to Los Angeles High on the first day of school. There's disagreement over when the school year should start.
(Mark Boster/L.A. Times)

Three Los Angeles school board members will begin a push next week to start the following school year after Labor Day.

The traditional academic year began Tuesday, a full three weeks before Labor Day, which falls on the first Monday in September.

The resolution, to be introduced at next Tuesday’s meeting, is sponsored by George McKenna, Scott Schmerelson and Richard Vladovic.

If a fourth vote can be found on the seven-member board, next year’s start date could be approved by October.

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The resolution cites complaints from parents — and problems due to hot weather. The early calendar eliminates cooler classroom weeks in June, replacing them with the summer heat of August. That leads, the resolution says, to greater energy costs, more wear and tear on AC units and the frequent need to keep students inside for physical education and sports.

There is, of course, another side to the story. Supporters of the early start insist it’s a big plus for secondary students, who get their fall semester exams over with before they go on winter break.

Officials also have said that the early start allows more time for academic intervention between the fall and spring semesters.

The school calendar is a big deal for families and has long been a controversial topic. Several decades ago, the L.A. Unified School District overcame opposition to a year-round calendar, asserting that students would learn more without an extended summer break.

But the real motivating factor at the time was overcrowding. Schools that operated all year could accommodate about one-third more students. In that era, it was common for students to attend school on a staggered basis — four months on, two months off.

That approach resulted in 17 fewer days, instructional time that was recovered by making each remaining school day longer.

Eventually, declining enrollment and the nation’s largest school construction and modernization program allowed schools to return to a more traditional calendar.

Then, joining a growing trend, the school system gravitated toward the early start.

Some parents in the Torrance Unified School District are fighting to get the early start. As of Wednesday afternoon, according to organizers, 808 people had signed a petition asking that district to make the school year begin before Labor Day.

howard.blume@latimes.com

Twitter: @howardblume

Times staff writer Joy Resmovits contributed to this report.


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