The 2006-07 year for the Los Angeles schools is still burdened with many of the same overcrowding problems and busing issues of the past; however, improvements are being made and the future is looking brighter.
The $19.2 billion construction program has provided 12 new LA campuses with 9,300 students attending and will surely alleviate some of the current overcrowding. The program, however, will not be completed until 2012. At that time, there will be enough new campuses to return all schools to the traditional, two-semester calendar year; and students will be able to attend locations within their own neighborhood, rather than being bused where there is available space.
Currently, 184 schools are on year-round calendars. That means that an estimated 176,000 LA students will begin school on July 5, while the other children that attend the traditional schools are preparing for family vacations. They do not begin until September.
Year-round Los Angeles schools operate on three or four staggered tracks in order to accommodate all the students enrolled. Students on B, C and D tracks begin on July 5 of each year, while students on A track begin August 18.
The majority of Los Angeles schools are traditional, two-semester systems that have a September to June calendar. This includes more than 390,000 kindergarten-through-twelfth graders that enjoy a normal calendar year. With 712,000 students projected to enroll in LA schools this school year, the year-round schools are currently a fact of life.
To ensure students meet the July 5 start date, attendance counselors are assigned to the year-round Los Angeles schools during the first days. Children who are no-shows on the first day of school will find these counselors telephoning or visiting their parents to find out why. Attendance, on-time arrival, and being prepared to learn are essential with the overcrowding issue in the LA schools.
The 2006-07 year will continue to include rigorous academics, which previously have resulted in improved student test scores in the Los Angeles schools. There are initiatives in place to further strengthen coursework in order to reduce the dropout rate, as well.
Class size for the eighth and ninth grade Algebra and Algebra Readiness classes will be reduced this year to allow for more individual instruction. Algebra skills are essential for graduation, as well as to meet college enrollment requirements. It has become a key subject for students to master, and the Los Angeles schools are giving them every opportunity to do so.
Additionally, low performing high schools will receive $36 million to transform their academics, facilities and operations in order to ensure LA schools students gain the necessary skills and graduate.
The LA schools are making great strides in student achievement and ensuring each student is given equal opportunity to succeed. Hopefully by 2012, the Los Angeles schools also will offer all students the traditional school year in their own neighborhoods, as well.