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LAUSD Starting Earlier For 2012-2013 School Year

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Summer will end three weeks early for Los Angeles Unified School District students next year, as the Board of Education failed to approve an attempt to delay implementation of the early start calendar Tuesday morning.

One day after various news sources reported that LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy called for an indefinite hold on to the new academic calendar due to financial concerns, the board failed to meet the four votes needed to delay implementation of the early start calendar.

The change being implemented for the 2012-2013 school year will cause LAUSD schools on a traditional, two-semester calendar to begin school in August. Starting on Aug. 14 and ending on June 4, supporters of the change believe that starting school early will mean less loss of knowledge during the summer, help align high school with college calendars and create better testing schedules.

"LAUSD must embrace instructionally sound calendars that maximize environments for learning," said Monica Garcia, the schools board's president.

In December, the school board voted 6-to-1 to implement the calendar based on the success of a pilot program involving 18 LAUSD schools but has been taken on and off the table numerous times due to financial worries.

The early-start calendar could cost $4 million to implement due to employee salaries for the Labor Day holiday and the cost of staffing rescheduled special-education programs.

Some parents have opposed the plan because the new schedule would conflict with vacation time. However, many are encouraging students to embrace the change by reminding them that by ending school before winter break, students don't have homework assignments during vacation.

"The reason so many of us have been advocating for an early-in, early-out calendar is because it makes sense academically," said board member Tamar Galatzan.

Eighteen high schools are already on the new schedule, most of them in the San Fernando Valley.

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Aja Dang is a graduate student at the University of Southern California's Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism, which has partnered with KCET-TV to produce this blog about policy in Los Angeles.

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