Pass / Fail

So Cal education, LAUSD, the Cal States and the UCs

Early start to the school year starts with shopping and a heat wave

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Retail shelves are starting to look bare as parents grab last-minute school supplies for their soon-to-be students, many of whom are starting school three weeks sooner than the traditional September start date.

“It hasn’t changed,” laughed Gina Ginyard, "I’ve been doing it for sixteen years."

Her son (who is 16) starts his junior year of high school tomorrow. Standing in a store aisle, she holds two packs of loose-leaf paper, a couple of folders, some spiral-bound notebooks and a bundle of black ballpoint pens.

“The older they get, the less supplies cost,” she said. 

Other parents roaming the store aisles aren't so lucky. Pamela Briggs' shopping basket is filled to the brim with school supplies. She estimates they'll run her about $80 at the cash register. In her hand, she has a list of supplies her daughter will need —  at school and at home.

“I want to make sure that my child has everything she needs so we can be consistent,” Briggs said. 

Briggs has two children, one in a public school and one in a charter. The elementary student started charter school Monday, but her teenage son begins public school in September. 

“I actually wish that my son would start earlier," Briggs said. "I think they're not in school enough." 

This is the first year Los Angeles Unified School District - the largest in the region - begins the academic year for most campuses about three weeks earlier than the customary post-Labor Day launch. Students will start school in August but will end the school year on May 31, nearly a month sooner than usual.

The early start is also supposed to wrap up the first semester right before winter break begins, allowing kids a homework-free winter vacation. But starting early also means returning to school during some of the Southland’s hottest days. 

Christina Williamson has a son with asthma who started kindergarten at a charter school on Monday. She said it’s a bit scary knowing her son will be at school in the middle of a heatwave. 

"Him starting early right now is working for me because he is going to be able to build up his lungs to handle it as he gets older," she said. 

An LA Unified representative said all the district’s campuses do have air conditioning and have been checked to make sure they are functioning properly. 

A heat advisory is in effect for the San Fernando and San Gabriel Valleys and is expected to be lifted Friday warned LAUSD's blog - the post also offered guidance for physical activity and athletics based on the heat index. 

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