LA Catholic elementary schools add 20 days to school year

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Patricia Nazario/KPCC

Cardinal Roger Mahony announces that the L.A. Archdiocese's elementary schools will add 20 days to their academic year starting fall 2011. It's the first school system in California, public or private, to expand beyond the traditional 180-day school calendar.

The Archdiocese of Los Angeles is adding 20 days to the academic year of its elementary schools. That’ll mean a 200-day calendar for first through eighth graders starting next year.

The typical school calendar for L.A. Unified School District and public schools across the U.S. is 180 days, which is shorter than most other countries.

Cardinal Roger Mahony says the nation’s largest archdiocese is not competing with LAUSD. He says the goal is to make children strong competitors in the global job market, "and if that requires another 20 days than we’re gonna do it. So, we’ve really been focusing upon the quality of our schools – what can we do better down the road to help our children, and we think this does it.”

Mahony says the L.A. Archdiocese anticipates about a 10 percent increase in costs, but that could be offset by tuition hikes at some campuses.

Several schools, including Nativity Elementary in South L.A., implemented a 200-day academic calendar nearly 10 years ago. This move expands the program across all Catholic elementary schools in L.A., Ventura and Santa Barbara counties.

The Archdiocese of L.A. has no plans at this time to lengthen the school year at Catholic high schools.

More from the Associated Press:

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles is adding 20 days to the academic year at its 210 elementary schools.

Cardinal Roger Mahony told a press conference Thursday that the three-county archdiocese is moving to a 200-day school year because of a clear relationship between substantive time in an academic setting and increased student performance.

The archdiocese says its school system is the first in California - public or private - to add 20 days. The federal mandate is 180 days.

Kevin Baxter, superintendent of the elementary schools, says the goal is to have as many campuses as possible adopt the new calendar for the 2011-2012 school year. He notes the move will result in slightly higher teacher salaries and tuition costs.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.

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