The Madeleine Brand Show

The Madeleine Brand Show is a daily, two-hour program that looks at news and culture through the lens of Southern California. Hosted by Madeleine Brand

LAUSD to start classes earlier next year

by Madeleine Brand | The Madeleine Brand Show

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Students attending Los Angeles public schools will start classes earlier next year. John Slater

The Los Angeles School Board recently announced that the school year will begin three weeks earlier, in mid-August. This modification to the schedule will take effect starting in 2012. LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy said one of the main reasons for the switch is improving district-wide test scores.

Although LAUSD is already the number one improved performing urban district, the earlier start date "provides greater access to the curriculum before testing," Deasy said.

Starting school in August also allows more time for students to focus on preparing college applications and frees up their winter break to spend more time with their families, Deasy said.

Changing the structure of the school year isn't the only adjustment the district is making. According to a column in the Los Angeles Times, the school district is firing 227 of its 430 elementary school library aides, and another 193 aides are getting their hours cut in half.

Deasy said that although these cuts are not ideal, as the budget shrinks the district is forced to make decisions on where to put the few "precious resources" they have and that the students learn the fundamentals of reading in the classroom.

"Students don't learn literacy skills (in the library)," Deasy said. "They learn that through trained teachers."

On the administrative level, Deasy said they've reduced the administration by half across the district and cut 52 percent of administrators at LAUSD headquarters.

Deasy and Hollywood philanthropist Megan Chernin have launched an effort to privately raise funds so that extracurricular programs like athletics and the arts can be reinstated in Los Angeles public schools. Deasy's initial goal for this fund is set at $200 million.

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