LAUSD weighing big changes to summer and winter break schedule

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The Los Angeles Unified School District is weighing proposed changes to its school calendar -- one of which would dramatically lengthen winter vacation and cut the summer break in half. 

The district is choosing among a range of different ideas for calendar shifts, which include “different start dates of any potential calendar, whether the school district should have one single calendar for both elementary and secondary schools, also whether the first semester should be over before the winter break starts,” said Zsuzsanna Vincze, LAUSD’s director of school operations.

But the most radical idea would add more than a month to winter break, with students returning to school in early February. Summer break would be shortened to about five weeks, from late June to early August.

The process raises a long-standing question among public school educators: could schools improve from a change to their academic calendar?

Vincze said the benefit of lengthening winter break is that it would create additional supplemental instructional time during both breaks for students falling behind, “so they can gain some instruction, make up probably credits before they even go to the second semester to return.” Those remedial classes would last about 20 days.

About 25,000 parents have already responded to a phone survey on the idea, and the district is asking for online input from parents until December 6th.

Vincze said she does not know how many of the opinions received so far are for the idea or against it. 

Tyson Roberts, one of the parents who responded to the phone survey, said the shift might be good for students who need help, but not for his fourth and fifth grade daughters, who attend school in L.A.'s Miracle Mile neighborhood.

“I think it would mess up our summer plans in general," he said. "Our kids go to summer camp and we do a family trip every year, for a week, camping and so on.”

After the online survey closes on December 6, Vincze and her staff will prepare a report to give the seven-member school board. The board will consider how and whether to change the school calendar at a meeting in January.

Correction: An earlier version of this story misspelled Zsuzsanna Vincze's name.