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State flunks Chino Valley plan for summer make-up session

July 9, 2009 |  6:52 pm

State officials denied today a school district’s novel plan to make up for lost instructional time—and avoid a $5-million penalty—by providing a last-minute summer session.

By a 9-0 vote, the state Board of Education rejected an effort by Chino Valley Unified to offer a 34-day special session to students in grades 4, 5 and 6 at two schools. These campuses had scheduled 34 school days that were shorter than the state’s minimum allowed length. As a result, those days don’t count, even though the actual lost minutes add up to 1 or 2 full school days.

Chino Valley’s make-up strategy fell short because parents received last-minute notice, attendance was expected to be minimal and coursework (and attendance) was optional and not academically rigorous, said Theresa Garcia, the state board’s executive director.

At Rolling Ridge School, for example, only 52 of 278 affected students were expected to attend at all, and only for an average of 17 days. The summer session is costing the district about $200,000.

In addition to the fine, state law requires the district to lengthen the school year for affected students by 34 days for each of the next two years.

Local Assemblyman Curt Hagman (R-Chino Hills) is sponsoring legislation that would reduce the penalty. The bill could be voted on next week. And the district also can apply for relief to the state’s Education Audit Appeals Panel.

A district spokeswoman had no immediate response other than to say that district staff and board members were reviewing the state’s decision.

-- Howard Blume