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L.A. schools leader considers shortened school year to balance budget

Los Angeles schools Supt. Ramon C. Cortines has asked his chief financial officer to study the possibility of shortening the school year to offset part of an expected shortfall of at least $500 million, The Times has learned. 

The strategy, if adopted for the 2010-11 school year, would run counter both to the direction of national reform efforts and to the wishes of Cortines, who agrees with research touting the benefits of an extended academic calendar.

"You know I fought fiercely for a longer school year and a longer school day," Cortines said.

At this week's school board meeting, Cortines said he had no alternative  but to consider all options. He added that some strategies had to remain off the table. He’s unwilling, for example, to make class sizes larger in middle and high schools. Classes are too large already, he said. Nor would employee furlough days be sufficient to make up the dollar shortfall. Cortines also stipulated that he would not shorten the school year for overcrowded, year-round schools, which operate on overlapping schedules that reduce each student's school year by 17 days.

Furlough days and shortening the school year would have to be negotiated with employee unions, said district spokeswoman Lydia Ramos. Cortines will review the internal analysis from Chief Financial Officer Megan Reilly when he returns from a weeklong trip to China, which began today, Ramos said.

-- Howard Blume

Comments () | Archives (39)

i agree with the idea that shortening the school year could help because of the economical recession. This would definitely help benefit the economy for the reason that it would save money. On the other hand it will never pass becuase Cortines fought for such a longer school year. He has so much pull and authority that this will never be allowed to happen. I agree with the idea of shortnening the school year, but it will not happen anytime soon

I guess if you WANT to fall even FURTHER behind in terms of education, go for it! That means more, and higher-paying, jobs for the rest of us. Good luck, California... You'll need it.

this is crazy - america's school system is already getting worse and worse. people need to look at youth today and see if putting them on longer summer breaks is going to help.

NO - it is a fact that students who attend school on a year round basis with time off in between retain much more than those with long summer breaks.

look at america academically compared to say....students in India. but hey - lets save some money and add higher tuitions...because educating our future isnt as important

In other words... people of color in poverty have already taken so many cuts that now it's time to start cutting from middle class america

these talks of cuts and middle america's anger is funny on a level... these are things people of color have been complaining for DECADES yet it is now only a problem because it started affecting WHITE middle class america...

We're finally getting off the year round system, adding back 17 days, and now Cortines wants to cut those days? And he says he doesn't want employee furlough days, but what are those besides furlough days?

There's far more to be gained by keeping the school year at its 180 days than by keeping class sizes small.

Why not use pay cuts to balance the budget ? That way we wouldn't have to shorten the school year.

LAUSD should declare bankruptcies, scrap all contracts and start over. There should be no reason why teacher/staff/administration benefits should further short change our students.

just what we need... less education for our already underachieving youth

School days and the school year should both be shorter...MUCH shorter than they are. The absurd notion that kids in school 24/7/365 (as it seems most people want) will produce more learning is nonsense! If you know anything at all about children and learning and education you'll know that more hours dedicated to pushing more facts at kids has NOTHING TO DO with real education; it only has to do with trying to increase scores and percentages and numbers..which tell us nothing of any importance about a child. It will only backfire. If the way schools have been run has worked less and less well over time (and it surely has), what makes people think that MORE of what doesn't work will somehow work better?

By the way, what does it matter what Indian children are scoring (as one reader mentioned here)? Even if it meant something (And it does not... which any reasonable amount of research will tell you), if someone in India were somehow to discover the cure for cancer first, do we really care if we can't say "We're number one!!"?

The teacher's unions are a pathetic lot, completely out of step with reality. They care only for their members, and little for the under-served students they are entrusted to teach. Mr. Cortines, do not shorten the school year; my 5th grader has 2-3 hours of homework 5 nights a week. We are increasingly having to do the work of the LAUSD teachers. While my children already get a sub-par education (part of which we are having to provide ourselves at home), the number of "early dismissals", "short days" and dopey holidays continue to mount.

Last school year my first grader watched movies for the last week of school while her teacher listened to his iPod and cleaned out the classroom to prepare for his months-long summer vacation. My child actually regressed in her reading skills while in first grade.

Out of necessity we have become a savvy "charter" school researchers; looking in desperation for an alternative to the detached, uninspired teachers and mind-numbing curricula in our neighborhood "high performing" elementary school. Thankfully we managed to place one of our children in a charter school (20 minute drive) and she is thriving beyond our wildest expectations. Our other child is on 3 different waiting lists - we can only keep our fingers crossed.

As homeowners we are taxed handsomely - you'd think we could get a basic, decent education in return. We are middle class Americans struggling to pay our bills and can ill afford private school for our two daughters. The whole business is disgraceful.

What is going on!!! Is this for all the administrators in the middle schools and high schools so they won't have to deal with the "troubled" kids in their schools. This is why we need to have these kids in school. We would have less problems with the "troubled" kids, if they were taught to study, taught manners, taught to read, write and do their arithmetic. Teach them to be good community members. If they are not taught, they do not know what to do but keep the police in business!!!!

Shorter school year does not help the students nor the working parents. It’s an emotional and financial strain to families. The cost of summer camps and daycare is outrageous.

As of now, I volunteer during my lunch break to help my child's school and I discovered there are a lot of kids that need help.

Why can't these people in power step up and do their job? Instead of cutting what is essential, find solutions.

I believe we need new people who can think outside of the box and come up with creative ways to maintain the budget or earn money for the schools.

Uh......The recession is over!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Of course, the only solution ANY of these morons can EVER come up with is to short-change the students. Balance the budget by eliminating all these so-called administrators altogether. THEY are a DRAIN on the educational system as a whole, and many of them are HIGHLY overpaid. Dump them, and hire more teachers to pay more attention and truly educate our kids. Or else WHO are you gonna have looking out for you in your future twilight years. You want a bunch of uneducated idiots taking care of you when you're old?

Unbelievable! You can reduce the students being taught by NOT teaching children of illegal aliens. Also, keep the children in longer during the day. Or better yet, let private industry take over the schools, because the board and the unionized teachers are doing one crappy job of educating the students. It is embarassing!! Fire them all and let another company run our schools.

Hey Cortines,


And this is going to make things better in the students' lives, shortchanging them of educational days?

The LAUSD needs to be dismantled and replaced with private school vouchers for all students, not just the economically deprived. Why not give more parents and forward-thinking teachers the opportunity to create something new?

I would order the mandatory retirement of every tenured windbag and replace them with non-union teachers and former union teachers who are willing to stand on their own two feet, without hiding behind the protection of a union.

Cut administrators in the schools period! I interned at a school with 5 administrators (they are called "displaced"). All parents should find out how many administrators are at each school site and go from there. Cut administrators! Imagine school counselors have workloads of 400+ students and in privates schools it is only 40 students to one counselor, if that. We are in some desperate times and students suffer the most when we are all suppose to be advocates for students, remember?

parents stop expecting all your child's education to come from school!! A good percentage of my education (especially reading and writing skills) came from my parents making sure i was learning at home as well as in the classroom. And this does not mean you have to be an overtly strict parent, you can help your child expand their knowledge through fun activities together. Also by teaching you child at home you are ultimately sending that knowledge in the classroom and helping to better its environment for all the kids!

Parents today are relying too much on teachers to teach our kids!! My friend is a 5th grade teacher...she has even been asked by a parent to show her kid how to use a tampon. come on parents, it's your child take some responsibility and stop expecting that just because you pay taxes you can be hands off!

More hours in class does not warrant a better education! Lets put in less hours and create smaller classes so the time is school is quality time, not wharehouseing time. The amount of real learning in the school can be accomplished in about half the time that the kids are in the classroom now. But the unions will not even look at this because it may cut down a few hours of teachers getting paid, (in actuallity it could increase the time if it is done right.) Concentrate on better learning not jus the numbers.

This is one of the dumbest ideas I have heard in a long time. Take a look at the test scores and you will see that LAUSD has serious problems, and only one of them is monetary. What impact will this plan have on the students?

Wow, what a novel idea. Why don't we make the school year be from September to July.. Like the ancients used to do before the school system was flush with cash to spend on teachers' salaries and cushy benefits.

The more things change..the more they stay the same.

i dont understand why we want our children to learn less....whats the logic in this...we should be pushing them to learn more.to obtain the knowledge it takes to be a productive and creative thinker....and later have graduate school options...can there be a reason why we dont want a majority to be educated...i dont understand how some folks can be making six figure incomes and the work doesnt show for it...along the way something went terribly astray from what this nation is capable of..GREED....GREED....GREED.

First, This is a great idea! Giving the kids more time to learn outside of the standard low level of LAUSD will only help the kids in success for their future. Some may argue that kids will get into trouble with the extra time. Well, guess what? Those kids will get into trouble anyway regardless of hours spent in school because their parents are not taking the responsibilty to teach them. I'm guessing those are the same parents that think longer school days are a good idea because they just use school as a day care. Less time in school will give families an opportunity to spend more quality time together and also give the kids more time for outside of school activities like baseball, football, scouting, soccer, you know all of the things that will help keep them fit. Longer hours in school will increase the already "GROWING" population of fat kids. Kids get very little exercise in school and teachers only do the minimum required for PE. Most teachers are also only doing the minimum required for teaching and have to lower the standards so all of the kids can keep up. Yes, it is npot only the district and the teachers that are the problem. Parents need to step up and realize that their kids need to contine learning outside of school.
Provide them with all of the necessary items to improve their education because the school is only training them to be robots so they can grow up and step into a mindless job that they hate making too little money to survive.
Thank you for reading!
I'm a proud parent of a LAUSD student who has gone above and beyond the schools minimal standards and became Valedictorian!

Cortines should of thought of furloughing before he started cutting our work force thats needed in the schools. The school year shouldn't be cut because of his mismanagement of money.

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