The LA Unified school board decided to start school one week later for the 2015-16 academic year in a compromise that board member Tamar Galatzan – who voted in favor it — summed up as “the worst of both worlds.”
The 5-1 vote means students will begin classes on Aug. 18 next academic year.
The district first bucked tradition in 2012 when it moved the beginning of school from early September to early August, citing a potential benefit to high school students who would have more instructional time to prepare for tests and college admissions. It also prevented the district from having to split the first semester around the winter break.
LA Unified started the current school year on Aug. 12. The move to one week later was meant to address concerns that have been raised since the change, but based on comments from the board, it seems a safe bet it will debating the issue again come next year.
Critics of the early start date have pointed to the intense heat that students must endure in August, which is sometimes too hot for outdoor activities. The early date has also put extra pressure on some schools’ air conditioning systems, pushing up the district’s electrical bills and causing some systems to fail on hot days.
Several board members also said they had yet to see any reports or studies that proved that the early start date had been beneficial.
“One, I don’t know if it is academically beneficial, because I have seen no results,” said Board President Richard Vladovic, the lone dissenting vote, when outlining his reasons for opposition. “No. 2, to have our youngsters come during the heat, and they don’t get P.E. because it is too hot outside, the additional cost of the air conditioning and the loss of instructional time and the impact on special ed.”