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Summer-school class hour measure tabled

Concerned parents bring consideration of the proposal to a halt — for now.

January 12, 2011|By Andrew Shortall, andrew.shortall@latimes.com
(Andrew Shortall/Valley…)

Faced with parents who are up in arms over a proposal that La Cañada High School's standard of 6,960 instructional minutes per summer-school class be applied to non-district summer schools, the school board Tuesday tabled a decision on the recommendation.

Of particular concern to some parents is the fact that if the district requires 6,960 instructional minutes per summer-school class taken off campus — the same number of minutes currently met at La Cañada High School — courses taken at Hillside School and Learning Center, which each amount to 3,480 instructional minutes, will not be accepted at LCHS.

Hillside, which sits next door to the public high school, offers core subjects and has long been relied on by many local families trying to meet their teens' learning and scheduling needs. Approximately 70% of Hillside's summer enrollment comprises La Cañada High students, according to Bob Frank, the school's executive director.

Frank said he believes his school's smaller class sizes and high-quality teachers make up for the fewer instructional minutes.

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"I'm more than happy to work with, coordinate and integrate programs with the high school, but I don't want to change our curriculum per se and I don't want to change our hours per se. I think we've got a formula that works for the kids in the community," Frank said, adding that Hillside students score as well, or better, than La Cañada High students on standardized testing.

Moreover, for the past 15 years, Hillside has been deemed an acceptable summer-school provider by La Cañada Unified, Frank said. The school is licensed by California's Department of Education, accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges and offers classes approved by the University of California and NCAA schools.

The recommendation by Supt. Jim Stratton to require the 6,960 instructional minutes per course came as a result of research of 11 similarly high-performing schools done by La Cañada High's administrative staff. Most schools were right around that number, Stratton said. Had the board adopted the standard Tuesday night, it would have gone into effect this summer.

Discussion of the matter lasted more than an hour, with several district parents voicing their disapproval with the recommendation. Governing Board President Susan Boyd banged her gavel several different times throughout the night to bring order to the room.

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