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Petition calls for board to restore school days

Parent-sponsored drive wants four missing school days restored.

June 29, 2011|By Andrew Shortall, andrew.shortall@latimes.com

A group of La Cañada Unified parents spent Sunday evening in Memorial Park asking Music in the Park concert attendees to sign a petition asking the school board to rescind its decision to eliminate four days of school next year.

The move to increase the district teacher’s pupil-free days from three to seven for 2011-12 came out of the district’s contract negotiations with the La Cañada Teachers Association in February. A handful of minutes were added on to each school day to account for the missed days.

A group of parents attended LCUSD’s Governing Board meeting on June 21 and asked the board to reverse that decision. It was these parents who collected more than 80 signatures for the petition in about 90 minutes on Sunday.

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“It was very easy getting those 80 signatures,” said Daniel Lidar, one of the district parents who was involved Sunday. “There was simply no one that straight-out refused to put their name down.”

The group also received more than 20 signatures on an online petition (http://tinyurl.com/3jfgcxw). Ron Dietel, a former La Cañada school board member and the assistant director for research, use and communications at the UCLA Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards and Student Testing, also started a blog with information on the topic (http://lcusd.wordpress.com/).

Todd Andrews, a parent of two children in the district, said he didn’t have a problem signing the petition.

“There is no way those four minutes added every day can equal four days of instruction,” Andrews said. “That’s fooling ourselves.”

Andrews said eliminating four days of school in the 2011-12 academic year is a step back for the district.

“We have tried too hard to not cut anything back and to not go to furlough days,” he said. “We’ve prided ourselves on that as a district, but this just feels like furlough days.”

Lidar said “the overwhelming sentiment in the park was” that the move will have a “huge negative impact on the quality of education,” and will drain family resources by requiring parents to provide daycare for their kids on those four days.

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