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Showdown looms over class credits

LCUSD ponders change in rules that would hurt Hillside summer program

September 01, 2012|By Peter Day
  • Hillside School and Learning Center in La Canada Flintridge.
Hillside School and Learning Center in La Canada Flintridge. (Tim Berger/Staff…)

Two years ago, La Cañada Unified School District's summer school program was on life support, a victim of shrinking state financing for public education. The La Cañada Flintridge Educational Foundation revived it, taking financial responsibility from the cash-strapped district and increasing enrollment.

Meanwhile, a block away from La Cañada High School, the private Hillside School and Learning Center offers a summer school program used by local families for years, with the classroom credits that students earn accepted by La Cañada Unified.

Today, continued acceptance of those credits is in doubt, as the La Cañada Unified school board is expected this month to revisit policy regarding credits earned outside the district. The decision could leave Hillside on the outside.

The debate is nearly two years old. In January 2011, then-La Cañada Unified Supt. Jim Stratton proposed a credit standard based on instructional minutes, or “seat time,” for students. While the foundation’s summer school requires students to spend four hours each day in class, Hillside's classes are generally two hours long and are supplemented by online components.

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But Stratton's proposal stalled, and in June of 2012 his successor, Supt. Wendy Sinnette, issued a report suggesting the district allow credits earned elsewhere if the learning institution meets the approval of the Western Assn. of Schools and Colleges, an accrediting agency that evaluates numerous college and school programs.

This month, the school board is expected to consider the policy.

Proponents of an instructional-minutes plan say LCUSD needs to keep its standards high to preserve its reputation as one of the best Two years ago, La Cañada Unified School District's summer school program was on life support, a victim of shrinking state financing for public education. The La Cañada Flintridge Educational Foundation revived it, taking financial responsibility from the cash-strapped district and increasing enrollment.

Meanwhile, a block away from La Cañada High School, the private Hillside School and Learning Center offers a summer school program used by local families for years, with the classroom credits that students earn accepted by La Cañada Unified.

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