from City News Service
September 2, 2008 - LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Wednesday is the first day of classes at Los Angeles public schools on a traditional calendar, starting a year where the Los Angeles Unified School District will open five schools and the mayor's Partnership for Los Angeles Schools will start operations.
The nation's second-largest district expects 472,981 students on the traditional calendar to begin school on Wednesday, while another 40,298 children on Track A will also start classes that day.
The schools opening are the Edward R. Roybal Learning Center in downtown Los Angeles; Roy Romer Middle School in North Hollywood; Dr. James E. Jones Primary Center in South Los Angeles; Helen Bernstein High School in Hollywood; and Richard E. Byrd Middle School in Sun Valley.
The Roybal Learning Center is the renamed Belmont Learning Center, the nation's most expensive high school construction project at more than $400 million.
An effort to build a new to reduce overcrowding at Belmont High School began in 1988, but became derailed over allegations that the school was situated over old oil wells seeping toxic gases.
The project was further delayed when an earthquake fault was found on the property, causing the demolition of buildings on the fault.
Villaraigosa's Partnership for Los Angeles Schools is an offshoot of his failed attempt to put the district under control of the mayor's office. The partnership is a five-year collaboration between the city and school district, decrease the dropout rate and increase test scores.
The schools participating in the partnership are Roosevelt High School and the Santee Education Complex and the schools feeding in to them -- Hollenbeck, Stevenson, Gompers and Markham middle schools, and Ritter, 99th Street, Figueroa and Sunrise elementary schools.
Villaraigosa is scheduled to speak with parents and teachers about the partnership's first-year goals at a back-to-school forum on Tuesday at Markham Middle School.
In his back-to-school address, Superintendent David Brewer told more than 1,000 principals they must get off the ``boat of complacency'' if they want to improve student achievement.
Brewer said educators have to think of creative ways to improve test scores and skills of black and Latino students, who scored lower on the 2008 Standardized Testing and Reporting Program than white and Asian students.
``If we don't solve this problem we're going to die as a nation,'' Brewer said.
This school year, LAUSD will begin issuing report cards for schools, which will provide parents with information on college preparatory classes, the quality of instruction, attendance, safety and parental satisfaction.
The report cards will be mailed to parents in January.
``We have to hold ourselves accountable,'' Brewer said.