Monday, July 08, 2013


By Barbara Jones.  - LA Daily News

Students and parents line up outside the Chatsworth high office Monday morning to try and register for summer school. Summer classes are offered only on a limited basis and kids are often left without the classes they need. (David Crane/Los Angeles Daily News)

Chatsworth High School administrative assistant Jamie Murray checks for openings in classes on Monday, July 8, 2013, as students try to register for summer school. (David Crane/Los Angeles Daily News)

7/8/2013 08:57:48 PM PDT  Updated:   7/8/2013 10:06:28 PM PDT  ::  "Sorry, we're not offering Spanish."

"Sorry, algebra is full."

"Sorry, your name's not on the list."

"Sorry ..."

"Sorry ..."

"Sorry ..."

And so it went early Monday at Chatsworth High School, where a couple hundred students had lined up by 8 a.m. in hopes of securing one of a handful of open seats in Los Angeles Unified's bare-bones summer school program. One by one, they filed past the main counter, where administrative assistant Jamie Murray delivered the bad news that the class the student really needed was already closed. | MORE PHOTOS: Trying to get summer-school classes at Chatsworth High

"I honestly don't know what I'm going to do," said Tim Badger, 16, who had hoped to enroll in either geometry or chemistry this summer. "I guess I'll have to make them up during the school year."

With a budget of $1 million, the district is offering 10 classes in core subjects -- algebra and geometry, chemistry and biology, English and history -- at just 16 of its 100-plus high schools. All 5,100 seats were reserved for students needing to make up a failed class, with priority given to ninth-graders who'd gotten an F in algebra and incoming seniors who had flunked a course that was required to graduate.

But most of the openings had been snapped up during the closing days of the school year by students who realized they were in danger of failing. So by the time school began Monday, the openings were close to nil and a student could get in only if an enrollee didn't show.

"We had students lining up here at 6:45 a.m., hoping to get in,"

Amanda Delwarte, a junior at Chatsworth High, hoped to get into an English class at summer school on Monday, July 8, 2013. (David Crane/Los Angeles Daily News) (David Crane)

Chatsworth High principal Tim Guy said. "These are the kids who really want to be here."

Wahida Woni of Van Nuys, a senior at the Bravo Medical Magnet, was one of the lucky ones. She needed to make up contemporary composition, an 11th-grade requirement that incorporates literature and essay writing -- and luckily for her, it was one of the courses at Chatsworth that had seats available.

"I didn't do well in it last year," said Woni, who earned good grades in her other courses and hopes to become a cardiovascular surgeon. "It feels good that, out of so many students, I was able to get a class."

There was some confusion at Chatsworth, as some kids thought that a letter from their counselor saying they needed to go to summer school was a guarantee of a seat. They were told to come back at noon, when administrators would have a better idea about which classes actually had openings,

Alvaro Cortes, executive director of the Beyond the Bell Branch, which operates the summer-school program, spent the morning at Monroe High in North Hills, where more than 80 no-shows created space for other students. He was still getting updated numbers for the other campuses around the district but hoped to be able to accommodate most of the kids who'd been wait-listed.

This is the second consecutive year the district has had to scrape by on $1 million for summer school. Before the recession, Beyond the Bell had a budget of $42 million for summer school, allowing it to offer electives as well as credit-recovery classes.

Cortes hopes that an expected increase in state revenue thanks to voter-approved Proposition 30 will allow the district to expand its offerings next summer. "With funding being stabilized, we'll push for more classes -- not just the classes that kids failed but those that can let them get ahead," he said. "We used to be able to do that. It would be nice to be able to do that again."

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