Tuesday, August 11, 2015



Monday, 8/10/15, 1:26 PM PDT :: Los Angeles Unified schools begin on Tuesday, Aug. 18 — one week later than last year’s start date.

Students will still be able to finish their first semester, which includes a week break over Thanksgiving, before starting winter break that lasts for three weeks. However, there’s only 79 days during the first semester, while 101 days of instruction are in the second semester.

When the school board voted in March to let students stay on summer break for an extra week, a majority of members indicated that they want to think about returning the start of school to September in 2016.

“I would like to see us for next year going back to after Labor Day,” board member Bennett Kayser said at the time.

The last time school started in September was 2011.

Pushing back the start date to September would avoid the August heat, which cancels physical education classes and costs LAUSD money to run air conditioners.

The district’s electricity bill increased by $1.4 million because of the early start in 2012 and $771,782 in 2013, according to district documents.

All of LAUSD’s 30,000 classrooms are equipped with air conditioning, but the school district has a backlog of 1,400 open service calls for air-conditioning repair, Roger Finstad, LAUSD’s director of maintenance and operations, said Monday. Some of those repairs include other areas in schools such as libraries, hallways and offices.

“In the overall scheme of things, that is not a gigantic number compared to the inventory of equipment we maintain,” Finstad said.

From now until the start of school, the district’s 175 air-conditioning technicians will work to clear that backlog.

“The vast majority of rooms will have air conditioning and will be working fine,” Finstad said.

If a classroom’s air conditioning isn’t working when school starts, the district will dispatch technicians from one of its seven field offices, bring in portable air conditioning units or relocate students to another room until the unit is fixed.

A high of 87 is forecasted for the San Fernando Valley on the first day of school, according to AccuWeather.com.

Meanwhile, school officials have said LAUSD’s problem-plagued computer system, MiSiS, will work well enough to avoid another crisis when students head back to class.

While the $133.6-million computer program still isn’t fully functional — failing to perform promised features, such as providing parents with instant access to grades — officials said that placing students in the proper classes won’t be a problem this year.

“Unlike last year we’re at an advantage in that we’ve had an actual school year to monitor and give the system a trial by fire if you will,” LAUSD spokesman Samuel Gilstrap said.

Meanwhile, Superintendent Ramon C. Cortines, who has indicated he plans to step down in January, will hold his annual address Tuesday morning at Garfield High School in East Los Angeles.

Cortines will address members of the school board and about 1,500 principals, assistant principals and district administrators.

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