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They Won’t Serve Meat at This Brooklyn Elementary School

They Won’t Serve Meat at This Brooklyn Elementary School


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Lentil sloppy joes, anyone?

Dreamstime

The change puts the emphasis back on fruits and vegetables.

These kids actually want to eat their vegetables — and with the help of the school administration, now they can do so every day at school. On their school cafeteria menu, you’ll find only vegetarian options, following suit with the growing trend of plant-based eating.

P.S. P.S. 244 in Queens was the pioneer public school to limit meat options, steamrolling the way for future schools to hop on the vegetarian train. 1 is the third; all of the public schools to go vegetarian are located in New York City.

Students are excited about the change, and actually helped initiate it themselves.

“My students have expressed an interest in healthier eating, and the school gave them the option to choose this menu,” the school’s principal Arlene Ramos said. “I am very proud of their decision.”

Is plant-based eating really healthier for kids? Some say yes, some say no. What we do know is that plant-based eating encourages more balanced eating, taking the emphasis off of animal proteins and putting it onto plant-based proteins and vegetables. Regardless of whether it’s healthier to be plant-based, a vegetarian school lunch program will take the focus off of hot dogs and chicken nuggets — forcing schools to diversify their menu options.

In years past, vegetarian options at schools have been bleak, often limited to a cheese pizza or a peanut butter and jelly. These plant-based schools serve options such as lentil sloppy Joes, braised black beans with plantains, and teriyaki crunchy tofu. These gourmet-sounding school lunches still meet budgetary requirements and are shattering stereotypes that there’s no such thing as a tasty vegetarian meal.


Year-Round Schedule Puts School on Right Track

Jerabek Elementary School threw out tradition in a major way three weeks ago.

The crowded Scripps Ranch school switched to a year-round schedule from the traditional September-to-June routine. Equally traumatic, it placed all students on one of four nine-week attendance tracks, where three groups of students attend school at any one time while the fourth track enjoys a three-week vacation.

Positive Results Already Seen

The results already have been praised by parents, teachers and students: more playground space, more relaxed lunch breaks, and children easing much more quickly into the rhythm of a new academic year because they have been away from class only three weeks, not three months.

“I would have never believed it would end up as smoothly as it has,” Principal Josephine Wraith said last week, thankful that four months of almost non-stop meetings with parents, teachers, administrators and experts on year-round schools resulted in a successful transition to the complicated multitrack setting.

San Diego Unified School District officials also are breathing a sigh of relief over Jerabek’s transition. Jerabek is the first of 38 overcrowded elementary schools that the district anticipates switching to the multitrack system within the next eight years. Twenty-three of them are targeted for year-round tracks starting next July 1.

Jerabek’s success in solving within four months most of the problems associated with multitrack attendance augurs well for other schools, which will have an entire year to prepare their communities. And though the immediate intent of multitrack is to relieve overcrowded conditions with out building more schools, the move may also lead to San Diego parents and the Board of Education accepting year-round schools as a satisfactory system of education.

“I haven’t received a single call, and usually I’m the first person to hear if there are major complaints or concerns that haven’t been addressed,” said school board member Jim Roache, who represents the Scripps Ranch area.

The Board of Education voted initially in February to pursue multitrack year-round schools as the quickest and easiest way to solve the district’s growing problems of overcrowded schools, particularly at the elementary level--kindergarten through sixth grade. Jerabek was selected to become the first school to change.

(Schools in two small county elementary districts, Cajon Valley Union in El Cajon and South Bay Union in Imperial Beach, also went multitrack this month. Schools in the Encinitas Union District in North County have been on multitrack for almost 10 years.)

With a change to multitrack, for example, a school with 1,000 students on campus at the same time under the traditional attendance system will drop to 750. On any given week, three of the groups are in school and the fourth group is on vacation. Each group studies for nine weeks, followed by a three-week vacation. The only time that all groups are off together is during the Christmas break.

The move allows a campus to accommodate one-fourth more students without any more crowding of playgrounds, cafeterias and classrooms. District growth projections show that the only long-term alternative would be building 21 elementary schools by the year 2000, at a cost of more than $360 million, a plan characterized as unrealistic.

Option for Quality Education

“Multitrack is the way we have to go in order to keep offering quality education with a larger student population,” board member Dorothy Smith said. The board will review the situation of each school identified for multitrack at several points during the year of planning to make sure that no insurmountable problems crop up.

The district experimented with multitrack at about half a dozen elementary schools in the early and mid-1970s but dropped the system when enrollment leveled off.

There are now 18 elementary schools--out of 107--on single-track year-round, where all students attend for nine weeks and vacation for three weeks. Those schools switched voluntarily to year-round as a result of neighborhood desires to test the touted benefits of a continuous education schedule, and not for reasons of overcrowding.

The heavily Latino Brooklyn Elementary School in central San Diego successfully switched from single-track to multitrack year-round last year, and teachers there have nothing but praise for the schedule. The move was not seen at the time as a precursor to the large-scale plan adopted by the district, but rather as a specific response to an inner-city problem.

But parents and administrators districtwide took notice when Jerabek was selected as the first switch under the new-generation multitrack plan. The school ranks No. 1 among all 107 elementary schools in terms of economic well-being of its parents, and No. 4 in achievement test scores.

“The key to success has been early and constant communication with teachers, with parents, even students,” Principal Wraith said. Wraith tapped the experiences of teachers at Brooklyn as well as that of Charles Ballinger, an expert on year-round schools who is with the San Diego County Office of Education.

“In general, parents are most concerned about the year-round concept (as compared specifically to multitrack),” Ballinger said. “They want to know how year-round will affect vacation schedules of the family and how it will affect child care needs. Almost all resistance comes before the concept is initiated. Once the school is into year-round, parents do accept it very quickly.”

Wraith said many parents were worried whether students from the same car-pool areas, for example, could be placed on the same nine-week track. Parents with two or more students in the school also wanted to have their children on the same track.

“We were able to accommodate almost everyone,” Wraith said. The only problems have resulted from parents with one child in the gifted-and-talented program and another child in the regular curriculum. All students in gifted classes were placed in one track because of their limited numbers, leaving that track with only limited room for regular classes.

In a small number of cases, parents have had to choose to have children on two attendance tracks--with varying vacation times--or take one child out of the gifted classes.

Jerabek also had to address equity and integration issues that district officials expect to encounter at its numerous minority schools with special magnet (enrichment) programs to attract white pupils and at majority schools where minority students attend under voluntary busing provisions.

Unless parents can be persuaded that students on all tracks will continue to receive the same educational opportunities, they may pull their children back to neighborhood schools, a move that would reduce the number of integrated campuses, officials believe.

Jerabek, which is 80% white, has no magnet programs, but it does bus in about 100 Indochinese-Americans from Linda Vista. Those students were placed on two of the four attendance tracks to keep at least some ethnic diversity on campus at any one time no matter which track is on vacation.

“I would rather have those students on all tracks, but it just costs the district too much money for transportation,” Wraith said, adding that no parents of bused students dropped their children from the integration program as a result of the switch to multitrack.

Wraith worked out special schedules for counselors, computer and art specialists, and others so that they serve all four tracks equitably.

“It took one whole week to get that all ironed out, but it’s working fine,” she said.

“Other than the problems faced by some families that still need day care, things have gone very smoothly,” said parent Karen Saunders, head of the Jerabek Family-Faculty Organization. “And the children are very remarkable. They have adapted very well, probably handling it better than we adults, who are more used to seeing summer as play-until-dark time.

“In the long run, I think we’ll see multitrack as excellent. In the short run, it’s hard to adjust to the fact that you’ve got to do everything twice.”

Parent David Pushman was among many residents who wrote board members in February objecting to the change. He still is not enthusiastic about multitrack year-round but said he is willing to give it a try. “Being from back East, I guess we’re just traditionalists,” Pushman said.

Ballinger and Wraith said teachers worry more about aspects of the multitracks than about the year-round system per se.

“They wonder about the storage of classrooms if they have to move around from week to week, or how it will affect their own vacations,” Ballinger said. School maintenance and support, from food to paper supplies, must all be scheduled differently.

Wraith added: “But after we explained everything, I had only one teacher (out of 32) who opted not to come back this year under multitrack.” She added that, in essence, the staff must schedule “everything twice. We have two staff meetings, two assemblies for the children, all down the line.”

But she said that because of the school’s large size--almost 900 students--Jerabek has never been able to accommodate all of its students in a single activity or meeting. Under multitrack, assemblies are simply held two or three weeks apart, with two tracks attending at any single time.

Meetings, Attitudes Crucial

“The basis of our success is that we had a lot of meetings and kept everyone informed through a positive attitude,” said mentor teacher Carla Latimer, who also lives in Scripps Ranch. “I have had nothing but positive feedback from parents and teachers.

“I’ve found the biggest advantage is that the children have come right back into the school routine, and it’s a noticeable thing, that they have adjusted much faster to a new teacher and grade level without the delay that always happened (in the past) when they had three months off.”

Wraith said that “more and more, I am being convinced that year-round as a system is most beneficial to students, to study year-round with several mini-breaks rather than the one long summer vacation. I’m not totally convinced because I’m still going through a learning process, but I can see parents already liking the system.”

Principal Richard Alcorn of Brooklyn Elementary said teachers also do a better job under the year-round system.

“Look, teaching in public schools has become more and more difficult over the years as we’ve added additions to the curriculum such as drug and sex education, as we’ve had a decline in the support from the home environment, and as the multi-ethnicity has grown,” Alcorn said. “So frankly, it’s quite hard for teachers to start in September and run right through June, keeping the same attitude. Some teachers run down and stop ‘teaching’ in April, and as teachers go, so goes a class.

“I’ve been in five schools, from traditional to single-track to double sessions to multitrack, and I can tell you teachers do a better job when they have breaks after nine weeks. I find less sick leave, less absenteeism, and there’s the fact that they came back four times a year rejuvenated, with higher morale and more enthusiasm, which leads to a more positive school climate.”

Alcorn said Brooklyn, now into its second year of multitrack, has found a large drop in discipline problems among students and has heard from parents who say that their children are presenting fewer problems at home.

“I would have never believed the difference would be so great,” he said. “In particular, students with limited proficiency in English are making far greater academic progress because their English instruction is continuous rather than interrupted by a three-month break when they may have little chance to practice their new language.”

Burton Tiffany, retired superintendent of the Chula Vista City elementary district, calls year-round schools, whether single- or multitrack, “better educationally, better for teachers, better for kids, better for all use of resources.”

Tiffany began the first year-round schools in the state when he implemented the system in 1973 in Chula Vista.

Ballinger has received information from the Los Angeles Unified School District, where many of its schools citywide are multitrack year-round, that shows that students on year-round campuses have made greater gains on standardized achievement tests compared to Los Angeles students in traditional schools and compared to statewide averages.

But results of the Los Angeles study have not been duplicated either in statistical studies for the San Diego district or elsewhere, said Paul Goren, a planner with San Diego city schools.

“There are no clear statistics to say that year-round shows benefits or hurts students,” Goren said. “The evidence (for benefits) is anecdotal, but principals assess school environment, culture and ethos in their general feeling that it works.”

Board member Smith said, “I don’t want to try to answer the argument over which (system) is better as a concept. We did not do that in making our decision for multitrack.

“We are going multitrack because it is the best way to go educationally now, considering the circumstances of our overcrowding, if we can assure that students at all schools will still receive equal opportunity to all programs.

“But I haven’t been convinced that (given adequate facilities) year-round is better than traditional. We haven’t had a comparison of test scores. I just haven’t seen enough studies.

“But certainly, a good selling point is that children don’t suffer educationally under year-round. If we can use that to convince parents to support multitrack, that is fine.”


Year-Round Schedule Puts School on Right Track

Jerabek Elementary School threw out tradition in a major way three weeks ago.

The crowded Scripps Ranch school switched to a year-round schedule from the traditional September-to-June routine. Equally traumatic, it placed all students on one of four nine-week attendance tracks, where three groups of students attend school at any one time while the fourth track enjoys a three-week vacation.

Positive Results Already Seen

The results already have been praised by parents, teachers and students: more playground space, more relaxed lunch breaks, and children easing much more quickly into the rhythm of a new academic year because they have been away from class only three weeks, not three months.

“I would have never believed it would end up as smoothly as it has,” Principal Josephine Wraith said last week, thankful that four months of almost non-stop meetings with parents, teachers, administrators and experts on year-round schools resulted in a successful transition to the complicated multitrack setting.

San Diego Unified School District officials also are breathing a sigh of relief over Jerabek’s transition. Jerabek is the first of 38 overcrowded elementary schools that the district anticipates switching to the multitrack system within the next eight years. Twenty-three of them are targeted for year-round tracks starting next July 1.

Jerabek’s success in solving within four months most of the problems associated with multitrack attendance augurs well for other schools, which will have an entire year to prepare their communities. And though the immediate intent of multitrack is to relieve overcrowded conditions with out building more schools, the move may also lead to San Diego parents and the Board of Education accepting year-round schools as a satisfactory system of education.

“I haven’t received a single call, and usually I’m the first person to hear if there are major complaints or concerns that haven’t been addressed,” said school board member Jim Roache, who represents the Scripps Ranch area.

The Board of Education voted initially in February to pursue multitrack year-round schools as the quickest and easiest way to solve the district’s growing problems of overcrowded schools, particularly at the elementary level--kindergarten through sixth grade. Jerabek was selected to become the first school to change.

(Schools in two small county elementary districts, Cajon Valley Union in El Cajon and South Bay Union in Imperial Beach, also went multitrack this month. Schools in the Encinitas Union District in North County have been on multitrack for almost 10 years.)

With a change to multitrack, for example, a school with 1,000 students on campus at the same time under the traditional attendance system will drop to 750. On any given week, three of the groups are in school and the fourth group is on vacation. Each group studies for nine weeks, followed by a three-week vacation. The only time that all groups are off together is during the Christmas break.

The move allows a campus to accommodate one-fourth more students without any more crowding of playgrounds, cafeterias and classrooms. District growth projections show that the only long-term alternative would be building 21 elementary schools by the year 2000, at a cost of more than $360 million, a plan characterized as unrealistic.

Option for Quality Education

“Multitrack is the way we have to go in order to keep offering quality education with a larger student population,” board member Dorothy Smith said. The board will review the situation of each school identified for multitrack at several points during the year of planning to make sure that no insurmountable problems crop up.

The district experimented with multitrack at about half a dozen elementary schools in the early and mid-1970s but dropped the system when enrollment leveled off.

There are now 18 elementary schools--out of 107--on single-track year-round, where all students attend for nine weeks and vacation for three weeks. Those schools switched voluntarily to year-round as a result of neighborhood desires to test the touted benefits of a continuous education schedule, and not for reasons of overcrowding.

The heavily Latino Brooklyn Elementary School in central San Diego successfully switched from single-track to multitrack year-round last year, and teachers there have nothing but praise for the schedule. The move was not seen at the time as a precursor to the large-scale plan adopted by the district, but rather as a specific response to an inner-city problem.

But parents and administrators districtwide took notice when Jerabek was selected as the first switch under the new-generation multitrack plan. The school ranks No. 1 among all 107 elementary schools in terms of economic well-being of its parents, and No. 4 in achievement test scores.

“The key to success has been early and constant communication with teachers, with parents, even students,” Principal Wraith said. Wraith tapped the experiences of teachers at Brooklyn as well as that of Charles Ballinger, an expert on year-round schools who is with the San Diego County Office of Education.

“In general, parents are most concerned about the year-round concept (as compared specifically to multitrack),” Ballinger said. “They want to know how year-round will affect vacation schedules of the family and how it will affect child care needs. Almost all resistance comes before the concept is initiated. Once the school is into year-round, parents do accept it very quickly.”

Wraith said many parents were worried whether students from the same car-pool areas, for example, could be placed on the same nine-week track. Parents with two or more students in the school also wanted to have their children on the same track.

“We were able to accommodate almost everyone,” Wraith said. The only problems have resulted from parents with one child in the gifted-and-talented program and another child in the regular curriculum. All students in gifted classes were placed in one track because of their limited numbers, leaving that track with only limited room for regular classes.

In a small number of cases, parents have had to choose to have children on two attendance tracks--with varying vacation times--or take one child out of the gifted classes.

Jerabek also had to address equity and integration issues that district officials expect to encounter at its numerous minority schools with special magnet (enrichment) programs to attract white pupils and at majority schools where minority students attend under voluntary busing provisions.

Unless parents can be persuaded that students on all tracks will continue to receive the same educational opportunities, they may pull their children back to neighborhood schools, a move that would reduce the number of integrated campuses, officials believe.

Jerabek, which is 80% white, has no magnet programs, but it does bus in about 100 Indochinese-Americans from Linda Vista. Those students were placed on two of the four attendance tracks to keep at least some ethnic diversity on campus at any one time no matter which track is on vacation.

“I would rather have those students on all tracks, but it just costs the district too much money for transportation,” Wraith said, adding that no parents of bused students dropped their children from the integration program as a result of the switch to multitrack.

Wraith worked out special schedules for counselors, computer and art specialists, and others so that they serve all four tracks equitably.

“It took one whole week to get that all ironed out, but it’s working fine,” she said.

“Other than the problems faced by some families that still need day care, things have gone very smoothly,” said parent Karen Saunders, head of the Jerabek Family-Faculty Organization. “And the children are very remarkable. They have adapted very well, probably handling it better than we adults, who are more used to seeing summer as play-until-dark time.

“In the long run, I think we’ll see multitrack as excellent. In the short run, it’s hard to adjust to the fact that you’ve got to do everything twice.”

Parent David Pushman was among many residents who wrote board members in February objecting to the change. He still is not enthusiastic about multitrack year-round but said he is willing to give it a try. “Being from back East, I guess we’re just traditionalists,” Pushman said.

Ballinger and Wraith said teachers worry more about aspects of the multitracks than about the year-round system per se.

“They wonder about the storage of classrooms if they have to move around from week to week, or how it will affect their own vacations,” Ballinger said. School maintenance and support, from food to paper supplies, must all be scheduled differently.

Wraith added: “But after we explained everything, I had only one teacher (out of 32) who opted not to come back this year under multitrack.” She added that, in essence, the staff must schedule “everything twice. We have two staff meetings, two assemblies for the children, all down the line.”

But she said that because of the school’s large size--almost 900 students--Jerabek has never been able to accommodate all of its students in a single activity or meeting. Under multitrack, assemblies are simply held two or three weeks apart, with two tracks attending at any single time.

Meetings, Attitudes Crucial

“The basis of our success is that we had a lot of meetings and kept everyone informed through a positive attitude,” said mentor teacher Carla Latimer, who also lives in Scripps Ranch. “I have had nothing but positive feedback from parents and teachers.

“I’ve found the biggest advantage is that the children have come right back into the school routine, and it’s a noticeable thing, that they have adjusted much faster to a new teacher and grade level without the delay that always happened (in the past) when they had three months off.”

Wraith said that “more and more, I am being convinced that year-round as a system is most beneficial to students, to study year-round with several mini-breaks rather than the one long summer vacation. I’m not totally convinced because I’m still going through a learning process, but I can see parents already liking the system.”

Principal Richard Alcorn of Brooklyn Elementary said teachers also do a better job under the year-round system.

“Look, teaching in public schools has become more and more difficult over the years as we’ve added additions to the curriculum such as drug and sex education, as we’ve had a decline in the support from the home environment, and as the multi-ethnicity has grown,” Alcorn said. “So frankly, it’s quite hard for teachers to start in September and run right through June, keeping the same attitude. Some teachers run down and stop ‘teaching’ in April, and as teachers go, so goes a class.

“I’ve been in five schools, from traditional to single-track to double sessions to multitrack, and I can tell you teachers do a better job when they have breaks after nine weeks. I find less sick leave, less absenteeism, and there’s the fact that they came back four times a year rejuvenated, with higher morale and more enthusiasm, which leads to a more positive school climate.”

Alcorn said Brooklyn, now into its second year of multitrack, has found a large drop in discipline problems among students and has heard from parents who say that their children are presenting fewer problems at home.

“I would have never believed the difference would be so great,” he said. “In particular, students with limited proficiency in English are making far greater academic progress because their English instruction is continuous rather than interrupted by a three-month break when they may have little chance to practice their new language.”

Burton Tiffany, retired superintendent of the Chula Vista City elementary district, calls year-round schools, whether single- or multitrack, “better educationally, better for teachers, better for kids, better for all use of resources.”

Tiffany began the first year-round schools in the state when he implemented the system in 1973 in Chula Vista.

Ballinger has received information from the Los Angeles Unified School District, where many of its schools citywide are multitrack year-round, that shows that students on year-round campuses have made greater gains on standardized achievement tests compared to Los Angeles students in traditional schools and compared to statewide averages.

But results of the Los Angeles study have not been duplicated either in statistical studies for the San Diego district or elsewhere, said Paul Goren, a planner with San Diego city schools.

“There are no clear statistics to say that year-round shows benefits or hurts students,” Goren said. “The evidence (for benefits) is anecdotal, but principals assess school environment, culture and ethos in their general feeling that it works.”

Board member Smith said, “I don’t want to try to answer the argument over which (system) is better as a concept. We did not do that in making our decision for multitrack.

“We are going multitrack because it is the best way to go educationally now, considering the circumstances of our overcrowding, if we can assure that students at all schools will still receive equal opportunity to all programs.

“But I haven’t been convinced that (given adequate facilities) year-round is better than traditional. We haven’t had a comparison of test scores. I just haven’t seen enough studies.

“But certainly, a good selling point is that children don’t suffer educationally under year-round. If we can use that to convince parents to support multitrack, that is fine.”


Year-Round Schedule Puts School on Right Track

Jerabek Elementary School threw out tradition in a major way three weeks ago.

The crowded Scripps Ranch school switched to a year-round schedule from the traditional September-to-June routine. Equally traumatic, it placed all students on one of four nine-week attendance tracks, where three groups of students attend school at any one time while the fourth track enjoys a three-week vacation.

Positive Results Already Seen

The results already have been praised by parents, teachers and students: more playground space, more relaxed lunch breaks, and children easing much more quickly into the rhythm of a new academic year because they have been away from class only three weeks, not three months.

“I would have never believed it would end up as smoothly as it has,” Principal Josephine Wraith said last week, thankful that four months of almost non-stop meetings with parents, teachers, administrators and experts on year-round schools resulted in a successful transition to the complicated multitrack setting.

San Diego Unified School District officials also are breathing a sigh of relief over Jerabek’s transition. Jerabek is the first of 38 overcrowded elementary schools that the district anticipates switching to the multitrack system within the next eight years. Twenty-three of them are targeted for year-round tracks starting next July 1.

Jerabek’s success in solving within four months most of the problems associated with multitrack attendance augurs well for other schools, which will have an entire year to prepare their communities. And though the immediate intent of multitrack is to relieve overcrowded conditions with out building more schools, the move may also lead to San Diego parents and the Board of Education accepting year-round schools as a satisfactory system of education.

“I haven’t received a single call, and usually I’m the first person to hear if there are major complaints or concerns that haven’t been addressed,” said school board member Jim Roache, who represents the Scripps Ranch area.

The Board of Education voted initially in February to pursue multitrack year-round schools as the quickest and easiest way to solve the district’s growing problems of overcrowded schools, particularly at the elementary level--kindergarten through sixth grade. Jerabek was selected to become the first school to change.

(Schools in two small county elementary districts, Cajon Valley Union in El Cajon and South Bay Union in Imperial Beach, also went multitrack this month. Schools in the Encinitas Union District in North County have been on multitrack for almost 10 years.)

With a change to multitrack, for example, a school with 1,000 students on campus at the same time under the traditional attendance system will drop to 750. On any given week, three of the groups are in school and the fourth group is on vacation. Each group studies for nine weeks, followed by a three-week vacation. The only time that all groups are off together is during the Christmas break.

The move allows a campus to accommodate one-fourth more students without any more crowding of playgrounds, cafeterias and classrooms. District growth projections show that the only long-term alternative would be building 21 elementary schools by the year 2000, at a cost of more than $360 million, a plan characterized as unrealistic.

Option for Quality Education

“Multitrack is the way we have to go in order to keep offering quality education with a larger student population,” board member Dorothy Smith said. The board will review the situation of each school identified for multitrack at several points during the year of planning to make sure that no insurmountable problems crop up.

The district experimented with multitrack at about half a dozen elementary schools in the early and mid-1970s but dropped the system when enrollment leveled off.

There are now 18 elementary schools--out of 107--on single-track year-round, where all students attend for nine weeks and vacation for three weeks. Those schools switched voluntarily to year-round as a result of neighborhood desires to test the touted benefits of a continuous education schedule, and not for reasons of overcrowding.

The heavily Latino Brooklyn Elementary School in central San Diego successfully switched from single-track to multitrack year-round last year, and teachers there have nothing but praise for the schedule. The move was not seen at the time as a precursor to the large-scale plan adopted by the district, but rather as a specific response to an inner-city problem.

But parents and administrators districtwide took notice when Jerabek was selected as the first switch under the new-generation multitrack plan. The school ranks No. 1 among all 107 elementary schools in terms of economic well-being of its parents, and No. 4 in achievement test scores.

“The key to success has been early and constant communication with teachers, with parents, even students,” Principal Wraith said. Wraith tapped the experiences of teachers at Brooklyn as well as that of Charles Ballinger, an expert on year-round schools who is with the San Diego County Office of Education.

“In general, parents are most concerned about the year-round concept (as compared specifically to multitrack),” Ballinger said. “They want to know how year-round will affect vacation schedules of the family and how it will affect child care needs. Almost all resistance comes before the concept is initiated. Once the school is into year-round, parents do accept it very quickly.”

Wraith said many parents were worried whether students from the same car-pool areas, for example, could be placed on the same nine-week track. Parents with two or more students in the school also wanted to have their children on the same track.

“We were able to accommodate almost everyone,” Wraith said. The only problems have resulted from parents with one child in the gifted-and-talented program and another child in the regular curriculum. All students in gifted classes were placed in one track because of their limited numbers, leaving that track with only limited room for regular classes.

In a small number of cases, parents have had to choose to have children on two attendance tracks--with varying vacation times--or take one child out of the gifted classes.

Jerabek also had to address equity and integration issues that district officials expect to encounter at its numerous minority schools with special magnet (enrichment) programs to attract white pupils and at majority schools where minority students attend under voluntary busing provisions.

Unless parents can be persuaded that students on all tracks will continue to receive the same educational opportunities, they may pull their children back to neighborhood schools, a move that would reduce the number of integrated campuses, officials believe.

Jerabek, which is 80% white, has no magnet programs, but it does bus in about 100 Indochinese-Americans from Linda Vista. Those students were placed on two of the four attendance tracks to keep at least some ethnic diversity on campus at any one time no matter which track is on vacation.

“I would rather have those students on all tracks, but it just costs the district too much money for transportation,” Wraith said, adding that no parents of bused students dropped their children from the integration program as a result of the switch to multitrack.

Wraith worked out special schedules for counselors, computer and art specialists, and others so that they serve all four tracks equitably.

“It took one whole week to get that all ironed out, but it’s working fine,” she said.

“Other than the problems faced by some families that still need day care, things have gone very smoothly,” said parent Karen Saunders, head of the Jerabek Family-Faculty Organization. “And the children are very remarkable. They have adapted very well, probably handling it better than we adults, who are more used to seeing summer as play-until-dark time.

“In the long run, I think we’ll see multitrack as excellent. In the short run, it’s hard to adjust to the fact that you’ve got to do everything twice.”

Parent David Pushman was among many residents who wrote board members in February objecting to the change. He still is not enthusiastic about multitrack year-round but said he is willing to give it a try. “Being from back East, I guess we’re just traditionalists,” Pushman said.

Ballinger and Wraith said teachers worry more about aspects of the multitracks than about the year-round system per se.

“They wonder about the storage of classrooms if they have to move around from week to week, or how it will affect their own vacations,” Ballinger said. School maintenance and support, from food to paper supplies, must all be scheduled differently.

Wraith added: “But after we explained everything, I had only one teacher (out of 32) who opted not to come back this year under multitrack.” She added that, in essence, the staff must schedule “everything twice. We have two staff meetings, two assemblies for the children, all down the line.”

But she said that because of the school’s large size--almost 900 students--Jerabek has never been able to accommodate all of its students in a single activity or meeting. Under multitrack, assemblies are simply held two or three weeks apart, with two tracks attending at any single time.

Meetings, Attitudes Crucial

“The basis of our success is that we had a lot of meetings and kept everyone informed through a positive attitude,” said mentor teacher Carla Latimer, who also lives in Scripps Ranch. “I have had nothing but positive feedback from parents and teachers.

“I’ve found the biggest advantage is that the children have come right back into the school routine, and it’s a noticeable thing, that they have adjusted much faster to a new teacher and grade level without the delay that always happened (in the past) when they had three months off.”

Wraith said that “more and more, I am being convinced that year-round as a system is most beneficial to students, to study year-round with several mini-breaks rather than the one long summer vacation. I’m not totally convinced because I’m still going through a learning process, but I can see parents already liking the system.”

Principal Richard Alcorn of Brooklyn Elementary said teachers also do a better job under the year-round system.

“Look, teaching in public schools has become more and more difficult over the years as we’ve added additions to the curriculum such as drug and sex education, as we’ve had a decline in the support from the home environment, and as the multi-ethnicity has grown,” Alcorn said. “So frankly, it’s quite hard for teachers to start in September and run right through June, keeping the same attitude. Some teachers run down and stop ‘teaching’ in April, and as teachers go, so goes a class.

“I’ve been in five schools, from traditional to single-track to double sessions to multitrack, and I can tell you teachers do a better job when they have breaks after nine weeks. I find less sick leave, less absenteeism, and there’s the fact that they came back four times a year rejuvenated, with higher morale and more enthusiasm, which leads to a more positive school climate.”

Alcorn said Brooklyn, now into its second year of multitrack, has found a large drop in discipline problems among students and has heard from parents who say that their children are presenting fewer problems at home.

“I would have never believed the difference would be so great,” he said. “In particular, students with limited proficiency in English are making far greater academic progress because their English instruction is continuous rather than interrupted by a three-month break when they may have little chance to practice their new language.”

Burton Tiffany, retired superintendent of the Chula Vista City elementary district, calls year-round schools, whether single- or multitrack, “better educationally, better for teachers, better for kids, better for all use of resources.”

Tiffany began the first year-round schools in the state when he implemented the system in 1973 in Chula Vista.

Ballinger has received information from the Los Angeles Unified School District, where many of its schools citywide are multitrack year-round, that shows that students on year-round campuses have made greater gains on standardized achievement tests compared to Los Angeles students in traditional schools and compared to statewide averages.

But results of the Los Angeles study have not been duplicated either in statistical studies for the San Diego district or elsewhere, said Paul Goren, a planner with San Diego city schools.

“There are no clear statistics to say that year-round shows benefits or hurts students,” Goren said. “The evidence (for benefits) is anecdotal, but principals assess school environment, culture and ethos in their general feeling that it works.”

Board member Smith said, “I don’t want to try to answer the argument over which (system) is better as a concept. We did not do that in making our decision for multitrack.

“We are going multitrack because it is the best way to go educationally now, considering the circumstances of our overcrowding, if we can assure that students at all schools will still receive equal opportunity to all programs.

“But I haven’t been convinced that (given adequate facilities) year-round is better than traditional. We haven’t had a comparison of test scores. I just haven’t seen enough studies.

“But certainly, a good selling point is that children don’t suffer educationally under year-round. If we can use that to convince parents to support multitrack, that is fine.”


Year-Round Schedule Puts School on Right Track

Jerabek Elementary School threw out tradition in a major way three weeks ago.

The crowded Scripps Ranch school switched to a year-round schedule from the traditional September-to-June routine. Equally traumatic, it placed all students on one of four nine-week attendance tracks, where three groups of students attend school at any one time while the fourth track enjoys a three-week vacation.

Positive Results Already Seen

The results already have been praised by parents, teachers and students: more playground space, more relaxed lunch breaks, and children easing much more quickly into the rhythm of a new academic year because they have been away from class only three weeks, not three months.

“I would have never believed it would end up as smoothly as it has,” Principal Josephine Wraith said last week, thankful that four months of almost non-stop meetings with parents, teachers, administrators and experts on year-round schools resulted in a successful transition to the complicated multitrack setting.

San Diego Unified School District officials also are breathing a sigh of relief over Jerabek’s transition. Jerabek is the first of 38 overcrowded elementary schools that the district anticipates switching to the multitrack system within the next eight years. Twenty-three of them are targeted for year-round tracks starting next July 1.

Jerabek’s success in solving within four months most of the problems associated with multitrack attendance augurs well for other schools, which will have an entire year to prepare their communities. And though the immediate intent of multitrack is to relieve overcrowded conditions with out building more schools, the move may also lead to San Diego parents and the Board of Education accepting year-round schools as a satisfactory system of education.

“I haven’t received a single call, and usually I’m the first person to hear if there are major complaints or concerns that haven’t been addressed,” said school board member Jim Roache, who represents the Scripps Ranch area.

The Board of Education voted initially in February to pursue multitrack year-round schools as the quickest and easiest way to solve the district’s growing problems of overcrowded schools, particularly at the elementary level--kindergarten through sixth grade. Jerabek was selected to become the first school to change.

(Schools in two small county elementary districts, Cajon Valley Union in El Cajon and South Bay Union in Imperial Beach, also went multitrack this month. Schools in the Encinitas Union District in North County have been on multitrack for almost 10 years.)

With a change to multitrack, for example, a school with 1,000 students on campus at the same time under the traditional attendance system will drop to 750. On any given week, three of the groups are in school and the fourth group is on vacation. Each group studies for nine weeks, followed by a three-week vacation. The only time that all groups are off together is during the Christmas break.

The move allows a campus to accommodate one-fourth more students without any more crowding of playgrounds, cafeterias and classrooms. District growth projections show that the only long-term alternative would be building 21 elementary schools by the year 2000, at a cost of more than $360 million, a plan characterized as unrealistic.

Option for Quality Education

“Multitrack is the way we have to go in order to keep offering quality education with a larger student population,” board member Dorothy Smith said. The board will review the situation of each school identified for multitrack at several points during the year of planning to make sure that no insurmountable problems crop up.

The district experimented with multitrack at about half a dozen elementary schools in the early and mid-1970s but dropped the system when enrollment leveled off.

There are now 18 elementary schools--out of 107--on single-track year-round, where all students attend for nine weeks and vacation for three weeks. Those schools switched voluntarily to year-round as a result of neighborhood desires to test the touted benefits of a continuous education schedule, and not for reasons of overcrowding.

The heavily Latino Brooklyn Elementary School in central San Diego successfully switched from single-track to multitrack year-round last year, and teachers there have nothing but praise for the schedule. The move was not seen at the time as a precursor to the large-scale plan adopted by the district, but rather as a specific response to an inner-city problem.

But parents and administrators districtwide took notice when Jerabek was selected as the first switch under the new-generation multitrack plan. The school ranks No. 1 among all 107 elementary schools in terms of economic well-being of its parents, and No. 4 in achievement test scores.

“The key to success has been early and constant communication with teachers, with parents, even students,” Principal Wraith said. Wraith tapped the experiences of teachers at Brooklyn as well as that of Charles Ballinger, an expert on year-round schools who is with the San Diego County Office of Education.

“In general, parents are most concerned about the year-round concept (as compared specifically to multitrack),” Ballinger said. “They want to know how year-round will affect vacation schedules of the family and how it will affect child care needs. Almost all resistance comes before the concept is initiated. Once the school is into year-round, parents do accept it very quickly.”

Wraith said many parents were worried whether students from the same car-pool areas, for example, could be placed on the same nine-week track. Parents with two or more students in the school also wanted to have their children on the same track.

“We were able to accommodate almost everyone,” Wraith said. The only problems have resulted from parents with one child in the gifted-and-talented program and another child in the regular curriculum. All students in gifted classes were placed in one track because of their limited numbers, leaving that track with only limited room for regular classes.

In a small number of cases, parents have had to choose to have children on two attendance tracks--with varying vacation times--or take one child out of the gifted classes.

Jerabek also had to address equity and integration issues that district officials expect to encounter at its numerous minority schools with special magnet (enrichment) programs to attract white pupils and at majority schools where minority students attend under voluntary busing provisions.

Unless parents can be persuaded that students on all tracks will continue to receive the same educational opportunities, they may pull their children back to neighborhood schools, a move that would reduce the number of integrated campuses, officials believe.

Jerabek, which is 80% white, has no magnet programs, but it does bus in about 100 Indochinese-Americans from Linda Vista. Those students were placed on two of the four attendance tracks to keep at least some ethnic diversity on campus at any one time no matter which track is on vacation.

“I would rather have those students on all tracks, but it just costs the district too much money for transportation,” Wraith said, adding that no parents of bused students dropped their children from the integration program as a result of the switch to multitrack.

Wraith worked out special schedules for counselors, computer and art specialists, and others so that they serve all four tracks equitably.

“It took one whole week to get that all ironed out, but it’s working fine,” she said.

“Other than the problems faced by some families that still need day care, things have gone very smoothly,” said parent Karen Saunders, head of the Jerabek Family-Faculty Organization. “And the children are very remarkable. They have adapted very well, probably handling it better than we adults, who are more used to seeing summer as play-until-dark time.

“In the long run, I think we’ll see multitrack as excellent. In the short run, it’s hard to adjust to the fact that you’ve got to do everything twice.”

Parent David Pushman was among many residents who wrote board members in February objecting to the change. He still is not enthusiastic about multitrack year-round but said he is willing to give it a try. “Being from back East, I guess we’re just traditionalists,” Pushman said.

Ballinger and Wraith said teachers worry more about aspects of the multitracks than about the year-round system per se.

“They wonder about the storage of classrooms if they have to move around from week to week, or how it will affect their own vacations,” Ballinger said. School maintenance and support, from food to paper supplies, must all be scheduled differently.

Wraith added: “But after we explained everything, I had only one teacher (out of 32) who opted not to come back this year under multitrack.” She added that, in essence, the staff must schedule “everything twice. We have two staff meetings, two assemblies for the children, all down the line.”

But she said that because of the school’s large size--almost 900 students--Jerabek has never been able to accommodate all of its students in a single activity or meeting. Under multitrack, assemblies are simply held two or three weeks apart, with two tracks attending at any single time.

Meetings, Attitudes Crucial

“The basis of our success is that we had a lot of meetings and kept everyone informed through a positive attitude,” said mentor teacher Carla Latimer, who also lives in Scripps Ranch. “I have had nothing but positive feedback from parents and teachers.

“I’ve found the biggest advantage is that the children have come right back into the school routine, and it’s a noticeable thing, that they have adjusted much faster to a new teacher and grade level without the delay that always happened (in the past) when they had three months off.”

Wraith said that “more and more, I am being convinced that year-round as a system is most beneficial to students, to study year-round with several mini-breaks rather than the one long summer vacation. I’m not totally convinced because I’m still going through a learning process, but I can see parents already liking the system.”

Principal Richard Alcorn of Brooklyn Elementary said teachers also do a better job under the year-round system.

“Look, teaching in public schools has become more and more difficult over the years as we’ve added additions to the curriculum such as drug and sex education, as we’ve had a decline in the support from the home environment, and as the multi-ethnicity has grown,” Alcorn said. “So frankly, it’s quite hard for teachers to start in September and run right through June, keeping the same attitude. Some teachers run down and stop ‘teaching’ in April, and as teachers go, so goes a class.

“I’ve been in five schools, from traditional to single-track to double sessions to multitrack, and I can tell you teachers do a better job when they have breaks after nine weeks. I find less sick leave, less absenteeism, and there’s the fact that they came back four times a year rejuvenated, with higher morale and more enthusiasm, which leads to a more positive school climate.”

Alcorn said Brooklyn, now into its second year of multitrack, has found a large drop in discipline problems among students and has heard from parents who say that their children are presenting fewer problems at home.

“I would have never believed the difference would be so great,” he said. “In particular, students with limited proficiency in English are making far greater academic progress because their English instruction is continuous rather than interrupted by a three-month break when they may have little chance to practice their new language.”

Burton Tiffany, retired superintendent of the Chula Vista City elementary district, calls year-round schools, whether single- or multitrack, “better educationally, better for teachers, better for kids, better for all use of resources.”

Tiffany began the first year-round schools in the state when he implemented the system in 1973 in Chula Vista.

Ballinger has received information from the Los Angeles Unified School District, where many of its schools citywide are multitrack year-round, that shows that students on year-round campuses have made greater gains on standardized achievement tests compared to Los Angeles students in traditional schools and compared to statewide averages.

But results of the Los Angeles study have not been duplicated either in statistical studies for the San Diego district or elsewhere, said Paul Goren, a planner with San Diego city schools.

“There are no clear statistics to say that year-round shows benefits or hurts students,” Goren said. “The evidence (for benefits) is anecdotal, but principals assess school environment, culture and ethos in their general feeling that it works.”

Board member Smith said, “I don’t want to try to answer the argument over which (system) is better as a concept. We did not do that in making our decision for multitrack.

“We are going multitrack because it is the best way to go educationally now, considering the circumstances of our overcrowding, if we can assure that students at all schools will still receive equal opportunity to all programs.

“But I haven’t been convinced that (given adequate facilities) year-round is better than traditional. We haven’t had a comparison of test scores. I just haven’t seen enough studies.

“But certainly, a good selling point is that children don’t suffer educationally under year-round. If we can use that to convince parents to support multitrack, that is fine.”


Year-Round Schedule Puts School on Right Track

Jerabek Elementary School threw out tradition in a major way three weeks ago.

The crowded Scripps Ranch school switched to a year-round schedule from the traditional September-to-June routine. Equally traumatic, it placed all students on one of four nine-week attendance tracks, where three groups of students attend school at any one time while the fourth track enjoys a three-week vacation.

Positive Results Already Seen

The results already have been praised by parents, teachers and students: more playground space, more relaxed lunch breaks, and children easing much more quickly into the rhythm of a new academic year because they have been away from class only three weeks, not three months.

“I would have never believed it would end up as smoothly as it has,” Principal Josephine Wraith said last week, thankful that four months of almost non-stop meetings with parents, teachers, administrators and experts on year-round schools resulted in a successful transition to the complicated multitrack setting.

San Diego Unified School District officials also are breathing a sigh of relief over Jerabek’s transition. Jerabek is the first of 38 overcrowded elementary schools that the district anticipates switching to the multitrack system within the next eight years. Twenty-three of them are targeted for year-round tracks starting next July 1.

Jerabek’s success in solving within four months most of the problems associated with multitrack attendance augurs well for other schools, which will have an entire year to prepare their communities. And though the immediate intent of multitrack is to relieve overcrowded conditions with out building more schools, the move may also lead to San Diego parents and the Board of Education accepting year-round schools as a satisfactory system of education.

“I haven’t received a single call, and usually I’m the first person to hear if there are major complaints or concerns that haven’t been addressed,” said school board member Jim Roache, who represents the Scripps Ranch area.

The Board of Education voted initially in February to pursue multitrack year-round schools as the quickest and easiest way to solve the district’s growing problems of overcrowded schools, particularly at the elementary level--kindergarten through sixth grade. Jerabek was selected to become the first school to change.

(Schools in two small county elementary districts, Cajon Valley Union in El Cajon and South Bay Union in Imperial Beach, also went multitrack this month. Schools in the Encinitas Union District in North County have been on multitrack for almost 10 years.)

With a change to multitrack, for example, a school with 1,000 students on campus at the same time under the traditional attendance system will drop to 750. On any given week, three of the groups are in school and the fourth group is on vacation. Each group studies for nine weeks, followed by a three-week vacation. The only time that all groups are off together is during the Christmas break.

The move allows a campus to accommodate one-fourth more students without any more crowding of playgrounds, cafeterias and classrooms. District growth projections show that the only long-term alternative would be building 21 elementary schools by the year 2000, at a cost of more than $360 million, a plan characterized as unrealistic.

Option for Quality Education

“Multitrack is the way we have to go in order to keep offering quality education with a larger student population,” board member Dorothy Smith said. The board will review the situation of each school identified for multitrack at several points during the year of planning to make sure that no insurmountable problems crop up.

The district experimented with multitrack at about half a dozen elementary schools in the early and mid-1970s but dropped the system when enrollment leveled off.

There are now 18 elementary schools--out of 107--on single-track year-round, where all students attend for nine weeks and vacation for three weeks. Those schools switched voluntarily to year-round as a result of neighborhood desires to test the touted benefits of a continuous education schedule, and not for reasons of overcrowding.

The heavily Latino Brooklyn Elementary School in central San Diego successfully switched from single-track to multitrack year-round last year, and teachers there have nothing but praise for the schedule. The move was not seen at the time as a precursor to the large-scale plan adopted by the district, but rather as a specific response to an inner-city problem.

But parents and administrators districtwide took notice when Jerabek was selected as the first switch under the new-generation multitrack plan. The school ranks No. 1 among all 107 elementary schools in terms of economic well-being of its parents, and No. 4 in achievement test scores.

“The key to success has been early and constant communication with teachers, with parents, even students,” Principal Wraith said. Wraith tapped the experiences of teachers at Brooklyn as well as that of Charles Ballinger, an expert on year-round schools who is with the San Diego County Office of Education.

“In general, parents are most concerned about the year-round concept (as compared specifically to multitrack),” Ballinger said. “They want to know how year-round will affect vacation schedules of the family and how it will affect child care needs. Almost all resistance comes before the concept is initiated. Once the school is into year-round, parents do accept it very quickly.”

Wraith said many parents were worried whether students from the same car-pool areas, for example, could be placed on the same nine-week track. Parents with two or more students in the school also wanted to have their children on the same track.

“We were able to accommodate almost everyone,” Wraith said. The only problems have resulted from parents with one child in the gifted-and-talented program and another child in the regular curriculum. All students in gifted classes were placed in one track because of their limited numbers, leaving that track with only limited room for regular classes.

In a small number of cases, parents have had to choose to have children on two attendance tracks--with varying vacation times--or take one child out of the gifted classes.

Jerabek also had to address equity and integration issues that district officials expect to encounter at its numerous minority schools with special magnet (enrichment) programs to attract white pupils and at majority schools where minority students attend under voluntary busing provisions.

Unless parents can be persuaded that students on all tracks will continue to receive the same educational opportunities, they may pull their children back to neighborhood schools, a move that would reduce the number of integrated campuses, officials believe.

Jerabek, which is 80% white, has no magnet programs, but it does bus in about 100 Indochinese-Americans from Linda Vista. Those students were placed on two of the four attendance tracks to keep at least some ethnic diversity on campus at any one time no matter which track is on vacation.

“I would rather have those students on all tracks, but it just costs the district too much money for transportation,” Wraith said, adding that no parents of bused students dropped their children from the integration program as a result of the switch to multitrack.

Wraith worked out special schedules for counselors, computer and art specialists, and others so that they serve all four tracks equitably.

“It took one whole week to get that all ironed out, but it’s working fine,” she said.

“Other than the problems faced by some families that still need day care, things have gone very smoothly,” said parent Karen Saunders, head of the Jerabek Family-Faculty Organization. “And the children are very remarkable. They have adapted very well, probably handling it better than we adults, who are more used to seeing summer as play-until-dark time.

“In the long run, I think we’ll see multitrack as excellent. In the short run, it’s hard to adjust to the fact that you’ve got to do everything twice.”

Parent David Pushman was among many residents who wrote board members in February objecting to the change. He still is not enthusiastic about multitrack year-round but said he is willing to give it a try. “Being from back East, I guess we’re just traditionalists,” Pushman said.

Ballinger and Wraith said teachers worry more about aspects of the multitracks than about the year-round system per se.

“They wonder about the storage of classrooms if they have to move around from week to week, or how it will affect their own vacations,” Ballinger said. School maintenance and support, from food to paper supplies, must all be scheduled differently.

Wraith added: “But after we explained everything, I had only one teacher (out of 32) who opted not to come back this year under multitrack.” She added that, in essence, the staff must schedule “everything twice. We have two staff meetings, two assemblies for the children, all down the line.”

But she said that because of the school’s large size--almost 900 students--Jerabek has never been able to accommodate all of its students in a single activity or meeting. Under multitrack, assemblies are simply held two or three weeks apart, with two tracks attending at any single time.

Meetings, Attitudes Crucial

“The basis of our success is that we had a lot of meetings and kept everyone informed through a positive attitude,” said mentor teacher Carla Latimer, who also lives in Scripps Ranch. “I have had nothing but positive feedback from parents and teachers.

“I’ve found the biggest advantage is that the children have come right back into the school routine, and it’s a noticeable thing, that they have adjusted much faster to a new teacher and grade level without the delay that always happened (in the past) when they had three months off.”

Wraith said that “more and more, I am being convinced that year-round as a system is most beneficial to students, to study year-round with several mini-breaks rather than the one long summer vacation. I’m not totally convinced because I’m still going through a learning process, but I can see parents already liking the system.”

Principal Richard Alcorn of Brooklyn Elementary said teachers also do a better job under the year-round system.

“Look, teaching in public schools has become more and more difficult over the years as we’ve added additions to the curriculum such as drug and sex education, as we’ve had a decline in the support from the home environment, and as the multi-ethnicity has grown,” Alcorn said. “So frankly, it’s quite hard for teachers to start in September and run right through June, keeping the same attitude. Some teachers run down and stop ‘teaching’ in April, and as teachers go, so goes a class.

“I’ve been in five schools, from traditional to single-track to double sessions to multitrack, and I can tell you teachers do a better job when they have breaks after nine weeks. I find less sick leave, less absenteeism, and there’s the fact that they came back four times a year rejuvenated, with higher morale and more enthusiasm, which leads to a more positive school climate.”

Alcorn said Brooklyn, now into its second year of multitrack, has found a large drop in discipline problems among students and has heard from parents who say that their children are presenting fewer problems at home.

“I would have never believed the difference would be so great,” he said. “In particular, students with limited proficiency in English are making far greater academic progress because their English instruction is continuous rather than interrupted by a three-month break when they may have little chance to practice their new language.”

Burton Tiffany, retired superintendent of the Chula Vista City elementary district, calls year-round schools, whether single- or multitrack, “better educationally, better for teachers, better for kids, better for all use of resources.”

Tiffany began the first year-round schools in the state when he implemented the system in 1973 in Chula Vista.

Ballinger has received information from the Los Angeles Unified School District, where many of its schools citywide are multitrack year-round, that shows that students on year-round campuses have made greater gains on standardized achievement tests compared to Los Angeles students in traditional schools and compared to statewide averages.

But results of the Los Angeles study have not been duplicated either in statistical studies for the San Diego district or elsewhere, said Paul Goren, a planner with San Diego city schools.

“There are no clear statistics to say that year-round shows benefits or hurts students,” Goren said. “The evidence (for benefits) is anecdotal, but principals assess school environment, culture and ethos in their general feeling that it works.”

Board member Smith said, “I don’t want to try to answer the argument over which (system) is better as a concept. We did not do that in making our decision for multitrack.

“We are going multitrack because it is the best way to go educationally now, considering the circumstances of our overcrowding, if we can assure that students at all schools will still receive equal opportunity to all programs.

“But I haven’t been convinced that (given adequate facilities) year-round is better than traditional. We haven’t had a comparison of test scores. I just haven’t seen enough studies.

“But certainly, a good selling point is that children don’t suffer educationally under year-round. If we can use that to convince parents to support multitrack, that is fine.”


Year-Round Schedule Puts School on Right Track

Jerabek Elementary School threw out tradition in a major way three weeks ago.

The crowded Scripps Ranch school switched to a year-round schedule from the traditional September-to-June routine. Equally traumatic, it placed all students on one of four nine-week attendance tracks, where three groups of students attend school at any one time while the fourth track enjoys a three-week vacation.

Positive Results Already Seen

The results already have been praised by parents, teachers and students: more playground space, more relaxed lunch breaks, and children easing much more quickly into the rhythm of a new academic year because they have been away from class only three weeks, not three months.

“I would have never believed it would end up as smoothly as it has,” Principal Josephine Wraith said last week, thankful that four months of almost non-stop meetings with parents, teachers, administrators and experts on year-round schools resulted in a successful transition to the complicated multitrack setting.

San Diego Unified School District officials also are breathing a sigh of relief over Jerabek’s transition. Jerabek is the first of 38 overcrowded elementary schools that the district anticipates switching to the multitrack system within the next eight years. Twenty-three of them are targeted for year-round tracks starting next July 1.

Jerabek’s success in solving within four months most of the problems associated with multitrack attendance augurs well for other schools, which will have an entire year to prepare their communities. And though the immediate intent of multitrack is to relieve overcrowded conditions with out building more schools, the move may also lead to San Diego parents and the Board of Education accepting year-round schools as a satisfactory system of education.

“I haven’t received a single call, and usually I’m the first person to hear if there are major complaints or concerns that haven’t been addressed,” said school board member Jim Roache, who represents the Scripps Ranch area.

The Board of Education voted initially in February to pursue multitrack year-round schools as the quickest and easiest way to solve the district’s growing problems of overcrowded schools, particularly at the elementary level--kindergarten through sixth grade. Jerabek was selected to become the first school to change.

(Schools in two small county elementary districts, Cajon Valley Union in El Cajon and South Bay Union in Imperial Beach, also went multitrack this month. Schools in the Encinitas Union District in North County have been on multitrack for almost 10 years.)

With a change to multitrack, for example, a school with 1,000 students on campus at the same time under the traditional attendance system will drop to 750. On any given week, three of the groups are in school and the fourth group is on vacation. Each group studies for nine weeks, followed by a three-week vacation. The only time that all groups are off together is during the Christmas break.

The move allows a campus to accommodate one-fourth more students without any more crowding of playgrounds, cafeterias and classrooms. District growth projections show that the only long-term alternative would be building 21 elementary schools by the year 2000, at a cost of more than $360 million, a plan characterized as unrealistic.

Option for Quality Education

“Multitrack is the way we have to go in order to keep offering quality education with a larger student population,” board member Dorothy Smith said. The board will review the situation of each school identified for multitrack at several points during the year of planning to make sure that no insurmountable problems crop up.

The district experimented with multitrack at about half a dozen elementary schools in the early and mid-1970s but dropped the system when enrollment leveled off.

There are now 18 elementary schools--out of 107--on single-track year-round, where all students attend for nine weeks and vacation for three weeks. Those schools switched voluntarily to year-round as a result of neighborhood desires to test the touted benefits of a continuous education schedule, and not for reasons of overcrowding.

The heavily Latino Brooklyn Elementary School in central San Diego successfully switched from single-track to multitrack year-round last year, and teachers there have nothing but praise for the schedule. The move was not seen at the time as a precursor to the large-scale plan adopted by the district, but rather as a specific response to an inner-city problem.

But parents and administrators districtwide took notice when Jerabek was selected as the first switch under the new-generation multitrack plan. The school ranks No. 1 among all 107 elementary schools in terms of economic well-being of its parents, and No. 4 in achievement test scores.

“The key to success has been early and constant communication with teachers, with parents, even students,” Principal Wraith said. Wraith tapped the experiences of teachers at Brooklyn as well as that of Charles Ballinger, an expert on year-round schools who is with the San Diego County Office of Education.

“In general, parents are most concerned about the year-round concept (as compared specifically to multitrack),” Ballinger said. “They want to know how year-round will affect vacation schedules of the family and how it will affect child care needs. Almost all resistance comes before the concept is initiated. Once the school is into year-round, parents do accept it very quickly.”

Wraith said many parents were worried whether students from the same car-pool areas, for example, could be placed on the same nine-week track. Parents with two or more students in the school also wanted to have their children on the same track.

“We were able to accommodate almost everyone,” Wraith said. The only problems have resulted from parents with one child in the gifted-and-talented program and another child in the regular curriculum. All students in gifted classes were placed in one track because of their limited numbers, leaving that track with only limited room for regular classes.

In a small number of cases, parents have had to choose to have children on two attendance tracks--with varying vacation times--or take one child out of the gifted classes.

Jerabek also had to address equity and integration issues that district officials expect to encounter at its numerous minority schools with special magnet (enrichment) programs to attract white pupils and at majority schools where minority students attend under voluntary busing provisions.

Unless parents can be persuaded that students on all tracks will continue to receive the same educational opportunities, they may pull their children back to neighborhood schools, a move that would reduce the number of integrated campuses, officials believe.

Jerabek, which is 80% white, has no magnet programs, but it does bus in about 100 Indochinese-Americans from Linda Vista. Those students were placed on two of the four attendance tracks to keep at least some ethnic diversity on campus at any one time no matter which track is on vacation.

“I would rather have those students on all tracks, but it just costs the district too much money for transportation,” Wraith said, adding that no parents of bused students dropped their children from the integration program as a result of the switch to multitrack.

Wraith worked out special schedules for counselors, computer and art specialists, and others so that they serve all four tracks equitably.

“It took one whole week to get that all ironed out, but it’s working fine,” she said.

“Other than the problems faced by some families that still need day care, things have gone very smoothly,” said parent Karen Saunders, head of the Jerabek Family-Faculty Organization. “And the children are very remarkable. They have adapted very well, probably handling it better than we adults, who are more used to seeing summer as play-until-dark time.

“In the long run, I think we’ll see multitrack as excellent. In the short run, it’s hard to adjust to the fact that you’ve got to do everything twice.”

Parent David Pushman was among many residents who wrote board members in February objecting to the change. He still is not enthusiastic about multitrack year-round but said he is willing to give it a try. “Being from back East, I guess we’re just traditionalists,” Pushman said.

Ballinger and Wraith said teachers worry more about aspects of the multitracks than about the year-round system per se.

“They wonder about the storage of classrooms if they have to move around from week to week, or how it will affect their own vacations,” Ballinger said. School maintenance and support, from food to paper supplies, must all be scheduled differently.

Wraith added: “But after we explained everything, I had only one teacher (out of 32) who opted not to come back this year under multitrack.” She added that, in essence, the staff must schedule “everything twice. We have two staff meetings, two assemblies for the children, all down the line.”

But she said that because of the school’s large size--almost 900 students--Jerabek has never been able to accommodate all of its students in a single activity or meeting. Under multitrack, assemblies are simply held two or three weeks apart, with two tracks attending at any single time.

Meetings, Attitudes Crucial

“The basis of our success is that we had a lot of meetings and kept everyone informed through a positive attitude,” said mentor teacher Carla Latimer, who also lives in Scripps Ranch. “I have had nothing but positive feedback from parents and teachers.

“I’ve found the biggest advantage is that the children have come right back into the school routine, and it’s a noticeable thing, that they have adjusted much faster to a new teacher and grade level without the delay that always happened (in the past) when they had three months off.”

Wraith said that “more and more, I am being convinced that year-round as a system is most beneficial to students, to study year-round with several mini-breaks rather than the one long summer vacation. I’m not totally convinced because I’m still going through a learning process, but I can see parents already liking the system.”

Principal Richard Alcorn of Brooklyn Elementary said teachers also do a better job under the year-round system.

“Look, teaching in public schools has become more and more difficult over the years as we’ve added additions to the curriculum such as drug and sex education, as we’ve had a decline in the support from the home environment, and as the multi-ethnicity has grown,” Alcorn said. “So frankly, it’s quite hard for teachers to start in September and run right through June, keeping the same attitude. Some teachers run down and stop ‘teaching’ in April, and as teachers go, so goes a class.

“I’ve been in five schools, from traditional to single-track to double sessions to multitrack, and I can tell you teachers do a better job when they have breaks after nine weeks. I find less sick leave, less absenteeism, and there’s the fact that they came back four times a year rejuvenated, with higher morale and more enthusiasm, which leads to a more positive school climate.”

Alcorn said Brooklyn, now into its second year of multitrack, has found a large drop in discipline problems among students and has heard from parents who say that their children are presenting fewer problems at home.

“I would have never believed the difference would be so great,” he said. “In particular, students with limited proficiency in English are making far greater academic progress because their English instruction is continuous rather than interrupted by a three-month break when they may have little chance to practice their new language.”

Burton Tiffany, retired superintendent of the Chula Vista City elementary district, calls year-round schools, whether single- or multitrack, “better educationally, better for teachers, better for kids, better for all use of resources.”

Tiffany began the first year-round schools in the state when he implemented the system in 1973 in Chula Vista.

Ballinger has received information from the Los Angeles Unified School District, where many of its schools citywide are multitrack year-round, that shows that students on year-round campuses have made greater gains on standardized achievement tests compared to Los Angeles students in traditional schools and compared to statewide averages.

But results of the Los Angeles study have not been duplicated either in statistical studies for the San Diego district or elsewhere, said Paul Goren, a planner with San Diego city schools.

“There are no clear statistics to say that year-round shows benefits or hurts students,” Goren said. “The evidence (for benefits) is anecdotal, but principals assess school environment, culture and ethos in their general feeling that it works.”

Board member Smith said, “I don’t want to try to answer the argument over which (system) is better as a concept. We did not do that in making our decision for multitrack.

“We are going multitrack because it is the best way to go educationally now, considering the circumstances of our overcrowding, if we can assure that students at all schools will still receive equal opportunity to all programs.

“But I haven’t been convinced that (given adequate facilities) year-round is better than traditional. We haven’t had a comparison of test scores. I just haven’t seen enough studies.

“But certainly, a good selling point is that children don’t suffer educationally under year-round. If we can use that to convince parents to support multitrack, that is fine.”


Year-Round Schedule Puts School on Right Track

Jerabek Elementary School threw out tradition in a major way three weeks ago.

The crowded Scripps Ranch school switched to a year-round schedule from the traditional September-to-June routine. Equally traumatic, it placed all students on one of four nine-week attendance tracks, where three groups of students attend school at any one time while the fourth track enjoys a three-week vacation.

Positive Results Already Seen

The results already have been praised by parents, teachers and students: more playground space, more relaxed lunch breaks, and children easing much more quickly into the rhythm of a new academic year because they have been away from class only three weeks, not three months.

“I would have never believed it would end up as smoothly as it has,” Principal Josephine Wraith said last week, thankful that four months of almost non-stop meetings with parents, teachers, administrators and experts on year-round schools resulted in a successful transition to the complicated multitrack setting.

San Diego Unified School District officials also are breathing a sigh of relief over Jerabek’s transition. Jerabek is the first of 38 overcrowded elementary schools that the district anticipates switching to the multitrack system within the next eight years. Twenty-three of them are targeted for year-round tracks starting next July 1.

Jerabek’s success in solving within four months most of the problems associated with multitrack attendance augurs well for other schools, which will have an entire year to prepare their communities. And though the immediate intent of multitrack is to relieve overcrowded conditions with out building more schools, the move may also lead to San Diego parents and the Board of Education accepting year-round schools as a satisfactory system of education.

“I haven’t received a single call, and usually I’m the first person to hear if there are major complaints or concerns that haven’t been addressed,” said school board member Jim Roache, who represents the Scripps Ranch area.

The Board of Education voted initially in February to pursue multitrack year-round schools as the quickest and easiest way to solve the district’s growing problems of overcrowded schools, particularly at the elementary level--kindergarten through sixth grade. Jerabek was selected to become the first school to change.

(Schools in two small county elementary districts, Cajon Valley Union in El Cajon and South Bay Union in Imperial Beach, also went multitrack this month. Schools in the Encinitas Union District in North County have been on multitrack for almost 10 years.)

With a change to multitrack, for example, a school with 1,000 students on campus at the same time under the traditional attendance system will drop to 750. On any given week, three of the groups are in school and the fourth group is on vacation. Each group studies for nine weeks, followed by a three-week vacation. The only time that all groups are off together is during the Christmas break.

The move allows a campus to accommodate one-fourth more students without any more crowding of playgrounds, cafeterias and classrooms. District growth projections show that the only long-term alternative would be building 21 elementary schools by the year 2000, at a cost of more than $360 million, a plan characterized as unrealistic.

Option for Quality Education

“Multitrack is the way we have to go in order to keep offering quality education with a larger student population,” board member Dorothy Smith said. The board will review the situation of each school identified for multitrack at several points during the year of planning to make sure that no insurmountable problems crop up.

The district experimented with multitrack at about half a dozen elementary schools in the early and mid-1970s but dropped the system when enrollment leveled off.

There are now 18 elementary schools--out of 107--on single-track year-round, where all students attend for nine weeks and vacation for three weeks. Those schools switched voluntarily to year-round as a result of neighborhood desires to test the touted benefits of a continuous education schedule, and not for reasons of overcrowding.

The heavily Latino Brooklyn Elementary School in central San Diego successfully switched from single-track to multitrack year-round last year, and teachers there have nothing but praise for the schedule. The move was not seen at the time as a precursor to the large-scale plan adopted by the district, but rather as a specific response to an inner-city problem.

But parents and administrators districtwide took notice when Jerabek was selected as the first switch under the new-generation multitrack plan. The school ranks No. 1 among all 107 elementary schools in terms of economic well-being of its parents, and No. 4 in achievement test scores.

“The key to success has been early and constant communication with teachers, with parents, even students,” Principal Wraith said. Wraith tapped the experiences of teachers at Brooklyn as well as that of Charles Ballinger, an expert on year-round schools who is with the San Diego County Office of Education.

“In general, parents are most concerned about the year-round concept (as compared specifically to multitrack),” Ballinger said. “They want to know how year-round will affect vacation schedules of the family and how it will affect child care needs. Almost all resistance comes before the concept is initiated. Once the school is into year-round, parents do accept it very quickly.”

Wraith said many parents were worried whether students from the same car-pool areas, for example, could be placed on the same nine-week track. Parents with two or more students in the school also wanted to have their children on the same track.

“We were able to accommodate almost everyone,” Wraith said. The only problems have resulted from parents with one child in the gifted-and-talented program and another child in the regular curriculum. All students in gifted classes were placed in one track because of their limited numbers, leaving that track with only limited room for regular classes.

In a small number of cases, parents have had to choose to have children on two attendance tracks--with varying vacation times--or take one child out of the gifted classes.

Jerabek also had to address equity and integration issues that district officials expect to encounter at its numerous minority schools with special magnet (enrichment) programs to attract white pupils and at majority schools where minority students attend under voluntary busing provisions.

Unless parents can be persuaded that students on all tracks will continue to receive the same educational opportunities, they may pull their children back to neighborhood schools, a move that would reduce the number of integrated campuses, officials believe.

Jerabek, which is 80% white, has no magnet programs, but it does bus in about 100 Indochinese-Americans from Linda Vista. Those students were placed on two of the four attendance tracks to keep at least some ethnic diversity on campus at any one time no matter which track is on vacation.

“I would rather have those students on all tracks, but it just costs the district too much money for transportation,” Wraith said, adding that no parents of bused students dropped their children from the integration program as a result of the switch to multitrack.

Wraith worked out special schedules for counselors, computer and art specialists, and others so that they serve all four tracks equitably.

“It took one whole week to get that all ironed out, but it’s working fine,” she said.

“Other than the problems faced by some families that still need day care, things have gone very smoothly,” said parent Karen Saunders, head of the Jerabek Family-Faculty Organization. “And the children are very remarkable. They have adapted very well, probably handling it better than we adults, who are more used to seeing summer as play-until-dark time.

“In the long run, I think we’ll see multitrack as excellent. In the short run, it’s hard to adjust to the fact that you’ve got to do everything twice.”

Parent David Pushman was among many residents who wrote board members in February objecting to the change. He still is not enthusiastic about multitrack year-round but said he is willing to give it a try. “Being from back East, I guess we’re just traditionalists,” Pushman said.

Ballinger and Wraith said teachers worry more about aspects of the multitracks than about the year-round system per se.

“They wonder about the storage of classrooms if they have to move around from week to week, or how it will affect their own vacations,” Ballinger said. School maintenance and support, from food to paper supplies, must all be scheduled differently.

Wraith added: “But after we explained everything, I had only one teacher (out of 32) who opted not to come back this year under multitrack.” She added that, in essence, the staff must schedule “everything twice. We have two staff meetings, two assemblies for the children, all down the line.”

But she said that because of the school’s large size--almost 900 students--Jerabek has never been able to accommodate all of its students in a single activity or meeting. Under multitrack, assemblies are simply held two or three weeks apart, with two tracks attending at any single time.

Meetings, Attitudes Crucial

“The basis of our success is that we had a lot of meetings and kept everyone informed through a positive attitude,” said mentor teacher Carla Latimer, who also lives in Scripps Ranch. “I have had nothing but positive feedback from parents and teachers.

“I’ve found the biggest advantage is that the children have come right back into the school routine, and it’s a noticeable thing, that they have adjusted much faster to a new teacher and grade level without the delay that always happened (in the past) when they had three months off.”

Wraith said that “more and more, I am being convinced that year-round as a system is most beneficial to students, to study year-round with several mini-breaks rather than the one long summer vacation. I’m not totally convinced because I’m still going through a learning process, but I can see parents already liking the system.”

Principal Richard Alcorn of Brooklyn Elementary said teachers also do a better job under the year-round system.

“Look, teaching in public schools has become more and more difficult over the years as we’ve added additions to the curriculum such as drug and sex education, as we’ve had a decline in the support from the home environment, and as the multi-ethnicity has grown,” Alcorn said. “So frankly, it’s quite hard for teachers to start in September and run right through June, keeping the same attitude. Some teachers run down and stop ‘teaching’ in April, and as teachers go, so goes a class.

“I’ve been in five schools, from traditional to single-track to double sessions to multitrack, and I can tell you teachers do a better job when they have breaks after nine weeks. I find less sick leave, less absenteeism, and there’s the fact that they came back four times a year rejuvenated, with higher morale and more enthusiasm, which leads to a more positive school climate.”

Alcorn said Brooklyn, now into its second year of multitrack, has found a large drop in discipline problems among students and has heard from parents who say that their children are presenting fewer problems at home.

“I would have never believed the difference would be so great,” he said. “In particular, students with limited proficiency in English are making far greater academic progress because their English instruction is continuous rather than interrupted by a three-month break when they may have little chance to practice their new language.”

Burton Tiffany, retired superintendent of the Chula Vista City elementary district, calls year-round schools, whether single- or multitrack, “better educationally, better for teachers, better for kids, better for all use of resources.”

Tiffany began the first year-round schools in the state when he implemented the system in 1973 in Chula Vista.

Ballinger has received information from the Los Angeles Unified School District, where many of its schools citywide are multitrack year-round, that shows that students on year-round campuses have made greater gains on standardized achievement tests compared to Los Angeles students in traditional schools and compared to statewide averages.

But results of the Los Angeles study have not been duplicated either in statistical studies for the San Diego district or elsewhere, said Paul Goren, a planner with San Diego city schools.

“There are no clear statistics to say that year-round shows benefits or hurts students,” Goren said. “The evidence (for benefits) is anecdotal, but principals assess school environment, culture and ethos in their general feeling that it works.”

Board member Smith said, “I don’t want to try to answer the argument over which (system) is better as a concept. We did not do that in making our decision for multitrack.

“We are going multitrack because it is the best way to go educationally now, considering the circumstances of our overcrowding, if we can assure that students at all schools will still receive equal opportunity to all programs.

“But I haven’t been convinced that (given adequate facilities) year-round is better than traditional. We haven’t had a comparison of test scores. I just haven’t seen enough studies.

“But certainly, a good selling point is that children don’t suffer educationally under year-round. If we can use that to convince parents to support multitrack, that is fine.”


Year-Round Schedule Puts School on Right Track

Jerabek Elementary School threw out tradition in a major way three weeks ago.

The crowded Scripps Ranch school switched to a year-round schedule from the traditional September-to-June routine. Equally traumatic, it placed all students on one of four nine-week attendance tracks, where three groups of students attend school at any one time while the fourth track enjoys a three-week vacation.

Positive Results Already Seen

The results already have been praised by parents, teachers and students: more playground space, more relaxed lunch breaks, and children easing much more quickly into the rhythm of a new academic year because they have been away from class only three weeks, not three months.

“I would have never believed it would end up as smoothly as it has,” Principal Josephine Wraith said last week, thankful that four months of almost non-stop meetings with parents, teachers, administrators and experts on year-round schools resulted in a successful transition to the complicated multitrack setting.

San Diego Unified School District officials also are breathing a sigh of relief over Jerabek’s transition. Jerabek is the first of 38 overcrowded elementary schools that the district anticipates switching to the multitrack system within the next eight years. Twenty-three of them are targeted for year-round tracks starting next July 1.

Jerabek’s success in solving within four months most of the problems associated with multitrack attendance augurs well for other schools, which will have an entire year to prepare their communities. And though the immediate intent of multitrack is to relieve overcrowded conditions with out building more schools, the move may also lead to San Diego parents and the Board of Education accepting year-round schools as a satisfactory system of education.

“I haven’t received a single call, and usually I’m the first person to hear if there are major complaints or concerns that haven’t been addressed,” said school board member Jim Roache, who represents the Scripps Ranch area.

The Board of Education voted initially in February to pursue multitrack year-round schools as the quickest and easiest way to solve the district’s growing problems of overcrowded schools, particularly at the elementary level--kindergarten through sixth grade. Jerabek was selected to become the first school to change.

(Schools in two small county elementary districts, Cajon Valley Union in El Cajon and South Bay Union in Imperial Beach, also went multitrack this month. Schools in the Encinitas Union District in North County have been on multitrack for almost 10 years.)

With a change to multitrack, for example, a school with 1,000 students on campus at the same time under the traditional attendance system will drop to 750. On any given week, three of the groups are in school and the fourth group is on vacation. Each group studies for nine weeks, followed by a three-week vacation. The only time that all groups are off together is during the Christmas break.

The move allows a campus to accommodate one-fourth more students without any more crowding of playgrounds, cafeterias and classrooms. District growth projections show that the only long-term alternative would be building 21 elementary schools by the year 2000, at a cost of more than $360 million, a plan characterized as unrealistic.

Option for Quality Education

“Multitrack is the way we have to go in order to keep offering quality education with a larger student population,” board member Dorothy Smith said. The board will review the situation of each school identified for multitrack at several points during the year of planning to make sure that no insurmountable problems crop up.

The district experimented with multitrack at about half a dozen elementary schools in the early and mid-1970s but dropped the system when enrollment leveled off.

There are now 18 elementary schools--out of 107--on single-track year-round, where all students attend for nine weeks and vacation for three weeks. Those schools switched voluntarily to year-round as a result of neighborhood desires to test the touted benefits of a continuous education schedule, and not for reasons of overcrowding.

The heavily Latino Brooklyn Elementary School in central San Diego successfully switched from single-track to multitrack year-round last year, and teachers there have nothing but praise for the schedule. The move was not seen at the time as a precursor to the large-scale plan adopted by the district, but rather as a specific response to an inner-city problem.

But parents and administrators districtwide took notice when Jerabek was selected as the first switch under the new-generation multitrack plan. The school ranks No. 1 among all 107 elementary schools in terms of economic well-being of its parents, and No. 4 in achievement test scores.

“The key to success has been early and constant communication with teachers, with parents, even students,” Principal Wraith said. Wraith tapped the experiences of teachers at Brooklyn as well as that of Charles Ballinger, an expert on year-round schools who is with the San Diego County Office of Education.

“In general, parents are most concerned about the year-round concept (as compared specifically to multitrack),” Ballinger said. “They want to know how year-round will affect vacation schedules of the family and how it will affect child care needs. Almost all resistance comes before the concept is initiated. Once the school is into year-round, parents do accept it very quickly.”

Wraith said many parents were worried whether students from the same car-pool areas, for example, could be placed on the same nine-week track. Parents with two or more students in the school also wanted to have their children on the same track.

“We were able to accommodate almost everyone,” Wraith said. The only problems have resulted from parents with one child in the gifted-and-talented program and another child in the regular curriculum. All students in gifted classes were placed in one track because of their limited numbers, leaving that track with only limited room for regular classes.

In a small number of cases, parents have had to choose to have children on two attendance tracks--with varying vacation times--or take one child out of the gifted classes.

Jerabek also had to address equity and integration issues that district officials expect to encounter at its numerous minority schools with special magnet (enrichment) programs to attract white pupils and at majority schools where minority students attend under voluntary busing provisions.

Unless parents can be persuaded that students on all tracks will continue to receive the same educational opportunities, they may pull their children back to neighborhood schools, a move that would reduce the number of integrated campuses, officials believe.

Jerabek, which is 80% white, has no magnet programs, but it does bus in about 100 Indochinese-Americans from Linda Vista. Those students were placed on two of the four attendance tracks to keep at least some ethnic diversity on campus at any one time no matter which track is on vacation.

“I would rather have those students on all tracks, but it just costs the district too much money for transportation,” Wraith said, adding that no parents of bused students dropped their children from the integration program as a result of the switch to multitrack.

Wraith worked out special schedules for counselors, computer and art specialists, and others so that they serve all four tracks equitably.

“It took one whole week to get that all ironed out, but it’s working fine,” she said.

“Other than the problems faced by some families that still need day care, things have gone very smoothly,” said parent Karen Saunders, head of the Jerabek Family-Faculty Organization. “And the children are very remarkable. They have adapted very well, probably handling it better than we adults, who are more used to seeing summer as play-until-dark time.

“In the long run, I think we’ll see multitrack as excellent. In the short run, it’s hard to adjust to the fact that you’ve got to do everything twice.”

Parent David Pushman was among many residents who wrote board members in February objecting to the change. He still is not enthusiastic about multitrack year-round but said he is willing to give it a try. “Being from back East, I guess we’re just traditionalists,” Pushman said.

Ballinger and Wraith said teachers worry more about aspects of the multitracks than about the year-round system per se.

“They wonder about the storage of classrooms if they have to move around from week to week, or how it will affect their own vacations,” Ballinger said. School maintenance and support, from food to paper supplies, must all be scheduled differently.

Wraith added: “But after we explained everything, I had only one teacher (out of 32) who opted not to come back this year under multitrack.” She added that, in essence, the staff must schedule “everything twice. We have two staff meetings, two assemblies for the children, all down the line.”

But she said that because of the school’s large size--almost 900 students--Jerabek has never been able to accommodate all of its students in a single activity or meeting. Under multitrack, assemblies are simply held two or three weeks apart, with two tracks attending at any single time.

Meetings, Attitudes Crucial

“The basis of our success is that we had a lot of meetings and kept everyone informed through a positive attitude,” said mentor teacher Carla Latimer, who also lives in Scripps Ranch. “I have had nothing but positive feedback from parents and teachers.

“I’ve found the biggest advantage is that the children have come right back into the school routine, and it’s a noticeable thing, that they have adjusted much faster to a new teacher and grade level without the delay that always happened (in the past) when they had three months off.”

Wraith said that “more and more, I am being convinced that year-round as a system is most beneficial to students, to study year-round with several mini-breaks rather than the one long summer vacation. I’m not totally convinced because I’m still going through a learning process, but I can see parents already liking the system.”

Principal Richard Alcorn of Brooklyn Elementary said teachers also do a better job under the year-round system.

“Look, teaching in public schools has become more and more difficult over the years as we’ve added additions to the curriculum such as drug and sex education, as we’ve had a decline in the support from the home environment, and as the multi-ethnicity has grown,” Alcorn said. “So frankly, it’s quite hard for teachers to start in September and run right through June, keeping the same attitude. Some teachers run down and stop ‘teaching’ in April, and as teachers go, so goes a class.

“I’ve been in five schools, from traditional to single-track to double sessions to multitrack, and I can tell you teachers do a better job when they have breaks after nine weeks. I find less sick leave, less absenteeism, and there’s the fact that they came back four times a year rejuvenated, with higher morale and more enthusiasm, which leads to a more positive school climate.”

Alcorn said Brooklyn, now into its second year of multitrack, has found a large drop in discipline problems among students and has heard from parents who say that their children are presenting fewer problems at home.

“I would have never believed the difference would be so great,” he said. “In particular, students with limited proficiency in English are making far greater academic progress because their English instruction is continuous rather than interrupted by a three-month break when they may have little chance to practice their new language.”

Burton Tiffany, retired superintendent of the Chula Vista City elementary district, calls year-round schools, whether single- or multitrack, “better educationally, better for teachers, better for kids, better for all use of resources.”

Tiffany began the first year-round schools in the state when he implemented the system in 1973 in Chula Vista.

Ballinger has received information from the Los Angeles Unified School District, where many of its schools citywide are multitrack year-round, that shows that students on year-round campuses have made greater gains on standardized achievement tests compared to Los Angeles students in traditional schools and compared to statewide averages.

But results of the Los Angeles study have not been duplicated either in statistical studies for the San Diego district or elsewhere, said Paul Goren, a planner with San Diego city schools.

“There are no clear statistics to say that year-round shows benefits or hurts students,” Goren said. “The evidence (for benefits) is anecdotal, but principals assess school environment, culture and ethos in their general feeling that it works.”

Board member Smith said, “I don’t want to try to answer the argument over which (system) is better as a concept. We did not do that in making our decision for multitrack.

“We are going multitrack because it is the best way to go educationally now, considering the circumstances of our overcrowding, if we can assure that students at all schools will still receive equal opportunity to all programs.

“But I haven’t been convinced that (given adequate facilities) year-round is better than traditional. We haven’t had a comparison of test scores. I just haven’t seen enough studies.

“But certainly, a good selling point is that children don’t suffer educationally under year-round. If we can use that to convince parents to support multitrack, that is fine.”


Year-Round Schedule Puts School on Right Track

Jerabek Elementary School threw out tradition in a major way three weeks ago.

The crowded Scripps Ranch school switched to a year-round schedule from the traditional September-to-June routine. Equally traumatic, it placed all students on one of four nine-week attendance tracks, where three groups of students attend school at any one time while the fourth track enjoys a three-week vacation.

Positive Results Already Seen

The results already have been praised by parents, teachers and students: more playground space, more relaxed lunch breaks, and children easing much more quickly into the rhythm of a new academic year because they have been away from class only three weeks, not three months.

“I would have never believed it would end up as smoothly as it has,” Principal Josephine Wraith said last week, thankful that four months of almost non-stop meetings with parents, teachers, administrators and experts on year-round schools resulted in a successful transition to the complicated multitrack setting.

San Diego Unified School District officials also are breathing a sigh of relief over Jerabek’s transition. Jerabek is the first of 38 overcrowded elementary schools that the district anticipates switching to the multitrack system within the next eight years. Twenty-three of them are targeted for year-round tracks starting next July 1.

Jerabek’s success in solving within four months most of the problems associated with multitrack attendance augurs well for other schools, which will have an entire year to prepare their communities. And though the immediate intent of multitrack is to relieve overcrowded conditions with out building more schools, the move may also lead to San Diego parents and the Board of Education accepting year-round schools as a satisfactory system of education.

“I haven’t received a single call, and usually I’m the first person to hear if there are major complaints or concerns that haven’t been addressed,” said school board member Jim Roache, who represents the Scripps Ranch area.

The Board of Education voted initially in February to pursue multitrack year-round schools as the quickest and easiest way to solve the district’s growing problems of overcrowded schools, particularly at the elementary level--kindergarten through sixth grade. Jerabek was selected to become the first school to change.

(Schools in two small county elementary districts, Cajon Valley Union in El Cajon and South Bay Union in Imperial Beach, also went multitrack this month. Schools in the Encinitas Union District in North County have been on multitrack for almost 10 years.)

With a change to multitrack, for example, a school with 1,000 students on campus at the same time under the traditional attendance system will drop to 750. On any given week, three of the groups are in school and the fourth group is on vacation. Each group studies for nine weeks, followed by a three-week vacation. The only time that all groups are off together is during the Christmas break.

The move allows a campus to accommodate one-fourth more students without any more crowding of playgrounds, cafeterias and classrooms. District growth projections show that the only long-term alternative would be building 21 elementary schools by the year 2000, at a cost of more than $360 million, a plan characterized as unrealistic.

Option for Quality Education

“Multitrack is the way we have to go in order to keep offering quality education with a larger student population,” board member Dorothy Smith said. The board will review the situation of each school identified for multitrack at several points during the year of planning to make sure that no insurmountable problems crop up.

The district experimented with multitrack at about half a dozen elementary schools in the early and mid-1970s but dropped the system when enrollment leveled off.

There are now 18 elementary schools--out of 107--on single-track year-round, where all students attend for nine weeks and vacation for three weeks. Those schools switched voluntarily to year-round as a result of neighborhood desires to test the touted benefits of a continuous education schedule, and not for reasons of overcrowding.

The heavily Latino Brooklyn Elementary School in central San Diego successfully switched from single-track to multitrack year-round last year, and teachers there have nothing but praise for the schedule. The move was not seen at the time as a precursor to the large-scale plan adopted by the district, but rather as a specific response to an inner-city problem.

But parents and administrators districtwide took notice when Jerabek was selected as the first switch under the new-generation multitrack plan. The school ranks No. 1 among all 107 elementary schools in terms of economic well-being of its parents, and No. 4 in achievement test scores.

“The key to success has been early and constant communication with teachers, with parents, even students,” Principal Wraith said. Wraith tapped the experiences of teachers at Brooklyn as well as that of Charles Ballinger, an expert on year-round schools who is with the San Diego County Office of Education.

“In general, parents are most concerned about the year-round concept (as compared specifically to multitrack),” Ballinger said. “They want to know how year-round will affect vacation schedules of the family and how it will affect child care needs. Almost all resistance comes before the concept is initiated. Once the school is into year-round, parents do accept it very quickly.”

Wraith said many parents were worried whether students from the same car-pool areas, for example, could be placed on the same nine-week track. Parents with two or more students in the school also wanted to have their children on the same track.

“We were able to accommodate almost everyone,” Wraith said. The only problems have resulted from parents with one child in the gifted-and-talented program and another child in the regular curriculum. All students in gifted classes were placed in one track because of their limited numbers, leaving that track with only limited room for regular classes.

In a small number of cases, parents have had to choose to have children on two attendance tracks--with varying vacation times--or take one child out of the gifted classes.

Jerabek also had to address equity and integration issues that district officials expect to encounter at its numerous minority schools with special magnet (enrichment) programs to attract white pupils and at majority schools where minority students attend under voluntary busing provisions.

Unless parents can be persuaded that students on all tracks will continue to receive the same educational opportunities, they may pull their children back to neighborhood schools, a move that would reduce the number of integrated campuses, officials believe.

Jerabek, which is 80% white, has no magnet programs, but it does bus in about 100 Indochinese-Americans from Linda Vista. Those students were placed on two of the four attendance tracks to keep at least some ethnic diversity on campus at any one time no matter which track is on vacation.

“I would rather have those students on all tracks, but it just costs the district too much money for transportation,” Wraith said, adding that no parents of bused students dropped their children from the integration program as a result of the switch to multitrack.

Wraith worked out special schedules for counselors, computer and art specialists, and others so that they serve all four tracks equitably.

“It took one whole week to get that all ironed out, but it’s working fine,” she said.

“Other than the problems faced by some families that still need day care, things have gone very smoothly,” said parent Karen Saunders, head of the Jerabek Family-Faculty Organization. “And the children are very remarkable. They have adapted very well, probably handling it better than we adults, who are more used to seeing summer as play-until-dark time.

“In the long run, I think we’ll see multitrack as excellent. In the short run, it’s hard to adjust to the fact that you’ve got to do everything twice.”

Parent David Pushman was among many residents who wrote board members in February objecting to the change. He still is not enthusiastic about multitrack year-round but said he is willing to give it a try. “Being from back East, I guess we’re just traditionalists,” Pushman said.

Ballinger and Wraith said teachers worry more about aspects of the multitracks than about the year-round system per se.

“They wonder about the storage of classrooms if they have to move around from week to week, or how it will affect their own vacations,” Ballinger said. School maintenance and support, from food to paper supplies, must all be scheduled differently.

Wraith added: “But after we explained everything, I had only one teacher (out of 32) who opted not to come back this year under multitrack.” She added that, in essence, the staff must schedule “everything twice. We have two staff meetings, two assemblies for the children, all down the line.”

But she said that because of the school’s large size--almost 900 students--Jerabek has never been able to accommodate all of its students in a single activity or meeting. Under multitrack, assemblies are simply held two or three weeks apart, with two tracks attending at any single time.

Meetings, Attitudes Crucial

“The basis of our success is that we had a lot of meetings and kept everyone informed through a positive attitude,” said mentor teacher Carla Latimer, who also lives in Scripps Ranch. “I have had nothing but positive feedback from parents and teachers.

“I’ve found the biggest advantage is that the children have come right back into the school routine, and it’s a noticeable thing, that they have adjusted much faster to a new teacher and grade level without the delay that always happened (in the past) when they had three months off.”

Wraith said that “more and more, I am being convinced that year-round as a system is most beneficial to students, to study year-round with several mini-breaks rather than the one long summer vacation. I’m not totally convinced because I’m still going through a learning process, but I can see parents already liking the system.”

Principal Richard Alcorn of Brooklyn Elementary said teachers also do a better job under the year-round system.

“Look, teaching in public schools has become more and more difficult over the years as we’ve added additions to the curriculum such as drug and sex education, as we’ve had a decline in the support from the home environment, and as the multi-ethnicity has grown,” Alcorn said. “So frankly, it’s quite hard for teachers to start in September and run right through June, keeping the same attitude. Some teachers run down and stop ‘teaching’ in April, and as teachers go, so goes a class.

“I’ve been in five schools, from traditional to single-track to double sessions to multitrack, and I can tell you teachers do a better job when they have breaks after nine weeks. I find less sick leave, less absenteeism, and there’s the fact that they came back four times a year rejuvenated, with higher morale and more enthusiasm, which leads to a more positive school climate.”

Alcorn said Brooklyn, now into its second year of multitrack, has found a large drop in discipline problems among students and has heard from parents who say that their children are presenting fewer problems at home.

“I would have never believed the difference would be so great,” he said. “In particular, students with limited proficiency in English are making far greater academic progress because their English instruction is continuous rather than interrupted by a three-month break when they may have little chance to practice their new language.”

Burton Tiffany, retired superintendent of the Chula Vista City elementary district, calls year-round schools, whether single- or multitrack, “better educationally, better for teachers, better for kids, better for all use of resources.”

Tiffany began the first year-round schools in the state when he implemented the system in 1973 in Chula Vista.

Ballinger has received information from the Los Angeles Unified School District, where many of its schools citywide are multitrack year-round, that shows that students on year-round campuses have made greater gains on standardized achievement tests compared to Los Angeles students in traditional schools and compared to statewide averages.

But results of the Los Angeles study have not been duplicated either in statistical studies for the San Diego district or elsewhere, said Paul Goren, a planner with San Diego city schools.

“There are no clear statistics to say that year-round shows benefits or hurts students,” Goren said. “The evidence (for benefits) is anecdotal, but principals assess school environment, culture and ethos in their general feeling that it works.”

Board member Smith said, “I don’t want to try to answer the argument over which (system) is better as a concept. We did not do that in making our decision for multitrack.

“We are going multitrack because it is the best way to go educationally now, considering the circumstances of our overcrowding, if we can assure that students at all schools will still receive equal opportunity to all programs.

“But I haven’t been convinced that (given adequate facilities) year-round is better than traditional. We haven’t had a comparison of test scores. I just haven’t seen enough studies.

“But certainly, a good selling point is that children don’t suffer educationally under year-round. If we can use that to convince parents to support multitrack, that is fine.”


Year-Round Schedule Puts School on Right Track

Jerabek Elementary School threw out tradition in a major way three weeks ago.

The crowded Scripps Ranch school switched to a year-round schedule from the traditional September-to-June routine. Equally traumatic, it placed all students on one of four nine-week attendance tracks, where three groups of students attend school at any one time while the fourth track enjoys a three-week vacation.

Positive Results Already Seen

The results already have been praised by parents, teachers and students: more playground space, more relaxed lunch breaks, and children easing much more quickly into the rhythm of a new academic year because they have been away from class only three weeks, not three months.

“I would have never believed it would end up as smoothly as it has,” Principal Josephine Wraith said last week, thankful that four months of almost non-stop meetings with parents, teachers, administrators and experts on year-round schools resulted in a successful transition to the complicated multitrack setting.

San Diego Unified School District officials also are breathing a sigh of relief over Jerabek’s transition. Jerabek is the first of 38 overcrowded elementary schools that the district anticipates switching to the multitrack system within the next eight years. Twenty-three of them are targeted for year-round tracks starting next July 1.

Jerabek’s success in solving within four months most of the problems associated with multitrack attendance augurs well for other schools, which will have an entire year to prepare their communities. And though the immediate intent of multitrack is to relieve overcrowded conditions with out building more schools, the move may also lead to San Diego parents and the Board of Education accepting year-round schools as a satisfactory system of education.

“I haven’t received a single call, and usually I’m the first person to hear if there are major complaints or concerns that haven’t been addressed,” said school board member Jim Roache, who represents the Scripps Ranch area.

The Board of Education voted initially in February to pursue multitrack year-round schools as the quickest and easiest way to solve the district’s growing problems of overcrowded schools, particularly at the elementary level--kindergarten through sixth grade. Jerabek was selected to become the first school to change.

(Schools in two small county elementary districts, Cajon Valley Union in El Cajon and South Bay Union in Imperial Beach, also went multitrack this month. Schools in the Encinitas Union District in North County have been on multitrack for almost 10 years.)

With a change to multitrack, for example, a school with 1,000 students on campus at the same time under the traditional attendance system will drop to 750. On any given week, three of the groups are in school and the fourth group is on vacation. Each group studies for nine weeks, followed by a three-week vacation. The only time that all groups are off together is during the Christmas break.

The move allows a campus to accommodate one-fourth more students without any more crowding of playgrounds, cafeterias and classrooms. District growth projections show that the only long-term alternative would be building 21 elementary schools by the year 2000, at a cost of more than $360 million, a plan characterized as unrealistic.

Option for Quality Education

“Multitrack is the way we have to go in order to keep offering quality education with a larger student population,” board member Dorothy Smith said. The board will review the situation of each school identified for multitrack at several points during the year of planning to make sure that no insurmountable problems crop up.

The district experimented with multitrack at about half a dozen elementary schools in the early and mid-1970s but dropped the system when enrollment leveled off.

There are now 18 elementary schools--out of 107--on single-track year-round, where all students attend for nine weeks and vacation for three weeks. Those schools switched voluntarily to year-round as a result of neighborhood desires to test the touted benefits of a continuous education schedule, and not for reasons of overcrowding.

The heavily Latino Brooklyn Elementary School in central San Diego successfully switched from single-track to multitrack year-round last year, and teachers there have nothing but praise for the schedule. The move was not seen at the time as a precursor to the large-scale plan adopted by the district, but rather as a specific response to an inner-city problem.

But parents and administrators districtwide took notice when Jerabek was selected as the first switch under the new-generation multitrack plan. The school ranks No. 1 among all 107 elementary schools in terms of economic well-being of its parents, and No. 4 in achievement test scores.

“The key to success has been early and constant communication with teachers, with parents, even students,” Principal Wraith said. Wraith tapped the experiences of teachers at Brooklyn as well as that of Charles Ballinger, an expert on year-round schools who is with the San Diego County Office of Education.

“In general, parents are most concerned about the year-round concept (as compared specifically to multitrack),” Ballinger said. “They want to know how year-round will affect vacation schedules of the family and how it will affect child care needs. Almost all resistance comes before the concept is initiated. Once the school is into year-round, parents do accept it very quickly.”

Wraith said many parents were worried whether students from the same car-pool areas, for example, could be placed on the same nine-week track. Parents with two or more students in the school also wanted to have their children on the same track.

“We were able to accommodate almost everyone,” Wraith said. The only problems have resulted from parents with one child in the gifted-and-talented program and another child in the regular curriculum. All students in gifted classes were placed in one track because of their limited numbers, leaving that track with only limited room for regular classes.

In a small number of cases, parents have had to choose to have children on two attendance tracks--with varying vacation times--or take one child out of the gifted classes.

Jerabek also had to address equity and integration issues that district officials expect to encounter at its numerous minority schools with special magnet (enrichment) programs to attract white pupils and at majority schools where minority students attend under voluntary busing provisions.

Unless parents can be persuaded that students on all tracks will continue to receive the same educational opportunities, they may pull their children back to neighborhood schools, a move that would reduce the number of integrated campuses, officials believe.

Jerabek, which is 80% white, has no magnet programs, but it does bus in about 100 Indochinese-Americans from Linda Vista. Those students were placed on two of the four attendance tracks to keep at least some ethnic diversity on campus at any one time no matter which track is on vacation.

“I would rather have those students on all tracks, but it just costs the district too much money for transportation,” Wraith said, adding that no parents of bused students dropped their children from the integration program as a result of the switch to multitrack.

Wraith worked out special schedules for counselors, computer and art specialists, and others so that they serve all four tracks equitably.

“It took one whole week to get that all ironed out, but it’s working fine,” she said.

“Other than the problems faced by some families that still need day care, things have gone very smoothly,” said parent Karen Saunders, head of the Jerabek Family-Faculty Organization. “And the children are very remarkable. They have adapted very well, probably handling it better than we adults, who are more used to seeing summer as play-until-dark time.

“In the long run, I think we’ll see multitrack as excellent. In the short run, it’s hard to adjust to the fact that you’ve got to do everything twice.”

Parent David Pushman was among many residents who wrote board members in February objecting to the change. He still is not enthusiastic about multitrack year-round but said he is willing to give it a try. “Being from back East, I guess we’re just traditionalists,” Pushman said.

Ballinger and Wraith said teachers worry more about aspects of the multitracks than about the year-round system per se.

“They wonder about the storage of classrooms if they have to move around from week to week, or how it will affect their own vacations,” Ballinger said. School maintenance and support, from food to paper supplies, must all be scheduled differently.

Wraith added: “But after we explained everything, I had only one teacher (out of 32) who opted not to come back this year under multitrack.” She added that, in essence, the staff must schedule “everything twice. We have two staff meetings, two assemblies for the children, all down the line.”

But she said that because of the school’s large size--almost 900 students--Jerabek has never been able to accommodate all of its students in a single activity or meeting. Under multitrack, assemblies are simply held two or three weeks apart, with two tracks attending at any single time.

Meetings, Attitudes Crucial

“The basis of our success is that we had a lot of meetings and kept everyone informed through a positive attitude,” said mentor teacher Carla Latimer, who also lives in Scripps Ranch. “I have had nothing but positive feedback from parents and teachers.

“I’ve found the biggest advantage is that the children have come right back into the school routine, and it’s a noticeable thing, that they have adjusted much faster to a new teacher and grade level without the delay that always happened (in the past) when they had three months off.”

Wraith said that “more and more, I am being convinced that year-round as a system is most beneficial to students, to study year-round with several mini-breaks rather than the one long summer vacation. I’m not totally convinced because I’m still going through a learning process, but I can see parents already liking the system.”

Principal Richard Alcorn of Brooklyn Elementary said teachers also do a better job under the year-round system.

“Look, teaching in public schools has become more and more difficult over the years as we’ve added additions to the curriculum such as drug and sex education, as we’ve had a decline in the support from the home environment, and as the multi-ethnicity has grown,” Alcorn said. “So frankly, it’s quite hard for teachers to start in September and run right through June, keeping the same attitude. Some teachers run down and stop ‘teaching’ in April, and as teachers go, so goes a class.

“I’ve been in five schools, from traditional to single-track to double sessions to multitrack, and I can tell you teachers do a better job when they have breaks after nine weeks. I find less sick leave, less absenteeism, and there’s the fact that they came back four times a year rejuvenated, with higher morale and more enthusiasm, which leads to a more positive school climate.”

Alcorn said Brooklyn, now into its second year of multitrack, has found a large drop in discipline problems among students and has heard from parents who say that their children are presenting fewer problems at home.

“I would have never believed the difference would be so great,” he said. “In particular, students with limited proficiency in English are making far greater academic progress because their English instruction is continuous rather than interrupted by a three-month break when they may have little chance to practice their new language.”

Burton Tiffany, retired superintendent of the Chula Vista City elementary district, calls year-round schools, whether single- or multitrack, “better educationally, better for teachers, better for kids, better for all use of resources.”

Tiffany began the first year-round schools in the state when he implemented the system in 1973 in Chula Vista.

Ballinger has received information from the Los Angeles Unified School District, where many of its schools citywide are multitrack year-round, that shows that students on year-round campuses have made greater gains on standardized achievement tests compared to Los Angeles students in traditional schools and compared to statewide averages.

But results of the Los Angeles study have not been duplicated either in statistical studies for the San Diego district or elsewhere, said Paul Goren, a planner with San Diego city schools.

“There are no clear statistics to say that year-round shows benefits or hurts students,” Goren said. “The evidence (for benefits) is anecdotal, but principals assess school environment, culture and ethos in their general feeling that it works.”

Board member Smith said, “I don’t want to try to answer the argument over which (system) is better as a concept. We did not do that in making our decision for multitrack.

“We are going multitrack because it is the best way to go educationally now, considering the circumstances of our overcrowding, if we can assure that students at all schools will still receive equal opportunity to all programs.

“But I haven’t been convinced that (given adequate facilities) year-round is better than traditional. We haven’t had a comparison of test scores. I just haven’t seen enough studies.

“But certainly, a good selling point is that children don’t suffer educationally under year-round. If we can use that to convince parents to support multitrack, that is fine.”


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