In Partnership with 74

Back to school, ALL together now: For the first time in 36 years, all LAUSD district schools will start on the same date

Mike Szymanski | August 1, 2017

Your donation will help us produce journalism like this. Please give today.

Bell High School is the last to end its multi-track schedule. (Courtesy: Bell High School)

For the first time in 36 years, all LA Unified district students are starting school at the same time, now that the last school — Bell Senior High School — has ended its multi-track schedule.

In 1981, Bell and nearly 80 percent of the district’s schools went on a year-round schedule to alleviate overcrowding.

Even though some students and parents ended up preferring the multi-track schedule, which gave two six-week breaks rather than a long summer break, the district decided to get all the schools back on one schedule. Even the principal at Bell, Rafael Balderas, thought the multi-track system benefited some of his students.

Between 1980 and 2000, LA Unified’s enrollment jumped to nearly 700,000. Even with bond measures to build new schools and add portable classrooms, there weren’t enough classrooms. Most campuses used a multi-track system that staggered class schedules and used the schools year round.

Bell’s switch back to a traditional schedule took a few years longer as the school awaited a new high school to open a mile away in Maywood that would siphon off about 600 of the 3,100 students. Maywood High is also the last of the schools to be built with the $9 billion construction program that LA Unified launched in 2000. A decade ago, Bell had more than 4,500 students.

Bell expects a total enrollment of 2,638 to 2,699 for this coming school year, according to a principal’s report earlier this year. The Title I school is located in the city of Bell about 10 miles south of Los Angeles and has a student population that is 97 percent Latino.

“We promised to end forced busing and multi-track calendars, and together we have,” said school board member Mónica García at a recent board meeting. “This marks the first time that LAUSD will provide every child an instructional program on a traditional academic calendar with 180 days. Thank you, voters and community partners.”

Students begin school on Tuesday, Aug. 15. Click here for the full schedule for LA Unified district schools.

• More from LA School Report: Maywood school is the last to open in massive building project. But dwindling enrollment makes today’s LAUSD a very different district.

Read Next