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School starts Tuesday, but next year it’s anyone’s guess

Mike Szymanski | August 10, 2017

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The school year starts Tuesday for most of the 664,000 LA Unified students, but don’t plan your vacation for late next summer yet, because it’s not clear when school will start next year.

The second-largest school district in the nation has flip-flopped a number of times about when school should begin, and there are at least three school board members who want to see school start later, closer to Labor Day.

Superintendent Michelle King lost her argument last year asking for the school board to solidify a schedule for the next three years so that families could plan vacations. Her request was delayed when the board asked for more information.

The board has had a lot of false starts about setting the school calendar over the past few years.

In 2015, then-Superintendent Ramon Cortines called for a school calendar survey. First it was done by phone, but many people couldn’t register their responses properly. Then the district compiled answers from 41,000 parents and 7,700 employees, but the board said that wasn’t enough of a sampling of the large school district.

After hours of debate last September, the board approved starting this school year a week later, on Aug. 22, and then on Aug. 28 the next school year, inching closer to Labor Day. (Some school districts in the Los Angeles area such as Long Beach Unified, Beverly Hills, Lakewood, and Torrance have start dates closer to Labor Day.)

But an outcry from union officials, teachers, and parents forced board members to change the start date back, to mid-August.

As it stands now, three board members — Richard Vladovic, Scott Schmerelson, and George McKenna — have pushed for a more traditional school start closer to Labor Day, like schools do in Chicago and New York. In the past, Mónica García and Ref Rodriguez voted for the later plan, and then voted for the amended plan, returning the schedule to the way it is now.

Rodriguez, the new school board president, said it was necessary to get more data from parents and teachers and to find out how the schedule change could affect utility bills and testing scores. Rodriguez said he thought the issue should be taken up early in the fall.

So, for now, there’s a week of vacation during Thanksgiving, three weeks over winter break, and the summer begins June 8, 2018. Click here for the schedule and vacation days.


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