Numerous changes to characterize upcoming school year

New high school to open and year-round calendar to be discarded

When the new academic year begins Wednesday, Aug. 30 for most students in the Long Beach Unified School District (LBUSD), several significant changes will come along with it, including a new high school in Signal Hill, year-round schools returning to a traditional calendar and early transitional kindergarten offered at select sites.

New high school
Signal Hill residents will likely notice a change in traffic in the area near 2180 Obispo Ave., where the new Browning High School is nearing completion and set to open for the 2017-2018 school year.

The 10.3-acre school, which will eventually serve 800 students in grades 9–12, is the second small high school planned using Measure K funds. The campus will focus on career pathways connected with tourism, recreation, hospitality and people movement– all fields that take advantage of business and community partnerships available at the nearby Port of Long Beach and the Long Beach Convention Center, according to LBUSD.

Photo by Lance V. Woods
Husband and wife Frank and Katherine Mcllquham help to prepare bags for loading supplies into backpacks this week for students at Signal Hill’s three schools. The project, which the Signal Hill Rotary Club has undertaken for 15 years, aims to ensure that every student in the city receives a backpack full of school supplies.

No more year-round
Staff, parents and students at several schools that have for years operated on a year-round calendar will be adjusting to the traditional school year of summers off instead of three intermittent months off during the year.

“Our school district will no longer have any schools on the year-round schedule,” said Chris Eftychiou, LBUSD director of public information, in an emailed response to the Signal Tribune.

Eftychiou confirmed that Addams, Alvarado, Burbank, Edison, Grant, Harte, Herrera, Lafayette, Lincoln, Roosevelt, Signal Hill, Smith, Stevenson, Whittier and Willard will all return to the traditional calendar.

Transitional kindergarten
The school district is providing transitional kindergarten (TK) in response to 2010 legislation that changed the entry date for kindergarten from Dec. 2 to Sept. 1.

“TK, an educational opportunity for children born in the fall, is the first year of a two-year program that provides children who have birthdays between Sept. 2 and Dec. 2 a curriculum that is age- and developmentally appropriate, taught by credentialed teachers,” states the LBUSD website. “Parents have a choice to enroll their student in TK or wait the additional year when the student is age eligible to enroll in kindergarten. Enrollment is available at the school site.”

Beginning with the new school year, LBUSD will offer early transitional kindergarten (ETK) at selected schools throughout the district. ETK is for students turning 5 after the eligibility date for TK. These students must turn 5 during the current school year. Their date of birth must be between Dec. 3 and June 14. Parents interested in ETK may call (562) 997-8087.

More information is available under “Transitional Kindergarten” in the A-Z index at lbschools.net.

Registration/immunizations
Students who are new to the school district may pre-register beginning Tuesday, Aug. 22. Pre-registration of new students is conducted on a first-come, first-served basis at each school, according to LBUSD.

Attendance at a school of residence is not guaranteed and is based on space availability; if classes reach capacity at a neighborhood school, staff will advise parents of the options available for their children to attend other LBUSD schools.

To be eligible to enroll in kindergarten, children must be 5 years old by Sept. 1, according to state law.

School supplies
Sixty-nine percent of the district’s students are considered “socioeconomically disadvantaged,” according to LBUSD’s website, and at least two local entities are stepping up to help ensure pupils have the materials needed to succeed academically.

The Signal Hill Rotary Club has been busy collecting school supplies and packing them into backpacks for the city’s three schools: Nelson Academy, Signal Hill Elementary and Alvarado Elementary.

In a phone interview with the Signal Tribune Wednesday, Lance Woods, current president of the club, detailed the work that goes into the project, which started 15 years ago with donations from Robert and Nancy Long, longtime Signal Hill residents and past Rotary presidents.

“Costco donated 850 of the backpacks. They’ve been a great community partner with us,” Woods said. “And then the [Signal Hill] Police Department has been a great partner with us because the Emergency Operations Center room there is where we store all the supplies. There’s over seven tons of supplies over there right now. It’s a perfect room. We’ve set up all the tables, and each grade level has specific things they want in those bags. So, each day, we will do a few grades.”

Woods explained that on Monday, Aug. 21, local Rotarians will organize all the supplies. Then, on the four subsequent days, they, along with any volunteers who show up, will package the supplies into the backpacks.
“Once all that packaging is done, it is amazing when you see 2,300 backpacks,” Woods said. “It is overwhelming in the scope and the weight of everything.”

Woods said that EDCO recycling and transfer company has offered to transport the backpacks from the police department to the schools, where the teachers will distribute them to the students.

He added that the Rotary Club is seeking volunteers to help pack supplies at the police department, 2745 Walnut Ave., any time between 9am and 4pm from Wednesday, Aug. 23 to Friday, Aug. 25. Those interested in assisting with the project may call Carol Churchill at (562) 644-3802 or Woods at (213) 200-0998.

However, students who attend schools in Long Beach rather than Signal Hill also have an opportunity to acquire free supplies.

On Saturday, Aug. 12, from 10am to 1pm, the office of 8th District Long Beach Councilmember Al Austin will host a give-away of 1,000 backpacks filled with school supplies at Scherer Park, 430 E. 49th St.

The event will also include: free haircuts; health, dental and vision screenings; resource information; and free food.

“This is the sixth year the 8th District has hosted the Back-to-School Summer Blast, and it is always one of the highlights of the year for me,” Austin said. “Ensuring that our kids are healthy and return to school with the tools they need to learn is so important.”

Children must be present to receive backpacks, which are available while supplies last.

More information about the event is available at (562) 570-1326.

Homework help
The LBUSD provides homework assistance for students through its Homework Helpline, which consists of teachers who guide students through assignments over the phone, according to the district. The service is free to all Long Beach Unified students.

Tutors are equipped with textbooks and are trained to help students help themselves. Even if a student’s homework is not from a textbook, tutors are trained to help with almost any subject.

The tutors will ask for information such as the student’s full name and school of attendance. The tutors enter the information into a student database to show a need for service. They also send students a bookmark to remind them to call in for homework help.

Students can call the Homework Helpline at (562) 437-2859 Monday through Thursday between 4pm and 6:30pm. The tutors can also be reached by email at homework@lbschools.net.

Traffic safety
At the start of each school year, the Long Beach Police Department (LBPD) reminds drivers and pedestrians that with the academic year resuming, and the volume of pedestrian traffic around schools increasing, all commuters should practice the following safety tips in an effort to prevent avoidable accidents.

Drivers are reminded to:
• Yield the right-of-way to pedestrians in marked or unmarked crosswalks
• Not overtake and pass a vehicle stopped ahead when it has stopped for a pedestrian
• Yield the right-of-way to pedestrians on sidewalks
• Obey posted speed limits
• Not drive while distracted– examples include using a cell phone, reading, applying make-up, etc.
• Stop and remain stopped for school buses with flashing red lights– opposing traffic must also stop unless a painted or raised divider separates the roadway
• Watch and obey crossing guards, who are there to protect children

Pedestrians are reminded to:
• Yield to vehicles on the roadway while outside the crosswalk
• Not cross between intersections controlled by traffic signals (to do so would constitute jaywalking)

Parents are reminded to:
• Obey all parking signs and curb markings – they are designed to protect children and provide optimum traffic flow
• Follow school drop-off procedures and always drop children off on the curbside of the school
• Teach children to always cross the street at a crosswalk

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