Facing unrelenting budget pressure, Los Angeles Unified has pared its summer school program - again - to its smallest size ever, with only a limited number of courses available to failing high school students who need to make up classes to graduate.

Credit-recovery classes will be offered at just 16 of the district's nearly 100 high schools, with online classes hosted at eight campuses. Only seniors who have received a D or F in a required subject like health or algebra and sophomores and juniors who have failed one of those core classes can enroll.

Unlike past summers, credit-recovery classes will not be offered at LAUSD's adult schools, which are on the chopping block because of a $390 million deficit facing the district. District officials hope California voters will pass a sales tax hike and local voters will pass a $298-a-year parcel tax so they can salvage the adult schools.

"We're in a horrible (financial) bind from the state," Assistant Superintendent Alvaro Cortes said Wednesday. "We've been going through this for the last four years, and it's not going to get any better.

"This is our smallest program in history, and it may be eliminated altogether next year."

This year's summer program offers just one session, which will meet three hours daily from July 9 to Aug. 3.

Seniors who need only one core course to meet their graduation requirements will get first priority, followed by those who have to make up more than one class. Juniors and sophomores will be accepted if there are still seats available.

Superintendent John Deasy said priorities were set in anticipation of a change in graduation requirements for next year.

His staff has proposed eliminating the requirement for 75 hours of elective courses so that struggling students can get remedial help in their core classes - known as the A-G curriculum - during the school day.

"This is not a good situation for this summer," Deasy said. "We're hoping that the combination of the parcel tax and the way that we're going to approach A-G could make it better for students next summer.

"That's why we skewed the priority for kids closer to graduation."

The limited credit-recovery options have forced parents to look to other programs - and even other districts - to make up those lost credits.

Los Angeles Unified has been whittling away at its summer school program since the recession hit five years ago, sending California into a financial free fall and cutting deeply into the funding allocated to the state's school districts.

LAUSD now has just $1 million to spend on summer school, Cortes said, compared with $42 million a few years ago.

Back then, the district offered summer classes to grades two through 12 - not just credit recovery, but also Advanced Placement courses and "bridge" programs that helped ease the transition into middle and high school.

"There was a plethora of support," Cortes said, "once upon a time."

barbara.jones@dailynews.com

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