Tuesday, February 06, 2007 | Education Coalition Blasts Governor’s Education Spending Proposal. San Diego County Superintendent of Schools Rudy Castruita, flanked by 34 people representing diverse segments of the education community, called Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s current proposal “disastrous for public schools” and said that “California students deserve better.” He said San Diego County will receive $213 million less than it should under Proposition 98, which voters passed in 1988 to require minimum funding for K-12 education. Other speakers said school districts may need to lay off teachers, increase class size, eliminate art and music programs, decrease the number of librarians and close some schools.

San Diego Unified Approves Two New Charter Schools. Trustees for San Diego City Schools unanimously approved two new charter schools at their Feb. 22 meeting. The two schools are Momentum Middle Charter School, to be located in the Mira Mesa/Scripps Ranch area, and the Children’s Conservation Academy Charter School, to be located in or near North Park. Momentum will have a math/science/technology focus, and Children’s Conservation Academy will concentrate on environmental and conservation issues. Trustees also heard a first reading of a petition from Jolla Community Charter School, which hopes to raise achievement for female students in science and math. Final approval for this school will be voted on at a later date.

San Diego City Schools to Discuss Gompers, Keiller at March 1 Board Meeting. San Diego City Schools has scheduled a Board of Education meeting at 3:30 p.m. on March 1 at the Eugene Brucker Education Center at 4100 Normal St. in San Diego (619-725-5550). On the agenda is whether to grant charter status to Gompers Middle School, Keiller Middle School, King/Chavez Academy Schools, and Memorial Academy. Gompers and Keiller are in trustee Shelia Jackson’s district, and King/Chavez and Memorial are in trustee Luis Acle’s district.

Timeline Approved For New District Superintendent. San Diego Unified school board members voted 3-2 on Feb. 22 to approve a speedy timeline for hiring a new superintendent, to replace outgoing supt. Alan Bersin who leaves June 30. The general timeline is as follows:

March 1-4

San Diego High School Teacher Named Finalist for 2005 National Teacher of the Year. Stanley W. Murphy, a social studies teacher at San Diego High School, is one of four public school teachers in the U.S. to be nominated to be the 55th recipient of the nation’s top teaching honor – National Teacher of the Year.

“Teaching democratic principles is challenging because they often clash and are continually evolving,” Murphy said. “My goal is to help students understand that democracy is a journey, not a destination. Each of them has an important role to play in shaping the world.” Murphy has taught a total of 34 years and has been an educator at San Diego High, a school of 2,850 students, for 28 years. He is the nominee from California; the other three are from the District of Columbia, Iowa and Washington. The four finalists were chosen from the 2005 state teachers of the year. The panel will make its selection in April.

The National Teacher of the Year program, begun in 1952, is a project of the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and is sponsored by Scholastic, Inc. The CCSSO is a nonpartisan, nationwide, nonprofit organization that provides leadership, advocacy, and technical assistance on major educational issues.

Oceanside School Board Delays Vote on Charter School. The Oceanside Unified School District’s Board of Trustees delayed a vote at its Feb. 22 school board meeting on whether to grant new charter status to its School of Business and Technology. The board will reconsider the issue at its next meeting on March 8. The proposal was delayed because, according to the district’s director of communications Laura Chalkley, there was confusion about the agenda item. She said the item on the agenda was to approve a new charter, but SBT’s board of directors thought the item was just an amendment to the school’s existing charter. So under the advice of attorneys, the vote was delayed until the agenda item could be noticed properly.

Chalkley said the reason SBT needs to be reviewed as a new charter is because significant changes are being requested. Changes include opening up enrollment to ninth- and 10th-graders (the school presently serves only 11th- and 12th- graders), and finding a new facility to house the school (SBT’s lease at Mira Costa College expires June 30).

“The changes are really substantial,” Chalkley said. SBT has been operating for three years.

Impasse Between Grossmont School District and Union Could Result in Layoffs. The Grossmont Union High School District has reduced, from 100 to 50, the number of teachers that may be laid off this fall. The reduction is a result of updated financial and enrollment data. Preliminary layoff notices have to be mailed to teachers by March 15, and actual layoffs by May 15.

The district and its teachers’ union are at an impasse primarily over pay raises, but also health benefits and class sizes. The union wants a four percent salary increase, while the district says it can only afford one percent. District superintendent Terry Ryan said that layoffs are possible as long as the union remains inflexible over salaries.

High Schools To Compete in Ocean Science Surf Bowl at Scripps. On Feb. 26, 17 high school teams will compete in the La Jolla Surf Bowl 2005, a one-day regional ocean science competition for the National Ocean Sciences Bowl.

Convening at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UCSD in La Jolla, the competing students will be tested on their marine science knowledge with rapid-fire questions in biology, chemistry, geography, geology, navigation, physics, and related history and literature.

The winning team will represent the southern California region and will advance to the NOSB finals in Biloxi, Miss., in April. Scripps is one of 25 sites across the country hosting the event.

The teams participating on Feb. 26 include the following San Diego public high schools: La Jolla, Mar Vista, Montgomery, Scripps Ranch, University City, Charter School of San Diego, John Muir Alternative, Multi-Media Visual Arts School at Crawford Complex, and Preuss School of Science Connections and Technology at Kearny High Complex.

Also competing on Saturday will be Carlsbad High School, San Diego private schools Christian High and Francis Parker, and two schools each from Orange County and Arizona.

The NOSB is an educational program designed to stimulate high school students’ interest in ocean sciences, broaden public awareness of the value of ocean research, and foster the next generation of marine scientists, educators, and policy makers.

Feb. 28 is Snow Night. The forecast is for snow at a free Family Literacy Night on Monday, Feb. 28. Eight tons of snow will be brought in for the event, and families can experience real snow, learn how snow is formed, and discover snow animals.

Whitney Southwick, NBC 7/39 weatherman, will read the book “Snowy Day,” and the first 100 families will receive a free copy. A docent from the San Diego Natural History Museum will lead a presentation about animals that live in snowy and icy environments. After the presentation, children can play in the snow.

Family Literacy Night takes place monthly and helps to promote literacy, increase family reading, and educate children on science. The event is open to the public and takes place at 6:30 p.m. at the Salvation Army Kroc Community Center at 6611 University Ave.

This program is a collaboration among the Kroc Center, San Diego Natural History Museum, NBA Read to Achieve, Mervyn’s, and Sunbelt Publications. For more information, call (619) 269-1540, or visit

Teacher Salaries Higher at Affluent Schools. A study by the non-profit Education Trust-West shows that teachers in California schools with more affluent students are generally higher paid than teachers in schools with more economically disadvantaged students.

Titled “California’s Hidden Teacher Spending Gap,” the report (available online at

Although districts may be faulted for the noteworthy findings, many administrators say their hands are tied by union rules that forbid them from assigning the best teachers to the less affluent schools where their skills are most needed.

Unions dictate that teacher salaries are determined mostly by years of experience, special skills, and educational levels and degrees. Also, school districts are usually required to give priority to teachers with seniority when positions throughout the district become available. The more experienced, higher-paid teachers often choose schools with the fewest low-income, minority students, accounting for much of the disparity.

The following table shows Education Trust-West data for 11 San Diego County school districts. The dollar amounts in the Poverty Gap and Minority Gap columns indicate how much more a teacher makes who works in a school with higher numbers of upper middle-class students, compared to teachers at poorer schools. A “minus” (-) sign indicates that the teachers at the more affluent schools make that much less than teachers at schools with higher percentages of poor or minority students.

 School District

 Poverty Gap

 Minority Gap

 San Diego Unified 

 $4,187

 $4,810 

 San Dieguito Union High

 -2,943

 -3,775 

 San Marcos Unified

  4,405

 3,861

 South Bay Union Elementary 

 1,225

 1,608

 Sweetwater Union High

 2,486

 2,233

 Vista Unified

 -1,962

 1,921

 Oceanside Unified

 12

 1,281

 Poway Unified

  870

 2,745

 Grossmont Union High

 213

 2,027

 Encinitas Union Elementary

 1,753

 1,753

 Carlsbad Unified

 -666

 -4,059

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