Two weeks into working at, I wrote an article about teacher complaints at the Mann Middle School complex, which split into three smaller middle schools in 2005. The split was meant to increase teacher attention for kids, and also helped the school reset the clock on No Child Left Behind penalties. It’s a model that the district has also used at four high schools — Crawford, Kearny, San Diego and the new Lincoln.

The question many teachers were asking — and the headline of my article — was “Are Three Schools Better Than One?”

And today, district staffers gave their answer: No. At least, not in Mann’s case.

San Diego Unified plans to reunite the three schools as a single comprehensive middle school, after special funding for the small-schools project dried up last year. Area Superintendent Karen Frison, who oversees the region that includes Mann, said the consolidation would save money and make more efficient use of the campus.

Trustees were supportive of the switch, although some expressed frustration that the district had underfunded the attempt to divide up Mann, and hadn’t addressed deeper issues at the school. Mann has a largely disadvantaged student population, many of them English-learners from a wide range of countries.

“We should have fixed the school,” said trustee Luis Acle, “instead of doing this manipulation again.”


Dagny Salas was web editor at Voice of San Diego from 2010 to 2013. She was an investigative fellow at VOSD from 2009 to 2010.

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