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School board members pushed for more specifics and more imaginative ideas last night for a list of proposed construction and repair projects, crafted for a potential $2.1 billion facilities bond slated for the November ballot.

“I know the pipes need to be replaced,” trustee Luis Acle said. “What about something new? A whole strategy that captures people’s imagination!”

He stressed the need for bigger, flashier ideas that would build excitement in the community. Trustee John de Beck said such “fire” could test innovations on a small scale to later be expanded districtwide. Others were concerned that the list of projects to be paid for by the proposed bond lacked detail and didn’t adequately reflect public input gathered at multiple meetings across the school district.

“To have it still be in such rough form at this time is utterly disappointing,” said school board president Katherine Nakamura.

Charter school advocates argued that their schools, which are independently run but publicly funded, could provide the missing “sizzle” to the facilities bond, and complained that charters that weren’t on school district campuses were ignored. Other school districts, such as Vista Unified and Los Angeles Unified, have provided more funding than San Diego Unified for charter schools and even helped expand charters through their bonds, they said.

Charters aren’t left out entirely: The schools will receive $150 per student in discretionary funds like other public schools. And repairs and renovations are planned for charter schools on former school district sites, such as Albert Einstein Academy on the former Brooklyn Elementary school campus. But other charter schools, such as the High Tech High schools which are expanding into Mission Valley, are not included for bond projects.

The project list is being revised before July 21, when trustees will decide whether to approve it. Charter advocates say they want more charters added to the bond list before that date.


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