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Another three questions came via one e-mail:

School closures and possible changes to the magnet school list! … [Any] idea on when decisions will come down? Also, how will budget pressures affect class size?

Let me break this down:

  • School closures have been a hot topic: San Diego Unified is considering closing under-enrolled elementary schools to save money. Running a half-empty school is expensive because there are fixed costs such as a principal, custodian and the basic costs of keeping a building lit and powered that could be saved if a school was closed and its students sent to other schools. A committee appointed by the superintendent and the school board members is weighing the issue and is supposed to give its recommendation to the school board in January. Any decision has to be made by the school board, and the idea is that schools would actually be closed by the fall.

Here is our most recent update on the process. That is all I have for now — but we’ll have more as it unfolds.

  • The school district is still reviewing whether all of its magnet schools are really magnet schools: themed schools that draw students from across the school district. Some are so popular with neighborhood kids that they have no room for outsiders; others never put their themes into place. Why does this matter? Magnets are sometimes afforded extra money to keep unique programs going. We last reported on this in October.

Chief School Innovation and Choice Officer Rich Cansdale said an outside group, Magnet Schools of America, will be scrutinizing San Diego Unified magnets in January to come up with recommendations for the school board. Staffers have already recommended that San Diego Unified demagnetize some schools, but the board has not made any decisions.

Now for the monster question: Class size. I need to do some digging to explain this well. Check back with me a little later.

EMILY ALPERT

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