In Wednesday’s State of the City address, Mayor Jerry Sanders said the school district “came forward with the proposal” to put a 300-student high school in the downtown library, a concept we’ve taken to calling a schoobrary.

So how did it come about? I got school board President Shelia Jackson’s account today.

Jackson said she approached the San Diego Public Library Foundation in 2006. She had read a community newsletter in which a parent with young children expressed the desire for a downtown school and saw estimates of the housing planned for downtown. Jackson said she knew that two floors of the nine-story downtown library would be vacant, so she figured a collaboration would reduce costs for the district and the library.

“I just asked about it in general,” Jackson said.

Jackson said nothing came of it, but she had the idea “in the back of my mind” during talks about putting Proposition S on the ballot. She said she never brought it up during board meetings because she had already talked about the concept with school district staffers and because it was only one of several ideas for building a downtown school.

The board president said her main concern wasn’t the library idea but simply setting aside $20 million for a downtown school. That money will be used to pay for the district’s share of the schoobrary.

“The staff already knew about it,” Jackson said of the schoobrary idea. “The goal really was to make sure we had some money set aside to review what we were going to do downtown.”

She said the idea was rekindled sometime around the passing of Prop. S but said she wasn’t involved in the initial talks. Jackson said the first contact was between Superintendent Terry Grier and officials from the library foundation, though she said she doesn’t know who contacted whom.

I’ve put in calls to Grier and to the library foundation’s chairwoman, Judith Harris.


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