Sunday, March 22, 2009 | The problem with public opinion is that they don’t know the facts. As a board member of the San Diego Unified School District, I am sorry that they don’t.

Busing students to magnet schools costs a lot, I concede, but we need to have schools where the kids are (Central and Southeast San Diego). If we stop busing then the kids in the crowded areas, we won’t have enough classrooms and they must be put in double sessions or in new facilities.

Since it takes two to three years to get schools built (when you have the money) the problem cannot be solved quickly.

Proposition S (just approved) does not build any new schools in the crowded area, and it takes all our bonding capacity up for at least 10-15 years so we can’t get the money to build the needed schools until way into 2025.

Meanwhile, the kids can be housed in schools in the less-crowded area. This has been part of the school district board strategy for years and we do not have overcrowding because of it. The cost of doing away with busing is more than the busing costs, and the timing makes that solution nearly out of reach.

Some will say to sell the empty schools, but they will not return enough money to rebuild them somewhere else. Hard choices!

John De Beck is a member of the board of education of the San Diego Unified School District.

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