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As San Diego Unified gets less and less money than expected for school construction in the coming years, it has to decide which projects to delay, which to keep on schedule, and which to speed up.

It could delay the makeover of two aging City Heights schools. It could push back technology for the youngest children. And it could delay modernizing campuses across the school district.

Yet it is planning to speed up the creation of the schoobrary, an unusual plan that will cost the district $20 million. It has been moved forward in the schedule from 2014 to 2010. And the district is also considering speeding up technology for classrooms, such as digital whiteboards and voice amplifiers.

Revenues are falling because a tax levied on homes under Proposition S, a $2.1 billion facilities bond that voters approved last November, is yielding less money than expected as property values drop. While the school district will ultimately get all of the money, it will take longer than expected, pushing some projects back.

One example is the makeover of Crawford High School and Mann Middle School in City Heights, two adjacent schools that are slated to be either partially or wholly rebuilt. Both schools were originally meant to be partially rebuilt at their current sites; now the school district is considering rebuilding both schools on the Crawford campus and making the Mann site into an athletic complex.

All of those plans could now be delayed. Yet San Diego Unified is also weighing whether to pick up the pace on other projects such as the schoobrary.

The numbers have changed so rapidly that the school district has had to redraw plans it made in March, stretching a 3-year plan into a 5-year plan. San Diego Unified is asking the school board to choose tomorrow between two recommended options for making that work:

  • Delaying the overhaul and modernization of campuses for up to four years and taking longer to hand out discretionary dollars to schools that can be used as they see fit. Total: $96 million in spending delayed.
  • Delaying the creation of a “data center” that will help support the new technology now going into San Diego classrooms, pushing back putting technology into K-2 classrooms specifically, or possibly eliminating “one-to-one computing” — educator jargon for a laptop for every child. Total: $97 million in spending delayed.
EMILY ALPERT

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