At a charter school called the Innovation Academy, kids play in a muddy yard behind a Fashion Valley office building while the CEO goes without a paycheck.

The teachers and students could save money by sharing space on a San Diego elementary school campus, but that poses its own challenges. For one thing, Innovation Academy doesn’t discipline its students or even reward them for doing good. What happens if Innovation Academy students get in fights with the other kids? How do you resolve disputes when there a single campus has two entirely different ways of doing things?

This is one of many unique headaches that are facing local charter schools as they deal with the same financial crunches that are plaguing public education across the state. Our story reveals how charter schools are turning to options like frozen salaries and higher enrollments while worrying about their credit histories.

In other news:

  • Would San Diego State University really have overflowed with students if it hadn’t cracked down on who gets to enroll? We run the numbers.
  • We also take a deeper look at the creation of “the advisory committee that didn’t advise” — the people who were supposed to make recommendations about changes to SDSU’s enrollment policies but ended up with just a day to do so.
  • San Diego Councilman Carl DeMaio’s top deputy has a new job working for an even higher-ranking Republican.
  • Columnist Scott Lewis continues his series of interviews with local thinkers by talking to Kevin Carroll, the regional director for Southern California for TechAmerica. As Lewis puts it, he has the “unenviable job of trying to bridge the gap between the tech community and the broader public in San Diego. And he hasn’t made much progress.”
  • Carroll says local tech types need to engage in civic affairs, and he ranks an expanded mass transit system as a top priority with an expanded convention center coming up at the rear. He also names who he thinks is the most promising  leader.
  • The Photo of the Day catches kids finding some happiness in that rear-yard playground.

Elsewhere:

  • The Washington Post reports that the Toyota car company didn’t install a “brake override” system in some of its cars despite years of complaints about vehicles with stuck accelerators.

    An accident that killed four just outside San Diego drew attention to runaway Toyotas and helped spark a massive recall and a halt in production.

  • The state is getting a big chunk of change for rail projects — $2.35 billion. But there’s no money yet for a bullet train to reach San Diego. (NCT)
  • In the U-T: One might assume Francine Busby has enough to do, running once again for Congressman Brian Bilbray’s seat and all. But she’s taken on a new job: as a temporary Cardiff school board member. . . Plans for a park at the Broadway pier got a “big boost,” but there’s more debate to come. . . And there’s even more messy drama at the board that runs the annual gay pride parade: three directors have quit under pressure.
  • Finally, the “Geezer Bandit” has struck again: He robbed a Point Loma bank on Wednesday, wearing pasty makeup on his hands and appearing “somewhat advanced in age.”

I wasn’t anywhere near the coast on Wednesday, officer! And that white stuff on my hands is purely medicinal, just like that nightly bottle of wine.

— RANDY DOTINGA

Dagny Salas

Dagny Salas was web editor at Voice of San Diego from 2010 to 2013. She was an investigative fellow at VOSD from 2009 to 2010.

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