Months after San Diego Unified took a controversial step to concentrate more of its federal money for disadvantaged students on the very poorest schools, one school board member wants a do-over.

John Lee Evans abstained in December when the school board made one of its most controversial calls: It chose to gradually pull money away from schools with lower percentages of poor children and give it to schools where 75 percent of students or more are poor enough to get free or reduced price lunches. Though the highest poverty schools already get more money per pupil, this move would concentrate the money even more heavily on the most disadvantaged schools.

The change would take place slowly, phased in over five years. Parents and principals on the losing end have protested it will strip services for poor children who go to somewhat better-off schools. Backers say it will focus more of the money where it is most sorely needed, arguing that San Diego Unified has diluted the dollars by spreading them out to schools with lower poverty levels.

Evans said he didn’t vote on the idea in December because he felt the school board didn’t have any solid information about how well the money was being used to make their decision. The vote was 3-0, with Evans abstaining and Kevin Beiser absent from the meeting.

Now Evans says he’s done his homework and believes that shifting the money will only provide small benefits to some schools at a big cost for others. He wants to put the decision back on the agenda at a future school board meeting, giving them a chance to change their minds.

The question is whether anyone will change sides to flip the vote and how Beiser would weigh in. I’ll update the blog if I hear back from any other board members about it.

Please contact Emily Alpert directly at or 619.550.5665 and follow her on Twitter:

Emily Alpert was formerly the education reporter for Voice of San Diego.

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