This week we’re unveiling Schools on the Brink, a special five-part series of San Diego Explained examining the financial crisis at San Diego Unified, in partnership with NBC 7 San Diego.

In Part One, NBC’s Catherine Garcia and I break down what’s at stake, from the quality of education to the potential damage to our community and its reputation.

(Check back tomorrow for Part Two, which begins to examine the roots of the current crisis. NBC’s 6 p.m. news cast will feature a new segment every day this week.

And please join us Thursday at 7 p.m. at the McMillin Event Center in Point Loma for a special live event discussing possible solutions for the problem. Go to our Schools on the Brink page for more information and to submit your questions.)

View more videos at:

(Quick note: The unidentified woman in the story is Central Elementary principal Cindy Marten. Her identification doesn’t appear on the web version.)

Want more? We’re hosting commentaries from readers on how they would fix schools. And here are five recommended stories on the crisis:

1. The Ticking Time Bomb in School Finances

Before school leaders publicly declared the threat of insolvency, our investigation foreshadowed the problem, finding that a series of San Diego Unified decisions threatened to further erode class sizes, beloved programs and its overall financial footing.

2. San Diego Schools Chief: ‘Starting Point on the Road to Insolvency’

Superintendent Bill Kowba issued a stark warning in mid-October: If the state made cuts in the middle of the year to education, the district was headed on the road to insolvency. We put together a simple three-part guide to understanding how it got to that point.

3. Insolvency Has Long Colored School District Decisions

The public proclamations that the San Diego Unified School District faces a state takeover dropped like a bombshell, but our story revealed that district leaders have had serious discussions about insolvency both publicly and privately for years.

4. Solutions? Yes, There Have Been a Few Proposed

School board President Richard Barrera wants the state to levy new taxes on things like oil or alcohol. Board member Scott Barnett wants to cut employee pay, reverse promised raises and ask for a tax increase. The other three board members are basically mum. Even one engaged parent thinks going insolvent is the solution.

5. So What Happens if the School District Does Go Insolvent?

I’m the editor of VOSD. You can reach me at or 619.325.0526.

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