In the penultimate edition of our five-part series Schools on the Brink, produced in conjunction with NBC 7 San Diego, we examine the possible solutions to San Diego Unified’s financial meltdown.

We’ve already taken a look at what’s at stake in the district’s fiscal crisis. And we’ve examined how the district ended up in such a mess, with a look at state funding of education and the gambles that both the state and the district have taken with local children’s education.

In the fourth piece, which aired last night, NBC’s Catherine Garcia and I examine three possible paths the district could take: Seeking more tax revenue from Sacramento, sorting out its own problems or declaring insolvency.

Here’s the video:

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Want more? Last night, we also held an education forum to discuss the crisis and talk about solutions. NBC 7 San Diego is producing a piece on that, which will air at 6 p.m.

We’re also 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?

Will Carless is an investigative reporter at You can reach him at or 619.550.5670.

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Will Carless was formerly the head of investigations at Voice of San Diego.

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