It’s easy to reduce the conversation around San Diego Unified’s layoffs into a tangle of board room policy fights. But sometimes that disguises the fact that cutbacks will affect real people.

It’s evident at Fay Elementary in City Heights, where 27 of the 29 classroom teachers have been let go.

Laura Barragan raised three children in the neighborhood and developed close bonds with the teachers she has known for the past six years.

“I don’t know what we’re going to do next year,” she told our Will Carless.

San Diego Unified uses what’s known as a last-in, first-out policy when laying off teachers. It hits hard at schools in poorer neighborhoods with a higher proportion of young and inexperienced teachers. Layoffs this year are so severe that some “young” teachers facing layoffs have been working in the district for nearly a decade.

Carless summed up what he learned about how the fabric at Fay Elementary promises to be torn by layoffs.

Hearing From Students About The Impact of Cuts

Fourth-grade teacher Ashley Knox allowed VOSD into her classroom to discuss the cutbacks and how the layoff announcements are affecting students at Central Elementary in City Heights.

On Wednesday, a group of Knox’s kids skipped recess to send heartbreaking letters to the San Diego Unified school board. Watch our videos of four girls reading their letters. Warning! The girls are sad. You might want to grab a box of tissues.

Our visits to Fay Elementary and Central Elementary wrap up three days of coverage on cutbacks in San Diego schools. All of Will Carless’ recent stories on the layoffs can be found here.

And a 30-year-veteran of the classroom and Ocean Beach resident contributed her own impassioned plea for compromise in the hopes of saving some of the 1,500 jobs slated for layoffs.

Public Records Charges Back From the Dead

The City Council rejected two proposals to charge for access to public records stored electronically earlier this week. But Mayor Jerry Sanders will still be able to keep doing what he’s done before, charging for electronic data on a case-by-case basis.

City Attorney Jan Goldsmith’s spokesman tells us that’s still OK. A spokesman for Sanders says the city doesn’t plan to charge for PDFs, but will likely continue charging for data (which takes time to compile). The City Council approved a plan Monday to standardize fees across all city departments: 25 cents per page for official documents.

So long as they’re actually made of paper.

Salton Sea May Eventually Be the Salton Puddle

NPR reports on concerns about the impact of a 2003 water transfer between the San Diego County Water Authority and the Imperial Irrigation District. San Diego bought the rights to some water Imperial County farmers used on their fields, guaranteeing city dwellers a steadier supply of water.

But restoration plans for the shrinking Salton Sea have faltered, just another part of the tragic tale there that’s been quietly unfolding for nearly a half-century. Curious readers might want to check out William T. Vollmann’s comprehensive 2002 masterpiece for Outside magazine where the writer actually ventures into polluted waters flowing into the Salton Sea from fouled rivers nearby. Skip lunch. It gets a little gross.

Judge Sides with Environmentalists in Fireworks Case

From one toxic desert sea to a slightly cleaner one, the U-T San Diego reports that a Superior Court judge has decided the city of San Diego violated the California Environmental Quality Act by not studying the environmental impacts of the annual La Jolla Cove fireworks show.

Those impacts aren’t always very clear, as we discovered in a Fact Check last year of Mayor Sanders. He claimed that “study after study has shown that fireworks have virtually no impact on marine life.” I won’t ruin the surprise, but let’s just say that we’re still waiting for a copy of those studies. Any day now, Jerry.

A Familiar Photo From the Papa Doug Album

If you saw the excellent New York Times story on Sundayabout U-T owner Doug Manchester’s reign at the paper, you might’ve noticed a familiar picture alongside it.

San Diego Magazine gave a peek behind the curtain explaining how that mug of Manchester became so ubiquitous.

Short answer? Manchester is “persnickety” about having his picture taken.

Correction: This story incorrectly reported the source of some of the water in the Salton Sea. It flows into the sea from nearby rivers, but not into those rivers. We regret the error.

Colin Weatherby is a freelance writer. You can reach him at and follow him on Twitter at @CCWeatherby.

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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