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The San Diego school district has a mission: It would like more kids to attend their neighborhood schools, just like in the old days. This would require a greater number of parents to gain confidence in the local school down the block or a mile away instead of sending their kids elsewhere.

The president of the San Diego school board pointed to the Mira Mesa neighborhood and declared that parents are keeping their kids in schools there. “Mira Mesa schools are neighborhood schools. The overwhelming majority of Mira Mesa families stay in Mira Mesa schools,” he said.

Is he right? Yup. San Diego Fact Check finds that the claim is true — 86 percent of students in Mira Mesa attend a neighborhood school — and so are the trustee’s claims about the high quality of Mira Mesa schools, as judged by testing.

In fact, Mira Mesa High is one of the highest-scoring high schools in the district. Among traditional high schools, only Scripps Ranch High scored higher. (Keep in mind that some of San Diego’s best-performing schools, up in the Rancho Bernardo area, are part of the Poway school district.)

SD School District: Sell!

The San Diego school district is boosting its efforts to sell land to make more money, even though that could be a big problem if it eventually needs to build schools and doesn’t have anywhere to put them. We have the details here.

TV: The Port Kerfuffle

You may have heard about the big and explosive showdown at the City Council between the mayor and a councilman over appointments to the commission that oversees San Diego’s port.

Check the latest edition of Fact Check TV for background about the flap and details about a claim involving the police department.

 On TV: Tackling the Homeless Problem

Our reporter Kelly Bennett, who’s on a quest to understand homelessness, appeared on NBC San Diego along with advocates for the homeless to talk about the numbers surrounding the issue.

Culture Report: The Strange ‘Street Signs’ Stay

You know those odd street signs on Park Boulevard near the zoo that don’t tell you where to go or how to drive? They’re actually pieces of artwork, sculptures to be precise. There was talk that they’d be taken down since they’re in sorry shape (not to mention that it’s not clear what they’re for), but they will remain.

That’s just one of the stories we cover in this week’s Culture Report, an aggregation of news about the arts and culture world.

Sidewalk Story Tops Our Most Popular List

The story introducing VOSD’s quest to understand the bizarre world of sidewalk maintenance topped the list of our site’s most popular stories of the last week.

As we discovered, property owners are in charge of fixing sidewalks outside their properties, but the city generally gets stuck with the lawsuit if someone slips and falls on a giant crack or uneven concrete. The city may help you fix your property’s sidewalk, or it may not. Even a councilman doesn’t understand why things work the way they do.  

We’ve since introduced a photo blog that readers will fill with photos of shoddy sidewalks.

The second most popular story was my in-depth piece titled “Slowly Dying Patients, An Audit and a Hospice’s Undoing” about the financial catastrophe that threatens the future of the San Diego Hospice.

Home Prices Stop Taking Tumbles

Our real-estate guru Rich Toscano makes a return appearance in our pages to ponder 2012’s local home prices: “Resale home prices, as measured by the median price per square foot, rose for the year by about 13 percent for detached homes, 18 percent for attached homes and 14 percent in aggregate.”

Letter: Look Out! ‘Pod’ People Are Among Us!

Tim McClain, the former editor of San Diego Metropolitan Magazine who’s now an aide to County Supervisor Ron Roberts, writes in letters that the days of the “San Diego 20,” the mysterious group of top movers and shakers, are no more, if they ever were.

“Today, perhaps we have pods of 20-leaders in all sorts of sectors, from tech to labor to electeds to whatever,” he writes. “But as far as a San Diego 20 crushing its way to victory, I don’t see it. And you also have chronicled in recent years multiple establishment failures — from the stadium to the ballot box — that these 20 would have been gung ho to have passed.”

City Still Owes Money to Downtowners

A downtown resident thinks that the city owes her and some 3,000 nearby homeowners $300,000. She’s thought that for years now, and the city says yeah, some people were overcharged.

But, she tells KPBS, “to date no one’s been paid back a cent.”

I’m trying to imagine what would happen if I owed the city that kind of money. It wouldn’t take them years to force me to pay up. But, as KPBS reports in a follow-up to earlier news coverage (including a 2011 story on our site), the city and the property owners (including a homeless shelter) are in quite a pickle due to a slew of complications.

School Gets Ready to Open in … Library?

• That grand dome that’s appeared in downtown is the new central library. Well, make it a “schoobrary,” as our own coinage puts it: It’s got a public high school in it, scheduled to open in September.

The U-T has details about the school, said to be the first of its kind in the nation.

For background, check our stories about the library’s approval and how a school and a library got hitched in the first place. It wasn’t exactly a shotgun marriage. More like a marriage of convenience (and financing).

Snowcapped or Cloud-Covered?

A Canadian astronaut living on the International Space Station tweeted a nifty photo of the San Diego and Tijuana area from far above. (You don’t need Twitter to see it. Just click here.

You can glimpse the bay, Point Loma, freeways and more. There are also lots of pale spots, especially in mountain areas.

Clouds? Snow? Old people heads? Don’t look at me. I may be quite tall and pretty darned large, but my graying hair hasn’t gone quite that white yet.

Please contact Randy Dotinga directly at randydotinga@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/rdotinga.

Disclosure: Voice of San Diego members and supporters may be mentioned or have a stake in the stories we cover. For a complete list of our contributors, click here.

Randy Dotinga

Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego. Please contact him directly at randydotinga@gmail.com...

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