San Diego Unified School District’s trustees are having a workshop Tuesday to discuss why some schools are having trouble persuading the neighbors around them to enroll their kids. For the sixth straight year, enrollment in district-run schools (not charters) is projected to go down in the 2015-2016 school year.

Superintendent Cindy Marten has often talked about her goal of creating a quality school in every neighborhood.

Tuesday’s workshop is titled Logistics and Implementation of Quality Schools in Every Neighborhood. “San Diego families deserve access to a quality education in their own neighborhood!” the presentation reads.

But parents are voting with their feet.

In the packet, the district included this stark set of stats outlining  how many students could be going to all middle and high schools and how many of them are choosing to go elsewhere — either to a school outside their neighborhood or a charter school. Of course, a small group might not be going to school at all.

The insights the statistics provide are even more staggering. Here are the 10 least appealing schools to parents in their neighborhood.


And here are the 10 middle and high schools that are best at maintaining local parents’ confidence.


We’ve explored why Lincoln High School, in particular, seems to be facing an acute crisis along these lines. The district, at least according to the presentation, seems to think it’s mostly about charter school competition.

“We need to look at data and start asking questions,” said Linda Zintz, communications director for the district. “We continue to see enrollment decline, so what can we be doing better to make sure our students — regardless of where they live — are getting the best education they can?”

When you look at which schools are doing the best at inspiring their neighbors to keep their kids local and which are not, you can’t help but see the disparity. Schools in wealthier areas are doing far better. Schools in poorer areas like Mann Middle, Crawford High School and Lincoln High School are not inspiring confidence among parents in their areas. And 64 percent of students who can go to San Diego High, the San Diego Complex listed in the table, are choosing to go elsewhere. If not a charter, many head to schools with better reputations, like Point Loma or La Jolla high schools.

And while Hoover High might be falling apart structurally, Lincoln is a beautiful campus of modern buildings and amenities. It’s not the facility that’s turning kids and their parents off.

Finally, one other note. We’ve followed for years the curiosity that is Mission Bay High School. It serves far more people from outside its neighborhood than inside it. Only 511 students were eligible to go to Mission Bay High this year. But enrollment was 1,109. Students may be fleeing places like Lincoln High, but they might be just as likely to go to Mission Bay as a charter school.

Bottom line: They’re fleeing.

Mario Koran contributed to this story.

Scott Lewis oversees Voice of San Diego’s operations, website and daily functions as Editor in Chief. He also writes about local politics, where he frequently...

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