Strong academics have never been a concern for Old Town Academy, a San Diego Unified charter school in Middletown. Yet the operational concerns – the practical matters of actually running a school – have posed challenges the school has yet to iron out. They even boiled over in dramatic fashion at the end of last school year, with a former principal being fired.

Mario Koran digs into the issues at the school and presents them as microcosm of charter school issues in general: Just because school leaders understand what students need in the classroom doesn’t mean they necessarily understand the larger administrative burdens that come with running a school.

Old Town sought help from a charter school management group based some 400 miles away, but that ended up causing trouble. Last year, the academy was eligible to receive bond money that could help the school secure a permanent facility, instead of leasing. But that eligibility evaporated in a dustup that involved police.

San Diego Unified’s board recently renewed the schools charter so it can keep operating, and the new principal and others are optimistic things are on the upswing. They just need to take to heart the lessons the whole ordeal has forced.

Atkins Nudges Brown to Loosen the Purse Strings

Anita Chabria checks in with San Diego lawmakers’ reaction to Gov. Jerry Brown’s State of-the State address this past week, including Assemblywoman Toni Atkins, who took her final turn as presiding speaker during the hoopla. During State of the State and budget season, Atkins plays the yin to Brown’s yang, defending Democratic lawmakers’ plans to spend money. Brown prefers to keep things as austere as possible. “They like to talk about, ‘the Democrats want to spend billions and billions of dollars’ … (But) these are not outrageous extra programs. These are programs that are trying to restore what we had before,” Atkins said.

Sen. Ben Hueso is frustrated his idea for an enhanced driver’s license that would make border crossings easier hasn’t taken off with the governor. Hueso also introduced a bill this week that would make it harder for businesses to charge more for products aimed at women that are substantially the same as the same products it aims at men (think razors, deodorant, etc.).

Podcast: Filner and Fish

Andy Keatts and Sara Libby co-hosted this week’s podcast, where they talked about the re-emergence of notorious San Diego Mayor Bob Filner and the future of North Park.

I joined as a third wheel, to talk about my story on deformed and diseased fish raised by the Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute.

News from Elsewhere

Whatever his relationship is with Mayor Kevin Faulconer, Chargers owner Dean Spanos is getting good at attracting the attention of mayors outside of San Diego, too. Spanos’ erstwhile stadium-building partner, Carson Mayor Albert Robles, said Carson got shafted by the Chargers, who are now looking to partner on a stadium elsewhere with Rams owner Stan Kroenke. The mayor wished Spanos ill. “He treated us poorly,” Robles told The Los Angeles Times. “I hope Kroenke treats him poorly is my point.” Earlier this week, city of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti was a bit nicer when he wished the Chargers good luck, but said he’d like them to stay put in San Diego.

A record number of applications to UC San Diego (103,000) surpassed those to UC Berkeley (102,000), if only barely, the Union-Tribune notes, though UCLA still received more.

Most-Read Stories of the Week

Our list of the 10 most-read VOSD stories of the week is here. Below are the Top 5:

1. The Return of Bob Filner
In a wide-ranging Q-and-A, ex-Mayor Bob Filner reflects on what he might have accomplished, and argues he “never sexually harassed anybody.” (Lisa Halverstadt)

2. Border Report: El Chapo’s San Diego Ties
All El Chapo all the time, biometric scanning at the border port, trippy vegetables and a never-ending party Señor Frogs-style. (Enrique Limón)

3. For a Defeat, Things Worked Out Pretty Well for Chargers Owner
San Diego officials want Dean Spanos to demand more concessions. He has a ticket to the newest football stadium or $100 million to make a deal in San Diego. (Scott Lewis)

4. State Probing Experimental Hubbs Fish Breeding Program That’s Spawned Deformities, Mixed Results
The state is auditing a Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute program that’s left an untold number of fish deformed and killed hundreds of thousands more. (Ry Rivard)

5. Filner: I Agreed to Chargers’ Framework for a Downtown Stadium
Ex-Mayor Bob Filner was on board with the Chargers’ vision for a downtown stadium. (Lisa Halverstadt)

Ry Rivard was formerly a reporter for Voice of San Diego. He wrote about water and power.

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