As public schools go, McKinley Elementary has some nice stuff going on. The school has an International Baccalaureate program, and with it comes more art instruction, additional language teaching and other resources many other elementary schools don’t have. Mario Koran reports that if you want your neighborhood school to have nice things, you’ll need a combination of effort, good fortune and the ability to raise a bunch of private money to fund the programs. McKinley was once retaining so few neighborhood students it was considered for closure, but now it’s thriving. “The money [McKinley] parents raised drove the changes to the school in a big way,” Koran writes. McKinley parents banded together to raise $142,000 in 2015 for their school foundation.

School foundations are enjoyed mostly by more affluent communities, and are neither officially supported nor shunned by San Diego Unified. But if your community can afford to have one, it means extra money for your local school for nice improvements like playground equipment or art instruction. Or at least, that’s where the funding is envisioned to go. “School foundations can start out paying for extra enrichment opportunities, but, over time, they become budget staples,” Koran writes.

Learning Curve: The Troubles and Bright Spots at SD High

Another school in San Diego Unified with an International Baccalaureate program is San Diego High School. But San Diego High is different than many other high schools, since it is broken up into smaller schools that share the same campus. So really, the IB program at San Diego High is offered only to students who go to the School of International Studies. High-performing students opt in to the School of International Studies, while other students opt for schools they think will be easier, “which has resulted in a kind of self-selected segregation, one that had been reinforced by the structure of the school,” Koran writes.

An unintended consequence of that segregation is that it has started to take on racial and economic characteristics. San Diego High is trying to break out of the segregation by opening up the School of International Studies to higher numbers of students. They’re also opening up college preparatory programs to students from all of the San Diego High schools.

Homeless Killings, Suspect in Custody

San Diego police on Thursday announced the arrest of Anthony Padgett in connection with a recent spate of horrendous violence against homeless people in San Diego, NBC 7 reports. Police had used security camera footage to urge the public to help identify the man and early on Thursday, the Union-Tribune reported that police were watching major trolley facilities closely due to a belief the suspect was using public transit. Police said the man was booked on two counts of murder and multiple assault charges.

It was widely speculated that Padgett is the same man who was convicted of setting someone on fire in 2010, which resulted in four-year prison sentence, despite the prosecutor urging he do more time. (Star News)

• The Union-Tribune reports that California has the highest rate of attacks on the homeless in the country. But that may not be surprising given that more than one-fifth of America’s homeless population lives in California, according to a 2015 report.

Non-Emergencies: San Diego Explained

San Diego’s emergency 911 system isn’t exclusively used by people who have an emergency. The city says a lot of people use 911 to report non-dire issues like interrupted services in their neighborhoods, illegal dumping, downed power lines and a whole host of non-emergency issues that tie up 911 operators. That’s why the city has launched a new smart phone app and is considering the introduction of the 311 phone number for reporting non-emergency issues. Andrew Keatts and NBC 7’s Monica Dean looked into how a 311 system would work in our most recent San Diego Explained.

Blue Liquid Means Go to Jail

The New York Times Magazine and ProPublica look into a roadside drug test used in San Diego and other cities that allows police officers to perform a chemical test on suspected drug samples they find on people they stop and search. “The field tests seem simple, but a lot can go wrong,” they report. Illegal drugs turn the test tube liquid blue, but the liquid “also turns blue when it is exposed to more than 80 other compounds” including some household cleaners. Judges and prosecutors in San Diego have been found to accept plea deals solely on the basis of those field test results, the investigation found.

The report also notes that “In the past three years, people arrested based on false-positive field tests have filed civil lawsuits in Sullivan County, Tenn.; Lehigh County, Pa.; Atlanta, Ga.; and San Diego, Calif.”

News Nibbles

Protestors in Dallas, Baton Rouge, La., St. Paul, Minn., New York, Washington D.C. and Chicago took to the streets on Thursday to speak out against recent deadly encounters between police and black men. (CBS News) In Dallas, at least 10 police officers were shot by snipers while protesters marched. (L.A. Times)

The Union-Tribune looks into a new database published by the Texas Tribune and finds 19 cases involving San Diego in a list of 140 corruption cases at U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

We are finding a lot more mosquitoes carrying West Nile virus in San Diego this year. (NBC 7)

San Diego’s public transit system announced a partnership with Uber on Thursday, with the goal of getting more Uber users to use trolleys and buses. (KPBS)

A man arrested in Tucson, Ariz., on Thursday on suspicion of terrorism had recently told someone he was trying to buy guns from that San Diego’s Mission Bay would make “a pretty good target.” (NBC 7)

Southern California Edison thinks ratepayers should be careful what they wish for. If regulators overturn an existing settlement, which put customers on the hook for over $3 billion stemming from the shutdown of the San Onofre nuclear power plant, the next deal may only get worse, Edison claims. (L.A. Times)

San Diego Magazine reports on the troubles with eating beef, and how San Diego restaurants are feeling the impact of trying to run local, sustainable kitchens. “You can’t get local beef. San Diego doesn’t have grass because it doesn’t have water.” Their suggestion? Maybe try the cricket tacos at Tacos Perla. “It means we’re gonna have to pump the brakes on burger mania at some point.”

Seth Hall is a local writer and technologist. You can email him at or follow him on Twitter: @loteck.

Seth Hall

Seth Hall is a local writer and technologist. You can reach him at or follow him on Twitter: @loteck.

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