San Diegans are bracing once more for a flurry of layoffs and budget cuts to blow through the school district, as San Diego Unified confronts a $124 million shortfall next year. The cutsmean fewer teachers, fewer non-teaching staffers, fewer programs and fewer teacher work days. The school board approved a plan for cuts on Tuesday, so Ashly McGlone dove in to report the details of what exactly we will be missing next year. “Wish I could tell you,” McGlone writes, as she finds exact details aren’t being made available.
The district’s official statements promote the plan’s silver linings without specifying how many people will lose their jobs or have their hours cut. McGlone went through the official documents and came out with an estimate of 1,500 layoffs looming.
The rest of the bad news is expressed is dollars, like $7.92 million taken from special education, $1.4 million from visual and performing arts and $2.4 million from the district police department. Chances are slim that the cuts will be staved off at the last moment by revised budget numbers or other magic budget fairies, McGlone notes. “Even if [a state budget revision] restores the entirety of what was lost in January, we are still facing more than $100 million in reductions,” McGlone writes.
The Learning Curve: Taboo School Savings
While the district scours every staff position and department looking to free up dollars, there are some options for savings that aren’t on the table. Mario Koran reports on how expensive it is for the district to operate neighborhood schools with populations far lower than their capacity. “Thirty-six elementary schools currently enroll fewer than 400 students in pre-kindergarten and higher, at a net cost of $14.4 million,” Koran reports. Some of those schools are located close to one another; one could imagine a proposal to combine two school populations into one campus and shutting another campus down.
“One former member of the district’s audit and finance committee compared closing neighborhood schools to committing political suicide,” Koran writes. The idea of closing schools is dead on arrival, the district says, due to the relatively small amount of money it would save in comparison to the large impact it would have on students, parents and teachers. Closing a school also opens up an opportunity for a competing charter school to move into the campus and lure students out of public schools. “Avoiding school closures becomes an effective way of blocking charter schools from moving into those facilities,” Koran reports.
‘Legal’ Cannabis: San Diego Explained
Trying to keep up with all the changes happening to the legal status of cannabis production, sale, possession and use is tough. A jumbled mess of medical and recreational prohibitions characterizes California and San Diego County, with some cities preparing an all-out ban while others work to set up regulations for recreational use.
All of this is happening against a backdrop of increasingly hostile federal officials hinting threats to sweep into cities and enforce national drugs laws. Maya Srikrishnan and NBC 7’s Monica Dean review the state of play of “legal” cannabis in San Diego and surrounding cities in our most recent San Diego Explained.
Private Email, Public Record
Public employees who do public business over email using their personal devices and accounts still have to give up those emails when the public seeks them out, the California Supreme Court ruled on Thursday. The L.A. Times reports text messages and emails specifically were called out in the unanimous decision as being fair game for the public to seek, regardless of which device they are stored on. The decision is seen as a victory for open government advocates and stems from a case out of San Jose. San Diego has its own checkered past with officials who prefer to keep public business hidden behind secret or personal email accounts.
Home Controversies to Spare in Coronado
The residents of Coronado are once again back in the spotlight, this time for funding their city manager’s house purchases so that he can turn six-figure profits off selling them and keep the cash. Former San Diego City Councilwoman Donna Frye said the deal stinks and ruins public trust in government, 10News reports. The city manager argues he mowed the lawn on the property so he earned the profit.
Elsewhere in paradise, Coronado residents are wrestling with the question of whether nice houses on their island are the right place for recovering victims of sex trafficking to be staying. San Diego Reader reports some residents wonder if the victims won’t bring crime with them and “were offended by the lack of control they had over their neighborhoods.” Others welcome the effort and want to volunteer.
• In order to meet its transit goals, San Diego will need private companies to incentivize their employees. (KPBS)
• It doesn’t look like that years-old court case between Cheetahs strip club and San Diego will settle after all. (Times of San Diego)
• Before you know it, the nearby Anza Borrego desert will be blooming in an explosion of color. (KPBS)
• Trump’s effort to build a continuous border wall marches on, and local companies see jobs and dollar signs. (L.A. Times)
• Two San Diego high schools were in the final moments of a tied basketball game that was getting really interesting until one of the coaches melted down. (NBC 7)
• All the rage in the world’s cosmopolitan cities, San Diego’s first Matcha cafe has sprung up. (Eater)
• But alas, the food gods giveth and taketh away. We will have no Roscoe’s. No chicken. No waffles. I hope you really like Matcha. (NBC 7)