Last year, when California education officials were finalizing a plan to create a new school accountability system, parents and advocates had one big concern: The system wasn’t being set up to help regular families compare and contrast local schools.

Here’s a sampling of coverage and commentary from 2016:

From Edsource: “Parents on Thursday said they needed a simpler way to compare schools and understand how their schools are doing overall.”

From Innovate Public Schools: “Right now, the system makes it very difficult to compare schools, whether you’re a parent trying to find a school for your child or an elected leader trying to figure out which schools in your community need more help to improve.”

From the Union-Tribune editorial board: “(Gov. Jerry) Brown dismissed (Assemblywoman Shirley) Weber’s bill as “unnecessary” and duplicative of efforts of the State Board of Education, which recently adopted its own vague, confusing system to gauge school performance.”

Our staff was frustrated with the limits of the new system, too.

So we created this interactive map that incorporates the state’s data – along with other publicly available info – and presents it in a way that makes it easier to compare and contrast local schools.

San Diego Unified’s school choice window is currently open. It’s the period of time during which parents can apply to send their kids to a school other than the one that’s closest to them. If you’re a parent, explore the map to get a better sense of what each school offers, so you can feel confident you’re making an informed decision.

The Latest Front in the Hep A Infighting: Money

Officials from San Diego County and the city of San Diego have traded barbs and blame over who is responsible for what as the hepatitis A crisis continues to rage.

The latest disagreement is over who should pay for all the efforts being undertaken to stem the outbreak, Lisa Halverstadt reports.

“Are there any responsibilities that the county may be able to help out with given that this is addressing a public health issue?” City Councilman Chris Ward asked at a City Council meeting Monday. Other City Council members and city staffers wondered the same thing.

The county, which says it’s spent $3 million on efforts like vaccines, has an ample reserve fund. The city is facing a budget deficit.

Still, county supervisors aren’t likely to be very sympathetic, Halverstadt writes.

 County health officials rolled out updated numbers on the crisis Tuesday. So far, 18 people have died and 490 cases have been confirmed (NBC San Diego)

Councilman Wants More Explanation on Rape Kits

City Councilman Chris Ward is the latest city official raising concerns about how the San Diego Police Department approaches the testing of rape kits.

As Kelly Davis reported Monday, City Attorney Mara Elliott thinks SDPD should test all rape kits; Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman has doubled down on the department’s policy of not testing certain kits.

In a memo Tuesday, Ward requests an update from SDPD on how it’s spending money that was supposed to help clear the department’s rape kit backlog.

Water Authority’s Latest Feud Is Coming From Inside the House

The San Diego County Water Authority’s long-running feud with the Metropolitan Water District is well-documented.

But now the fight is causing some backlash within the Water Authority itself by smaller water agencies that want access to subsidies Metropolitan might be able to give them.

Here’s how Ry Rivard explains the latest bizarre twist in the saga:

For years, the Water Authority argued Metropolitan was illegally withholding the subsidy. But in a little-noticed addition to a 2016 lawsuit that is still pending, the Water Authority made a new claim – it said Metropolitan is illegally collecting the fees that fund the subsidy program.

In other words, the Water Authority has paid attorneys to argue that San Diego has a right to Metropolitan’s subsidies. Now, after winning the right to get those subsidies, the Water Authority is arguing it is illegal for San Diego to receive subsidies.

 Meanwhile, Metropolitan agreed Tuesday to help pay for a $17 billion pair of underground tunnels to ensure water continues coming south from Northern California.

The San Diego County Water Authority, which buys and resells water to local water agencies, is skeptical of the project. It has four members on Metropolitan’s 38-member board. Two voted against the deal; two abstained. Representatives of both Los Angeles and San Diego have suggested they could support a smaller project with a single tunnel.

A smaller project remains a possibility: The state’s largest irrigation district voted against paying for its share of the current project. Metropolitan agreed only to pay for a quarter of it. But Gov. Jerry Brown supports the project and has a history of getting his way. Expect weeks if not months more of negotiations about who will pay how much for what. 

Art and Science Collide Thanks to New Program at The Nat

You might not expect to be asked to sculpt on the spot at a museum focused on science, but that’s what’s happening at The Nat, thanks to the museum’s new artist in residence.

Artist Lisa Jetonne “is helping pave the way for the rest of the artists who’ll have residences at the museum by showing how art can be used as a new lens for visitors to view science and history,” Kinsee Morlan reports in this week’s Culture Report.

Also in the Culture Report: A cross-border taco picnic, a new documentary on San Diego’s homelessness crisis and more.

In Other News

 An internal audit from the San Diego county pound found employees euthanized animals over the last two years without following proper protocol, and that the organization didn’t have a policy to communicate animals’ behavioral problems to their new owners. (San Diego Union-Tribune)

• A new group of mental health care providers and organization’s that work with refugees is teaming up to make sure San Diego’s refugee community has the mental health counseling it needs. (U-T)

Sara Libby was VOSD’s managing editor until 2021. She oversaw VOSD’s newsroom and content.

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