The Morning Report
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When San Diego Unified laid out its plan for massive budget reductions last spring, parents of students with disabilities were worried the cuts would hit their children the hardest.
Indeed, the start to the year has been rocky in many special education classrooms, reports VOSD’s Maya Srikrishnan, mainly due to special education staffing shortages.
The district has used interns to teach some special education classes and even asked parents to help fill aide positions. One administrator said in a survey that he or she had to call 911 twice in two weeks because of a shortage of nurses and aides.
“The stress and strain of having to take on so many roles as an administrator and to overcome so many support services being cut (both on site and at Central Office) make doing this job virtually impossible to do well and to give the students the support they deserve,” the administrator wrote.
District officials say they’ve done everything they can to ensure the cuts and other shifts don’t impact services to students. Some of the issues parents and administrators have brought up have been caused by a different transition: the consolidation of some special education classrooms in the district.
And many of the problems are systemic to special education and not related to the budget cuts, Deann Ragsdale, the district’s executive director of special education, told Srikrishnan.
“That is a profession with a huge turnover,” Ragsdale said. “We have a shortage. We have vacancies and we are recruiting.”
To the extent there are always staff shortages within special education, one parent advocate told Srikrishnan, “but I do maintain that we are experiencing it at a different level this year.”
Hepatitis A and San Diego’s Housing Crisis
As hepatitis A continues to spread throughout the San Diego region, so do rumors and misconceptions about the disease.
In a new video explainer, VOSD’s Lisa Halverstadt and Adriana Heldiz break down some of the myths surrounding the outbreak.
For instance; can someone get infected with hepatitis A if they simply touch someone who’s homeless? Nope, probably not. While it is true that the homeless community has been impacted the hardest by hepatitis A, the virus only spreads when someone orally ingests trace amounts of fecal matter from someone who’s already infected.
Other myths busted in the video include the worry that children are more vulnerable than adults, that sewage from the Tijuana River is spreading the disease and more.
• In VOSD’s North County Report, Ruarri Serpa rounds up the ways in which some North County cities are responding to the hepatitis A crisis. Also in the report: A status update on a controversial development project at the Escondido Country Club, new problems at Poway Unified School District and more.
• The Washington Post dropped in on San Diego to report on the hepatitis A outbreak. The story broadly blames California’s housing shortage for the problem, which has caused homeless populations to swell.
As KPBS’s Megan Burks pointed out on Twitter, the article also includes an interview with an employed San Diego woman who became homeless after her government-subsidized rental didn’t pass inspection. As we’ve reported, just because San Diegans qualify for subsidized housing, doesn’t mean they’ll easily find a place to live.
• Could the “tiny home” movement help solve San Diego’s housing shortage? These people think so. (KPBS)
Tweaking the Affordable Housing Fee
Councilman Chris Ward wants to change a city rule requiring developers to set aside 10 percent of new residential development projects for low-income residents.
If developers don’t build the affordable units, they can instead pay a fee to the city. That money is then used by the San Diego Housing Commission to try to spur affordable housing projects.
As the Union-Tribune reports, Ward is calling for five tweaks to the city ordinance, including one that would encourage more developers to actually build affordable units in their projects rather than paying the opt-out fee. The Housing Commission has struggled to use the $95 million in fees it’s collected and “has failed to reach its rental housing targets in each of the past five fiscal years.”
Quick News Hits
• San Diego’s new North American Soccer League team announced Wednesday it will build at 10,000-seat soccer stadium in Oceanside. Club reps said the facility should be done by next summer. (NBC 7)
• Those pricey emergency ambulance rides to the hospital will soon cost San Diegans even more than they already do. The City Council approved changes to its contract with a paramedic company that will result in increased costs for ambulance rides.
• City officials announced Wednesday that San Diego is ahead of schedule in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Reducing emissions is central to the city’s Climate Action Plan, which seeks to cut greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2035. (10 News)
• San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer met privately with Laurene Jobs, the widow of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, a day after President Donald Trump ordered an end to DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that protects immigrants brought illegally to the United States as children. (Union-Tribune)
• With an wildly wacky photo illustration leading things off, CityBeat’s John Lamb uses his weekly column to dive deep into the significance behind interim DA Summer Stephan’s decision to recuse herself from the City Councilman Chris Cate SoccerCity memo drama. Our VOSD Podcasts hosts talked about the same topic last week.