Superintendent Cindy Marten delivers her State of the School District address. / Photo by Jamie Scott Lytle

Five years ago, Cindy Marten became superintendent of the second largest school district in California, San Diego Unified.

Marten had a vision when she started: that every student in the district would have access to a quality school in their neighborhood.

In a new story, Mario Koran looks at Marten’s progress in advancing the district over the last five years. He examines several metrics, including test scores and graduation rates, employee satisfaction, the number of students going to their neighborhood schools and the fate of one school in particular, Lincoln High.

Koran found that the district’s gains under Marten have been incremental and difficult to measure.

District enrollment continues to fall, while a perpetual budget shortfall has resulted in program cuts, layoff notices and disruptions to special education services.

Test scores have improved under Marten, but an achievement gap persists between white students and Latino and black students.

Finally, there isn’t a quality school in every neighborhood. Nowhere is that clearer than at Lincoln High, which has had four principals and an onslaught of problems during Marten’s tenure. And roughly the same percentage of students are opting out of their neighborhood school as when Marten started five years ago.

Homelessness Down in San Diego

Homelessness in the city and county has dropped, according to the latest homeless census.

The Regional Task Force on the Homeless, a countywide group that leads an annual point-in-time count, announced Thursday that homelessness was down 6 percent countywide.

The region saw a 3 percent increase in homeless San Diegans staying in shelters this year – partly a reflection of three new shelter tents in the city – and an 11 percent decrease in the number of people living on the streets. In the city, where the new shelters have gone up, officials reported a 19 percent drop in street homelessness.

Perhaps most striking was the sharp decrease in homeless tents tallied during this year’s census.

In downtown San Diego alone, there was a 52 percent decrease in homeless tents, a reflection of increased police enforcement and sidewalk cleaning efforts in the wake of the hepatitis A outbreak.

Stops and Starts on Housing Construction

A big part of the region’s housing woes are tied to supply issues. There’s not enough housing at middle-income and low-income price points. That’s why it’s puzzling SANDAG voted last week to ask the state to reduce the amount of housing the region needs to build. La Mesa City Councilman Colin Parent said on Twitter he’s asked the state to deny SANDAG’s request. Assemblyman Todd Gloria responded that he’d done the same.

Grand Jury’s Take on the Hep A Crisis Not as Kind as the County’s

A San Diego County Grand Jury report released Thursday blasted city and county leaders for failing to adequately communicate and coordinate as a deadly hepatitis A outbreak rapidly spread last year.

The report called on the city to add more restrooms and handwashing facilities for homeless people, and concluded the county should declare a public health emergency “much sooner” than the six months it took to do so last year.

The extremely critical report stands in wild contrast to a report the county conducted on itself, which found its “response was characterized by a concentrated focus on the challenge at hand” and included “areas of success as well as areas for improvement.”

The grand jury has asked city and county officials to respond to its findings by mid-August.

Convention Center’s Expansion Could Be Closer

KUSI reports that the city and the Port of San Diego have signed an agreement with a developer to acquire land next to the Convention Center. It’s an important piece of property that’s needed for a bayfront expansion.

We’ve known for a while a deal was close. This is further confirmation that $30 million sounds like the number. (And it’s a lot higher than the $12.5 million the city could have had the lease for before it stopped making payments.)

The real issue is the timing. Would they hand over the money after the ballot measure for the Convention Center expansion passes? Would it be sent over before? Maybe half and half? What happens if the ballot measure only gets a simple majority and the partners who hold the lease don’t want to wait for a court to see if that means it passes?

San Diego State’s ‘Spirit Leader’

San Diego State President Sally Roush announced Thursday that “The use of the Aztec moniker will continue.” Things won’t be staying exactly the same, though: “The Aztec Warrior … will be retained, but as a Spirit Leader, not a mascot,” according to Roush’s message.

The University Senate passed a resolution last year condemning the Aztec mascot and recommending the university review the continued use of the “Aztecs” moniker.

aztec mascot
Students rally to retire the Aztec mascot and moniker in April 2017. / Photo by Andrew Dyer

Roush based her decision on the recommendation of a secret task force formed in February to evaluate the Senate’s recommendations. This will likely be Roush’s final major decision, as her replacement, Adela de la Torre, will assume the job in July.

In Other News

The Morning Report was written and compiled by Maya Srikrishnan and Kinsee Morlan, and edited by Sara Libby.

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