San Diego Unified School District Superintendent Cindy Marten announces school closures amid the coronavirus pandemic. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

Late last year, during an education conference in San Diego, leaders from some of the state’s largest school districts got together and discussed how they could pool their influence to have a larger say in state decision making.

They didn’t know it, but just a few months later a pandemic would sweep the globe, and their new partnership would become integral in setting California’s still-evolving policy on public schools, as Will Huntsberry breaks down in a behind-the-scenes look at the partnership

First, San Diego Unified and Los Angeles Unified acted together in March, announcing they would close schools. Smaller school districts immediately followed their lead and did the same.

“In the absence of other folks making those decisions we will go out and try to see if we’re on the same page and make a decision together,” said Richard Barrera, San Diego Unified School District board member.. 

By May, the partnership again acted. The two districts, joined by five other large districts, signed a letter saying they could not re-open schools with the funding included in the governor’s budget. Then they began lobbying their local legislators to change the budget. It worked, and schools took no hit in the final budget.

Then in July, just as decision makers across the state began grappling with the fact that the pandemic was getting worse, even as all their plans had assumed steady improvement, San Diego and Los Angeles jointly announced that they could not reopen safely to start the school year. Days later, Newsom announced new state rules aligned with LA and San Diego’s plan. Across the state, schools could not reopen until districts reached a minimum number of cases.

“I hope maybe there will be less of a need for us to step into that void, as the state steps up a little more,” said Kelly Gonez, a Los Angeles Unified board member. 

City Council Extends Rent Repayment Deadline

The San Diego City Council on Tuesday voted 5-4 to extend the deadline for renters impacted by coronavirus to pay back rent until the end of December.

The city’s eviction moratorium, which is now set to expire Sept. 30, had previously called for renters hit hard by the pandemic to pay up by Sept. 25.

City Council President Georgette Gómez had proposed that the repayment period be extended through March but fellow City Council Democrat Jennifer Campbell successfully argued that the city should instead set the repayment deadline on Dec. 30. Campbell said that date would allow the City Council to revisit the issue later this year when there is expected to be more clarity on state and federal funding streams that could aid struggling renters.

Gómez had hoped to secure six City Council votes on Tuesday to avoid the prospect of a veto by Mayor Kevin Faulconer and to allow the repayment extension to be enacted immediately. Because the extension only got five votes, a second vote will be required and Faulconer could have a chance to weigh in.

News Nuggets

The Morning Report was written by Andrew Keatts and Lisa Halverstadt, and edited by Scott Lewis.

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