Parents hold a protest in front of the Eugene Brucker Education Center demanding schools reopen. / Photo by Brittany Cruz-Fejeran

San Diego Unified officials were optimistic last week when they shared the news that schools would (finally) reopen on April 12. Teachers union leaders, on the other hand, not so much.

An email shared among teachers union members just a day and a half after the district’s reopening announcement cautioned that the date was just a projection and not set in stone. It noted that union leaders and the district had reached an agreement on the necessary conditions for teachers to return — not an actual return date.

The conditions for reopening include that all teachers have the opportunity to receive a full vaccination schedule and achieve maximum immunity before returning to campus. That means thousands of San Diego Unified employees will need to get their first shot this week in order to make it back to school by April 5, the date district officials want employees to come back to work, reports Will Huntsberry.

School Board Tensions Rise in Fallbrook

While school reopening plans are top of mind for many, up in North County, the Fallbrook Union Elementary School District is dealing with increasing tension among its school board

VOSD contributor Will Fritz reports that board member Caron Lieber is the subject of an internal complaint following her recent rise to board president. School officials have declined to make the complaint public, but board members are debating whether they should hire outside legal counsel to investigate, rather than use the district’s current attorney, Dan Shinoff.

Shinoff’s firm represents many school districts across the county but has faced criticism for his methods over the years, most notably when he was sued by the San Ysidro school District in 2015 for alleged malpractice.

“Lieber and two other board members have shown their intention to hire outside counsel to ensure the complaint gets fair treatment,” Fritz writes. “It’s clear from the deliberations in open session that the new guard doesn’t trust the district’s current attorney.”

Actually, Pure Water Will Quench Half of San Diego’s Drinking Needs, City Says

San Diego announced Tuesday that the system it’s building to purify wastewater well enough for drinking will provide enough water to cover half its population. 

That’s a significant increase over previous messaging that touted the Pure Water program would cover one third of the city’s water supply by 2035.

Why the change? 

People are generally using less water, especially after the state imposed mandatory water cuts during the last drought. Households turned grass lawns into desert landscaping. Buildings are becoming more efficient with better technology. And, multifamily housing like apartments results in more efficient water use than a single-family home, generally. 

All that is detailed in the city’s Urban Water Management Plan, a document cities have to produce for the state every five years. Shauna Lorance, the city’s Public Utilities Director, told Voice of San Diego in February that the city did an “extremely detailed” analysis of city water data this year. 

Why does this matter? If San Diego can produce half of its own water through recycling, it won’t have to rely on the already stressed Colorado River, which provides water to much of the western United States. Southern California cities have no real natural water resources to speak of, so most local water agencies import water from rivers hundreds of miles away. 

Water is only growing more expensive, mostly due to the cost of energy and infrastructure to transport it. It also means the city of San Diego will have to purchase less water from the regional agency that controls our Colorado River source, the San Diego County Water Authority. San Diego is the Water Authority’s biggest customer. 

Right now, local water agencies are arguing over how much water we’ll need to supply the region in general. 

Study Finds Pay Equity Gaps Among City Workers

A new citywide pay equity study found city of San Diego employees of color made an average of 20.8 percent less than white employees in 2019, while women earned an average of 17.6 percent less than their male counterparts.

The study, produced by outside consulting firm Analytica Consulting, attributed a majority of the pay gaps to disparities in occupation, whether an employee had children and overtime — factors “largely not in the city’s control,” according to the report’s authors.

Among several recommendations, the consultants suggested the city work to lessen the “parenthood penalty” for mothers and parents of color and evaluate if and how overtime is valued when promoting employees. 

In Other News

  • San Diego County is not moving into the state’s “red tier” of less restrictive COVID-19 protocols, after it recorded just over 11 new cases per day per 100 residents, still above the 7 required to ease restrictions. Seven other counties moved into the red tier, KPBS reported.
  • Despite staying in the “purple tier,” all outdoor high school sports are now cleared to start in San Diego. (Union-Tribune)
  • In a new op-ed, three local nonprofit leaders urge the mayor and City Council to consider what’s worked to make San Diegans’ lives better over the past year before making cuts to arts and culture funding.
  • President Donald Trump’s homelessness czar made unannounced, and often unwanted, site visits to homeless shelters across the country over the past year despite concerns over the coronavirus. He visited the San Diego Convention Center in January. (Bloomberg CityLab)
  • The City Council on Tuesday extended a law that was set to expire, requiring hotels in the city to rehire workers who were laid off due to the pandemic, based on the seniority they had attained when they were laid off. The law, which hoteliers said is vague and cumbersome, will be in place for another year. (Union-Tribune)
  • The Petco Park vaccination superstation, which had to be shut down this weekend due to lagging vaccine supplies, is re-opening Wednesday and Thursday, but an official from UCSD, which is operating the site, was careful to say that its continued operation beyond Thursday depends on increased vaccine supply. (10 News)

The Morning Report was written by Andrew Keatts, Megan Wood and MacKenzie Elmer, and edited by Sara Libby.

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