Students walk back to class after recess break at Magnolia Elementary. Magnolia is one of several schools in the Cajon Valley Union School District to offer child care for families during the coronavirus pandemic. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

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San Diego County has a lot of school districts. The largest has nearly 100,000 students, while the smallest had just 32 last year.

But there are a lot of reasons why fewer districts may be better.

In his latest Learning Curve, Will Huntsberry breaks down whether smaller school districts are any better than larger ones and why fewer districts may have both moral and fiscal benefits.

Smaller districts bring in more money per student, Huntsberry writes, but they generally don’t perform better than larger districts academically.

But another major reason to consolidate districts — one we can learn about by looking at school districts in the South — is integration. Many district boundaries that exist today were actually created to reinforce segregation.

Read more here.

Lobbyist Ensnared in 101 Ash Debacle Ordered to Appear for Deposition

Superior Court Judge Joel Wohlfeil on Thursday ordered a lobbyist who has met with city officials to try to resolve lawsuits surrounding the city’s 101 Ash St. debacle to sit for a deposition next week.

Lobbyist Chris Wahl, who is working for an attorney representing city landlord Cisterra Development, failed to appear for three other previously scheduled depositions tied to a taxpayer suit challenging the city’s 2017 acquisition of the downtown high-rise — most recently after Wahl and Cisterra’s attorney tested positive for coronavirus on separate occasions. Wahl’s attorney had said an earlier November deposition had been scheduled absent coordination with him and could not proceed because he was in trial.

Attorneys for Wahl, Cisterra, the city and the lenders behind the Ash deal told Wohlfeil they had previously agreed to a deposition next Wednesday, but Wohlfeil opted to order Wahl to appear — and that any party who contracts COVID appear remotely — to ensure the deposition proceeds. Attorneys for Wahl and Cisterra argued the order and court hearing were unnecessary. 

The Union-Tribune provided more details on the court arguments.

Photos of the Week

Tijuana journalists and residents tape signs over the entrance to the Baja attorney general’s office Jan. 25 protesting the murder of two Tijuana reporters. / MacKenzie Elmer

From MacKenzie Elmer: I joined my friends and fellow journalists in Tijuana on Tuesday for a march to the Baja attorney general’s office decrying the murders of two journalists in our sister city this month as they demanded as thorough an investigation one can hope for in a city where about five people are killed daily.

These photos capture a defining moment of the silent march: Friends and colleagues of the slain taping images of photojournalist Margarito Martínez Esquivel and reporter Lourdes Maldonado onto the barred gates that surround the Baja attorney general’s office off Paseo de los Heroes, or Street of Heros in English. 

Journalist protests murders of two slain reporters outside Baja attorney general’s office. / MacKenzie Elmer

Hundreds of reporters and Tijuana residents took over that typically car-filled street with the help of a police escort, walking mostly in silence save the noise of camera shutters and some journalists livestreaming the event on social media.

I appreciate how my colleague and collaborator Vicente Calderón of tijuanapress.com put it on NPR this week: “The violence is not just against journalists. The problem is that violence is against everybody. And it’s very easy to kill somebody and not face consequences in this country.”

Arts & Culture Roundup

In Other News

  • Chula Vista’s city manager is demanding Republic Services meet with the city to discuss how the company will credit thousands of customers for services not provided during the trash strike that started in December and ended last week. (Union-Tribune)
  • The County Board of Supervisors is grappling with how to tame sprawling development thanks to a state requirement to reduce the average number of miles a resident drives even while it builds more homes to accommodate population growth.
  • In a new op-ed, La Mesa Councilwoman Laura Lothian argues that cities like hers should have full city council discussions, and votes, on the preferences of the city as a whole before the cities’ representatives at regional entities like SANDAG and MTS cast votes on major decisions facing those agencies.

This Morning Report was written by Maya Srikrishnan, Lisa Halverstadt and MacKenzie Elmer. It was edited by Andrew Keatts and Megan Wood.

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