A Sherman Elementary kindergarten class. / File photo by Jamie Scott Lytle

San Diego Unified’s rate of enrollment decline, which shot up during the pandemic, was cut by nearly two-thirds from this year to last. It’s welcome news for the district, but it doesn’t necessarily signal a slowing down, or reversal, of the long-term local and national trend of enrollment decline in public schools. That’s because the slashed rate of decline is largely due to a huge influx of transitional kindergarten students.

California recently decided all 4-year-olds should be allowed to attend public schools in transitional kindergarten classes. San Diego Unified skipped the yearslong phase-in of the program. So thousands of kids were suddenly eligible to go to school.

Still alarming: Enrollment continued to decline in nearly every grade though less rapidly than it had been.

And with long-term systemic factors like declining birth rates and high housing prices, the district may see continued declines in enrollment – and therefore its revenue will be effected – for years to come.

Read the full piece here.

Reporter’s Notebook: Anti-Vaxxers Aren’t the Cartoon Figures Some Imagine

A woman walks her dog at Lindo Lake in Lakeside on Dec. 10, 2022. / Photo by Ariana Drehsler

Reporting on Covid forced Voice of San Diego’s Will Huntsberry out of his own echo chamber, as he writes in a new piece. Huntsberry recounts a conversation he had with a woman who resisted Covid vaccines while walking around Lindo Lake in Lakeside.

Lakeside is where Covid-related deaths more than doubled after the vaccine was released, even though they went down almost everywhere else. 

The woman made good points and bad points, Huntsberry writes. But what stood out to him most was her humanity. 

“Anti-vaxxers are scary to many of us who believe in vaccines. They are gumming up the pipeline to a better world, the thinking goes. The unfortunate effect of that fear is that it can lead to a reliance on liberal talking points and visions of cartoon monsters,” he writes

Read the full piece here.

Chula Vista Is Sending Councilwoman Andrea Cardenas to SANDAG 

The Chula Vista City Council appointed Councilwoman Andrea Cardenas as the city’s representative on the San Diego Association of Governments board. Cardenas is a progressive Democrat likely to support transit more than her Republican counterparts. The city’s large population gives it the second-most influential say on regional transportation policy. 

Mayor John McCann, a Republican, initially proposed serving as the representative, but his motion was not supported by the majority Democratic Council. He later proposed serving as an alternate to Cardenas but was also turned down. 

Another vote of note: The Chula Vista City Council also voted Tuesday to fill the District 3 vacancy by appointment, rather than hold a special election. The city still has to hold a special election for the City Attorney vacancy.

In Other News 

  • Voice’s Scott Lewis wrote in the latest Politics Report that San Diego is about to embark on the most serious effort to rebuild City Hall since 2009. The Politics Report is available to Voice members only, but we pulled this section for all readers. Read about the new City Hall here. 
  • Times of San Diego reports that Mayor Todd Gloria and other local leaders on Tuesday announced that a downtown hotel will start operating as a non-congregate shelter and welcome unhoused seniors matched with a housing resource.
  • KPBS reports that a former San Diego Workforce Partnership staffer is accusing the agency’s CEO of race and gender-related discrimination and harassment. CEO Peter Callstrom was placed on leave last month.
  • CBS 8 reports that the San Diego Blood Bank is in dire need of donations amid supply chain challenges.
  • An NBC 7 San Diego investigation found that the city has sunk more than $12 million into a shuttered police department gun range closed after concerns about lead exposure.
  •  NBC 7 San Diego also revealed that San Diego Unified School District waited five weeks to notify employees and families after a data breach.
  • A joint investigation from the Center for Public Integrity and ICT co-written by former Voice reporter Maya Srikrishnan reveals that many state and local governments are extracting tax revenue from reservations and notes that San Diego County and the state are collecting annual property taxes from a wind power project on Campo Indian Reservation land. The story also spotlights the Valley Center-based Rincon Band of Luiseño Indians, which secured an agreement to keep sales taxes from its various ventures but to cover employer payroll taxes.

The Morning Report was written by Jakob McWhinney, Will Huntsberry, Andrea Lopez-Villafaña and Lisa Halverstadt. It was edited by Andrea Lopez-Villafaña.

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