Principal Danielle Garegnani (left) and Kirsten Grimm (right) at Horton Elementary School in Chollas View on Sept. 20, 2023.
Principal Danielle Garegnani (left) and Kirsten Grimm (right) at Horton Elementary School in Chollas View on Sept. 20, 2023. / Photo by Ariana Drehsler

Many San Diego Unified schools have struggled with chronic absenteeism since the pandemic.

Horton Elementary School in Chollas View saw its rate of chronic absenteeism triple to about 67 percent in the 2021-22 school year, the 10th highest rate in the district.

As our Jakob McWhinney writes, a team at the elementary school is hard at work trying to help students and families avoid absences that can affect students’ academic performance – and school funding.

Among the interventions: an attendance competition between classrooms to get a chance to slime the school counselor, contests to win a field trip to a local park and even offering occasional rides to a student who is scared to walk to school when an adult isn’t available to walk with them.

Read the full story.

Second Homeless Campsite Coming Soon

Lot O has multiple lots and is located behind the Naval Medical Center in Balboa Park on May 8, 2023. Mayor Todd Gloria believes the lots could temporarily house as many as 400 people.
Lot O has multiple lots and is located behind the Naval Medical Center in Balboa Park on May 8, 2023. / Photo by Ariana Drehsler

Mayor Todd Gloria announced Thursday that the city expects to open a second safe campsite for hundreds of unsheltered people later this month.

Gloria said O Lot, a multi-level space behind the Naval Medical Center in Balboa Park, will accommodate 400 tents and two people per campsite. He said the city has prepared the site and is now working to finalize contracts with service providers to operate the project. A spokeswoman later told Voice of San Diego that the city is in talks with three providers.

Gloria also said the city’s existing safe campsite in Golden Hill – where 153 people were staying as of early Thursday – will remain open after the new campground begins welcoming newcomers. That’s a shift from a July CBS 8 report that revealed city permits would require the 133-tent site to close by the end of the year.

Another plan in the works: Gloria said the city’s digging into possibilities at a facility known as H Barracks at the former Naval Training Center, which could serve as many as 700 people.

About the city’s camping ban: Two months into the camping ban, police say they have made just one arrest for the offense since enforcement began. Spokeswoman Ashley Bailey-Nicholes said that sole arrest was on Tuesday at the Linda Vinda Recreation Center, which is in a park – and that police have thus far focused their attention on parks and near schools. The ordinance bans camping in certain parks and within two blocks of schools even when shelter isn’t available.

Bailey-Nicholes said police also wrote seven citations and gave 135 warnings between July 31 and Oct. 4.

Enforcement of other offenses tied to homelessness has continued. In August alone, police data shows officers made nine arrests and wrote 39 citations for encroachment, which bars blocking a sidewalk.

Migrant Shelter in San Ysidro Is Closing 

A Mylar blanket can be seen against the border wall in San Ysidro on Sept. 12, 2023.
A Mylar blanket can be seen against the border wall in San Ysidro on Sept. 12, 2023. / Photo by Ariana Drehsler

Casa Familiar has closed its makeshift migrant shelter in San Ysidro due to lack of funds, Voice of San Diego confirmed Thursday. The South County nonprofit for the past three weeks had been supporting the recent influx of migrants dropped off in San Diego by U.S Customs and Border Protection.

In that time, Casa Familiar served about 8,000 migrants, a spokeswoman for the nonprofit said. 

That aid included: food, water, clothes, medical care and transportation. 

Casa Familiar President and CEO Lisa Cuestas told CBS 8 that the nonprofit was funding the shelter by pulling from its own reserves and donations they collected. The organization has spent close to $200,000 since Sept. 13 on staff and operations, a spokeswoman said. 

We previously reported on how other migrant shelters have similarly struggled to keep up with the influx of migrants.

It’s Not Too Late to Join Us! 

Photo by Vito de Stefano

If you haven’t already, get your ticket to the best public affairs summit in San Diego. 

Our team will be at Novo Brazil Brewpub in Imperial Beach at 5 p.m. today to kick off Politifest 2023 with a conversation on how local leaders plan to preserve their iconic beaches from erosion.

Then join us Saturday at the University of San Diego for a day filled with conversations about housing and water. We’re bringing experts, politicians, authors, policy experts, activists to you — our readers. 

It’s going to be good. Get your tickets here. 

In Other News

  • The Union-Tribune reports that a City Council committee on Thursday backed a plan to bolster the city’s street vending ordinance so it can crack down on rule-breakers and vendors who have cited free-speech rights to try to get around existing rules.
  • KPBS checked in and found the state Department of Motor Vehicles has “made little, if any, progress” on redeveloping its Hillcrest office years after calls to build affordable housing there.
  • The Union-Tribune looked at how school districts across the county have responded to backlash against initiatives affirming the LGBTQ+ community. (Warning: This one’s only for subscribers.)
  • San Diego Sun broke the news that downtown San Diego isn’t getting a Target – at least for now. The company would rather pay the lease for 15 years than open a store.

The Morning Report was written by Lisa Halverstadt and Hannah Ramirez. It was edited by Andrea Lopez-Villafaña and Scott Lewis. 

Correction: This post has been updated to correct that Casa Familiar has spent $200,000 since Sept. 13.

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