San Diego Schools Going Bust?

Erica HollowayErica Holloway 7 Comments


We’ve been following, some with great puzzlement, at the seeming collapse of the San Diego Unified School District.

School district officials and board members say that without a serious, life-saving infusion of state revenue or drastic cuts, such as closing schools, the state could take over the district due to fiscal insolvency, or bankruptcy.

Here’s just a couple samplings of the coverage reaching beyond our little world quoting San Diego parents, board members, district and state officials on the intrigue.

Far and away the heaviest coverage comes complements of Voice of San Diego, which recently wrote a Fact Check on a claim by board member Shelia Jackson that the school closure plan, designed to help stymie the blood-letting, was not her fault: “It’s not appropriate for people to come to us and be upset. We didn’t even know what the criteria was, we didn’t even tell the staff which direction we wanted.”

The news organization deemed the statement “Huckster Propaganda.”

To be sure, emotions are running high and we’re seeing parents, like my clients with UP for Ed, trying to make heads or tails of the situation.

State take-overs of schools mean just that: the superintendent and school board are fired and replaced with an administrator and an advisory panel. The public voice disappears from the process while the state offers the district loans to stay alive, which must be paid back. Similar situations occurred in Oakland and Compton with mixed results for the students.

What could be done to save the schools without further damage to students? Is bankruptcy the only option if revenue doesn’t turn up? How would an insolvent school district affect the City of San Diego?

Tough questions for a Friday. Sorry, cats and kittens.

– Follow me @erica_holloway.


Comments 7

  1. If we were SERIOUS about improving education while reducing cost, we’d transition to an education voucher (or tax credit) system where the parents pick the school they want. Even socialist Sweden has offered this option for decades, and no one thinks it’s a big deal.

    But we’re not. The PRIMARY purpose of education is the welfare of the education employees — parents, taxpayers and especially the kids are all secondary considerations.

  2. Unfortunately the board is not fired, but takes on an advisory role. A state appointed superintendent has the final say in every decision. Can it be worse than what we have now? I suppose, but what other options do we have?

    Some of these board members plan on running again. They just don’t get it! Shame on us if we elect them again. We need smart people, who are fiscally responsible and have a kids first agenda to run.

    Any takers…lots of people here fit the bill???

  3. Post
  4. Actually, insolvency can be EASILY avoided, Erica. But the political loyalty of the SDUSD board majority to their union bosses MIGHT preclude them from taking the necessary steps to avoid it.

    California pays the second highest teacher salaries in the nation. We overpay for construction via PLA agreements, and refuse to use more online resources to educate our kids. Talk to Steve Rosen or SDCTA for a laundry list of ideas to cut costs.

    Our kids’ education is FAR too important to have it held hostage by the labor unions and their sycophants on the school boards. IF we care about the kids, that is.

  5. What we need are leaders that will lead and do the hard things that most politicians are afraid to do because it will mean their defeat. Of course this starts in Sacramento first since a lot of the district’s money comes from there. So since there is no leadership and no reform currently in Sacramento, no matter who is in charge at San Diego, the problems will continue.

    What do I mean by leadership? Willing to bring out all of the options and make the hard decisions needed to tackle this problem and to make sure that it never happens again. One of the biggest stakeholders will be the Unions. They will have to have their members pay more for their benefits, like other government agencies. But as I said in the first paragraph, real change can’t occur until real leadership develops in Sacramento and solves the state’s budget mess first and I don’t see that coming in the foreseeable future, I’m really sad to say.

  6. Post

    Hi gopmomofthree:

    Glad to see you back on Rostra! I’ve truly missed our conversations.

    We’ve seen student-first candidates fall by the wayside due to lack of campaign funding. It’s tough to get parents involved in the political and financial support of candidates.

    As my parents at UP for Ed keep saying, the best route puts kids first. That’s tough to swallow given the current situation.

    Keep reading.



  7. Post

    Dear Richard:

    I’m not sure I understand how insolvency could be “easily” avoided if, as you say, the already-signed union contracts are the lynchpin.

    Are you saying that they could re-open negotiations?



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