Morning Report: San Diego Schools Enrollment Down Again

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San Diego Unified is educating fewer and fewer students, as enrollment figures keep declining.

“The district taught less than 103,000 students last year – 7,700 fewer than just five years ago and 14,700 fewer than 10 years ago, according to district records,” Ashly McGlone reports.

Fewer students means less money for the district, since schools are funded based on how many children are enrolled. This year’s enrollment drop could translate into $15.6 million loss for the district.

San Diego Unified has a positive spin: Keeping under-enrolled schools open demonstrates the district’s commitment to fighting pollution, a district spokeswoman said.

“The district estimates trips to school account for 451 Metric tons of carbon in the environment … Walkable, livable communities are important to protect both the quality of life for San Diego residents and as a crucial strategy to reduce pollution,” Maureen Magee said.

San Diego Unified is far from the only district dealing with enrollment declines. “State Department of Finance officials project California will lose roughly 250,000 students between 2019 and 2028, according to state data released in January,” McGlone reports.

Speaking of San Diego Unified …

Board Trustee John Lee Evans raised a lot of eyebrows Monday morning when, in announcing he would not be seeking re-election to the board next year, he also took a swipe at former colleagues, if not current ones.

In a post on his website, Evans wrote that he hopes someone highly qualified runs to replace him, and that “In my decade on the board I would say that three of the nine other members with whom I have served have met this very high level of qualification.”

He singled out fellow board members Richard Barrera and Sharon Whitehurst-Payne as two of those highly qualified colleagues, seemingly a dig at another current board member, Mike McQuary. Evans later insisted on Twitter that McQuary was the third “highly qualified” trustee he had mentioned.

Scott Lewis checked in with McQuary and was the first to report that McQuary, who won’t be up for re-election until 2022, has also decided not to seek another term.

State Revokes Former La Jolla HS Teacher’s Credential

A former La Jolla High School physics teacher long-known for touching female students had his teaching credential revoked for misconduct, according to the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing’s website.

Martin Teachworth retired in 2017, but was the subject of multiple student complaints during his 38-year tenure, reporting by Voice of San Diego revealed. Students claimed he touched their waists, buttocks and chest and reported other inappropriate behavior. San Diego Unified officials said they did not keep records of many of those complaints, but earlier this year discovered a box of records while responding to a subpoena from the credentialing commission, which opened an investigation after receiving complaints directly from former students. The documents showed the district substantiated a 2003 complaint alleging he put his hand down the back of a student’s pants, finding the act rose “to level of criminal prosecution.” Teachworth was never disciplined, and was only briefly removed from the classroom once when an anonymous complaint was made in 2016.

Teachworth’s case inspired VOSD’s years-long school sexual misconduct series.

Another Day, Another Labor Wrench in City Plans

Just a few days after it was revealed that emergency state legislation is being prepared to save the city’s massive Pure Water project from being derailed over a fight over union-friendly agreements, it looks like similar labor fights could upend local cities’ plans to form a government-run energy utility.

In this week’s Environment Report, Ry Rivard reports that “union opposition could throw those plans into last-minute disarray, hampering the city’s ambitious plans to fight climate change.”

The cities are on a tight timeline to get everything approved in order to be able to sell power in 2021, and “any change by one city creates a cascade of changes that other cities have to approve. Change, in other words, equals delay and there’s not much time for delay,” Rivard reports.

In Other News

  • The New York Times did a tick-tock behind the scenes of negotiations between Uber, Lyft and other companies and the governor, legislators and labor unions over the fate of AB 5, the bill that could codify a much different understanding of who can be an independent contractor and who must be employed. The companies fear that making their drivers employees would swell costs immensely — at least more than the tens of millions they have pledged to fight the bill at the ballot box. A deal to create a new class of worker appears to have fallen apart and San Diego’s Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez talked to the Times about why she refused to budge on key points.
  • Richard Fischer, the former San Diego County Sheriff’s deputy accused of assaulting women while on duty, pleaded guilty Monday to several felony charges. But his plea agreement includes far fewer and less severe charges than the DA’s office initially sought. (NBC San Diego)
  • Lavonne Ellis, a San Diego resident and former radio producer who lives in her van, writes in a Los Angeles Times op-ed that each time she returns to town, the city is “a little more hostile” to people like her. “For many of us, vehicle habitation is not a problem — it’s a solution,” she writes.
  • County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher unveiled a plan to boost mental health services for San Diego’s first responders. (Union-Tribune)

The Morning Report was written by Sara Libby, and edited by Scott Lewis.

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