Friday, March 27, 2009
San Diego school board president Shelia Jackson says San Diego Unified will become a smarter, healthier and greener school district despite massive budget cuts. She made that promise in the first-ever State of the District address yesterday. KPBS Reporter Ana Tintocalis has more.
Jackson made it clear that she was not going to focus on San Diego Unified's $147 million state funding shortfall or the recent round of district budget cuts.
"I want to dwell on our opportunities," Jackson said. "We will become a smarter district in the way we teach. We will become a smarter district to improve education for all, from the North to the South, from the East to the West."
Jackson says that means focusing on reducing San Diego Unified's 20 percent high school dropout rate and closing the district's persistent achievement gap.
Jackson also focused on the physical health of students -- and their environment.
She says San Diego Unified is creating more ways to feed the neediest of students through special programs. And the district will find more ways to harness solar power and use outdoor classrooms.
"Our board recently approved our involvement with the ‘No Child Left Inside Coalition,’" Jackson said. "We got to get (the kids) outside. This national coalition of more than 1,000 organizations across our country is working together to expand our green education and outdoor experiences for our young people."
But some parents were disappointed Jackson didn't offer more details on the budget -- especially on the controversial decision to do away with school buses for magnet schools. Tammy Jones has four kids. They all take the bus.
"I really thought that's what I was coming here to hear," Jones said. "Because, I'm ready to fight, I am! I want to verbalize what I'm feeling. I’m writing letters, I’m sending emails. I’m doing everything I possibly can."
Jackson did say the board was given no real choices. She says the community has to help the board pressure lawmakers to make sure San Diego gets its fair share of the federal economic stimulus money.
Ana Tintocalis, KPBS News.