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School Board President Says Budget, Reform Challenges Are Ahead

Barrera Delivers His First State Of The District Address

Audio

Aired 3/25/10

San Diego Unified's School Board President Richard Barrera said the district is choosing to go down its own path for academic reform during his State of the District Address on Wednesday.

— San Diego Unified's School Board President Richard Barrera said the district is choosing to go down its own path for academic reform during his State of the District Address on Wednesday.

Barrera says San Diego Unified and school districts across the county have been grappling with reform over the past few years. The debate has centered on whether students are best served by large-scale changes or changes tailored for students at a particular school.

Barrera says San Diego Unified is now choosing to embrace a community model of leadership over a corporate model of leadership. The community model encourages the district's central office to give local schools more control over their own reforms and programs.

“It's not about some big idea that is coming from the central office or even from the state government or federal government,” Barrera said. “It’s about everyone being on the same page at the local level, at the school level, where people are working together as a team to get things done.”

Barrera says the district's next superintendent will be expected to embrace that philosophy. In his speech, Barrera signaled his support for interim superintendent William Kowba as a leader who understands the community model approach. A new superintendent is expected to be in place by summer.

This was Barrera’s first State of the District address as San Diego Unified’s school board president. Barrera was a union organizer before his time on the school board. That background has carried over into district matters. Barrera is credited for making the district much more responsive to community ideas and concerns.

Barrera admitted that next year will be another tough budget year for the district. Budget challenges have resulted in a shorter school year and bigger class sizes.

Barrera added that the only way San Diego Unified will be able to preserve its class sizes and programs over the next few years is for voters to pass a school parcel tax in November.

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