Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Critics of the San Diego Unified School District are putting together a ballot measure that could change how the local system is governed. San Diegans for Great Schools is calling for the changes.
SAN DIEGO Critics of the San Diego Unified School District want to change the way the district is managed by overhauling the school board.
San Diegans for Great Schools says the district has failed kids for far too long. The group is made-up of business leaders, professors and parents.
Members point to data that shows more than 80 percent of minority students in San Diego Unified are not proficient in school.
They believe the district's school board is a source of the problem -- from the loss of superintendents to stalled education reforms.
“This has been wasted time that our children do not have to waste,” said Katie Anderson, a mother with two kids in San Diego schools.
The group says its ballot measure would stabilize the district by expanding the school board from five to nine people. A special commission would appoint the four new members.
The expanded board would have to vote on plans designed to get more kids to learn at each school. The board would have to report progress or setbacks to San Diego's city council.
Scott Himelstein is the leader of San Diegans for Great Schools. He says this hybrid school board model doesn't exist anywhere else. But it's the right fit for San Diego.
He says the current five-member panel is too influenced by special interests like the teachers union.
“Right now, if you get three votes, you have all of the power in the district,” Himelstein said
But some say appointing close to half of the members on the school board is undemocratic. Trustee John Evans says adding more people is not the answer especially given the district's money problems.
“We are in a crisis and the community needs to come together,” Evans said. “Proposals that make the district less democratic is not a way to bring the community together.”
San Diegans for Great Schools hopes to place the measure on the ballot for the June primary or the next scheduled special election.