San Diego Unified, under Superintendent Cindy Marten, has been obsessed not with fixing its problems but with denying they exist.
San Diego Unified has said the high number of teacher retirements could mean schools in wealthier neighborhoods may be impacted by the turnover just as much as low-income schools. But even once layoff notices are rescinded, the process has a bigger impact on low-income schools, which tend to have more junior employees.
San Diego Unified School District Superintendent Cindy Marten said Tuesday that teacher layoffs for the 2017-2018 school year may drop below 200, down from 952 notices this spring. Marten offered no other explanation, and district staff said this week final layoff numbers are not yet available.
Compare district staffing with district-run school enrollment and the trend is clear: The district budgeted more staff for fewer students in recent years.
The state gives more money to school districts with higher numbers of impoverished and vulnerable students. But it remains difficult to gauge exactly what some of the money pays for and the effectiveness of some positions and programs funded. In San Diego Unified, funds for those students have been spent on “copy paper,” “conferences” and “supplies.”
An investigation into the Sweetwater Union High School District superintendent eventually snowballed into a massive scandal that resulted in convictions for several school leaders and dominated the news for years. Missing from most of those stories was the small, devoted group of parents and community members who set the whole thing in motion.
A group of well-resourced parents at Gage Elementary, and even the school board member who represents them, say they’ve hit a brick wall when it comes to getting answers from San Diego Unified about school budget cuts. If they can’t get basic info, one parent said, “What chance does the rest of this district have?”
District documents show the early retirement deals for 600 non-teaching employees would cost more than $24.4 million. But those numbers include the costs to replace every retiree – something officials said the district does not plan to do.
The protracted search for a new principal at Lincoln High amplifies the sense of disruption and disorganization that parents have repeatedly vocalized. Members of the school’s parent-teacher organization say their voices have been dismissed.
In March, a Superior Court judge ruled in VOSD’s favor that San Diego Unified had improperly withheld emails between district staff, school board members and Superintendent Cindy Marten related to the removal of the former principal for the School of Creative and Performing Arts.