After a tax hike, two ballot propositions and $1 billion in spending, San Diego’s city schools are in worse condition today than they were eight years ago, according to new data the district handed over to its Independent Citizens’ Oversight Committee.

The report shows the agency’s Facility Condition Index is significantly worse than it was in 2012, when Proposition Z was passed. And even worse than it was in 2008, when voters approved Proposition S.

Proposition Z was a property tax hike officially called the San Diego Neighborhood Schools Classroom Safety and Repair Measure. It had a main objective of “repairing deteriorating 60-year-old classrooms, libraries, wiring, plumbing, bathrooms and leaky roofs,” according to the ballot language voters saw.

Proposition S was an extension of a previous tax hike. Combined, they were worth $4.9 billion.

Now, after the district has spent $1 billion, buildings are in worse shape than they were in 2008.

The index, or FCI, is a standard industry measurement calculated by dividing the total cost of facility replacement, repair and renovation needs by the replacement value – determined by multiplying the district’s total square footage by the current cost for new construction per square foot. The amount to totally repair San Diego Unified’s buildings is $1.25 billion. To replace them entirely comes in at $5.5 billion, the latest figures estimate.

We Stand Up for You. Will You Stand Up for Us?

An index below 5 percent is good. Six to 10 percent is fair. Above 10 percent is poor.

San Diego Unified’s average FCI presently stands at 22.7 percent, up from around 18 percent when Proposition Z was passed in 2012, and 15 percent when Proposition S was passed in 2008, the new data shows.

How could they spend $1 billion and school buildings still end up worse off?

The answer lies in a combination of factors. First, the district claims the original data used to pitch the bonds was understated, creating an imperfect benchmark by which to measure the progress officials say has indeed been made. But the district hasn’t yet produced any data to back that claim.

The district also said it’s misleading to compare old data points to new ones, but the district itself does so in its own reports.

The same consultant, AECOM, produced each of the facility assessments, but district officials are more confident in the latest figures. In lieu of new “old” figures, here’s a look at what the existing data has shown and what we know.

San Diego Unified has spent large swaths of bond money on things like wireless Internet access and iPads, which, while valuable, do nothing to improve crumbling school buildings and leaky roofs. Nor do other projects prioritized early in the district’s bond program, like new stadiums, improve the FCI.

The poor condition of the district’s schools has reached new heights not seen since before another school bond measure, Proposition MM, passed in 1998. Prop. MM brought $1.51 billion in taxpayer-funded improvements to the district and reduced the FCI from 22 percent to 15 percent – although the district’s new flawed-data claim throws that statistic into question.

Old buildings also get older with time, and they require maintenance to ensure they don’t fall into disrepair. Buildings are aging each day, so district officials are racing against the clock to make facilities better before they get worse. Inflation can also increase costs and negatively affect the index.

On the upside, there is still $3.9 billion left to be spent from Proposition S and Z. (A closer look at the next $800 million in projects can be seen here.) But decisions and project commitments early on have a huge impact and set the tone for the bond program, a lesson the district learned from Prop. MM.

“From the beginning, focus on the goal of keeping our promises to the voters and the schools,” a pre-Prop. S ad hoc bond task force presentation listed tops among its MM lessons.

Improving the overall condition of school facilities was a major promise of both Prop. S and Z.

Prop. S progress was stymied in large part by the economic crisis, which caused home values to plummet and prevented the district from issuing the $2.1 billion in property-backed debt as quickly as planned.

By 2010, dreams of getting the average condition of district schools into the 5 to 7 percent FCI zone anytime soon were lost and pushed back to the year 2026.

Voters were told in 2012 Prop. Z would offer a new $2.8 billion revenue stream to deliver on those pledges and improve the district’s schools sooner. In the run-up to the election, district officials projected Prop. Z money would get the FCI to drop to about 17 percent by now. The index would hit the 5 percent “good” target by 2023, a district memo shows.

San Diego Unified's July 2012 FCI Projections

But that was 2012.

Now, projections show average facility conditions will improve to just 12 percent by 2024, then level off in the still-poor zone before beginning to climb again unless new state or local revenue is obtained.

Translation: A new local bond measure could be brought before voters in the next four to eight years to – once again – fix San Diego’s still-broken schools.

2015 San Diego Unified FCI Projections

District spokeswoman Cynthia Reed-Porter said it is too soon to say whether the district anticipates putting another bond before voters in the next few years, but nothing is currently in the works. She also said the district is hoping a state facility bond will go on the ballot this year and provide matching dollars to boost the funds available for construction.

Reed-Porter objected to any notion the voters were misled by previous school repair and safety bond campaigns, writing in an email, “No, if anything, our work has proved that the safety and repair needs that existed in 2008 were slightly underestimated.”

“During the course of renovating our school buildings, facilities staff, architects and engineers encountered and assessed more wear and deterioration than had originally been assessed,” Reed-Porter wrote.

The district has yet to produce new data points for years past to make this case.

Those 2012 estimations the district now says were off cost $1.1 million, according to district records. It’s unclear what the 2008 estimates cost.

A delay in a bond sale meant the district could complete only $79 million out of the $123 million in repair and replacement work planned for 2015, officials added, and the new push for air conditioning has not yet been factored into the new projections and will help.

So will more whole-site modernization projects coming up, which can rebuild schools from top to bottom and inside and out, said Reed-Porter, speaking on behalf of facilities and bond program chief Lee Dulgeroff.

Andy Berg, chair of San Diego Unified’s independent citizen’s bond oversight committee, did not respond to multiple requests for comment for this story.

Bond oversight committee member Bill Ponder said he doesn’t recall ever hearing the old data was wrong, even during recent FCI discussions with district staff. He found the data unsettling.

“It is troubling. It should be troubling for most folks. They are going to spend all that money, the $5 billion, and then they are going to come back to the taxpayers and say, ‘Well, we couldn’t get the FCI down,’” said Ponder, who’s been on the committee since 2012.

“Not all the projects in the voter guide are going to get done,” Ponder said. Project priorities matter because, “That comes off the top. That money is gone.”

Ponder sees the district’s failure to adequately pitch in for maintenance as a major shortcoming, and blaming the economic crisis doesn’t cut it, he said. “That’s 2008. It’s 2016.”

He acknowledges the district’s ongoing budget deficit is a reality, but said, “that goes to an even greater problem. Why hasn’t the superintendent and the board been able to fix that problem so that they can put money into fixing the facilities?”

“There have been isolated complaints and people have complained and sued, but there hasn’t been a groundswell of people asking, ‘What is going on with this bond? And why is that index heading in the wrong direction?’” Ponder said.

The San Diego County Taxpayers Association, which opposed Prop. Z, is also concerned.

“San Diego Unified promised voters in two successive bond measure campaigns that the extra taxes they’re paying would improve the condition of the district’s badly deteriorating facilities. It’s clear that they’ve failed to deliver on that promise,” said CEO Haney Hong in a statement. “Should the district put another funding measure on the ballot, we’ll work to inform voters of the outcomes from past funding, and we’ll oppose efforts to seek additional dollars unless and until past commitments have been met.”

    This article relates to: Education, School Bonds

    Written by Ashly McGlone

    Ashly is an investigative reporter for Voice of San Diego. She can be reached at or 619.550.5669.

    Marcus T
    Marcus T

    A little about me. My family has been in the real estate and law sectors since the late 80s. I am a science grat and worked in IT for nearly 15 years.

    A few obvious issues with the theories here. The biggest, does this index account for inflation and change in industry (construction) costs? Because if you recall, 2012 was still in the middle of the financial crisis. Builders and suppliers were still in pretty dire straights and were doing jobs at cost just to stay afloat. You could have easily built a new home back then at around $60-$80 sqft. Go get an estimate today. That cost is now back to the normal $80-$100 sqft. All that and I am not even accounting for inflation on the building materials which has also climbed.

    >> You cannot compare replacement cost without accounting for cost inflation <<.

    Second, IT infrastructure should be counted as part of the calculation because it is a requirement in today's world. The problem however is that IT infrastructure depreciates at a very high rate so its heavy handed to compare todays index trend to that of old should you include IT. In general, IT infrastructure becomes near worthless every 10 years (productivity devices like PC's and tablets depreciate even faster to the toon of about 5 years). But a high school without IT infrastructure is practically worthless for its intended purpose, so you need to count that as part of the infrastructure.

    Just my 2 cents.

    Daniel Smiechowski
    Daniel Smiechowski subscriber

    Dear Editor: To your fact filled editorial of today, Wednesday, I say: Amen! Our School Board while unctuously, if not hypocritically,  responding to the criticism of the Facility Condition Index, you have highlighted a continuing problem.The lack of accountability and the failure to report periodically on the status of capital expenditures to vital infrastructure.May I suggest that part of the problem is the manner of election of the school board members, nominated by district, then election by city at large and the absence of Term Limits! The voters know who is the dominant voice of the electorate - the Teachers Union orthe $MONEY$ to finance a citywide campaign. We need a Board with members who respond to their community and first and foremost to students and parents, their needs & requirements. We don't need seasoned bureaucrats! Hence, I am supportingDaniel Smiechowski for election to the Board of Trustees, so that this objective is accomplished. Respectfully, Richard Castro,4534 Jutland Drive, San Diego, CA 92117-2450  (Tel: 858-273-4794) 
    P.S. Please communicate my congratulations to Jeff Light upon his promotion to Publisher. A well deserved advancement!I wish him well and a bright future for the SDUT.

    Michael Russell
    Michael Russell subscriber

    The picture looks like a pretty good classroom, no a 22% FCI classroom.

    Eric Johnston
    Eric Johnston

    Where's all the lottery money that was promised to make our schools world class? Oh yeah, the legislature diverted it to the general fund.

    The school district has proven time and again that they can't manage their budget appropriately. The legislature has proven they can't do what they promise.

    Daniel Smiechowski
    Daniel Smiechowski subscriber

    You folks are whistling past the graveyard. Either support a candidate or run yourself. It's as simple as that and please GOTV!   Elect Danny....

    FrontPorch subscriber

    A couple of thoughts:  Many years ago, before Proposition 13, people whose kids had grown up still voted to improve the public schools their children no longer attended.  Then the public realized that the school district was not spending the money on promised goals, but the amount of taxes for schools still kept climbing.  Broad-based public support for school taxes ebbed.  Now the children of that era are adult voters, having  sent their kids and grandkids through district schools that are run-down, poorly equipped, with class sizes that are always too high for effective teaching and learning.  What is more, the district has concocted ludicrous reasons for building large, lighted stadiums in places where residents have begged them not to ruin their neighborhoods with noise, traffic and other pollution.  The district also has sold properties to developers -- properties it could never afford to purchase again --  which will be needed in the future for school or administrative facilities as neighborhood density intensifies according to regional plans.

    This is why broad-based public support for bonds and school administrators is low -- because they don't hear us, they don't see us, and they don't care about how their decisions affect the lives of our kids, our teachers, and our neighborhoods. Who are they listening to, if not us?  The same small, powerful contingent of special interests that have always had their ear.  As I recall from the fight to save Dana Junior High School from being replaced by 273 condos, that contingent consisted of developers, their engineering and construction companies, their bankers, and their social cohort.  I bet those folks all send their kids to private schools.

    Cindy Conger
    Cindy Conger subscriber

    You've got to see that there's something Wrong with this school board when it, in the middle of the worst real estate market, sells off both an 'active school' that they just invested $millions of bond monies into....and the two major Coastal Properties that they Barnard & Mission Bay.  This, when they could have easily used either property as 'collateral' to fund their 'missing $20 milllion deficit!'

    After pointing this out to them (as a long time REALTOR, 5 of 6 yr. Peninsula Planning Board Chair & 10-yr. member of SDUSD's 'Excess School Properties Committee'), the 'new board' ignored my comments & proceeded to push to close both properties (& threaten to close, not one school on Peninsula, but a total of 5!), just a few years before one would soon be 'needed' (looking at the next baby boom) here. Forcing the prior 'temporary' CFO' to wake them up to Recent 'Sold Market Comparables' in both areas, they finally 'brought up by nearly double one intended list price' and increased the other, resulting in both property's 'being substantially 'overbid, repeatedly,' with a profit gain on the sale to be over $15 million more than what they had originally been expected.  Note:  None of the many 'local contractors' I contacted days before the 'closed bid submissions', had even 'heard of the sale,' and it appears that the 'winning bids' were not 'local.' Now, where Barnard's 9.4 Coastal Acres sits (sold at $42/sf apprx.!!) are a total of 180 More Residential Family Condos!  How many more 'families' will Peninsula's schools soon have to 'add' to their numbers, causing overcrowding?

    Wake up's time to get some real 'representatives' for Your Valuable 'School Properties,' as well as concerned parents to represent this District's curriculum!  It took just a few of us to 'turn around' grossly inadequate programs in the 'early 90's' that 'removed phonics'...and a few parents to be involved in a monthly, committee (with few 'time requirements') that kept our school board accountable to retain our communities' assets for future generations here (for more than 10 years).  Note that as a conservative voter, my 'liberal-representative' Trustee appointed me to assure that 'his district' would maintain its value by keeping its school's real estate.  As soon as he was out, it appears this board's 'goal' was to 'sell off' the District's best assets to their 'funding sources for their elections'....and where Did all those Extra Monies go?  At least $10 million extra?  Just's time to 'follow the money'....time to get rid of those who have not listened to their constituents nor paid attention to demographics that will soon very negatively affect this area's children and future generations of San Diegans.

    Bill Bradshaw
    Bill Bradshaw subscribermember

    I think I just found something I’d be less likely to vote for than a new Chargers’ stadium, and that’s another school bond.  What are these people doing?  For about 4 years they have had taxpayer authorization to spend 4.9 billion, and they’ve managed to spend only 1 while the physical condition of the schools, the reason for two bonds, has actually worsened?

    I realize that every politician thinks people get elected or reelected by building new things but not by creating and operating a good maintenance/repair program, but here we have money dedicated to just that and they aren’t using it?  I know, professional kitchens and media labs are sexier than re-roofing leaky classrooms, but this is nuts.  Tell me again what they paid per iPad?  

    I’ll give the district credit for one thing, and that’s world class dissembling:  “….the original data used to pitch the bonds was understated, creating an imperfect benchmark by which to measure progress…..”.  Huh?  “….misleading to compare old data points to new ones……”.  Say, what? 

    How does one apply for the Independent Citizens Oversight Committee?What authority do they have to enforce their recommendations?You say “none”?Guess I just lost interest.  

    Bill Bradshaw
    Bill Bradshaw subscribermember

    @Ashly McGlone @Bill Bradshaw Ashley,  Thanks for the reminder of how stupid the district can be and their self-congratulatory comments about how they improved the situation are just ludicrous.  I'll never understand school finance, because it's not of the real world.

    Anniej subscriber

    Mr. Bradshaw: you hit the nail on the head the Bond Oversight Committee is the key to fiscal responsibility and Best Practices. The Sweetwater Bond Oversight Committee is stellar - if I may I would highly recommend you and/or ANYONE attend one of their meetings - listen to these Committee members, observe their Oversight. That will give your community insight on how their Oversight Committee should be run. While our Community has deep respect for these volunteers unfortunately their are members of our Board that would prefer they 'be seen and not heard'. You might also contact BOC Chair his email is listed on the Prop O site of SUHSD.

    Steve Bralla
    Steve Bralla

    The school around the corner took down a good fence and put up a new one.  Lots more pressing issues than a fence with a little rust.  My wife works for SD city schools.  I always vote no on school bonds.

    bcat subscriber

    Clearly everyone here is outraged... Money was not spent on brick-and-mortar.  That was clear from reporting and SDUSD.

    The question is WHAT CAN WE DO?  We the public should be franchised to demand change.  GET OUT AND VOTE OR RUN FOR SCHOOL BOARD.

    HOW DO WE RECALL?  This state recalled its governor for less than this.  Who out there KNOWS HOW to recall the School Board?

    Michael Robertson
    Michael Robertson subscribermember

    @bcat It's a rigged system bcat. The unions and construction guys have a vested economic interest in controlling the school board and so they spend considerable money. There's no financed opposition. There's no counter-balance whatsoever. Thus they'll always win the majority of slots pushing teachers/ex-teachers because they know these are sympathetic candidates. Once elected they'll never vote against the union. In San Dieguito School district you have board members who have never voted against the union for 8 years! Not even one time. 

    The Unions and builders have the cheat code to the game. So unless the game radically changes you cannot beat them. 

    Michele Engel
    Michele Engel

    The public school model does not work.  I will never again vote for one of those bonds.  I have in the past, and I am utterly dismayed to learn now that the money has not achieved the results that were promised.  I care a great deal about public education and, in fact, earned my Bachelors Degree in Education with a certificate to teach in secondary schools.  Since then, the situation in public schools has gone from bad to worse.  I'm an advocate of charter schools and a voucher system.  May the BEST schools win!

    Cornelius Ogunsalu
    Cornelius Ogunsalu

    @Michele Engel So, your solution is to turn ALL schools into charter schools? GOOD! No more public schools because all schools can now be or are now charter schools . . . where will all the charter schools now get funding from? Since there will be no public schools to [steal] funding from, how will charter schools get their charters?? Bonds???

    Obviously charter schools are [not] the permanent solutions to the public school model . . . since your BEST schools (i.e., successful charters) are parasites that can only exist, function optimally and survive [only] as long as the public school model is deliberately beset with problems that lack solutions . . . that's where the money for your charters come from.

    You advocate an impossible and unsustainable system of education (charter schools and voucher system) that will create inequities of unimaginable proportions. It is a circular argument that will end in public schools all over again. And funding through bonds!

    The public school model works, it is the corrupt people within that system that create the problems within the system . . . the bonds are not the problem/s . . . but how the bonds are being deliberately mismanaged and utilized to enrich those in charge of properly managing the funding, and to further generate, compound and sustain the problems within the public school model.

    Now, IF you suggest/advocate that public schools adopt the [strict protocols] under which successful charters operate, I will be a cheerleader with pompoms . . . ;)

    ScrippsDad subscriber

    @Cornelius Ogunsalu @Michele Engel  Just to be clear, Charter Schools get their money the same place the SDUSD District does and based on the same things: ADA, Title 1, etc... So, if all district public schools go away, the only impact to Charters is from where they get their Charter approval, not where they get their money.

    In fact, Charters can chose their own SELPA and in so doing, eliminate the need for SDUSD special ed as well - as most SDUSD charters have done: eg. El Dorado SELPA

    Remember, Charter schools ARE public schools and through their Charter are accountable same as the local public community schools and in some cases, even more accountable.

    Cornelius Ogunsalu
    Cornelius Ogunsalu

    @David @Cornelius Ogunsalu @Michele Engel Charter schools are really a hybrid, i.e., have characteristics of [both] public and private schools. Charter schools get their funding like public schools but operate more like private schools.

    Saying charter schools are public schools can be very far from the truth considering the fact that charter schools screen their applicants and would exclude some categories of students that go to regular public schools.

    Read this:

    Anniej subscriber

    The timing of this Article could not be better. A poll being conducted by Opinion Serv. and funded by ????? It is asking the Taxpayers in the Sweetwater District if they would be willing to vote for a 1.5 BILLION, with a B, DOLLARE NEW BOND.

    Yet we currently have $300+ million in Prop O yet to be sold. So, if we add the 1.5 to the $300+ we have close to $2Billion.

    Interestingly enough several,of the poll questions made reference to a PLA and Unions as well as inquiring if the community believed corruption was behind us.

    After reading this article I am now perplexed as one of our Board members, Paula Hall, an employee of City Schools has made comments that I have interpreted to mean 'all is well at City Schools, especially under their PLA.'

    How can the taxpaying communities continue to fund millions for our children when those we have entrusted are doing little if anything to insure the money is being well spent?

    Until their is major change I will openly campaign against any new Bond,monies and I have the data to support my position. Where are SUHSD Best Practices, where are our Watranty Logs, where is the financial accounting we were promised when we voted in a new Board?

    Don Wood
    Don Wood subscriber

    School bonds are typically floated by school district board members and the school construction contractors who funded their election campaigns for the purpose to enriching those school contractors as pay back for contributing to the campaign of school board members. Follow the money.

    mike johnson
    mike johnson subscriber

    You forgot to put in the extra 20% that is paid for prevailing wages. We shall see on the next vote if that is allowed. That was voted by the administrator of the fund after the election.

    Jay Byrd
    Jay Byrd

    You could double the money for education with little positive change.  Poor parenting, too many non-English students holding back the rest and greedy teacher unions are a triple threat.  How many years has this been going on.  Insane.

    Kevin Swanson
    Kevin Swanson subscriber

    Great investigative story. Unfortunately it highlights the continuing inability of a San Diego Government Agency to operate efficiently and effectively when trusted with taxpayer funds. Do you think that they care? They will go back to the taxpayers to fund more ineptitude.

    barb graham
    barb graham subscriber

    I seem to recall money spent on things like lights for playing fields instead of infrastructure.  A billion dollars? And where are the results, huh?

    You want another school bond? I want a new school board.

    Cornelius Ogunsalu
    Cornelius Ogunsalu

    @barb graham I want a brand new school board too . . . I have been saying "Barrera, Evans and Beiser MUST GO along with Foster" for MONTHS!

    Cornelius Ogunsalu
    Cornelius Ogunsalu

    How could they spend $1 billion and school buildings still end up worse off?

    [Massive embezzlement] and [deliberately planned] mismanagement of funds. The "problems" are never meant to be solved . . . they [must] continue to get worse, so that more funding can be directed at the same problems every year. Each year, the dollar amount goes up to fund the worsening problems. That is an often ignored inherent flaw in our economic system and it is not limited to SDUSD.

    Michael Robertson
    Michael Robertson subscribermember

    School bonds aren't about schools or kids. It's about feeding the construction sector who of course are the financial backers of the campaigns for the bonds. The schools go along because who doesn't want new stuff? Plus they get to skim some of the monies off for maintenance so they can pay higher teacher and administrator salaries and benefits. 

    Michael Robertson
    Michael Robertson subscribermember

    @Cornelius Ogunsalu @Michael Robertson How much is enough pay for teachers? I have yet to hear anyone answer that. In my kids school district they make very good money yet work only 9 months per year, off by 2:30, dreamy vacation schedule, etc. 

    Cornelius Ogunsalu
    Cornelius Ogunsalu

    @Michael Robertson @Cornelius Ogunsalu Stop focusing on the "dreamy vacation schedule" because that is the [myth] fueling your argument that U.S. teachers are overpaid. There is nothing dreamy about having to replenish yourself and prepare for the next school year. Spending time with your loved ones that have been virtually ignored for nine months. Teaching is not a cushy and dreamy job . . . most teachers get up at 5 am and don't get home till at least 4 or 5 pm. They then have to do additional [unpaid] school work at home before going to bed . . . if they are lucky, at 10 pm. Many have spouses and children that need their attention but they have to wait till the weekend to get [some] attention.

    How much is enough pay for teachers in America?

    Compare the salaries of U.S. teachers to those of teachers in other countries were students are doing much better on achievement tests.

    Michael Robertson
    Michael Robertson subscribermember

    @Cornelius Ogunsalu @Michael Robertson Sorry but you're delusional. I have a standing bet with anyone to visit the government school of their choice in San Diego at 3pm and see how many teachers are there. It will be virtually none. This is why parent teacher conference are now in the middle of the day. Up at 5am? You're bonkers. They're racing to get to school when the parents and kids are. 

    You didn't say what is ENOUGH for teachers? You people never do because the answer is: It's never enough. That's the racket. In CA we spend $20,000+ per student when one includes salaries, pensions, benefits, bonds, Federal money, tax breaks, etc. It's never enough. 

    Cornelius Ogunsalu
    Cornelius Ogunsalu

    @Michael Robertson @Cornelius Ogunsalu Michael Robertson, you [really] need to chill on the "You're delusional," "You're bonkers" and "You people" insults . . . Seriously, you have no monopoly on insults!!!

    Here is the salary schedule for SDUSD for teachers . . . do the math. Make sure you divide the salaries by 12 months and not 9 months! 

    You may want to also slow down on throwing around "in CA we spend $20,000+ per student " . . . did you personally calculate that number and break it down to the listed components OR you are just picking numbers out of thin air?

    Yes, teachers get up at 5 am to get their own families ready for the day and at the end of the day run around a bit before getting home . . . that is after spending 7 to 8 hours parenting and teaching over 120 children [each] per day . . . Hey, I don't blame you . . . you spend those 7 to 8 hours in your quiet office while a teacher cares for your child/children for those 7 to 8 hours.

    And you expect teachers to wait around for parent meetings after school hours when parents do not show up half the time or spend one hour plus berating the teacher and blaming the teacher for your lack of parenting skills. You really need to take a chill pill!

    Why don't you move to fire all teachers and you can then home school your children by your brilliant, non-delusional, non-bonkers and non-you people self?

    NorthParkian subscriber

    @Michael Robertson 

    Michael, my children's teachers show up early and stay late. They are ALWAYS there past 3. They prep and grade massive amounts of work beyond scheduled school hours, at the school site and at home. They respond to emails in the middle of the night and reach out to me proactively when there are issues that need my attention. You could not be more wrong.

    Michael Robertson
    Michael Robertson subscribermember

    @VeronicaCorningstone @Michael Robertson I'm sure there are some teachers that work hard but the majority do not. People are mostly lazy. All people. They will generally do the minimum amount of work asked of them. There are exceptions of course, but it's how animals are wired. All animals. 

    Unions are in the business of making it as little work for teachers as possible. This is why they work about 170 days per year when the average person works 250. It's why the average work day for men in 8.5 hours, women about 8, but teachers 6.5 with lunch and one period where they don't have to teach. It's what teacher's pay Unions for. 

    You don't have to believe me. Just go to any school campus at 7am and 3pm. There will be virtually nobody there. 

    Michael Robertson
    Michael Robertson subscribermember

    @VeronicaCorningstone @Michael Robertson What school are you referring to? I'll swing by the parking lot at 3pm and count cars. 

    I'm sure some teachers do work at home, but most do not. They have a prep period where they do work. They re-use tests which is why kids can't take completed tests home to review and share with their parents in some school districts like San Dieguito. It's a travesty. The whole system is rigged to make it easy as possible on teachers. 

    Remember when you were in school and parent/teacher conferences were in the evenings? Those days are gone because teachers don't want to have to work in the evening so now parents must miss work. It's an illustration of what I'm talking about. 

    NorthParkian subscriber

    @Michael Robertson

    I'm going to stop here, because this has veered off on a tangent that doesn't address the original article. I will just say that my experiences with SDUSD teachers do not match your comments.

    NorthParkian subscriber

    @Michael Robertson 

    Judging a teacher's hours by time in front of students is like judging a basketball player's hours by time on the court. It's like judging a lawyer's hours by time in court. It's like judging a venture capitalist's hours by time in meetings. There is a lot of work that goes into making that time in front of students a success. 

    Even so, the teachers at my children's schools ARE there beyond scheduled school hours, so I have gone to campuses early morning and late afternoon and seen plenty of teachers and staff working. The teachers also run team engineering projects and lead groups attending conferences and show up to work parties on the weekends. That's what I've seen.

    Anniej subscriber

    Mr. Robertson - I would respectfully disagree with your assessment of the majority of educators. I have been in the parenting role for many years - as a parent, Foster Parent, and now as a Grandmother and have found the major majority of the educators I have interacted with to be some of the hardest working people I have ever met. Bad apples, sure there are - but the same could be said for any demographic in the working world.

    As a side note, I have never been a Union member, but do believe they add value - not to say there are not problems in that area.

    Michael Robertson
    Michael Robertson subscribermember

    @Anniej Unions absolutely add value - to the teachers because that's who they represent. A union official tellingly said, "I'll start representing kids when they start paying dues." Their job is to make teaching as easy a job as possible. Go read any Union contract. It's astonishing how favorable they are to teachers and kids be damned and parents too. In theory the school board is supposed to look out for parents and kids but that long ago stopped happening. The school boards are now fully controlled by the union. This is why bad teachers are never fired. 

    There's no data to suggest that teachers work any harder than any other profession. This is just a cultural myth perpetuated by the union and primarily women who sympathize with teachers since 90% of teachers are women. But there's no data to suggest it's true because it's not true. Teachers don't work any harder than dental hygienists, hair stylists, accountants, sales people or any other profession. People are the same. 

    There was a time when teachers had lower salaries than the average profession and the trade-off was lifetime employment and a guaranteed pension. Those days are long gone. Now the average teacher makes more than the average family income in CA. They work only 2/3rds the hours that other professionals work and they have pensions with are 10 times better than Social Security that average citizens get. 

    I realize I'm goring a sacred cow here, but to let you know it's nothing personal the same is true with fireman. They're constantly lauded in society as hard working and life risking, but the data says the opposite. Fireman actually have a longer life expectancy than the average person and again there's no data they work harder than the avg profession. These are just cultural biases that deserve to be challenged and debunked. 

    Cornelius Ogunsalu
    Cornelius Ogunsalu

    @Michael Robertson Higher teachers' salaries and benefits?

    Teachers are [not] being paid as much as they should be paid, considering all the pain and suffering that is part and parcel of the joy of teaching for them. Teachers make unbelievable sacrifices every day and get blamed for everything, despite the low pay they earn.

    I have never been an administrator and will not speak for administrators!

    David subscriber

    @Michael Robertson @Cornelius Ogunsalu Teachers do not work 9 months a year. A teacher works closer to 10 months and usually attends trainings over the two months off. What are all teachers to do for two months? Who would hire a person for two months? People need to have a reality check about hard working teachers. And yes, I do know that all teachers are not hard working - that's subject for a different topic..

    Michael Robertson
    Michael Robertson subscribermember

    @David @Michael Robertson @Cornelius Ogunsalu The average union negotiated contract calls for about 170 work days. These include days prior to school starting when they can prepare. 170 days divided by 5 is 34 weeks of work. 34 divided by 4.2 (avg weeks/per month) = 8.09 months. You need to account for the very generous vacation days which are better than even traditional government workers or bank employees. 

    Teachers work 8 months not 9 or 10. It's true some do training but the only training is to get a masters or a double major so they get more money every year. That's a clever exploit and a strategy I'd do to maximize my salary too. 

    Other training teachers do happens during the year when kids are not in school and are included in their 170 days. If you have kids in school you know they have "in training" days when kids don't have school. 

    I encourage you to read a govt school teacher's contract. They're extremely teacher friendly. The unions do a phenomenal job negotiating for teachers. 

    Anniej subscriber

    Mr. Robertson - I again RESPECTFULLY disagree. DISCLAIMER - I do have 2 daughters who are educators, having said that I pride myself on speaking my mind and am not influenced easily, even by blood. SIR, I have raised 9 children - I was a Foster Parents for 20+ years and have to say 'I COULD NOT BE AN EDUCATOR IN THIS DAY AND AGE - far too often parents expect that educators not only teach the 3 R's (is my age showing- chuckle?) but also teach them manners, self control, respect and work effort.

    Is there room for improvement in the educational arena? Definitely! As a side note, perhaps if Boards focused on spending the MILLIONS in State and Federal Funds on education vs 'pet projects' education would benefit.

    Michael Robertson
    Michael Robertson subscribermember

    @Anniej I have huge respect for foster parents! THAT is an underpaid job! 

    I'm not sure what "pet projects" you're referring to. 90% of the school budget in virtually every district goes to teachers and administrators salaries, pensions and benefits. All the services for parents/kids like bussing, after school programs, music, camps have been cut and those monies moved to payroll. Again the union has done a tremendously effective job of shifting money to their customers. 

    And most people are SHOCKED to learn that spending on schools goes up every year! Read that again. We spend more money on a per student basis each year. Most people are incredulous when I say that because the union pushes the myth of school cuts HARD because it makes it easier to get citizens vote for ever more money. But for those who bother to look at the actual data, the spending both total dollars and per student goes up every single year. 

    There aren't any significant "pet projects" that I'm aware of. Maybe you can tell me what that is. 

    Anniej subscriber

    Mr. Robertson - Foster Parenting is a blessing, it is an opportunity to pay if forward by serving those amongst us that need it most.

    Perhaps you missed the part in my comments where I mention I am in the SUHSD - a few years back a certain 'someone' declared we were buying IPADS - it went before our 'then' Board and they voted it in. Did they ask for 'the plan' 'any research' perhaps a short study that would warrant the expenditure of millions - ah, NO! We the taxpayers asked, but alas no answers were given. I label this a 'PET PROJECT' and ,,,,,,,,, now after 4 years of expenditures now we have a Committee studying the future of technology in our District.

    Now our Governor has decided school districts must take on educating 'PARENTS' of our students - a mandate that is suppose to engage the parents on the tools they need to become involved in the educational process of their child. Our District is using PIKA to meet this requirement. I label this a 'PET PROJECT'.

    As I write this perhaps a better definition would be 'poor leadership decisions vs. pet projects.

    COMMON CORE - National 'Pet Project/poor leadership decision - isn't it amazing how far we in this country have come without Common Core - anyway you look at it 2+2=4, and back in my horse and buggy days memorizing my times tables proved to serve me very well in my career.

    Anniej subscriber

    Can you even imagine what might be found IF ONLY a Forensic Audit were to be done at each of our perspective Districts?

    We were promised one by the then candidates in 2014 - but alas, once elected they were convinced by certain entities it would be FAR TOO EXPENSIVE. Hmmmmmmm

    Michael Robertson
    Michael Robertson subscribermember

    @Anniej We agree that iPads are unwise use of money, but you should know that it doesn't come out of the school budget. Let me explain. In most companies accounting systems put all the money into one system. Schools do not work that way. They actually have 3 different piles of money:

    - Operating budget  <<<---- This is only they report publicly as their "budget"

    - Pension  <<--- They hide this

    - Bonds  <<--- They mostly hide this

    They do this to make it seem like they are spending less money then they are. Corporations are not allowed to do this. In fact, if a CEO put out financials without pensions or bonds included they would likely go to prison. But this is how schools work. It's why I continually say its a rigged game.

    The iPads were bought with bond money that is supposed to be used only for building or remodeling. Again, unwise use but fancier buildings won't increase the quality of the education. 

    We totally agree that Common Core is not helpful. Dictates from DC can't possible help San Diego. 

    p.s. You're right about foster kids "needing it most". It's why I applaud you for taking on that responsibility! 

    zee cee
    zee cee

    And i see more nice houses up the hills.

    Erik Bruvold
    Erik Bruvold subscribermember

    At the DIRE risk of sounding like a cheerleader ......

    I know that VOice loves to beat up PUSD.  I am not going to defend the CAB.  But I would note that our schools are VASTLY improved and better post-renovation bond.  Could more be done?  Absolutely.  But the rennovations were completed and the conditions in the schools have been upgraded.

    Todd Cardiff
    Todd Cardiff subscribermember

    On Proposition S, SD Unified School District swore up and down that they would not be installing football field lights.  As soon as the money came in, they prioritize building new football fields and installing football field lights.  I will never vote for a bond measure again.  It is clear that my extra property taxes are not helping the 70% of students who would rather be sitting in air conditioned classroom during the week, than going to a football game on Friday night.