Morning Report: More Coronavirus Money Is Going to School Employees

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Morning Report: More Coronavirus Money Is Going to School Employees

The Sweetwater Union High School District building in Chula Vista / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

As more than $2 billion in state and federal coronavirus aid flows into the region’s public school districts, more school leaders are opting to tap those funds to show employee appreciation, provide stipends, hazard pay or incentivize a return to in-person instruction.

In the Lakeside Union School District, teachers are up for a stipend worth $450 to $900 for keeping “daily logs of student participation and weekly logs of student engagement.” In Chula Vista, employees of one charter school could receive up to $2,000 for distance learning appreciation.

As Ashly McGlone explains in a new story, school leaders are given a lot of freedom over how they spend the money, with the federal CARES Act broadly “providing principals and other school leaders with the resources necessary to address the needs of their individual schools.”

Lawmakers in California also approved a bill last month to incentivize more schools to reopen their doors. The Sweetwater Union High School District utilized those funds to approve a one-time 7 percent pay increase for teachers who return to the classroom in April and additional pay bumps in May and June. (Correction: An earlier version of the original story misstated the average one-time payout for teachers in Sweetwater . They will average almost $812.)

It’s important to note that these payments are just a drop in the giant bucket of coronavirus school aid. Check out our searchable database to see just how much money is going to your district. 

City Backs Off Downtown Bathroom Reversal, for Now

Staff for the city of San Diego abruptly withdrew a proposal Wednesday to let a developer and UCSD off the hook to build a public restroom at the corner for Park and Market downtown, after they agreed to do so in 2017 as a condition of building an office and residential tower on the city-owned block.

The proposal, which was set to be heard by a City Council committee, suggested the bathroom was no longer necessary, because the city hopes that by the end of 2023, it will have completed building a park a few blocks away, and the park will include restrooms.

Instead, city staff asked to remove the idea from consideration before discussion began, while members of the public had already called into the meeting to voice their opposition. Staff said it would return with a more suitable alternative sometime in the future.

The lack of restrooms for downtown’s homeless population contributed significantly to the 2017 Hepatitis A outbreak, in which hundreds of people got sick and 20 died.

After staff pulled the item from consideration, Council members Raul Campillo, Vivian Moreno and Sean Elo-Rivera nonetheless voiced their dissatisfaction that it was ever proposed.

Opinion: City Leaders Should Rethink Police Chief Hiring Process

Residents often ask city leaders to look outside of their departments when searching for a new police chief. The reasoning is simple: External candidates are thought to bring an outsider’s perspective, including innovative ideas, diverse professional experiences and a different approach to leadership and decision-making. But what if that chief with innovative ideas, a community focus and an excellent leadership style doesn’t exist? In a new op-ed, San Diego State professor Roddrick Colvin pushes back against these tendencies to demand police departments hire chiefs from outside and instead suggests they look to civilian hires. Inside or external, he argues, most police chief candidates have virtually identical credentials.

State Again Raps Encinitas on Housing Compliance

Encinitas last week voted to rescind an ordinance it had passed late last year, hoping to exempt itself from a state affordable housing law, and the coastal city is now on pace to comply with a different state housing law it’s been fighting against for most of the last decade.

In the latest installment of the North County Report, Jared Whitlock outlines the recent history of Encinitas battling the state on all things housing. The state’s department of Housing and Community Development, in a letter last month, told the city that the so-called density bonus law it tried to pass last year so that it wouldn’t fall under the state’s version was a non-starter.

In Other News

  • The Capitol Police officer who shot and killed San Diego resident Ashli Babbit during the U.S. Capitol insurrection has been cleared of criminal wrongdoing. (Washington Post)
  • Mayor Todd Gloria signed the vacation-rental regulatory ordinance pushed by Council President Jen Campbell Wednesday. His office said city staff will now work on rental license fees and a lottery process for the City Council’s approval.
  • Federal authorities dropped dozens of indictments Wednesday on San Diegans suspected of running underground gambling parlors. (Union-Tribune)

The Morning Report was written by Megan Wood and Andrew Keatts, and edited by Sara Libby.

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