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Morning Report: The Sad State of Porter Elementary

Keashonna Christopher is a counselor at Porter Elementary School. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

Porter Elementary School is one of nine traditional public schools in San Diego Unified School District on the state’s list of lowest-performing schools.

The school is plagued by safety issues, special education concerns and does not have the resources it needs to succeed, according to parents and a school counselor.

VOSD’s Will Huntsberry reports that parents complain of bullying that has gone unaddressed and are facing countless obstructions as they try to get their children evaluated for special needs.

“This is commonplace for the parents at Porter,” said school counselor Keashonna Christopher. Administrators “bring up attendance as a way to weed students out of the IEP process and that’s illegal,” she said, referring to the individualized education program for students with special needs.

State and district officials have moved to crack down on poor-performing charter schools in recent months and have implemented a system to make state community colleges more accountable. But during the same time, there has been no discussion about how to improve traditional K-12 schools on the state’s lowest-performing list.

Mayor Sets Out Budget Hopes

Mayor Kevin Faulconer unveiled a budget proposal on Thursday that managed to clear a $45 million shortfall without major cuts.

The Union-Tribune reports that Faulconer’s $1.6 billion budget plan for the fiscal year beginning in July would dial back tree trimming and cut some civilian police positions, among other tacks, to address the deficit. The mayor also plans to dip into reserve funds and unspent cash from the current budget year.

The biggest line item increase in this year’s budget was in the Clean SD program, which aims to clear trash and debris from city streets, beaches and canyons. Faulconer penciled in an additional $6.3 million in his budget proposal to expand the initiative outside downtown, Midway and the San Diego River area.

The mayor also called for the city to dedicate historically large sums to both infrastructure needs and homelessness initiatives.

Faulconer’s budget includes $715.8 million for capital improvements and $36.2 million for homeless programs. A large share of the city’s new homelessness funding for next year will come from a $14.1 million burst of funding from the state. The City Council voted late last year to invest the new money in rental subsidies, a bolstered homeless outreach program and at least one additional homeless storage facility, among other plans.

Faulconer is set to present his proposed budget to the City Council on Monday. The City Council will vote on the proposal in June after a series of public hearings.

  • KPBS noted that more than half of proposed infrastructure spending will be tied up in projects tied to the city’s Pure Water recycling program and that higher water rates will be helping to foot the bill. What the budget didn’t include, as KPBS’s Andrew Bowen zeroed in on: Costs tied to court rulings on the city’s legally dubious 2012 pension measure. It’s not yet clear how much the city will have to pay to compensate employees for lost benefits.

Power Tweets From Power Players

Rep. Scott Peters tweeted his thoughts this week about the city of San Diego’s plan to create its own electrical utility to buy and sell energy.

He said San Diego Gas & Electric is OK with the plan because it can “unload” an unprofitable part of its operation, questioned the premise that the city can provide cheaper power and pointed out that the “community choice” energy agency was initially pitched as a way to provide choice when, in fact, it may soon become a monopoly.

“I might feel differently about CCA if the state had not (heroically) passed SB 100, requiring statewide energy carbon neutrality by 2045,” Peters said, referring to the “community choice” agency the city hopes to form and Senate Bill 100. “Our power will be clean without local government action.”

County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher stepped in to say the county is spending hours studying the issue and flying in experts before it makes a decision about whether to join with the city to create a regional agency.

“We are spending an inordinate amount of time asking these hard questions,” he tweeted.

Erik Bruvold, an economist who leads an economic development organization in North County, wondered who would even work for such an agency.

Fletcher replied, “I guess if you assume no one who is smart, has experience and can do things would ever move to San Diego then maybe you are right. That hasn’t been my experience at UCSD, Qualcomm, etc.”

Disclosure: Mitch Mitchell, SDG&E’s vice president of government affairs, sits on Voice of San Diego’s board of directors.

What Do You Wanna Know About San Diego?

Ever wondered what the Port of San Diego does? Or not even sure what it is? It’s OK. We won’t tell.

In the latest edition of San Diego Explained, Scott Lewis and NBC 7 San Diego’s Catherine Garcia break down the Port’s big projects including Seaport Village and the Chula Vista Bayfront.

  • We know you’ve got more questions about complicated government things and San Diego oddities. Our People’s Reporter team takes your questions and digs in. Submit questions or vote on questions you think we should investigate next here.

News Roundup

  • The Union-Tribune reports that supporters of a March 2020 vote on a hotel-tax hike to fund a Convention Center expansion , homeless services and road reports are hoping homeless advocates can help make the case for the spring vote.
  • County health officials say they learned of four additional flu deaths last week amid a decline in cases, Times of San Diego reports.
  • City staffers are floating two options for upgrades at Fiesta Island in Mission Bay Park, according to 10News.
  • Rep. Peters laid out his Climate Playbook, a roundup of more than 50 previously introduced bills with bipartisan support he believes could ratchet up the nation’s response to climate change in the wake of Republican backlash to the Green New Deal. (Medium)
  • After locking themselves in one of the area’s two fire stations, Julian’s volunteer firefighters have issued a lengthy call to action on their website urging supporters to bat back the county’s effort to dissolve their department.
  • Starting this fall, San Diego State freshman will no longer be allowed to bring their cars to campus, CBS 8 reports.

The Morning Report was written by Lisa Halverstadt and Ry Rivard, and edited by Scott Lewis.

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