Morning Report: The (Tired) Human Face of Sweetwater Cuts - Voice of San Diego

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Morning Report: The (Tired) Human Face of Sweetwater Cuts

Jose Luis Perez, a sophomore at San Ysidro High, walks to and from school now that bus routes to San Ysidro High have been slashed. It takes two hours each way. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

In a new photo essay, VOSD’s Adriana Heldiz documents the six-mile walking journey of a student at San Ysidro High School. The student, Jose Luis Perez, has been forced to make the trek since Sweetwater Union High School District officials drastically slashed bus transportation at the school.

Perez wakes up at 4:30 a.m. on school days and sometimes does not arrive home until 7 p.m. 

San Ysidro lost 20 out of 22 free bus routes this school year, after the district was forced to make significant cuts following $30 million in uncontrolled overspending by district officials. Previous reporting by VOSD has shown Sweetwater officials knew across-the-board raises in 2017 could put the district in danger of going bust, but gave the raises anyway. 

The cuts began last year when students lost some access to summer school and after-school programs. Teachers lost planning time. Sweetwater also reduced its workforce by hundreds of employees through an early retirement program. But documenting the impact to students has proven difficult.

Heldiz’s work is the first to put a human face on how students are bearing the burden for officials’ mistakes.

A student protest movement has emerged at San Ysidro since the cuts. “We want the superintendent to put ‘Students First’ the way they say they do in the district slogan,” a student previously told VOSD. “They say equity is their main value, but we’re not receiving that.”

As Partnerships Expand, Police Are Giving Away Free Ring Devices

National City is on its way to becoming the sixth law enforcement agency in San Diego County to partner with a doorbell-camera company, Ring, which is owned by Amazon, as a way to help solve package thefts and other crimes. 

We reported last month that police agencies often portray these public-private partnerships as a win-win for residents because they don’t rely on taxpayer money and because homeowners are voluntarily uploading the footage for police to review. 

But new documents and emails obtained by Katy Stegall suggest that Ring is expanding its surveillance network in San Diego County by offering free and discounted devices to law enforcement personnel. 

Some agencies have then gone on to tout — and effectively market — those devices to the public, which could be a problem. Many police agencies, including Chula Vista, which gave away Ring products as part of a raffle, have rules against endorsing products or companies. 

CVPD disagreed that the promo for the raffle could be interpreted as an advertisement for a private company. The department has given away or auctioned off a variety of public safety items in the past such as gun locks and dementia patient-locating devices, one police captain said.

Politics Roundup

Many North Park Bike Lane Opponents Don’t Live in North Park

Opponents of a plan to replace on-street parking along 30th Street with protected bike lanes have portrayed its supporters “as a small, special interest group” whose opinions don’t reflect the wishes of North Park residents. 

But when KPBS reporter Andrew Bowen took a closer look at the group’s petition to keep the parking as it is, he found that many of the names belonged to people who don’t actually live in North Park. Some come from as far away as Miami, Iowa City and Honolulu.

The bike lanes are part of a larger strategy to encourage more people to get out of their cars while meeting greenhouse gas reduction goals set by the city’s Climate Action Plan. Earlier this year, the bike lanes won the support of the North Park Planning Committee, whose members are elected by the community. 

Ask Us About Homelessness and Mental Health

Voice of San Diego’s new Facebook Group, Our San Diego, is currently discussing homelessness in San Diego. (Each month we discuss a new topic important to the region.) Recently, one person shared their story about how they dealt with being homeless as a teenager. Others have explained how their neighborhoods have been impacted by homelessness.

Reporter Lisa Halverstadt will join the group for a live AMA (Ask Me Anything) at 3 p.m. Monday. She’s currently working on a series of stories about the region’s mental health crisis and has spent years reporting on homelessness in San Diego. You can join the group now for the chance to ask Halverstadt anything about these topics.

In Other News

The Morning Report was written by Jesse Marx and Will Huntsberry, and edited by Sara Libby.

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