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North County Report: A Rough Week for North County School Districts

School districts from Escondido to Poway to Encinitas deal with drama, Solana Beach residents want to preserve their views even if it means ignoring a state law and a study says Camp Pendleton is ripe for an airport.

It’s been a tumultuous week for several North County school districts.

School Board Bullies?

Escondido Union School District Superintendent Luis Rankins-Ibarra filed a restraining order against school board trustee Jose Fragozo, alleging Fragozo bullied, harassed and threatened district administrators, the Union-Tribune reports.

Rankins-Ibarra said Fragozo interfered with district business, including trying to get Rankins-Ibarra to hire a new director from a list of candidates that Fragozo provided. Fragozo said the allegations are payback for his demands that the district be more accountable for students’ poor performance on standardized tests.

A judge will decide on Dec. 18 whether the restraining order should become permanent, and the district is exploring ways to have Fragozo remotely attend board meetings.

Poway Hires ‘Dissociation’ Expert

Out of Poway, VOSD’s Ashly McGlone has the story of the district’s school board looking to oust Poway Unified Superintendent John Collins, just weeks after an effort launched to recall one of Collin’s supporters from the school board.

The school board and Collins have each retained lawyers for contract negotiations, well ahead of the expiration of Collin’s current contract in 2017.

Collins has headed the district since 2010, and has taken flak for his role in approving pay raises for teachers, while his contract grants him the same raises the teachers get. He also helped advance a 2011 deal that got the district $105 million, for the price of nearly $1 billion over 40 years.

A Codetta for an Oceanside Performing Arts School

Meanwhile, back in Oceanside, the U-T’s Pat Maio also reports that the Orange County School of the Arts has dropped its plan to construct a performing arts charter school at the campus of an existing middle school.

Citing declining enrollment, the district looked to shutter Jefferson Middle School, which sits adjacent to a largely Mexican neighborhood. Opponents from the community said converting the site to a performing arts charter school would mostly affect minority students, who would have to audition to attend, or settle for diminishing arts programs at other public schools.

The Orange County School of the Arts said it would invest $50 million in improvements to Jefferson, but will amend its charter application to seek an alternate location that is not owned by the district.

Farm Woes With Encinitas School District

We recently reported on an agriculture fight in Encinitas that saw a clash between suburban values and residential farmers. Now, a legal battle is growing between the Encinitas Union School District and a company it tasked with building a farm and educational center at a satellite campus.

Eat Well group filed a $5.28 million suit against the district on Dec. 2 for damages resulting from lost lease revenue during a tentative 30-year agreement. Eat Well Group claims it entered into the one-year contract with the understanding it would get a 30-year extension, where it could lease plots to other farmers, but the district prevented the group from fulfilling its contractual obligations, Encinitas Advocate reports.

The district filed a countersuit saying the farm failed to materialize by the time a one-year lease for the property expired.

The View From Solana Beach

VOSD’s Maya Srikrishnan writes about the redevelopment of an apartment complex in Solana Beach, which has drawn a record number of complaints from neighbors. Fifteen residents have claimed that the project will impair the view from their homes, but they’re not fighting for their ocean views.

The residents claim the project will obstruct their view of the sky, trees and the property itself. The view complaints reveal a bigger issue residents have with a state law that allows developers to bypass local zoning restrictions and build denser housing if they include some low-income housing in the project.

Oside International Airport?

A new study from Cal State San Marcos concludes that the best location for a new international airport to serve Southern California is at Camp Pendleton.

Funded by Qualcomm, the study touts the benefits of placing the airport just north of Oceanside and identifies strategies to overcome opposition, like directly engaging the communities in Camp Pendleton and Oceanside, and building partnerships with regional organizations.

Qualcomm co-founder Irwin Jacobs supports the plan, as does businessman Malin Burnham, who has explored the idea since 1999, KPBS reports.

The U-T’s Logan Jenkins called it “a provocative thought exercise, but as a practical political matter, it’s a suicide mission.”

Also in the News

 Big names in Carlsbad politics are lining up behind both sides of a ballot measure that would decide the fate of a proposed shopping mall on the Agua Hedionda Lagoon. (Union-Tribune)

 Ramona Unified School District is accepting the county’s offer to have a sheriff’s deputy at the school, but wants to split the costs with the county. (Ramona Sentinel)

• A Ramona planning group isn’t satisfied with a draft of a county zoning amendment that would affect the town’s wine industry. (Ramona Sentinel)

• The Del Mar City Council directed the city’s Sustainability Advisory Board to prepare information on a plastic bag ban and draft an ordinance, and will make a final decision on Feb. 15. (Union-Tribune)

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