Wednesday, March 25, 2009

IN THE NEWS: They're Making The Grade | La Jolla High Student Named One of Newspaper's Top Student-Athletes

An accomplished distance runner who excels on an individual level, Nihal Kayali seems an unlikely standout for a soccer team.

Kayali, though, was captain and one of the top scorers for the La Jolla High girls, who won a share of the Western League soccer title and followed with a San Diego Section Division III championship.

The Western League Player of the Year, who plans to hang up her shin guards next year while competing for Yale in cross country and track, has relished her soccer experience with the Vikings. Read more from the San Diego Union-Tribune.

In The News: Budget problems dominate superintendent's first year

Terry Grier has overseen nearly a quarter-billion dollars in budget cuts since he took the helm of the San Diego school district a year ago today. Read more from the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Monday, March 23, 2009

In The News: Terry Grier Marks First Year as Superintendent

Tomorrow marks the first year Dr. Terry Grier has been superintendent of the San Diego Unified School District. Many observers say he took the reins at the worst time for public education in California. Listen to more from KPBS-FM.

In the News: Dropouts Take Toll on San Diego Economy

There are plenty of good reasons to tell high school students to stay in school. Young people need a good education to get a good job, go on to col-lege, and just to have a richer more enjoyable life. Superintendent Terry Grier of the San Diego Unified School District is the guest on "These Days" to talk about the issues. Listen to more from KPBS-FM.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Board President Gives 'State of the District'

Shelia Jackson Delivers Address Thursday, March 26

SAN DIEGO The challenges that faced the San Diego Unified School District in the past year and issues facing its future will be topic of the upcoming State of the District Address being delivered by Shelia Jackson, Board of Education President.

The public is invited to the address, which will be held at 6 p.m. Thursday, March 26, at Lincoln High School, 4777 Imperial Avenue (92113). Jackson’s speech is an official Board of Education meeting, which will be held in the school’s 750-seat auditorium, part of the school’s Center for the Arts.

Jackson is expected to discuss the academic, legislative and financial challenges facing the district over the next year, as well as reviewing the previous 12 months. The Board of Education recently reduced the current school year budget by $43 million, with another $100 million in cuts targeted for 2009-10.

Over the last year, San Diego Unified celebrated being one of the largest districts in the U.S. to have passed all federal academic testing guidelines under the No Child Left Behind act. In addition, San Diego Unified’s citizens approved Proposition S, a billion-dollar bond that will help to revitalize and renovate schools for the next decade.

In the News: Support seen for athletics, arts in online school survey | District sought opinions on where to reduce spending

SAN DIEGO — And the survey says?

An online poll designed to gauge public opinion on where to make cuts to the San Diego Unified School District budget showed overwhelming support for saving music, art and athletic programs. Read More from the San Diego Union-Tribune>

In The News: 9 LJHS juniors win award

Nine La Jolla High School juniors have won the Rotary Youth Leadership Award. Read More From the La Jolla Light>

In The News: Goal of curfew sweeps: Keeping teenagers safe

SAN DIEGO — As Sgt. Jeffrey Pace pulls up to a slim woman walking past a party spot on 47th Street, he realizes something isn't right. It's close to midnight. She's too young to be out. Read More From the San Diego Union-Tribune>

In The News: Giving aid and comfort | Tiny camera is another way Rady Children's Hospital tries to put patients at ease

SAN DIEGO — A visit to the hospital can be stressful for any-one, but the strange surroundings and displeasures that often ac-company medical care can be downright scary for children. Read More>

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Councilwoman Donna Frye to Present SDUSD Visual and Performing Arts Department (VAPA) with Special Proclamation Honoring the Arts

San Diego -- Councilwoman Donna Frye will present the San Diego Unified School District Visual and Performing Arts Department a proclamation recognizing March as Arts in Education Month. The presentation will take place on March 28th at 1:00 p.m. at James Madison High School in
Clairemont, prior to the Honor Theatre Production of "Metamorphoses" by Mary Zimmerman

This marks the first-ever such production by SDUSD, featuring top theatre students from nine high schools across the district. Directed by award-winning San Diego theatre artist William Virchis, this performance provides an opportunity for district students and community to come
together to celebrate the arts in education. Performances will be at the James Madison High School Performing Arts Center in Clairemont. Public performances include a "Pay-What-You-Can" and a Gala Performance with pre-show reception and arts festival; theatre teachers will be honored by the Old Globe Education Department at the March 26th performance.

"Metamorphoses" is a play based on Ovid's epic poem about Greek mythology, and is appropriate for ages 12 and up. Virchis has directed numerous productions at San Diego Civic Light Opera (Starlight), San Diego State University, Southwestern College, University of California Riverside, Centro Cultural de La Raza, California Pacific Community Theatre and Teatro Meta. He has worked on Tri-Star and Walt Disney films and musical scores for records, plays, television and commercials. He may be best known in San Diego for his direction of "Zoot Suit" at the San Diego Rep.

Public performances are March 26th at 7:00 p.m. (Pay-What-You-Can), March 27th at 7:00 p.m. and March 28th at 2:00 p.m. A gala reception and arts festival will precede the March 28th performance. Tickets for the March 27th and 28th are $10 for adults, $5 for students. Reserved
seats are available for $15. Performances on March 26th and 27th will be interpreted for the deaf and hard of hearing community.

For tickets and additional information, contact Marjorie Treger, District Theatre Resource Teacher, (858)539-5356 or email

Robots From Six Schools Take On Best of West

The San Diego Sports Arena was filled with pride as six San Diego Unified School District high schools displayed their mechanical genius at the FIRST Robotics Competition 2009, spending three days, drilling, hammering, and welding their robotic creations so that they were in top shape for each qualifying round, then competing against students from around the southwest.

Students from the following schools participated: Sci Tech High at San Diego High; the School of Science, Connections and Technology at Kearny High School; High Tech High; The Preuss School UCSD; La Jolla High; and Madison High. The competition was held March 5-7, 2009.

Each high school built their robot according to dimensions and regulations set by the FIRST Robotics organization. Once given these guidelines, each team had six weeks to complete the task however they wished. This year, each team needed to build a robot equipped with a trailer. The game required each robot to try and fill its opponent’s trailer with as many rubber balls, or “Super Cells”, as possible. To add to the excitement, team members could be standing on the sideline throwing “Super Cells” into the trailers for a short amount of time.

Though it is considered a “competition,” the Sports Arena was bursting with an overwhelming sense of sportsmanship and teamwork, especially from all San Diego Unified schools.

“The best part of this event is that it teaches the students it is good to be competitive the right way,” said Jon Karanopoulos, the coach for Sci Tech High at the San Diego High Educational Complex.

Students from the six schools agreed that competitiveness is eliminated due to the fact that during one match you may have an alliance with a school you competed against just one match before. Each team is placed on team A or B for every round, and with that change, each team is constantly competing against or working side by side with different teams.

In keeping with the overall theme of teamwork, many of the district’s schools helped their opposing teams in creating their robot. This was La Jolla High’s first year in the competition yet they were not lacking in guidance. Kearny not only mentored La Jolla, they also shared their workshop when La Jolla found they were lacking needed tools.

The students spent their spare time walking around the busy Arena floor, seeing how other competitors done in rounds past and sharing materials when needed. Each team knew that at any point during the competition, they could turn to one of their fellow San Diego Unified schools for a helping hand -- or even a motor -- if need be.

The competition is held annually in San Diego, an exciting trip for students who came this year from as far away as Texas. Still, some San Diego Unified teams will get their own trips, with competitions scheduled in locations such as Las Vegas and Hawaii. These teams form a small community as they see each other at many of these competitions and witness how each team as improved from the last.

With many more years to develop their programs, the high schools from the San Diego Unified School District will only grow stronger and continue to take the robotics world by storm.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Comedy Double Bill at SCPA

Two comedies, PLAY ON! and THE MUSICAL COMEDY MURDERS OF 1940 at the San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts March 26-28 and April 2-4, 2009

A double bill of hilarious comedies takes over the Florence Johnson Grand Theatre at the San Diego School of Creative Arts (SCPA) as the next mainstage productions in the 2008-2009 Performance Season. Each show represents what audiences love about the theatre when it can spoof itself and other genres at the same time. Play On! runs March 26 and 27 at 7 pm, and on March 28 at 2 pm, immediately followed by The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940 on April 2 and 3 at 7 pm and on April 4 at 2 pm.

Written by Rick Abbott, Play on! is a hilarious story of a community theater group trying desperately to put on a play, in spite of maddening interference from a haughty author who keeps revising the script up to the day of the performance. Act I is a rehearsal of the dreadful show. Act II is the near disastrous dress rehearsal and the actual performance in which anything that can go wrong does.

What do you get when you cross an Agatha Christie murder-mystery, a Neil Simon comedy, a le Carre spy novel and a Broadway musical flop? The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940, of course! When it opened in New York, The Village Voice said it was "nakedly silly and relentlessly convoluted…with twist piled on twist till you have to give way and start laughing at the silliness."

These two shows are the type where an entire family can relax and enjoy themselves together, forgetting the problems of the day. Play On! and The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940 will be staged as mainstage productions with reserved seating as part of SCPA's season to inspire all! Tickets are available online now or call the box office at (619) 475-8556. Printing tickets online is possible as well. Tickets for both shows are $8-$10 for adults and $7-$9 for students, seniors and military.

The 2008-2009 SCPA Performance Season will continue with the Drama Showcase when SCPA students show their individuality in an array of musical numbers, monologues, and dramatic scenes in a show for the whole family. This will take place in the Ole Kittleson Little Theatre May 6-8, 2009. Remember to purchase your tickets early as the intimate general seating arrangement sells out faster.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Cuts Balance Budget at San Diego Unified

Cuts totaling more than $100 million, ranging from healthcare benefit reductions to increasing class size -- but no projected teacher layoffs -- have been approved for next school year by San Diego Unified School District's Board of Trustees.

The cuts made Tuesday, March10, 2009, for the 2009-10 school year range from reductions in discretionary funds distributed to schools and slight increases in class size, to changes in employee health benefits and an employee furlough.

Although fewer teachers and other staff members are planned for the 2009-10 school year, no layoffs of permanent teachers are planned as a result of this budget. This is due to the early retirement incentive approved last month by the Board; more than 1,000 employees are eligible for the program.

"Today, we dealt with a problem created by the State of California," said Shelia Jackson, school board president. "They put our district in a position where we had no choice but to make budget cuts that hurt our schools.

"Tomorrow, we all need to start working together to convince our state legislators that they simply must reform how this state funds public schools. Our kids don't deserve schools that are last in the nation in per-pupil funding."

The Board, which just three days earlier had ratified $45 million in reductions for the current school year, trimmed an additional $100 million, reflecting an anticipated reduction in state funding for 2009-10.

San Diego Unified and all other school districts are required, on March 17, to submit a report to the state that they have sufficient funding for this school year and a plan for funding next school year. The Board of Education on Tuesday certified that report to the state.

Of the $100,258,741 reduced from the projected 2009-10 school year budget, $34,589,792 are reductions that must be negotiated with at least one of San Diego Unified unions, including the San Diego Education Association (SDEA) and California School Employees Association (CSEA).

The cuts projected for the 2009-10 school year are:

-- Tier II & III mandatory program reductions, $11.7 million. Reduced or eliminated programs include: English Language Acquisition; Partnership Academies Program; Roadtrip Nation; Cal-Safe Programs; Carl Washington School Safety Program; GATE Site Discretionary Funds; and California High School Exit Exam Intensive Study.

-- Reductions in Targeted Instructional Improvement Block Grant (TIIBG) funds to schools, $10 million. State-funded grants used for a variety of purposes.

-- Health Care Benefits Change, $4.6 million. Implementation is subject to consultation with employee groups. Employees will receive Kaiser as their healthcare as part of their benefit package. Employees will pay the increased cost for the optional PacificCare plan.

-- Health Care Co-Pay Increase, 2.5 million. Implementation is subject to consultation with employee groups. Increases health-insurance co-pay to $15 from $5.

-- Eliminate Double Benefits When Both Spouses are Employees, $161, 200. Implementation is subject to consultation with employee groups. In cases where both spouses are employees of San Diego Unified School District, only one will carry the benefits package.

-- District-Wide Four-Day Furlough, $10.3 million. All district facilities will be closed four days, which are yet to be announced.

-- Increase size of average class size in grades kindergarten through third by four students, $16.6 million.

-- Fewer Elementary Prep-Time Teachers Required, $1.7 million.

-- Increase size of average class size in grades 6-8, $1.9 million. Ratio in grades 6-8 will be one teacher per 29.73 students, reducing by 23 teachers the number required for these grades.

-- Increase size of average class in grades 9-12, $3.3 million. Increases class sizes to ratio of one teacher for every 30.13 students at high schools, reducing by 40 teachers the number required for these grades.

-- Eliminate Class Size Reductions in 9th Grade English Classes, $3.9 million. The student-teacher ratio in 9th grade English classes will be consistent with other classes, no longer at 20:1, reducing by 47 teachers the number required for these courses.

-- Eliminate Kindergarten through Second Grade class-size reduction for 29 schools, $8.1 million. Returns these schools to standard 20:1 ratio, reducing by 101 the number of teachers required for these grades.

-- Eliminate eight language teachers, $664,000. Positions for five teachers at Jerebek Elementary School and three at Sunset View Elementary School which were paid out of Unrestricted Funds will be eliminated.

-- Increase Gifted and Talented Education (GATE) Program and Seminar Program teacher ratio to 25:1 from 23:1, $8.1 million. Reduces by 12 the number of teachers required for these courses.

-- One principal assigned to two small elementary schools, $1.5 million. Schools involved to be determined.

-- Eliminate Magnet Program transportation, $10.5 million.

The Board also identified another $34 million in reductions that would be used if employee associations did not agree to the above cuts. Those cuts include: closing schools; eliminating the outdoor programs at Mt. Palomar, Old Town and Balboa Park; and eliminating athletics for grades 9-12.

The full report is online at$FILE/Proposed Bdgt Reduction Board solutions 031009 v7 2.pdf

For more the latest information on budget issues, go to and click on the Budget Update section.

Peter King, to create large gateway installation at the San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts April 3-6, 2009

Master Architectural Ceramic Artist, Peter King, to create large gateway installation
at the San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts April 3-6, 2009

In a very rare visit to the West Coast, master architectural ceramic artist and Florida resident, Peter King comes to San Diego to build a large gateway installation to be located on the campus of the San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts. Guided by Mr. King, 25 participants will help build the architectural components of the gateway structure over a three-day period.

This event is co-sponsored by Clay Artists of San Diego, Laguna Clay Company & Freeform Clay and Supply. Peter King is a world famous artist whose visit to San Diego is a major coup for the school in that he will be teaching a master class in architectural ceramics on site. Mr. King usually works on the East Coast and has recently completed two major projects in Guatemala. If anyone is interested in creating large works of public art, this a workshop not to be missed!

The cost is $150 per person (includes continental breakfast and lunch) and is limited to 25 participants. The schedule is as follows:
Fri, April 3 7-9 pm: Slide presentation
Sat-Mon, April 4-6 9 am–5 pm: Hands-on architectural ceramic workshop and demonstration.
To register, please call Ms. Dee McMillen at 619/223-4120, or email

The San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts is a SDUSD magnet school specializing in the visual and performing arts. It is located at 2425 Dusk Drive, San Diego, Ca 92139. For general information regarding the school's extensive programs and the application process please call the main number at 619/470-0555.