Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Mission Bay Student Athlete Selected to Play in the All American Bowl

Mission Bay High School student athlete Dillon Baxter has been selected to play in the 10th annual U.S. Army All-American Bowl football game on January 9, 2010, at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas.

On Wednesday, September 30, Dillon will receive his bowl game uniform at a special event hosted by the U.S. Army, at Mission Bay High.

Scheduled to appear at the event are the U.S. Army Golden Knights parachute team and Paul Rudy, host of KUSI’s Prep Pigskin Report. The U.S. Army will also provide its Fitness for Life tour for Mission Bay High students. This interactive experience includes a technology pod with robotics, flight simulators and a climbing wall.

The bowl game draws outstanding high school football players from across the U.S. In its ten-year history, the game has featured some of the nation’s most elite young football players, including college and NFL stars Adrian Peterson, Reggie Bush, Vince Young, Tim Tebow and Terrelle Pryor.

For more information, please contact Kathy Agosto at (858) 273-1313.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

IN THE NEWS: Three La Jolla Schools Benefit from Festival

La Jolla is celebrating its artist colony roots on October 10 and 11 with the La Jolla Art & Wine Festival. Boasting the flair and energy of a modern European street fair, this event will feature over 300 booths featuring artists from Southern California and Northern Baja, as selected by jury. All proceeds from this event will be going to three local public schools in the San Diego Unified School District: La Jolla Elementary, Torrey Pines Elementary, and Bird Rock Elementary to help fund commonly underfunded programs, including art, music, science, physical education, technology and on-site medical care by a school nurse. Read more from NBC San Diego.

Breakfast in the Classroom Expands to Middle School

Memorial Prep Middle School has the distinction of being the district’s first middle school to be part of the highly-successful Breakfast in the Classroom program. Each morning 617 middle school students receive a complete and nutritious breakfast at the beginning of the school day. Additional elementary and middle schools are scheduled to begin the program this school year. For more information, please contact Gary Petill, director, food services, at (858) 627-7301 or .

Monday, September 28, 2009

IN THE NEWS: San Diego's Fame school, SCPA

Fox 5 San Diego visits San Diego's Fame, the San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts.


Chargers Donate $200,000 to Morse High Field

On Sept. 22, Morse High School athletes and coaches were joined by the San Diego Chargers, Local Initiatives Support Corporation and Morse High alumni City Councilman Tony Young in celebrating the school’s new synthetic turf football field and all-weather running track. Chargers safety Clinton Hart was among the guest speakers.

Local Initiatives Support Corporation awarded $200,000 in funding for construction of Morse’s artificial turf playing field as part of the “Grassroots Program,” a partnership with the National Football League Youth Football Fund. The Grassroots Program provides nonprofit, neighborhood-based organizations with financial and technical assistance to improve the quality, safety and accessibility of local football fields.

Thanks to the donation, the installation of the track and field took place earlier than planned. Using Prop. S funds, San Diego Unified has begun refurbishing all high school athletic facilities, either installing new synthetic turf football fields and all-weather running tracks, or refurbishing existing synthetic football fields that are approaching their useful service lives. For more information, please contact the Prop. S Communications Office at (619) 725-7252, e-mail or visit the website at .

Saturday, September 26, 2009

IN THE NEWS: Union-Tribune Lauds SDUSD Blue Ribbon Schools

Union-Tribune Editorial: Making the grade | Blue Ribbon Schools

At Ericson Elementary School in Mira Mesa, the staff and students have a school spirit song. Sung to the tune of “You're a Grand Old Flag,” the Ericson song begins, “You're a grand old school, you're a high-ranking school, you're the best in the West we all say ... ” Read more from the San Diego Union-Tribune

IN THE NEWS: Farmer's Market That Benefits Schools

The Scripps Ranch Farmers Market & Family Festival, a Saturday fixture in the community since 2001, is back where it started. The market recently moved to its original site at 10380 Spring Canyon Road, formerly the home of the Ellen Browning Scripps Elementary School. Read more from the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Kearny’s JROTC Presents US Colors at Mexico Consulate Ceremony

The color guard from JROTC program at Kearny High School participated in a bit of international diplomacy on September 16 as it joined a color guard from Tijuana’s Lazaro Cardenas Preparatory School in a ceremony honoring the 199th birthday of Mexico.

More than 200 people attended the ceremony, hosted by the Consulate of Mexico at La Jolla’s Museum of Contemporary Art. In attendance were the Consul General of Mexico, Remedios Gómez Arnau, and Lori Holt Pfeiler, mayor of Escondido.

The Kearny students presented the US colors, while the Cardenas school students presented Mexico’s colors. For more information, please contact Col. Harry Ridge Jr. at (858) 496-8203 or, or 1SG Theodore Jenkins at (858) 496-8204 or

For more district news, subscribe to the Superintendent's Friday Notes.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

New Ways to Conserve Water

Spreckels Elementary parent LeeAnn Bates is conscientious about water use. As the school’s Garden Club Coordinator, she is working hard to incorporate drought tolerant and native plants into the school garden – an important lesson for students in these water-challenged times.

To take the lesson further, when the school’s emergency supply of water packets expired and were about to be replaced with new packets, Bates decided to use the expired pouches to irrigate the school’s garden. The empty water packets, similar to foil Capri Sun pouches, were then recycled through Terracycle.

First grade students (see photo) were the first to use expired water packets on their herb garden. Other schools can take a lesson from Spreckels by using expiring emergency water packets for their school gardens or by working with their site landscape staff to water other campus areas.

For more information, please contact J. William Naish, supervisor, energy/utility management, at (858) 627-7217 or

For more district news, subscribe to the Superintendent's Friday Notes.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Clairemont High Auto Shop Gassed Up on Donated Car, New Facility

Johns Hopkins University has donated a natural gas-powered car to the auto shop program at Clairemont High School. Students, under the direction of instructor Larry Engelbrecht, will conduct research and emission testing to learn about alternative-fuel vehicles on the reworked, late model Dodge Stratus.

The ROP National Automotive Technical Education Foundation program is also awaiting start of construction on a project funded through the state Prop. 1D and San Diego Unified’s Prop. S, which will include six service bays, automotive specialty tools and diagnostic equipment. Check out construction progress on all Prop. 1D.

For more information, please contact Greg Quirin, program specialist, Office of College, Career and Technical Education, at or (858) 503-1736.

For more district news, subscribe to the Superintendent's Friday Notes.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

District A University City Advisory Board Meets Sept. 26

Advisory boards address the needs of their school clusters, 9:30 a.m., North University Community Branch Library, 8820 Judicial Drive, San Diego. Open to the public. Contact: Contact: Carol Hunter; Email:

Monday, September 21, 2009

Operation of Schools During Hot Weather

All schools in the San Diego Unified School District have "hot weather" plans in place for continued operations of schools during periods of high temperatures. We want to make sure our students are as comfortable as possible in school so that their learning can continue. As a result, our schools have a number of guidelines in place for planning instruction during hot weather.

Instructional Program Modifications

Elementary teachers may rearrange the daily schedule so that basic skills subjects are taught at the optimal time. Physical education activities are limited to less strenuous activities and/or are rescheduled to a more appropriate time. Recess activities are limited to quiet games that require a minimum of physical activity.

Alternative Locations for Instruction

Cooler areas of schools buildings and grounds are used when available. As an example, some teachers may have students gather in shaded lawn areas or move to rooms with better cross-ventilation. Students in non-air-conditioned portable facilities may be merged with other classes in air-conditioned buildings, such as media centers, cafeterias or auditoriums.

Extracurricular Activities

Athletic activities and practices may be canceled due to hot weather, or rescheduled for a more appropriate time. Before- and after-school programs may also be modified or activities rearranged.

Keeping Students Cool and Hydrated

Students are encouraged to bring containers of water to school during hot weather. Water fountains are also available in all schools and teachers are encouraging students to take extra water fountain breaks throughout the day. Many teachers keep spray-bottles with water in classrooms so that they can ‘mist’ students at their request or as needed.

Students are asked to dress in lightweight clothing that is in keeping with their school dress codes. Please also make sure to apply sunscreen to your child before school, as school staff are not permitted to apply it. If your child has a medical condition that may be compromised by exposure to high temperatures, you may keep your child at home or arrange for an early release.

More Information

AP Incentive Program Partners with Borders

On September 4, the Advanced Placement Incentive Program (APIP) hosted its first Advanced Placement/International Baccalaureate Resource Fair at the Mission Valley Borders store.

Appreciative AP teachers gave the event rave reviews. “The AP resources supplied will go a long way to improving student success in my classes,” “my students will be thrilled,” “you have made the transition so flawless,” and “thank you for the amazing resources” were just a few of the comments made by those in attendance.

For more information, please contact Don Mitchell, director, APIP, at (858) 505-9724.

For more district news, subscribe to the Superintendent's Friday Notes.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

District A Madison/Clairemont Advisory Board Meets Wednesday

Advisory panel to Dr. John Lee Evans, District A representative, that allows the community to address the needs of their school clusters. Open to the public. Meets at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 23, at Madison High School, 4833 Doliva Dr.

Prop. S to Replace Portables with Permanent Classrooms at Pt. Loma High

Construction of a new state-of-the art classroom building will begin soon at Point Loma High School. It is the school’s first project funded by Proposition S.

Seven portable classrooms will be replaced with a 15,358-square-foot two-story classroom building. The new building will consist of eight classrooms, student and staff restrooms, elevator, stairs, storage room, electrical room, bridge to athletic field, reconstruction of existing ramp to gym, new retaining wall, landscape and irrigation.

Construction is expected to be complete by end of fall 2010. For information, please call the Proposition S Communications Office at (619) 725-7252.

For more district news, subscribe to the Superintendent's Friday Notes.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

IN THE NEWS: Junior Ryan Urie and senior Kellen Blumberg have high hopes for the Patriot Cross Country Team

SAN CARLOS — Ryan Urie can remember every step of last year's San Diego Section cross country championships. Kellen Blumberg, too, but for a different reason. The two redheaded runners from Patrick Henry High had hoped to be part of a 1-2-3 finish in the Division I championships, and they appeared poised to do just that with less than one-third of the 3.1-mile competition remaining. Read more from the San Diego Union-Tribune.

H1N1 Update for Sept. 18

Concern over H1N1 flu and seasonal flu can make children and parents anxious.

To assist parents and other adults with talking to children about flu, the PTA, National Association of School Nurses and the National Association of School Psychologists have developed a list of helpful guidelines.

For more information, please visit the district’s H1N1 website or e-mail

For more district news, subscribe to the Superintendent's Friday Notes.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Community Forum Monday, Sept. 21 at Morse High

District E Community Forum with Board President Shelia Jackson, 6 p.m., Monday, Sept. 21, Morse High School, 6905 Skyline Drive (92114).

Join Board of Education District E Representative Shelia Jackson in a public meeting with her constituents. Contact: (619) 725-5550. Open to the public.

Mission Bay High Opens Student-Run Buck’s Cafe

The start of the new school year marked the unveiling of Mission Bay High School’s new, state-of-the-art student store called Buck’s Café.

The new facility was built and completed this summer thanks to funding from Proposition S and Proposition 1D. The student store is the perfect place for students in the high school’s Academy of Entrepreneurship to develop the skills necessary to successfully open and manage the day-to-day operations of a real business.

Buck’s Café implements Project Based Learning and will generate much-needed funds for the Associated Student Body and student scholarships. For information, please contact Dean Darley, program specialist, Office of College, Career and Technical Education, at or (858) 503-1752.

For more district news, subscribe to the Superintendent's Friday Notes.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Sessions Elementary School Named IB Candidate School

Kate Sessions Elementary is proud to announce that the school is in the process of becoming authorized as an International Baccalaureate (IB) World School.

The International Baccalaureate offers three programs for students aged 3 to 19 years to help develop the intellectual, personal, emotional and social skills to live, learn and work in a rapidly globalizing world.

The school, located in Pacific Beach, will go through an intensive and rigorous authorization process that will take at least two years. For more information, please contact Principal Susan DeVicariis at (858) 273-3111 or .

For more district news, subscribe to the Superintendent's Friday Notes.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

IN THE NEWS: Live KPBS-FM Broadcast from Lincoln High

Celebrating Lincoln High's rebirth, the KPBS-FM talkshow "These Days" broadcast live from the campus on Tuesday. Listen to the recorded broadcast.

The station's television side also does two reports on the new Lincoln: "Lincoln High Offers Student Second Chance" and "Lincoln High School Celebrates Third Year on New Campus."

IN THE NEWS: School spotlight: University City High School

Earlier this year, University City High School snagged one of the first-place spots in the annual Unity in Action contest organized by the San Diego Regional Hate Crimes Coalition. The contest is open to schools with programs that promote unity, diversity and tolerance. University City's Power of One program works within the human psychology and sociology course, which was started two years ago, said Lauriann Stanley, who teaches the class. Read more from the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Fay Elementary Receives Grant to Combat Childhood Obesity

Mary Lanyon Fay Elementary School is one of 50 recipients of a $2,000 grant to help students combat childhood obesity.

The ING Run For Something Better School Awards Program, in partnership with the National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE), is helping to introduce students in grades 5- 8 to the benefits of running through school-based running programs.

For more information, please contact Principal Eileen Moreno at (619) 624-2600.

For more district news, subscribe to the Superintendent's Friday Notes.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

More Than Half of Elementary Schools Now 'High Performing'

For the first time, more than half of San Diego Unified's elementary schools are identified as high performing by California Department of Education standards, according to test results released today as part of the state's Accountability Progress Report.

The state's Academic Performance Index showed 61 of San Diego Unified's 120 elementary schools now exceeded an 800 score on the index, which measures their students' test results in English language arts and math. An 800 score indicates that students are proficient or advanced in their knowledge of the subjects ("proficient" can be considered a "B" grade, "advanced" an "A," while educators identify a "C" level student as being "basic").

"This is wonderful news for the hard working students, teachers and staff at these elementary schools," said Superintendent Terry Grier. "We've put a particular emphasis on smaller classes, which we know leads to better learning."

Schools with a score above 900 -- with students scoring overall at an advanced level -- total 20 elementary schools.

Including middle and high schools, San Diego Unified has 80 schools at 800 or above, up from 67 in 2007-08, 64 in 2006-07 and 61 in 2005-06. Among middle schools, 10 of 23 were at 800 (43 percent), and five of 34 high schools (15 percent).

Statewide, making the 800 grade were 48 percent of elementary schools, 36 percent of middle/junior high schools and 21 percent of high schools.

"These scores certainly show the growing excellence of our elementary and middle schools, but they also show we have a great deal of work to do," said Grier. "Our high schools, for example, range from some of the very best in the state to others that face great challenges."

Despite the gains, San Diego Unified becomes the last large urban school district in California to be placed on Program Improvement under the federal No Child Left Behind Act. Overall, it failed to meet growth targets for English Language Arts for students identified as Hispanic, Economically Disadvantaged and Students with Disabilities.

In addition the district failed to meet growth targets in math for students identified as Hispanic, English Learners and Students with Disabilities.

As a result, the district will be required to submit a plan for improving performance in these areas.

The California Department of Education has posted the results online at:

Ericson, Florence, Fletcher Elementary Schools Gain Blue Ribbon

Three San Diego Unified elementary schools, Ericson in Mira Mesa, Florence in Hillcrest and Fletcher in the Birdland neighborhood, were today named Blue Ribbon Schools by the United States Department of Education.

The schools are being honored for dramatic increases in student achievement over the last three school years, something especially challenging at schools qualifying for the federal Title I program, which means 80 percent or more students qualify for free- or reduced-price lunch.

“These three schools are outstanding examples of the dedication of the entire staff to student achievement,” said Superintendent Terry Grier. “And let’s not forget the students, who must share in this salute for their hard work and serious study.”

The Blue Ribbon Schools Program honors public and private Title I elementary, middle and high schools that are either academically superior or that demonstrate dramatic gains in student achievement to high levels. In addition to being honored at a ceremony in Washington, DC, where each school receives a plaque and flag signifying their status, these schools serve as models for other schools throughout the nation. U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan made the announcement from Washington, D.C.

The three schools showed significant improvement in several areas. Students scoring proficient or advanced — meeting or exceeding state standards — at the schools rose each year in most cases on state standardized tests. To receive the award, the schools must also meet several criteria, including meeting California’s Academic Performance Index and federal No Child Left Behind Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) goals.

“These results generally show that more of these students are improving every year,” said Grier. “However, as each class is made up of different individuals, it’s important to remember that these principals and teachers really start over every year.”

For more information on the program, go to the Department of Education’s website at

Project Stabilization Agreement Orientations

Beginning October 27, 2009, the Project Stabilization Agreement (PSA) will affect all Proposition S work valued at $1 million and over. Contractor orientations have been scheduled to learn how the PSA will impact bidding and the day-to-day operations on school construction. Click here Adobe PDF see a copy of the schedule. For more information, please contact George Harris at (619) 637-6269 or

For more district news, subscribe to the Superintendent's Friday Notes.

IN THE NEWS: Fighting Hunger in San Diego -- How San Diego Unified is Helping

Food Services Director Gary Petill is a guest on KPBS-FM's These Days, talking about how San Diego Unified is helping to fight hunger in San Diego. Read and listen to more from KPBS-FM.

Monday, September 14, 2009

IN THE NEWS: Student Spotlight: Destinee Brittingham

She didn't have a choice — Destinee Brittingham wasn't getting good grades, so she was going to join Junior ROTC once she got to high school. “My mom told me to,” Destinee said. “She just tried to find somewhere for me to get some discipline, and it helped.” Read more from the San Diego Union-Tribune.

New Ed Center Kiosk Sheds Light on Energy Savings

How much energy is your school not only saving but producing? A new interactive kiosk in the Eugene Brucker Education Center lobby tells all — every kilowatt hour being produced, as well as photos and other information. The kiosk provides real-time information on the 28 solar electric roofs around the district. The information is also online at .

Students regularly tour the solar array on the roof of the 57-year-old main district headquarters building, which, according to the generating system’s monitors, reduced 636,016 lbs of CO2 emissions on a recent day. At Mira Mesa High School, the reduction was 1,918,063 lbs. of CO2 emissions. The display also has graphical tutorials on photovoltaic systems and interacts with visitors to inform them on the district’s carbon footprint reduction efforts. For more information, please contact J. William Naish, supervisor, energy/utility management, at (858) 627-7217 or .

For more district news, subscribe to the Superintendent's Friday Notes.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Members are the Heart of PTA

San Diego Unified Council of PTAsThe San Diego Unified Council of PTAs encourages parents, teachers and students to join their local school PTA during September, which is designated as Join your School PTA Month. San Diego Unified has 87 active PTAs -- 67 elementary, 11 middle, 8 high and 1 charter school.

PTAs are making a positive impact on the children in these schools and for all children through the California State PTA and National PTA. As the largest volunteer child advocacy association in the nation, PTA equips parents and families with a powerful voice to speak on behalf of every child and the best tools to keep their children safe, healthy and successful – in school and in life. To find a list of all San Diego Unified PTAs, go to .

For more information, please contact San Diego Unified Council of PTAs Office at or (619) 297-7821.

For more district news, subscribe to the Superintendent's Friday Notes.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

IN THE NEWS: Reinventing Education -- San Diego Transforms the Way Students are Taught

Beginning this fall, third and sixth graders throughout San Diego will use laptop computers to connect with their peers and work on projects that apply what they're learning to real-world situations. Read more from eSchool News.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Bill Kowba designated as Interim Superintendent

Statement from Board of Education President Shelia Jackson, Sept. 11, 2009

Yesterday afternoon, Superintendent Grier accepted the appointment as the new Superintendent at the Houston Independent School District. The Board has received his resignation letter and accepted his plan to leave his position effective October 20th. Dr. Grier will use his accrued leave time to make September 18 his last day at work.

On behalf of the Board of Education, we want to wish Dr. Grier every success in his new position and thank him once again for his service to San Diego Unified School District.

During the last two weeks, the Board of Education has had several meetings to discuss how we will ensure a smooth transition.

I want to assure our school community and the public that the Board is confident in the management team we have in place at our district. Today, we are pleased to announce that the Board has identified Bill Kowba as our Interim Superintendent subject to Board approval of an agreement at our next Board meeting on Tuesday, September 15th.

Mr. Kowba has been a key part of the district’s senior management team during the last four years. Bill served as our interim superintendent during the last transition. He has also played key roles in the District as our Finance Director and as Chief Logistics Officer. His detailed understanding of all aspects of our district operations and our schools make him uniquely qualified to lead our district operations.

We do not plan to rush to fill the Superintendent position since we believe we should consider our needs carefully and seek community input on what our priorities are for our district and for the position of the permanent superintendent of the district.
The Board will continue to meet in the next few weeks to determine our longer term plan to identify a permanent superintendent.

Proposition S Funds New Culinary Teaching Facility

Thanks to an $845,211 Career and Technical Education Modernization Grant from the State School Facility Program and matching funds from Prop. S, Garfield High School’s Culinary Arts Program is getting a much-needed makeover.

Classes are now being offered in an old-fashioned home economics classroom, which wasn’t designed for today’s career-focused culinary programs. The new facility, with 2,680 square feet, is a professional-grade kitchen, complete with walk-in freezer and cooler, and indoor dining area, plus another 2,920 square feet outside for a covered outdoor café. The project is scheduled to be completed in March 2010, when 180 Garfield High School students will be able to enjoy their new learning space.

For more information about the Garfield Culinary Arts Program, please call Principal Jolie Pickett at (619) 525-2059. For more information on Prop.S, call (619) 725-7252.

For more district news, subscribe to the Superintendent's Friday Notes.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Supt. Terry Grier Resigns; Statement from Board President Shelia Jackson

Dear San Diego Unified Staff Members:

Superintendent Terry Grier submitted his resignation today and it has been accepted by the Board of Education. Dr. Grier has accepted the superintendent’s position with the Houston Independent School District and his last day in San Diego will be Friday, September 18. Dr. Grier’s resignation letter is posted online.

Tomorrow, the Board of Education will hold a news conference at 12 noon to announce that we have identified and are in contract negotiations with an interim superintendent who will serve until a permanent replacement is selected by your Board.

Thank you for your continued commitment to our students.

Shelia Jackson
President, Board of Education

We’re Being Water Wise

Our irrigation systems specialists have been busy reprogramming the irrigation systems to make sure we’re in compliance with the City of San Diego’s Level 2 Drought Alert Water Restrictions, which went into effect on June 1.

As you’re aware, the restrictions place limits on irrigation and with hundreds of acres of landscaped areas, our schools, staff, athletic fields and campus green spaces have all been impacted.

Much of the watering is controlled by a central system but in some cases there are individual controls for individual sprinklers, which staff have been busy reprogramming. There are a few areas where the district is asking the City for a variance from the regulations.

If you see any irrigation you believe is not in compliance, or see a broken pipe or missing sprinkler head, please notify a site staff member or contact Physical Plant Operations.

Thanks to these efforts, the district has reduced water waste and avoided fines. For additional information, please contact J. William Naish, supervisor, energy/utility management, physical plant operations, at (858) 627-7217 or

For more district news, subscribe to the Superintendent's Friday Notes.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

IN THE NEWS: First Day of School at Barnard Elementary

KUSI-TV visited Barnard Elementary on the first day of school. Watch video.

New San Diego Unified Website Debuts

A new, more functional website made its debut for the San Diego Unified School District on Wednesday, September 9.

The site sports a new look and better organization, in addition to having a modern infrastructure, known as a content management system. The address,, will remain the same.

"San Diego Unified's website has long been a hodgepodge of technologies," said Darryl Lagace, Chief Technology Officer. "With this new system, we're solidly in the 21st Century."

"This is our primary method of communication with our students, parents, staff and community," said Bernie Rhinerson, Chief District Relations Officer. "This is a new design and a new organization that we believe everyone will find to be very easy to use."

A new navigation system color-codes the major areas of use, such as staff, Board of Education, parents and students.

In June, the district purchased a content management system from Schoolwires, a State College, PA company. During the summer, district staff worked on the first phase of the web design, which was to convert all of its central-office pages. Next to get the new site will be the 50 schools that currently have no website.

Crawford Area District E Parent & Community Forum with Board President Shelia Jackson

Join San Diego Unified School District Board President Shelia Jackson in a public meeting with her constituents.

6 p.m., Monday, Sept. 14, Crawford High School, 4191 Colts Way (92115).

Contact: (619) 725-5550. Open to the public.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

District H1N1 Flu Preparedness Plan in Place

Prevention is Key to Students, Staff Staying Healthy

While families were enjoying the final days of summer vacation, San Diego Unified School District officials were working closely with San Diego County Public Health Services officials to develop a plan designed to prevent and reduce the spread of the H1N1 flu virus. As nearly 135,000 students returned to school today, parents should feel assured that the district is well-prepared to deal with the potential increase in flu cases. The district and county are doing everything possible to keep schools open while protecting the health and safety of students, staff and the community.

Following the guidelines established by the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), every school site has been provided with instructions on managing students and staff with flu-like symptoms. Preparations include identifying a room where students who develop flu symptoms at school can be isolated until they are picked up. Students who come to school with flu-like symptoms will be sent home.

In most cases, students age 5 years and older will be able to return to school when fever-free for 24 hours, without the use of fever-reducing medications such as Tylenol or Motrin.

School sites are well-stocked with face masks for staff members caring for children with flu symptoms and for ill students, as appropriate. School sites have received additional rations of hand sanitizer that supplement supplies of soap and hand sanitizers already on campuses.

Prevention is key to reducing the spread of all flu viruses. Parents have or will receive a letter from their child's school informing them of the steps they can take to help with district prevention efforts, including:
  • Know the symptoms of the H1N1 influenza virus infection, which are fever of 100° F or higher with cough. Other symptoms may include sore throat, body aches, headache, chills, fatigue, and nausea and vomiting.

  • Children and adults who have these flu-like symptoms should stay home from school or work.

  • Practice good hand hygiene-wash hands properly and often. Use a hand-sanitizer if soap and water are not available.

  • Cover a cough or sneeze with a tissue, or cough/sneeze into a sleeve or inner elbow.

  • Check with your health care provider about getting yourself and your children vaccinated now for seasonal (regular) flu and H1N1 flu when vaccine is available. (The district is currently working with County Health Services to designate our schools as sites for H1N1 flu vaccinations, which would be administered by Public Health Nurses from the County Health and Human Services Department.)
It is anticipated that details may change as we move into the traditional flu season. The district will continue to stay in close communications with County Public Health and make decisions that are in the best interest of our school communities.

To make sure staff and families have access to the most up-to-date information, the district has established an H1N1 Flu website at . The website includes the Instructions to Schools document as well as links to the San Diego County and CDC flu websites. Parent and staff can also e-mail questions to An H1N1 telephone information line will be activated this week.

Operation of Schools during Hot Weather

The start of a new school year can also mark the start of unusually hot weather.

To make sure our students and staff are as comfortable as possible during these periods, schools have hot-weather plans in place based on Administrative Procedure 4032.

The plans include relocation of classes or students as needed, providing adequate supplies of water, curtailment or limitation of physical activities, and other appropriate modifications.

For more information, please contact Bill Kowba, chief special projects officer, at (619) 725-8191.

For more district news, subscribe to the Superintendent's Friday Notes.

Board of Education Meets at 5 p.m.

Today: Board of Education Meeting, 5 p.m., Auditorium, Eugene Brucker Education Center, 4100 Normal Street (92103). Open to the public. Agenda and information:

The meeting is open to the public and will be televised in the San Diego area on Cable Channel 16 (ITV), and streamed live on the web.

Monday, September 7, 2009

High school grad saluted for community service | Wildfire aid kits sold to benefit relief charities

LA JOLLA — Max Einhorn has come a long way since he was a boy running a lemonade stand near his home in La Jolla. Today, Einhorn is a budding social entrepreneur who is getting noticed for his work. At La Jolla High School, Einhorn started a business club that sold emergency kits after the 2007 wildfires and donated the profits to the American Red Cross and 2-1-1 San Diego, a nonprofit community hotline. Read more from the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Board President Shelia Jackson on KUSI

Watch School Board President Shelia Jackson's live interview Monday, September 7, on KUSI-TV.

Don't Be Late That First Day of School... Check for Bell Times Changes

Although the majority of San Diego Unified's bell times will be unchanged in 2009-10, a number of schools have modified their schedules for the new school year and one campus, CPMA (San Diego Creative, Performing and Media Arts Middle School) is making major changes.

Bell time changes can range from changes every day, to only a revision of a miminum day schedule. Check with your school to determine the correct starting and ending times for your child.

CPMA was asked to make major changes in its schedule to accommodate streamlined bus scheduling. A magnet school, many of CPMA's students ride buses and the new scheduling will save San Diego Unified about $1.5 million.

The schedule changes will take effect when school begins on Sept. 8.

The schools with changes, as of July 8, 2009:
View a complete list of updated bell times

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Free dental exams cause for smiles | Screenings given to youngsters from low-income areas

SAN DIEGO — By opening her mouth wide and letting a dentist look inside, 5-year-old Donnisha Holloway met a state requirement to attend public school.

Under a 2007 law, children must have a dental checkup by May 31 of their first year in school. Read more from the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Frequently Asked Questions About School Lunch

From the San Diego Unified School District Food Services Department

Question: Does my child qualify for free meals?

Answer: The Free and Reduced Price Meal Application is given to each child at the
beginning of the school year. ONE APPLICATION PER HOUSEHOLD is filled out for all the children in the home who attend any school in the San Diego Unified School District.

The only exception is for Foster and Group Home children. They will still need individual meal applications. Return the completed application to your child’s school office or mail to SDUSD Food Services Department, 6735 Gifford Way, San Diego, CA 92111.

After the application is received and examined, you are notified by letter whether you qualify.

Is my application information secure?

Yes, family size, household income and social security number information will
remain confidential and will not be shared for any purpose.

If my household income changes, can I reapply?

Yes, applications are available in the school office and are accepted
any time during the school year.

If my child attends a school that qualifies for free meals to be given to all students, do I need to fill out an application?

No, unless you have a child at another school that does not receive school-wide free meals.

How do I pre-pay for meals?

Call the PayPams meal payment system at 1-888-994-5100 or visit our website at and select the link: pre-payment for meals. You may also put cash or a check made payable to your child’s school cafeteria in a sealed envelope.

Be sure to write your child’s name and teacher’s name on the envelope. One envelope/check per child, please.

Check the Free and Reduced Price Meal Application for more information. If you have any questions, please call (858) 627-7328.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Message from Supt. Grier about Pres. Obama's Tuesday Speech

To All Principals:

All superintendents in the United States were notified by Secretary of Education Duncan last week that President Obama would be addressing all students in the country regarding the value of education. His national address to students will be on Tuesday, September 8, at 9:00 a.m. Pacific time. The broadcast will be live on the White House web site and will be broadcast by the County Office of Educations on ITV Channel 16.

We have received a number of phone calls and emails regarding this instructional opportunity and I want to clarify the district position.
  1. The President’s address is available to schools and individual teachers to include in their daily lesson plans as an option, it is not a required activity.

  2. If the school is contacted by a parent to request that their child not be included in this activity, the child will be permitted to leave the classroom for another supervised activity for the very short duration of the President’s address.

  3. Principals are asked to make accommodations for alternative activities as needed for their individual schools.
Terry Grier

Revamped Menu Greets Middle, High School Students

Better eating means better learning; new payment system debuts

A wider variety of menu items and a food-court atmosphere, as well as a new payment system tied to students' ID cards, will greet middle- and high-school students when the San Diego Unified School District opens its doors on the 2009-10 school year Tuesday, September 8.

More serving carts will grace school lunch areas with the largest menu in District history, plus a new system that allows students to simply swipe their student ID cards for payment, will shorten cafeteria lines, and encourage more students to have lunch.

"We know that a good lunch helps students learn in the afternoon," said Gary Petill, Food Services Director. "We've worked with students to find out what they want to eat and redesigned the lunch experience.

"They are our customers, but as educators we have a responsibility to ensure their good health and nutrition. Our goal is to have them want to have one of our meals."

Because of a limited lunch period -- at most schools shorter than 40 minutes -- and students' desire to socialize during their only open time during the school day, many students were not eating because of lengthy lines and the style of food served.

"We found that students wanted more of a food-court atmosphere, where they could grab a menu item, then sit with their friends," he said. "We think this new menu accomplishes this."

Serving carts and stations have been given cafe-style names, such as "Riga Tony's," which serves Italian-themed items, and the "Hi Tide Grill," the popular outdoor barbecue.

Also speeding the lines will be a new bar-code system, allowing parents and guardians to prepay -- online if desired -- for their child's meals. Students simply swipe their bar-code equipped ID cards and the account is charged. For those students on free or reduced-priced lunches, the students' accounts are linked to that system. More than 40 percent of San Diego Unified's students are eligible for free and reduced lunches.

Video from Channel 8, story from San Diego Union-Tribune.

Maintenance Activities are Booming

With the passage of Proposition S, maintenance activities are booming as schools are being repaired, renovated, modernized and enlarged at a rate not witnessed since Proposition MM.

All construction and maintenance work can be difficult but the projects that take place in or near school buildings while school is in session are the most challenging. Success largely depends on preparation, competence and pre-planning. Every principal plays a key role in any project management process.

The principal’s leadership and personal involvement are an essential element of a successful project. The District's Prop. S staff strives to keep principals "in the loop" from the early planning stages of a project to the day the construction crews leave the site. Planner-estimators, project managers and district draftsmen require principals to review and sign project drawings and plans. Principals are encouraged to thoroughly review these plans and ask questions.

For more information, please contact Jim Gonsalves, zone manager, at (858) 627-7120 or

For more district news, subscribe to the Superintendent's Friday Notes.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

New ERAA Annual Back-to-School Conference and Festival

The annual New ERAA (Everyone Recommitting to Academic Achievement) Back-to-School Conference and Festival was held Saturday, August 22, at Lincoln High School. Students from San Diego High School and Rep. Bob Filner (D-San Diego) were among the attendees (see photo).

The conference, originally founded by Pazzaz, Inc. and the Center for Parent Involvement in Education, is co-sponsored by San Diego Unified. Over the years, there has been a tremendous increase in parent and student involvement, number of workshops and exhibitors, and multi-cultural performers.

This year, more than 2,000 people attended the conference. Families collected educational information from various exhibitors and attended workshops where the presenters were so enthusiastic that they requested to be included next year. At the afternoon festival, families feasted on hamburgers and hotdogs while 3,000 backpacks filled with school supplies, donated by the Office Depot Foundation, were given to the students of families who attended the conference.

For more information, please contact Brenda Campbell, executive director, Federal and Special Projects, at (619) 725-5605. Watch a video from the event.

For more district news, subscribe to the Superintendent's Friday Notes.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Study Sees the Future, and it is Online Learning

Supt. Terry Grier wanted to share with you the findings of a new report conducted for the U.S. Department of Education. The report concludes that on average, students in online learning situations learn better than those who get face-to-face instruction, the Bits blog of The New York Times reports.

The study looked at the comparative research on both kinds of learning from 1996 to 2008, mainly in colleges and adult continuing-education programs, though some research pertained to K-12 education. The analysis found that the average student who did some or all of a course online tended to rank in the 59th percentile in tested performance, compared with the average classroom student who scored in the 50th percentile.

"The study's major significance lies in demonstrating that online learning today is not just better than nothing -- it actually tends to be better than conventional instruction," said Barbara Means, the study's lead author and an educational psychologist at SRI International, which undertook the federal study.

In the opinion of the blog, the results could mean that online education will expand rapidly in the next few years, especially inasmuch as it tailors itself specifically to a student's needs, thereby better engaging a student. This won't isolate students, however, since they'll have an online community that will foster learning and inquiry.

Read more. Please contact Dr. Grier at (619) 725-7076 should you have questions or comments

For more district news, subscribe to the Superintendent's Friday Notes.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Start Smart Provides Back-To-School Supplies, Clothes

In addition to the New ERAA conference, Saturday, Aug. 22 also brought hundreds of students and their families to a local Wal-Mart store for the “Start Smart” back-to-school shopping spree, sponsored by the Phil and Amy Mickelson Foundation. Board member Katherine Nakamura and Ronald McDonald welcomed students to the Smart Start event (see photo).

Both Start Smart and New ERAA were featured in a San Diego Union-Tribune article on Sunday, August 23. Read the article.

For more district news, subscribe to the Superintendent's Friday Notes.