Saturday, December 19, 2009

IN THE NEWS: Local student to ride float in Rose Parade

From the San Diego Union-Tribune

SAN DIEGO: D’rell Gist, a sixth-grader at the Language Academy magnet school in San Diego, will get to view the 121st Rose Parade on New Year’s Day from a special vantage point.

He was chosen to ride on a float sponsored by the Kaiser Permanente health system.

D’rell, 11, of San Diego’s City Heights neighborhood, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes two years ago.

He receives six to eight insulin shots daily to maintain a proper blood-sugar level.

Kaiser officials selected eight pediatric patients for the parade ride.

The float will feature whimsical merry-go-round animals and a giant cornucopia overflowing with fruits and vegetables.

IN THE NEWS: Board Members Assail State Budget Cuts

In a news conference Dec. 17, the new President and Vice President of the Board of Education say cuts in state funding could force a catastrophic $220 million cut in general fund budget.

See reports from:

Friday, December 18, 2009

PB Middle International Baccalaureate Goes Global

Pacific Beach Middle School’s International Baccalaureate (IB) social studies students participated in a unique cultural exchange with students from the Children Walking Tall Charity in Goa, India.

Dedicated to providing education and assistance to the children living in the slums of India, Walking Tall Charity provided a unique opportunity for PB Middle IB teacher Erin Knight (at left in photo) who traveled to India to hand-deliver the PB Middle pen-pal letters.

“The children in the charity were excited by our delivery and immediately sat down to write back to their pen-pal,” said Knight. “Not only did this service learning project bring awareness to the issues faced by children living in the slums of India, but our students were able to establish meaningful friendships across the world.”

For more information, please contact Jennifer Sim, IB coordinator, at (858) 273-9070 ext. 2357or

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

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Students Spend Time at Sony Online Entertainment

Students from Serra High School's Computerized Graphic Design and Multimedia classes recently spent the morning at Sony Online Entertainment to learn about what it takes to be a video game designer.

Students learned about future opportunities in the field and took home special Sony gifts, including video game software.

For more information, please contact Stacy Brennan, employer outreach specialist, at (858) 496-8342 x 241 or

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

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Wachovia Wells Fargo Foundation Grant Awarded to SD MET High

The Wachovia Wells Fargo Foundation has awarded the San Diego MET High School a $35,000 grant for professional development, technology, SAT/ACT fees and other college-application costs for students, and family engagement programs.

The grant was a result of a collaboration with Stedman Graham & Associates, and is sponsored by Wells Fargo. All San Diego MET High freshmen participate in Graham's "Teens Can Make It Happen: Nine Steps for Success" training program.

The mission of The Wachovia Wells Fargo Foundation is to build strong and vibrant communities, improve the quality of life, and make a positive difference. They recognize that the MET, located on the Mesa College campus, is accomplishing these goals and many others through their internship program that partners with more than 400 local businesses for real world projects and authentic assessment.

For more information, please contact Principal Mildred Phillips at (619)388-2296 or

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

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

5 SD Unified Schools on US News Top High School List

US News AwardFive schools in the San Diego Unified School District have placed on the annual US News and World Report "America's Best High Schools" list, with two schools, Preuss UCSD Charter and the School of International Studies at the San Diego High School Educational Complex, ranking in the prestigious Top 100.

Preuss ranked No. 32 of the top 100, with International Studies coming in at 44. Other schools recognized in San Diego Unified were: LEADS at San Diego High, San Diego MET and School of International Business at Kearny High, in the Bronze category; and La Jolla High with an Honorable Mention.

The magazine, in a partnership with School Evaluation Services, looked at more than 21,000 high schools around the nation, doing a detailed analysis on 1,750. The study analyzed academic and enrollment data, placing them into gold, silver, bronze, or honorable mention categories. Results were released Dec. 9.

Media coverage from KNSD-TV »

View more news videos at:

Clairemont High Clothing & Design Wizards

Mastering sewing and draping techniques, Clairemont High clothing and design students helped to create costumes for the drama department’s production of the The Wizard of Oz.

Funded by the 21st Century Grant, the after-school program gave students the opportunity to create costumes for the Emerald City scene.

"It helps me develop skills for my career goal in fashion," said student Coldy Vilzaysane.

For more information, please contact Pamela Sherwood, program teacher, at (858) 273-0201 x 4114 or

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

Monday, December 14, 2009

Millennial Tech Students Working as Scientific Researchers

Millennial Tech Middle (MTM) School's Conservation Science students recently worked as researchers at the Wild Animal Park's Beckman Center. With the goal of restoring the native habitat of the endangered Cactus Wren, students used technology to develop a plan for identifying suitable places to plant cactus.

In partnership with Groundwork San Diego Chollas Creek, MTM Conservation Science students participate in outdoor research labs and field projects on MTM’s four-acre Earth Lab and in the local canyons of the southeast community.

Click here for more photos or contact Heather Potter, vice principal, at (619) 527-6933.

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

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Business Community Recognizes 13 Schools

Thirteen San Diego Unified schools have been named to the California Business for Education Excellence (CBEE) 2009 Honor Roll.

District honorees are Cadman, Ericson, Field, Florence, Hickman, Juarez, Lindbergh Schweitzer, Mason, Ocean Beach, Penn, and Vista Grande elementary schools. Also making the grade are Preuss School UCSD and Kearny High International School of Business.

The Honor Roll includes public elementary, middle and high schools that have been recognized by California’s business community for demonstrating consistent high student academic achievement and making significant progress toward closing achievement gaps among all students.

For more information, contact Kearny Principal Ana Diaz-Booz at (858) 496-8370 or .

Saturday, December 12, 2009

First Joint-Use Library Opens in Logan Heights

The Grand Opening and Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony for the new Logan Heights Branch Library was held Friday. In the first partnership of its kind, San Diego Unified and the City of San Diego have come together to create a beautiful new 25,000 square-foot library that is located on a portion of the Logan K-8 School campus.

The two-story, joint-use library will serve the three adjacent schools -- Logan K-8 School, Memorial Preparatory School for Scholars and Athletes, and the King-Chavez Charter -- and the neighboring community.

The library features a digital reference center, a 35-computer lab, a cultural center for student programs and more. For more information, please contact Randy White, real estate specialist, at (858) 637-6268 or

News Coverage

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

Friday, December 11, 2009

Working Together to Make a Greener District

All students and staff are instrumental in the district’s effort to reduce waste. Many schools, including Perkins, Encanto, Holmes and Sunset View Elementary, are organizing Planet Protector Clubs that introduce students to a different set of “3 R’s”: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.

Students conduct contests, clean ups, fundraisers and other activities as part of the program. Two elementary schools, Perkins and Holmes, in conjunction with the Energy/Utility Management section of the Physical Plant Operations Department, have developed special recognition banners to recognize individual classrooms for their recycling efforts. These colorful banners (see photo) will rotate among the Perkins and Holmes classrooms that increase recycling efforts for the month.

Remember, all recyclables -- bottles, cans, newspaper, white paper, magazines, etc. -- should be placed in the blue recycling bins.

For information, please call the district’s recycling hotline at (858) 627-7376, or J. William Naish, supervisor, energy/utility management, at (858) 627-7217.

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

Thursday, December 10, 2009

IN THE NEWS: Patrick Henry Soccer Player Meets Goals

— When Anthony Rosales joined the Patrick Henry High soccer team as a freshman, he wasn’t interested in listening to the older players.

Rosales was brimming with talent. He admits to being cocky, but it’s easy to understand why. Rosales believed with unshaken confidence that he was destined to become a professional soccer player. Read more from the San Diego Union-Tribune.

IN THE NEWS: New Logan Heights Library at Logan Elementary

— Logan Heights is getting a new, $14.5 million library more than 30 years after it was first proposed.

The two-story, 25,000-square-foot Logan Heights Library Branch, at 28th Street and Ocean View Boulevard, opened Dec. 11 in a densely populated, predominantly Latino neighborhood where the literacy and graduation rates are below the county average. Read more from the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Guidelines Regarding Student Fees, Donations and Fundraising

Recently the issue of fees, charges, deposits, donations and fundraising related to student courses and activities has been at the forefront of public attention locally and nationally.

In response to this issue, the district Legal Services has developed guidelines for staff and parents. Taken as a whole, the intent of these guidelines is to emphasize that the question is not whether schools and their communities can raise money to support programs -- they can -- but how funds can be raised through lawful means.

For more information, please contact Kristi Dean, interim chief elementary school improvement officer, at (619) 725-7170, or Sid Salazar, chief secondary school improvement officer, at (619) 725-7772. Read the guidelines.

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

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

IN THE NEWS: Math Scores Up in National Test

San Diego’s eighth-graders are in the national spotlight for making the most progress on a federal math assessment administered in the nation’s largest urban school districts.

Released yesterday, the “Nation’s Report Card” shows results from math tests taken by fourth- and eighth-graders last academic year in 18 big-city districts. Although the San Diego Unified School District made overall gains in both grade levels, the eight-point jump made by eighth-graders has academics buzzing. Read more from the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Also covered by:

  • KPBS-FM: San Diego Eighth Graders Earn High Marks In Math
  • SDNN: National Math Tests Show Gains for San Diego
  • KGTV-10: 4th, 8th Grade Math Scores Rise
  • Voice of San Diego: Math Scores Keep Rising

Donations to Schools by Local Companies TCR Services and Sony

Thanks to TCR Services, a local toner cartridge and laser-inkjet repair company, and Sony Corporation, which has its U.S. headquarters in San Diego, 15 printers and 50 toner and inkjet cartridges will soon be in classrooms.

The printers came from Sony, which had removed the equipment from service. TCR Services would normally have refurbished, then sold the equipment, but decided to donate the equipment and supplies to the district.

“Our schools, students and teachers are hurting for the resources they need to become successful,” stated Laura Olsen, TCR's Sales Manager. “TCR decided, together with Sony, that the donation would ease the burden of having to come up with additional funds for new equipment and supplies.”

For more information, please contact Ellen Tiffany, community relations manager, at (619) 725-5594.

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

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

SDUSD Math Scores Show Big Gain In National Survey

'Nation's Report Card' Gives Top Scores to Fourth, Eighth Grade Skills

SAN DIEGO -- San Diego Unified's eighth grade students showed dramatic gains in mastering math skills in 2008-09 and fourth graders also raised their scores, according to results of "The Nation's Report Card" for urban school districts, released today.

Both grades 4 and 8 continued the upward trend in nearly every student group, with eighth graders rising 8 points over the last test in 2007 and 16 points higher than when the first test was administered in 2003. These eighth-grade students continued the improvements they made as fourth graders, when a similar increase was registered.

"This goes to show what sustained progress and determination by our hard-working teachers and students means over the long run," said Bill Kowba, Interim Superintendent. "Not only is the increase this year very impressive, but the fact that these students were able to repeat their fourth grade success as eighth graders is even more noteworthy."

The "Report Card" is a product of the National Assessment of Educational Progress and began in 1969. The current results from the Trial Urban District Assessment compare 18 big-city school districts, including Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Detroit, the District of Columbia, Los Angeles and New York City.

The test looks at a level of proficiency above State of California standards and is designed to challenge the students in a number of areas. Among eighth graders, only Austin and Charlotte beat the national average of 282 points, while San Diego Unified was about equal at 280. A "basic" knowledge score was set at 262 points, while the large-city median was 271.

For fourth graders, proficient was set at 249 points, the average national score was 239, and the large city average was 231 points. San Diego joined Boston, Houston and Miami-Dade County at 236 points, surpassed by only the Charlotte and Austin districts. The basic knowledge score was 214 points.

The achievement gaps between student groups persisted in the 2009 scores. Nearly all student groups in the district saw improved performance compared to 2003. However, compared to 2007, fourth-grade performance declined for several student groups, including students who are eligible for free- or reduced-price lunch, an indicator of their family's income.

Read More

Results from the reading portion of the test are expected to be released in the Spring.

Special Education Hotline

A Special Education Parent Hotline has been established to help address concerns regarding special education services at San Diego Unified.

Parents can call (619) 725-7057 and leave their name and phone number, their student's name and birth date and a brief message regarding their concern(s). A return phone call will be received within 24 hours.

For general special education information, please call (619) 725-7700.

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

Monday, December 7, 2009

Board of Education Holds Rare Friday Evening Meeting

The Board of Education holds a special meeting at an unusual time this week, 5 p.m. Friday, Dec. 11, at the Education Center, 4100 Normal St. The meeting is open to the public. Information and the meeting's agenda is available online.

IN THE NEWS: Parents Outraged at Upcoming Budget Cuts

From KUSI-TV, coverage of the Dec. 3 budget town hall:

Grant races to three high schools

Jimmie Johnson Presents Point Loma With a CheckOn the heels of winning his fourth-consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup championship, San Diego native Jimmie Johnson showed that he’s a champion off the track as well. Chandra and Jimmie Johnson announced donations totaling $922,000 for the 2009 Jimmie Johnson Foundation/Lowe’s Toolbox for Education Champions Grants on Monday, November 30. San Diego Unified Crawford IDEA; Crawford MVAS and Point Loma high schools were three of the schools celebrated at a special ceremony held at Crest Elementary in El Cajon where Johnson attended school as a boy.

Crawford High School of Multimedia & Visual Arts School received $87,000 to create an art fabrication lab that will prepare students for careers in the local media arts industry by allowing them to design high-tech community-based projects. Under the direction of instructor Brian Black, MVAS students will use the lab to design and produce media art projects that will improve the quality of life in the City Heights community.

Crawford High School IDEA was awarded $32,495 in support of the career technical education program related to transportation technology and alternative fuels. Under the direction of instructors Carl Kingsly and Greg Quirin, students enrolled in the automotive classes at the school will convert gasoline powered engines to operate on cleaner, alternative fuels.

Point Loma High School received $90,000 to build a weight room and exercise facility for students. Athletic Director John Murphy believes that this facility, which will be used by student athletes and students participating in physical education programs, will help the young people focus on health and fitness using state-of-the-art equipment.

“This is what the foundation is all about, being able to give back to communities in need. We are grateful for the partnership with Lowe’s and their guidance as our foundation begins its work in education,” said Johnson.

For a complete list of 2009 grant recipients and projects, please visit the foundation's website.

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

Sunday, December 6, 2009

GATE Distinguished Lecture Series Wednesday

The first in a series of lectures sponsored by the Gifted and Talented Education (GATE) program will be held Wednesday, December 9, at the Education Center.

A Continuum of Differentiation by Dr. Sandra Kaplan will be presented to staff from 4 to 6 p.m., and to parents from 7 to 8:30 p.m., in the auditorium at the Education Center.

For more information, please contact the GATE Department at (858) 573-5998.

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

Saturday, December 5, 2009

IN THE NEWS: Enrollment Options Catalogs In The Mail

The San Diego Unified School District has sent out its annual enrollment options catalog to households throughout the city. Parents who want their children to attend a campus other than their neighborhood school have until Feb. 15 to apply. Read more from the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Friday, December 4, 2009

H1N1 Flu Update for Dec. 4

Local and national reports indicate a decline in absences due to the H1N1 flu.

However, it’s important to continue to take precautions to protect yourself and family from the flu, particularly since the regular flu season starts in January.

Physicians and other health care professionals recommend the following actions to help prevent the spread of H1N1 and seasonal flu: stay home when sick, cover coughs and sneezes, wash hands frequently and get the seasonal and H1N1 flu vaccines as soon as possible.

For a list of SD County H1N1 and seasonal flu vaccine clinics, visit the county's H1N1 flu site; more information is also available on the district's flu website.

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