Friday, July 30, 2010

IN THE NEWS: New principal outlines plans for Birdrock Elementary

New Bird Rock Elementary School Principal Sally Viavada intends to hit the ground running this fall with a focus on technological innovation.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

IN THE NEWS: School Board President Talks Parcel Tax

School Board President Richard Barrera discussed the Emergency Teacher Retention/Classroom Education Measure, which voters will decide on Nov. 2, on  KUSI's Good Morning San Diego. Watch video from KUSI-TV.

IN THE NEWS: The Healing Power of Therapy Animals

When Sunny, a 3-year-old golden retriever, began working for San Diego Unified School District last spring, one of her first students was a fourth-grader with cerebral palsy, mobile only with the aid of a walker. Read more from Senior Care Blog»

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

IN THE NEWS: College is So High School

Students at San Diego Early Middle High School will clean up an overpass at City College as a service project. See more from NBC 7/39>>>

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Emergency Parcel Tax Stays on November Ballot

After discussing the matter during a special meeting July 27, the Board of Education took no action on the Emergency Parcel Tax, meaning the measure will be on the ballot in November.

Board President Richard Barrera had scheduled the meeting to allow the Board of Education to reconsider the matter, which was approved July 13.

For more information on the parcel tax, go to

IN THE NEWS: Farb's AVID Program Helps College Path

School-wide AVID program helps Farb Middle School students with achievement. Watch story from NBC 7/39>>

Monday, July 26, 2010

IN THE NEWS: Ground Broken for School Auto Shop

Construction crews at Clairemont High School have begun work on a $2.6-million automotive technology facility, one of several projects awarded by the San Diego Unified School District since voters approved Proposition S in 2008. Read more from the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Friday, July 23, 2010

IN THE NEWS: Summerbridge Program Promotes Love of Learning

Clapping and smiling last week during visitors day at La Jolla High School, the students of Summerbridge seemed to be absorbing the concept of the program: Getting younger students into learning. Read more from the La Jolla Light.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

IN THE NEWS: Librarian Talks Comic Books at 2010 Comic Con

San Diego Unified Librarian Deborah Ford will be part of a panel at the 2010 Comic Con talking about how comic books and graphic novels can help kids learn how to read.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

IN THE NEWS: San Diego Rep, SCPA team up for largest production in history, 'Hairspray'

For the first time, San Diego Repertory is partnering with the San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts to present the Southern California premiere of this Tony Award-winning musical. The result is the largest production in the Rep's 35-year history, with a total of 33 actors and 23 musicians. Read more from the North County Times»

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

IN THE NEWS: SD Unified's Petill Is Food Service Director Magazine's 'Director of the Month'

Change isn’t just a slogan for Gary Petill, director of food and nutrition services at 132,000-student San Diego Unified School District. After 23 years in the hotel industry, Petill joined SDUSD in 2002, and since then he has made significant changes. He created new programs at both the elementary and high school levels, started a breakfast in the classroom component and plans to eliminate all processed foods during the next three years. Read more from Food Service Director Magazine»

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Board Appoints Deputy Superintendents for Instruction, Business

Two key leadership positions have been filled by San Diego Unified's Board of Education: Nellie Meyer will be Deputy Superintendent Academics and Phil Stover as Deputy Superintendent Business.

The appointments complete key pieces of new Superintendent Bill Kowba's team as each will lead significant portions of the district's operations.

"Stover and Meyer will provide dynamic and experienced leadership to their teams at San Diego Unified," said Kowba. "We're very fortunate to have them, especially with the significant challenges we face in the future."

Meyer has spent her educational career with San Diego Unified, most recently appointed an Area Superintendent, while continuing her role as Interim Deputy Superintendent for Academics. She has also served as Chief High School Improvement Officer, Assistant Superintendent for High Schools, Chief Elementary School Officer and Executive Director for the Dropout Prevention Program. She began her career in education in 1982 as a teacher's assistant, becoming a certificated teacher in 1989. She has also been a principal and vice principal, all in San Diego Unified. She is a doctoral candidate at San Diego State University.

Stover is currently Interim Chief Financial Officer with San Diego Unified, after being appointed Interim Chief Special Projects Officer in 2009. In 2000, he founded The Portolan Group, a consulting company that assisted school districts in improving their support services departments. He began working with San Diego Unified in 2006 as a consultant, working on a reorganization of Physical Plant Operations. He has also worked as a consultant for 25 school districts, including 10 of the nation's largest.

The Board made the appointments in a rare Saturday session on July 17.

"I know I speak for the Board when I say the pool of applicants was diverse and highly qualified," said Richard Barrera, Board President. "I know our two new Deputy Superintendents will work very well with Superintendent Kowba and help us move forward."

Each will supervise a key aspect of the district's mission and report directly to Superintendent Kowba. Deputy Superintendent Academics is the key instructional staff member who will oversee the new Area Superintendents structure that includes the implementation of new initiatives such as bringing University of California A-G requirements to all students, increasing the high school graduation rate, reducing absenteeism and improving performance on standardized tests. The Deputy Superintendent Academics will also lead the plan for individual student goals such as improving individualized instruction and challenging students to excel.

The Deputy Superintendent Business has responsibility for staff and functions ranging from school maintenance to food services to construction of new facilities. Goals set by the Board of Education and Superintendent
include effective multi-year planning, increased use of technology to become more efficient, and ensuring that our schools are safe, attractive neighborhood learning centers. Non-teaching services are key in creating a comfortable environment for learning and providing support needed to keep students safe.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Independent Citizens' Oversight Committee Appoints New Members, Officers

The Independent Citizens’ Oversight Committee (ICOC), the legally-required committee appointed by the Board of Education to actively review the proper expenditure of Proposition S funds, recently welcomed two new members, appointed a chair and named a new secretary/vice-chair.

New to the ICOC are Kevin Alvin and Ms. Pat Hom, both of whom will serve two-year terms. Alvin was nominated by trustee Richard Barrera, while Hom was nominated by trustee John De Beck. The ICOC also appointed Gil Johnson as chair and Leonard Pinson as secretary/vice-chair.

The ICOC is comprised of 11 volunteers who monitor the Prop. S bond program and verify that taxpayer dollars are being used solely for bond projects outlined in the 2008 voter guide. Prop. S is the $2.1 billion general obligation bond measure passed by more than 68 percent of San Diego voters on Nov. 4, 2008. The bond program provides resources for San Diego Unified to repair, renovate and revitalize more than 200 neighborhood schools.

Alvin, an Encanto resident who served in the Navy, has worked in the electrical construction industry for more than 20 years and is experienced with high-profile local building projects.

Hom is an outsource financial manager for small businesses and is co-founder of the not-for-profit parent teacher organizations, Friends of Pacific Beach Elementary and Friends of Pacific Beach Secondary Schools, benefiting both Pacific Beach Middle School and Mission Bay High School.

Johnson is president of Procurement Concepts, Inc., a business management and purchasing services firm. As ICOC chair, he presides over meetings and guides the committee’s actions. He also chairs the executive/governance subcommittee.

As secretary/vice-chair, Pinson will serve as chair in Johnson’s absence.  He also chairs the construction sub-committee and is a member of the executive/governance sub-committee. Pinson works as the job order contracting coordinator for the County of San Diego.

Each member of the ICOC represents a specific interest group (such as senior citizens) or business, serves as an “At Large” member or is a parent of a child in the district. Their diverse backgrounds and varying areas of expertise offer unique and independent perspectives on Prop. S activities.

ICOC meetings and subcommittee meetings are open to the public and are held on the third Thursday of the month, at 4 p.m., at the Eugene Brucker Education Center auditorium, located at 4100 Normal Street, San Diego (92103), unless otherwise noted.

For more information about the ICOC, please call (858) 637-3609 or email For Prop. S information, contact: Cynthia Reed-Porter, communications supervisor,, (619) 725-5579; or Jennifer Cornelius, facilities communication liaison at, (619) 725-7252.

IN THE NEWS: Angela Bass to Oversee Mira Mesa Schools

Veteran educator Angela Bass has been appointed to oversee Area 5, which encompasses Scripps Ranch and Mira Mesa high schools and their feeder elementary and middle schools. Read more from Mira Mesa Living»

Thursday, July 15, 2010

IN THE NEWS: Library charter gets special design funds

It isn’t collecting swatches and paint chips yet, but the San Diego school district is preparing for an innovative interior design of the charter school that will occupy two floors of the long-awaited downtown library. Read more from the San Diego Union-Tribune»

IN THE NEWS: Monroe Clark Welcomes New Sixth Grade Class

The annual Puppet Parade welcomed next year's sixth graders from Rosa Parks Elementary on July 13. Watch video from:

IN THE NEWS: Steering students toward science

Anne Artz teaches science at The Preuss School at UCSD and has recently been recognized as an “educator extraordinaire” for her efforts to secure grants and other programs for the school’s science department. She won an Amgen Award for Science Teaching Excellence, which gave the school $5,000 for the science program. She also was awarded a grant from the Society for Science and the Public, which gives the school $35,000 for teacher training and equipment for the Advanced Placement environmental science class she began teaching last year. Read more from the San Diego Union-Tribune»

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

IN THE NEWS: New Schools Chief Addresses District Issues

Supt. Bill Kowba was a guest on the KPBS-FM talk show "These Days" on Wednesday, July 14. Listen to the show and read a transcript at the KPBS-FM website»

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Board Places Emergency Parcel Tax on November Ballot

The Board of Education July 13 approved placing a measure on November's ballot that would set an emergency, five-year parcel tax on each property in the district.

The proposed tax is expected to raise nearly $50 million annually from 2011-16 that would be used to: give schools $150 per student; fund class-size reduction in grades kindergarten through three; focus on math, science and English proficiency in middle and high schools; and continue improvements in classroom instructional technology. Both district-run and charter-operated schools will receive funds.

Board members approved the recommendation of Superintendent Bill Kowba, who in his report to the Board said the emergency tax is needed to maintain minimum educational standards during a time when the State of California is unable to maintain adequate funding for education. San Diego Unified has been forced to cut more than $400 million -- 20 percent -- from its operating budget over the last four years, while enrollment has remained stable.

'"This measure will give the voters of the district the opportunity to consider the fiscal position of the district," Kowba said in the Board report, "and to make a decision to provide emergency funds that are necessary to partially replace state cuts to education that impact all students in the district."

The emergency tax will cost homeowners $98 per year. Apartments and multi-family, commercial and industrial properties will pay at different rates. An independent citizens' committee will oversee the fund.

Passage of the measure requires a yes vote from two-thirds of those voting in the Nov. 2 election. Only voters in the San Diego Unified School District will be taxed and will be voting on the measure.

For more information on the proposal, go to

Monday, July 12, 2010

District Wins Grant to Boost African-American Student Achievement

A new grant from Target Foundation will support San Diego Unified School District efforts to boost African-American student achievement by strengthening family involvement in schools.

The $50,000 grant will enable expansion of outreach to more schools and families, and provide ambitious programs -- such as taking district students and their families to visit college campuses.

“The goal is to show students and their families that college can be attainable, and for parents to see what they need to do to help their children attain that goal starting at a young age,’’ said Elneda Shannon, program manager of Parent Outreach and Engagement Department’s Project Ujima, which serves African-American families.

Project Ujima is named for the third principal of Kwanzaa, which means collective work and responsibility. The Target Foundation arts grant will also enable Project Ujima to take district students and families to Los Angeles to tour the California African American Museum of Art. Using the arts is a powerful way to connect students to learning, said Shannon, and it’s important for them to see the achievements of African Americans in culture.

The grant fits the goal of the year-old Project Ujima program to reaffirm African American cultural understandings and teachings that promote positive development and achievement. The program focuses on students in Title I schools, which educate a larger percentage of students in lower socio-economic levels.

“When we take students and families to see what is possible, it’s like a light goes on,” said Shannon. The program aims at improve academic performance and graduation rates among African American students, who account for more than 11 percent of the district’s 132,000 students.

Since 1946, Target has given 5 percent of its income to support and enrich the communities the retail company serves. Today that equals more than $3 million every week to support education, the arts, social services and volunteerism.

Project Ujima programs are free to parents and families, as are all programs offered by the Parent Outreach and Engagement Department, headquartered in
the Ballard Parent Center in Old Town. For more information, contact the center at (619) 293-4431.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Pershing Science Teachers Publishes First Book

Kellie Marcarelli, an eighth grade science teacher at Pershing Middle School, recently published her first book, Teaching Science with Interactive Notebooks.

In her passion for encouraging strong teaching practices in the sciences, her book details how to use interactive notebooks. She details how this comprehensive learning tool leads students to a deeper understanding of science. Plus, she finds, students love it.

Congratulations to Ms. Mac for her willingness to share her success with all educators. For more information about Teaching Science with Interactive Notebooks, click here or contact Principal Sarah Sullivan .

Emergency Temporary Parcel Tax Proposed

Nearly $400 million in budget cuts have been imposed on San Diego Unified over the last three years. The district’s projected budget deficit in 2011-12 is $127 million. In response to this unprecedented budget crisis, and in order to maintain educational programs and reasonable class sizes, it is critical that the district explore all available revenue sources.

For that reason, the district is proposing an Emergency Temporary Parcel Tax measure on the ballot Nov. 8, 2010. A parcel tax is the only local funding option available to school districts to provide funds for operational purposes.

The Emergency Temporary Parcel Tax would be for a limit of five years, truly a temporary measure. All funds generated would be used locally for specific educational purposes and programs outlined in the measure. As proposed, the measure would generate an estimated $58 million annually for the district. District charter schools would receive a proportionate share of the parcel tax.

A public hearing on the parcel tax proposal will be held at the Board of Education meeting on July 13, no earlier than 5 p.m. For complete information, please visit

Olympian’s Legacy Lives on at Joyner Elementary

The family of the late Olympic athlete, Florence Griffith Joyner, joined district and city officials as well as community members in celebrating the official grand opening of the school that bears Joyner’s name. Also bearing the name of the celebrated athlete is the new joint-use field next to the school.

A dedication and ribbon-cutting ceremony was held for Florence Griffith Joyner Elementary School on Saturday, June 12, as part of a community Celebrate Family Day.

Joyner’s mother, Florence Griffith, and sister, Elizabeth Tate, a resident of City Heights, spoke on behalf of their family. They expressed their great joy and gratitude in seeing Joyner’s legacy living on in the students, staff and community. Mayor Jerry Sanders and City Councilman Todd Gloria participated in the event as well. Read the Union-Tribune coverage...

Joyner Elementary and the joint-use field were constructed with Prop. MM funds, the district’s 1998-2008 capital improvement bond measure overwhelmingly approved by voters. For more information, please contact Principal Gilbert Gutierrez Jr. at (619) 640-4000.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

IN THE NEWS: Roughing it with Central's 3rd graders

Central School Principal Cindy Marten leads a big-time outdoor adventure for her third graders, most of them city kids who've never been camping. The adventure to the two-day campout in East County came complements of sponsors who included the Meeker Foundation. Marten uses such hands-on education to teach about Kumeyaay Indians, native plants, animals and reptiles, astronomy and hiking. "You do not get this from a textbook. You do not get this from a website,” Marten said. “You learn from experience." Read the Union-Tribune story

IN THE NEWS: Why Bill Kowba Wants the Job

San Diego Unified School Superintendent candidate Bill Kowba outlines his goals and motivations with reporter Rory Devine, KNSD 7/39, before he's named officially by the school board. View the interview:

IN THE NEWS: Price to Oversee La Jolla, University City Schools

La Jolla Light interviews Mike Price, newly named Area 6 Superintendent. In the Q&A, Price explains his priorities: "...I bring a lot to the table, in terms of experience, in terms of knowledge, in terms of communications skills, and the ability to bring people together around a common goal and move forward." Read the interview