Thursday, September 30, 2010

International Trades and Economics Students Meet SD County Mayors

The International Trades and Economics students from Point Loma High School recently attended the San Diego South County Economic Summit, an annual meeting that focuses on regional development and forging bi-national relationships in order to achieve economic progress. The students heard from Rep. Bob Filner (D-San Diego) and a panel of mayors from San Diego County about the economic future of the region, as well as the need to create jobs and commerce at the border. Students were able to ask questions and many spoke personally with mayors from the region. For more information, please contact Mary Jean Delcampo, College Career Technical Education teacher, at .

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State, Local Leaders Recognize California's First Linked Learning Certified High School

Kearny Digital Media and Design is Model for Improving Graduation Rates

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell, Assemblymember Marty Block, and local leaders gathered at Kearny High Educational Complex in San Diego Sept. 30 to honor the School of Digital Media and Design (DMD) for being the first school to achieve Linked Learning Certification. Of DMD’s class of 2009, 99% graduated and 95% went on to postsecondary education. Since becoming an industry-themed pathway, DMD’s graduation rates have been consistently higher than district and state averages by as much as 16 percentage points. The school has increased its state Academic Performance Index by 167 points over five years and received national recognition this year as a Blue Ribbon School. Its student population is 77% students of color and 68% socioeconomically disadvantaged.

“The impressive graduation and college going rates of DMD’s students are strong indicators that Linked Learning is working to engage and prepare students for the future. Linked Learning is transforming high schools. I hope that more high schools will implement this innovative and effective reform approach.” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell.

Linked Learning pathways combine challenging academics, demanding technical courses, and work-based learning focused around an industry theme such as arts and media, engineering, or biomedicine. These pathways connect learning with students’ interests and career aspirations, leading to higher graduation rates, increased postsecondary enrollments, higher earning potential, and greater civic engagement. “DMD prepares us for the real world and our future. We work with real clients like Time Warner Cable, like we will have to do in the future. We take our work from the classroom and, through our projects, apply it outside the classroom. It makes us feel a sense of accomplishment because other students (in other schools) don’t get this opportunity,” said 11th grade DMD student Savanna Huynh.

Students presented a website they had created with media and technology assistance from Time Warner Cable employees. The website synthesized information DMD students had learned in class into an interactive website designed to engage middle school students in learning science and math. Time Warner’s involvement is one example of how DMD is connecting with industry and exposing students to careers and the world of work. “This innovative approach to teaching the state’s standards—through a pathway focused on design and media projects— has clearly reached DMD students. Students are excited about learning and are staying in school,” said San Diego Unified School Superintendent Bill Kowba. Linked Learning schools follow the same guiding principles and core components, but the approach is flexible so each school can develop its own pathway and industry-themed curriculum.

To become a Linked Learning certified pathway the school had to meet the vast majority of 39 certification criteria or indicators that the school has created the optimal environment for improving student achievement and engagement. ConnectEd, a statewide hub for the Linked Learning field, and its partners—the National Academy Foundation, the National Career Academy Coalition, and the Career Academy Support Network at the University of California, Berkeley—established and manage the certification process for Linked Learning pathways.

International Walk to School Day is Oct. 6

International Walk to School DayMany of our schools participate in International Walk to School Day, scheduled for Oct. 6. This year, the schools in the City Heights neighborhood are once again working with the City Heights Community Development Corporation on a mega-walk and Health and Safety Fair. Board President Richard Barrera and Board Member Shelia Jackson will join San Diego City Council Member Todd Gloria for the activities. Students from Central, Euclid, Joyner, Hamilton, Ibarra, Marshall, Fay and Rosa Parks elementary schools are expected to participate. For more information, please call Michelle Luellen at (619) 584-1535.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

IN THE NEWS: Banning books a rarity in San Diego

While school boards across the country have gone to battle even in recent years with parents and community groups over perennial titles such as Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird” and “Lolita” by Vladimir Nabokov — flagged mostly for language and mentions of sexuality — San Diego city schools have largely avoided such conflict. Read more from the San Diego Union-Tribune»

Congratulations to Whittier School

Whitter-Del Sol Staff Whittier School staff members (in photo) were thrilled to see their specialized program listed in the San Diego Union- Tribune as being the #1 most improved high school in API growth – up 130 points over last year - based on the state’s 2009-10 Accountability Progress Report (APR) released Sept. 13. Although only 51 students took the exam in this specialized setting for K-12 students with IEPs, the staff, students and parents deserve congratulations on their hard work and efforts.

School Site Council Training for Parents

The San Diego Unified Council of PTAs is teaming up with the California Association of Compensatory Education to hold a special training for parents who are planning to participate as School Site Council (SSC) representatives. The workshop, entitled “Laws of the Federal, State and Local Governments” Adobe PDF Icon, will take place Saturday, Oct. 9, from 9 a.m. to noon, at the Ballard Parent Center in Old Town, 2375 Congress St. (92110). Both incoming and experienced SSC representatives are encouraged to attend. Child care will be available. Please RSVP by Oct. 2 to the PTA Council at or (619) 297-7821.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Student Internship Celebration

Intern Celebration Students from the Academy of Finance at San Diego High School of Business celebrated recently with their internship providers after completing 120 hour internships this summer. Each of the 30 participating students earned $1,200 at the end of the internship. Some of the 16 businesses involved included the Omni Hotel (site of the celebration), The Language Academy, R.H. Fleet Science Center, SD County Office of the Alternate Public Defender, and the district's Fiscal and Materials Control Department. For more information about the internship program or the Academy of Finance, please contact Kelly Granfield at .

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IN THE NEWS: A Middle School Takes a Quantum Leap

Mann Middle School in El Cerrito has long been one of the schools that everyone wrings their hands over in San Diego... when test scores made a quantum leap this year, putting Mann ahead of schools it once lagged behind, it was a surprise to almost everyone. Read more from Voice of San Diego»

Four Schools Launch New Websites

Adams New Website Balboa New Website Oak Park New Website Valencia Park New Website
Congratulations to Adams, Balboa, Oak Park and Valencia Park elementary schools for launching their new school websites this past week. The schools are using the district’s free Schoolwires content management system to provide timely information to parents, students and the community. To learn more, please contact Geoff Smith, district webmaster, at .

Monday, September 27, 2010

JROTC Welcomes New Cadet Leadership

JROTC Cadets welcomed Nine newly appointed JROTC cadets will lead more than 2,300 high school students enrolled in our district's JROTC program this year. The leadership team includes Kevin Huynh and Allen Tran, Scripps Ranch; Nicole Oldenburg, Kearny; Nicholas Rounds and Samantha Parks, Patrick Henry; D'Angelo Thomas, Serra; Jesse Ryan, Crawford; and Bryant To and Thinh Nguyen, Madison. These cadets are responsible for working with program managers in planning and conducting JROTC competitions, unit inspections, and setting guidelines and policies. They also set the example in scholastics, physical fitness, appearance, attitude and personal conduct. For more information, please contact LTC David Guzman at (858) 496-8203 or .

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Breakfast in the Classroom Now Serves 23,500 Students

PlacematWith 23,500 students in 43 schools now part of the Breakfast in the Classroom Program, a July survey found that San Diego Unified teachers and principals believe the program reduces trips to the nurse and helps keep children focused on class work. They also said that breakfast in the classroom teaches children to be responsible, dependable and to work as a team. To help support classroom cleanliness, the Food Services Department provides additional supplies such as dry disposable towels for spills and moist towelettes for cleaning desk tops and placemats. Placemats Adobe PDF (pictured above) are provided through sponsorships from the San Diego Chargers and the Dairy Council of California. For more information please contact Gary Petill, director, food services, at (858) 627-7301 or .

Saturday, September 25, 2010

First Town Hall Meeting Draws Crowd

Town Hall Meeting - San Diego High School
More than 100 parents, students, teachers, principals, community members and the media attended the first community Town Hall meeting held Wednesday, Sept. 22, at the San Diego High Educational Complex. Watch a montage video of the meeting. A total of ten meetings are being held throughout the district in September and October to discuss the goals for student achievement, the budget crisis and the Proposition J Parcel Tax measure. Two meetings are scheduled next week: Area 5 Mira Mesa/Scripps Ranch clusters will meet Wednesday, Sept. 29, from 6:30 to 8 p.m., at Scripps Ranch High School; Area 2 Crawford High cluster will meet Thursday, Sept. 30, from 6:30 to 8 p.m., at Crawford High School. For more information and the complete schedule of meetings, visit or e-mail

Friday, September 24, 2010

Padres Season Down to the Wire but Still A Few Chances to Support Arts Programs

Padres Logo This weekend's games between the Cincinnati Reds and our Padres are the last chances you'll have this season to not only see great Major League Baseball pennant-race games, but to support San Diego Unified's Visual and Performing Arts Programs. Purchase your tickets online at . Enter the code VAPA and you can buy $26 tickets on the exclusive Toyota Terrace for $25, with proceeds going to VAPA to purchase musical instruments and support the Honor concerts. Select from the following great games: Padres vs. Cincinnati Reds on Sept 24 at 7:05 p.m. (College Night); Sept 25 at 1:10 p.m. (Padres calendars); Sept 26 at 1:05 p.m. (Padres slinkies for kids). For more information, please contact the VAPA office at (858) 539-5349.

Culinary Arts and Management Program Receives Local Support

A generous donation of textbooks valued at more than $15,000, along with other non-tangible resources, have been donated to the Culinary Arts programs at Garfield, Mira Mesa, Morse and San Diego high schools by the San Diego County Chapter of the California Restaurant Association. The program, ProStart, is a career-building program for high school students that includes classroom as well as mentored work experiences, national competitions and national certification opportunities. For more information, please contact Angela Croce, CCTE program specialist, at (858) 503-1750 or .

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Thursday, September 23, 2010

Classroom Conversion to Teen Court at Crawford’s School of Law and Business

Crawford Courtroom Conversion Student interns converted a Crawford High School of Law and Business classroom into a courtroom over the summer. The interns were part of the summer Hire-a-Youth program and received valuable experience in addition to pay. The conversion provides the opportunity for students to hold mock trials and host guest speakers in a setting similar to real courtrooms. For more information, please contact Steve Luttbeg, law instructor, at .

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Free Parent Workshops Available

The Special Education Department is hosting several free parent workshops in the coming weeks, including “ReCentering Parenting” and continuing Parenting Services series. Beginning Sept. 30, “ReCentering Parenting" is a six-week class open to all district parents and teaches how-to transform parenting performance while simultaneously improving a child’s academic, citizenship, social, emotional and home performance, taught by lecturer Michael Clark. It’s held Thursdays from 6-8 p.m. at Mt. Everest Academy. Special Education Parenting Workshops for 2010-2011 are beginning next week at four locations: Jerabek, Miller and Cherokee Point elementary schools, as well as the Ballard Parent Center. Topics include “Supporting Your Child’s Learning at Home,” “Communications and Managing Stress” and autism. For more information, please contact Pat Moulton at (619) 725-7327 or visit the website.

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Monday, September 20, 2010

IN THE NEWS: Foster's big day sets off celebration at Mission Bay HS

High schools don’t get a chance very often to enjoy watching graduates rise into the NFL. Rarer still is the ability to bask in the glory of a historic achievement. Arian Foster, a former Buccaneers running back and San Diego County season yardage leader, produced one of the greatest opening weekend NFL performances on Sunday when he rushed for a franchise-record 231 yards and three touchdowns in the Houston Texans’ upset of the Indianapolis Colts. Read more from the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Senator Pays a Visit to iHigh Virtual Academy

Sen. Kehoe
State Senator Chris Kehoe paid a special visit to iHigh Virtual Academy on Wednesday, Sept. 15, to see first-hand the benefits of online learning from students and teachers at the district’s online high school. The Senator was joined by Board President Richard Barrera and Superintendent Bill Kowba. The District representatives urged the Senator to support legislation that would allow school districts, county offices of education, and charter schools that offer online education courses to claim attendance toward average daily attendance on the basis of a pupil's attendance in an online course or courses that satisfy prescribed criteria.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Kearny Komets Go “Krazy” for Farm to School Salad Bar

Farm to schoolCries of "wow" and "yum" greeted the all-organic, locally-grown items that appeared this week on the lunchtime salad bar at the Kearny High Educational Complex. Students and staff got a preview of the future as the district's new Farm to School Program gave the students -- and 4SD reporter Jack Gates -- a taste of what's to come, with locally grown green-leaf lettuce, watermelon, radishes, cucumbers, heirloom tomatoes, strawberries and oranges as part of the selections. The formal rollout of the program begins next month when Valencia oranges, grown in San Diego County at Bonsall's Stehly Farms, will be on all salad bars. Ultimately, a quarter of all menu items will be locally produced. Farm to School is funded through a grant from the US Centers for Disease Control to improve the health and physical fitness of students. The 4SD story was shown Monday, Sept. 20. For more information, please go to the Farm To School website or contact Vanessa Zajfen, farm-to-school specialist, at or (858) 627-7310.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

We're Looking Hard for Every Dollar

San Diego Unified actively engages in grant research, proposal development and currently implements many programs funded through federal, state and private foundation grants. A coordinated communications protocol is in place to maintain exemplary fiscal and programmatic oversight of all grant programs and is used during the development, application and implementation of grant programs.
The district’s Grants and Resource Development Office routinely updates its website with upcoming grant opportunities, including the 2010 Jimmie Johnson Foundation/Lowe’s Toolbox for Education Champions Grant  program. If you are looking for grant opportunities or have a funding resource to share, please contact Aly Evans, program development specialist.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Prop. S Update: Hoover High Green Construction Program Building Underway

Hoover Construction
Demolition and grading are underway at Hoover High School as construction activities begin on the new Green Construction Program building. The $3.9M project will feature a modern, commercial woodshop set in an industrial arts classroom that is part of the high school’s new College Career and Technical Education Program. The 5,700-sq. ft. Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design-certified facility will serve as an educational lab, teaching students about renewable technologies in construction, including photovoltaic (solar) systems, renewable/recycled building products and energy efficiency. A state-of-the-art ventilation system will mitigate dust and noise while simultaneously supplying superior air quality in a shop environment. The project is scheduled to be completed by fall 2011. For more information, please visit .

Thursday, September 16, 2010

IN THE NEWS: Hoover Grad Excels as USD's First Ocean Leader Scholar

After graduating in June from Hoover High with a GPA of 3.75, Yajaira Nuñez begins college Wednesday at the University of San Diego as the school¹s first Ocean Leader Scholar. Read more from the University of San Diego's News Center>>

IN THE NEWS: La Jolla Student Honored for Efforts

Meredith Paloma Lehmann of La Jolla High School receives a Davidson Fellowship and a $25,000 scholarship from the Davidson Institute for Talent Development, a national nonprofit in Nevadathat supports “profoundly gifted youth.” Read more from the San Diego Union-Tribune»

Community Forums Set

Town Hall Meetings A series of 10 community town hall meetings have been scheduled throughout the district in September and October. Parents, students, employees and the public are encouraged to attend and discuss the district's goals for student achievement, the budget crisis and the Proposition J Parcel Tax measure. The first meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, September 22, from 6:30 to 8 p.m., at the San Diego High Educational Complex. For more information and the complete schedule of meetings, visit or email

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Budding Crawford Lawyers Get Expanded Law Library

More than $350,000 worth of law books — 4,787 volumes — have been donated by the Thomas Jefferson School of Law to the Crawford School of Law and Business.

The expanded law library helps students at the Crawford Complex small school research legal matters in the new Center for Social Justice.

The Center is home to the San Diego Teen Court, which opens this fall, and advocacy services for the Crawford community. The Teen Court is a renowned peer mediation program.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Educational Opportunity Report Now Online

A report commissioned by the district studying educational opportunities in the district and availability of courses that meet University of California A-G requirements is now online.

The report was completed by The Education Trust West, which is presenting its findings on from 6-8 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 14, at the Instructional Media Center, 2441 Cardinal Lane, San Diego (92123).

A-G Task Force members, other interested district staff, parents, students and the public are invited to attend. The full audit report will be available on the district website in mid-September. This audit report will provide the district with necessary information to begin implementing the University of California A-G course sequence as part of high school graduation requirements.

For more information, please contact Marty Stultz at or (619) 725-7103.

Apply for Free or Reduced Lunch Online

The Food Services Department is pleased to announce the launch of the online Free and Reduced-Price Meal Application. Parents and guardians now have the option to complete an application electronically on the Food Services website at .

Applicants will be linked to the secure “ApplyforLunch” website and asked to provide the same information that is required on the paper application.

Households will be notified within 10 business days of their family's eligibility in the Free and Reduced-Price Meal Program. For more information, please contact Pam Kowalski at (858) 627-7332.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Supt. Says Back-To-School Was Smooth

Appears on morning news and talks about the first week of school and other topics. Watch video from KUSI-TV»

Accountability Reports Show Improvement at Individual Schools, Progress on Achievement Gap

The state's 2009-10 Accountability Progress Report (APR) released Sept. 13 showed improvement at many district elementary, middle and high schools along with a small narrowing of the achievement gap among some student groups.

Four San Diego Unified schools are exiting Program Improvement, four others' scores rose enough to keep them out of Program Improvement. On the Academic Performance Index (API), 15 schools had growth of 50 points or more. This year, 101 schools had API scores of 800 or above, up from 80 last year. Of those schools, 25 had scores at or above 900, up from 21 last year.

The annual Accountability Progress Report (APR) determines whether schools and districts have met their Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) under No Child Left Behind. Students in a variety of categories and grades are given standardized tests to measure their knowledge of English language arts and mathematics.

"The hard work by our students, teachers and staff members is shown in these test results," said Superintendent Bill Kowba. "Of particular note are those schools that will exit Program Improvement, those that met  their AYP this year and won't go into Program Improvement, and those with 50 points or more growth on the API."

In addition, there was continued evidence that the achievement gap is narrowing among some student groups. Hispanic, Economically Disadvantaged, English Learner, and Students with Disabilities showed higher levels of improvement than other groups.

"While we can be proud of these accomplishments, this is no time to sit on our laurels or accept the status quo. It is imperative that we continue to accelerate our efforts to boost student achievement and slash the achievement gap," added Kowba.

Schools exiting Program Improvement are: Edison, Encanto and Garfield elementary schools; and Lewis Middle School. Those that met AYP and not entering Program Improvement are Cabrillo,Clay, Lee and Longfellow elementary schools.

Overall, 65 percent of San Diego Unified's schools met their AYP target; statewide, only 57 percent of schools met this target.

San Diego Unified met 39 of 50 criteria and did not make its Adequate Yearly Progress measure. In its second year of Program Improvement under No Child Left Behind, San Diego Unified joins all other large urban school districts in California that are required to identify corrective actions during the coming year. San Diego Unified was the final of the nine largest California districts and one of the last large districts in the nation to be placed on program improvement.

For more information on individual school reports, go to the California Department of Education.

Pt. Loma Students’ Special Presentation in Washington D.C.

Caitlin Snell and Dr. Jill BidenA Washington, D.C. conference recently heard Pt. Loma High students Caitlin Snell and Cody Harvey talk about the success of the school’s Student 2 Student (S2S) program, which helps ease the transition of new students to the campus.

The pair attended the Military Child Education Coalition conference along with advisor Brook Valot, who served as chaperone. S2S started at Pt. Loma in February, 2010, pairing new students with a veteran classmate, who helps them find their way around campus and joins them for lunch and school events.

Of the more than 200 schools across the country with an S2S program, Pt. Loma High was one of only four that presented at the conference. While there, Caitlin met with Dr. Jill Biden (in photo), wife of Vice-President Joe Biden.

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Sunday, September 12, 2010

Proposition S Update: i21 Initiative a Team Effort

i21 installationThe successful installation of the i21 Interactive classroom “suites” for the first year involved several central office departments, including Facilities Planning & Construction and Integrated Technology Support Services.

Physical Plant Operations (PPO) has joined the i21 team, now in its second year of the five-year installation plan. PPO crews are not only prepping and installing equipment in more than 237 classrooms, they are also installing classroom infrastructure wiring, electrical components and sound systems as well as fabricating audio-visual cabinets.
For more information on the i21 initiative, visit

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Saturday, September 11, 2010

Celebrating a Century of Education

1952 photo
The Education Center in 1952, shortly after opening. Annex 1 is at the lower left; the original State Normal School still stands where today there are temporary offices and parking.
District employees know it as Annex One, but the 2-story building at the west end of the Education Center near El Cajon Boulevard is actually one of the most historic structures in San Diego and holds a century-old place in California’s education history. It was first used as the Teacher Training Building for the San Diego State Normal School. The school, which evolved into today’s San Diego State University, moved to Montezuma Mesa in 1931. For the next 20 years, Annex One was part of Mann Middle School (which relocated to 54th Street), then used as office space with the opening of the Education Center in 1952. The last several years, the building has been used only for storage as it no longer meets earthquake codes.

Celebrate the centennial of the Annex One building Sunday, Sept. 12, with the Taste of University Heights and UH Arts Open, from noon to 5 p.m., and a special ceremony at 4 p.m. Superintendent Bill Kowba and Board President Richard Barrera will be among the local dignitaries in attendance. Our district has been custodian of this building for many years but plans are in the works to restore it and move the University Heights branch library to the historic landmark. For more information, call the University Heights Community Association at (619) 297-3166 or visit

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Friday, September 10, 2010

IN THE NEWS: Local teen helps seniors in St. Paul's program

Tessa Meads, 16, has volunteering down to a science. Read more from the San Diego Union-Tribune»

Kearny Digital Media and Design, Preuss School UCSD Get Federal "Blue Ribbon"

The School of Digital Media and Design at the Kearny Educational Complex in Linda Vista and the Preuss School UCSD Charter have been named National Blue Ribbon Schools by the U.S. Department of Education.

The Blue Ribbon Schools Program honors public and private elementary, middle and high schools whose students achieve at very high levels or have made significant progress and helped close gaps in achievement, especially among disadvantaged and minority students. The program is part of a larger Department of Education effort to identify and disseminate knowledge about best school leadership and teaching practices.

"This is an outstanding recognition for two outstanding schools," said San Diego Unified Superintendent Bill Kowba. "I congratulate Kearny DMD Principal Cheryl Hibbeln, her staff and her students, as well as the staff and students at the Preuss School UCSD, for a job well done."

The Blue Ribbon Schools Program sets a standard of excellence for all schools striving for the highest level of achievement. Each year since 1982, the U.S. Department of Education has sought out schools where students attain and maintain high academic goals, including those that beat the odds.

At Kearny, Principal Cheryl Hibbeln said the honor was the result of much hard work.

"This award is a validation of the staff, students and administration's philosophy about student engagement and project-based learning," said Hibbeln. "Placing students at the center of learning and engagement is the key to student achievement."

The School of Digital Media and Design is one of four schools at the Kearny High Educational Complex in Linda Vista. The comprehensive high school was divided into four schools in 2004 as part of a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Its diverse student population draws from throughout the district as well as from the Linda Vista and Serra Mesa neighborhoods. The School of Digital Media and Design has an enrollment of 475 in grades 9-12.

"We are a completely interdisciplinary, project-based learning environment that collaborates with industry," said Hibbeln. "We work with local companies and government on civic projects and campaigns. Through these projects, students are motivated to tell their story to the world."

Academic subjects such as math, English and science are fully integrated throughout the projects.

"Our academic standards are made relevant through real-world projects," she said.

Community partners include the Surfrider Foundation, Time Warner Cable TV, Grossmont College, San Diego County Office of Education ITV, the City of San Diego and ConnectEd California.

Public Invited to Hear A-G Audit Findings

The Education Trust West will present its Educational Opportunity Audit (A-G) findings from 6-8 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 14, at the Instructional Media Center, located at 2441 Cardinal Lane, San Diego (92123). A-G Task Force members, other interested district staff, parents, students and the public are invited to attend.

This audit report will provide the district with necessary information to begin implementing the University of California A-G course sequence as part of high school graduation requirements. The full audit report will be available on the district website in mid-September.

For more information, please contact Marty Stultz at (619) 725-7103.

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

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Local Businesses Help Jumpstart the New School Year

SuppliesOn Sept. 1, teachers, students and parents made the trip to the Scripps Mesa Conference Center for a special district give-away. Disguise, Ltd., American Specialty Health, Callaway Golf, Carpenter’s Union Local 1506, Sony Corporation and Sky River Communications were just a few of the major contributors.

Halloween costumes, pens, pencils, markers, highlighters, three-ring binders, various desktop accessories, filing cabinets and furniture were among the items distributed on a first-come, first-served basis. One anonymous donor donated more than $5,000 in office supplies. In addition to the Sept. 1 event, Pfizer, Inc. has donated more than 58 pallets of science and lab supplies to our schools in the past few months. The estimated value of all of these combined donations totals approximately $500,000.

A special thank you to several members of the Scripps Ranch High School Boys Water Polo team who volunteered their time to help set up the donation site. For more information, please contact the Community Relations Dept. at (619) 725-5592.

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

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

IN THE NEWS: 2010-11 School Year Begins

See coverage of the first day of school at one school, Hoover High.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

From the Superintendent: Welcome Back to School

Bill KowbaToday, we welcome back more than 132,000 students to our schools. Thank you to all of our teachers, principals, school support staff and central office employees who have been working so hard to make sure that the start of school is a success.

As we start the new school year, I have been sharing the same message with all of our employees. That singular message is that the success of our students should always be at the forefront of our minds. Remember our mission statement as we begin anew, refreshed and refocused:

"All San Diego students will graduate with the skills, motivation, curiosity and resilience to succeed in their choice of college and career in order to lead and participate in the society of tomorrow."

We had great success at our schools last year. Everyone is excited about continuing that positive momentum throughout the 2010/11 school year for our students and families. Parents, thank you for the privilege of serving your children. Welcome back to school!


Monday, September 6, 2010

New Fee for Transportation

In response to the current budget crisis, the Board of Education directed that a fee for transportation be charged in the 2010-11 school year for all transported students, with the exception of Special Education, students certified to receive free and reduced lunch, and students whose household income qualifies for free transportation.

As the program rolls out, parents should be assured that all students assigned to a bus will be provided with transportation on the first day of school, Tuesday, Sept. 7, through Friday, Sept. 17, when either payment or exempt applications are due.

Students should be at their assigned bus stop at the designated time on the first day of school, Sept. 7th. For more information, please call Transportation Services at (858) 496-8460 or visit

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Sunday, September 5, 2010

Hot Weather Plans in Place

All schools in San Diego Unified have hot weather plans in place for continued operations of schools during periods of extremely hot weather.

As we kick off a new school year, a time when the weather often heats up, we want to make sure our students are as comfortable as possible so that their learning can continue.

Our schools have a number of guidelines in place for planning instruction during hot weather, including instructional program modifications, alternative locations for instruction, extracurricular activities and keeping students cool and hydrated.

Please visit the Hot Weather webpage (in English or Spanish) for more information.

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

Friday, September 3, 2010

IN THE NEWS: Supt. Kowba Talks Back-to-School

Interview covers school opening on Tuesday, Sept. 7, budget and test scores.
Watch video from Fox 5 San Diego»

Cox Heroes Scholarships Give Helping Hand to San Diego’s Best

Scholarship Winners
Richard Barrera, left, San Diego Unified School District Board of Education President, is joined by scholarship winners Anthony Martinez, Alan Hurtado, Mariana Diestra, Dorcus Banjeny.

Dorcus Bangenyi faced incredible challenges when her family fled the Congo, lived in a refugee camp and eventually came to the United States. She began her academic career in the United States as a freshman and was the first in her family to graduate from high school. Dorcus graduated from Crawford CHAMPS plans to study nursing at San Diego State University.

Bangenyi is one of 13 high school students and 5 adults chosen by the Cox Kids Foundation as a recipient of a 2010 Cox Heroes Scholarships presented by Mission Federal Credit Union. She will receive a $2,500 Cox Heroes Scholarship to continue her education at San Diego State University.

This year, $52,500 in Cox Heroes scholarships has been awarded to San Diego-area high school students and adults who are continuing their educational goals. The winners were honored on the baseball field at Petco Park prior a recent Padres game.

Winners from San Diego Unified schools include: Bangenyi from Crawford Champs; Mariana Diestra, Kearny School of International Business; Alan Hurtado, Clairemont High; Anthony Martinez, San Diego High School of Business; Joshua Morse, Pt. Loma High; Ereca Nguyen, Hoover High; Ly Nguyen, Hoover High.

Cox Heroes Scholarships recognize the hard work and commitment of high school seniors and adults re-entering school who have had to overcome personal challenges while pursuing educational advancement at a San Diego-area vocational school or university.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

New Work Permits Needed for School Year

As the 2010-2011 school year begins, working minors and their employers are reminded of the state law that requires any employee less than 18 years of age who has not graduated from high school or passed the California High School Proficiency Examination to have a Permit to Employ and Work.

Minors are responsible for obtaining this work permit application and  employers are required to terminate the employment for any minor for whom they do not have an active work permit.

Minors who have graduated from high school or passed the California  proficiency exam may give a copy of their high school diploma or proficiency exam certificate to their employer in lieu of a work permit. Minors who have not fulfilled one of these requirements must be enrolled in school in order to have a work permit application processed. A passing score on the  California High School Exit Exam (CAHEE) does not exempt minors from work  permit requirements.

All current work permits expire on September 13, following the start of the  new school year on September 7. The expiration date is indicated on all  permits.

Students may obtain application forms, or get information about work permits  and child labor laws, at any high school, or contact the district’s work  permit office at (858) 627-7355, or see the website at

IN THE NEWS: CNN Highlights Cherokee Point as a Successful Year-Round School

Godwin Higa, principal at Cherokee Point Elementary was featured in CNN's ongoing “Fix our Schools” segment with anchor T.J. Holmes. Mr. Higa discussed how a year-round schedule has contributed to student achievement at the City Heights neighborhood school. Watch the Sept.1 CNN report.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Board Approves New Chief Financial Officer

A Northern California school official and MBA, Ronald D. Little II, is the new Chief Financial Officer of the San Diego Unified School District.

His appointment was approved at the Tuesday, Aug. 31, Board of Education meeting, after being submitted by Supt. Bill Kowba.

"We're excited to have someone of Ron's background join us at San Diego Unified," said Supt. Kowba. "His appointment completes our senior management team."

For the last three years, Little has been associate superintendent of business services for the 9,500 student South San Francisco Unified School District. Previously, Little served for nearly three years as Chief Business official for 3,000-student San Carlos School District.

Little brings a varied background to his new leadership position with San Diego Unified. He also worked in city finance before moving to the public education sector. He began his career working for cities in the San Francisco Bay Area, including Palo Alto, Burlingame and San Anselmo, where he served as Director of Recreation for 2004.

San Diego Unified School District’s new CFO holds a master’s of business administration from the University of San Francisco, with a concentration in finance. He is a graduate of University of California-Irvine, where he received his degree in English literature before earning advanced degrees and professional certifications in finance, from the University of Southern California and the California Association of School Business Officials.

In the Bay Area, Little oversees a general fund operational budget of $75 million. His improvement in financial oversight resulted in significant cost savings, smooth external audits and an upgrade in bond ratings. He also has experience in community outreach, serving on multiple committees collaborating with area schools and institutions. In the San Carlos district, he led the effort to pass a $40 million school bond in 2005.

He looks forward to working with the district and the community to surmount the challenges facing the district during the state budget crisis.

"Community outreach is an important tool to educate the public about the need for significant revisions to the current state funding model," said Little. "We need to work together for the sake of our students today and California’s future."
Little is scheduled to start Oct. 4.