Monday, September 30, 2013

Honey Mustard Dressing, Teriyaki Flavored Organic Tofu are now on cafeteria menu

It's new and local on San Diego's school lunch menus.

Enjoying lunch Honey mustard dressing and organic tofu are now being enjoyed by students not only for their great flavor but for their local and sustainable sourcing.

"Both of these products are created locally from natural ingredients," said Gary Petill, Director of the Food and Nutrition Services Department. "This adds to our Farm to School program that sources local produce and continues our efforts to serve healthful food to our students."

The first new product is Honey Mustard Dressing from Green Bellies, a San Diego company whose goal is to provide school children with great tasting, nutritious foods made from all natural ingredients. Prior to adding honey mustard dressing to our menu, students selected from Ranch or Italian dressing with Ranch being the overwhelming favorite. As students discover this delicious new dressing their perception of "salad" will certainly change. A national leader, San Diego Unified has had salad bars in its schools for more than a decade.

The second product is Teriyaki Flavored Organic Tofu from San Diego Soy Dairy. This is served on the Tofu Caesar Salad as a vegetarian alternative to Chicken Caesar Salad in middle and high schools. San Diego Soy Dairy is a "dairy-less dairy" that manufactures vegan, certified kosher tofu made from non-genetically modified soybeans. It has provided soy products to stores and restaurants throughout San Diego County since 1980.

"These new menu items will help our kids learn that the right choices for their nutrition can also taste great," said Petill. "in addition, by sourcing local, we help to keep jobs in San Diego and reduce the amount of long-distance trucks on the highway. It's good for our kids, good for our community and good for the planet."

Since 2010, more than a million pounds of local, regional and organic food has been served to San Diego Unified students. This has included apples from Julian, certified organic blackberries and other healthy fruits and vegetables grown in San Diego and California, brought fresh to Kids' Choice Cafés in elementary schools and SanDi Coast Cafés at middle and high schools.

 "Tofu and salad dressing don't weigh much, but it will add to our overall total," said Petill.

For more information on Food Services or San Diego Unified's efforts to use locally sourced food whenever possible, contact Gary Petill, Director, Food and Nutrition Services at

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Montgomery Middle's garden grows thanks to Whole Foods, volunteer

The Montgomery Middle School garden was the location for a fun Whole Foods Market volunteer project after the school recently won a Garden Grant from the supermarket chain.
Together with elementary students visiting from Bayside Community Center’s Academic Club in Linda Vista and volunteers from The Bishop’s School in La Jolla we will share in celebrating service and collaboration in a beautiful school garden setting.

"We're excited to roll up our sleeves to help prepare the garden for cool weather crop season with our partners at the school," said Ray Kau, Store Marketing Supervisor for the chain's Hillcrest store. "This was family-friendly, three-hour project with tasks for everyone ages 7 and up!"

The work at the historic Linda Vista campus included learning about cool weather and warm weather crops while painting whimsical plant identification signs to be used in the garden boxes, preparing garden beds with compost and planting with cool weather seeds and starter plants. Some kids also sketched their favorite plant or spot in the garden which will be used to create a mosaic art piece that will be displayed at the store.
"This event was fun, uplifting, and kid-friendly," said Kau. "This was an opportunity for customers, team members, and kids to partner together in service to our community. We'll have plenty of garden related activities to engage everyone. The best part is working together to service our edible community!"

The store brought along a "magical build-your-own salad-bar for kids and grown-ups, plus all the fixings" where they could join in the fun of the fun of "eating a rainbow" in honor of the Whole Kids Foundation.
For more information on the garden, contact Emalyn Leppard at Montgomery Middle School, 858-397-6600.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Rosa Parks students, staff and families celebrate Mexican Independence Day

"Grito de Delores, Viva Mexico!!" could be heard across the playground of Rosa Parks Elementary the morning of Sept. 16 as students students danced and told the story of Miguel Hildago y Costilla and the beginning of the Mexican War of Independence.
Dancers salute Mexico. Remedios Gómez Arnau, Cónsul General from the Mexican Consulate in San Diego was in attendance and shared her joy and enthusiasm of our celebration with everyone in attendance. Parents spent many weeks prior to school opening to teach the three dances students performed as well as practicing the reenactment of the historic event from September 16, 1810, which set into motion a war that lasted more than ten years until Mexico was able to declare its independence from Spain.

Teachers Ramon Espinal and Lourdes Jimenez led as masters of the ceremony, introducing each performance and special guests.
Rosa Parks Elementary is in the neighborhood of City Heights and serves more than 1,100 students Pre-K to 5th grade where more than 80 percent of the students represent Hispanic or Latino heritage. For more information please contact Irene Hightower, Vice Principal, at 619-282-6803.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Pride in the Tribe invites all Clairemont High alums to campus Oct. 4

CHS Clairemont High School invites all past, present and future Chieftains, their families and the community to attend a very special  Pride in the Tribe event on Friday, Oct. 4, starting at 4 p.m., in the school gym. Come celebrate the past, present and future of Clairemont High School and meet new principal Dr. Jennifer Roberson and new Superintendent Cindy Marten. The event is free and will feature activities for all ages including campus tours, art projects, a homecoming rally and food trucks. The Homecoming football game takes place at 6:30, as the Clairemont Chieftain football team plays the Hoover Cardinals. For more information, go to

Clairemont High School is located at 4150 Ute Dr. (92117).

International Day of Peace observed at Birney Elementary, Roosevelt Middle schools

Birney Elementary and Roosevelt Middle schools celebrated the International Day of Peace, culminating in the creation of a giant peace sign on their schools' playgrounds.
Peace at Birney Elementary
The schools' annual celebration is part of the curriculum for the International Baccalaureate schools, which use an international approach to learning and living together. The International Baccalaureate offers programs for students ages 3-19 that develop the intellectual, personal, emotional and social skills to live, learn and work in a rapidly globalizing world.

International Baccalaureate is a non-profit, mission-driven foundation and a recognized leader in the field of international education.

At Roosevelt, located on the north edge of Balboa Park, students decorated t-shirts, posters and flags for their peace sign ceremony. Almost all of the school's 900 students participated in the sign-making, after which they performed dances.

At Birney Elementary School in University Heights, students also created a giant peace sign, lining up on the school's join-use field.

For more information on the programs, contact: Dr. Cabello at Roosevelt Middle school at, or Amanda Hammond-Williams at Birney Elementary at

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Summer trip with Scripps, Woods Hole takes Mission Bay and Lincoln teachers to top of world

Steve Walters
Science teachers from Lincoln and Mission Bay high schools were part of a team of researchers from Scripps Institution of Oceanography and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution that spent several weeks this summer investigating the origins of a cooling period on earth that began about 13,000 years ago.

Danny Blas, marine science teacher at Lincoln High, and Steve Walters, marine biology teacher at Mission Bay High, were part of a team of researchers on-board the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Healy collecting sediment samples on, and mapping of, the seafloor of the eastern Beaufort Sea, north of Alaskan-Canadian border.

"Science should be exciting, and being part of a large team of highly knowledgeable experts in the field makes me even more excited to share my experiences with my students," said Blas, who is serving as the project's blogger, targeting his blog to grade 11-12 grade marine science students. Walters is serving as a member of the seafloor sediment collection team.

Danny Blas
The cooling period, known by scientists the Younger Drays stadial, has been associated with sea ice in the Arctic and north Atlantic oceans, and the storage and release of fresh water from a large glacial lake in North America, yet its origin remains controversial.

Dr. Lloyd Keigwin (Woods Hole) and Dr. Neal Driscoll (Scripps), Principal Investigators for the mission, hypothesized the glacial lake (Lake Agassiz) released fresh water to the Arctic Ocean through the Mackenzie River, and if proven, the signal should be detectable in the oxygen isotope ratio in the shells of plankton found in the sediment.
The research mission ran from Aug. 14 to Sept. 9.

For more information, visit Blas's blog at

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Students still get $150,000 in scholarships as SD Unified falls short in Broad Prize bid

It wasn't first place, but San Diego Unified's Class of 2014 will still split $150,000 in scholarship money thanks to the The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation.

Eli Broad, left, Edyth Broad, Ed. Sec. Arne Duncan, Board Pres. John Lee Evans, Supt. Cindy Marten, retired Supt. Bill Kowba
Eli Broad, left, Edyth Broad, Ed. Sec. Arne
Duncan, Board Pres. John Lee Evans, Supt.
Cindy Marten, retired Supt. Bill Kowba
On Wednesday morning, the Foundation announced that the Houston Independent School District was awarded this year's Broad Prize and $550,000 in scholarship money for its students. Besides San Diego Unified, other districts nominated were Corona-Norco, located in Riverside County, and Cumberland County Schools in North Carolina.

"We're thrilled that San Diego Unified has been recognized as one of the four best school districts in the United States," said Kevin Beiser, Board of Education Vice President and Subdistrict B representative. "This is a big win for the teachers that work constantly with our students to improve their learning, and a recognition of the hard work done by support staff in making a great environment for our students."
Superintendent Cindy Marten and retired Superintendent Bill Kowba -- on whose watch the nomination was announced -- attended the award ceremony in Washington, D.C.

"It was an honor to be recognized by The Broad Foundation," said Superintendent Cindy Marten. "I am grateful to our team of employees who work every day in-and-out of the classrooms for our children.
"This honor reaffirms that our community-based reform efforts and singular focus on student achievement are making a difference."

Districts do not apply for this prize. Staff from the Broad Foundation looks at test scores and other data from the 75 largest school districts and picks four finalists. A team of independent educational experts then analyze the districts and one winner is selected. Only the four top districts receive scholarship money.

In its announcement of the award, the Broad Foundation noted San Diego Unified's progress in key areas.

San Diego Unified has more than 110,000 students-65 percent of whom are low-income. Among the reasons San Diego schools stood out among the nation's largest urban school districts:
  • San Diego students outperform students in other California districts with similar poverty rates. In 2012, proficiency rates for San Diego Unified students surpassed expectations compared to other California districts given the poverty level of families in the district. Proficiency rates for San Diego students were above expected across all subjects (reading, math and science) and all school levels (elementary, middle and high school).
  • San Diego Unified narrowed achievement gaps. In recent years, San Diego narrowed the achievement gaps between its Hispanic students and white students across California at every school level and in every subject. The district also narrowed the gap between its Hispanic and white students in elementary, middle and high school reading and science, and in elementary and high school math. San Diego also achieved a smaller achievement gap between its low-income students and California's non-low-income students in elementary, middle and high school science and in elementary and high school reading and math.
  • San Diego Unified's low-income, Hispanic and African-American high school students showed more improvement in science than other California students. In recent years, San Diego Unified was in the top 30 percent of districts across the state for increasing the percentage of low-income, Hispanic and African-American high school students performing at the highest achievement levels on the state science assessment. Low-income students in San Diego, for instance, increased their performance by 8 percentage points in high school science between 2010 and 2012, while California overall saw scores increase by only 3 percentage points over the same period.
The selection jury evaluated quantitative data on the finalists that consisted of publicly available student performance data compiled and analyzed by RTI International, one of the world's leading research institutes. In addition, the jury evaluated the four finalist districts' policies and practices, compiled following site visits conducted by a team of education practitioners led by RMC Research Corporation, an education consulting company. The site visits included classroom observations and interviews with administrators, teachers, principals, parents, community leaders, school board members and union representatives.

Kowba, who retired June 30, said he was "grateful to our San Diego Unified employees for their dedication to our students."
"We are honored, humbled and grateful to the Broad Foundation for this recognition," said Kowba, who retired June 30. "We appreciate their feedback about our past efforts. It will help provide the district with a road map for future efforts."

The $1 million Broad Prize is the largest education award in the nation. It recognizes urban school districts that demonstrate the strongest student achievement and improvement while reducing achievement gaps among low-income students and students of color.

The $150,000 in scholarships will go a long way to help the Class of 2014 succeed, said Marten.

"I'm excited for our students who will receive Broad scholarships," she said. "I can't wait to get back to San Diego."
The 75 largest urban school districts in America are automatically eligible for the award each year.
Houston Independent School District will receive $550,000 in college scholarships for high school seniors who will graduate in 2014. San Diego Unified, along with Corona-Norco Unified School District in Riverside County, Calif., and Cumberland County Schools in North Carolina, will each receive $150,000 in college scholarships.

The Broad Prize is awarded by The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation. Founded by entrepreneur Eli Broad and his wife Edythe, both graduates of Detroit Public Schools, The Broad Foundation is a philanthropic organization that seeks to ensure that every student in an urban public school has the opportunity to succeed.

Torrey Pines Elementary School is a Blue Ribbon School

Torrey Pines Elementary School in La Jolla has been named one of 286 schools across the nation as a 2013 National Blue Ribbon School, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan today announced Tuesday.

The National Blue Ribbon School designation for Torrey Pines Elementary recognizes that it is a campus where students perform at very high levels, according to the Department of Education. These "Exemplary High Performing" campuses are recognized among their state's highest performing schools, as measured by state assessments or nationally-normed tests. Schools are also honored if there is significant improvements are being made in students' levels of achievement.

"This is an outstanding example of what we mean when we say, 'a quality school in every neighborhood,'" said Superintendent Cindy Marten. "I congratulate the staff, students and Torrey Pines community for their hard work."

In Washington, Sec. Duncan saluted the results achieved by all Blue Ribbon schools.
"Excellence in education matters and we should honor the schools that are leading the way to prepare students for success in college and careers," said Secretary Duncan. "National Blue Ribbon schools represent examples of educational excellence, and their work reflects the belief that every child in America deserves a world-class education."

California's Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson also congratulated the 13 California public and two private schools that are recognized as 2013 National Blue Ribbon Schools.

“These schools are wonderful illustrations of the work we do here in California schools to prepare our students to thrive in the world they will find outside of our classrooms,” said Torlakson. “I am proud to see them held up as national examples.”

To select National Blue Ribbon Schools, the Department requested nominations from the top education official in every state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Department of Defense Education Activity, and the Bureau of Indian Education. The Council for American Private Education (CAPE) nominates private schools. A total of 420 schools nationwide may be nominated, with allocations determined by the numbers of K-12 students and schools in each jurisdiction. The Secretary of Education invites nominated schools to submit an application for possible recognition as a National Blue Ribbon School.
The campus was honored for its overall academic excellence and their progress in improving student academic achievement. The U.S. Department of Education will honor all 236 public and 50 private schools at a recognition ceremony on Nov. 18-19 in Washington, D.C. In its 31-year history, the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program has bestowed this coveted award on nearly 7,500 of America's schools.

News Coverage

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

SD Unified awaits Broad Prize news

In The NewsIN THE NEWS: Years of homegrown reforms in San Diego schools may yield the top award in public education Wednesday, when the prestigious Broad Prize is announced in Washington, D.C. San Diego Unified has topped 71 other large urban districts nationwide to become one of four finalists for the award, which champions student academic achievement across all ethnic groups — as well as innovative leadership and teaching strategies that help make those accomplishments possible. Read more from UT San Diego»

Join us Wednesday morning for Broad Prize annoucement

San Diegans are invited to join the fun as the Broad Prize announcement is made tomorrow, Wednesday, Sept. 25 at 8 a.m. (PDT), at the Eugene Brucker Education Center auditorium, 4100 Normal St. (92103).
Broad Prize
The announcement will be on the board auditorium's big screens, live from the Library of Congress in Washington, where Education Secretary Arne Duncan will announce which of the four nominated schools will win the $500,000 prize in scholarship money for its students. The award, considered the top recognition for a large urban school district, carries with it as much as $550,000 in college scholarships for its students.

Districts do not apply for the award.  Finalists for the prize, along with San Diego Unified, are the Corona-Norco Unified School District in Riverside County, Calif., Cumberland County Schools, N.C., and the Houston Independent School District. Corona-Norco and Houston were finalists last year. This is the first time in the award's 12-year history that San Diego and Cumberland County have been finalists.

This year's four finalists were selected by a review board of 17 prominent education researchers, policy leaders, practitioners and executives from leading universities, education associations, civil rights advocacy organizations, think-tanks and foundations. The review board evaluated publicly available academic achievement data that were compiled and analyzed by MPR Associates, Inc., a leading national education research consulting firm.

In addition, each district had a three-day site visit by a team of independent evaluators, who visited in May. While here, they produced a video that will be shown at the ceremony, which will be held in the Library of Congress. Watch video»

Monday, September 23, 2013

Institute, schools team to tout canyons

Ocean Discovery InstituteIN THE NEWS: Under a proposal that San Diego school trustees unanimously approved Tuesday, more than 30 acres of Manzanita Canyon in City Heights will be transformed into an $8 million living science lab for thousands of students. Read more from UT San Diego»

JROTC squads pick district-wide leadership

Every school year the San Diego Unified School District JROTC Program inducts its new Cadet Chain of Command. As graduating seniors depart to pursue their career goals, new leaders emerge to lead more than 2,500 cadets into the next school year.

JROTC staff for 2013-14 Pressed with the challenge of sustaining a quality Cadet Corps; the new leadership embraces the opportunity to make a lasting impact on the program and its cadets. The Cadet Brigade Staff is the cornerstone of Cadet Leadership. They represent to top 10 percent of cadets among the entire District. Selection for these positions require them to appear before a selection board and present their skills, abilities and desire for specific leadership positions. This year the San Diego Unified Cadet Corps will be led by a group of students that have achieved significant academic and leadership recognition.

The 2013-2014 JROTC Joint Brigade Staff are:
  • Brigade Commander: c/COL Julia Sterling, San Diego High School;
  • Brigade Executive Officer: c/LTC DeShawn Walker, Hoover High School;
  • Command Master Sergeant: c/CSM Earnest Lagdameo, Mira Mesa High School;
  • Administrative Officer: c/Maj William Jiang, Scripps Ranch High School;
  • Scholarship Officer: c/LTC Shannon Douangsavanh, Lincoln High School;
  • Operations Officer: c/LtCol Andrew Custodio, Scripps Ranch High School;
  • Logistics Officer: c/LCDR Jessica Plein, Patrick Henry High School;
  • Public Affairs Officer: c/MAJ Jenny Nguyen, Madison High School;
  • Communications Officer: c/MAJ Johan Escalona, Morse High School.
For more information on the program, contact LTC David Guzman, Program Manager, at

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Chargers Champions grants go to four San Diego Unified schools

Clairemont High, Muir K-12, Wangenheim Middle and Nye Elementary schools have received grants from the Chargers Champions School Grant Program.

Chargers ChampionsChargers Champions makes a strong commitment to San Diego County schools by providing grants for much-needed physical fitness, nutrition and athletic programs. Selected high schools are eligible to receive grants of up to $75,000; middle schools up to $40,000; and elementary schools up to $30,000.

“Schools throughout California need our support,” Chargers President Dean Spanos said. “The main goal of our program is to provide students in San Diego with the necessary means to living a healthy lifestyle through physical fitness.”

Clairemont High School received $75,000 for a new weight room and sand volleyball court. John Muir K-12 School received $45,000 for fencing equipment and an archery center. Wangenheim Middle School was granted $40,000 for an indoor fitness center. Nye Elementary School received $30,000 for its Peaceful Playground Program.

"We have great schools and hardworking administrators that look for every opportunity to improve academics, facilities and activities for students," said Bruce Ward, San Diego Unified's Director of Athletics.

Chargers Champions consistently provides more support for schools than any other private company in the county. In 13 years, 95 schools have received funding for projects ranging from outdoor fitness trails, weight rooms, running tracks or fitness equipment.

Funds allocated to Chargers Champions are administered through the Chargers Community Foundation, the San Diego Chargers’ charitable foundation. The Foundation was established in 1995 by Dean and Alex Spanos to “help” San Diego build on its strengths by supporting individuals, activities and organizations that work to make the city a better place to live.

Over the years, many schools have received grants through the Chargers Champions program. In 2012, Mission Bay High, and Ross Elementary received grants.

For more information, see the Chargers Champions website.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Common Core Standards will help student achievement rises continue — Supt. Marten

In The News
IN THE NEWS: Making the rounds of the local news shows, Supt. Cindy Marten (joined in some interviews by SCPA Class President Michaela Valk) talked about new national standards – the Common Core State Standards – that are being phased in at San Diego Unified schools; tests will change in Spring.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Recalled ground beef not used by San Diego Unified

San Diego Unified has contacted all of its beef vendors and they responded immediately in writing that none of the beef sent to San Diego Unified is part of the recall announced by the US Department of Agriculture on Sept. 19, 2013.

The California Department of Education Nutrition Services Division has also confirmed these responses.

Food safety is always our primary concern at the San Diego Unified School District, where the Food and Nutrition Services Department have clear recall and food safety procedures in place. They include procedures for investigating the recall to determine if we are affected, placing possible recalled food on hold at the kitchen and cold storage facility, transporting recalled food and if necessary for disposing of recalled food.

There are no circumstances in which a food on hold or on recall would be served. Investigation of the recall involves contacting vendors and getting their responses in writing. In addition, vendors follow strict contract guidelines and are thoroughly vetted and licensed companies.

On September 19, 2013 the USDA sent notice of a recall of ground beef from the Central Valley Meat Company in Hanford, California. The products were shipped to Arkansas, California, Montana and Texas and were intended for use in the National School Lunch Program. The recall notice included the product description and case codes. 

For more information on the Food and Nutrition Services Department, contact Director Gary Petill at (858) 627-7301.

Area superintendents renew focus on school leadership, instructional support

When Supt. Cindy Marten reorganized the district to enhance the focus on teaching and learning and leadership development, it included a shift in the roles of the six area superintendents.

The area superintendents will be spending more time on their school campuses, in classrooms and supporting principals as they ensure quality teaching and learning at their sites. This renewed focus closely aligns with district's 2020 Vision to create quality schools in every neighborhood

Instructional Support The area superintendents hit the ground running this summer, starting with the responsibility of hiring 40 new principals at school campuses. This process included working with parents and school communities to identify what qualities were important for the new principals to possess. By the first day of school, more than 36 principal vacancies had been filled along with more than 15 vice principal vacancies.

In addition to hiring site administrators, the area superintendents spent time making sure all principals were well-prepared for the start of the school year. In collaboration with the new Leadership Development Office, they coordinated two principal institutes, three operational meetings, several area principal meetings and a two-day workshop specifically for the new principals. Topics of discussion included team and relationship building, working collaboratively, looking at student data strategically, identifying strengths, and developing a broad and challenging curriculum.

"The key to creating a quality school is making sure it has a quality leader; that is the role of the principal,” said Supt. Cindy Marten. “Our principals also need leaders to lead them; that is the role of the area superintendent."

Area superintendents not only have a renewed focus this year, but many have changed the school communities they oversee. Area 3 Superintendent Julie Martel now oversees the Kearny, La Jolla, Mission Bay and University City clusters; Henry has been added to Area 4 under Marian Phelps; the Hoover and San Diego clusters have moved into Area 5 under Mitzi Merino and Area 6 now encompasses the Point Loma, Scripps Ranch and Serra clusters under direction from Gilbert Gutierrez. Shirley Wilson continues to oversee the Crawford and Lincoln clusters in Area 1.

Former principal and chief human resource officer Lamont Jackson has been appointed area 2 superintendent and will oversee the Mira Mesa and Morse high school clusters.
Read more about the area superintendents at

Mission Bay High, Seaside Market, district staff join to improve ‘curb appeal’ at bayside campus

Students returning this fall to Mission Bay High School and community members visiting the Saturday Seaside Farmers Market are noticing new landscaping at the bayside campus.

San Diego Unified landscape supervisor
Tom Beck works on old vegetation.
Over the summer, new drought-tolerant grass and trees were planted at the school, replacing older vegetation that was in some cases overgrown, in other cases dead.

Pam Dietz, director of the Mission Bay High School Alumni Association, and Tom Beck, landscape supervisor with San Diego Unified, collaborated to come up with freshened landscape that would help both the school and the Farmers Market, which raises money for the school.

"Starting from day one we have had nothing but fabulous support of the Seaside Farmer’s Market from San Diego Unified, Mission Bay High administration, teachers and students as well as our local PB community," said Dietz. "I think everyone knows this venue has the potential to be an unprecedented financial resource for MBHS. Working with Tom Beck on this re-landscaping project, however, really highlighted for us the positive impact the Seaside Farmer’s Market has on the environment. We are equally proud of that!”

The new landscaping not only improves the look of the area, but helps security.

"This re-landscaping project, which was done by School District employees, not only made the entrance to the student parking lot more attractive for students and guests, but also improves the use of the land," said Dietz. "There is now visibility for security purposes, and a cleaner, more functional landscape. Seaside Farmer’s Market patrons will be able to enjoy the shade and grass every Saturday."

The Farmer's Market is held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays at the school, located at 2475 Grand Ave. (92109). For more information on Mission Bay High, check out its website.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Broad Prize annoucement is next week; San Diego Unified video is online

The big announcement about the winner of the coveted Broad Prize for Urban Education is scheduled for 8 a.m. (PDT) Wednesday, Sept. 25 in Washington, D.C. but San Diegans can watch it from the Board of Education Auditorium at the Eugene Brucker Education Center, 4100 Normal St. (92103). The public is invited to attend.

The award, considered the top recognition for a large urban school district, carries with it as much as $550,000 in college scholarships for its students.

Finalists for the prize, along with San Diego Unified, are the Corona-Norco Unified School District in Riverside County, Calif., Cumberland County Schools, N.C., and the Houston Independent School District. Corona-Norco and Houston were finalists last year. This is the first time in the award's 12-year history that San Diego and Cumberland County have been finalists.

"We're all so excited that this honor has come to San Diego Unified, no matter whether we finish in the top spot or not," said Linda Zintz, Communications Director, who will join Board of Education members, Superintendent Cindy Marten, former Superintendent Bill Kowba and several other members of the district leadership in Washington, D.C., for the announcement. "People always say, 'it's an honor just to be nominated,' but in this case, that's the truth."

Districts do not apply for the award. This year's four finalists were selected by a review board of 17 prominent education researchers, policy leaders, practitioners and executives from leading universities, education associations, civil rights advocacy organizations, think-tanks and foundations. The review board evaluated publicly available academic achievement data that were compiled and analyzed by MPR Associates, Inc., a leading national education research consulting firm.

In addition, each district had a three-day site visit by a team of independent evaluators, who visited in May. While here, they produced a video that will be shown at the ceremony, which will be held in the Library of Congress. Watch video»

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Going green raises money for Pacific Beach schools

IN THE NEWS: Returning students and staff at Kate Sessions Elementary School in Pacific Beach had a surprise waiting for them the first day back at school: a $500 check for the school’s music and arts program from Go Green 4 Education. Read more from the Beach and Bay Press»

GAME CHANGER: State legislature approves major updates to student assessments

Dear San Diego Unified community:

Many of you have heard that there is new state legislation, AB 484, which proposes the suspension of the state standardized tests. The bill will likely be signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown and go into effect on Jan. 1, 2014. As educators, this is a singular opportunity to focus our district on teaching and learning FIRST, while supporting accountability aligned to the new Common Core State Standards and our work in classrooms with students.

Supt. Marten
This seminal legislation eliminates most Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) assessments and supports the transformation of public education. It will allow educators across the state to focus our attention, efforts and resources on student learning as we prepare for the monumental transition to the new standards. We welcome the shifts that are needed to prepare our students to be critical thinkers and active members of society, moving us into an era of deeper learning. The suspension does not reflect a departure from accountability, but rather the opportunity to implement Common Core with fidelity to the educational vision.

As a former classroom teacher and principal, I understand the value of using data as a tool to inform instruction. We will continue to use modified district assessments and hold ourselves accountable in every classroom across the district. The state system of public school accountability can now be more closely aligned with both the public expectations for our schools and the workforce needs of the state’s economy. The revised 2013-14 state testing program would continue to include:
  1. California Alternate Performance Assessment (CAPA) for grades 2-11;
  2. Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium Field tests, which are aligned to the Common Core State Standards, in English Language Arts (ELA) or Mathematics in grades 3-8 and 11;
  3. California Standards Test (CST) and California Modified Assessment (CMA) Science assessments in grades 5, 8 and 10 (Life Science);
  4. ELA and Math assessments supporting the students’ voluntary participation of Early Assessment Program (EAP) in grade 11;
  5. The California High School Exit Examination (CAHSEE), California English Language Development Test (CELDT) and Physical Fitness Testing (PFT) will be administered.
At San Diego Unified, we embrace our responsibility to provide the best public education experience to our students. We also welcome the accountability to ensure our students graduate our schools prepared to be actively literate, contributing, participating members in our communities.

Cindy Marten

Parents, be sure that dropoff and pickup are done safely

Here's a reminder to parents and guardians who drive their children to school to be sure to observe traffic patters and rules in and around your child's school.

Traffic can be an issue during the busy morning and afternoon hours, creating a mix of carloads of children, kids walking to school, kids riding bicycles to schools, school buses and other general neighborhood traffic.

"Most of our schools have specific traffic rules and routes for dropoff and pickup," said Chief Ruben Littlejohn of the San Diego Unified School District School Police Department. "These rules are designed to keep not only our students safe, but the drivers and vehicles moving in an orderly fashion."

For example, some schools have specific drop off and pickup areas. Parents are reminded to use these areas only, even if it seems an alternative might be just as safe or quicker. "Cutting" the line or dropping off children in the middle of the street are dangerous practices.

Drivers also need to observe not only student Safety Patrol traffic guards where on duty, but school staff directing traffic. The rules and situation at each school are unique to that campus.

"In many cases, traffic engineers have created the flow that is safest," said Littlejohn. "We ask that parents and guardians dropping off students be patient and follow the procedures."

Many schools are participating in the International Walk and Bike to School Day on Oct. 9. Your school's principal is a good place to start to find out more information about traffic plans and safe walking routes.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Music and arts are alive and well in San Diego Unified

IN THE NEWS: Visual and Performing Arts Director Dr. Karen Childress-Evans and the San Diego Youth Symphony's Community Opus Project help kick off Music Support Community Forums from the National Association of Music Merchants Foundation. Watch video from KUSI-TV»

Pacific Beach Middle School, Mission Bay Rotary rejuvenate campus garden

The Pacific Beach Middle School community and the Rotary Club of Mission Bay joined Board of Education Member Kevin Beiser and Superintendent Cindy Marten on a recent Saturday getting the school's garden into shape for the new school year.

The five-year partnership between the Rotarians and the school has organized volunteers to prepare the campus garden for the Garden Club's "Garden to Cafe" Program. The Garden to Cafe Program teaches students to plant, grow, harvest, prepare, and eat healthy foods.

Under the direction of Sally Kaufman, Pacific Beach Middle School's librarian and garden club advisor, volunteers, which included students, parents and Rotary Club members, spent a busy day as the garden was reconfigured and weeded, a fig tree was moved, five new 4x4 planter boxes were constructed, all 12 planter boxes were filled with top soil, and the tool shed was cleaned out and given a floor of several inches of decomposed granite.

Rotarians donated the top soil and decomposed granite, which were purchased at a substantial discount from local business Southwest Boulder and Stone in Pacific Beach.

For more information on the program, contact Dr. Michael McQuary, president, Rotary Club of Mission Bay, at

Monday, September 16, 2013

Back to School Resource Fair informs and delights Lindbergh Schweitzer community

The Lindbergh Schweitzer PTA and Adapted Physical Education Coach Andrea Bazer welcomed 27 agencies and school groups who serve infants through sixth grade students, health-welfare resources and after-school activities, and parents, guardians, and family members, during the second-annual Lindbergh Schweitzer Elementary School Opening Day Resource Fair on the first day of school, Sept. 3.

The PTA provided breakfast treats and coffee for parents as they kicked off their new member campaign with a raffle for prizes including bike helmets, spa gift certificates, swim lessons, and other goodies. Parents loved having all the resource information at school, making it so easy to sign up and get their questions answered from the professionals on hand. After viewing the booths, the parents were invited to attend Principal Deanne Rohde's Welcome Parents talk in the auditorium.

"A hearty thank you to Coach Bazer and the APE staff for volunteering at the event, keeping traffic flowing and making sure parents and resources came together," said Deann Rohde, Principal."Lindbergh Schweitzer — engaging parents in activities that keep our students happy, healthy, and learning!!"

For more information contact Julie Harris at

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Madison High counselor helps keep African American, Latino boys on track

Meet Roana Clark, Madison’s Dropout Prevention Program Mentor.

Miss Penny Known as "Ms. Penny," a nickname given to her by her oldest brother, Clark works with students and families as part of Madison’s Safe and Supportive Schools initiative. Now in its third school year and supported by a grant from the California Department of Education, Clark works with young African American and Latino men, and their families.

The men are struggling in school; she provides guidance, intervention and support when needed. She monitors student attendance, conferences with students and often their parents, conducts home visits and provides tutoring and homework help after school.

Her goal is to get young men thinking about their future and taking responsibility for their achievement. African American and Latino males are consistently clustered at the bottom of the achievement scale and are more likely than any other group to be suspended or expelled from school, according to several studies. Getting involved with these students early, before larger problems develop, is an effective ways to prevent some of the challenges that these young men face as they become young adults and enter adulthood.

"Ms. Penny has a talent for encouraging young men to take an interest in their academic progress and responsibility for their actions," said Richard Nash, Madison principal. "She is also an advocate for parents when they have a concern about their student’s progress or behavior at school. She is one of the staff members to whom teachers turn to when they think a young man can benefit from extra guidance and support."

Ms. Penny has a Master’s degree in counseling, education and guidance and has worked with students and families in San Diego Unified from elementary through middle school, and now in high school. Many Madison students know her from Lindbergh/Schweitzer Elementary School, where she worked from 2005-09.

Ms. Penney is based in Madison’s Family Resource Center (Bungalow B6). For more information, contact Clark at or 858-496-8410 ext. 4056.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Nutritionist offers recipes for home meals

IN THE NEWS:  Protein blast, balanced with other foods, gives kids high energy for day in class. Jessica Keene, a dietitian with the San Diego Unified School District, said moderation is key. Eggs do contain a decent amount of cholesterol, which no one needs more of. Read more from UT San Diego»

It's ‘San Diego High School’ month in San Diego County

It's "San Diego High School" month in San Diego county, as ordered by the San Diego County Board of Supervisors on Sept. 10.

Honor by County of San Diego The ceremonial designation was sponsored by County Supervisor Ron Roberts, who lauded the school's great history, illustrious alumni and its place as the third oldest school in California.

"San Diego High has successfully grown, thrived and contributed to our community for 131 years and I see nothing stopping that trend" said Roberts. "As testimony to the skills of its administration and teachers, the school's alumni have gone on to great things, including Sol Price as the founder of the warehouse membership store concept and Graig Nettles as an outstanding baseball player who helped the Padres reach the World Series in 1984. Of course my favorite alum is my wife, Helene."

Roberts also noted the recent successes at the Educational Complex, now four separate high schools, including the high-ranking of the School of International Studies on national surveys, the California Distinguished School and National Blue Ribbon status.

San Diego High opened in 1882 as the Russ School, named for local lumber yard owner Joseph Russ, who donated the materials to build the school. It currently has approximately 3,000 students in grades 9-12 in four small schools: School of International Studies, School of Science and Technology, School of Media, Visual and Performing Arts, and School of Business and Leadership.
Accepting the honor at the Board of Supervisors were principals Dr. Christian Casillas, Diane Cordero and Daniza Montero, along with student and alumni representatives. For more information, visit the school website.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

September Harvest of the Month: Plums and pluots on salad bars

The Harvest of the Month in San Diego Unified cafeterias this month are plums and pluots from Kingsburg Orchards in the town of Kingsburg, in California's Central Valley.

PlutotsThe Harvest of the Month program a different California-grown and/ or organic fruit or vegetable each month in our Kid’s Choice Café salad bars. Fruits and vegetables chosen are grown in San Diego County, Southern California or California by family farms.

"We have the best kids and the best farms in the world," said Gary Petill, Food Services Director. "We want California food for our California kids."

Part of a larger program called Farm to School, San Diego Unified's program connects K-12 students with local family farms so that they may eat fresh local foods in school and gain a greater appreciation for local agriculture, especially what it takes to grow healthy fresh foods. The grower this month, Kingsburg Orchard, is a farming dynasty with more than 10 family members managing the farm today and more than five generations of farming experience. The orchards are located in the San Joaquin Valley, and they qualify as one of Farm to School’s California farms.

Pluots are a sweet and juicy hybrid of plums and apricots and a great source of Vitamins C and A and fiber, that students can enjoy with plums on the salad bar on Wednesdays in September. To learn more about our programs, please visit the Food Services website.

Join the discussion at SD Unified Facebook and Twitter pages

Our Online Communities
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Parents, guardians and community members are invited to join in the discussion about San Diego's schools by becoming part of San Diego Unified's social media Facebook and Twitter sites.

Those who "like" the district on Facebook and "follow" San Diego Unified on Twitter receive daily updates on all the best of what Superintendent Cindy Marten calls "Education, San Diego style." Daily news items are those collected for the Friday Notes weekly e-digest, so you'll get the latest as much as six days before the newsletter arrives in your email box. And, as a Facebook "like," you can comment on these issues.

Since founding its Facebook and Twitter pages in 2009, it has grown to have one of the largest followings for a district its size in the US. As of this week, more than 3,200 "like" the district on its English-language Facebook page (there's also a Spanish-language version), and nearly 6,800 Twitter followers.

Superintendent Cindy Marten has also established her own Facebook page, with insights from the events she's attended and issues she's tackling as leader of California's second-largest school district.
Social media has evolved into an important connection in the lives of families. The San Diego Unified Facebook and Twitter feeds primarily deliver stories about student achievement and school programs, in addition to district operations news. In case of local emergencies, the district has also used Twitter, Facebook and individual school websites to distribute important information.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Cluster Committees bring schools, parents, community members together

The innovative Cluster Committees revolving around San Diego Unified's high schools and their "feeder" neighborhood schools are inviting parents, guardians and local community members to upcoming meetings.

Established in 2010 as part of the district's Vision 2020 plan to create quality schools in every neighborhood, the clusters help coordinate instruction and activities among a cluster's elementary, middle and high schools. For example, in the Hoover cluster, school communities from Hoover High, Wilson and Clark middle schools, along with elementary schools Adams, Central, Cherokee Point, Edison, Franklin, Hamilton, Joyner, Normal Heights, Parks and Rowan meet monthly to promote continuity, communication and collaboration. Area superintendents share the leadership and coordination of the clusters in their respective learning communities.

According to the Vision 2020, "Curriculum will be coordinated across the K-12 curriculum in each cluster to assure continuity across the curriculum," which ensures that students can move more successfully from elementary to middle to high school. Another goal of Vision 2020 is for schools to extend beyond the school site, not only to home and around the world through technology, but through the cluster committees to the entire community.

Other goals for clusters include:
  • Cluster councils will promote the schools in their communities
  • Cluster councils will work with schools, community and district staff to improve the quality of their neighborhood schools.
  • Cluster councils will be a democratic representation of the school community including teachers, administrators, support staff, students, parents and community members.
  • Parents will play an integral role in school site governance councils and cluster councils.
  • Community members will participate in cluster councils alongside parents and staff.
For more information on clusters and a schedule of meeting dates and times, visit the cluster website or check with your neighborhood school's principal.

Flags at half-staff today for Patriot Day and National Day of Service and Remberance

President Obama has declared today, Sept. 11, 2013, as Patriot Day and National Day of Service and Remembance in memory of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the New York City and Washington, D.C. Here is the text of the President's proclamation.

New York's World Trade Center after Sept. 11, 2001 attack. FEMA photo by Andrea Booher.
New York's World Trade Center after attack.
Presidential Proclamation -- Patriot Day and National Day of Service and Remembrance




Twelve years ago this month, nearly three thousand innocent men, women, and children lost their lives in attacks meant to terrorize our Nation. They had been going about their day, harming no one, when sudden violence struck. We will never undo the pain and injustice borne that terrible morning, nor will we ever forget those we lost.

On September 11, 2001, amid shattered glass, twisted steel, and clouds of dust, the spirit of America shone through. We remember the sacrifice of strangers and first responders who rushed into darkness to carry others from danger. We remember the unbreakable bonds of unity we felt in the long days that followed -- how we held each other, how we came to our neighbors' aid, how we prayed for one another. We recall how Americans of every station joined together to support the survivors in their hour of need and to heal our Nation in the years that followed.

Today, we can honor those we lost by building a Nation worthy of their memories. Let us also live up to the selfless example of the heroes who gave of themselves in the face of such great evil. As we mark the anniversary of September 11, I invite all Americans to observe a National Day of Service and Remembrance by uniting in the same extraordinary way we came together after the attacks. Like the Americans who chose compassion when confronted with cruelty, we can show our love for one another by devoting our time and talents to those in need. I encourage all Americans to visit, or for Spanish speakers, to find ways to get involved in their communities.

As we serve and remember, we reaffirm our ties to one another. On September 11, 2001, no matter where we came from, what God we prayed to, or what race or ethnicity we were, we were united as one American family. May the same be said of us today, and always.

By a joint resolution approved December 18, 2001 (Public Law 107-89), the Congress has designated September 11 of each year as "Patriot Day," and by Public Law 111-13, approved April 21, 2009, the Congress has requested the observance of September 11 as an annually recognized "National Day of Service and Remembrance."

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim September 11, 2013, as Patriot Day and National Day of Service and Remembrance. I call upon all departments, agencies, and instrumentalities of the United States to display the flag of the United States at half-staff on Patriot Day and National Day of Service and Remembrance in honor of the individuals who lost their lives on September 11, 2001. I invite the Governors of the United States and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and interested organizations and individuals to join in this observance. I call upon the people of the United States to participate in community service in honor of those our Nation lost, to observe this day with appropriate ceremonies and activities, including remembrance services, and to observe a moment of silence beginning at 8:46 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time to honor the innocent victims who perished as a result of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this tenth day of September, in the year of our Lord two thousand thirteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-eighth.


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

‘Meatless Mondays’ for elementary schools

IN THE NEWS: Support from the medical community, parents, students and nonprofit groups prompted the San Diego school board to adopt the menu changes in June. Read more coverage»

National Merit Scholarship finalists at four high schools

It's one step closer to a prestigious National Merit Scholarship for 23 students at four San Diego Unified School District high schools.

Officials of National Merit Scholarship Corporation have announced the names of approximately 16,000 semifinalists nationally in the 59th annual National Merit Scholarship Program. These academically talented high school seniors have an opportunity to continue in the competition for some 8,000 National Merit Scholarships worth about $35 million that will be offered next spring.

To be considered for a Merit Scholarship award, semifinalists must fulfill several requirements to advance to the finalist level of the competition. About 90 percent of the Semifinalists are expected to attain finalist standing, and more than half of the finalists will win a National Merit Scholarship, earning the Merit Scholar title.

Semifinalists are: from La Jolla High School, Allen M. Cao, Ulysse Carion, Winn Cui, Irene A. Dea, Tessa C. Lowe, Taylor L. Osman, Zachary Ye, Belton Y. Zhong, Lynn Zhou; Mission Bay High School, Hannah Tandy; Scripps Ranch High School, Caleb K. Hwang, William Z. Jiang, Jason C. Kandu, Grace H. Klein, Wenhao Liao, Shea J. Polansky, Emma Schopp, Crystal H. Shi; University City High School, Nicolette L. Brannan, Eric Y. Chao, Jeremy S. Longfellow, Emily L. Siegler, Paul L. Sud.

National Merit is a not-for-profit organization that operates without government assistance, was established in 1955 specifically to conduct the annual National Merit Scholarship Program. Scholarships are underwritten by the corporation with its own funds and by approximately 440 business organizations and higher education institutions that share National Merit’s goals of honoring the nation’s scholastic champions and encouraging the pursuit of academic excellence.

About 1.5 million juniors in more than 22,000 high schools entered the 2014 National Merit Scholarship Program by taking the 2012 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT), which served as an initial screen of program entrants. The nationwide pool of semifinalists, representing less than one percent of U.S. high school seniors, includes the highest-scoring entrants in each state. The number of semifinalists in a state is proportional to the state’s percentage of the national total of graduating seniors. To become a finalist, the semifinalist and their high school must submit a detailed scholarship application, in which they provide information about the semifinalist’s academic record, participation in school and community activities, demonstrated leadership abilities, employment, and honors and awards received. A semifinalist must have an outstanding academic record throughout high school, be endorsed and recommended by a high school official, write an essay, and earn SAT scores that confirm the student’s earlier performance on the qualifying test.

From the approximately 16,000 semifinalists, about 15,000 are expected to advance to the finalist level, and in February they will be notified of this designation. All National Merit Scholarship winners will be selected from this group of finalists. Merit Scholar designees are selected on the basis of their skills, accomplishments, and potential for success in rigorous college studies, without regard to gender, race, ethnic origin, or religious preference.

Three types of National Merit Scholarships will be offered in the spring of 2014. Every Finalist will compete for one of 2,500 National Merit $2500 Scholarships that will be awarded on a state representational basis. About 1,000 corporate-sponsored Merit Scholarship awards will be provided by approximately 240 corporations and business organizations for Finalists who meet their specified criteria, such as children of the grantor’s employees or residents of communities where sponsor plants or offices are located. In addition, about 200 colleges and universities are expected to finance some 4,500 college-sponsored Merit Scholarship awards for Finalists who will attend the sponsor institution. National Merit Scholarship winners of 2014 will be announced in four nationwide news releases beginning in April and concluding in July. These scholarship recipients will join more than 300,000 other distinguished young people who have earned the Merit Scholar title.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Beyond the End Zone: "We're a different Crawford," coach says.

Crawford Colts
IN THE NEWS:  If you want to learn a language, just go to Crawford. There are 34 languages and 37 dialects spoken on the campus of approximately 1,100 students. Coach Michael Wright said the 26 Colts players speak six languages. An influx of students from Burma has introduced the Karen language, which raises the question: How do you say, “Go! Fight! Win!” in Karen? Read more from UT San Diego»

Sherman videos score at California Student Media Festival

Two videos from Sherman Academy elementary school in Sherman Heights have won awards from the California Student Media Festival.

New Sherman School student The videos, Cyberbullying is Bullying and Don't Judge a Zombie by its Cover were preduced by fifth graders during Manolito De los Reyes' "Literacy through Technology" class.

"We focus on literacy skills such as reading, writing and word study, integrating technology through all of the work," said Reyes. "Unlike a traditional computer lab or technololgy class, the focus is not on the technology and tools, but rather the focus is on the literacy skills."

To complete their projects, students learn the technology, he added.

Don't Judge a Zombie by its Cover, was a result of a compromise. One group of students wanted to focus on the importance of not judging others by their appearance. The remaining kids in the group wanted to create a story involving the hot topic of zombies! The ideas were combined and the result was a fresh and funny take on the lesson of not judging a book by it's cover. This video won the California Student Media Festival Award for Best Directing (Elementary).

In Cyberbullying is Bullying, students decided to present the most interesting facts they discovered about cyberbullying through in a public service announcement format. This video won the California Student Media Festival Award for Best Thematic Video (Elementary).

The awards show can be watched online. For more information on the program, contact De los Reyes at

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Space available at preschool, daycare programs

Space is still available in Child Development Centers and State Preschool programs throughout the area served by the San Diego Unified School District, with a registration center open from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 11, and Friday, Sept. 13, at Neighborhood House Association, 841 South 41st St., San Diego. Parents can also register at the individual centers.

Income eligible families can receive part-day preschool or extended day preschool with Head Start services at State Preschool or full-day Child Development Centers. Child Development Centers admit children ages 2-4 from income-eligible families showing a qualifying need, such as parents who are working, in school, incapacitated, or several other categories. State preschools are based on income eligibility.

Programs are located in areas ranging from City Heights to Pacific Beach, Valencia Park to Mira Mesa.  See full list.

For more information on the programs, call the Early Childhood Education Program Office at 858-496-8126 or on the web at

Friday, September 6, 2013

A School Like No Other Debuts: Welcome to e3 Civic High School

IN THE NEWS: The classroom walls are modular and made with glass to promote transparency and creativity. The contemporary furniture, in orange and green, is arranged to stimulate collaboration and conversation.

The modern technology is everywhere. Then there are the views — sweeping panoramas of the San Diego-Coronado Bridge, Petco Park and the heart of downtown San Diego. And don’t forget the resources — 14,000 DVDs, 1.2 million books and 1.6 million historic and governmental documents. Welcome to E3 Civic High. Read more from UT San Diego»

Ex-Charger Fins New Passion Helping Kids

IN THE NEWS: Hoover High students benefit from Burt Grossman's "affinity for kids." Read more from UT San Diego»

Foundation aims to improve science Patrick Henry cluster schools

In The News IN THE NEWS: The Henry Cluster STEMM Foundation will raise funds and work with the parent-teacher organizations at Patrick Henry High School and the schools that feed into it to promote student interest and engagement in the STEMM subjects. Read more from SCOOP San Diego»

New student information system scheduling feature is up and running

San Diego Unified implemented a new web-based program this week, PowerSchool, to connect administrators, teachers, students, parents and district staff. It replaces Zangle, the district’s previous student information system that was nearly 10 years old and experiencing serious problems. The company that supported Zangle stopped developing it and ultimately went out of business.

As many of you may have heard, there were issues with implementing the PowerSchool scheduling feature for our new middle and high school students on the first day of school. A glitch in the system mid-morning on Tuesday impacted staff’s ability to schedule walk-in students or make schedule changes. As a result, a number of middle and high school students’ schedules were not readily available. By Wednesday morning students were in their proper classes. Despite the Tuesday’s scheduling issue, schools enrolled several hundred new students and several thousand teachers took attendance online using the new system.

The district’s goal with PowerSchool is to create an environment that will help our students succeed. As a user-friendly web-based system, PowerSchool will enable students, parents, teachers and administrators to work together to improve student achievement. One of the features we are most excited about is the mobile App that will allow parents and teachers to access their student’s information from anywhere.

Even with these implementation challenges, the district feels that the benefits of PowerSchool will make a positive impact on our students. Unfortunately, as with many things this complex there are some challenges that we will resolve as quickly as possible to ensure that everyone has the experience they deserve.

Thanks to all for their patience and understanding. More than 12 million students in all 50 states and in 65 countries use PowerSchool and we are excited to take advantage of all of its features. Watch for updates and information as new features of PowerSchool are implemented.

Home Depot employees, Madison High students join Sequoia Elementary community in school mini-makeover

A mid-summer freshening at Sequoia Elementary School brought not only the school's community together, but 10 students from cluster school Madison High, with local business partner Home Depot supplying paint and five employee-volunteers.

Home Depot volunteer paints "Students, parents, teachers and Home Depot employees worked together to make Sequoia Elementary more inviting for the new year," said Principal Ryan Kissel. "All of the materials, including the paint and paint brushes, were generously donated by Home Depot."

More than 50 volunteers painted flowers on the school's fence and repainted many areas around the campus, including book characters on the concrete walkways and lines on the blacktop. The crew also pulled weeds on August 17.

For more information, contact Kissel at (858) 496-8240.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Lincoln shows school spirit when featured as 'Game of the Week'

IN THE NEWS: Madison High School and Lincoln High School kick off the 2013 football season. Watch video from NBC 7»

Webster Elementary spruced up for 2013-14 school year

New Webster Elementary School principal Carmi Strom knew who to call when he arrived at the school in August and wanted to spruce up the Webster District campus for the new 2013-14 school year.Digging up tree
San Diego Unified's Physical Plan Operations staff responded with new plants, paint and a small makeover for the campus this summer.

"We had a great response from the district staff," said Strom. "It's so much more inviting here on campus."

Drew Rowlands, Executive Director of San Diego Unified's Auxiliary Services Division, which includes Physical Plant Operations, said the efforts of his work crews are just part of their efforts to make sure that there is a quality neighborhood school for every student in the district.

"This is a great example of the teamwork of a school site staff and our field experts," said Rowlands.

For more information, contact Strom at (619) 362-3000.

Principal positions filled at six more schools

Superintendent Cindy Marten announced to the Board of Education Tuesday that sid more principals have been appointed.

The additional schools with new principals are:
  • Burbank Elementary: Rachel Messineo
  • Ericson Elementary: Barb Israel
  • Garfield Elementary: Lali Barhoumi
  • Marshall Elementary: Armando Farias
  • Perry Elementary: Karen Mooney
  • San Diego High School of Media, Visual, and Performing Arts (MVPA), Christina Casillas
Additional principals were announced August 29. Go to earlier list»

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Barnard Elementary brings Mandarin language instruction to PB

The location may have changed, but Barnard Elementary’s mission remains unchanged: emphasizing global education with Mandarin Chinese language instruction. Read more»

Barnard announces new partnership with the Beijing Royal School

As students and staff settle into their new location in Pacific Beach, Barnard Asian Pacific Language Academy continues to make connections across the globe.
Beijing Royal School Principal Wang

Barnard recently announced a collaboration with a new sister school, the Beijing Royal School, an elite institution in China that prepares students in grades 6-12 for entrance into the world’s top universities. Beijing Royal is the fifth sister school for Barnard, who also collaborates with two other schools in China, one in South Korea and one in Taiwan.

The relationship between the two schools started last year with the help of former district Chief of Staff Bernie Rhinerson, who visited the school, and several members of the College Board. Barnard principal Eddie Park and Beijing Royal School Principal Wang have been working this summer to determine what the partnership will entail.

For more information on the programs at Barnard Elementary, contact Principal Eddie Park at 858-800-5700.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Welcome to the 2013-14 San Diego Unified School District

It's back to work today, Sept. 3, for more than 130,000 students in the San Diego Unified School District.

It's back to work The district welcomes its new Superintendent, Cindy Marten, formerly principal of Central Elementary School. Marten replaced Bill Kowba, who retired in July after more than seven years with the district, three as Superintendent.

Parents/guardians should double-check their student's schedule to make sure that they're at school on time the first day of school – and every day.

Students at Barnard Elementary School should make sure they go to the new location, 2445 Fogg Street (92109). The award-winning Mandarin Chinese Magnet School is moving to the site of the former Bayview Terrace Elementary School, expanding to become the Barnard Asian Pacific Language Magnet School.

Parents unsure of their child's school can use the convenient SchoolFinder.

More information on back to school

  • Enrollment: Students who are new to the district have to be enrolled at their neighborhood school. No enrollment is necessary for students who are returning; or for students enrolled in the district last year that reached the highest grade level of the current school and will be continuing to the next level (they were automatically matriculated to the next school level). To find your neighborhood school, please use the School Finder. All neighborhood schools will be accepting enrollments beginning Thursday, August 22. Complete enrollment requirements.
  • Tdap Immunization: Don't forget that students in grades 7-12 must show proof of their Tdap immunization against pertussis (whooping cough) prior to the first day of school. Your student will not be allowed to attend school unless you provide the proof of vaccine or sign the Tdap consent. The consent form will be available at school on Tuesday morning and is available here in English and Spanish. Then your child may receive a FREE Tdap booster at school and the requirement will be met. Please read this information statement about Tdap. (English) (Spanish).
  • Uniforms: A few of our schools recommend that students wear uniforms. To find a school's uniform policy, check the school's website, or, beginning Aug. 22, call or visit the school.
  • Back to School Supply Lists: In California, public schools cannot charge fees or require parents to purchase supplies -- with a few exceptions. Many schools have recommended supply lists, but all necessary materials will be supplied by your school. Read more.
  • Free and Reduced Price Meals: This state and federal program offers lunch and breakfast at reduced cost, depending on family income. Applications are now being accepted. Read more.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Supt. Marten welcomes all to the 2013-14 school year

Welcome to the 2013-14 School Year! Those are words that carry a great deal of meaning to me as opening a new school year enforces my belief that we have amazing opportunities to make a difference in the lives of our students.

Supt. Marten
For the past several years, I have been welcoming students and parents to Central Elementary School. As the principal, I understood how exciting the first day was, not only for our students and parents but for every teacher and staff member.

This year as superintendent, I have the honor and privilege to welcome back more than 110,000 students and their families on Sept. 3. I could not be more excited or committed to the work we will do together this year as we build on our past successes under the direction of the Board of Education’s 2020 Vision to create quality schools in every neighborhood.

Over the summer, we have been busy getting ready for Sept. 3. The new leadership team is in place, made up of familiar faces who know the district and the community. With 40 new principals at our schools this year, we have a shared focus on quality leadership and making sure all of our principals have the support and skills needed to lead a quality school.

The focus on teaching and learning will be preparing for the shift to the Common Core State Standards in 2014-15. Our vision is to provide a broad and challenging curriculum that is relevant and high quality so our children will be prepared for success in the workplace and the world.

Across the district, from bus drivers, to custodians; food service associates to secretaries, principals and teachers, we are all committed to making sure our students are on the pathway for life’s success. We are ready!

We are cautiously encouraged about the budget passed by the State’s legislators and the reinvestment in public education. Although we still face financial challenges and will continue to be prudent with our dollars, there is hope. The newly implemented Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) drastically changes the structure of how school districts receive funding from the state level. In very simple terms, the LCFF will shift the focus from funding dozens of state-mandated programs to funding based on local district control and student needs, with extra dollars allotted to low-income children, foster youth and English learners.

As we work collaboratively to assure that each child in our district receives the best education possible, we need everyone to be involved. The start of a new school year gives us a renewed sense of anticipation, hope and enthusiasm. I look forward to working closely with you as we advance the hope and promise of public education in San Diego and across the nation.