What's Happening

 

Community Not Part of Process to Choose New SR School Principals

Over the years Scripps Ranch schools have achieved an unbelievable record of academic achievement and high test scores, beating the magic 900 state number and excelling in academic performance. This has been possible through the effective, very professional work of wonderful longterm principals devoted to the school and the Ranch families. Also, we have faculty who love to work in our community, absolutely fantastic support from parents, and students who produce results, as well as a successful record second to none in the district.

We have, however, experienced the unprecedented, unannounced, and uncoordinated departure of three and now the fourth of our assigned school principals and the designation of their replacements. This has been done despite our specific efforts to be made aware of potential changes and to continue to be partners in the educational process.

We have met with our elected school board trustee, Katherine Nakamura, and she is well aware of our concerns and desires to be part of any significant change. Not in the approval process, which remains with the district, but in bringing aboard principals compatible with our community so we can continue to provide all schools with the highest possible support and assistance.

We urge our elected board trustee, Katherine Nakamura, to more fully represent our best interests, to consult with our Scripps Ranch Schools Committee and community leaders and parents as required, and most important to continue to make us partners in the action, not merely the recipient after the fact. We stand ready, as always, to meet with her and any school official so we can participate fully or as desired in any selection process identifying those individuals selected to serve our community and our fine schools. That is the pathway to continue progress and success under these stressful times for all students.

Meeting problems on a mutual shared basis is always better than directed actions and continues a 30-year successful tradition in Scripps Ranch. We stand ready, willing, and able to be our traditional wholehearted supporters of schools and their functioning. We only ask to be part of the process for the overall good of all schools through consultation and advisement.

Scripps Ranch welcomes with open arms the new principals, and we commit to each of you our pledge of support at the same level we have maintained to date for your predecessors. Working collegially together, we will enhance our educational processes in the daunting task of providing the highest educational opportunities and challenges. We look to each principal and his or her faculty to provide the best opportunities and challenges in education for our children.

To you, our loyal and hardworking principals who have departed, we bid you a most reluctant but fond farewell. We thank you for your service and wish each of you Godspeed and success in your new assignments--you were terrific. You will be sorely missed, and with your help and skill, you made our community schools the very best.

I say all this as a longterm Scripps Ranch school activist and advocate, as well as the namesake to Dingeman Elementary School.

 

[Editor's note: We asked Katherine Nakamura for a response to this article. As of press time, we have not heard back from her. If we do, we will let you know.]

School Begins--Be Alert

Summer vacation is over and the children are going back to school. Give the kids a brake. This means our young students must get back into their proper safety habits and not dash across streets to get to school. Also, all parents must time their arrivals and departures so their children can safely debark from the cars and enter the school grounds.

Although most schools will have safety patrols and guards, it is up to all of us to drive carefully--even more so--for these first few weeks, especially near schools. Remember, the young have been on vacation and are eager to join friends and some even eager to come to school. Let's continue our wonderful safety record by being alert.

Council Office Support

Just a reminder: the changeover in personnel and responsibility for actions and requests for service and assistance by our council office does not occur until December. We have many services and activities underway that support our quality of life, so keep up the emails to me and the council office. There are many needs that require attention.

In this view Councilmember-elect Carl DeMaio invited individuals to meet with him at the Information Center in August. The purpose was to communicate some of his aims and goals and to solicit in their view the three most pressing city support problems he should be aware of in preparation for his service to the 5th District. The list of actions was provided, including such items as street repair, traffic control, safety measures, use of the Information Center, and response to requests for city services.

Be Fire Safety Conscious

The San Diego Fire-Rescue Department reminds all of us that fire safety remains of the highest priority in our area, so be alert and do your part. The major efforts to combat the terrible fires in Northern California has been successful, although we are reading interesting reports appearing in The San Diego Union-Tribune as to what was effective. Some of the fires were "contained" and others allowed to burn accumulated debris and flammables. Our city-directed brush management actions continued with work in two areas, one opposite Hoyt Park.

Scripps Ranch Maintenance Assessment Districts (MAD)

I will start writing a series of articles about the operation, planning, and functioning of the Scripps-Miramar Maintenance Assessment District (MAD) so new residents will be more familiar with its terms, history, and how it interacts in our community to solve problems. Also, you "old timers" can be updated on some of the new challenges the MAD system faces as it copes with meeting its assigned role of maintaining open space and other installations in the face of the city's budget issues and mounting costs.

First, you may ask why do we have a MAD. In l976 we in Scripps Ranch found, to our surprise, that the city of San Diego was allowing subdivisions to be built without the required infrastructure of roads, schools, streetlights, and such. We took two important actions.

One, we worked to develop a Community Plan that clearly set forth the philosophy and concept for our community development and phased growth. This plan also outlined the required infrastructure needed as a companion action. It has served us well since then, and the Ranch shows the value of good planning and our attention to details.

The second item was to include in our Community Plan a provision that 25% of all the land available could not be developed and would be left "natural" and deeded to the city as open space. As you can imagine, this caused great heartburn on the part of developers, however, the end result was we preserved the canyons and open space that make Scripps Ranch different and special.

However, leaving them "natural" posed problems with respect to maintenance and upkeep of these areas. To address this issue the community formed special assessment districts to collect fees from the property owners that would be used exclusively for the maintenance of these open spaces.

Today Scripps Ranch has two separate and distinct MADs: Scripps-Miramar, covering most of the "old" section of Scripps Ranch; and, Miramar-Ranch, covering the "new" section of Scripps Ranch. Each is its own entity, with separate budgets, managers, and contracts. Both work with their respective planning groups and function directly under the responsibility of the director of open space division in the Park and Recreation Department, Andy Fields. Both are among the largest in terms of assessment budgets and total land acreage covered.

I will devote a later article to the Scripps-Miramar MAD budget. Going back in history when we reviewed the first MAD budget, it was $27,000 for the year and modest in scope. It is now more than $1.5 million with several contractors doing our service maintaining city-owned open space as well as our city parks, which is a critical component of our Scripps Ranch quality of life. The aim of the Scripps-Miramar MAD is to operate the most responsive, effective, and efficient MAD in the city while also serving the needs of our community.

How are the MADs financed? They are financed by an annual assessment of all property owners in the district using a tiered structure system depending on the access and impact of the open space to help determine the correct cost sharing.

Our major concern for the future is that our current rate of required expenditures will soon exceed the funds collected, which will require either reduced maintenance or a community ballot to increase the allocation to match the required maintenance. In coming months further information will be provided to allow all the residents in the Scripps-Miramar MAD to understand the issues and provide comments and feedback.

 

Lerp Infestation Update

Sorry to report that we have two more locations in our open space infested with the lerp. For those who were not here four years ago, this is a naturally occurring infestation in Australia of some types of eucalyptus. The bug produces a spotty sticky residue on the leaves, which drop off and make a big mess. They attack only certain types of eucalyptus trees--luckily not the predominant ones in Scripps Ranch. However, we have plenty of potentially diseased trees that may have to be removed. Last time we had to remove at least 600 trees at a considerable cost.

The natural predator for the lerp is a wasp that is imported from Australia and was of doubtful value last time--it just ran its course and stopped. If you see an infestation near an open space, email me the location so we can track it. Drop me a note at [[email protected]].

Evans Pond Improvements

Yes, the bubbling water you see in the middle of Evans Pond is new. The aeration system your Landscape Maintenance Assessment District (MAD) crews installed is designed to improve the viability of the water for wildlife. We are still working on using reclaimed water from the adjacent reservoir to augment our natural runoff rather than use potable water to make the pond more viable.

Thrills for the Old Soldier

After 32 years away from "my Army," I was invited to the National Training Center at Fort Irwin near Barstow to meet with soldiers of the 8th Field Artillery Battalion--my Korean War combat battalion. They were undergoing focused and dynamic training to return with the "Stryker" Brigade from Fort Wainwright, Alaska, to Iraq later this fall.

It was a wonderful, enlightening, and heartwarming experience. I have written a special Dialogue article on page 19 about my experience. You can then share with me the pride of America in our citizen soldiers and the roles they play.

I also was asked to participate in the opening ceremonies with the commanding general of the 3rd Marine Air Wing at a special hockey game arranged with the Gulls and servicemen and women at the San Diego Ice Arena in Mira Mesa in August. The event honored all veterans and citizen soldiers, and it was a real privilege. Yes, they placed a carpet on the ice so this old soldier would not slip and fall in front of all the people!