Heads Up on Proposition 39!

To property owners in Scripps Ranch: Reading all about Proposition 39 in the recently mailed “Official Voter Information Guide” by the State of California is a must. I direct your attention to its official title and summary by the State Attorney General, in particular school facilities, 55% majority, local vote, bonds, and taxes.

The proposition would authorize property taxes–in excess of a 1% limit by a 55% vote, rather than by the current two-thirds vote–as necessary to pay school bonds. The analyst estimates increased debt costs for many school districts, depending on local voter approval of future school bonds. District costs throughout the state could total in the hundreds of millions of dollars each year within the next 10 years. The State benefits from savings achieved to the extent that local school districts would assume greater responsibility for funding school facilities. The only source for repayment of this increased debt will be the property owners.

Note on page 39, middle of left hand column, “Provisions of Related Legislation.” After listing a number of requirements and limitations, the text states: These requirements are not part of this proposition and can be changed (without voter approval) with a majority vote of both houses of the Legislature and approval by the Governor. The proponents never mention this fact, but only tout all these limitations, as if these were, in fact, part of the Proposition. They clearly are not!

What chances are there for these limitations to remain in effect? Think about it! Read the fine print! Make an informed decision!

School District Moving Our Cheese and Making Progress

Over the past decade, I have been involved in many school issues and decisions. Without question these have been among the most frustrating and difficult of any that have challenged myself or the Scripps Ranch community.

But over the past year or so, there has been a remarkable change in the San Diego Unified School District. What had been a bureaucracy mired in a pervasive “can’t do” attitude has been replaced by a positive, we’ll-figure-it-out set of actions. Not just wistful thinking, but actions.

Strong and decisive action toward gaining a new, right-sized middle school for Scripps Ranch was one of those new creative, problem-solving acts. But there have been others.

The school district has embraced the 6-to-6 program created by the City of San Diego. In years past, the City and school district were parallel titans unwilling to partner on just about anything. Sometimes even getting a phone call from one to the other was a months long challenge.

On the school grounds, I see a huge focus on quality and responsiveness. The changes instituted by the new and often controversial Superintendent Bersin have not been easy. But then I didn’t expect they would be; there was too much ground to make up.

I appreciate Bersin and the district recognizing that summer school is not just for the slow or unmotivated kids, it is for any kid or parent who wants to get better. I appreciate them acknowledging in writing that Jerabek, the best scoring elementary school in the district, needs to do better. The bar is being raised.

And yes, there is stress out there. I see it in the faces of the principals, and the teachers, and my wife who now teaches at Jerabek and other City schools. But I also see a positive attitude, far different from the “holding pattern” frown that was pervasive just a couple of years ago. The quality of principals being assigned to the Scripps Ranch schools is truly impressive. Go meet them and you’ll see what I mean.

From what I can tell, many of these changes have been a direct result of Bersin, who freed the staff to act, and of the school board who has supported his leadership.

Where will we go from here? Perhaps creating private-public partnerships such as our newly appointed City Councilmember Phil Blair has suggested. This will take vision and decisiveness; but fortunately the revitalized school district has demonstrated both.