Special Report

Scripps Ranch High School--Achievements and Challenges

Looking to the Future

This year marks the 10th anniversary of Scripps Ranch High School (SRHS), and we welcomed a new principal, Dr. Bobbi Forcier. Dr. Forcier has been with the district since 1975 and an administrator for more than 16 years, most recently as principal of Gaspar de Portola Middle School in Tierrasanta.

Dr. Forcier did an extensive interview with the SRCA Newsletter about the achievements and challenges that face SRHS. We thank her for her time. She stressed that the staff is dedicated to the students and are amazing to work with.

When Dr. Forcier came to SRHS, she was told that her academic "competition" was not in the district, but with high quality schools like Torrey Pines High School (TPHS). New statistics show that SRHS beat TPHS by one percentage point in the number of students taking Advanced Placement (AP) exams.

That's just one of the high school's many accomplishments. As we look to the future of this important community institution, we thought it was time to look at the achievements and challenges. We start with an issue parents have told us they are concerned about.

Police Officer at SRHS

From the beginning of the school year until Friday, Mar. 12, SRHS did not have a campus police officer, this amid a gun being found in a backpack on campus and reports of an increase in fights at the school. As of Monday, Mar. 15, Detective Dana Ellis was assigned to be the full-time police presence at SRHS.

After hearing parents' complaints, the Scripps Ranch Civic Association (SRCA) expressed concern to the district about a lack of an officer on campus and applauds this decision. Here is some background on what has gone on at the school prior to Det. Ellis's assignment.

SRHS is the fifth largest high school in the San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD). The four largest high schools have officers. There are about 2,300 students at SRHS, on a campus built for 1,800. This year we also have 400 students from other areas. Putting more kids into a smaller space causes problems.

Dr. Forcier expressed concerns to the chief of school police and the district about the lack of an officer. The SRCA and parents also contacted school board member Katherine Nakamura and Superintendent Alan Bersin. Less than a week after the SRCA contacted the superintendent, we were told Det. Ellis was reassigned to our high school. Here is a portion of the district's statement:

"We share the desire of the community. Providing a safe environment for all students is a priority for the district. Last summer, several school police officers retired, which left SRHS without an officer. We have been working to fill vacant police officer positions and to redeploy our officers. The district did have a hiring freeze, however, campus security officer and police officer positions are exempt from the freeze.

We are pleased that we have been able to reassign Detective Dana Ellis to SRHS. She will serve as the temporary campus police officer until a full-time replacement is hired. We know that she will...work with students, staff, and parents to ensure that Scripps Ranch continues to be a safe learning environment."

Dr. Forcier told us she is delighted to have a full-time police officer on campus. She credits involved parents.

Campus Incidents

When we interviewed Dr. Forcier, we talked at length about reports of more fights this year and the gun on campus. Dr. Forcier says it was happenstance that the weapon was discovered. A male student had been arguing with a female student. When the two were approached by staff, the boy handed off his backpack. A sharp-eyed security aide went after what was being handed off. When they checked the backpack, an unloaded gun was found inside. The student had two bullets in his pocket. He was expelled. They still don't know why the student brought the gun to school.

As for the fights, Dr. Forcier said that students have told her there are more than last year and they don't like it. As of February, there have been 28 suspensions due to fighting. That means about 14 fights from September through February. Dr. Forcier says the fights are almost equally split between resident and nonresident students. Usually, the residents fight each other, and the nonresidents face off. And, it's not random; some fights are between friends.

Prior to SRHS getting Det. Ellis on campus, Dr. Forcier took steps to help the situation. They are still in effect.

  • A third supervision aide, or security officer, was hired with site money;
  • Five to six more adults supervise lunch, the highest time for incidents, for a total of 15 to 16 adults; and,
  • A person with the Race/Human Relations Department was brought in to work with some students to help them deal with anger management and conflict.

As for gangs, after hearing concerns from students, Dr. Forcier brought in an expert on campus to observe. He didn't see hard-core gang activity; he saw wannabees--kids who want to emulate a group. If a student wears gang attire, he or she must go home and change, or a parent must bring new clothes.

Dr. Forcier says an officer on campus will deal with immediate issues, while the underlying problems also need to be addressed. It is an issue the administration, parents, and community are aware of, and we will report on as warranted.

Budget Cuts

The good new is that no programs or athletics will be cut. However, Dr. Forcier had to cut 22% of the operating budget at SRHS--$577,000. She has cut about $300,000 in positions.

  • Two attendance office staff are being cut. That means the school will not call parents and ask why their child is out. Parents should call in.
  • A school psychologist is being cut back. He will be available 3 1/2 days, instead of 4 1/2, for testing.
  • A half position in the front office is being cut; and,
  • If the student body reaches 2,400 next year, SRHS would have been entitled to another vice principal. That position has been cut.

Other cuts include reduced funding for library books, instructional supplies, and text books.

Parking Lot and Traffic

The student parking lot was supposed to be paved last summer. Dr. Forcier says that between the time the previous principal, Dave LeMay, retired in June and she was hired in late July, the district came out and paved the wrong parking lot--the teachers' lot.

Now, the cost of paving the student parking lot has increased from $32,000 to $150,000. Therefore, the cost increase has to be approved by the school board, and they have said the paving will happen this summer. Stay tuned.

Also a concern for Dr. Forcier is the lack of a guardrail. A ravine surrounds the parking lot and, since there are no lights, she's concerned someone may drive into the ditch at night. She would like the district to install a guardrail.

There's concern about the traffic flow into and out of the area. Dr. Forcier says she and her staff have investigated what can be done and are still working on this issue. Since Treena is a public street, they are told they cannot direct traffic. They are looking into whether they need a light there. Dr. Forcier says that SRHS should have two exits and it does not. She has checked to see if they could get a road out across the small canyon at the end of their driveway. However, it's a protected wetland. They also have to find another place for parents to drop off kids.

Goals & Accomplishments

Dr. Forcier has set some important goals for SRHS. Among them:

Bring the Academic Performance Index (API) over 800. The high school's API is now 785.

Increase the number of Advanced Placement (AP) offerings next year, and increase the number of students enrolled in those classes. Students who have an AP class on their transcript have a higher priority with colleges. Now, 22 different AP classes are offered with 532 students enrolled, including 40% of seniors. They will put supports in place to get more students into the program.

Close the achievement gap between students. Test scores from last year had the biggest gain in underrepresented students. Dr. Forcier says they are putting programs in place to make sure those students have a quality education.

Continue fundraising for the stadium improvement. $1.2 million is needed. $90,000 of Prop MM funds that can only be used for permanent structures is earmarked for the stadium. The school hopes to raise more than $600,000 by selling squares of turf. More money may come from the school, as well as athletic and booster groups. Steve Cushman of Cush Automotive will cosign a loan, and if any business or resident can make a donation, it will be greatly appreciated. The goal is to get the new field by the end of 2004.

The 10th anniversary fundraiser was cancelled due to the fire. However, they will have one next year and call it 10 + 1, with proceeds to go to the stadium.

Dr. Forcier has accomplished three short-term goals at SRHS.

  • Within two months of her arrival, she had ceiling fans installed in every permanent classroom and two wall fans in every bungalow, paid for by the district. This after classroom temperatures reached over 90 degrees. There is no air conditioning, however, she has been told if there's a new school bond measure, SRHS may get air conditioning.
  • Carpet is being replaced. The front office has been recarpeted and they are working on the classrooms. District funds were used.
  • Instead of paying $35,000 for a new phone system, they got the new phone system recently put in at Lincoln High School after it closed.

Academic and Athletic Achievements

There are many student achievements to be proud of. They include:

  • Academic League--reigning national runner-up team; defending league, city, and county champs;
  • Science Olympiad--ranked fifth in San Diego County;
  • 13 National Merit finalists;
  • One Achievement Scholar recipient;
  • James Zou won $10,000 for an essay, Kyoto Laureates; and,
  • Five SRHS students performed in the San Diego Honor Choir.

SRHS athletes must maintain a 2.0 GPA, and many are on the honor roll. Dr. Forcier says to be able to keep a high academic and athletic focus is marvelous. Their achievements this year include:

  • Girls Volleyball--Div. 2 CIF champs; Lindsey Oliver, CIF Player of the Year;
  • Field Hockey--Div. 2 CIF champs; second CIF championship in a row; Hayley Exner, CIF Player of the Year;
  • Girls Cross Country--Co-league champs; CIF runner-up;
  • Women's Basketball--Second in Western League;
  • Roller Hockey--CIF Metro Champs; Dan Comrie, Player of the Conference;
  • Women's Soccer--Won Baron's Tournament; were in the CIF finals;
  • Boy's Soccer--Eastern League champs; Brandon Tennelle, Eastern League Player of the Year; and,
  • Wrestling--Eastern League champs; City Conference champs; three CIF individual champs; and, nine athletes place for Masters Tournament.

Now, this is by no means a complete list. We congratulate these terrific athletes and, of course, their wonderful coaches.

Final Note

We congratulate the students whose achievements make us proud, and the administration, staff, and involved parents who are crucial to a quality school. While SRHS will face challenges, the community will face them together in usual Scripps Ranch style to get results.