School Issues

This month the Special Report on school issues, pages 21-23, will attempt to bring you up to speed on a number of topics. The following information includes a series of questions that often are asked along with the most recent demographic data provided by the school district in response to possible school and grade configuration alternatives.

What will happen next fall?

Next fall we will need about 9 more classrooms, including 6 at Jerabek, to house elementary school children in Scripps Ranch. All the schools are crowded, but Miramar Ranch Elementary (MRE) appears to be least impacted based on several criteria.

If 8 portables are constructed at MRE, as shown on a previously approved master plan, then the question becomes “Which 140 children move from Jerabek to MRE?” The school district has looked at several options including:

  • asking for volunteers who may wish to move to MRE for any of several reasons including the traditional calendar used at MRE;
  • limiting the number of students who choice into Scripps Ranch schools, including Jerabek;
  • moving some of the special education children to MRE;
  • changing the boundaries between Jerabek and MRE; and
  • having all new (fall 2000) Jerabek kindergarten students, who do not have siblings enrolled at Jerabek, attend MRE for 1-2 years.

At this point, it seems unlikely that 140 volunteers will be found, so the school district is attempting to balance the inconvenience and frustration of those who will be asked to make a change.

Who makes these decisions?

The school board does. It is composed of 5 representatives who are elected from different parts of the San Diego Unified School District. Our representative is Sue Braun. She needs 2 other votes to make something happen in Scripps Ranch. There are 170+ schools in the district; Scripps Ranch has 5.

The school district staff provides information and recommendations to the community and to the school board regarding school demographics, school siting and design, grade configuration, and boundaries. These same 4-6 individuals are responsible for providing this type of information for all 170 schools.

How can I affect decisions?

Come to the various school meetings hosted by the Scripps Ranch Schools Committee and help create a good or better solution. These meetings are noticed in the calendar section of the Newsletter. Attend the school board meeting(s) where these issues are acted on and voice your opinion.

Who is the Scripps Ranch Schools Committee?

SRCA and the school district formed the Scripps Ranch Schools Committee to help facilitate discussions about school issues. The committee provides a framework to discuss the issues and to present them to the community. The membership includes the chairs of those organizations responsible for school decisions in Scripps Ranch. These are:

  • Principals of Scripps Ranch High School, Marshall Middle School, Miramar Ranch Elementary School, Jerabek Elementary School, and Dingeman Elementary School;
  • Presidents of PTSA-type organizations at the same schools;
  • Chairs of the Scripps Ranch Planning Group and the Miramar Ranch North Planning Committee;
  • President of the Scripps Ranch Rec Council; and
  • SRCA who facilitates and chairs the schools committee.

Won’t we just have the same discussions next year?

In some ways, yes. Another 9 portables will be needed: 2 at Dingeman, 3 at Jerabek, and 4 at MRE. As shown in table 1 below, the increasing enrollment is expected to continue well into the future. So ideally, the choices made this year should be applicable in future years as well. The additional questions that will need to be answered include:

  • How to handle the crowding expected to occur the following year, fall 2001?
  • What grades should go to the new 4th elementary school?
  • What if any additional facilities will be needed?

Won’t the new 4th elementary school help?

Yes, but it will not open until fall 2002. Significant over-crowding will occur in the next two years, as it has the past two years. This problem needs to be accommodated in some way.

What’s this I hear about a new school at Fairbrook?

Because of the significant over crowing in the next two years, and the expected over crowding that will occur for the next several years, the school district has asked if a small school on the Fairbrook site would be a good idea. This site is a 10-acre parcel on Fairbrook Road that recently has been rezoned to accommodate 17 houses and a 3.5-acre neighborhood park.

The school district has suggested a capacity of 300-500 students based partly on the number of students on the south side of Pomerado Road. The school could be similar in appearance to Dingeman. As shown as one of the possible scenarios in table 2 below, a school at Fairbrook in addition to the 4th elementary school would decrease elementary school populations toward the district standard of 700 children per elementary school. This proposal will be reviewed at detail by the schools committee and the Scripps Ranch Planning Group.

Why don’t we just build a properly-sized middle school?

Good question; it is often asked, so we are asking ourselves and the school district this question again. Admittedly, an adequately sized and located middle school would seem to also answer many of the other vexing and continuing questions about school capacities, grade configurations, traffic, and adequate recreational facilities.

The short answer that has constrained us so far is that a properly size middle school would cost about $50 million and we only have $33 million for the elementary school. So we are $15-20 million short. But maybe there is a way to achieve this frequently cited solution with a combination of Prop MM funds, local funds, assessments, and donations.

How are demographics calculated?

A mapping and database program (ArcInfo) is used that has information on each household in Scripps Ranch, including the names and ages of each child that attends public school. The database also includes all approved, but not yet constructed homes, such those that will be built at the southeast corner of Scripps Poway Parkway and I-15.

The forecasts of school enrollment, such as those presented in tables 1 and 2, now are made by the school district using techniques that were not available a few years ago. The method uses:

  • All school children who attend local public schools;
  • Estimates of the number and age of children who will occupy each house that has not yet been constructed.

The demographer receives estimates of the number of bedrooms for each new house and then applies projections based on similar Scripps Ranch neighborhoods.

A large source of error in all estimates is that the demographer does not know about existing households with children who are not yet old enough to be in school. So in essence he has a blind spot of about 5 years until the children enroll for kindergarten.

We as a community can help ourselves significantly by using our neighborhood rosters which identify the number of children born in each of the last 5 years. If you are willing to summarize this data for your neighborhood, please call Wes at 695-6835. This act alone will do more to improve demographic estimates than any other thing.

What name did we give to the 4th elementary school?

Ellen Browning Scripps Elementary.