Leaders of the city of San Diego and the San Diego Unified School District pledged Wednesday to increase collaborative efforts to improve local education.
At a meeting of the City Council's Rules Committee, Assistant Chief Operating Officer Wally Hill said the mayor's office has been working closely with SDUSD Superintendent Bill Kowba to find ways to collaborate. The effort was off to a good start, Hill said.
Some of the areas being talked about would improve budget efficiencies, such as joint use of parks and libraries, while others seek to improve student learning, such as increasing high school internship opportunities.
Tony Young, president of the City Council and chairman of the Rules Committee, said the city needs to align its services with the goals and mission of the SDUSD.
“I now believe that in order for all students to have a meaningful education and become productive citizens of not only our workforce but of our society, society must participate and take an active role in each student,” Young said.
“That is why it is my goal, as it should be the goal of not only this council but of our local business leaders, parents, teachers and all San Diego residents, to become more active partners and stakeholders with the San Diego Unified School District,” Young said.
He said city officials have no intention of taking over the Board of Education, delving into the district's budget or becoming involved in day-to- day operations.
The state of local schools has become a major issue in the city's mayoral campaign, in which candidates are putting forth education platforms. In particular, District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis said she would focus on fixing the schools in her first term in office, if she were to win.
SDUSD Board of Education President John Lee Evans made a presentation to committee members in which he asked them to support Vision 2020 – a plan to improve student achievement, help the district's bid for adequate state funding and collaborate on libraries, police services, after-school programs, high school internships and public transportation.
The two entities are already working together on construction of a new downtown library, which will house a charter school on two floors.
“This is the kind of collaboration we ought to have,” Councilman Todd Gloria said. “We can and should do more.”
He and Councilwoman Lorie Zapf zeroed in on a statistic mentioned by Evans – that more than half the students in the district attend schools outside their neighborhoods.
If parents feel like they do not have a long-term future where they live because of poor performance by the nearby schools, then the entire neighborhood is weakened, Gloria said.
Zapf said that in her Clairemont neighborhood, children attend seven different schools.
Young said the City Council and Board of Education plan a joint meeting in September.
–City News Service