January-Amid difficult discussions over what extracurricular programs-those things that make school bearable-will get the ax, Trustee Fran Zimmerman points out that the district's ROTC program hadn't been touched-and had even received some extra funding.
February-Tony Alvarado, the feisty Puerto Rican who authored the Blueprint for Student Success reform program and bit the heads off parents and teachers who questioned it, takes a $259,000 contract buy-out and splits. Mutual leave or district PR move? You make the call.
March-Close to 1,500 teachers get a "you might be laid off, you might not" notice in the mail.
April-At a glee-filled press conference, Superintendent Alan Bersin tells teachers to tear up those pink slips. Meanwhile, the district cuts a bunch of jobs, including three positions identified only as "stock clerk." Whatever those stock clerks did, they had been earning a tasty $46,154 annually-well above a starting teacher's salary.
May-As part of "Classified School Employees Week," the Board of Trustees honors Gustavo Padilla, a computer tech at Central Elementary. We can only hope the recognition made Padilla feel better about having his job cut from full-time to two hours a day, thanks to massive budget cuts.
July-Lacking a contingency plan for what to do with the 100,000 or so California high school seniors who hadn't yet passed the high school exit exam, the state Board of Education announces that it'll be another two years before kids will have to pass the test to receive a diploma. As of this year, 3,997 San Diego high schoolers hadn't passed the test.
July-New district boundary lines push Trustees Fran Zimmerman and Ron Ottinger out of their districts. Zimmerman later announces she'd prefer to stay in her La Jolla home rather than move eastward and try to retain her seat. Ottinger, who owns a condo downtown but lives with his wife and kids in Coronado-way, way outside district lines-opts not to take up a third residence in order to stay within District D bounds.
August-Trustees OK plans to add 1.5 acres to a 4.8-acre school site in City Heights. Studies have found that student performance is hindered by overcrowding. An ideal school campus is roughly one acre for every 100 kids. The new City Heights school is expected to hold anywhere from 700 to 900 kids. You do the math
September-Too bad it was Pepsi and not Coke that coined that "choice of a new generation" slogan. Coke-with subsidiaries like Minute Maid and Dasani water-is now the official drink of the school district. It's expected that teachers, students and staff will plow through a couple hundred thousand cases of the stuff-they better, or else the district doesn't get the cool million Coke promised.
November-Rumors begin to surface that another $97 million will have to be cut from the district's already ailing budget. While Bersin promises no job cuts without unanimous approval from trustees, teachers might have to give up some of their benefits-a theme that's becoming far too common these days.
December-The school district signs an agreement with Sprint to erect a cell phone tower at Point Loma High School in exchange for $21,000 a year. Facilities staff cross their hearts that the antenna won't emit any harmful rays-but in practically the same breath says there's no way cell phone towers are going up at elementary schools.
December-Bersin announces that the district met all the performance goals set by the Bush Administration's standardized-test-happy No Child Left Behind Act. It appears, however, that only 12 percent of kids have to be proficient in English and math to meet these goals. Al, George, we expect a little more than that. Well check back with you next year, 'K?