Letters to the editor (Sept. 23): School choice: It's a good thing

I was pleased to read in the Sept. 15 edition of this paper that San Dieguito Unified High School District (SDUHSD) is considering a petition for a 7th-12th grade charter school. I hope the proposal for The School of Universal Learning (SOUL) Charter School will receive a thorough but fair review by district staff and the board of trustees, unbiased by the politics and rancor that sometimes afflict considerations of charter schools. Residents of this district are fortunate to have access to many wonderful schools, some of the best performing in the state; however, our high schools are large, with student bodies approaching or exceeding 2,000 students. Not all students thrive in such a setting.

My eldest son, who is now a college sophomore, left our home district of SDUHSD to attend Coleman Tech Charter High School in San Diego Unified. Coleman Tech (soon to be renamed The School for Entrepreneurship and Technology, or SET) is a charter school based on the principles of the small schools movement: small student body, small class sizes, individualized instruction. My son thrived there. We feel fortunate to have found SET and that it was an option for him.

I don’t know anything about SOUL Charter School beyond what I read in this paper, and I have no vested interest in it. I’m not advocating for its approval, only for it to be considered fairly and impartially by the district and its stakeholders. Having schools of choice that are designed to meet the interests and needs of all students will only make the district stronger.

Diane Jacobs Baizer

Del Mar

School boards are supposed to be nonpartisan

I was somewhat amused by the title chosen for the recent letter from Randy Berholtz. It should have read, “SDUHSD needs a fiscally-responsible board with a shared Republican vision.”

Our school boards are supposed to be nonpartisan. Yet the 3-2 split on the budget vote was directly along party lines. And this year, many SDUHSD board candidates have accepted an endorsement from a major political party – including Mr. Berholtz. I think this is irresponsible. A school board member’s priority should be to our students, not advancing a political agenda.

I agree with Mr. Berholtz that the district deserves a fiscally-responsible budget, but he should check his facts before proclaiming that the district also deserves a budget “with no deficit spending.” Under recent CA law, the district was required to reduce its reserves, hence the deficit for the coming year. The real challenge is finding the right mix of ongoing versus one-time expenses.

In response to Mr. Berholtz’s claim that the “district leadership has been fiscally irresponsible,” he is both right and wrong. Our teachers should be better compensated. They are the reason our schools are among the best in the state. But handcuffing the board with a regional “most favored nation” salary clause effectively outsources local control – and the board’s fiduciary duty – to other districts. As a businessman, I believe this kind of inflexibility is bad for taxpayers. It is bad for the students. It is bad for the teachers.

Meeting the district’s fiscal challenges will require careful analysis and consensus building, not party-line rhetoric. Each issue facing the board should be considered on its own merits, not on a pre-conceived ideology.

Bob Nascenzi

Del Mar Mesa

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