San Dieguito Union High School District briefs

By Marsha Sutton

Senior Education Writer

• San Dieguito Union High School District associate superintendent of educational services Rick Schmitt said enrollment will likely drop by 125 students for the 2011-2012 year, with most of the decrease in the northern part of the district. He also reported that 25 students enrolled in district schools may be living outside the district’s boundaries, and an independent outside agency is being contracted to investigate residency.

• For the first time since the school opened in 2004, not all incoming ninth-grade students who expressed interest in attending Canyon Crest Academy will be permitted to enroll this fall. The Pacific Highlands Ranch high school admitted 510 ninth-graders, Schmitt said, with 271 still on the waitlist. Each prior year, last-minute changes have allowed all waitlisted students who did not make the lottery the option to enroll in CCA, but the district is doubtful the waitlisted students will be admitted this year.

• Laurie Francis, principal of Carmel Valley Middle School, said she will have about 1,500 students in her seventh- and eighth-grade school this coming year, and Earl Warren Middle School in Solana Beach will have about 700 students. Both middle schools will each be staffed with one principal and one assistant principal.

• According to a June board report, the district paid $588,665 to College Board for Advanced Placement exams given to the district’s AP students in May. College Board charges $87 per exam, and the district collects this money from students, plus an administrative overhead fee.

• An Action Plan report given in June stated that declining enrollment and retirements have lessened the need to recruit teachers. This “made it possible to reduce the certificated personnel budget without significantly increasing class size,” according to the report. However, human resources has continued to concentrate on hiring staff for the more difficult-to-fill positions, including teachers specializing in computer programming, American sign language, Japanese, Mandarin Chinese, chemistry and physics.

• Three R-rated films are on the Aug. 18 school board agenda for approval to show in the district’s video film classes at each of the four high schools. The films are “Tombstone,” “Mississippi Burning,” and “Cinema Paradiso.” They are rated R for a variety of reasons, including brief sexual content, profanity, violence and scenes of limited drug use.

These three join a list of over 40 other R-rated films approved for showing in English, social studies, world language and visual/performing arts classes. The list includes “The Killing Fields,” “Schindler’s List,” “Braveheart,” “The Matrix,” “Saving Private Ryan,” “Bowling for Columbine,” “Apocalypse Now” and many other popular films.

The district’s board policy limits the showing of R-rated films to grades 9-12 and requires that parents be notified in advance for permission for their children to view the films. All R-rated films on the approved list strengthen course curriculum, the staff report reads.

• The recommendation from SDUHSD superintendent Ken Noah to the board at the Aug. 18 meeting is to approve new four-year contracts for the district’s three associate superintendents, running from August 1, 2011 to June 30, 2015, each for an annual salary of $162,265 plus benefits. The associate superintendents are Eric Dill (business services), Terry King (human resources) and Rick Schmitt (educational services).

Healthy Kids survey

The board is expected to approve on Aug. 18 an agreement with the University of California San Diego to continue to administer to district students the California Healthy Kids Survey, through March 31, 2013. UCSD’s Dr. Sandra Brown is the project coordinator for the survey, which asks students anonymously to answer dozens of questions pertaining to drug and alcohol use, eating habits, physical exercise, bullying and other topics related to physical and mental well-being.

The Healthy Kids information is shared with principals, who review it with their staff, Schmitt said. The data hasn’t changed much over the years and confirms what the district mostly already knows, he said, which reveals behavior and attitudes fairly consistent with high schools throughout San Diego and the nation.

“There are a handful of trends,” said Schmitt, noting that fewer kids are smoking cigarettes, binge drinking continues to be a problem, and some district schools are worse than others in certain categories.

He said students at schools in the northern part of the district tend to drink a little more than the Carmel Valley and Del Mar kids. “Or maybe they just get caught more,” he said.

Results supplement lessons taught in health and life sciences classes, reinforce the district’s drug and alcohol READI program, and support the use of breathalyzers and other drug and alcohol detection devices at dances and other school functions.

“What makes the survey so interesting is it’s something we would never have access to [otherwise],” Schmitt said. “We can only base our understanding and knowledge on hearsay or kids who actually get caught. So this helps us.”

Schmitt said he trusts the data to be fairly accurate, because of the anonymity. “I believe the kids tell the truth,” he said.

The survey is given to students every two years. Parents are notified in advance and given the right to opt their kids out of the survey.

The agreement will cost $70,040, but the district is reimbursed through UCSD with funds from a state grant under the Tobacco Use Prevention Education program.