Instead, the San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD) board decided it needed to evaluate the larger issue of what all magnet programs cost the district.
“We do not want to create a pall over this (Mandarin language) program,” said beach-area SDUSD trustee Scott Barnett during a special school board meeting Nov. 29. “The budget is a pall over all our lives. But we need to have a discussion as to our magnet programs and what level of commitment we can give, given our budget constraints.”
The board is expected to review magnet programs at a workshop after the holidays.
Meanwhile, the Mandarin language program may find itself homeless if the board approves a pending closure and sale of the Barnard Elementary school site. The fate of the school site is one of only five points left on the district’s original closure and realignment plan laid out two months ago.
Closing the Barnard campus is predicated on finding a larger site in better condition that will enable the Mandarin Chinese language-immersion program to grow into a Pacific Rim academy. If this is accomplished, it would allow sale of the entire Barnard campus, not just the excess portion as originally planned.
District officials said it would also save $2.3 million in Prop. S school refurbishment money by selling the site.
In October, the school district, on the brink of bankruptcy with a possible $100 million deficit, presented a plan to close 14 schools citywide in an effort to save $500,000 per school annually. The plan included moving the Mandarin language-emersion program to Dana Middle School and eliminating the 5-6 configuration at Dana.
But the Point Loma community and its cluster foundation rejected the recommendation, even though in 2006 the cluster recruited the program as part of its strategic plan.
Phil Stover, deputy superintendent of business for the district, told the board the Mandarin program at Barnard got “caught up in the stress and tension of the Point Loma Cluster realignment. Folks didn’t want to lose (Dana) as a neighborhood school.”
As a result, he said, the program felt that it wasn’t being embraced by the Point Loma community.
“The Barnard community has requested a new, larger site closer to the interstate,” Stover told the board. “They have a vision to draw students from Poway and even Orange County. The group is very entrepreneurial and willing to get grants.”
The Board of Educatin is set to decide on the closure plan and a proclamation for the Mandarin Chinese language program at its Dec. 13 meeting.