A geographic-based school "cluster" includes a high school and the middle and elementary schools feeding into them. The La Jolla cluster includes La Jolla High, Muirlands Middle and Bird Rock and La Jolla and Torrey Pines Elementary schools.
The partnership agreement was the culmination of three years' negotiation between La Jolla Elementary School principal Donna Tripi, Muirlands Middle School teachers Julie Latta and Rob Tindall and parent Fran Shimp with SDUSD superintendent Cindy Marten.
The final agreement hammered out between the La Jolla Schools’ governance teams and SDUSD includes a number of changes:
• La Jolla schools will be able to seek new teachers from among all qualified applicants rather than the traditional “post-and-bid” hiring policy, which limits job openings to the five most senior applicants. Teacher union approval will be required for anyone hired under the new system, which breaks fresh ground in union-based hiring practices.
• La Jolla schools are allowed more freedom in structuring their curriculums and choosing textbooks.
• The new agreement fits with SDUSD’s neighborhood-centered educational approach embodied in its Vision 2020 plan.
Any changes proposed by any of the five La Jolla schools in the partnership agreement must be put in writing to an SDUSD official to be approved or rejected within 10 business days.
“It was gratifying to hear our superintendent and school board members praise the inclusive process,” said LJCA in a press release. “What we have created can truly be called community-based education reform. We look forward to working alongside the district with a new level of mutual respect and transparency through our new partnership agreement.”
La Jolla Cluster is held in high esteem at San Diego Unified, as its student test scores are historically among the highest in the district.
The cluster also has a tradition of independence. Previously, La Jolla High won some academic autonomy from SDUSD after threatening to become an independent charter school.
For more information, visit lajollacluster.com.