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Decision '92 : SPECIAL VOTERS' GUIDE TO STATE AND LOCAL ELECTIONS : THE LOCAL CONTESTS : Props. Y, Z Would Unify Districts

October 25, 1992|DAVID SMOLLAR

The look of education in South County will change dramatically if two ballot propositions pass next month.

If one or both are approved, several junior and senior high schools in the Sweetwater Union High School District will come under the control of two elementary school districts to create unified school systems covering all grades, kindergarten through 12th.

Proposition Z would give control of two junior and senior high schools to the South Bay elementary district that covers Imperial Beach and parts of the city of San Diego. Proposition Y would give two junior high schools and one high school in National City to the National elementary district which at present offers only K-6 instruction.

All the districts have a plurality of Latino students, with large majorities especially in the two elementary systems.

The changes would leave Sweetwater offering secondary-level education only to the Chula Vista Elementary School District--the state's largest primary system--and the small but troubled San Ysidro elementary district.

Proponents argue that unified school districts offer more local control, greater accountability to parents and a chance to boost low student achievement. Those pushing the propositions point to Sweetwater's low overall academic achievement among California districts and say that Sweetwater has concentrated its academic efforts in the Chula Vista area.

Part of the impetus toward unification comes from a feeling by some in National City and Imperial Beach that Sweetwater's board and administration is dominated politically by Chula Vista residents.

Sweetwater supporters counter that the two new unified districts, if created, would be too small to match the variety of special magnet programs that Sweetwater offers at some of its schools. In addition, present employees of the high school district fear a new employer, even though they are guaranteed jobs under state educational codes governing unification moves.

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