August 16th, 2012

SF struggles with violence prevention in schools

An 11-year-old boy in San Francisco, Tori (pictured), made headlines early last year when a shooting near his Western Addition home left a random bullet lodged permanently in his abdomen. Then in February, the boy turned from the victim to the accused.

School administrators kicked him out of Bessie Carmichael for allegedly shooting another student in the face with a BB gun. While the facts are in dispute, Tori’s situation illustrates the San Francisco Unified School District’s haphazard struggle to prevent violence and deal with guns in schools.

Read the full story from reporter Trey Bundy here.

Photo by Adithya Sambamurthy/The Bay Citizen

July 31st, 2012
If the governor issued an executive order to improve the 100 worst-condition school buildings, no one could really bring him the list.

— Jeffrey Vincent, lead author on a new state-commissioned report [PDF] on school facilities.

The lack of a statewide inventory highlights an issue with which state and school officials have long grappled: How does California know the facility needs of its nearly 10,000 public schools? 

Read the full story from California Watch’s Joanna Lin here.

July 18th, 2012

California defunds program to fix ‘slum’ schools

California has funded less than half of the $800 million required by a program meant to fix shoddy school facilities, according to our new investigation. Eight years after the Emergency Repair Program grew out of a class-action lawsuit against the state, more than 700 schools are still waiting for their share of funds as students take classes on dilapidated campuses with health and safety hazards.

Read our full investigation here. To find out if your school is waiting on funds from the Emergency Repair Program, see our searchable database

July 7th, 2012

School lunches missing the mark for nutrition standards

Is your child eating a healthy lunch at school? Probably not, according to our new investigation. Most California districts reviewed by the state failed to meet at least one nutritional requirement in their meals. Fat and sodium levels were especially a problem point: About 30% of school districts exceeded the saturated fat limit, and four out of five districts exceeded recommended sodium levels.

Our new infographic shows a breakdown of how California scored, giving a look at the kinds of foods kids are eating at school. The most commonly served item? Meat pizza. 

Read our full analysis here.

March 27th, 2012
We don’t want to buy pink slime.

Dennis Barrett, the Los Angeles Unified School District’s director of food services.

Schools across the country have been quick to distance themselves from the cotton candy-colored controversy after revelations that the U.S. Department of Agriculture buys the product, commonly used in ground beef, for its national school lunch program.

March 20th, 2012

California schools lead in Hispanic enrollment

California enrolls the most Hispanics in K-12 schools in the country: nearly 3.4 million in 2010, according to an analysis of census data released yesterday by the Pew Hispanic Center.

Hispanics made up 51 percent of all K-12 students in the state – the second-highest proportion of overall enrollment in the nation, behind New Mexico’s 57 percent.

December 8th, 2011
Ever wonder about the process of building a California school? See the different phases as laid out by the California State Auditor. Learn more in their new report [PDF].

Ever wonder about the process of building a California school? See the different phases as laid out by the California State Auditor. Learn more in their new report [PDF].

December 8th, 2011
This report concludes that the [Division of the State Architect] is unable to certify that a large number of completed school construction projects meet requirements in the Field Act, a law designed to protect the safety of pupils, teachers, and the public. The division reports that over 16,000 projects remain uncertified. Elements of the act hamper the division’s ability to enforce the certification requirements.

From the California State Auditor report "The Division of the State Architect Lacks Enforcement Authority and Has Weak Oversight Procedures, Increasing the Risk That School Construction Projects May Be Unsafe."

The new report confirms the findings of our On Shaky Ground investigation into the seismic safety of California’s schools.

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California Watch, the largest investigative journalism team operating in the state, was launched in 2009 by the nonprofit, nonpartisan Center for Investigative Reporting. Areas of coverage include education, health and welfare, public safety, the environment and the influence of money on the political and regulatory process.