“Reform Initiative” fails to get enough signatures for ballot

Backers of the so-called “Reform Initiative,” that would have reshaped the San Diego School Board, are shaking their heads in disbelief.

The measure failed to get enough valid signatures to qualify for the ballot.

While the group backing the initiative will review everything, message, strategy and signature gathering, the failure very much appears to involve the latter.

The person most associated with the San Diego City Schools reform effort is Scott Himelstein. And he was clearly perplexed Wednesday morning when we sat down with him.

“Ah, disappointment for sure.  This is two years of hard work for sure by a lot of well-intentioned people,” Himelstein said.

Himelstein is president of a group of business leaders, educators, and parents who call themselves San Diegans for Great Schools.

A year ago, the group got a lot of media splash when they held a scathing critique of San Diego student achievement.

The highly critical review included Mayor Sanders and Qualcomm Founder Irwin Jacobs.

But, the reform effort has come up short, at least for now.

A signature gathering campaign to put a much talked about school reform initiative on the ballot, a measure that seemed such a sure thing to go before the voters, has failed. The initiative, which includes adding four appointed members to the school board, didn't get enough valid signatures.

Everything, says Himelstein, will be reviewed in the coming days, but initially, he doesn't believe it has anything to do with the measure itself. The signature effort, he says, was clearly flawed.

“We are concerned with the high numbers of duplicate signatures and other things that really don't seem to make sense to us, why this happened, why it wasn't caught,” says Himelstein.

“I think it's incumbent on us and the signature gathering firm to really analyze this,” Himelstein says.

The group had hoped to qualify the measure for November, but as we know the governor's special election got shot down, the next scheduled vote is June of 2012.

“What we're sure of is that this is not the end, it is a setback, like everything in life it's what you do as you move forward as opposed to what happened in the past,” said Himelstein.

In support of this argument that it wasn't the measure itself, Himelstein points out that the initiative needed 93,000 signatures and they got 90,000 valid ones.

School Board President Richard Berrera said that such a campaign would have been very divisive and the signature failure now represents a positive opportunity for everyone to work together to build on what works for students, parents and teachers in the San Diego City School District.

Categories: KUSI