Chula Vista Councilwoman Mary Salas proposes merging two South Bay school districts

CHULA VISTA, Calif. - A new proposal could have the largest elementary school district in California increasing in size.

Under a plan proposed by Chula Vista City Councilwoman Mary Salas, the Chula Vista Elementary School District would merge with the Sweetwater Union High School District to create one district encompassing all of Chula Vista -- and then some -- with roughly 70,000 students and 70 schools.

Salas said the two districts could help each other by joining forces.

"Yes they can, they absolutely can," said Salas.

The Chula Vista Elementary School District is thriving with new schools and high test scores. Sweetwater Union has had a tough go at it recently with several board members being indicted and feuds with teachers. Salas believes combining the two will provide continuity for students and help both districts.

CVESD Superintendent Francisco Escobedo, Ed.D., said he had "extreme reservations" when he first heard about the merger.

"I don't think it's unmanageable but it's going to be an uphill road," said Escobedo, who added the district is looking into the proposal.

Escobedo's counterpart with SUHSD, Dr. Ed Brand, pretty much closed the door in a statement released to 10News.

"This would be comparable to asking the city of Chula Vista to merge with National City," Brand wrote.

"It's like a merger between two companies. It doesn't happen overnight," said Escobedo.

Salas doesn't expect it to.

"It's at least an eight- to 10-year process," she said. "From superintendents, they all have their own fiefdoms they want to protect."

They all have the same arguments though -- Do what's best for the students.

Just how they do that has yet to be decided.

Salas said the city has to make a request for the merger first. Then the San Diego County Board of Education would have to approve combining the districts.

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