In her final State of the City address on Feb. 25, Chula Vista Mayor Cheryl Cox, put the problems that have plagued the Sweetwater District at the forefront of her speech.
Nearly three months after that day the mayor is trying to make good on her speech, when she was “compelled to confront Sweetwater’s current problems through my ability to convene on community members in constructive conversation.”
On May 28, Cox will gather members of the community to find solutions to many of Sweetwater’s problems at a Community Conversation held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the council chamber.
She said the purpose of the dialogue is to shift conversation from talking about indictments and court dates to opportunities for solutions.
“I don’t intend for this to be a session where it’s just complaints,” she said. “Take the concern and turn it to something productive.”
Cox, a former educator, said she is getting involved because after spending an entire career in education, she is convinced that a good community stems from a good school system.
Cox added that her civic work to help the district is not a ploy for her next career move, but to improve the community.
“So in my last year in office, given that I’m not running for anything, I’m not running for Sweetwater board and I’m not running for the superintendent which isn’t an elected position anyway,” she said about her civic involvement.
Cox said she’s already served on a school board for six years when she was a trustee at the Chula Vista Elementary School District.
She also said if she weren’t termed out as mayor, she would still be interested in restoring positivity to the largest secondary school in California.
Cox admits she was hesitant at first to get involved with Sweetwater’s issues because it wasn’t her “jurisdiction” to intervene. But after hearing complaint after complaint she said she decided to finally help.
While Cox is set to have an in-depth conversation at her Community Conversation, she said she’s already heard several concerns from the community about the use of Sweetwater’s Mello-Roos money, the implementation of iPads, and restoring transparency and ethics.
She said finding solutions to better the Sweetwater District will be a long process and won’t come overnight.
She does agree that Sweetwater needs a change in culture and she even refers it as “a troubled district.”
Cox did offer a solution that could steer the district in the right direction.
“I do think that this starts with policy making by a school board and the follow through on managing the school district with a superintendent and his or her team,” she said.
She said come November voters have an opportunity to vote “entirely for a new slate of board members” and those elected could make a difference in the district.
Recently Cox spoke during public comment at a school board meeting to vocally oppose a proposal by the district to take away $135,0000 from a community collaborative, social service outreach that affects families in the district for the district to create their own Family Resource Center.
“There was calling out to the members of the board and the superintendent, and I thought decorum.” she said. “To me it was an indication of public frustration.”
Cox said she isn’t completely opposed to unifying Sweetwater High School and Chula Vista elementary school districts, an idea that has been suggested.
“I think before anybody can seriously look at unification, we have to get Sweetwater into a healthy place with a strong educational background and a solid culture of ethics and financial stability.”
The public must register to reserve a seat for the Community Conversation. Register at www.Chulavistaca.gov/goto/Mayor