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Senate Education Committee passes local control bill

It’s been a busy week on the Oakland school district governance front. Today, the Senate Education Committee voted 6-1 to pass a bill introduced by Assemblymember Sandre Swanson that would speed the restoration of voting powers to Oakland’s elected school board.

On Monday, State Superintendent Jack O’Connell (who opposes the bill) stole a bit of Swanson’s thunder by announcing he was going to give some of the powers back to the state-run district.

But the bill is moving steadily through the lawmaking process. It has to clear the Senate Appropriations Committee before it makes it to the Senate floor.

Katy Murphy

Education reporter for the Oakland Tribune. Contact me at kmurphy@bayareanewsgroup.com.

  • Jim Mordecai

    If you read Ed Code 41325-41328 it is not straight forward as to what has to happen to return power to a school district board that accepted the terms of the state loan. There is a list of things that have to be in place to return school board powers and responsibilities. Both improvement plans and performance under the recovery plan must be demonstrated to satisfaction of Superintendent, Fiscal Crisis and Management Assistance Team (FCMAT) as well as the County Superintendent. Collective bargaining agreements have to comply with the recovery plan. And, the Superintendent must determine that future compliance by the school district with the recovery plan is “probable”. When all of these conditions are met then “at least 60 days after the Superintendent of Public Instruction has notified the Legislature, the Department of Finance, the Controller, and the county superintendent of schools that he or she expects the conditions prescibed pursuant to this section to be met, the school district governing board shall regain all of its legal rights, duties, and powers …”

    In contrast AB 45 requires FICMAT to report and if a district meets the criteria that area of management is returned to the district for the opening of the next school year. Now this very clean procedure has been amended to allow the Superintendent to make the final judgment on return of powers and responsibilities to a school board.

    Ironic that, Jack O’Connell, a standards advocate, wants to avoid having his feet held to the fire and let the FCMAT standard ultimately drive the decision for returning power to a school board.

  • James Jones, Jr., Parent, etc.

    Ab45 was amended in the Senate and is now officially meaningless.

    The Amended bill adds this language:

    “However, the Superintendent would be prohibited from
    returning authority over the operational area of fiscal control to
    the governing board until he or she concludes that the school
    district is a going concern and no longer poses a risk of reverting
    to policies and behavior that would require the state to provide the
    district with an emergency loan.”

    It remains the sole discretion of Jack Occonell; and he should be grinning right now.