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Were they smiling when they audited OUSD?

By Katy Murphy
Monday, November 26th, 2007 at 5:39 pm in charter schools, finances, School board news.

fcmat.jpgWe’ll soon see. The latest progress report for the state-run Oakland school district — conducted by auditors from the Fiscal Crisis and Management Assistance Team — will be released at Wednesday’s school board meeting.

If OUSD makes great improvements in its FCMAT ratings, the state superintendent might decide to restore additional powers to the elected school board. Then again, he might not.

You should also come to Wednesday’s school board meeting, or watch it on TV (Channel 27), if you want to know:

  • whether school board president David Kakishiba made school staff pass out flyers promoting a cause of his organization, East Bay Asian Youth Center
  • how much the district might spend to build a new educational facility for La Escuelita, Centro Infantil, Yuk Yau Child Development Center and MetWest High School (first reading, no decisions yet)
  • charter renewal applications from Leadership Public Schools – College Park and Millsmont Secondary Academy, and a proposal for a new charter: Civicorps Middle School, run by the East Bay Conservation Corps.

If anything else from the agenda catches your eye, be sure to let us know.

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  • Sue

    I’m still suspicious of FCMAT.

    It’s just too coincidental for my tastes, that one of Dennis Chacones (sp?) first actions after becoming the district superintendant, was having FCMAT come audit the district, and then Dennis promptly started implementing their recommendations – and what happened after that? Within 18 months, district finances were way off track, the state took over, and Dr. Ward, who was just finishing up at Compton and had friends at FCMAT, wound up in the state administrator’s job, and FCMAT had a huge new contract that ends only when they say it ends.

    I’m not usually paranoid, but could it all really have worked out so neatly if it was really just coincidence?

  • teacher

    Sue, what does Chacones get out of that conspiracy theory?

    Chacones got crunched by the rapid demographic changes in Oakland caused by the dot-com bubble. East Bay Express did the best examination of that several years ago — lots of causes, but number one was a decline in enrollment far steeper than the lowest of three projections.

    But here’s what really enrages me: Faced with a situation where the district was overspending but getting good results (rising scores) , nobody thought to realize: HEY, MAYBE THIS IS THE RIGHT WAY TO GO — SPEND SOME MORE MONEY!

  • Concerned Oakland Parent

    Teacher:

    If we throw more money at EXCEL will that make students show up for class? Turn off their cell phones? Do their homework? Turn off their music players?

    Will more money make people behave appropriately? How will more money help kids read when they are hungry, tired and late for school? Please tell me.

  • Sue

    To Teacher:

    I think Chacones got scr*wed for trying to do right. I’m suspicious of FCMAT and friends – and they’re the ones who will decide when we get local control back.

    To Concerned Oakland Parent:

    More money might pay for better security, or attract and keep more experienced teachers who could handle the problems you describe. Or it might go to other things which we aren’t aware of, but which were working before.

    I watched what happened when Chacones came in and started making changes, and while I didn’t agree with everything he did, I saw the improvements that came from the teacher salary increases, and the result of that was good for the schools and students I was familiar with. For the most part, his changes were successful, and I believe the district would be better off today if we hadn’t lost him. Things were improving under his guidance.

  • John

    That’s right! Chaconas was a victim of circumstance. In the wake of discovering the district millions and millions of dollars short he appropriately acknowledged that he was a student achievement superintendent NOT a fiscal superintendent. At the time he was teaching a course over at Mills College on creative school district district fiscal management. The man’s an artist NOT a fiscal manager. He’s an artist! He should be superintendent over at the College of Arts & Crafts or the Arts Magnet School. They need a creative leader over there too. [Note: Check out Chaconas's course description for 2004 over at Mills College. It's inspirational and a blue print for suddenly discovering your district coffers are millions and millions and millions of dollars short. When I made copies and shared them with others I was accused of making it up and had to go the extra mile to prove it wasn't so. The psychology of infatuation is a most curious thing to be sure.]

  • turner

    I agree with Susan about Chaconas. It was unfortunate that Chaconas was in charge but the problem was not of his doing. It takes years of mismanagement for a district to end up in Oakland’s position. In fact, before Oakland, it had NEVER happened. He may not have been a fiscal manager but that is irrelevant. OUSD has always paid big bucks to the CFO to ensure the finances are managed effectively.

    I disagree with Susan on the FCMAT issue. FCMAT does not make any decisions. They simply report on the situation as they have audited it. They spend a lot of time auditing processes, policies and procedures then they talk to the people in the mix. It is then that they compile their report. It is not FCMAT you should be suspicious of; you should worry about the politicians who try to use that data to their advantage.

    Turner