In late November, at a press conference held at Crocker Highlands Elementary, the state superintendent of public instruction made a big announcement: The mostly state-run Oakland school board would regain control over the district’s facilities and personnel departments, likely within the next two months.
Perhaps more importantly, Jack O’Connell announced that the board would be able to choose a superintendent for the first time since before the 2003 state takeover.
Well, February has come and gone. Although O’Connell did make a stop in Oakland at the end of the month, it was to talk about budget cuts, not power transfers.
“Whatever excitement there was in December, it’s gone,” said board president David Kakishiba, who sent O’Connell the latest draft of the agreement about two weeks ago. “It should never have taken this long.”
Kakishiba said O’Connell initially called on the board to carry forward a number of “brand name” reforms begun during the 5-year state administration, such as Expect Success. “For me, representing the board, that was a little too specific,” Kakishiba said.
“I said, `What the board is committed to are results. We want effective and manageable management systems. We obviously want to accelerate academic achievement. We obviously want safe and clean schools.’”
Some seem to think the board will undo everything that happened in the last five years, Kakishiba said, but he insists that is “an unfounded fear.” He just hopes central office managers, principals and teachers stick around through the transition — whenever it actually happens.
I called the state department of education last week for an update, and I’m waiting to hear a response.