School budgets: Read them and weep

The East Oakland school of the Arts at Castlemont is losing 22 percent of its positions next year, according to a new district report. Westlake Middle School, United for Success Academy, Sankofa Academy and Fred T. Korematsu Discovery Academy — to name a few — also plan to make deep staffing cuts that exceed their enrollment declines.

For the first time since Oakland adopted its controversial school-based budgeting system, the school district’s financial department has made public school-by-school reports. The one-page documents include projected changes in enrollment, revenues, spending and staffing levels. In other words, they show the effects of the state budget cuts and enrollment decline at the school level.

Photo Caption: “Due to budget constraints, ALL employees are expected to grow their own pencils.”

A word of caution when looking through these documents: Jason Willis, OUSD’s budget director, says the drop in income and spending from last year to this year looks bigger than it really is because more “carry over” money will likely be added to some of those categories in the fall.

A more reliable indicator? The change in staffing levels, which can be found in the lower right-hand corner under the box titled “Total Funded FTE.” Willis noted that school administrators normally cut everything possible before reducing staff, so that books and supplies will take a large hit (but not quite so large as it looks on the sheet).

Not all schools are cutting teachers and support staff. Edna Brewer Middle School expects to gain just 11 students, and to boost its staffing levels by 4.5 positions. ASCEND’s budget adds 3.4 positions.

Take a look for yourself, through the above link, and let us know what you find.

image from Scuzzi’s site at flickr.com/creativecommons

Katy Murphy

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

  • oakie

    So, if I am reading this correctly, I can see what $$ is being spent per pupil at the school. The balance is chewed up by the administrative function. Is that correct?

    So, for example, Hillcrest and Chabot spent $5,000-5,300 per student.

    But my understanding is that the district will be receiving about $8,000 per student (down from about $8,500 last year).

    That means the district gets $3,000+ for each student at these high performing hills schools.

  • Ann

    Kaiser Elementary is not on the list. Is it being closed?

  • Katy Murphy

    Kaiser is on the list, actually, between Hoover and Korematsu (#171). The reports aren’t alphabetical.

  • turner

    You know what’s missing? The central office. Everyone needs to know how much they are getting, spending and their cuts for the new year.

    How come their numbers are not here?


  • John

    David: The administration is in transition and the school board is getting an authority re-tread. It’s kind of like starting a new school with lots of things pending, like the acquisition of calculators, calculating consultants, and cookie jars with label blanks.

    Be patient my son, or perhaps Katy (probably) has a better answer.

    Will you continue wearing a base ball(?) cap while addressing board meetings? I liked that!

  • Katy Murphy

    I’ve actually just posed that question to the budget director, but I haven’t yet heard a response. I’ll post the answer when I get it.

    By the way, John, are you trying to “out” a fellow unnamed blogger? How are you so sure about who he or she is, anyway? I honestly don’t even know…

    Now that you mention it, quite a few people wear baseball caps to board meetings.

  • John

    Exactly Katy! That’s why I didn’t worry about outing anyone. I’m the only guy who wears a golf hat to board meetings. But I guess it’s OK to out myself.

  • John

    P.S. I never said it was a “fellow.” Hmmmm That narrows the field.