Grand jury dings state administration of Oakland schools

The Alameda County Civil Grand Jury wasn’t impressed with what it learned about the Oakland school district’s finances under state administration.

The management of OUSD’s finances under state control was one of 11 investigations included in its 2007-08 report (Page 49). The grand jury found that: “the district was hampered by continuous staff turnover, particularly in the area of finance, numerous reorganizations and a succession of state administrators. … After nearly five years of state management, OUSD’s budget remains unbalanced and the district’s future is unclear.”

I’m not sure if the watchdog group crunched any numbers for this brief report. They interviewed Continue Reading


More would-be principals to be interviewed by staff and parents

Skyline isn’t the only Oakland school in which parents and teachers will interview candidates for principal. One of our readers informed us over the weekend that a meeting had been scheduled at Redwood Heights Elementary at 6 p.m. Wednesday — presumably to form an interview panel for the replacement of Principal Ann Kruze, who, I’m told, has taken a position in the district office.

Also on Wednesday evening, Piedmont Avenue Elementary School families and teachers meet to discuss the search for Principal Angela Haick’s replacement. Haick, if you recall, was thrust into the hot seat in April after allegations of bullying and lack of adult supervision. She has been reassigned to another district position, possibly an assistant principalship, according to her supervisor, Denise Saddler. (The district still has not released its findings about what happened to Zachary Cataldo.)

Here is the letter sent to families last month about Haick’s departure and the selection process: Continue Reading


School district institutes three-day weekend to save energy costs

Now here’s one way to address growing energy and fuel costs that I doubt Oakland school officials have considered: Give everyone Mondays off!

Some 18 rural school districts have gone to a four-day week to help balance their budgets, according to the Star-Tribune in Minneapolis. The 700-student MACCRAY School District expects to save $85,000 per year in energy and transportation costs with its new schedule (8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday). 

Its superintendent told the Star Tribune reporter that he had been approached by the Albuquerque, New Mexico school district, and others, about the move. Continue Reading


Skyline teachers and parents to help choose their new principal

At a meeting this summer, a small group of parents, teachers and students from West Oakland was simply given the name of BEST High School’s new principal.

It’s a different story for the much larger and more organized high school in the redwoods. Chris Dobbins, the school board member who represents Skyline High School, said that the district was allowing people at the school to interview and rank the candidates, as schools throughout the city once did.

At 6:30 p.m. Tuesday night, teachers, parents, students — and anyone else with a stake in the selection of Skyline High School’s new principal — meet in the high school library to elect the members of a 13-person hiring committee. Dobbins said the committee will include four parents (one from four different parent groups), three teachers, two students, two non-teaching staff members, one administrator who is not at Skyline, and one community member.

The goal is to hire someone by Continue Reading


Spearman wins East Oakland school board seat

Alice SpearmanAlice Spearman, the incumbent for the East Oakland-Elmhurst seat on the school board, has avoided a runoff in the three-way race against Doris Limbrick and Beverly Williams.

According to the official results released by the county registrar’s office, Spearman won 50.4 percent of the vote, just over the 50 percent-plus-one-vote she needed to win outright. Limbrick trailed with 32.3 percent, and Williams with 16.6 percent.

There were only 5,642 votes cast in this election, so each one carried a fair amount of weight. In fact, Spearman needed 2,822 votes to win, and netted 2,844.

Spearman said she aimed to push for a policy that would favor local contractors Continue Reading


Summertime update

I must say, summer has been pretty relaxing compared to the hectic school year. Although I have been catching up on some much needed sleep and “being lazy” time, I have also found ways to keep my mind stimulated, my teachers made sure of that.

For the AP English class I will be taking next year I have a summer assignment to read three books: All The Pretty Horses, Wuthering Heights, and Sula, as well as do some analysis for each book.

College application time is also just around the corner, and its something that I’ve been thinking about a lot this summer. Where do I want to apply? Do I stand a chance?

I was lucky enough to be chosen to be a part of a college prep program this summer, Experience Berkeley, and it has really eased my anxiety. Through this program I went to a three day college workshop at UC Berkeley where I got to stay in the dorms, live like a Berkeley student, and learn about what Berkeley had to offer. Continue Reading


What to do with your kids on these long summer days

No, I don’t have the answer.

But, as someone without kids of her own yet, I’ve been reading with interest your ongoing discussion about the things parents must do to keep their children challenged and stimulated.

If it’s that hard during the school year, how do your kids stay sharp during the summer months?

Do they go to camps, or summer school, or spend their days at the local pool with their friends? Are there enough reasonably priced options, or do you watch your checking account plummet at this time of year?

If you’ve come across any especially good summer programs, by all means tell us about them (unless you don’t want word to get out). Continue Reading