Part of the Bay Area News Group

Summer’s over

By Katy Murphy
Monday, August 25th, 2008 at 1:10 pm in buildings, enrollment, students, teachers.

In honor of the First Day of School 2008, I offer you the following facts, courtesy of the district’s back to school report:

Estimated enrollment (as of Aug. 22): 39,227 36,731.

Amount of moola spent on summer modernization projects: $51.4 million

New teacher hires: 300

Teacher transfers: 145

Vacancies: 4

How was opening day at your school? Does it feel good to be back? Tell us your stories.

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  • cranky teacher

    Four vacancies! Ha. I’m sure we have that many at our school alone.

    And that doesn’t count the teachers who don’t have credentials yet so a sub has to be in the room.

    Also, $51 mil sounds like a lot — especially if you use “moola” — but I’d say it’s a drop in the bucket when you think of how much construction/repairs cost and the size of the district.

  • Catherine

    My daughter was very nervous.

    It seems to me that the principal (new by OUSD standards) grouped the children more by learning style / highly motivated (regardless of test scores) / average / lower motivation and parental involvement. The principal also seemed to be happy at the narrowing of the achievement GAP last year in our school scores.

    It was great reuniting with the teachers, parents, kids and the principal. It was great having “coffee” with the parents new to the school because their kids were new and / or their kids were incoming kindergarteners. I hold high hopes for this year. My daughter has a good mix of kids known to her and new kids and it looks like the curriculum has been kicked up a few notches this year. It’s good because last year, there was lots of review – even as far into the school year as the first week in December.

    Let the learning begin!

  • BJ

    I would not believe any of the OUSD spin on the vacancies.

    We have 3 unfilled vacancies at our school site alone!
    Two are them are at the primary level(K&2)…today, two subs and another certificated staff at the school site filled in.

    At my friend’s school, they filled up the K, 1st and 2nd grades classes to 30 because of vacancies.

    So let’s see…3 vacancies at my site, 4 from cranky teacher’s site, 3 plus from my friend’s site. Hmmm that’s way over the 4 OUSD # released to the media.

    BJ

  • Sue

    Younger son says he enjoyed the first day of school, liked his teachers and his classes. I guess I was more nervous about him starting middle school than he was.

    Older son is also happy to be back. He has classes with his two favorite teachers from last year, and likes the new teachers.

    I just hope I don’t jinx it by being so pleased and relieved.

  • Katy Murphy

    Laura Moran, who oversees the human resources department for the Oakland school district, wrote this in response to the skepticism raised about the vacancy report. I know it’s been almost three weeks since the discussion, but here it is anyway:

    “Teacher staffing levels are determined in the spring budgeting process based on projected enrollments. HR and principals work closely over the spring and summer to fill the vacancies that are created when teachers leave or transfer out of positions that were approved and in the school budget. The challenge is that enrollment fluctuates over the summer months, as some schools see more students enroll and some schools do not.

    These fluctuations cannot be addressed until after the first two weeks of school so that we can allow enrollment to stabilized and be verified.

    Once there is confirmation of the actual vs. projected enrollment there is approval for some schools to increase their teaching staff while other schools may need to reduce the number of teachers. The consolidation process is then implemented to move teachers to schools with higher enrollments and new vacancies.

    A few schools started the school year out with higher then projected enrollment and in these cases we did send out reserve and/or substitute teachers to cover extra students and classes until the consolidation process. This may account for why some teachers or schools believe that there were more then 2 teacher vacancies at the start of school. Other factors that may have led to people believing there were more vacancies is that in some cases teachers who are slated to start the year in a position may need to take a medical or personal leave which creates a short term vacancy.

    Unfortunately, there is also the situation where teachers do resign in the first week or so of school which then does increase the teacher vacancy rate after an initial low vacancy rate on the first day of school. We are working to address these issues by hiring a reserve pool of new teachers who can go to work at schools that are over enrolled and/or have early year teacher resignations.”