There was plenty of drama leading up to the school board meeting tonight. The television trucks outside the Oakland Tech auditorium, the cameras, the crowd. Fittingly, the board members, the superintendent and the state administrator were on stage, under brutally bright lights, while the audience sat in relative darkness.
“This is not a show, it’s a meeting,” board member Greg Hodge said in an unsuccessful attempt to even out the lighting.
But it was a show, as these kinds of meetings often are. In this case — to everyone’s relief (except, maybe, for some of the journalists) — it was an anti-climatic one.
“It’s simply not the case that we’ll be closing schools on a big scale tonight or in the future,” School Board President David Kakishiba said right at the outset, just as I told you he would.
The moment Kakishiba pushed the whole “right-sizing” notion aside, the tension in the crowd dissipated. But by the time the dozens of speakers had spoken their minds, it was getting late, and the audience had thinned. Some stayed to hear how the board aims to shore up the district’s fiscal health, but not many.
Some of the ideas aired tonight: recruit more students, cut central office costs, get the state to forgive Oakland’s massive debt, reduce truancy.
Do you think they could work, and how? What are your ideas?
Read the full Trib story here.
photos by Ray Chavez/Oakland Tribune