More than 1,000 people are expected to pack tonight’s school board meeting at Oakland Technical High School to speak out against the closure or merger of the district’s (new and old) small schools, according to Oakland Community Organizations organizers.
For all of you who are feverishly preparing your speeches, this bit of information might be helpful: The board appears likely to back off of the “right-sizing” idea entirely, at least for now.
David Kakishiba, the school board president (pictured here), told me today that there is no plan to close schools this year, and that he didn’t know how that notion took hold. He said he will likely make a statement tonight, at the beginning of the meeting, to assure people that OUSD will seek other ways to fix its budget other than shutting down schools.
“It’s absolutely backward,” Kakishiba said. “What we’re doing tonight is re-framing the discussion” around the district’s three-year financial plan, he said. “There’s no plan, there’s no proposal to close schools.”
But wait! What about the presentation in May that recommended the closure of up to 17 schools — some, possibly, at the end of the 2008-09 school year? Or the proposed “right-sizing” timeline? Or the slides shown to hundreds of parents last month, at the six road shows held across the district (led by the interim superintendent who was hired by the board), that estimated the cost savings if five to 15 schools were closed, and that even listed potential closure criteria?
“I don’t know how it happened,” Kakishiba said, when asked about the apparent disconnect between the board’s plans and what the rest of us have been hearing. “All I know is that it’s premature to be talking about closing schools.”