Cleveland Elementary parents get press

The East Bay Express had an interesting story this week on Cleveland Elementary. Under the leadership of Principal Mia Settles, the diverse school near Lake Merritt has broken down language barriers and encouraged various forms of parent involvement — from stapling papers to picketing the district’s administrative offices because of overcrowding.

photo courtesy of Lynne Wardell

Read the full story here. Continue Reading


Meet the new CFO for Oakland schools

On Monday, Vernon E. Hal will replace Leon Glaster as the Oakland school district’s chief financial officer. Unlike many of the school system’s top officials, he has deep roots in the school district — as a resident, an OUSD grad and a former district administrator.

Between 1990 and 2000, Hal served in the Oakland school district as controller; assistant superintendent for business services and operations; and associate superintendent for business services, according to information provided by the district.

He was there during the five-week teachers strike of 1996, and left in 2000, the same year former Superintendent Dennis Chaconas came on board. Continue Reading


Are you fitter than a 5th grader?

Tribune file photo by Laura A. Oda of P.E. at Cleveland Elementary School, 2007

Each spring, kids in the fifth, seventh and ninth grades have their weight, flexibility, speed, aerobic capacity and strength measured for the state’s physical fitness test. (Does anyone know if they still do the flexed-arm hang? That was always a personal favorite.)

Today, we see how they did. In the chart below, you’ll find two columns of figures: the first shows the percentage of kids in each grade deemed aerobically fit (by local school district), and the second is the percentage who have a healthy body composition, according to state standards.


Alameda students
5th grade: 76%     79%
7th grade: 81%     83% Continue Reading


Advanced Placement prowess

Here’s some happy news for your Thanksgiving week: 116 Oakland public high school students have been named “AP Scholars.”

That means they have earned a score of 3 or better (out of 5) on three Advanced Placement exams. Only 18 percent of the 1.6 million AP test-takers nationwide can claim that distinction, according to the College Board (via OUSD release).

Here are the number of AP Scholars at each high school: Continue Reading


Metal detectors, bag checks and school kids

This Associated Press photo, from 1998, shows a weapons check at a public elementary school in Indianapolis.

When Cole Middle School students return Monday after the Thanksgiving holiday, they’ll no longer be able to breeze through the front door. The West Oakland school has decided to adopt baggage inspections and metal detection “wanding” on a trial basis in response to an incident last week in which a gun fired in a classroom, hitting a radiator.

Here is a letter that went out to Cole families about the new safety precautions.

Such security measures are rare in Oakland, with the exception of some of the district’s alternative schools — and, more recently, sporting events. But OUSD might eventually adopt those precautions at other schools as well, said district spokesman Troy Flint. Continue Reading


The latest school crowding fix

Staff proposals for addressing overcrowding at Hillcrest and other popular elementary schools have been swinging back and forth in recent months, as if there were some sort of behind-the-scenes tug of war on Second Avenue — which, of course, is entirely possible.

If the latest set of staff recommendations to the Special Committee on School Admissions, Attendance & Boundaries holds its position, Hillcrest will keep its middle school — and its attendance boundaries — intact. And Montclair, which has a crowding problem of its own, would eventually expand.

Hillcrest-area kids who are rejected from their local kindergarten for space reasons would have the option of attending Kaiser Elementary School under this proposal. Continue Reading


Top-level OUSD staffer leaves for the Island

Oakland’s search for a permanent superintendent is underway, but Kirsten Vital — an associate superintendent and the district’s Chief of Community Accountability — won’t stick around to see her fourth boss in three years.

Vital has been tapped to run the nearby 10,000-student Alameda school district, replacing retiring Superintendent Ardella Dailey.

Continue Reading


Early morning skate

Three mornings a week before school, when it’s barely light outside, more than 100 teenagers are lacing up their skates at the Oakland Ice Center. They come of their own free will, even if it means showing up at 6:45 a.m. — more than an hour before they need to be at Oakland Technical High School.

photo by Laura A. Oda/Staff

Kelley Haskins, a physical education teacher at Oakland Tech, started the before-school P.E. class this fall. She said she worried that she wouldn’t meet the 35-student minimum, but her roster now includes 115 names.

I visited the class this morning with a photographer, and watched the teenagers swizzle, slide and speed around the rink. Continue Reading


Searching for a way ahead at Cole Middle School

On Tuesday morning, a 13-year-old boy was apparently playing with a gun he brought to school when it discharged in his first-period classroom.

No one was hurt, but distressed families and other West Oakland community members met at Cole Middle School tonight to offer solutions.

photo of Cole Middle School Principal Ivory Brooks (center) by Kristopher Skinner/Staff

You can find the full story here.

What steps do you think schools should take to keep kids safe? Some students said tonight that they wanted bag checks or metal detectors at Cole. Is that the answer?