Remember that failed parcel tax that State Superintendent Jack O’Connell put on the November ballot — the one for Oakland teachers that the teachers union opposed? About 15 percent of the tax revenue would have gone to charters, had it passed.
Since it didn’t, O’Connell has decided to tax the Oakland school district, instead. In a letter to his Oakland appointee, Vince Matthews, O’Connell directed the state administrator to give the city’s charter schools $60 per student — about $480,000.
“… I am concerned about the ongoing financial well-being of all the district’s schools, and in particular, the district’s charter schools,” O’Connell wrote. “…This is meant to be a one-time adjustment while a longer term plan is pursued.”
I guess he can do those things; Oakland is still under state control, almost six years after the takeover (and months after auditors cleared the way for the district to regain full local authority over its business). But this comes as the district is preparing to cut $28 million from its general purpose fund by the end of 2010.
Alice Spearman, the school board president, said she wasn’t certain that O’Connell had the legal authority to pull this off. “It would be different if he was telling every school district in California to apportion $60 per student out of our budgets for charter schools, but he’s just doing it to us,” she said.
O’Connell’s press secretary, Hilary McLean, said the decision wasn’t meant to be divisive. “It’s an equity issue that isn’t intended to pit one part of our system against another,” she said.
Will it, though?