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Whose “fair share” is OUSD’s huge debt?

Everyone knows that the Oakland school district has a big old state debt to pay, to the tune of $6 million per year. Depending on how you crunch the numbers, that comes down to about $150 per student.

All of Oakland’s regular district schools pay such a fee – and, in fact, so do about nine of the city’s 32 charter schools as part of an extended lease agreement with OUSD, said Douglas MacLean, communications director for Assembly member Sandre Swanson

Swanson – who has tried to check Oakland’s charter school growth in the past –authored a bill, AB 980, that would require all charter schools in Oakland and other state-run districts to cough up what he calls “their fair share” of the loan repayment. This bill made it out of the Assembly’s Appropriations Committee yesterday on a straight party line vote. It heads to the Assembly next.

As it stands, MacLean argues, each Oakland student shoulders a greater and greater portion of these payments as overall enrollment declines. “Right now, if you go to a regular public school, you are penalized,” he said.

But what about the local parcel tax money that the school board didn’t want to share with charters? And the fee that Jack O’Connell is assessing OUSD anyway? Can OUSD (or charters, for that matter) have it both ways?

In case you’re curious, MacLean gave me the following list of charter schools that are already helping to repay the loan, based on either enrollment or square footage: KIPP Bridge; three charters run by Education for Change — Cox Academy, World Academy and Achieve Academy — Leadership Public Schools-College Park; Bay Area Technology School (BayTech); Oakland Military Institute; Berkley Maynard and California College Prep Academy.

image from walknboston’s photostream at flickr.com/creativecommons

Katy Murphy

Education reporter for the Oakland Tribune. Contact me at kmurphy@bayareanewsgroup.com.

  • http://perimeterprimate.blogspot.com/ Sharon

    Hi Katy: Interesting that EFC (Education for Change) is including all three of their schools. This is a CMO (Charter Management Organization) which was set up by a former OUSD administrator under Randy Ward’s stay.

    Of course, Ward and his successors were all assigned to OUSD by State Superintendent Jack O’Connell in order to advance So. Cal. billionaire Eli Broad’s interest in transforming our district into a Broad-view of what urban public school districts should be. Broad believes districts should be operated using the business model. He would like to see school districts like ours to become a network of independently run charter schools. The schools would be the “product” for parents to “buy” and they would be run by either a private individual, or by a private board of directors. None of the school operators would be elected by the residents of Oakland.

    This concept is totally experimental; Oakland became Broad’s guinea pig.

    All three state administrators, and a good number of their Second Ave. staff, were trained at the Broad Center, and have an identical outlook on what our district should be like. That’s why there has been so much turmoil, and so little interest from Second Ave. in recent years with checking in with the local community; they weren’t interested in hearing from us. Because their focus was to work hard at setting up this experimental model, they neglected dealing with our financial state, thus the discoveries of the past few weeks.

    Also, two of the schools you’ve listed are Aspire Public Schools, a large CMO with schools throughout California. They have several schools in Oakland, Berkley Maynard being just one. Aspire is the manager of California College Prep which moved to Berkeley at the beginning of this year. They are now off OUSD’s charter school list. Wouldn’t that put the official count at eight schools?

  • TheTruthHurts

    While I’m all for community input and involvement, I wish Oakland schools would work more like a business or any other functional organization. It hasn’t been functional long before the state took over. I don’t know enough about charters to comment, but as a parent I can’t be too opposed to another, possibly better, option for our children.

    That whole thing about the finances is shameless though. I hope the community gets out from under that debt.

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