The big hole in Oakland Unified’s budget

It’s about $18 million, as of now, according to CFO Vernon Hal. And that’s if the state doesn’t cut another penny.

This coming school year, that hole will be filled with a bunch of one-time money: federal stimulus funds, unspent cash from previous years, and other sources that probably won’t be around next June. (No, that doesn’t include the problems uncovered by a private auditing firm this spring — or the $15 million from the state loan that will likely be used to pay for it. That’s not an ongoing expense, hopefully. )

Hal says he wants to start the 2010-11 budgeting process as soon as August. On the table: larger class sizes, school closures, mergers, furloughs, using money from once-restricted funds (such as adult education). There was a lot of talk tonight about “engaging stakeholders,” and not necessarily in a town hall setting. How do you think OUSD, with its new superintendent, should go about making these decisions?

You can find a presentation on the 2009-10 budget here.

image from kevindooley’s site at flickr.com/creativecommons

Katy Murphy

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

  • Chauncey

    Th real reason behind charter closures. Be Careful.

  • Oakland High Teacher

    Close schools and sell the property! There are too many crappy schools that remain on financial life support, and it would be best for everyone involved if they were taken off.

  • Oakland Teacher

    Cut pay from the top down. Stop funding charter schools with little/no accountability in place. Cut out extraneous contracts and the 70 million the district spends on lawyers/subcontracters/consultants/etc. Why isn’t more money going into the classroom in the first place? Paying teachers enough and keeping classes small is an issue of social justice, not business pragmatics. Making success harder for people in impoverished communities is a form of institutional racism. Why should the superintendent be paid so much if he/she will leave in a year’s time or maybe two? Who is actually working with the students? The district office? The superintendent?

  • New Teacher

    I’m a new teacher. I have an interview at an OUSD school tomorrow. With all I know and all I read about OUSD, why should I work in this district?

  • Miss Nancy

    You shouldn’t. You should get as far away as possible before you invest any of your tenure track years as well as risk impact on your physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being…in fact, you should select another career especially if you don’t have an answer to your own question. I always wondered why on my first day of employment in the District why a teacher was boisterously jumping for joy stating, “I’m finally out of OUSD.”

  • Sue

    Dear New Teacher,

    If you decided to become a teacher because you thought it would be easy, Oakland isn’t going to make you happy. You’ll get through your first year, and you’ll take off to another district. As a parent of two OUSD students, I’ve seen it happen over and over.

    If you want to teach because you want to change the world, or if you have other sorts of lofty goals about what you can give to your students, and if you’re willing to work *hard*, you’ll find that in OUSD. You’ll also find many students (like my sons) who will fill you with joy as they succeed in your class, and parents like my husband and me who will praise you and thank you, and do everything in our power to support you.

    What OUSD needs, desperately, is the teachers who chose a teaching career because they wanted to make a difference. What we don’t need is the continued high turn-over of teachers who found our district too difficult. You’ll have to decide for yourself which category you belong in.

    You may think now that you’re in the first category, and in a year’s time decide you’re not. That’s how it goes. But if you decide to give this district your best shot, whatever the ultimate outcome, you’ll know yourself better in a year’s time. You’ll absolutely know what *really* matters to you in a teaching career.

  • Gordon Danning

    New Teacher:

    You should teach in Oakland because, overall, the students are good to work with (at least at my site). And, if you happen to be a social studies teacher, there are good things happening at the district level.

    PS: Hey, Katy, how come you’ve never done a story on the OUSD history writing assessment? See newsletters here: http://teachingamericanhistory.us/resources/assessments/assessment11_3.html

  • Katy Murphy

    Thanks for the tip, Gordon! I’d like to learn more about this. Is it new?

  • New Teacher

    Miss Nancy, Sue and Gordon Danning,

    I appreciate the input from all of you. My primary goal in teaching is to give back. I understand the environment many of the children I would be working with come from: broken, dysfunctional homes, a lack of the basics many of us come to expect, like positive, encouraging influences, safe and clean neighborhoods, etc. I’m learning more about the issues with OUSD. I’m not naïve and I’m not fresh out of college — I’m aware of the challenges ahead.

  • Sue

    I apologize – I assumed from your handle that you were new to teaching.

    Since you aren’t, I *really* hope you will take a job in our district. We need more experienced teachers.

    I wish I had permission to refer you to some of the best teachers my sons have had – many with decades of teaching OUSD. They could tell you, much better than I can, how rewarding they find their work, and how they cope with the difficulties and challenges.

    Best of luck to you and your students, wherever you go.

  • New Teacher


    Actually, I’m new to the teaching profession but I have been a coach / mentor / executive / supervisor in the business world for many years. All what I would consider good training ground for teaching. Thanks for the encouragement. I will treat every child with respect, teaching the same in return.

  • Gordon Danning

    Katy: It isn’t particularly new; it has been going on for about 4-5 years