And the state takeover comes to an end

It’s taken the better part of a decade, but the Oakland school board — not the state superintendent — will finally, once again, call the shots. Tonight, the board approved an agreement to restore local governance to the district, six years after the fiscal crisis and state takeover of 2003.

The transfer will be made official on Monday, two days before Tony Smith assumes the superintendent’s post. You can find the news release here. (I would have told you earlier, but I’m on vacation until Tuesday; I was out to dinner with my family in Chicago when I got the news.)

Many have been waiting for this moment. How do you feel about it? What do you hope the board does (or doesn’t do) with its new authority?

Katy Murphy

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

  • http://www,mikemcmahon.info Mike McMahon

    I guess two phases come to mind: Careful for what you wish for and Timing is everything. Every school district in CA is facing real 10% year or year funding reduction going in 2009/10. As a result, every district will need to figure how to reduce operating expenses on a permanent basis. Most school districts did not have time to make real cuts for 2009/10 and are using Federal bailout dollars and categorical flexibility to plug the 2009/10 budget hole created by State funding of schools for 2009/10. Unfortunately, the 2010/11 budget cycle is going to force every school district to reduce their ongoing expenses (80+% are salaries) by at least 5% if not more. Therefore, while local control is needed to be responsive to the needs of each community, the Oakland school board is going to face some very tough decisions in late 2009 and early 2010. I wish them well.

  • Michael Siegel

    I look forward to a complete accounting of the last six years. From as far as I can see, the decision to return local control is purely political and pragmatic. What has really changed since the state took control? We know that the agency in charge of “grading” OUSD in various areas, FCMAT, is a group of people beholden to Sacramento power interests. We know that Jack O’Connell, before helping to orchestrate the takeover, was thinking of himself as a gubernatorial candidate. We know that Don Perata, now a wannabe-Oakland mayor, was the guy who orchestrated the takeover from the beginning. Do we think that these folks decided to return local control simply because it is the right thing to do?

    I doubt that anything in either (a) central OUSD governance or (b) the provision of educational services has dramatically changed since the takeover. Most likely, it is no longer politically useful for these aforementioned higher powers to maintain control of the district. So, six years later, many closed schools later, many lost teachers and lost principals later, we get “control” back. With an $80m bill to repay.

    It is time to evaluate and develop a plan, as a community, to see what needs to be done.

  • Chauncey

    Who the heck do you think you are Mr. Siegal? I knew you had to be the sone of some rich politically correct person (being nice)!

    Your Daddy was one of the original causes for the OUSD disaster wasnt he? Your Daddy also jockied his OUSD post for mayor didnt he? You are a weekend bullhorn yeller in Oakland aint you?

    Fact is , I know you and the likes of you! An audit of the last 6 years will look better than the audit during daddy Siegals time on OUSD wont it?

    Why didnt you take advantage of Daddy’s money, study business and move away and leave and spare us of another decendant of old Oakland politics.

    Talk about Sacramento power interest- your family is old Oakland power interests- and the real Oakland street is sick of your type.

    You may fool the young students in this town for a couple of years, but those old school G’s from the East have no love for you or your lawyer Daddy.

    Keep using the youth and the union! Its all you got!
    Community? What does tha mean? As far as I am concerned- you and daddy warbucks should pay some back.

  • Filly

    Agree with you Siegel. The state and county signed off on all the budgets that led to the state takeover. State and county officials let Chaconas take the fall. We’re still in debt. Where is the accountability? It does seem timely that the man who orchestrated the takeover and pushed Chaconas out (who’d been doing a good job (the state adminstrators kept almost all of his reforms), except for finances, is now running for mayor just as the district regains its power. An audit would be important to see where our money went as well as why the state felt it needed to take the district over and leave it in debt.

    Chauncey, how do you know the audit would look better? We’ve had lots of silly money wasting “reforms” in the district. We’ve had letterhead changes, consultants make up tests for the schools that were then deemed worthless because they did not cover what they should have; consultants hawking new ways to do things, such as principals should have no desks and the secretary should be in charge of all scheduling; and a fancy new system to look at data with training and consultants that ended almost as quickly as it started, all at district expense. This was all done under the state takeover!!!

    Before the takeover, there were plenty of professional development opportunities for teachers to improve their skills. Now there is none of that. There are data meetings which are helpful. But these are held in hotel banquet rooms with catered meals. WHY? I thought we were in debt. The state takeover has not been what you think it is. It really hasn’t.

  • TheTruthHurts

    Wow, thoughtful comments. Thanks.

  • Jim Mordecai

    The State take-over comes to an end. But, does it? And, I don’t just mean that Vincent Matthews continues as a State Trustee with veto powers over the operating budget of the District.

    If someone reads SB 39 requirement for a return of local control they will see that one condition was not met and the language of SB 39 requires “all conditions” of Section 5(e) be met for return of all powers to the school board.

    SB 39 Section 5(e)(4)required that the “Administrator” “certifies that all bargaining units have reached agreement and are under contract with the District with contracts that have both been ratified and are compatible with the District recovery plan.

    OEA and other bargaining units are not under negotiated contracts that have been ratified by their members. Therefore, the “Administrator” could not accurately certify that labor was under contract and since that requirement for return of local control is not met, the MOU returning local control will be in conflict with the terms of SB 39.

    Jim Mordecai

    Here is the part of SB 39, Section 7 and Section 5, that addresses return of local control:

    SEC. 7. (a) On or before July 1, 2003, the County Office Fiscal Crisis and Management Assistance Team (FCMAT) shall prepare an improvement plan for the Oakland Unified School District by updating
    the January 2000 comprehensive assessments and recovery plans of the Oakland Unified School Distrjct. (b) Based upon progress reports prepared pursuant to subdivision (c), FCMAT shall recommend to the Superintendent of Public Instruction those designated functional areas of school district operation that it determines are appropriate for the governing board of the school district to assume.
    (c) Commencing 30 days following the effective date of this act and in September 2003, and each six months thereafter until September 2004, FCMAT shall file a written status report with the appropriate fiscal and policy committees of the Legislature, including any special committees created for the purpose of reviewing the reports, and with the Members of the Legislature who represent the Oakland Unified School District, the advisory board of the school district, the Superintendent of Public Instruction, the Director of Finance, and the Secretary for
    Education. The reports shall include the progress that the Oakland Unified School District is making in meeting the recommendations of the improvement plan developed pursuant to this section.
    SEC. 5.
    (e) The authority of the Superintendent of Public Instruction and the administrator pursuant to this act shall continue until all of the following conditions occur:
    (1) Two complete fiscal years have elapsed following the appointment of the administrator or, at any time after one complete fiscal year has elapsed following that appointment, if the administrator determines, and so notifies the Superintendent of Public Instruction, that future compliance by the Oakland Unified School District with the
    improvement plan specified in Section 7 of this act is probable.
    (2) The County Office Fiscal Crisis and Management Assistance Team (FCMAT) completes the improvement plan specified in Section 7 of this act.
    (3) FCMAT, after consultation with the administrator, determines that for at least the immediately previous six months the school district made substantial and sustained progress in implementation of the plans in the major functional area.
    (4) The administrator certifies that all necessary collective bargaining agreements have been negotiated and ratified, and that the agreements are consistent with the terms of the improvement plan specified in Section 7 of this act. ,
    (5) The district completes all reports required by the Superintendent of Public Instruction and the administrator.
    (6) The Superintendent of Public Instruction concurs with the assessment of the administrator and FCMAT that future compliance by the Oakland Unified School District with the improvement plan described in Section 7 of this act and the multiyear financial recovery plan described in paragraph (2) of subdivision (a) of Section 41327 of the Education Code is probable.
    (f) If all of the conditions specified in subdivision (e) occur, the governing board of the Oakland Unified School District shall regain all of its rights, duties, and powers.
    (g) Notwithstanding subdivision (f), if the Oakland Unified School District violates any provision of the improvement plan specified in Section 7 of this act, after the governing board of the school district regains all of its rights, duties, and powers pursuant to subdivision (f), the Superintendent of Public Instruction may reassume, in accordance with this section, all of the rights, duties, and powers of the governing board of the school district. The Superintendent of Public Instruction shall subsequently return to the governing board of the school district all of its rights, duties, and powers reassumed under this subdivision if he or she determines that the conditions of subdivision (e) are satisfied.
    (h) For the purposes of Article 2 (commencing with Section 41320) and Article 2.5 (commencing with Section 41325 of Chapter 3 of Part …

  • http://perimeterprimate.blogspot.com Sharon

    Jim’s point seems completely solid. The conditions are in conflict, from what I can see. I would say this needs to be addressed immediately.

    If it is ignored, and it gets called out later, what will the fallout be? It seems to have been included so the board and superintendent resumes with a relatively clean slate.

    Was O’Connell not paying attention, or is he trying to slip something by?

  • Oakland Teacher

    I just got an email from OEA stating the district is trying to declare an impasse in bargaining, hoping that a contract will be imposed on teachers while they are away for the summer:


    Without any word to your OEA Bargaining team prior to declaring impasse, along with a dog and pony show slated for Monday to “celebrate” the return of local control to the OUSD School Board*, State Administrator, Vince Matthews is counting on teachers to be weak in their demand to negotiate a fair contract.


    President Betty Olson-Jones needs as many members as possible standing behind her and the Bargaining Team at a press conference prior to the signing ceremony on local control.

    12:00 P.M.
    United for Success Middle School (old Calvin Simmons campus)
    2101 35th Avenue

    *The state will sign over control of everything EXCEPT the budget!

  • harlemmoon

    And the fighting among the natives continues.
    This is the most pathetic school district in the Bay Area.
    With its culture of incompetence, political infighting, lack of vision and sordid history, it’s no wonder little Jamal can’t read.

  • Jake

    Harlemmoon… Are you competing with Nextset for thinly veiled racism?

    Chauncey–I’m no fan of the former board member, but I don’t see the need for your taunting and jeering. Are you trying to make a point, or just trying to be rude?

    Michael–if you are indeed Dan’s son, well, as I said, I’m not a fan of his, but there’s no reason you should be called to account (or worse, mocked and ridiculed) for that. Please don’t stop posting, and don’t feed the trolls.

    Katy–there seems to be a more lively range of commentators these days, but also more abuse and lack of manners. Is there any standard for conduct on this blog? Any process for objecting to posters who post abusive comments, or angry screeds?

  • Nextset

    Jake, I am not thinly veiled. I usually communicate bluntly and directly. as far as the “racism”, that’s a classic sign of a weak mind – whining “racism!” everytime there’s a truth you don’t want to hear. Otherwise I’m sure Harlemmoon doesn’t need me to stand up for her, she’s very capable.

    Can you remind us exactly which comment of hers you are crying racism over? I’ll let you know if I agree with it.

  • harlemmoon

    Jake, did I touch a nerve?
    My comments have nothing to do with racism – and everything to do with reality.
    Consider: The district owes $80 million to the state. The district’s budget is severely strapped. OEA and the district are at impasse.
    The current board is vastly overwhelmed by these challenges – and many more that I haven’t noted – and there isn’t a leader among them (Gallo, by the way, was one of the dolts on the board when the state took over. And for his incompetence, he’s now the board president). They have proven time and again that they lack vision, urgency and the will to act in responsible, thoughtful ways. Now I ask you, would you really want David Kakashiba, Alice Spearman and Noel Gallo steering your ship in a storm?