That’s 44 percent, and it doesn’t count children who go to public charter schools or private schools — or to Berkeley Unified, for that matter.
What to do? A new group of city, school and county officials and community leaders has formed to revitalize public schools in West Oakland during a time of ongoing budget cuts ($27 million out of next year’s OUSD budget).
The group is called the West Oakland Brain Trust, and it was convened this fall by school board member Jumoke Hinton Hodge, who represents District 3.
Some of OUSD’s top dogs came to its Tuesday morning meeting. Superintendent Tony Smith, CFO Vernon Hall and Chief Academic Officer Brad Stam gave this detailed presentation about enrollment and academic performance at each West Oakland school. According to the data, all of West Oakland’s 1,021 elementary schoolchildren — who now attend four district schools — could fit into three schools (2.59 schools, to be exact).
The enrollment challenges are particularly severe at the high school level: Of the 769 Oakland Unified students who live in West Oakland, just 409 attend BEST or EXCEL high schools at McClymonds, the only comprehensive high school campus in District 3. That’s 53 percent.
Hinton Hodge said she wanted to examine how the district’s unusual budgeting system, Results-Based Budgeting, “works in some cases and not in others” — namely, those with low or declining enrollment — and whether it could be tweaked. She said the school board would soon get into “nitty, gritty” budget discussions, such as what would happen if the district increased its average class size from 21 to 24.
Smith said he was especially concerned about West Oakland and five other areas in the city: North Oakland, San Antonio, Sobrante Park, East Oakland’s MacArthur corridor and the area around the Fremont high school campus.
The superintendent gave a speech about the importance of coming together and working to create a brighter future for all children and families. His remarks were rousing, as usual, but I didn’t hear many concrete solutions.
What are yours?