Impress your friends with these facts about the Oakland school district’s assets

Lowell campus
Tribune file photo of KIPP students on the Lowell campus by D. Ross Cameron

Until today, when I saw Oakbook’s report on a new OUSD asset management study and checked it out for myself, I didn’t know that:

  • Oakland’s public, non-charter schools can fit almost two times the number of students that they hold right now.
  • The district’s buildings, in all, are 5.8 million square feet, and its property spans 487 acres.
  • The city’s school-age population (5 to 17 years old) is 68,436. Of that number, 2,504 attend public schools outside of Oakland; 1,386 are not in school at all; 18,912 are getting a private education or are home schooled; and 7,189 go to tuition-free, but independently run charter schools. Just 38,445 (56 percent) go to regular public schools in Oakland.

On Page 30, two options are given for how to leverage the unused space: the High Efficiency School Choice Model, where the district only operates as many schools as it needs, and the Community School Model, where schools “incorporate complementary and income-producing uses.”

NOTE: OUSD staff say home schooled children, along with the privately educated, should have been included in the 18,912 figure presented in an earlier version of the report posted on last week’s committee agenda. The latest draft adds out-of-district and out-of-school children to that total, bringing it to 22,802.

Katy Murphy

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

  • Ms. Young

    Dear Ms. Murphy,

    I note with interest your cover story ‘post’ in the Oakland Tribune on Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2009 (“One School, Many Nations”) about Oakland International High School. You may not be aware of how exactly this school (which you correctly note was imported from New York) is affecting other high schools in Oakland. This pseudo-charter/public school is undermining the excellent work done by schools such as Oakland Tech and Oakland High. These schools have staff who are experienced, fully-credentialed and extremely knowledgeable, and offer a full and rigorous curriculum for newcomer students. In contrast, International High School does not have staff with equivalent experience, and does not require its students to meet the A-G requirements. I have not been able to determine what status its teachers have in the District (e.g., qualifications, union membership, source of funding; they have not in any case participated in established District programs for English-Language Development teachers).

    It further lets down these students by effectively ghetto-izing them in a segregated environment, separate from the common experiences of mainstream high schools, on which I believe our democracy is based.

    If students are to graduate in the future with the A-G requirements, then the established schools with the curriculum already have in place are the best option for these immigrant students. These schools also offer full sports and arts programs as well as access to clinics and mental health programs.

    However since the District is insisting on channeling students to International High, established programs will disappear much sooner then later. This program is completely depriving immigrant students and their families of viable educational opportunities and choices. District teachers were assured that students being placed at International High had less than one year in the U.S.; your article indicates they may have been in the country for up to four years – and it has been rumored that some have been in the country for up to six years. This is undermining the established and highly-effective programs that are already in place across the District. It is most evident that the District administration is exploiting the opportunity to fund the education of immigrant students from outside sources, to the detriment of existing programs, and the immigrant students.

    I have also heard that ELD staff at Mission High in San Francisco are very angry and upset that the non-profit group behind Oakland’s International High has taken over several classrooms there and that their own ELD program is under threat.

    Is this a case of dollars over educational excellence and choice? Thank you for your time.

    Ms. Young

  • cranky teacher

    Interesting that you say “just” 38,445 students attend non-charter public schools. Why “just”?

    In Berkeley, based on looking at Census data, which supposedly has betters schools, the number that attend public school is actually lower — about 50%.

    And the overall drop in Oakland students since the late 90s extends to both private and public schools — it is tied to housing prices and birth rates.

    If you add in the 7,189 going to taxpayer-financed charter schools which are chartered and reviewed by the District, it would appear that public education is still a HUGE and CRUCIAL endeavor in our community.

    Not defending OUSD, but let’s not twist or slant the facts by belittling its role. For whatever reasons, it is clearly the most important education institution in the city, by far.

  • Katy Murphy

    Actually, according to this report, private school enrollment in Oakland nearly doubled between 2000 and 2008 — from 10,000 to about 19,000 students, while regular (non-charter) public school enrollment dropped from 54,000 to 38,000.

    We’ll see what happens this year and next, as a result of the downturn, but I’d say my use of “just” is justified in the context of these figures.

    And, btw, I’d probably use “just” to describe Berkeley’s situation, too!

  • Jim Mordecai

    Off topic, but by the way the last sentence by Katy possible shows the influence of texting–btw.

    Jim Mordecai

  • Katy Murphy

    Guilty as charged!

  • Steven Weinberg

    Katy, How reliable a source is Oakbook? While their figures on regular Oakland schools and charter schools agree with what I have seen elsewhere, the private school figures do not. Has the school age population really increased in last eight years? It would have had to if 7,000 more students are attending charter schools and 10,000 more private schools, and only 16,000 left regular public schools. I remember reports to the board that said that the school age population was declining, and that accounted for about half of the OUSD enrollment drop. Most private schools I know of have not increased their size much, if at all, in the last eight years, and many of the new residents of Oakland are young and childless.

  • Katy Murphy

    MKThink is the group that conducted the study for OUSD; Oakbook only reported on the study, it didn’t come up with those numbers.

    I’m trying to find a way to post the original report directly on the blog (technical issues on my end), but it’s posted on Page 7 of Wednesday’s agenda.

  • cranky teacher

    It is kinda unfathomable that private schools in Oakland doubled in enrollment in the decade since the dot-com boom drove so many families out of Oakland. Are Bishop O’Dowd, Head Royce, the parochial schools, St. Paul’s all just bursting at the seams with overcrowded facilities and classrooms? If so, seems like a pretty huge story. Or are there a bunch of new private schools kicking butt with thousands of students? Also a big story.

    Could it be that somebody put charter schools in the private school bin? That would explain 8/9ths of the number…

  • Katy Murphy

    I wonder if the housing bubble — and the practice of cashing out home equity to pay tuition and other expenses — contributed to the increase in private school enrollments, or if, as some of you have speculated, those figures are way off.

  • Katy Murphy

    It’s come to my attention that the enrollment figures in the MK Think report changed from last week to this week. The version posted on last week’s facilities committee said 18,900 Oakland kids attended private schools. In the latest version, it said 22,800 Oakland children attended private schools OR other districts OR are home-schooled OR don’t go to school at all.

    Quite a difference! According to OUSD staff, the 18,900 figure includes private schooled AND home-schooled kids.