Oakland school district: New downsizing details

The payroll of Oakland Unified, one of the city’s largest employers, is about to shrink. The school system would have about 460 fewer full-time positions — about 9 percent of the current workforce — come July 1, under the CFO’s latest proposal to address the district’s massive projected deficit. It will be discussed at Wednesday night’s 5 p.m. school board meeting.

Jobs of just about every shape and size would thin out under the plan: teachers, assistant principals, security officers, high-level district “executive staff,” gardeners, painters, clerks, support coaches for new teachers, adult education and child development teachers — you name it. The central office would eliminate 105 positions, about 17 percent of its staff. And 114 K-12 teaching positions would be reduced, about 6 percent.

Hopefully the new security camera system works as promised (and rolls out quickly), as middle schools, with one exception, would have just one school security officer on staff, and elementary schools won’t have any. High schools would each have five. (Page 13)

Cuts to the facilities staff would mean a response time of up to three days for emergency calls, instead of 24 hours, and up to two weeks to fix, if not longer, for non-emergencies. (Pages 20-21)

Some of the NExOs (Network Executive Officers) — apparently to be renamed Regional Executive Officers — would supervise two to three times the number of schools as they do now. The six existing elementary and middle school networks will be combined to three pre-K to 8 districts. (Pages 16-17)

I hear complaints from time to time about ineffectual professional development and coaching. Next year, there will be much less of it — life-changing, pointless and everything in between — at least in-house, as the instructional services department plans to cut about 42 percent of its positions. (Pages 9-11)

This plan isn’t up for a vote Wednesday night; it’s part of an ongoing board discussion on the finances. So if some of it sounds familiar, that’s why.

Thoughts? Reactions? If faced with the same challenge, would you make some of the same calls? Which cuts do you think will be the most painful for schools?

Katy Murphy

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

  • TheTruthHurts

    I guess they weren’t joking about needing to cut. Maybe if the board has gotten the nerve to impose, they’ve found the nerve to cut high level administrators too. We’ll see.

  • OUSD teacher and parent

    This is so sad. OUSD will see many of the gains of the last five/ten years reversed with these cuts. And those regional network officers? I’ve heard no one wants that job! NEXOs are already overwhelmed supervising their schools – make them K-8? And add a dozen schools? This district is going to crumble. So sad…and we think we’ve had high turn over rate in our teaching force until now! Wow. We haven’t seen anything. Feeling very sad about all of this.

  • Oakland Teacher

    Yet another reason for any teacher who is able to leave OUSD to do so. That means teachers with experience who are not near retirement.

    How about eliminating some of the outside contracts they approve every meeting? Too bad we can’t go back in time and NOT buy the most expensive math material that we got last year, especially when no one (I know) likes it and many people are secretly using the old texts.

  • Nextset

    I was just reading a news item that claimed that every student who left a particular school district for Charter Schools (not OUSD) cost that district $10k a year in lost funding. 50 students transferred out, $500k gone.

    Here is the future of public schooling.

    The public school districts wish themselves to economically collapse rather than to change so they are acceptable to (white) mainstream families (and the Asians/Indians/Ethiopians/etc). The students who are gone are not Otis and Latifah & Paco & Lupita, who seem content enough with that the public districts dish out. I give you the Los Angeles School District demographics…

    An article by a Bay Area Blogger was mentioned earlier about Why Oakland Unified doesn’t have a Lowell High School. My retort on this issue is they don’t have one because they don’t want one. It is, however, what the people want. You can have both your ghetto schools and a Lowell High School in the same system. Doing this means openly setting up a segregated school system. This is what people actually want, but it is not what the Educrats want. Allowing free choice with a competitive school chain operating beside a non-competitive school chain within the same school district would give everybody a choice while openly refuting the “we are all equal” nonsense the rad-libs are so proud of.

    So do we save the very existance of the urban districts such as OUSD/LAUSD? Or do we follow suit with SFUSD, Piedmont USD and others who maintain a competitive school and flunk anyone who doesn’t fit in to alternative (non-competitive) schools?

    Oakland doesn’t have to lose all their students, just lose enough students to make the district collapse economically under the weight of the large fixed costs. Is this what we are seeing?

    Brave New World.

  • aly

    i’d say the face on the last slide about sums it up. OUSD teacher and parent got it right- with all of these losses, there is going to be a lot of backslide. there are so many potential pitfalls and problems with this outline, i don’t even know where to begin.

    a few voices on posts regarding the strike have suggested we look to sacramento when we discuss the financial status of the district. i’ll be doing quite a bit of budgetary reading tonight, myself. this is way bigger than oakland.

  • Jesse

    My two cents: When I looked at the numbers at school sites, the number of classroom support positions cut was higher than school office staff. Attendance clerk positions should be eliminated now that teachers can do attendance online. Some cuts lack foresight (buildings and grounds cuts) and some seem to keep the status quo (zero cuts at the Accounting,ACCOUNTS PAYABLE, BOARD OF EDUCATION, Budget, STATE ADMINISTRATOR, STATE AND FEDERAL PROGRAMS Summer Hourly Program and the SUPERINTENDENT.) There will much more work for front line staff: principals and classroom teachers. And we won’t get any pay increase for more work. Too bad.

  • ousd funemployed

    1) There are fewer students in district schools than there used to be. As a result, these cuts are probably necessary.

    2) Nextset couldn’t be more right about the district needing a Lowell.

    3) Charter schools aren’t going anywhere (at least not the successful ones). If the union would accept this fact they could a) get their teachers raises by supporting the parcel tax and b) begin to take the necessary steps to work with the district to become more competitive with charters.

    This wouldn’t solve all the problems, but it would be a good start.

  • Gordon Danning


    By what percent is the district’s enrollment projected to decline next year? How much of the 6 percent decrease in teaching positions is a function of enrollment decline and increased elementary school class size?

  • TheTruthHurts

    I really agree with Gordon’s questions and the only post that offered ideas instead of criticisms is post #3. Frankly, I can only appreciate whining and gnashing of teeth for so long. Unless we dispute the need to cut, the only useful exercise should be one that identifies new revenues or offers alternative expenses to cut. The rest of this is just noise. Emotionally releasing noise, but noise all the same.

    I’m not close enough to it to judge, but I’d agree on cutting outside contractors where they are either more costly or unnecessary. I think it’s clear OUSD has had too many schools since at least 2003. I’d see about a long-term lease on some of the real estate without actually selling it, but long enough so it could be used for another purpose. I’m sure staffing is the key cost, but I’d ask for pay reductions from staff over $100K before I cut front-line workers. I’d also see why we have so many people doing things when businesses are going to technology and I can even order my value meal at Jack in the Box from a kiosk. Surely, more could be done like this in education.

  • Cranky Teacher

    The tax structure in this state is terribly broken. We can only fund schools adequately when the stock market and real estate are booming, so windfalls can be taxed. The corporate and property taxes have dropped so far since the ’50s, destabilizing revenue.

    The result will be decades more of roller-coaster funding unless we can return to a pragmatic and fair taxation structure for California.

    I still don’t understand the disconnect from the cliche “it’s all about the kids” and the reality that people don’t want to pay to educate them.

    It’s pathetic to see these corporations washing their image with education philanthropy which is a drop in the bucket compared to the taxes they paid in the booming post-WWII era.

    Maybe we should just let Apple buy the naming rights to the state and have done with it. They can have Christo cover it in smooth white fabric…

  • David Laub

    An observation about # 4’s revealing comments:

    “The public school districts wish themselves to economically collapse rather than to change so they are acceptable to (white) mainstream families (and the Asians/Indians/Ethiopians/etc). The students who are gone are not Otis and Latifah & Paco & Lupita, who seem content enough with that the public districts dish out…”

    A typical example of self centered, self righteous, ignorant RACISM.

  • Chauncey

    Nextset- you said that accoridng to a statistic, OUSD escapists that leave the plantation for charter schools equals $10k?

    I heard that a ousd kid equals 16k and a charter is 7,500k? Talk about inequity, but what do you expect, OUSD kids are in the house, and charter kids are where……outside??

    Mr. Laub, racism exists in many forms- get over it and deal.

    For the record though, there has been no new charter schools opning up, and some have been closed…so doesnt this mean ousd is aiming to recoup money?

    I recall a blogger stating that OUSD charters schools office is funded by the charters .. is this true? their budget is how big? So charters pay the district to what, close them down…

    This dont seem right.

  • Cranky Teacher

    Wow, just read the “Medianews” editorial (which appeared in the Trib and perhaps other papers in the medianews network). Fine for them if they want to play the “common sense/conventional wisdom” card and say this is not the time to strike, etc.

    But what is aggravating is how irresponsibly they twist the facts in a very Fox News/Michael Moore kind of way to be convincing. That’s not the way newspaper editorials are supposed to work.

    In particular, their open mocking of the union’s demand for a 15% pay scale hike is either ignorant or manipulative or both.

    — the raise request would phased in over three years at 5% per year. If the Superintendent can get a 6% pay raise in one year, why is it outrageous for teachers to get 5%?

    — the editorial made no mention of how Oakland teacher salaries have been lagging behind the rate of inflation at a 10/90 ration for ten years.

    — the editorial made no mention of the state 55% minimum of district expenditures to be spent on classroom teachers/aides/specialists, or noted that at 45% the district is out of compliance with this every year.

    But hey, what can we expect from a newspaper chain that is infamous for paying its own employees poverty wages in order to pay for constant expansion and shareholder-friendly profit margins.

  • Chauncey


    Cranky Teacher is saying you are dirt poor!!

    This blog is created by that chain of “opressors”.

    Oakland liberals man, they dont stop…..its funny as hell!

  • Nextset

    Chauncey: I don’t know the value to OUSD of a student/year. The one article referencing a different district somewhere indicated they were losing $10k a year for each student transferring out to a Charter. They had just lost 50 students in the period in question. Does anyone know how much $$ is lost when a students avoids OUSD for a Charter?

    I would prefer that OUSD and the other municipal school districts survive and remain viable as a school that middle class to professional class families would enroll children in. Alas in CA the larger integrated towns that are democratic party dominated have carefully killed their school districts in the name of diversity and equal representation or such nonsense. By refusing to segregate the students by ability and aptitude they have rendered their schools non-schools. The better students are then transferred out to private/charter/church “real” schools and the public schools collapse completely.

    In the process you have what OUSD is going through (declining enrollment) with no money to keep teachers used to working a viable schools. It’s amusing to me that the teachers think the answer is striking. The teachers and their unions have no clue of their own culpability for the dumbing down of their school districts to the point that good people won’t enroll there.

    As a result of all this bad behavior on the point of both management and labor the (bright) black children of Oakland do not have good public schools to go to. They have to take the mess that OUSD has become. In San Francisco they have Lowell High School to aspire to. Not so here. At least not yet. At some point Oakland my have a Lowell type charter High School – If a charter could raise and deploy that kind of capital (I doubt it). Setting up and maintaining a Lowell High requires the finances of a municipality. So the bright poor kids of Oakland just lose out where the bright poor of San Francisco or Piedmont still get to go to real schools.

    Perhaps we aren’t talking about that many people anyway. Or perhaps the bright poor are mainly immigrants anyway. We can’t be worried about them. They should have brought their own tutors?

    But there was a time that the bright poor – 20th Century Jewish Immigrants for example – used the USA public School system to rise to the top of society. There was social mobility then. They sang about it on the radio (Four Seasons – Johnny Rivers, etc).

    In this Brave New World, it’s strictly who you are born to. A Caste System. Created and promoted by “liberal” education policy.

  • Montclair Parent

    Hey Katy,
    What’s wrong with this picture – tomorrow we have our annual Teacher Appreciation Luncheon and Teacher Appreciation Day at Montclair Elementary School. PTA and families show their love and appreciation for these VIP’s in our children’s lives by presenting each teacher with student made and generous gifts and a lovely sit down luncheon home made and contributed by families. Our school has even more to celebrate as it’s one of four that just earned the coveted Distinguished School award. Thursday our teachers must strike and many many families will support them. How does a huge disconnect like this between what the teachers do and what the families and students feel about them compared to how the district values them come about? Maybe we should relocate the luncheon to Frank Ogawa Plaza…

  • http://www.eastbayconservative.com The Boss

    Whatever you want to say about him, Nextset is exactly right. Exactly right.

  • http://www.eastbayconservative.com The Boss

    What I don’t understand is why union teachers would oppose a magnet middle and high school in Oakland. They could in fact support it with the caveat that it hire union teachers. I believe Lowell hires union teachers.

    It would be an excellent competitor for charter schools, and it would draw students back into the district, expanding the union rolls.

    And, there needn’t be an issue with racism. No one would have a problem with ensuring diversity at such a school. Part of the point of the school should be to draw back in the students whose parents have fled to privates and charters, as well as providing opportunity for the brightest kids in the economically disadvantaged parts of the city.

    I guess I just don’t understand the mentality here.

  • Cranky Teacher

    Chauncy, you don’t know what you’re talking about.

    Even before the economic death spiral of print media, newspaper salaries at the TOP of the Bay Area media food chain were nearly as low as teacher salaries — the Chronicle’s salary structure ten years ago started at 40K and peaked around 70K. When the Denver guy who now owns every paper of note in the region except the Chronicle bought the failing Trib, he followed the same policy he has throughout the country — dramatically slash all pay and benefits, even though they were already very low, starting around 22K.

    So, yes, many paid journalism jobs are poverty wages — as low as $13K in regional markets. As with teachers, folks with college degrees who could instantly double or triple their salary (and pay off those college loans) by moving over to marketing or P.R. do it because they love it and/or want their work to be meaningful.

    In 2009, guild members of the medianews chain accepted yet another cut — 5% across the board. I don’t know what Katy’s salary is, but I guarantee it is lower than mine and roughly a third what a cop with her experience makes.

    Also, as to the liberals dig: I hardly think protecting the American middle class is an exclusive “liberals” issue. I would think that even a tea partier would be hesitant to complete our return to the Robber Baron boom-and-bust era of the late 19th- and early 20th-centuries.

    Whatever your current political stance, I urge folks to at least consider the concept of “disaster capitalism” — the idea that any disaster, whether financial like California’s, or physical, like Hurricane Katrina, has become an opportunity to destroy the labor movement and all New Deal-style safety nets in favor of privatization and stockholder profits.

  • Cranky Teacher

    @ The Boss: I have no knowledge of any union position that is opposed to magnet schools. Where are you getting that?

    Besides, whatever you want to call them, we already have programs at Oakland Tech and Skyline which are de facto magnet schools within the larger school — AP track, Padeia, etc.

    Magnet schools simply codify the already developed tracking process which exists in most comprehensive high schools. For example, even before it went to wall-to-wall small schools, Berkeley High had the Academic Choice program.

  • Katy Murphy

    We did take a pay cut last year, though it wasn’t a flat percentage across the board. Those who made more took more of a hit. My reduction, for example, was less than 5 percent.

    I don’t know where you are on the OEA salary schedule, Cranky Teacher, but yes, there is a good chance I bring home less than you do, especially after the cut.

    But enough about my pay; it’s depressing. Let’s talk about yours, instead!

  • J.R.

    You actually do bring home a lot less than teachers do(in real terms)because teachers do get a good deal of “time off”. I am not saying this to be combative, because running a classroom of 30+ kids(grading, lesson planning etc) is very draining and stressful), and teachers need the time to decompress. The fact remains that teachers pay is(dollar for dollar)worth 10-15 percent more per year because of all the time off. Example: 60K is more like 66-77K in real dollars due to vacation time off work.

  • J.R.

    oops that is 66-70K per year in real dollars.

  • Amy Mueller, Parent

    We are in the midst of a crisis, a part of a crisis that will play itself out on the historic landscape of this country in years to come, and i’m so sad that our teachers, the union, AND the district have to struggle around these issues for which non are to blame. The state and country is in a crisis around public education. This jeopardizes our democracy and has been in the works for decades. We have been at odds at how to educate our children ever since i was a young’un. It is baffling and upsetting, and very sad — especially given the amazing gains made in our understanding of human psychology, the brain and learning . But the crisis we are in was inevitable given the lack of public/government support for a true, comprehensive education for all. We are the victims of decisions made 20 years ago. The only thing we can do is try to join together in a unified effort to gain control of our children’s education.

  • http://www.eastbayconservative.com The Boss

    @Cranky – I didn’t actually know whether the unions were opposed. I agree that programs at Tech and Skyline are good, but there are a couple problems with that approach:

    1. It masks the excellent performance of those programs from the API results. So, prospective parents are not as aware of those opportunities. The consequence is lower enrollment.

    2. Students not in the residence area have to rely on intradistrict transfers to get into these schools. That can be risky. Wouldn’t it be better to have a single dedicated school (perhaps sharing a campus with an existing school)? That way admissions would be fair citywide, not privileging those in the attendance area.

    3. Why is there no magnet middle school? The same arguments apply, and many, many parents take their kids out of OUSD after elementary for this very reason.

    If you think the union would be in favor, can you suggest ways that we could work on something like this? There’s unquestionably a large latent demand for such a project.

  • concerned parent

    I am still waiting for OUSD to present an analysis of the consultant contracts. I have heard various figures–that they are restricted, etc. I’d like to see a neutral or bi-partisan analysis of the consultant contracts–or audit, to see if they really are necessary. What are the facts?

  • Gordon Danning

    I, too, would like to see an analysis of the consultant contracts. For example, I was just offered the opportunity to work this summer helping to draft the district’s social studies benchmark assessment — does that make me a consultant? Similarly, we have university professors who help us with that task, and who give presentations to teachers on the subject matter thereof; I KNOW that they are consultants. But, I don’t see much wrong with spending money in that way, since it clearly benefits students (more so than using that money for salaries, for example). So, the type and qaulity of the consultants matters quite a bit.

  • del

    I have worked an intervention after school, and (as a credentialed teacher) I was paid as a consultant. So is our parent outreach coordinator. One of our secretaries is fluent in spanish and translates at SSC meetings, she’s paid as a consultant. Our conflict mediator, and the mentors we hire (besides their academic mentoring) help admin supervise at lunch. They are all contractors. So is the security guard who stays late to work with the after school program, so are the officers that help at the dances. Now, years ago, these were teachers’ jobs, and not paid extra. Now we’ve negotiated ourselves OUT of many of these jobs (specifically lunch duty) and, since they are deemed necessary by either our SSC, the state, or the grant writers, they must be paid through contracts. So those are some of the babies that may go with the bathwater, I guess.
    The concerned parent asks about the “facts” and they are these: anyone in OUSD not in a union is a contractor. So it certainly makes sense that there’s so much money there, and honestly I can’t believe there’s such a hue and cry about it. But the parent’s other question is “what is necessary,” and obviously that can only be decided (by law) by the SSC (which MUST include OEA & parent members), or by the school board, elected by & campaigned for OEA and parents. So either way WE decide all these things, or WE all OK’ed them. It does seem like a lot of money, but then again, these are things the parents and OEA decided were necessary at our site. The district level is a different story, but not by much!

  • Oakland Teacher

    I hate to say it, but I see a lot of money wasted at school sites as well as downtown. Sometimes the SSC seems like it functions to rubber stamp everyone’s favorite person or idea. People show up at the school with programs and the SSC approves spending the money.

  • ousd funemployed

    At one point, OEA did a review of the district’s finances, in an effort to find the money needed for raises.

    OEA is always talking about how unreasonable the District is with all the consultants. All we hear is, “They spend 77 million dollars a year on consultants, but they can’t find money to give us raises.”

    In its review, OEA only recommended cutting 5 million of those 77 million consulting dollars.

    So even with what one must assume is a fairly liberal measuring stick, OEA was only able to find 5 million dollars in wasteful spending in those contracts.

    If you want to be honest about it, either stop trying to spin the 77 million dollars to fire up your lesser informed members and members of the public, or clearly explain how to cut the remaining 72 million dollars and still have the school district function properly.

    When all is said and done, we will all continue to support our teachers. They do a heck of a job, and they should be paid more. But eventually the teachers and the tax paying public are going to see that the union – this union – is not doing a very good job of serving its members or the students.

  • L.K.

    JR, Teachers are paid for 186 days. We are not paid for our “days off.” We have no paid vacation leave or holidays.

  • J.R.

    That was my point, all that time off is rolled right into the pay. Normal wage slaves get 2 weeks per yr with 270+ work days the average wage is about 30k-50k per year. The average pay for teachers is 50K+. Not bad at all.

  • aly

    J.R.- during the school year my work week as a teacher is about 70-75 hours. the “time off” sort of makes up for the extra 30-35 hours a week i (and many of my peers) put in.

  • L.K.

    JR, Do “normal wage slaves” volunteer hours and hours of unpaid overtime? Are teachers abnormal wage slaves? I’m sure if you compare teachers to other professions that require the same amount of qualifications, certification, continuing education, and hours of actual work (vs. what we are paid for) we are grossly underpaid. And the time off is not rolled into the pay. Do “normal wage slaves” get paid for weekends? Our pay is spread out evenly over 10 or 12 months (at the teacher’s discretion). It is not “time off.” It is time unemployed. When doctors, lawyers, accountants, mba’s, etc. are willing to accept a $30,00 salary, I’ll accept your premise that we are well paid.

  • J.R.

    I wasn’t disparaging teachers(maybe the bad ones), I was merely stating the “on the books” objective stats. Teachers are underpaid(the good ones, anyway)but it isn’t by a fantastically large margin.The poor teachers are extremely overpaid(thank the union for that), so the public(taxpayers) by and large feel that it evens out(we have to pay the bad eggs along with the good).

  • L.K.

    JR, The bad eggs are there because the administrators don’t do their jobs. They are responsible for “weeding out” the bad eggs, i.e. firing. What happens is teachers who aren’t up to par are bounced around from school to school. All the union can do is make sure procedures are followed. Contrary to popular belief, public school teachers do not have tenure or life time appointments. We have temporary or permanent status. Once a teacher has permanent status, the reasons for dismissal are spelled out in the state education code which is a matter of legislation, not union contract. By the way, teachers are as much distressed by “bad” teachers as anybody else. We are tax payers, too.

  • Chauncey

    Whatever all of your pay is- its more than mine- I drive a freakin truck!

    However, my kids will stay out of OUSD so they will not have to that route.
    Is the news paper hiring,cause I sure as hell wouldnt teach for OUSD!Even if I had a degree, which I dont .

    A true product of OUSD’s generational funk!

  • Cranky Teacher

    Chauncey, if you are a union truck driver you would make more than me, on average.

  • concerned parent

    The OUSD website says the following:

    $64 million of the $82.9 million spent on service contracts is restricted money—money over which OUSD has limited discretion. Much of the money spent on service contracts pays for professional development to support and enhance instruction, for special education services OUSD cannot provide, and for Complementary Learning (Child Development Centers, Afterschool Programs, Health and Wellness and Violence Prevention). Of the remaining money, $4 million is spent at the direction of Schools Site Councils (SSC).

    Doing the math that means $18.9 is not restricted, and of that $4mill is under the control of the Site. So $16.9 is spent centrally. What does that buy? I have heard from teachers that consultants/materials/tests for Si Swun math for example are just not worth it. And tests do not coordinate with the textbook or pacing guides…. so we are testing for things we dont’ teach?

  • Chauncey

    I dont know what union you are referring too or what average you cranky teacher. I fend for myself.

    I have been the union route, and if you are paid less than that, why the hell did you go into college or teaching for that matter?

    Hopefully, my kids will not make our mistakes!

    All of this is interesting though.

  • yasmeen

    to much money spent on overtime in payroll and no one is monitoring the dent it is putting on the budget. employees in payroll make on an average 27,000 per year.