Next week, the Oakland school district will consider a proposal to salvage what it can of its preschool programs for low-income families – at the expense of adult immigrants, refugees, high school dropouts and others looking to better their lives through education.
Adult education teachers and workers were told today to attend an important meeting at McClymonds. I’m told they sat in stunned silence as they heard the latest development: The district administration will propose taking an additional 44 percent cut from adult education programs ($5 million) at a special school board meeting on Monday, June 14. Checking on the time; it wasn’t yet posted this afternoon.
That would shut down Oakland’s main adult education centers, leaving a budget of less than $2 million (down from $11.4 million this year). Edward Shands would close, as would Neighborhood Centers on International Boulevard and the Bond Street Annex.
The $9.5 million total cut would mean no more ESL classes, no more citizenship preparation, no more high school diploma classes for adults, and no career technical education, according to Brigitte Marshall, the director of adult ed. The only programs remaining would be some school-based family literacy programs, GED classes, and credit recovery for current high school students through independent study.
“It’s heartbreaking for everybody to see this happen, and heartbreaking to watch our superintendent have to make these kinds of decisions,” Marshall said.
The governor’s proposed cuts to early childhood education would wipe out nearly three-fourths of the district’s budget for low-income preschoolers (updated figures: $13 million out of a $17.9 million budget).
No one knows, yet, whether those cuts will make it into the final state budget, but school districts need to submit a balanced budget for 2010-11 by the end of June. While CFO Vernon Hal initially signaled that he might wait to see what happened in Sacramento before issuing additional layoffs, the administration determined it needed to go through with the cuts, said district spokesman Troy Flint.
If the state preserves some or all of the preschool funding, Flint said, the district would try to restore the programs it cut. But it would be nearly impossible to undo all of the layoffs and closures stemming from such a decision.
Flint said the administration will consider taking furloughs, a cost-saving measure was suggested at today’s meeting. But it’s likely the layoffs will take place either way, he said – and another round of classified bumping.