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The lone school board race, a West Oakland charter and other board news

Gary YeeBen Visnick

At the City Clerk’s Office today, I learned that a handful of people are running for Oakland school board after all!

But it’s not a big day for democracy: Few Oaklanders, it seems, want a piece of the board’s renewed governing power and responsibility. Only one of the three incumbents — Gary Yee, in District 4 — will be challenged in November. Ben Visnick, the previous Oakland teacher union president, is taking him on.

That means David Kakishiba (District 2), who almost stepped down last fall because of a conflict-of-interest ruling by the school district’s general counsel, and Chris Dobbins (District 6), who was censured by his fellow board members in 2007 because of a relationship with a 17-year-old student, will be elected to another four-year term by default.

SPEAKING OF THE SCHOOL BOARD: It’s holding its first regular meeting since June at 5 p.m. Wednesday (agenda here). Staff is recommending the approval of Vincent Academy, a K-5 charter that would open in West Oakland in 2011. It would be affiliated with the nonprofit St. Vincent’s Day Home and run by an entity called Partners in Oakland Education.

What do you make of this paragraph in the staff report? Specifically, I wonder what “facilitate engagement” means. West Oakland’s Martin Luther King Elementary faced closure last year, mostly because of its low enrollment, and charter conversion was presented to the parents as an alternative. (It was not well-received, at least by some of the more involved, vocal parents at MLK.)

Additionally, staff recommends that the OUSD Board of Education directs staff to facilitate engagement between the Vincent Academy petitioning group and the Martin Luther King elementary school community, staff and site leadership, in an effort to pro-actively ensure the thoughtful development of public school programming in West Oakland designed to effectively serve the target population.

A LITTLE SELF-REFLECTION: At a public meeting held at 1 p.m. tomorrow, the board will critique its own performance. The meeting’s at the OUSD headquarters, 1025 Second Avenue. I’ll post the evaluation next week.

How would you rate the board’s efficacy? How well do you think its members work together? How could it become more effective, in your opinion?

Katy Murphy

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

  • oakey

    Oh, joy. Visnick, Kakishiba and Dobbins.

    It is impossible to conceive of a better argument to vote no on any new tax for OUSD.

  • azul60

    “facilitate engagement” means that they want someone to get feedback from the community about their plans for the Vincent Academy and MLK Elementary.

    Alternately, the board wants to be seen as “thoughtful” and “engaged” with the community as they make their decisions. They would like someone in their staff to reach out in ways that make the community feel included (whether or not that is the case).

  • Chauncey

    It sounds like OUSD will eliminate most “autonomy” charters are provided telling them what they must do.

    Is this type of forced or coerced collaboration law?

  • Jenna

    I’m out of the loop – what’s up with MLK?

  • gee yu

    focus on this guys
    Katy have you see the finance and human resource committee’s stuff the the school board passed why are they spending this kind of money when OUSD can post opening at the local colleges like USF or Holy Names or St Mary’s and not pay a dime??????? What’s up with this……

    File #: 10-1593 Version: 1 Name: Amendment No. 2 – The New Teacher Project -
    Programs for Exceptional Children
    Type: Agreement or Contract Status: Passed
    File created: 6/14/2010 In control: Finance and Human Resources Committee
    On agenda: Final action: 6/23/2010
    Enactment date: 6/23/2010 Enactment #: 10-1228
    Title: Approval by the Board of Education of Amendment No. 2 to the Memorandum of Understanding between District and The New Teacher Project, New York, NY, for the latter to provide recruiting, selection, and high quality training to practitioners to serve as Content Seminar leaders and Field Supervisors, in the Programs for Exceptional Children for the school year of July 1, 2010 through June 30, 2011, serving 50-65 participants, in an additional amount not to exceed $294,776.00, increasing the Contract from an amount not to exceed of $309,391.00 to $604,167.00.

    Katy here’s another

    File #: 10-1811 Version: 1 Name: Amendment No. 3 – Memorandum of Understanding
    - The New Teacher Project
    Type: Agreement or Contract Status: Committee General Consent Report
    File created: 8/2/2010 In control: Finance and Human Resources Committee
    On agenda: Final action:
    Enactment date: Enactment #:
    Title: Approval by the Board of Education of Amendment No. 3 of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the District and The New Teacher Project (TNTP), for the latter to recruit, select and train 40-50 new teachers, from the previous stated 75-85 new teachers, to fill critical shortage subject areas, for the period October 1, 2009 through September 30, 2010, at a cumulative cost not to exceed $620,883.00.

    Katy how many lawyers is the school district paying for now?????
    Isn’t there a legal dept??
    File #: 09-3539 Version: 1 Name: Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) – Liebert,
    Cassidy & Whitmore – General Counsel
    Type: Agreement or Contract Status: Passed
    File created: 6/14/2010 In control: Finance and Human Resources Committee
    Title:Approval by the Board of Education of Memorandum of Understanding between the District and Liebert, Cassidy & Whitmore, Los Angeles, CA, for the latter to provide legal services to the District for civil litigation and general advice matters, as described in the Scope of Work, incorporated herein by reference as though fully set forth, for the period December 1, 2009 through June 30, 2011, in an amount not to exceed $100,000.00 in a fiscal year.

    File # 09-3492 Version: 1 Name: Memorandum of Understanding – Stubbs & Leone -
    General Counsel
    Type: Agreement or Contract Status: Passed
    File created: 6/14/2010 In control: Finance and Human Resources Committee
    On agenda: Final action: 6/23/2010
    Enactment date: 6/23/2010 Enactment #: 10-1183
    Title: Approval by the Board of Education of Memorandum of Understanding between District and Stubbs & Leone, as Special Counsel, under direction and supervision of General Counsel, pursuant to terms and conditions stated therein, providing specialized expert service on civil litigation matters, for the period December 1, 2009 through June 30, 2013, at a cost not to exceed $300,000 in a fiscal year.