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Oakland’s CDCs to stay open through December

Highland Childhood Development Center. File photo.

This just in: The Oakland school district staff closed its books last night and found the money to keep the district’s early childhood programs running for four more months, according to school board member Gary Yee and District Spokesman Troy Flint.

As of this morning, the district planned to stop its before- and after-school programs, which about 700 children in kindergarten through grade 3 attend, at the end of the month. Sounds like that is no longer the case.

Yee got a call from the superintendent around 1:15 p.m. with the news. Stay tuned for more details.

——————-

More details: CFO Vernon Hal found $2.1 million in unspent, general-purpose funds from last year when he closed the books. (Don’t you love when that happens?)

Hintil Kuu Ca, Jefferson, Manzanita, Piedmont Avenue and Sequoia will stay open (as before- and after-school programs) through December. This means the “people’s takeover” planned for next week is off.

There will be a story about it in tomorrow’s paper.

Katy Murphy

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

  • http://www.montclairaction.com/volunteer-fair-2 stan weisner

    BASIC CALENDAR LISTING INFORMATION:

    Katy:

    Can you please in include mention of the upcoming 2nd Annual Volunteer Fair in Oakland in one of your upcoming Education Blogs? Upbeat and good news for those involved with the schools!

    Below is both a brief calendar listing…and a longer press release for you to draw from. THANKS VERY MUCH!

    Come Attend the 2nd Annual Volunteer Fair for Oakland Schools!!!

    Event Date:
    Saturday, September 11, 2010 (1-3 PM)

    Event Location:
    Westlake Middle School (cafeteria)
    2629 Harrison (enter from 27th Street)
    Free parking available in onsite lot

    Page 1 of 4 (PRESS RELEASE)
    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
    Media Contacts: Time Sensitive

    Natalie Van Tassel (510) 339-0785
    Stan Weisner (510) 531-2055; daytime: 388-0601

    Event Date/Time: 1-3 PM
    Saturday, September 11, 2010

    Event Location: Westlake Middle School (Cafeteria)
    2629 Harrison St.
    Free parking available in lot

    Categories:
    Events, VolunteerFaire@MontclairAction.com East Bay, Oakland Schools,
    Education, Volunteers

    Volunteer Fair for Oakland Schools Offers Rewarding Way to
    Support Students and Strengthen Schools During Trying Times

    This Saturday, September 11 event links community members to school-based volunteer opportunities in Oakland that match their interests, schedules and abilities.

    It is also a great chance to have a ‘fun, rewarding experience’, according to one of the volunteers who found a great volunteer opportunity at last year’s Fair. He went on to say: “……many of the kids hugged me and thanked me on the last day this past week. What a treat! There is nothing more important to me than helping a child get an education. I work part-time and still have time to do this.”

    At a time when unprecedented cutbacks to education funding threaten critical programs, staff positions, and student support systems, the Montclair Community Action Group is working to fill the void by convening this event open to all interested volunteers who want to help the school children in the Oakland schools.

    This 2nd Annual Volunteer Fair for Oakland Schools is being held on
    Saturday, September 11 from 1-3 PM in the Cafeteria at Westlake Middle School at 2629 Harrison St. in Oakland (across from Whole Foods near Lake Merritt).

    The event will again showcase the wide range of volunteer opportunities available in the Oakland schools and explain how community members can support student learning and personal growth in their spare time. Local residents interested in offering their time to help school-aged children are encouraged to attend the Fair, sponsored by Montclair Community Action Group, a local non-profit organization, in partnership with the Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) and an array of other school-based non-profits.

    After last year’s event, one participant stated:
    “The Montclair Action Group Volunteer Fair far exceeded our expectations. Often times these community events can be sleepy and/or poorly attended. The quality, diversity and sheer quantity of people that turned out was so impressive, as was all the effort put into organizing it by the MAG and the support received by local government. I cannot say enough about it how effective it was in reaching the community – and the large list of interested and highly qualified volunteers that signed up that day is proof of that! Thank you again for mobilizing such a caring and generous group of people to organize this event – it was wonderful.
    David Moren, Associate Director, Experience Corps Oakland

    In all, up to15 school-based non-profits will be on hand to share information about the established volunteer programs they operate within Oakland Public Schools. The organizations represent a wide range of activities, philosophies, neighborhoods, student age groups and levels of involvement — giving prospective volunteers an easy, convenient way to investigate the types of commitments that fit their interests, abilities and schedules. Programs include opportunities for reading tutors; classroom aides; homework helpers; mentors; writing coaches; library assistants; playground monitors; volunteers for food and nutrition programs for low-income families; instructors in science enrichment, financial literacy and entrepreneurship programs; and many more.

    The afternoon event kicks off at 1:00 p.m. with a special appearance by OUSD Superintendent Tony Smith who will meet with current and prospective volunteers and emphasize the importance of non-profit support in local schools.

    “We have an obligation to our children, to ourselves and to future generations to build great public school systems, because strong schools help form healthy communities,” Smith explained. “Strong schools arise not apart from the community, but spring from it through goodwill, hard work and unity of purpose. Volunteers play an essential role in not only filling gaps in the system, but in forging the essential bonds that allow school and community to grow in concert.”

    Rallying volunteers when schools need them the most
    At a time when local and state education funding is in peril and many public schools face severe budget reductions, layoffs or even closure, the Volunteer Fair has been organized to respond to an outpouring of interest from community members about ways they can provide supplemental support to students and educators, inside and outside the classroom. In just a few hours a week, school volunteers have tremendous power to make a difference in individual students’ lives and in the overall progress of a classroom.

    Oakland’s new Police Chief, Anthony Batts, has repeatedly called on Oakland residents in every neighborhood across the city who want to help reduce crime and truancy among youth in Oakland to tutor or mentor a child and ‘make a difference’! This Volunteer Fair offers everyone a great opportunity to link their skills, availability, etc. to a great nonprofit group who will make the connection that can make a difference in a child’s life. Come join us!

    As one example, Reading Partners, an Oakland-based non-profit participating in the event, reports that students receiving only 30 hours of literacy tutoring through their program on average jump an entire grade level in reading skills. In addition to this kind of tangible result, it is widely believed that school volunteers positively impact self-esteem, attitudes, social growth and communication skills in kids. Through school volunteer programs, adults with a wide variety of backgrounds and skill sets are able to provide the kind of one-on-one attention that is often limited to students in crowded, resource-strapped classrooms.

    Something for everyone

    When community members arrive at the event, attendees will receive an at-a-glance guide describing each program, student age ranges, types of volunteer positions, geographic location and minimum time commitment. Then attendees can visit each organization’s booth to meet volunteer coordinators and get more information.

    To provide additional assistance, Risha Riley, who manages volunteer relationships through the OUSD Family & Community Office (FCO), will be on hand to help direct interested volunteers to organizations that match their interests, based on her personal, in-depth knowledge of the non-profit organizations in attendance. The volunteer programs represented at the Volunteer Fair provide flexible opportunities for volunteers to commit as much time as they have available — from 1–2 hours to several hours a week. Each non-profit organization fully trains all volunteers before they begin a program, ensuring that volunteers will feel comfortable and confident and will be able to get the most out of volunteering — and maximize their contribution to the students.

    “We hope this event will serve as an easy way for community members to personally meet many of the organizations hard at work in our public schools, and to get a feel for which of the programs is right for them,” says Natalie Van Tassel from Montclair Community Action. “We are proud to put on an event in partnership with these dynamic organizations and the OUSD that delivers an easy format for helping local volunteers discover how they can make a real difference in a student’s life.”

    The Volunteer Fair is being held at a central location in Oakland at Westlake Middle School (2629 Harrison St.) that is easily accessible by BART (20th St. Station) and AC Transit buses. Free parking will be available on site (enter on 27th St.) and metered parking is available on the streets in front of and around the library. Admission is free.

    For more information, visit http://www.MontclairAction.com or email
    volunteerfaire@montclairaction.com.

  • Katy Murphy

    Thanks, Stan!

  • TheTruthHurts

    Yes. Thanks Stan. I’ll forward to all the locals I know.

  • Sherry Blair

    Yes, it’s interesting how school districts can “find” millions of dollars when they really want to do something? That’s why parents should not let district cries of not enough money get in the way of demanding what parents need and want for their children.

    Years ago, I made the mistake of believing Hayward Unified when they said they didn’t have enough money. I went searching through the budget myself to see what could be cut. It was a big learning curve for me and still I missed the millions they “found” later when they needed it for one of their own projects.

    I just can’t believe they are so incompetent, they must be stashing it away out of sight. Let’s demand transparency along with accountability.

  • Anti BS

    So OUSD found the money magically, after receiving their 9 million to reform 2 schools.
    Bet these schools will continue their misery.

    This is why they will eventually be bankrupt and forced to close,. Gutless spending and decisions.

    Inner city schools- who cares?

  • ILoveTeachers

    Here’s an important concept to remember: Budgeting.

    Public agencies have to build budgets based on estimated revenue (income) and estimated costs (expenses). When either of those variables change, the other is impacted. And in education, those variables change a lot.

    The governor can choose to not pass a budget, so the income variable shifts. Vendors can change the price of pencils or milk or health insurance for dependents, so the expenses variable shifts. EVERYONE has to come along for the ride.

    “Found” money isn’t really found, it’s just the result of a shift in income or expenses.

    Just like we all have a mental list of what we’d do if we got a raise or spent less on groceries a few weeks in a row, it’s the job of the fiscal team to match those priorities with whatever comes up.

    I, for one, trust that Tony Smith will make the right choices as limbo and reality move around each other.

  • Susan

    Unfortunately, that is not how the money works in public education.

    Categorical and federal dollars are specific in their intent. Money given to turn around a school, is meant for that.

    Its too bad the state will not enforce, but that is part of the public education problem.

    Its not Tony Smith, Oakland, its the board who has the say.

  • TheTruthHurts

    I asked this question a long time ago and got the “right” answer. Found money comes from “closing the books” Closing the books is when you reconcile your budgeted expenses against your ACTUAL expenses. If you budget higher than you spend, you have “excess.” Everyone should budget higher than they spend or else they get screwed when anything unforseen happens. In a budget of $650 Million, it’s not surprising to “find” 0.3% when you close the books. They probably found a bit more.

    I remember when OUSD has over $10 million in unspent categorical money. That is shameful because it means kids missed out on the services provided by that money. My understanding is they’ve improved somewhat from those days.

  • ILoveTeachers

    Susan, you make it sound like all of the district’s budget is categorical dollars. It’s not. Found money could be categorical, but it probably isn’t. OUSD is constantly getting audited – there’s no way they’d risk audit findings by using SIG money for early childhood.

  • Jim Mordecai

    ILOVETEACHERS:

    You make a good point that a public school budget is dynamic with estimates of income and expenses changing constantly as operating costs change and income changes.

    To follow reports on the OUSD budget, it is also helpful to remember the THETRUTHHURTS explanation of “found money” means that when you, the District, close its books and “reconcile your budgeted expenses against your ACTUAL expenses” if income exceeds expenses it becomes “found money”.

    Susan also makes an important point that all money is not the same and some of the “found money” may be restricted to certain purposes or flexible and can be spent on a range of purposes.

    The ECE “found money” was considered money that could be expended on financing ECE until December.

    What adds to complexity of budgeting is that what at what first appeared a legitimate expenditure may be ruled–even years later– not legitimate expenditure and the money will have to be repaid out of a future budget.

    In the above comments I mentioned “books” as being a record of revenue and expenses but these records are UNEDITED ACTUALS. That means in the future there could be an audit that turns up inaccurate records and “found” money or more likely: “found” debt.

    One more element is borrowing. Revenue is on the books but it comes in overtime and the District one month to the next will not have revenue to cover operational expenses (paid employees and bills). In the past before state take-over the District could borrow against future revenue to maintain cash flow. Now I believe the District is borrowing bond revenue to maintain cash flow. Borrowing is yet another complexity in a very complex web called budgeting.

    Jim Mordecai

  • Katy Murphy

    The “found” money in this case, according to the district spokesman, was from the unrestricted (or general purpose) pot.