When Superintendent Tony Smith was appointed to his post in 2009, his supporters said they expected he would restore interest, support and outside funding to the Oakland school district.
This fall — until today — the district endured some heartbreak on the funding front. Oakland lost its bid for the U.S. Department of Education’s Promise Neighborhoods planning grant in September (despite accolades from the secretary of education just weeks before). And the district’s November parcel tax election was defeated by about 700 votes, less than one percentage point.
But this morning, the district announced it had received a $7.5 million gift from Kaiser Permanente. It is the largest corporate donation yet to support Smith’s vision for Oakland’s schools, district spokesman Troy Flint said.
The money won’t solve the district’s structural deficit or guard against deep mid-year budget cuts. But $7.5 million is still $7.5 million.
Most of the funds are — no surprise — earmarked for the district’s health and wellness programs. OUSD has expanded its school-based health centers in recent years; soon, it will have 15. This fund will keep them going and make sure there’s a coordinator at each clinic, said Mara Larsen-Fleming, a program manager for OUSD who supervises the initiative.
Tony Smith’s strategic plan for “full-service community schools” got a $900,000 boost, too, and African American male achievement initiative will receive $600,000.
All of these funds will be managed by the East Bay Community Foundation.