Oakland school district staff have built a 2 percent raise for all district employees into the 2011-12 budget projections, an increase that they say will cost $2 million.
At the same time, the district plans to cut its expenses by $12 million — at least, initially, according to a presentation to the board’s Finance & Human Resources Committee by Deputy Superintendent Vernon Hal. (Watch his presentation here, under 11-0123.)
Troy Flint, the district spokesman, said principals were asked this week to prepare budgets for next year with 7 percent less — an improvement from the 15 percent cut mentioned before winter break. He said layoffs were a possibility, but that nothing had been determined.
Betty Olson-Jones, the Oakland teachers union president, said the raise was “sorely deserved.” But given the fiscal climate in California, she said, she is concerned it might result in larger class sizes.
Hal said at last week’s committee meeting that he built raises into the budget in response to the school board’s budget priorities, to be approved by the school board tonight: 1) improve teacher retention 2) eliminate the structural deficit and 3) increase employee compensation.
STATE BUDGET CONTEXT: Even though Gov. Jerry Brown says he wants to keep education funding flat, that hinges on a temporary tax extension that has to make it onto the June ballot and then be approved by voters — as well as other spending cuts that Brown proposed to non-education programs. But the results of the election and the details of the final state budget won’t be known until months after the March 15 deadline to notify teachers of a possible layoff.
OAKLAND’S PLAN: So the Oakland school district is preparing for the worst. It plans to cut $12 million in general purpose funds for 2011-12 and continue using $4.5 million of adult education funds for K-12 programs. Meanwhile, the district will likely also prepare a better-case scenario budget that adds many of the cuts back in.
Do you think the raises should go through? Should they apply to all district employees, including upper management? Do you agree with the three budget priorities, or would you set them differently?