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More details on Oakland principal reassignment notices

Why, some of you asked, would the Oakland school district tell all of its principals that they might be reassigned to another position next year? Unless the district plans to run schools without principals, does that mean school closures are imminent?

Troy Flint, the district’s spokesman, said that closing schools is not one of the district’s “primary solutions” to the budget crisis. But, he said, closures and consolidations could end up happening as a last resort, depending on how the state closes its $25 billion budget gap.

Remember that $900-per-student doomsday scenario cut that could result from the $12 billion tax extension failing (which, in itself, is expected to mean $330 less per student) paired with additional education cuts?

If such a scenario comes to pass, Flint said, “then, at that point, school closures would be a very distinct possibility.”

But right now, Flint said, schools are creating their budgets based on the assumption that they will have $349 less per student next year. If that holds, he said he believed that “principal reassignment would be minimal, if it occurred.”

Another Q: What about principal swaps — shuffling principals from one school to another? Is that a reason behind the reassignment notices?

Flint: “I don’t think we’re using it as an opportunity to reposition principals for non-financial reasons.”

Katy Murphy

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

  • livegreen

    Thanks for the follow-up and clarifications, Katy and Troy.

    Separate but related: It’s time to start planning which ineffective small schools should be closed. Right now. It’s better to aim the cuts where there are failures, than share them by cutting schools, programs and teachers that are effective.

    The Gates Foundation isn’t around any longer and we shouldn’t be paying for the empty baggage they left us with. Question: Where does Tony Smith, especially given his background, come out on this?

    Can’t OUSD measure successful vs. failed small schools well enough to know where the failures are right now? (Without hiring more consultants to tell us which schools, when the grades and test scores are already available).

  • EO Teacher

    I agree that ineffective small schools need to be restructured, consolidated, or closed. But what defines ineffective?
    Take EOSA, one of the schools that the court of public opinion says should be closed.
    According to Ed-Data, their African American (largest subgroup) API is 540.

    Let’s compare that to the large high schools:
    Tech: 533
    O-High: 546
    Skyline: 591

    One could make a case that all 4 of those schools are ineffective, with EOSA not being the worse of the bunch. So if it’s a cost – effectiveness analysis, yes you have a point. EOSA is getting the same outcomes by arguably costing more money. But let’s be real careful about crucifying the “ineffective small schools.” In most cases they serve their population no worse than the large high schools. And in some cases they serve them better.
    Life Academy is a prime example – Latino API is 658, which is 100 points higher than Oakland High’s Latino API,

    If the critique is expense, call it that. The ineffective argument is moot in OUSD, where the “best” schools are still undeserving minority students.

  • livegreen

    EO Teacher, I’m not sure what OUSD should wait and study some more? I think you make the point for EOSA and any school performing at or below the same level to be closed.

    For those that are scoring higher, well, there’s more to study. But just because another school’s situation needs to be studies or carefully considered doesn’t mean ALL the schools need to be studies or considered.

  • TheTruthHurts

    Closing and reopening schools in the same neighborhoods every 5 years also isn’t a sign of genius.

  • http://girlsmovingforward.com Lacy Asbill

    I appreciated hearing at the last school board meeting that discussions about school closures are veering away from strict and one-dimensional discussions about low-performing schools, and instead are being set in the context of larger concerns about creating a quality school in every neighborhood. Continuing to close west Oakland and flatland schools is not a long-term solution to educating our community, even if these schools are low-performing. I DO think that this is the year to make some tough decisions about the number of SUSTAINABLE schools in OUSD, and I DO believe that fewer, better resourced schools would be better for our students on the whole. However, I’m sick of seeing schools filled with low-income students of color attacked for their educational outcomes without receiving the wrap-around support and meaningful restructuring they need to be successful.

  • J.R.

    Lacy,
    I’m sure you have heard the phrase “A leopard cannot change his spots”, well that applies here. Those who do not see education as important, necessary, and life changing will not be cajoled or nursed into it. No amount of money,resources or support will help what truly ails this community. People having kids that they cannot support financially,morally and emotionally. In short, broken families can only be healed from within. Get some core values,morals, and something to believe in and stick with it. Do not allow the taxpayers to take care of you and your progeny.

  • Starshaped

    I think the district is being very foolhearty in all their doomsday predictions. Scared teachers and principals are ineffective teachers and principals. The brain trust which is the district, is sending out years of service records through the mail to teachers’ and principals’ homes on Friday and expect them back to the DO by Wednesday. Hello! Monday is a holiday, limiting the mail service by one day already. Not to mention the cost of stamps to send these out. Why weren’t they given to principals to give to their staff and then given back to the principals to bring back to the district? This is the kind of idiocy happening down there.

    Moving teachers and principals around helps no one. Many of us are invested in our community. Ripping us out of our community is gaureenteed to hurt our communities, no matter where the communities are. I’m hoping beyond hope that all this drama is mere scare tactics like many of my collegues are saying they are.

    What the district needs to do first is to dismantle sites with multiple administrators like at TCN and ICS. Its a drop in the bucket, but it would be less messy than getting rid of a bunch of highly invested teachers who love their school communities. I have moved sites a few times and it literally takes 2 years to feel really connected to a school. I would be devestated if I was moved from my school.