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OUSD’s budget, and the “central” question

By Katy Murphy
Friday, February 18th, 2011 at 7:51 pm in budget.

Oakland schools, rather than the district’s HQ, might absorb almost all of the budget cuts coming from the state this year, district staff tell us. The rationale? That the central office took the brunt of the reductions last year, sustaining two-thirds of the cuts.

Do you buy it?

Before you answer, get the facts in this new financial report. It’s fascinating (for a financial report) because it slices the current and past-year’s expenses in so many ways.

About half of the cuts to the school district’s “unrestricted” (general-purpose) fund and 56 percent of the cuts to the total general fund came from central services, according to the report. (Note: This isn’t the full picture. Slide 2 suggests that adult education funds — which have been counted as “central” in past accounting, though they arguably are not — are not included in that breakdown. Early childhood education, food services, construction dollars and self insurance don’t appear to factor in either.)

READING TIP: Don’t stop at the appendix. Some of the best stuff is in there. Deputy Superintendent Vernon Hal told the Finance and Human Resources Committee this week that he kept adding slides as people asked questions, and they must be asking a lot of them.

Slide 57 and 58, for instance, break out the non-salary expenses relating to professional development. The items include $11,795 for furniture, a cost of training staff that I hadn’t considered.

Of course, it’s not all that helpful to lump all things “central” together. These expenses include a wide range of departments and programs, from school custodians and security officers to Regional Executive Officers (don’t call them NExO’s!) and special education.

To help break it down, I even made a spreadsheet — just for you. It’s nothing fancy, but you can find it here. Please let me know if you spot any errors.

One of the areas that seems to have made the lightest cut, percentage-wise, was district leadership (3.8 percent). Meanwhile, “extended education”  — a category that includes summer school, after-school, health services (nurses) and the Oakland Athletic League — was slashed by nearly 45 percent.

Thoughts? There’s so much information here, and I’d love to hear your questions and comments.

P.S. If you’re really into this topic and the rain has foiled your long-weekend camping trip, you can watch the presentation Hal gave by going here and clicking the video icon next to the agenda.

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  • http://www.skylinehs.org/apps/pages/index.jsp?uREC_ID=77763&type=u&rn=6808095 David Orphal

    ” Regional Executive Officers (don’t call them NExO’s!)” Do we call them “RExO’s” now? I wanna call them “RExO’s” now – It’ll bring a little levity for me in these depressing economic times…

  • J.R.

    “One of the areas that seems to have made the lightest cut, percentage-wise, was district leadership (3.8 percent)”.

    I already saw that coming as stated in a previous post, “Beware the shell game”. They are going to protect their admin admin jobs because frankly they probably could never get hired for anywhere near that kind of money(or benefits and job perks) in the private sector. They are probably under-qualified to do real measure-able results oriented hard work.

  • HistoryMan

    Totally agree with JR on district leadership taking a tiny cut.

    Interesting how Adult Ed did not take any cuts at all. Why is this?

    This might sound bad, but I’m not sad to see Professional Development take such a large cut (almost 30%) If it were good prof dev it would be one thing, but because its not im alright with cutting it.

  • Katy Murphy

    Adult education actually had about 60 percent of its budget wiped out this year — a $7 million cut out of $11.4 million. But adult ed funds — like food service and construction — weren’t included in the district’s presentation.

    For more background on adult ed: http://bit.ly/e3f6tH

  • Livegreen

    Questions:
    -If Adult Education isn’t part of the District presentation, I assume it is part of another budget category here. Which?
    -These look to be the proposed cuts in Expenditures. To have clarity, it would be nice to know the revenue sources, and changes there-in;
    -Summer Programs and Health Services are one of the largest budget areas. Can we have an explanation and breakdown? (eg. Health service to employees or students? How many nurses are employed? other details for the largest categories?)
    -Do teachers think it would be feasible for Professional Development to take a big hit for a year or two? (I assume, hope this is for teachers);
    -How much is spent on Consultants, what’s the breakdown between Central and Site-Based, and how much is spent on the Strategic Plan Consultants?

    Troy Flint promised us a breakdown some time ago and we still haven’t received it. In the meantime there have been countless consultant led Strategic Plan outreach meetings, and looong presentations to the Board. Many going overtime…I assume somebody’s paying for that?

    We’re re-inventing the wheel, and we don’t have the money to keep the existing one rolling. Where’s the money to build a new one?

    It’s fine to have really big ideas, and shell out on consultants who are planning, but it doesn’t matter IF WE DON’T HAVE MONEY TO PAY FOR IT.

  • Cranky Teacher

    “summer school, after-school, health services (nurses) and the Oakland Athletic League”

    Wow. These are the activities that keep kids off “the streets”.

  • del

    I am as cynical as most, but I will say this… things were cut deep at district HQ. To the point where they weren’t able to deliver district mail on time. To the point where we had to go to the warehouse & pick up our own orders.
    In terms of district leadership, there were a number of positions cut, for example the middle school NeXOs were cut and replaced by a ReXO (I like the names too) that works with both middle & elementary schools. This hasn’t been a very positive change for middle schools, as we are now lumped in with a really large group or schools that do not share very similar challenges, and our ReXOs are also unfamiliar with these challenges.
    The reality is that we are trying to cut and there’s not even enough there to cover the basics as it is.

  • Katy Murphy

    This is a late response to HistoryMan’s point about professional development:

    It appears PD and curriculum took a huge hit on the “unrestricted” side — about 46 percent. But the total budget in 2010-11 shown in row 28 — “restricted” plus “unrestricted” — is about 5.4 percent smaller than it was the year before.

    The chart was hard to read all the way across, so I’ve added some strategic shading.

  • Lucha

    This budget situation is heart wrenching. The line graph in the powerpoint is very telling about the reality of the budget situation. I’m a “chop from the top” believer as much as the next person but at one point there isn’t a whole lot of top to chop from anymore. Central office let a lot of staff go last year leading to unprecedented consolidation…not the best for schools and families.

    No easy answers here. The next year will be bare bones in OUSD, Peralta, and our neighboring higher ed. institutions.

  • livegreen

    Meeting Refreshments, JUST for Professional Development, is $41,706.