Plan for Oakland schools up for approval Saturday

On Saturday, the Oakland school board is scheduled to vote on the superintendent’s five-year strategic plan — the product of 14 task forces and, according to the document, some 350 task force and community meetings.

The meeting begins at 9 a.m. in the board room at 1025 Second Ave. It’s supposed to run about two hours.

How did you take part in the process? Does this document reflect your ideas for improving OUSD? What will it take for this plan to materialize?

In case you missed it:

OUSD’s strategic plan

The Bay Area Parent Leadership Action Network sent out a news release saying it expected all four of its recommendations to make it into the final plan. They are:

  • Adopt and follow standards for family engagement to make meetings and events more accessible and parent-friendly
  • Improve training for parents who serve on school site governance councils
  • Establish a Family Engagement Advisory Council to give regular feedback to the district on ways to better involve the community
  • Hold monthly meetings with parents and youth in each of OUSD’s three regions to improve communication.

Katy Murphy

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

  • Cesar

    I hope the plan includes filling the empty classroom at Peralta School. I was recently informed that this high achieving, closing the achievement gap, welcoming, collaborative, beautiful, Distinguished, Title 1 Award winning, Full Service Community school with a HUGE wait list that includes neighborhood families will have an empty classroom. Don’t tell me you are going to hold fast to a decision to keep and empty classroom at Peralta! There can be no reason good enough to not fill every space in that place and if there is any decision based on the same thinking that is putting that school and community under the stress of losing a teaching (1)you ought to be ashamed of yourself (2) this district does not have a chance!

  • Jesse James

    Thank you Katy for getting the word out on this! I had no idea. I so appreciate this blog and the Oakland Tribune.

    Hey, when will you start writing about the principals of OUSD being transferred/demoted/promoted? Do we have to wait until July 1st? Will you address the fact that principals are being placed at sites without community/staff involvement? Doesn’t that go against the “new” OUSD? I can’t make it Saturday but OUSD’s website lists a community-based pricipal selection committee, (which Hillcrest, Grass Valley and Sequoia have), as part of the official selection process. Some schools havent been so lucky and will be assigned leaders. For those schools who have blossomed under a departing principal, this seems well, just wrong!

    Thanks again! Enjoy this weather!

  • Trish Gorham

    Our school will enter the principal selection process in 2011-2012. We have an interim principal appointed while we proceed.

    School Site Councils should demand a principal selection process for all principal vacancies.

    OEA and all OUSD unions should be made aware of any schools denied a principal selection process. Members should contact their union immediately if that is the case at their site.

  • Katy Murphy

    The meeting’s just getting started. Want to catch it live? Go here:


    and click the “live video” link.

  • Turanga_teach

    It’s my genuine understanding that the district DOES put all schools through the principal selection process–but there’s a deadline (I don’t know if it’s fixed or not) by which they need to know that a vacancy exists in order to do matching interviews that year. If the administrative leader puts in notice after that, the interim process kicks in and the school joins the next round–which, yes, can make for an interesting year in the meantime, but that ultimately works in a school’s favor just as often as not. I don’t think it’s something schools/SSCs need to fight for; it’s built in.

    Peralta’s situation is shared by a number of other schools across the district, including Sequoia, and connects to a larger district issue: under the current formula of allocating funds based on enrollment, and requiring school sites to fund all actual teacher salaries and benefits, we end up with many, many schools that can’t fund an adequate program (I’m talking a principal, a noon supervisor, someone to do attendance, and enough teachers to handle classes stuffed at contractual maximum: copier’s a bonus, and forget about the library) without extra resources kicking in.

    Hopefully the Board will be taking a good look at this, and the question of whether, in its laudable goal of reducing inequity across sites, RBB as currently practiced may have inadvertently created new inequities as well.

  • Katy Murphy

    The strategic plan has just been unanimously adopted by the school board.

  • Craig Gordon

    Cesar’s point (in Comment #1) about the district requiring Peralta Elementary to keep a classroom empty next year provides one of countless examples of the devastating effects of OUSD’s Results Based Budgeting. RBB requires schools to either push out veteran (higher-paid) teachers and replace them with new teachers at the bottom of the salary schedule or to accept more crowded classrooms. The district claims that this policy of age-discrimination and contract-violation results in a more equitable distribution of veteran and new teachers to all schools, but it has produced no evidence to support that claim. Meanwhile the empty classroom at Peralta demonstrates how RBB punishes successful, supportive schools that hold onto good, experienced teachers. That kind of success is simply not “cost-effective,” according to the RBB business model. Turning schools into revolving doors for new, inexpensive teachers, who are especially vulnerable to administrative pressure and less ready to become union activists: that is the district’s plan for “equity.”

  • Jesse James

    @ Turanga: Missing the deadline has nothing to do with principal vacancies when the vacancy is caused by the district transferring/demoting/promoting a principal. The district knows what it is doing regarding principal vacancies. Communities are kept in the dark until the deadline has passed. I really don’t know about this deadline you wrote about; it isn’t on the selection process timeline. If OUSD is to be community based all processes should be clearly delineated and followed equiyably is my point. And that certainly isn’t happening!

  • Yastrzemski

    Crocker Highlands is in the same situation, a school that rates a “10”, and they will have one less teacher next year and the same amount of kids. A retiring teacher not being replaced.

  • AlgebraTeacher

    OUSD claims community schools, but doesn’t fund them. I worked at West Oakland Middle which is considered a community school already, but has been in debt all year and the district froze our budget 3 times. They want to base their model off of the Harlem Children Zone which has an operating budget of millions of dollars. You can’t try to drastically change things without the proper funding! I was laid off and am no longer teaching in Oakland. I wish all the best of luck with this new plan, cause you’ll need it. Too bad the priority has never been on students in this district.

  • J.R.


    The funny thing is that the newly implemented plan alludes to the fact that money gets siphoned off, away from the classrooms, but never gets into specifics about cutting administration(it only gives the idea vague lip service). You are right, the kids in this district are going to continue to lose big time for the sake of adults, which is status quo all the way. It’s all about the money, and those that control it(the pols and the bureaucrats) will never put kids ahead of themselves, by making personal sacrifices.

  • Turanga_teach

    @Jesse James,
    Whoops–hadn’t thought of that. I’m more familiar with the principal making the decision to leave (retire, switch districts, etc.) after the matching interviews had already happened. What you mention is much stickier: point taken.

  • ILoveTeachers

    RBB has nothing to do with empty classrooms – you can blame that one on the ridiculously low per-pupil funding from the state. All RBB does is equalize funding across schools. I don’t think kids in schools with low-cost teachers should have to subsidize veteran teachers across town.

    Even if OUSD used a staffing formula based on contract maximums, Peralta (and Sequoia and Crocker) would still have the number of teachers it has now.

  • Craig Gordon

    Of course the problem goes far beyond Oakland. Of course the state grossly underfunds schools and all public services, as does the federal government. But Results Based Budgeting pushes responsibility for inadequate funding down to each school site, forcing each site to “choose” which arm or leg to chop off. When staff, students, and parents at the now-closed Paul Robeson School for Visual and Performing Arts protested the total elimination its performing arts classes, district administration replied that the school itself had “chosen” that particular cut—instead of what? English, science, math, or history?

    So RBB helps the district administration blame the victims and wash its hands of responsibility for its own choices: paying above-average salaries to top administration (two new associate supt. positions just added!), under-spending on teachers and support (in violation of the Ed Code’s minimum requirement), spending tens of millions on unnecessary subcontracts for private companies (including a new $742,000 contract for WestEd), and for refusing to publicly demand that corporations and the rich be taxed as much as it takes to adequately fund schools and other services students and their families need.

    RBB does not “equalize funding across schools.” It penalizes schools in low-income communities where many factors lead to lower attendance rates. Meanwhile schools with higher income families are able to fill gaps with private fundraisers far more easily than others can.

  • Yastrzemski

    @ I Love…. well guess what, OUSD doesn’t do that and the Crocker staff will have one less teacher next year (and Peralta and Sequoia). It is a reality and a shame…while other classrooms in other schools will have less than the 20:1 ratio, the schools with proven results and long waiting lists will be filled to capacity and have less staff to deal with it.

  • Lisa Capuano

    Instead of money being spent to hire people directly at the school site , the district is spending 6 figures on salaries and contracts that push toward centralization. THE CHILDREN ARE AT THE SITES! Achievement is at the sites. This is disastrous.

  • cesar

    Hello–there is a WAIT LIST for Peralta — negihborhood kids and Options Process folks who did all the right things – and simultaneously there is an empty classroom!

    By default then, it follows that we do not really want to pull families into our schools – we want them to go private!

    What’s the thinking?

  • livegreen

    As I understand RBB it dictates x amount per student for all schools. Schools that have teachers with seniority pay more per teacher but get those with more experience and less turnover. Schools with junior teachers pay less per teacher but get those with less experience and higher turnover, but then have money left over to supplement and make-up for those negatives with T/As, stip-subs, PD and programs the SSCs (made up of principal, teachers AND parents) decide on.

    All that of course is in a time of stability. In a time of layoffs how would both categories of schools (or those in between) be affected? Does boing work either way?

    Importantly even without RBB wouldn’t Peralta and schools like it still have a budget cut? Then wouldn’t they still lose a teacher either to retirement or to bumping to a school that had to lay off a less experienced junior teacher?

  • livegreen

    “Boing” should have been “Bumping”.