The skinny on OUSD’s leaner-than-lean budget

The Oakland school district on Wednesday night unanimously passed a budget for the upcoming school year — a conservative plan that included deep cuts and extra cash reserves to help cushion the district against the state’s volatile funding stream.

The school district’s total budget for 2011-12 is projected to be $472.8 million, down from $650.5 million in 2010-11. More than three-quarters of the decline — $136 million of the $178 million drop — is construction related. That’s because the district has used much of its voter-approved bond money. So (Can you tell where this is going?) board members are already talking about asking Oakland taxpayers to support another levy, possibly next year.

The school district’s general fund is smaller, too, without federal stimulus funds to mitigate years of state cutbacks: $376 million, down from $412 million in 2010-11.

To balance the budget, OUSD relied even more heavily this year on (previously protected) adult education funds. More than 90 percent of adult education’s ongoing state funding will be diverted to other purposes. While GED programming will be funded at the same levels as this past year, the district will end its high school diploma program and others, such as citizenship classes and ESL for refugees, said Brigitte Marshall, director of Oakland’s adult education programs.

Oakland’s popular family literacy program will continue, but with less funding than it had in 2010-11 — and likely in a different form and without many of its teachers. Marshall said those teachers had been laid off.

Carlene Naylor, the district’s state-appointed trustee, said that while the state budget — for now — provides k-12 education the same amount of money as it did the previous year, that is based on highly optimistic projections about the amount of revenue the state will collect in the 2011-12 fiscal year. If those revenues fall significantly short of projections, California schools will automatically be hit with major mid-year cuts of up to $1.5 billion, probably in February, she said.

An education-specific budget bill enacted this week would allow — but not mandate — school districts to cover those cuts by slicing seven days off the end of the school year. Each district would need to negotiate such a change with its unions if it decided to do so, Naylor said.

“Basically you’re going to operate the school year for seven months before you know whether you’ll get the funding included in the state budget,” Naylor told the board.

On a final note, OUSD’s long-term debt still looms large. The district owes $74 million on state emergency loans that resulted from its infamous fiscal meltdown of 2002-03, and another $10 million for the early retirement package it offered this year.

Katy Murphy

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

  • Jesse James

    Katy~will you post principal assignments soon? There have yet to be public announcements about the changes (many secretive and in the works for months). I believe the new assignments begin today. The lack of transparency and community involvement is SO disheartening!!!

  • jesse james

    Also clerical bumps? The longtime secretary that you wrote about last year has now been laid off! I hope this bumping story will be covered again.

  • Alice Spearman

    The principal assignment list should be posted. It was approved by board.

  • seenitbefore

    Cannot find any listings on the OUSD website….. if there’s any way to get this information about next year’s personnel… it would be a big help to teachers and school communities trying to make plans and hold things together. Anything that can be done to make the list public and “transparent” would be appreciated. Thanks!

  • Jesse James

    I’ve looked in at the website too. Perhaps it was done in closed meetings.

  • Steven Weinberg

    I was able to get the personnel report for the last Board Meeting, which contains many administrative positions going to the School Board tab on the OUSD webpage and selecting Legislative Information Center(http://ousd.legistar.com/Legislation.aspx) and then entering personnel report in the search box. I clicked on the number that goes with the last report and then clicked on the text button. I hope that helps.

  • Katy Murphy

    I posted the full report, too.

  • Jesse James

    The list is not a complete list nor does it say where new principals are going. The new principal at Grass Valley was at Sequoia–this change was announced before June 16. David Silver left TCN I thought yet his position is listed as principal with no change. There is another list somewhere.

    The most shocking and absolute loss to the kids of Oakland is Eve Gordon’s demotion to the classroom. What a shining brilliant light METWEST is. I hope that this was her decision. What an complete shock to see her name on the list and that her assignment is TBD.

    Ash Solar’s left. That wasn’t announced. Who else? It’s not a vote of confidence when a person who seems to have a lot of integrity drops out.

    This just strengthens my belief that Tony Smith is just a wolf in sheep’s clothing. I want leadership that makes sense, is clear and goal oriented. Things are just plain murky, discouraging and heartbreaking.

  • Jesse James

    It does say where principal assignments are I’m sorry. Laurel is getting a new principal but where is the old one going? His name’s not there nor is Sequoia’s or Grass Valley’s. Who will take Eve Gordon’s place? Are the assignments interim? Why did some schools get selection committees and other schools have to look through this list to find out who their new leaders are?

  • Turanga_teach

    Having carefully followed the directions given by #6, I have now downloaded 3 different pieces of OUSD letterhead with the helpful statement, “”

    And my school still doesn’t officially know who its principal is yet despite the fact that the person is (understandably, and thank God) already on the job.

    OUSD, the easiest way I know of to restore trust in a previously broken system is to, er, stop breaking @#it.

  • Turanga_teach

    Oh, the helpful statement was destroyed by the Interwebz because I put it in brackets. Behold the glory of:

    “Enter body here” !!!