The Oakland school district administration has posted the names of schools that could be considered for closure in 2012 under the criteria the school board approved last month. It will be discussed — but not voted on — at tonight’s 6 p.m. special school board study session.
ELEMENTARY schools “identified for possible closure consideration”: Burckhalter, Kaiser, Lakeview, Lazear, Marshall, Maxwell Park, Santa Fe, Sobrante Park
MIDDLE schools: Claremont, Frick
HIGH schools: the document lists the seven schools that are already being consolidated into two schools on the Fremont and Castlemont campuses.
The document emphasizes that the list is “not a recommendation at this time.” The board is not slated to make a decision on school closures until late October. Also: Although Frick and Claremont are highlighted in yellow on Slide #9, another slide (#12) suggested no middle schools in OUSD would be closed next year. I’m sure the discrepancy will be discussed tonight.
It’s clear from the list (and further study of the criteria) that the dominant factors in this system are enrollment (link to 2010-11 data here), population density and facility capacity. I noticed that the ranking system only calls for a school’s performance to be considered when that school shares a boundary with another school that’s also deemed among the “least needed.”
I asked district spokesman Troy Flint, via email, to verify this assessment. He wrote, “…the method is not an absolute recommendation for how to proceed and there’s latitude to make school specific decisions.” I asked if my interpretation of the criteria was accurate, and he responded, “You’re correct in thinking that geography, `where we need schools’ relative to student density, is the first order consideration generally, but it doesn’t have to be exclusively so.”
We’ll see what the board says tonight. You can find a link to the presentation here.