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The School Closure List

By Katy Murphy
Saturday, September 24th, 2011 at 5:12 pm in school closures.

Oakland’s school closure recommendations are posted.

Oakland Superintendent Tony Smith and his staff are proposing the district close five elementary schools — Lakeview, Lazear, Marshall, Maxwell Park and Santa Fe — in 2012. They would also expand two others, Burckhalter and Kaiser (either at existing campuses or at another location, and with all current teachers, staff and administrators), by Aug. 2013. The goal of the expansion, as proposed, is to be able to accommodate at least 380 students at each school.

This will all be discussed at a 5 p.m. meeting Tuesday in the Oakland High School theater. The board could vote on the school closures as soon as Oct. 12. The final date slated for a board vote is Oct. 26.

District staff estimates the five closures, along with the current merger of the Castlemont/YES high schools, will save the district $2.26 million in general-purpose funds; that figure does not count teacher costs, as the teachers would move to other schools, or special-purpose money.

Staff is also proposing a separate, earlier School Options process for the 882 general education and 77 special education students who attend the schools slated for closure (in kindergarten through fourth grade). It would run from Nov. 1 through Dec. 5, the first date of the regular Options kickoff.

In addition to the proposed closures and expansion of Kaiser and Burckhalter, staff might add grade levels, one year at a time, to Greenleaf, La Escuelta, Lincoln, Manzanita Community (which is listed as a merged campus with Manzanita SEED, the dual-language immersion school) and Sankofa elementary schools, as well as at Madison Middle School (See Slide #13). Some of those decisions are supposed to be made by Dec. 14, according to the slide.

What do you make of these recommendations?


School closure recommendations

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  • Oakland parent

    Katy – Thankfully the decision at Manzanita has been to sloooow the process down to figure out how not to lose all the good work that has happened over the past five years at Manzanita Community School and also to grow Manzanita Seed in a sustainable way. This is alluded to in one of the last slides, Shared Campus Criteria Development, which shows that no decision will be made until August 2012 as to what changes will be made at the campus for 2013-14. I’m so glad that the district listened to parents at staff at both schools on this one.

  • Anon

    Katy, for the schools proposed for closure, do you know if OUSD has identified specific receiving schools? (I know that was supposed to be part of the final analysis before making the recommendations, so I assume they’ve started to consider that.) I’m especially curious about Santa Fe.

  • Katy Murphy

    The appendices report (which you can find at this OUSD link: http://bit.ly/oakvgh) provides more details about the transitions students would make, the rationale for some of the recommendations, and the timelines for grade configuration changes.

    For Santa Fe students (Slide #20), it mentions Sankofa, Piedmont Avenue and Peralta.

  • http://PetervonEhrenkrook Peter von Ehrenkrook

    Thank you Katy for the directions to the appendix. Buried there is a rather weak case for closing Santa Fe vs. Sankofa. We will see if the Board is receptive to the discrepancies in logic on September 27th. By the way, Denise Saddler did provide a partial list of reponses to our questions on Friday, for which we were grateful.

  • Turanga_teach

    Buried somewhere in all the relief about Kaiser and Burkhalter being spared is the reality that both Marshall (Language Enriched SDCs) and Maxwell Park (Reading Clinic) host relatively large and overwhelmingly successful special education programs, which have benefited tremendously from having enough space for multiple grades on one site. I thought that one of the original factors that would be looked into was whether a closure would disproportionately impact students with disabilities. What will OUSD do to preserve and protect the integrity of these much-needed programs?

  • http://KatyMurphy'sBlog Patricia Lee-Morris

    I am a parent in the Burckhalter school district. My African American male child has grown up at Burckhalter School from kindergarten up to now; he’s in the 4th grade at present. He has improved tremendously and are still growing! It would be totally devastating to see the our neighborhood school close as we are able to get our morning walk on each morning prior to the start of school. If I’m unable to pick the children up timely due to my work schedule, he and his kindergarten sister are able to walk home and know that they can get there safely as they are known in this community. We love Burckhalter, the principal; Ms. Geathers and all our teachers and parents; we are a close knit family who believe in education. We are the best and the record speaks for itself!

  • livegreen

    I’m all for families from closed schools getting some priority in finding new schools, but the question is WHAT priority. For example, it should be based on available space AFTER sibling and neighborhood placement. Not BEFORE. Such relocated families would then still have priority in open enrollment, based on available space.

    However I don’t see how this can happen if relocated families go through Options before other families. Please advise?

  • livegreen

    If OUSD displaces families with siblings and/or neighborhood families who are attending their neighborhood school, they’re just going to create an additional fire storm for a new population. & by then it will be after enrollment and harder to fix.

  • Anon

    @livegreen, I was thinking the same thing until it occurred to me that this probably isn’t a huge issue, because we’re talking about kids entering Grades 1-5—not the kindergarten pool, which is when the vast majority of neighborhood or sibling families enter the schools. Most of the students in 1-5 at any given school are returning students, so the schools will know how many spots they have. (Not sure how to get around the issue of not knowing you have a spot till school starts if families move and don’t notify the school, but that would tend to err on the side of protecting neighborhood/sibling families.) Neighborhood kids entering after K are usually because they’re moving into a zone or leaving private/charter schools, which may or may not coincide with the start of the school year—so I’m not sure they follow the same calendar as the K options process. I’m guessing that affected siblings entering Grades 1-5 will be very few and far between. It might be possible for schools to hold a couple of spots for new neighborhood students should there be any, though, and then assign these spots to waiting list students from the displaced schools if no neighborhood students materialize.

  • Special Education Parent

    Katy:
    Could you look into the questions posed by Turanga_Teach regarding the re-located Special Ed Programs? Could you also bring to the surface the unique challenges and instability that Special Ed in OUSD continues to face:
    –a super-majority of interns placed in SpEd classrooms (separation without specialized support=segregation)
    –the push-out effect on SDC’s of schools wanting
    classroom space to fit in additional Gen Ed students (additional moneys for school budgets from each Gen Ed child in the building)
    –the recent dramatic loss of leadership at the top of Programs for Exceptional Children
    –continuing lack of an articulated vision for Special Ed district-wide (just look at the documents for the Community schools reform)
    –the unconscionable number of aide vacancies during
    times when many people are looking for work
    –AND, the continual closure of schools with successful and long-standing SpEd programs.

    More specifically, the Reading Clinic is a loss although it is an intervention program that students received for a part of the day. In contrast, Marshall was the home school for SDC students at every grade level. Its loss is a terrible blow; a loss that is difficult to measure. I do not trust that the OUSD administration truly knows what they have destroyed by closing the site.

  • livegreen

    Good point Anon. OUSD Administrators & Board members might have thought of all this, but it’s still important to raise issues like these just in case. People are starting to return to our neighborhood elementary school (dropping out of private school, moving here, etc.). It would be terrible timing if things were not carefully balanced and they weren’t able to make it in.

    I hope you’re right that they keep a little space open for neighborhood families new to the school. Thanks for thinking it through with me…

  • livegreen

    Special Ed Parent’s comments in #10 mean that, if OUSD doesn’t pay attention to this issue, all schools/classrooms/students will pay the price by not having adequate programs or support, if good Special Ed programs being phased out are not replaced with something meaningful.

  • Katy Murphy

    The Oakland Education Association’s response to the closure proposal: http://bit.ly/pYcWtU

  • Harold

    I like the OEA response to the closures. Lower class size is good for students. Counselors are good for students. Not one word about a raise for the membership.

    @J.R. – Look, the union is putting students first!!

  • J.R.

    Harold,
    There are going to be many more school closings this is just phase one(unfortunately,more to come). That was pretty humorous about charters starving OUSD, before there were charters OUSD was under-performing(just like NOW)who was to blame -THEN-(before 2000) when OUSD had the whole river of tax money to itself(and yet it was never enough)? Academics have suffered through underachievement for decades, and yet the parents their children have overpaid for the privilege.

  • Lisa Capuano Oler

    There are are so many factors that went into the school improvements we see today. It is an oversimplification and falsehood to state it is the competition of charters that made the schools better. This is simply not true.
    There was a value placed on smaller class sizes and smaller schools that makes a huge difference in serving children. There is Edusoft, which gives teachers immediate data that drives instruction so differentiation can occur, which is simply a more efficient and effective way to teach. Open Court Reading provides many inexperienced / new teachers with a very specific, albeit, scripted way to teach phonemic awareness and reading. And O.U.S.D. has given us teachers some of the best professional development out there. This is the tip of the iceberg.
    Frankly, we are the schools that receive children those charters do not want. I have had MANY parents let me know that they removed their children from various charters for many different reasons. But they all amounted to the same thing, if your child does not fit in, then it is best you take them to an OUSD Public School. Their loss.
    Really, I do not care whether a successful school is charter or not. But I do care when the playing field is not equal. But as the pendulum swings, and the well runs dry for grant money to charters and some folks wake up and see that the privatization of public education is just another way for people to scam money from children, we will still be there teaching.
    And those of you who think teachers are overpaid..please, ask Mr. Smith what the salaries are for those task force people downtown. Ask how much he makes, and compare that to the President’s salary. There are many salaries downtown that should come under scrutiny. But you are just too busy teacher bashing.

  • Sue

    Does anyone know how many Oakland students attend private schools? I would think that the number of those students far outnumber the kids at the city’s charter schools. Katy do you have that data?

    If its higher than the 8 thousand that attend charter schools- why is there no outcry for them? Is it because they are the affluent, the demographics, or the students of OUSD and union members?

  • another interested parent

    @Harold – there is just no way that smaller class sizes are going to come about by virtue of closing a few schools. The OEA’s response is very idealistic. Which is fine.

    But what I have heard is that due to the continuing problems with the state budget, mid-year cuts to K-12 state funding are likely. And next year’s OUSD budget is likely to be even smaller than this year’s, thus requiring even more cuts from school sites. A potential savings of $2million from this small amount of school closures/combinations will not provide enough money to help make class sizes smaller next year. Given the results based budgeting by OUSD and average daily attendance payments from the state, each school site has a huge incentive to enroll as many kids as it can fit in its classrooms. The potential small savings from this first round of closures will not change this, I suspect.

  • J.R.

    Lisa,
    You are welcome to show the data that proves OUSD was a higher performing district(aside from the hills, because they have been pretty consistent) prior to the era of charters.

  • livegreen

    #18 Another Interested Parent, good comments about the State budget. & it’s not going to change until Parents & Teachers stand up to either party & tell them that Education gets cut LAST, not FIRST (before the special interests that finance both parties). It’s going to get ugly and we must confront the Politicians.

  • Fletch

    Can anyone post the research showing scientifically that smaller class sizes lead to better outcomes? Thanks.

  • Hamere

    I have a child at Lakeview elementary. The possible school closure makes me so upset. Lakeview is a great school. It is in a safe area for our kids. Kids are very much disciplined. The teachers are wonderful. The school have a terrific after school program. You can get kids from all over the world. The kids can learn a lot about different cultures. Lakeview is a legendary school. We have many reasons we like about this school. But mostly, we parents have a peace of mind at work because our kids are in good hands. Oakland needs to open more schools not to close them. Kids are our future. Education is a key to everything. I am shouting only for Lakeview but to all the schools on the list. Please, save them all.
    Angry Parent

  • another interested parent

    @Fletch — isn’t that one of the reasons that you chose to send your kids to private school? Didn’t you want more individual attention for your kids and fewer kids in each class for a teacher to focus on? The problem with any study is that they are only as good as the folks putting them together and the underlying goal that the researchers are trying to prove. Years ago when smaller class size was in vogue, there were studies showing how that helped performance. Now, with budget cuts across the country, we are beginning to see studies showing that smaller class size doesn’t help performance — probably an effort to convince parents to keep their kids in the public schools. The pendulum will swing back again at some point, I’m sure.

    While I am not a teacher, I am in my children’s school virtually every day volunteering. From what I can see — a teacher with 30 kids in his/her class has a more difficult time teaching than one with 25 or 20. Does it mean that nothing is being taught? Certainly not. But in this district, with a lack of emphasis on special ed and an almost total disregard for programs for gifted students, differentiated teaching is supposed to be taught. Can’t you do a better job of that with fewer kids in the classroom? Just from what I can see, as an interested parent, it is a lot harder to give more specialized attention, run group projects, grade assignments thoroughly, keep order, etc. when there are 30 or more in a classroom in the elementary/middle school level. And imagine how much harder it would be if you had numerous behavior problems to deal with as well.

    I really doubt that there is a “magic class size” number that is the most efficacious and efficient. But I also don’t believe I need any studies to convince me that smaller class sizes do help the students.

  • Seenitbefore

    OUSD needs to be OPENING schools…..not CLOSING them….. They need to open schools with the specific purpose of providing an educational setting that is solely designed to deal with the high numbers of at-risk and behaviorally challenged students that are not able to be served at the various “regular” school sites.

    Other districts do this all the time and are able to offer services and behavior modification to troubled students. We do nothing except “DHP” a behavior problem to another school… where the cycle keeps going until the kid eventually drops out.

    Research some of the working systems…like:

    http://alc.aliefisd.net/home.aspx?goto=home

    http://www.oxford.k12.ms.us/olc/site/default.asp

    http://www.montgomeryschoolsmd.org/departments/alternative-programs/

    http://www.cps.edu/Programs/Pathways_to_success/Alternative_education_and_transition/Pages/AlternativeSafeSchools.aspx

    http://www.altedbps.org/school.asp?schooltype=middle&recordid=bmsa1

  • Gordon Danning

    Re: the effect of smaller class sizes, I have read repeatedly that there is little evidence that smaller class size, in and of itself, has much effect on achievement.

    But, that is not quite the right question. The real question is whether smaller classes PLUS instruction, etc, that can only take place in smaller classes leads to better outcomes.

    For example, most teachers I know would like to assign more writing. But, if all 160 of my students turn in a paper, and I spend 10 minutes grading each one, it will take 27 hours to grade them all. So, how often can most teachers assign papers? Once every 2 weeks? With smaller classes, teachers can assign papers more frequently. Moreover, if I have 32 students in a class, and I want to spend a day giving individual attention, I can spend less than 2 minutes per student. Most students need a lot more than that. Smaller classes creates the opportunity for more individual attention.

    Long story short, if some day there is money for smaller classes, then any class size reduction must be coupled with an insistence that teachers alter their practices to take advantage of the smaller classes. Otherwise, class size reduction is largely a waste of money.

  • Another Lakeview Advocate.

    Jr
    You apparently need some reading comprehension instruction. You take fragments of a sentence and construe your reality around them. Have fun with that.

    As far as “scientific data” around lower class sizes, there are so many variables with this data and it often can be interpreted many different ways. I am a teacher. I can spend more time 1:1 with students if there are less of them. Not exactly rocket science.
    Thank-you “Another Interested Parent”. You said it all.

  • Oakland Teacher

    There is a really simple answer to the question posed in #17: Private schools are not run with public money. This tends to eliminate many arguments against them. I can guarantee you that the lack of outcry has NOTHING the fact that the families may be affluent, white, two-parent or any other nonsense. It has to do with the fact that those schools are not run with public funding.

    As an Oakland teacher, homeowner, community volunteer, and OUSD parent, I resent the heck out of your comment that I keep my mouth shut because it is OUSD employees children attending those schools.

    1. Most OUSD teachers (unless they have a high earning spouse) could NEVER afford a private school for their child. Most OUSD teachers I know send their kids to OUSD schools.
    2. I never once thought about sending my kids anywhere besides OUSD schools. This is my community. This is where we live.
    3. I hated to see the defection of families to private high schools following middle school. My kids saw most of their peer group go to private schools, even as far as SF. I railed against it when it happened to my oldest child; on subsequent kids I just tried to be a model that OUSD graduating students can succeed wildly, and get scholarships to highly regarded universities across the country.
    4. I learned early on that engaging in an “outcry” only led to nothing positive. People who choose to send their kids to private school aren’t asking for my opinion on their decision. Affecting public policy decisions will not affect private schools.
    5. Charter schools are run with public money. I have a right to be concerned that they are sapping off so many of our students. I see the kids they send back to OUSD, because they “weren’t a good fit for the school”. The research does not show that they are substantially better as a group than public schools, and they do pick and choose their students. They avoid special ed students whenever possible.

    I have to assume that poster #17 “Sue” is NOT the Sue (a SHS parent) who has posted so many thoughtful responses over the years on this blog. I find this posting offensive and hateful.

    #17: “Does anyone know how many Oakland students attend private schools? I would think that the number of those students far outnumber the kids at the city’s charter schools. Katy do you have that data?

    If its higher than the 8 thousand that attend charter schools- why is there no outcry for them? Is it because they are the affluent, the demographics, or the students of OUSD and union members?”

  • Stacey

    Hi Katy,
    Thanks for the tip to check out the appendices. It brings up some concerns about the special education students at these schools and about what future decision-making will look like.
    The strategic plan notes how significant the achievement gaps are for students with special needs. Yet I don’t see how these students and their achievement levels were considered as part of the equation in a formal way. It would be interesting to hear from the families of special education students at these schools. Do they feel as though they were involved in the decision-making process? How did they participate in the discussion about moving programs and closing their schools? Continuum of services is absolutely an issue of concern but the question of improving academic achievement and creating a sense of community must be considered and addressed with respect to this at-risk population too. Did that discussion occur?
    I also would be interested to find out if these families will be provided with, or have been provided with a list of alternative special education programs located in OUSD schools. Members of the special education community have repeatedly, privately and publicly requested a list of special education programs and sites. That directory has not been made available to families for at least the last five years. The Reading Clinic that is mentioned on this site is a gem of a program that most families only find out about through word of mouth from other families. The District provides many specialized programs which remain at sites consistently from year to year. It is puzzling as to why the District refuses to share this information with families to help families understand their options and make the most appropriate decisions for their children. I hope that the District will share this important program information with all families, and especially these most impacted families, immediately.
    Stacey

  • little john

    According to the lastest information the Oakland Tribune had posted an article pertaining to 5 schools tentatively being closed.
    I have something to say of importance and that is “To be Fore-warned is to be Fore-armed!”
    Has anyone thought that there is a very strong possibility of vandalism occurring to steal the copper pipes and copper wiring!
    If you can please consider arrangements to be made for the proper authorities to protect the integrity of the tax payers properties.
    In this day and time, the unexexpected can happen and will happen if the proper measures are not taken to protect the school properties.

    Thank you for your time.

    A past security officer…..

  • Sue

    Oakland Teacher

    First of all there MUST be more than one Sue same as their is definetely more than one Oakland Teacher….right?

    I am sorry that my questions have offended you so greatly. However, my intuition tells me that that is because you are an Oakland Teacher.

    I am not criticizuind those that choose to send their kids to provate schools- if they can afford it…good for them.

    My concern is for those that have no choice.

    By the way……..over 22,000 OUSD students attend private schools!!!! That is an incredible number. Nealy four times that of charter schools right?
    Illuminating!!

  • Sue

    Yes, there’s at least two Sue’s posting here. I’ve been posting for the last 4-5 years, since my now-college-sophomore (with autism) was a part of an article Katy wrote about one of his peers who was suing the district for discrimination due to the student’s autism spectrum disability.

  • Sue

    I am just Sue.I still think private school numbers are huge and should also be discussed casue its large-thats all!

    This is a blog for christs sake! Not an A A meeting.

  • Katy Murphy

    True, but I understand why long-time commenters would want to distinguish their comments and point-of-view from others who use the same name — for clarity’s sake.