On Wednesday night at Oakland Technical High School, the Oakland school board votes on a staff resolution to close five elementary schools, Lakeview, Lazear, Marshall, Maxwell Park and Santa Fe. But the board is expected to be presented with another downsizing proposal, too: The faculties at two other schools, ASCEND and Learning Without Limits, have voted to secede from OUSD and operate those schools as independently run charters.
District staff estimate the budget shrinks by roughly $5,500 for each student who leaves OUSD (additional funds, such as the parcel tax, go to the district regardless of its enrollment/attendance). The enrollment of the two elementary schools adds up to about 800 — which means the district’s budget could take a hit of more than $4 million at the same time the administration is trying to save $2 million by closing schools.
It’s also noteworthy that ASCEND and Learning Without Limits are located in the same part of the city as Lazear Elementary, which is on the closure list. So if Lazear closes and the charter conversions are finalized, that would limit the options of Lazear families.
Other charter conversion details:
- ASCEND and Learning Without Limits would be managed by the Oakland-based Education for Change charter management organization, which now manages three schools — Cox, Achieve and World academies. Hae-Sin Thomas, a former ASCEND principal, was hired in July as the organization’s new CEO.
- A number of teachers do want to unionize after their schools “go charter” in 2012, but it’s evident that the majority differs from previous OEA and CTA positions on such issues as seniority-based layoff rules.
- The schools are filing petitions to remain in their buildings after their conversion. ASCEND is in a recently upgraded building near the Fruitvale BART station, and Learning Without Limits is on the old Jefferson campus, which it shares with Global Family.