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Next step for families affected by Oakland’s school closures

Staff Photojournalist

As they come to terms with the upcoming closure of their schools, families from Oakland’s Lakeview, Lazear, Marshall, Maxwell Park and Santa Fe elementary schools must now decide where to send their children next fall.

Typically, OUSD (and prospective OUSD) families submit their top school picks — mostly for kindergarten, sixth and ninth grades — by Jan. 15. The hundreds of children affected by upcoming school closures will make their choices earlier and will receive their placements by Dec. 19, according to this letter from OUSD.

In other words, they have first dibs on the open seats in grades 1 to 5.

The district has sent families at the five elementary schools a list of each school and the number of spaces available now, by grade level. Families are supposed to meet with a coordinator at their schools to help them find a good match.

It looks as though most, if not all, elementary schools are on the list. Even the famously overcrowded Hillcrest will make a tiny bit of room. I noticed that ASCEND and Learning Without Limits on there, even though there is a good chance they will become charter schools (and not subject to OUSD enrollment policies) next year.

Has anyone begun this process? If so, tell us how it’s going.

Available seats in OUSD

Katy Murphy

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

  • Lakeview area parent

    Hi Katy and blog readers,

    I am not a current OUSD parent, but I live within the boundaries of one of the closing schools, and I have a child who will be in kindergarten next year. I have been trying to get information on the new boundary lines, so we can participate in the school tour process that is going on right now. I would like to find out when the draft of the new lines will be released and when the school board will vote on the lines. So far, I have not gotten a response from district staff. It seems like someone should have this information – any ideas?

  • Katy Murphy

    I’ve been asking about this too, and it looks like a timeline has just been established. According to OUSD Spokesman Troy Flint:

    Preliminary boundary changes should be posted online by Nov. 18 (along with dates of community meetings in affected neighborhoods); a public hearing on Dec. 14; and a final board decision on Jan. 11.

  • Turanga_teach

    Nothing to stop you, also, from attending info nights and tours at schools that interest you, as you’ll be able to participate in the Options process and many schools have large contingents attending from outside their neighborhood borders. My school had a prospective parent night tonight, and there were a couple folks from the general area of a closing school.

    Best of luck in your search for a great fit for your child!

  • Oea Must Denounce Flyer

    Don’t send your child to Bridges/Melrose, some of their teachers think nothing of advertising their political beliefs and encouraging parents to bring children into potentially dangerous situations – all under the guise of school sanctioned activity.

    Tony Smith is silent on it.
    OEA won’t denounce their approach.

    You are on your own to to vote with your feet. Protect your kids. Since nobody will publicly state who these teachers are, yet, it would be prudent to consider avoiding the whole lot of them.

  • OUSD Mom

    I keep scratching my head over this. If I look at the numbers of projected available seats in our school, if those seats are filled, we are looking at increasing our class sizes considerably. I know there is some attrition, but not that much at this school. I was under the impression that if a school was operating in the black, they could decide how many students to let in. Is that changing now with the closure of these schools? Also, I cannot believe that with the amount of children in the Hillcrest neighborhood that are being redirected to Thornhill year after year that all of the sudden there are available seats?? I don’t understand how closing schools because the the whole district in under enrolled is now going to cause some schools to become overcrowded. The math on this is just not making sense to me…

  • AH

    I don’t see how any of these schools could possibly know how many open seats they’ll have next year. There was a previous entry on this blog about teachers being reassigned because schools had overestimated their population and then had too many teachers.

    On the other hand, I hope these displaced families make the best of their situation and choose a high-achieving school with lots of parent involvement and super-fundraising (like Hillcrest, Chabot, Peralta, Thornhill, etc.). What an opportunity for these kids, to get a seat at a school where large numbers are turned away each year.

  • http://PetervonEhrenkrook Peter von Ehrenkrook

    Katy, you said above:
    “The district has sent families at the five elementary schools a list of each school and the number of spaces available now, by grade level. Families are supposed to meet with a coordinator at their schools to help them find a good match.”
    None of the parents I have spoken with at Santa Fe received any letter or list of schools. Seven parents showed up to speak with OUSD last night at Santa Fe, and they were given no information. They were asked to fill out forms asking if they walked to school and if they had anyone in the commnity who could transport their child to another school.

  • Katy Murphy

    Wow, so families didn’t get that document that I embedded at the end of the blog post? They were supposed to have received it last week.

  • http://PetervonEhrenkrook Peter von Ehrenkrook

    I wasn’t at the Santa Fe meeting last night, but a community member who did attend told me parents were put off regarding school choices and told they could discuss it at some future date. The main focus was on getting information from parents regarding their need for transportation assistance to another school.

  • Katy Murphy

    Any word on transportation assistance?

  • http://PetervonEhrenkrook Peter von Ehrenkrook

    Nennifer Inez Ward posted this on the Oakland Local site this morning:

    “At the last OUSD board of directors meeting, Smith floated the idea of providing shuttle service for students unable to use AC Transit or other modes of public transportation to get new school sites. But, according to officials later on, shuttle service is still a plan being looked at and has not been formalized in any way.”

    It doesn’t seem any action has been taken, despite assurances that it had been. As stated in earlier threads, there are no direct AC Transit lines to the designated alternate sites for Santa Fe students.

  • livegreen

    What I don’t understand about space available at:

    -Sankofa is they’re being made K-8 yet they have the most spots available of ANY school for Grades 2-5. This seems like a big risk both for allocation of resources and thus, for both reasons, Financial. WTF, OUSD? (If they don’t do this right, think it will go back to K-5? Achilles heel of the Strategic Plan);

    -Kaiser was told it has to get it’s population up to stay open. How many spots open? Among the least compared to other schools. Either they don’t have much space open or they’re not opening up space. WUWT? Writing on the wall?

    -Montclair has a ton of Measure B Bond money being spent to upgrade it’s capacity to make room for more students. Yet it has among the most space in 1st Grade of any school, enough for 16 more students. I know Jodi London gets whatever she wants in Facilities Bond money (be aware Mr. Gallo), but more capacity when there’s plenty of space? WTF OUSD?

    Go ahead, keep building in the Hills and in the Flatlands when there’s capacity in both, even while you ignore the schools in the middle that don’t have the capacity to fit students in and force our Middle Class families to move. That’s where the battle lies in retention, Fed $, & the tax base. Yet nobody at OUSD appears to be aware of it, or their history lessons on what the Middle Class did for this country. Oakland doesn’t even know what it’s missing.

    PS. BS. Hills vs. Flatlands is SOOO simplistic. Nobody in Oakland politics has figured that out yet. Duh. Go figure.

  • Kaiser Parent

    A group of us attended the Rockridge neighborhood association with Jody London last month meeting and pointedly asked how the process would work. She told us that priority in the options process would work like this (with regards to the families from the 5 closed schools):

    Siblings

    Neighborhood

    Students from closed schools

    Students from neighborhoods where the school is Program Improvement

    Everyone else

    I don’t think this article reflects that. In other words, it seems the seats on that chart don’t reflect the siblings and neighborhood kids getting priority over the closed school kids.

    At #12: Kaiser has no room. We are deemed “too small”, but we have no extra seats or classrooms. We have been ordered to expand, but we have to figure out a way to add space to our site or move. We have nowhere to move to (I cannot see how OUSD can justify closing a school, displacing hundreds of families, only to order a different school into the same site a year or 2 or 3 later). At the beginning of every year there is always a bit of wiggle room and that is what I surmise is the prediction of number of seats in those grades. This year, we had a family that got their 3rd grader in but could not get their kinder in, so they had to pull the 3rd grader to be replaced by another.

    There’s not really a way for OUSD to know now what will be available until the siblings and neighborhood kids throughout the system make their choices. This is moot and a strange exercise for them to engage in. We have heard conjecture repeatedly where families from certain schools will be encouraged to go (and since it is conjecture and possibly pipe dreams of the board, it’s not worth repeating). I wonder if this charade is to start the process of steering certain families to certain schools? Because there’s no way to begin the Options process for these families first.

    It’s more salt in the wound to get their hopes up that their child will get into a Thornhill or Hillcrest when they likely will not.

  • livegreen

    Good luck to Kaiser. Your best bet might be in moving the entire program to a new school, like in Temescal, which is not that far away. For Options, Montclair might be your best bet at a successful school. After that it’s probably at some of the foothills schools, like Peralta, Sequoia, and now (seeing they’re both improving steadily) either Laurel or Bella Vista.

  • AH

    Livegreen,
    Peralta has no room either. Not even all the neighborhood families got in this year.

  • Kaiser parent

    Temescal? Is there a vacant school for 300 in Temescal we haven’t heard about? Are you an administrator? Why are you so sure what our best bet is?
    Our best bet is to expand on our site and this is an option the district has sanctioned.

  • Yasmin Anwar

    Still trying to nail down the OUSD’s 101 schools talking point. There are 55 elementary schools listed here, which seems to be all, even the famously overcrowded Hillcrest. Does that mean there are 46 high schools and middle schools in the OUSD?

  • http://PetervonEhrenkrook Peter von Ehrenkrook

    Hey Yasmin,

    I think you should run for OUSD Board the next time that opportunity arises. We need someone who will get those answers and make them public.

    While I appreciate Mr. Gallo’s efforts, he seems to be a lone voice on the board asking for some coherence in the data put out by OUSD.

  • Super

    Looks like today is the deadline for OUSD to publish preliminary boundaries. I’ve dug around a bit but can’t find anything. Any news?

  • Katy Murphy

    They’re supposed to be posted by 3:30 today.