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OUSD’s rosy enrollment projections

The Oakland school district is closing five elementary schools next year. Two of its other schools might be converted into independently run charters, taking 800 children with them. And at least one — quite possibly, two — brand new charter schools open next fall, with plans to admit more than 600 students, combined.

But OUSD’s leaders aren’t bracing for a big enrollment drop. They predict the school system’s enrollment will hold firm in September — and even grow slightly (by 125 students, to 38,166).

Will the numbers bear out? They didn’t this fall. Enrollment in the city’s district-run schools, though flat, came in 300 students shy of projections, creating a $1.6 million budget gap that needed to be closed immediately.

2012 projections, explained: At a public school board meeting on Monday, Superintendent Tony Smith and Deputy Superintendent Vernon Hal projected that no more than 5 to 10 percent of children at closed schools will leave the district (rather than “up to 20 percent,” the figure cited earlier this fall based on national trends), because of the personal attention their families have received in the transition to a new school.

Hal also said district staff have lifted enrollment caps on some of the more sought-after schools — caps put in place, he said, for the benefit of under-enrolled schools. With those seats freed up, he said, more students are likely to enroll in the district. (I don’t recall this enrollment-capping practice being discussed publicly — do you? School board member Chris Dobbins seemed unaware of it, based on the questions he asked last night.)

Lastly, Hal said, proposed new grade configurations (k-8 and 6-12) at a number of schools will prevent as many OUSD students from leaving the district after elementary school.

After hearing the rationale, school board member David Kakishiba urged the staff to proceed with caution.

“My first take on the enrollment assumptions is that it is very optimistic,” Kakishiba said. “That’s how I read it. I would ask my colleagues for us to study that some more.”

Do you agree?

Here’s a breakdown of the charters that could or will open in 2012, with their projected enrollments. Let me know if I missed any. (The charter conversion petition for Lazear Elementary was pulled from the agenda last week.)

  • Urban Montessori, whose charter appeal was approved by the Alameda County Board of Education in October, expects to enroll 250 children in 2012.
  • 100 Black Men of the Bay Area Community School — a new charter which is awaiting a decision but appears to have strong support from the OUSD board — would start out with 375.
  • ASCEND, a k-8 school that might become an independently-run charter (a change which requires approval by the OUSD board or the county or state boards of education), had 436 students on the 20th day of school.
  • Learning Without Limits, the other Oakland school seeking a charter conversion, had 377 students in September.

Are you aware of many families who are now considering OUSD because of grade-configuration changes or other reasons? What about families from Lakeview, Lazear, Marshall, Maxwell Park and Santa Fe?

Katy Murphy

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

  • Super

    I live with my wife and child in the former Lakeview district and my proposed catchment would place our home in the Crocker school district. We planned to either move or send our child (possibly children) to private school. Presuming the proposal becomes official, we will stay and send our children to Crocker. So I would bet that we are part of the projected enrollment increase.

  • http://PetervonEhrenkrook Peter von Ehrenkrook

    I would hope that the OUSD enrollment won’t dip, but I can not be optimistic about many of the Santa Fe students continuing with OUSD public schools.

    The burden of crossing up to 4 major boulevards, with no apparent AC Transit support, will likely cause many of the Santa Fe families to settle on the local charters closer to San Pablo.

    Others may try to slip across into Emeryville, and those with higher academic records will probably be accepted if past history continues to be the current and future practice.

    Considering their options, and considering the transportation issues, I again am not at all optimistic about a substantial part of Santa Fe’s current student population continuing with OUSD.

  • Seenitbefore

    lumping larger numbers of students together….. and adding a wider range of ages/development/maturity level in the form of K-8 and especially 6-12 campuses is a recipe for total disaster.

    But…. I truly believe that THAT is the intention. To destroy public education in Oakland such that Charter schools and privatization are the ONLY solution.

    The district should be looking at creating developmentally appropriate groupings (5-6) (7-8) (8-9), STOP social promotion and begin working DILIGENTLY to get our students caught up to grade level. And hold all students accountable to display appropriate social and academic behaviors.

    There is a HUGE difference between a 6th grader and an 8th grader…. HUGE….and we have seen firsthand at our school how an out of control 8th grade cohort can effect the behavior of the 7th and 6th graders on a campus. We already see rampant drug and alcohol use, inappropriate sexual behavior, profanity, violence towards other students as well as teachers and community members, vulgarity, disrespect….. a complete “Lord of the Flies”scenario with no consequences. The kids already figured out that it doesn’t matter what they do at school… they will still get passed to the next grade. So…. who cares!? Do whatever you want…or do nothing. It doesn’t matter.

    I would be extremely uncomfortable placing 6th graders who are incapable of dealing with 14 year olds who are TWICE their size in some cases….into a situation where they now had to react to 17 and 18 year old “grown men or women” pressuring them to turn over their lunch money, ipod or bodies.

    Is there ANY hope that logic or pure common sense will EVER be applied to the problems we face in the education of Oakland youth???? smh…..

  • Teaches at Oakland School

    I agree with Seenitbefore-Putting 6th and 12 graders in the same school is a recipe for disaster! Are they nuts?

    It is true that kids in middle school know that they don’t have to pass their classes since they will automatically be passed on. When there was mandatory summer school at least there was something to hold over their heads but even that was too short to really be effective. Those who have a D or F in a core subject should have school from mid-June through the end of August-that might cut down on the apathy.

    What made my son’s middle school education be just adequate-and he went to Montera-was the teachers putting up with bad behavior and the administration going along with it, although they claim they don’t. I sometimes sat in a classroom of a teacher who always looked scared and was afraid to say of do anything to the disruptive students in her class. The better students spent the 10 minutes or so of work doing it and then pulled out books and read. His best teacher, according to him, was the one who didn’t teach down and had no patience for the badly behaved. He was offered drugs constantly and told me there were a lot of kids dealing, but the administration was oblivious to it. Until schools are willing to enforce after school detention and stop worrying about the feelings of their worst students and their parents (the apple often doesn’t fall far from the tree) then the schools will continue to be mediocre and parents will yank their kids out of the OUSD and send them to private middle and high schools.

  • Nextset

    Re post #4 above… My parents and the parents of my friends would never permit us to go to such a “school”.

    Seen It Before: What you are describing is not a school, it’s a holding facility for the damned. Why would any parent not a drug addict or drunk enroll a child in such a place? It’s not like you don’t have choices.

    We are seeing the destruction of public education in the urban areas. Students will attend completely different schools depending on their Caste – from that point on they will work, marry and associate with their own. We will have a lot less social mobility than in previous generations.

    I already see it – when you want to hire or promote you use people from the correct track and can’t take a chance on anyone else because they won’t fit in or know the very basics of how to behave and how to think. You can’t assume than an adult in this society knows/understands anything anymore – including the National Anthem.

  • oakteach

    You all bash 6-12 and k-8 schools as “a recipe for disaster.” But yet some of the most successful charter schools AND public schools in Oakland are just that. See Aspire (Lionel Wilson and Golden State), Ascend, Hillcrest, and CCPA. I’m sure there’s more that I’m forgetting.

    I’m convinced to a certain degree that no matter what OUSD does, they will be criticized.

    They take high performing elementary and high schools and grow them to give families a better option….and we damn them??

  • Alex

    The most interesting thing is that the district is projecting a decrease of 83 students at the high school level where no external pressure exists, but an increase of 208 students at the elementary level where many potential pressures exist. The elementary level is the level 3 of 4 (and half of the 4th) of the charters you note plan to serve. Add to that some elementary reduction due to the shift in Kindergarten age and the closing of five elementary schools with an expected loss of 5-10% of those students, and one might be left wondering how high the cap on the “high demand schools” will be.

  • Anon

    Don’t forget that next fall’s kindergarten cohort is the largest in U.S. history! (In contrast, the students currently in the upper elementary grades were born in the early 2000s, when the U.S. birth rate hit its all-time low.) So even if you have attrition from closing schools, I would expect enrollment to go up next year simply because of the huge number of children born in 2007. I’m also dubious that huge numbers of students from closing schools will go to charters given that many of the high-performing charters already have waiting lists—so while these families might like to leave OUSD, it’s not clear that they’ll have the option. The shift in kindergarten age is being phased in so it’s only going to November 1st for next year—not affecting too many students, and those children are eligible for transitional kindergarten in OUSD schools anyway so they stay in the system—though it remains to be seen how many will opt in. Will the projections hold? Who knows, but I can see where they come from and they don’t seem unreasonable given demographic trends.

  • livegreen

    I agree w/Teaches at Oakland’s post #4. But Detention is not going to cut it for some students because it’s after the fact, & they’ve already disrupted the class.

    The shame is Edna Brewer had an in-class program that addressed this type of situation IN CLASS. & has OUSD grown it to other locations. No, of course not. That would make to much sense. They’re still looking to reinvent a broken wheel when they have a mechanic present (& standing right there) they won’t use.

    Why not? OUSD believes it’s not academic in nature. Well, OUSD, how can you get disruptive kids to learn academics if they’re too busy disrupting?

    Why not use a program that is already successful doing just that?