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Enrollment plunges in Oakland schools

By Katy Murphy
Thursday, November 1st, 2012 at 1:32 pm in Uncategorized.

Staff Photojournalist
photo by Laura A. Oda/Bay Area News Group

On the 20th day of school, Oakland’s district schools counted about 36,260 students. That’s 1,750 fewer kids than there were a year ago, a drop of 4.6 percent, according to 2012-13 enrollment figures recently released by OUSD.

Multiply that loss by $5,000, a rough estimate of general-purpose, per-student state funding (otherwise known as the revenue limit), and you are approaching $9 million. OUSD will have that much less to spend in 2013-14, in addition to any statewide trigger cuts and reduced special-purpose money, according to that crude calculation.

So much for the district’s optimistic projections. What’s more, this year’s drop follows several years of relatively flat enrollment. The school system experienced a crippling loss of students in the early to mid 2000s, a major factor in its infamous fiscal meltdown, but the trend began to level out a few years years ago.

The two most apparent factors influencing this sudden development are last year’s school closures and this year’s charter school openings — though as I’ve reported, Oakland’s school-age population (5-17) dwindled by 20 percent between 2000 and 2010.

Charter schools: Six new charter schools opened in Oakland this fall, including three schools that left the district, taking many of their students with them — in one case, because it was being closed. Enrollment at the new schools adds up to about 1,600. That brings the total number of children attending an Oakland charter school up to to 12,500, according to data from the OUSD Office of Charter Schools (whose coordinator, Gail Greely, took a job at the Alameda County Office of Education as of this past Monday).

The enrollments of the three schools that left OUSD — ASCEND, Learning Without Limits and Lazear — account for about 1,100 of those students.

Sometimes charters draw students from outside of the city, or those who’d otherwise go to a private school or a public school in a nearby district. Of course, even if we knew that every one of the 1,600 students at the new charter schools would otherwise have enrolled in OUSD, it still wouldn’t explain the entire enrollment drop.

School closures: By now, I’m pretty sure the district knows exactly how many of the students enrolled in grades k-4 last year at Lakeview, Lazear, Maxwell Park, Marshall and Santa Fe went on to attend another OUSD school, and how many didn’t. I’ve asked for that information, but have yet to receive it. I’m told a full analysis and accounting is being prepared for a December meeting, but I don’t see why that basic question can’t be answered earlier. We’re already more than two months into the school year.

On the bright(er) side: OUSD still has far more students than it was projected to have in a 2007 forecast. I dug up a grim report from June 2007 (one of my first, ridiculously headlined blog posts!), back when enrollment was 39,694. The school district was expected to have only 32,000 students by 2012.

There’s much to be analyzed in all these numbers, in terms of what’s happening, why, and how the changes are affecting schools. What do you think this will this mean for OUSD?

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  • Nextset

    I’d like to read the demographics of the students that are currently enrolled. What are the trends of the type of students going to OUSD? (gender/income/race/ages/neighborhoods)

    Is OUSD getting more of one type over another?

    I would suggest the OUSD do something as an institution to make itself more attractive to good students from good families. Go for the quality.

    Best way to do that is create a “Lowell High”. Design such a campus with deadly ghetto repellent. I think the staff would like to have such a campus to work in also.

  • effectsofreform

    Yes, Katy. This is a problem:
    “School closures: By now, I’m pretty sure the district knows exactly how many of the students enrolled in grades k-4 last year at Lakeview, Lazear, Maxwell Park, Marshall and Santa Fe went on to attend another OUSD school, and how many didn’t. I’ve asked for that information, but have yet to receive it. I’m told a full analysis and accounting is being prepared for a December meeting, but I don’t see why that basic question can’t be answered earlier. We’re already more than two months into the school year.”

    Keep at it.

  • Rumor Has It

    Katy,

    You mention that the 5-17 population decreased 20% between 2000 and 2010. I assume that you were using analysis of census data. Is this correct? What about the growth or decline in the 0-5 yr. old population during this same time period?

    Are there weaknesses to that data? Have there been changes since 2010 that OUSD should anticipate?

    One thing has become very clear to me of late, OUSD does not work well with data. Their estimates are crude at best, and completely worthless at times. I know that there are other sources of data (although they may also be flawed) such as those used for planning by large corporations, real estate companies, etc. Are there any demographers who can chime in on what demographic trends we can expect for school aged children in our city?

    I am truly curious about the demographic shifts.

  • Rumor Has It

    Katy,

    You mention that OUSD has lost families due to the school closures, and newly opened charters. Agreed.

    I would add that there have been a long list of other recent problems that will likely tip a number of families off of the public school rosters in the next few years. I am specifically referring to recent issues at Crocker, Cleveland, Kaiser and issues related to special needs children.

    Even if OUSD is eventually able to reverse their gaffes/mistakes/errors/debacles, the public cannot forgive so readily because the memory remains. Once bitten, twice shy, as they say.

  • Nontcair

    Multiply that loss by $5,000, a rough estimate of general-purpose, per-student state funding

    $5,000 is a politically motivated, LOW-BALL figure.

    When you take into account PERS, construction, debt service, the cost of collection and so forth, the actual per-student figure must be closer to $15,000 per year.

    Legerdemain for sure, but what would you expect from politicians?

  • Katy Murphy

    Yes, the 20% estimate is based on census data that I pulled last year. I don’t have the 0-4 numbers handy, but I believe they are also down — though up in some areas, such as Rockridge.

  • Ethan Brady

    Nobody ever explained why Smith and friends had to close 20 to 30 schools and then, by the end of 2011, they were happy with just 5, no more needed.
    Certainly Smith and friends are good at verbosity, never numbers (or taking responsibility).
    We will all get an explanation once they have been able to cook their data to hide the obvious: quite a portion of the public (and the employees) doesn´t trust Smith and friends.

  • J.R.
  • Katy Murphy

    I should note that the district reduced its number of schools (through mergers, as well as closures) by a dozen last year. So not 20 or 30, but closer than five.

  • Ethan Brady

    J.R.
    You may be right with the numbers. But you are certainly right with the the handling issue. One day they play fearmongering, another day they congratulate each other as saviors, the following day they are aces at reducing deficit, then they are a disaster in keeping track of the millions…

  • Debora

    Katy:

    Also, let’s not forget that historically OUSD loses 28% of its rising sixth grade students (40% of the high achieving students) to private, parochial, charter and other school district schools every year. (Tony Smith, December 2009)

    Several pro-union families tried Bret Harte last year and their daughter felt sexually intimdated by boys who cornered her and tried to touch her several times. She is in American Indian Charter School this year. (She had one or both parents at the school several times last year to try to resolve the situation and could not find a way to feel safe.)

    If Oakland wants to keep students they need to find ways that serve the needs of the students they want to keep.

  • Debora

    Post 11 above – the incident with the daughter was one family. However, the car-pooling families also left.

  • J.R.

    Non,
    Legerdemain? you haven’t seen anything yet, you already witnessed the redevelopment money go up in smoke(even though though Jerry said some of that money could be used for education(it really went to pension obligations, and no doubt the boondoggle train will get some. If prop 30 passes, that money will just disappear into the black hole of government spending. It’s never enough, when will people realize that many politicians have not ever worked actual jobs with accountability or their economic survival at risk. These people have not the first clue of what it takes to survive and thrive in the real world.

  • Observer

    There is actually a baby boom in the bay area and quite a lot of young families are trying to figure out the school thing, largely unsuccessfully. Realtors see this pattern:

    Young family with very small children, a baby or a baby on the way from San Francisco venture into the Oakland market because 1) they can’t find anything suitable in their price range in the city and 2) There’s very few children in the city and the city just isn’t kid friendly even if you can afford it. But, the young couple are “Urban”; they would rather live in a studio in the Haight than a ranch house in Concord. They are impressed with the walkability of Temescal/Rockridge/Lakeshore or the diversity and community of Laurel and Dimond and they are in heaven to know they can have a yard, parking and really good restaurants and maybe an extra bathroom. These parents inititally love their family life in Oakland with the weather, the parks, the museum, the accesibility, the diversity, the markets. They really do. They also tend to be more progressive liberals that believe in public education, so they do look first at public schools. What makes them stop? What makes them leave before Middle School?

    Fear. And it’s a valid fear that OUSD refuses to address and turns a blind eye to. They see kids at their neighborhood school using adult slang, showing aggression and they talk to parents with older kids and they hear that unless they can get their child into one of the few public schools that has a signifigant middle class population, their child will be targeted due to their race, their economic status or both. Middle class and white kids of all economic statuses are bullied and/or ostracized in OUSD. It’s a huge problem and no one will even discuss it other than to deny it or place it so far down the totem pole of priority, it may as well not exist.

    But I know for a fact many of those stroller pushers in Temescal look at their neighborhood school and wish they could just go there and this is why they don’t. They don’t want to live through the tunnel, they don’t want to pay tuition. They hate it, but they can deal with the crime rate. They can even deal with imperfect test scores-they know they can supplement a public education and they know they can contribute to a school. But fear and intimidation at baby’s school? They can’t deal with that.

  • Observer

    Yup, baby boom http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/19/health/19birth.html

    Five years ago. These kids are in kindergarten right now.

  • Katy Murphy

    Certain Oakland neighborhoods may be experiencing a baby boom. Citywide, the number of children ages 0-4 declined by about 2,200 — 8 percent — between 2000 and 2010.

  • livegreen

    I agree with Observer’s evaluation, for the most part. Many many families go charter, private or move entirely. Except I think many skip Oakland entirely because of these same issues + safety (which speaks to Katy’s #s for 0-4).

    Of course the real impact is Charters: Oakland needs to close schools to cut costs, but when they do the families just form a charter. This leaves less $ for remaining schools, which increases the need to close more schools and more will go charter.

    Something needs to be done or OUSD will NEVER get out of this cycle & the District WILL be destroyed.

    The OEA will say they saw this coming, but the problem is simply voting against Charters is NOT an answer either: that will not stop the Federal and State laws -or- keep the AC BOE from rubber stamping EVERY Charter that OUSD HAS BEEN voting to reject.

    The problem is not OUSD or GO…It is the AC BOE. We must work together to build public awareness about what the AC BOE is doing to OUSD, to get them to stop overruling OUSD, and -if they won’t- vote out the AC BOE where we can.

    I have asked before and still not heard: Why is the AC BOE doing this to Oakland? What is the structural relationship to OUSD and Oakland, including to Oakland and AC electorate?

    The AC BOE gets almost no press coverage yet they seem to have an enormous control over OUSD & also their own Agenda…

  • Observer

    Livegreen-

    Even if the AC BOE rejected every charter applicant before them, the charters will appeal to the state and state will approve. It really must be fought at the state and federal levels.

    It’s too bad families leave Oakland. It really offers a lot for a great childhood. Educating ones child is the bulk of a parents responsibility, be it academic or social. Is there a way to successfully educate children in a large, diverse and urban school district in this day and age? I was. It wasn’t a piece if cake, but I went to college and grad school, I run a small business and have 15 employees. I am a homeowner. I’d say my district achieved its goal among most of my peers 30 years ago. Solve this problem and you’ve solved much of the problems coming in the future.

  • Nontcair

    #17 wrote: simply voting against Charters is NOT an answer either: that will not stop the Federal and State laws ..

    State laws will nullify *any* attempt to “reform” public education at the local level.

    Sooner or later federal laws will give Oaklanders about as much say over OUSD as they now have over the war in Afghanistan.

  • Nontcair

    CA spends roughly half of its general fund on K-16 (47/91).

    CA should ABOLISH public education and REBATE the money to residents.

    Using the figure from the 2010 census, it works out to about $1,200 per legal person PER YEAR.

    What are *you* going to do with that extra cash? A progressive should consider donating his share to his favorite, tuition-free *private* school.

    I have my eyes on a 60″ Flat Screen TV.

  • livegreen

    Observer, Maybe both, but we need to work on both. Just because a future appeal to the State MIGHT happen doesn’t mean we shouldn’t push the AC BOE too. We can chew gum and walk at the same time…

    My questions about the AC BOE’s motivations for almost always overriding OUSD recommendations remain. & if they’re not willing to give good ones, we should kick their butts out of there…

    OUSD Admin, Board & Teachers (OEA), & GO have a shared interest here…

  • Nontcair

    the OUSD Office of Charter Schools (whose coordinator, Gail Greely, took a job at the Alameda County Office of Education as of this past Monday).

    The OUSD Office of Charters Schools is just another government bureaucracy. Like all the others, one which will only *expand*. What on earth does it have to do with teaching Johnny how to read?

    Ms. Greely’s total compensation package at OUSD was valued at ~$143K (SJMN). Naturally she moved over (up!) to a yet *another* goverment job; no doubt at an even *higher* level of compensation.

    A “coordinator”. Really.

    Q) Does this new position make greedy Greely eligible for another government pension?

  • Nontcair

    Sometimes charters draw students from outside of the city, or those who’d otherwise go to a private school

    I don’t have a philosophical objection to legal residents from beyond the city limits attending OUSD schools (why would they even *want* to?!), but under the state’s current funding formula, does that make Oaklanders disproportionately liable for the higher taxes necessary to pay for OUSD’s larger census?

    And why are charter (public) schools competing with PRIVATE schools? Better the charter school didn’t exist and its students who would otherwise go private actually do so.

  • Nontcair

    On the bright(er) side: OUSD still has far more students than it was projected to have in a 2007 forecast.

    Why is this *good* news?

    Why don’t we trumpet the published reports that more Americans then ever are signed up for food stamps?

    It will be good news when OUSD is reduced to a single school.

  • J.R.

    Non posted,
    “Why don’t we trumpet the published reports that more Americans then ever are signed up for food stamps”?

    California has become a dumping ground because it is a magnet.

    http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2012/jul/28/welfare-capital-of-the-us/?page=3#article

    don’t forget(besides the benefits themselves) the bureaucratic governmental infrastructure in place to disburse said benefits. Layers and layers of money paid by your friendly neighborhood taxpayers(aka wage-slave patsies)who are quietly subserviently working until they perish because they have no pensions.

  • J.R.

    Charlie,
    I was offering Jim an alternative to testing.

  • Nontcair

    even if we knew that every one of the 1,600 students at the new charter schools would otherwise have enrolled in OUSD, it still wouldn’t explain the entire enrollment drop.

    It’s not even a drop in the bucket.

    Again, it makes little difference to taxpayers whether their money is wasted on government unions in traditional public schools, or government contractors in charter schools.

    And of course, as the OUSD Office of Charter Schools makes evident, our taxes are wasted on bureaucrat administrators in *either* case.

  • J.R.

    Non,
    This is the staff directory for the district office, I counted of 500 who work there. Take a look at some of the titles, last names and so forth. It looks to me to be an employment dept for the people who know people. I think it would make for a very interesting audit(by a totally non-biased outside firm of course).

    http://www.ousd.k12.ca.us/cms/lib07/CA01001176/Centricity/Shared/Staff_Directory.pdf

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/24/study-finds-public-school_n_2011134.html

    http://www.educationnews.org/education-policy-and-politics/report-growth-in-hiring-grossly-outpaces-student-enrollment/

  • Nontcair

    Oakland’s district schools counted about 36,260 students.

    See #5.

    OUSD’s annual budget is ~$500,000,000.

    $500M ÷ 36,260 = $13,789.

  • J.R.

    Non,
    I believe the OUSD annual budget has dropped to about $400 million give or take. One of the big problems is that too much money is spent outside the classroom, why duplicate social type services that are already offered by the state? LAUSD has a multi-billion dollar budget(over 20K per child), but that doesn’t make them the best matter of fact they are amongst the worst in the state.

  • jesse james

    Oh! Thank you JR for the list of downtown staff. It’s a big money drain! And I have no idea what most of those staffers do. What is the School Transformation department? I’ve asked a number of times for a look into this on this very blog and now you’ve done it! Not only is it a list of well connected and politically savvy people, it’s also a list of principals who couldn’t make it and were given a downtown desk job. Why I don’t know…but the money they get is incredible compared to the work they do! Thank you for shedding more light on the issue!

  • Nontcair

    What is the School Transformation department?

    When you realize the truth about how much money the school districts receive per student you begin to understand that the schools send out busses to pick up the kids for the same reason that the Las Vegas casinos send out Gulfstreams to pick up the whales.

    At least the casinos don’t force anyone to climb aboard.

  • J.R.

    Jesse,
    Everyone must keep pressing the issue, and not let up. We deserve to know where every penny of our tax dollars go. How much of our money is wasted I do not know, but I would sure like to. It just strikes me as odd that much like Gov Brown plead poor and yet has money for a bullet train and staff raises. The education establishment pleads poor and yet has money for consultants and and large and growing bureaucracy.

  • J.R.

    Jesse,
    This one is for you, and if those teacher unions were smart they would jump all over this.

    http://www.calwatchdog.com/2010/07/26/new-admin-costs-crowd-out-teaching/

  • J.R.

    more waste fraud and doubletalk…..

    http://capoliticalnews.com/2012/04/11/cta-california%E2%80%99s-unteachable-union/

    The union strikes again!!!

  • Observer

    It’s roughly around $11k per child in OUSD. But, only $3200 for a high performing school like Chabot and about $3900 for PI schools get to the site. Teachers salaries come out of that, fwiw. The PI schools also usually get other monies from outside of OUSD like title 1, I believe that to be true anyway. Funding is ridiculously complicated. What’s true is this: the more academically successful a school is, the less funding it will receive. How’s that “merit based” pay work out again?

  • Works at Oakland School

    Maybe instead of learnng about schools in Finland, the OUSD could be focusing on what makes the charter schools, such as Lighthouse, and Oakland Charter High perform so well. They seem to be run by Amethod Public Schools. One of the things they do is have peer reviews. I can think of a lot of teachers who would finally be out or if possible, helped, by having peer reviews done. I bet their standards are a lot higher and their discipline policies are actually adhered to. Discipline is lip service and nothing more at both Skyline and Tech.

    I believe that in most school, teachers are supposed to submit their plans to the administration, who would in theory actually look at them to see if the teachers are teaching what they are supposed to and not wasting the students’ time, but judging from the non-existent lesson plans or just plain lousy lesson plans of the teachers I have observed, no one is looking them over to see if the teachers are teaching what they are supposed to teach. I believe that if at least those three items could be taken care of the schools would be better. No child should have to sit in a classroom where teenagers are disrupting the class on a daily basis. I can’t imagine what our Finnish counterparts would think if they sat in on a non-Paiedea class at Oakland Tech.

  • Works at Oakland School

    BTW, I asked a teacher why peer review isn’t done and apparently, teachers woold have to be paid to sit in another classroom during their prep period and there would be problems with their contract. A teacher coold say she doesn’t want to be observed by another teacher too. If they are bad, they probably think they are good and would resent it. SO there you co, it’s the Union thing again.

  • Nontcair

    If enrollment plunged to near-zero, OUSD would *still* need a small army of bureaucrats.

    That’s right.

    This is because we can presume that many OUSD administrators are employed under government guidelines which apply *independent* of student census.

    Due to OUSD’s high fixed costs, ie buildings, insurance, a superintendent, bonds, and so forth, OUSD must *always* employ:

    lawyers, to review the district’s compliance
    accountants, to keep track of the money
    assistant superintendents, to supervise the above
    etc and so forth

    There must me any number of government grants which are not classroom related. For example, grants to:

    create nutritious menus for the cafeteria
    build access ramps
    analyze deer population demographics
    etc

    And of course, once a grant is awarded it’s generally not the grantor’s prerogative to cancel it should student headcount drop precipitously.

    Teachers are variable costs. The more students who flee the district the more teachers we can rid of.

  • Nontcair

    It’s roughly around $11k per child in OUSD. But, only $3200 for a high performing school like Chabot and about $3900 for PI schools ..

    That $11K figure has to be LOW.

    Those $3,200-3,900 figures must have come out of your #R*.

    Per-pupil funding statistics do NOT include welfare-related transfer payments. You know, stuff like school lunch programs.

    Likewise, they do not include the compensation of school parents who “work” as government employees/contractors.

  • Observer

    No, that comes from the school SSCs, not my bung. And that is for schools that are NOT title 1, the litmus test for the free or reduced lunch program. This is what schools that have PTAs that pay for: PE, art, music, etc. get and it covers basic classroom instruction, office staff and building maintenance. It also covers the testing materials and other silly things like workbooks. And that’s pretty much it. Teachers and parents, for the most part, supply pencils, markers, paper, etc even though the district is required to (they don’t- this weeks wish list-”erasers, paper towels, kleenex, glue sticks, colored pencils among other things).

    I realize your point is that if a parent cannot afford to educate their child privately to the tune of $300,000 for k-12 like your family did, then those children should simply cease to exist, but that is the viewpoint of a mentally ill anarchist and should really be disregarded completely. I pay a lot in property taxes and business taxes as I am a small business owner with 15 employees and I want to pay for the public to be educated as do most people. Surely there is somewhere for you to go where they don’t believe in public education and where your belief system will be supported by other “autocrats” like yourself.

  • J.R.

    This is what really cheeses me off about far right wing selfish-crats, and “take everything I have, and that guys too share-crat liberals. You are both of the deep ends, and both of your ways of doing things fail. One is a obsessive hoarder, and the other just loves handing out other peoples money like Halloween candy until were all equally broke.

  • J.R.

    Non,
    On this thread there are plenty of links to the fraudulent free-reduced lunch program.

    http://www.ibabuzz.com/education/2012/02/01/oakland-gets-serious-about-school-food/

  • Jesse James

    For a very short period of time, the database which listed all OUSD’s salaries was made public. It was an interesting document. Its status as an open document was quickly shut down. Shouldn’t we be allowed to know where our dollars go and to whom?

  • J.R.

    Jesse,
    I hate to tell you this, but we really do not live in a democracy. These self promoting shysters(enabled by politicians they support) can seize your money through taxes and then play “three card monte” with it at their whim(the law gives them the flexibility to in essence commit thievery).

  • Nontcair

    Mentally ill. Really.

    The reason private school is so expensive is because of government mandates. Notably, the 180 d, 6+ h/d school “year”.

    Public babysitting.

    Your mental processes seem a bit concrete. There’s no good reason why school couldn’t be, say, 10 weeks at 30 minutes. Like a crafts class put on by city parks and rec. $55.

    Parents who desire to send their kids to elite institutions like Exeter are free to spend as much as they want. The same way that some motorists choose Mercedez and others Chevy.

    There’s nothing to stop you from donating money to a *private* school. Indeed, I would like to see your heavy tax burden reduced to zero so that you’d have even *more* money to do with as you please.

    It’s more accurate to say that you want *me* to pay for mis-educating the public. Either that or have a judge declare me 5150.

    That “other” place where public education was set up in a manner more to my taste is actually THIS country. That is, before your kind took it over.

    You should go back to whatever socialist country that your grandfather came from.

    The SSC?! You’re joking. WTH do those people know?

    I like to use the “public employee salary” websites of SJMN or SacBee. I usually search by employee last name but it wouldn’t surprise me if you get a dump of those associated with a particular agency.

  • Nontcair

    Democracy == MOB RULE.

    That aptly describes our system.

  • Observer

    One wonders if Non knows what SSC stands for, given that he/she has never set foot in a public school of any kind. Or is Non implying that an individual school site council made up of parents, the principal and a teacher that dedicate several volunteer hours a month to set and allocate the budget at each individual school site is lying to their communities regarding the amount of money they receive from their districts? Or it seems he/she is implying they are too stupid to read a bottom line.

  • Nontcair

    Actually, I hadn’t heard of SSC until you mentioned it. Then it wasn’t hard to find the state statutes.

    SSC, PTA, BoE, and all the rest of those quasi-/public institutions are all to give the illusion that ordinary folks are in control of the schools when in fact WE KNOW that the schools are dominated by the special interests who use their influence with the legislature to get them to enact regulations which protect and financially benefit their narrow interests.

    But if it makes you feel better by believing that the PTA/SSC/BOE/ETC makes a difference, then go right ahead.

    As if having some say over a school’s song and colors matters.

  • Nontcair

    Actaully, I can count on two fingers the occcasions when I stepped inside of an OUSD school during school hours.

    One was Oakland High. That was in pursuit of students from that illustrious institution who had launched stones at my car windshield.

    I was reminded of those “Lockup” shows on cable.