My colleague Chris De Benedetti reported this week that the district will get $29.3 million during the next 4 1/2 years for summer programs, academic coaches, smaller classes for high school English learners and other strategies to improve its schools.
Like in some other large urban districts, including Los Angeles Unified, Oakland’s teachers union didn’t sign on to the proposal in progress, citing concerns about a lack of specifics and a sense that the agreement would replace negotiations at the bargaining table.
So OUSD didn’t apply. It had been told its chances of winning would be nil without its teachers on board, district spokesman Troy Flint said.
In a Sept. 24 letter to Troy Christmas, director of labor relations for OUSD, Oakland Education Association President Trish Gorham wrote that the union had only recently learned about the grant writing, giving it little time to work out the details before the October deadline. She expressed other concerns, too:
We have grave reservations about the funding terms and conditions of this grant. In particular, we are concerned that the grant requires the development of data systems that do not yet exist to track students for five (5) years after graduation. We question whether such systems can be developed in a timely manner and at a cost that is sustainable under the grant.
I’ll post Gorham’s final letter to Superintendent Tony Smith below. Do you understand and agree with the union’s concerns, or do you think the district should have gone ahead and applied?