An OUSD survey on working conditions

Staff meeting. File photo by John Green/Bay Area News Group

Oakland teachers, counselors, principals and other credentialed school-based staff: Friday is the deadline for completing an anonymous online survey about what it’s like to work at each school in the district.

How much time do you spend on various tasks during the school day? Outside of the regular school day? Are efforts made at your school to minimize interruptions, or routine paperwork? How much time do you have to collaborate with other teachers?

The results will be published online, by school, in June — that is, as long as the response rate is at least 50 percent for a given school. If not, those schools will be omitted from the results. Continue Reading


Oakland schools to cancel more layoff notices

A week after announcing that none of its elementary school teachers would be laid off strictly for budget reasons, the Oakland school district is gearing up to cancel more layoff notices — though not all of them.

Art, English and physical education are among the subjects likely to be completely spared from layoffs based on the results of budget cuts made at individual schools. Adult education, meanwhile, is the hardest hit; all 48 remaining adult education counselors and teachers are likely to receive final layoff notices, according to a resolution posted on the agenda of a special board meeting tomorrow night.

You can find the updated layoff list, by subject, here.

A partial layoff count (see above link for the full document): Continue Reading


OUSD budget Q & A at Mack tomorrow

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If you were shut out of last week’s crowded budget workshop, you still have a chance to hear the Oakland school district administration’s latest plan and ask questions about it. Superintendent Tony Smith reported Wednesday that California school districts could lose $844 per student, which is a 16 percent reduction in state general purpose funding from the current year. In Oakland, he said, that’s $30.5 million.

In case you missed it, here is a brief summary I posted on the blog last week about the special meeting, including data that show there are likely to be few actual layoffs this year.

The meeting starts at 4:30 p.m. tomorrow (Tuesday) at McClymonds High School, 2607 Myrtle St. District spokesman Troy Flint says there is not likely to be any news — just a chance for teachers to ask questions of Smith and his two deputies, Vernon Hal and Maria Santos.


Story, photos from Oakland teacher convention

A story about last week’s dramatic Oakland teacher convention is in today’s Tribune. You can find it here. Here are a few photos taken by a real photographer (Laura A. Oda/Tribune) with a real camera. She came on Friday afternoon, before the turning point. Below is a session about the California Standards for the Teaching Profession.

If you have any photos that capture the highs and lows of the event that you think I should add, email them to me (preferably not at full resolution) at kmurphy@bayareanewsgroup.com.



Oakland Teacher Convention, here I come

As of Tuesday, 210 teachers from 90 schools had been selected by their fellow teachers to represent them at the three-day teacher convention, according to Ash Solar, the district staffer who co-chairs the Oakland school district’s Effective Teaching Task Force. (This story gives some context about what the task force is up to.)

I will be dropping in several times between this evening and Saturday, and I plan to blog from the event. Who knows, I might even tweet, too. Tonight there will be mostly speeches; the meatier discussions won’t happen until tomorrow.

Delegates: If you feel like sharing your impressions with a reporter, look for a tall woman with a skinny notebook, tapping people on the shoulder or otherwise awkwardly approaching them to ask questions. You could also, of course, email me after each day’s session at kmurphy(at)bayareanewsgroup.com or comment directly on the blog.


So much pink, so few layoffs (probably)

For all of the people who tried to attend the Oakland school board’s special budget meeting tonight and anyone else who missed the presentation, here’s the upshot:

The Oakland school district is bracing for a 16 percent cut in state general purpose funding for 2011-12. That amounts to $844 per student, or $30.5 million, rather than $349 per student, or $12.6 million, as previously thought. Not a small difference. But the district’s staff’s “best thinking” for making ends meet under that scenario does not call for additional cuts at schools, school closures or furloughs.

What it does entail is a whole lot of one-time funds taken from the state loan, adult education programs, and additional reserves. And, as a result, a much larger structural deficit — $22 million, rather than $7 million — and more cuts down the line. You can find the presentation here.

On layoffs: Continue Reading


Big meeting in Oakland Unified to discuss grim budget outlook

Gov. Jerry Brown has given up on getting a tax extension on the June ballot. Now what?

No official budget projections had been released as of this afternoon, but two Oakland school board members said today that they have been told California school districts might face cuts of $800 to $850 per student — when most schools in Alameda County have budgeted for a per-student loss of $349. The California School Boards Association posted this budget alert, explaining what an all-cuts budget would mean, given the remaining deficit of $15.4 billion.

At 5 p.m. Wednesday, the Oakland school board holds a special meeting to plan for the 2011-12 budget and to give Superintendent Tony Smith direction on how to close a budget gap that could be $18 million larger than expected, said school board member David Kakishiba, who is drafting an agenda for the meeting.

His question: “With these additional cutbacks from the state, do we move that cut to the school sites or do it a different way?”

Continue Reading


Oakland’s pink slip imprint, by school

Luc DeArmey, a pink-slipped teacher at Futures Elementary in East Oakland.The Oakland school district has ranked its schools based on how deeply they were hit by the 657 potential layoff notices sent to its teaching staff.

This spreadsheet, created by OUSD, also includes the turnover at each school between 2007 and 2010, the API gains during that period, the percentage of students who are African-American or Latino, and the percentage of students who qualify for free or reduced price meals.

The top five are (or were) small schools that opened between 2003 and 2007, many of them with new teaching staffs: Continue Reading


Rally for Oakland teachers

Hundreds of people came out to Oakland High School this afternoon, in the rain, to support teachers throughout the district who have received layoff notices. While the potentially eliminated full-time positions total 538 (out of 2469), the number of people who received notices was much higher — 657, according to district spokesman Troy Flint.


One Oakland school’s outsized layoff threat

Uncertain state funding levels and the Oakland school district’s decision to issue layoff warnings to more than one-fifth of its teaching staff has created high levels of stress throughout the district. Hit especially hard were schools that have few teachers who have been in the district for more than four or five years. New teachers are — with some exceptions — the first to go.

At Futures Elementary, which opened in 2007 on East Oakland’s Lockwood campus, every teacher could be replaced next year, according to the principal. I visited Futures yesterday morning. Here’s what I saw and heard: