About that 2 percent raise…

Here’s a real-world word problem for you:

The across-the-board salary increase Oakland school district staff have built into the second half of next year’s planning budget (the raise would go into effect in January 2012) would cost about $2 million in general-purpose dollars. For a full year, of course, it’s double that amount.

What if the district tabled that idea in light of the 500-plus March 15 notices it plans to distribute? How many teaching positions could it afford to keep?

Annual cost of a 2 percent raise in OUSD: $4 million

Average teacher cost, according to HR: $73,000

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This Saturday: a chance to weigh in on the plan for Oakland schools

If you have an opinion on the superintendent’s “Full Service Community Schools” vision, if you’re not quite sure what it means, or if you want to offer your feedback before a plan is etched in stone, you might want to check out an upcoming conference at the Cesar Chavez Education Center in Fruitvale.

TheĀ Youth and Family Conference will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at 2825 International Boulevard, in the new building that houses Think College Now and International Community School.

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Quality schools task force, explained (sort of)

I need to make it to one of these meetings. I’ve heard they’re well run, and I need to get a better handle on how the Quality Community Schools Development task force is approaching a topic as broad and multi-faceted as school quality. This OUSD-produced video explainer didn’t help me all that much (Eduspeak, to me, sometimes sounds like the adults in the Charlie Brown cartoons), but maybe you’ll glean something useful from it.

Who here has participated in the quality schools meetings (or other task forces) thus far? How is it working? What questions are you wrestling with? What have you learned?


Yee to serve another term as board president

Gary Yee, Oakland school board presidentJody London

Gary Yee will be president of the Oakland school board for 12 more months. Jody London was elected vice president at the same meeting this week.

In his acceptance speech, Yee said he believed the district should focus on high-quality teaching; safe and healthy schools; ensuring that all students have a “college prep course of study”; and a renewed commitment by the board to govern effectively and broadly, rather than in each member’s own interests.

Here is the full text, via OUSD Spokesman Troy Flint: Continue Reading


GO Public Schools’ wish list for 2011

Great Oakland Public Schools, a local advocacy group that started with funding from the Rogers Family Foundation, wants to see some new blood on the Oakland teachers union’s executive board and representative council next year. It wants district leaders to emphasize high quality instruction as well as service hubs, and a “new and better response” to an unnamed principal who has complained about the required retention of mediocre teachers.

Below is a letter from GO’s director (and former OUSD administrator) Jonathan Klein, followed by the 10-item wish list. Which of the points do you agree or disagree with? Continue Reading


Kaiser gives Oakland schools $7.5 million

Smith at Kaiser news conference. Photo courtesy of the Oakland school district.

When Superintendent Tony Smith was appointed to his post in 2009, his supporters said they expected he would restore interest, support and outside funding to the Oakland school district.

This fall — until today — the district endured some heartbreak on the funding front. Oakland lost its bid for the U.S. Department of Education’s Promise Neighborhoods planning grant in September (despite accolades from the secretary of education just weeks before). And the district’s November parcel tax election was defeated by about 700 votes, less than one percentage point.

But this morning, the district announced it had received a $7.5 million gift from Kaiser Permanente. It is the largest corporate donation yet to support Smith’s vision for Oakland’s schools, district spokesman Troy Flint said.

The money won’t solve the district’s structural deficit or guard against deep mid-year budget cuts. But $7.5 million is still $7.5 million.

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Four big goals for black males in Oakland

Chris Chatmon at Frick Middle School. By Kristopher Skinner/Bay Area News Group

I blogged in September about the appointment of Chris Chatmon as director of the Oakland school district’s African American male achievement office, which is privately funded.

A story about the initiative ran in today’s Tribune. You can read it here.

What do you think (and/or hope) it will accomplish?

If you’d like to volunteer your time, talents or ideas, you can reach Chatmon directly at christopher.chatmon@ousd.k12.ca.us.


The belated scoop on OUSD task forces — and meetings you might want to attend

I didn’t blog about the Great Oakland Public Schools workshop the other week on the new task forces that could play a major role in shaping district policy. Sorry about that. But it’s not to late to get involved, so better late than never, right?

The workshop was organized to give people — namely, those who hadn’t been tapped to be on a task force — a better idea of how they could participate. There was no lack of interest; the room at the Jack London Aquatic Center was packed. Halfway through the meeting, people split into groups, arranging themselves around various tables to learn more about committees that piqued their interest.

It was interesting to note `the popular tables’ — e.g. teacher effectiveness — and the empty or missing chairs at others, most conspicuously the one for eliminating the district’s structural deficit.

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Who will be picked to join OUSD’s new task forces, and how?

There’s been plenty of interest in Tony Smith’s strategic plan for the Oakland school district, its multitude of task forces, and his calls for broad civic involvement. When someone asked Smith after the Waiting for Superman screening how people could support the local schools, he suggested they read the plan and consider joining a task force.

Fine, but how do you get on board?

Jonathan Klein and Ratna Amin of Great Oakland Public Schools advocacy group wrote a letter to Smith and the school board this month, outlining their concerns and questions about the district’s outreach. How will the members of the task forces be selected, and who determines the process? Will parents and teachers be represented on every committee? What’s the status of the portal for community members to provide feedback directly to the superintendent?

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Meet Oakland’s new director for African American male achievement

Chris ChatmonLast night, Superintendent Tony Smith announced he had chosen Chris Chatmon, of 100 Black Men, for a new role in the Oakland public school system: executive director for African American male achievement, a position funded by private donors.

It will be Chatmon’s task to change the trajectory of the city’s black boys.

Let’s take the Class of 2008, the most recent data available from the California Department of Education. Continue Reading