I plowed through a draft of the Oakland school district’s strategic plan today — all 50 pages of it. It’ll be discussed at a special board meeting at 6 p.m. Wednesday (tomorrow) at the district headquarters. You’ll find links to the report below.
I won’t be surprised if long-time observers of the school system remind us all of the Five-Year Plans of OUSD Past — enthusiastically presented, but long since forgotten. I wonder how this plan compares to former superintendents’ visions for Oakland Unified. It certainly contains some provocative ideas, such as “risk screens” for African American male students at certain transitional points, and school quality reviews that go far beyond the API score.
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.
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.
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.
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?
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan visited Oakland’s Merritt College and Berkeley’s Longfellow Middle School today. The news media were not invited to a roundtable discussion at the community college this morning (boo!), so all I have for you is a snippet from a press conference afterward.
I asked Duncan what he thought about Tony Smith’s vision for Oakland’s public schools. Here’s what he said, after praising U.S. Representative Barbara Lee:
Superintendent Tony Smith and 53 other non-unionized managers in the Oakland school district will take furloughs of 6 to 12 days next year. The school board approved the one-year implementation at tonight’s special meeting before passing the final 2010-11 budget.
None of the bargaining units will take unpaid vacations; classified staff considered doing so as a way to avoid further layoffs, but it wasn’t enough, CFO Vernon Hal said tonight.
The $175,000 in savings from these management furloughs will go to the district’s preschool programs. (I’m not sure exactly how many employees this includes.)
As leaders came and went from Oakland Unified’s 1025 Second Avenue headquarters, Chief Services Officer Laura Moran and Chief Academic Officer Brad Stam stayed put, helping the state-run district weather one transition after another. They worked under Randy Ward, Kim Statham, Vince Matthews, Roberta Mayor and, now, Superintendent Tony Smith.