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?”

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Aviation charter school does not impress OUSD

Based on a report I just read, I’d be mighty surprised if the Oakland school board renewed the charter of Oakland Aviation High School. The district’s charter school office came up with 32 reasons for (what amounts to) shutting it down, a decision the board makes on Wednesday.

The high school is not posting stellar test scores, that’s for sure. But take a look at reason #10:

The school API score (557) is equal to the median performance of Oakland district schools in 2009 serving similar grades.

Of course, if the Oakland school board rejects the renewal, Oakland Aviation can appeal to the Alameda County Board of Education. It worked for Cox Academy last year.


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


This week in OUSD: school budgeting, use-of-force policy and enrollment

The Oakland school board’s committees are discussing some important things this week. I figured some of you might want to weigh in on these items before they come before the full board. You can find a list of upcoming meetings and download the agendas here.

Regional bus tourTONIGHT: At 5 p.m., the Teaching and Learning Committee goes over a revised work plan for realizing the superintendent’s vision for the school district. They’ll talk about task forces, regional leadership teams (NEXOs are out; REXOs are in), and other elements of the strategic plan. The committee will also do a more detailed test score analysis with the district’s new data toy, visualization motion charts.

At 6:30 p.m., the Finance and Human Resources Committee is reviewing Results-Based Budgeting, a system that 1) specifies how funds are to be allocated to schools (currently, by each school’s average student attendance), and 2) allows principals and (in theory) school councils to decide how to spend those funds.

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The lone school board race, a West Oakland charter and other board news

Gary YeeBen Visnick

At the City Clerk’s Office today, I learned that a handful of people are running for Oakland school board after all!

But it’s not a big day for democracy: Few Oaklanders, it seems, want a piece of the board’s renewed governing power and responsibility. Only one of the three incumbents — Gary Yee, in District 4 — will be challenged in November. Ben Visnick, the previous Oakland teacher union president, is taking him on.

That means David Kakishiba (District 2), who almost stepped down last fall because of a conflict-of-interest ruling by the school district’s general counsel, and Chris Dobbins (District 6), who was censured by his fellow board members in 2007 because of a relationship with a 17-year-old student, will be elected to another four-year term by default.

SPEAKING OF THE SCHOOL BOARD: It’s holding its first regular meeting since June at 5 p.m. Wednesday (agenda here). Staff is recommending the approval of Vincent Academy, a K-5 charter that would open in West Oakland in 2011. It would be affiliated with the nonprofit St. Vincent’s Day Home and run by an entity called Partners in Oakland Education.

What do you make of this paragraph in the staff report? Continue Reading


No one’s running for school board!

OK, they have until 5 p.m. Friday to make their candidacy official, so there’s probably no need to panic just yet. But as your trusty source for Oakland school news, I feel you should know that as of a few minutes ago, not a single person had filed in any of the three Oakland school board races (Districts 2, 4, or 6).

Not even the (would-be) incumbents.

The person I spoke with at the clerk’s office said candidates often wait until the last week to tell the world that they’re running for office, but that this was pretty unusual. Maybe no one wants to be an Oakland school board member right now — and who could blame them, really?

School board member David Kakishiba and Jose Rocha, a pre-admissions counselor for Cal State East Bay, pulled papers for District 2, but Rocha tells me that because of an “unforeseen reason,” he’s no longer planning to run.

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From cradle to college? Maybe not in CA.

preschoolGov. Schwarzenegger’s proposed budget would decimate the Oakland school district’s early childhood education programs, Chief Financial Officer Vernon Hal told the school board tonight.

We’re talking about a $16 $13 million cut for Oakland Unified’s childhood development centers — at least 80 70 percent of the current, $17.9 million┬ápre-k budget — and 170-180 jobs lost. That would bring the district’s total deficit to almost $100 million, and its total full-time position cuts to 630. (Note: Updated figures from OUSD on June 7.)

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School board meeting this week: at Lincoln

The Oakland school board holds this week’s 5 p.m. meeting at Lincoln Elementary School in Chinatown, 225 11th St. They’ll be discussing the district’s budget cut proposal, again (pages 3-4 of full agenda), and talking about the plan to support teachers — especially new ones — with far fewer funds, and considering a resolution to oppose Arizona’s immigration law.

You can find the agenda here.

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