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Competing for attention: Moldy portables, broken heaters and a 90-yard football field

Improving Oakland’s school facilities will be a major focus for the district in the coming months. The long-awaited Facilities Master Plan is up for a vote on May 23. Then, on June 13, the board reviews the proposed language for a $475 million bond measure that might go on the November ballot.

Gene Bregman, a market researcher hired by OUSD, reported at tonight’s school board meeting that he was “very encouraged” by the results of his firm’s telephone poll about a possible bond election.

Tim White, who heads the district’s facilities department (which has created this website for the master plan), said that, over the years, the district has received many millions of dollars for upgrades in addition to local taxpayer-funded bond money — mostly in the form of matching grants.

Maybe White can do that again if the bond is approved this fall, at least to some degree. But the fact remains that, despite the money Oakland taxpayers have already raised for capital improvements, the district’s list of needs totals $1.536 billion. That’s three times the amount of the as-yet hypothetical bond revenues.

Will Fremont High School in East Oakland get a football field with a full 100 yards, and building to replace some of its rotting portable classrooms? Will West Oakland schools — slated to be a hub for science, technology, engineering and math activity — be outfitted accordingly? Will the district create a new central kitchen and renovate smaller ones so kids can eat more nutritious food? Make its buildings better able to withstand a massive earthquake?

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