Last week, the Oakland school board unanimously passed a resolution giving further direction to the District to develop the 2017-18 budget. With this resolution in place, below outlines where we stand and where we go from here, alongside a set of considerations for the budgeting process in years to come.
GO Oakland is hosted a Budget Webinar on Wednesday, February 15 to dive deeper on the district budget issues and discuss your questions. View the webinar here.
Where We Stand
The school consolidations and cuts to assistant principals and classified staff ratios were rejected by the board. The the board adopted resolution continues the district’s “spending control protocol” to re-build its reserve, cover overages in special education this year, and upgrade the district’s financial system. For the coming school year, the resolution shifts $8.5 million from the central office to fund a set of priorities including special education and pensions.
There remains much work to do in ensuring the best possible budget, but this resolution is intended to give the District enough direction to move forward with the process. Read our analysis of the resolution for information about how it impacts this school year and next year. You can also share the analysis on Facebook and Twitter.
Where We Go from Here
The school board will be hearing regular updates from the District on its progress. We will keep the community up-to-date on these developments as upcoming deadlines appear. For example, in mid-March the District will issue its second interim report, and in mid-May the Governor will revise the state budget. Both of these will provide important information about where we stand.
Additionally, it appears that opportunities for weighing-in on possible cuts might happen in the Principal’s Advisory Council as well as the Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP) committees.
Considerations for the Budgeting Process
In reflecting on this and previous budget issues in Oakland, we offer the considerations following with respect to the budgeting process for district staff in years to come:
- Keep student achievement as your north star. We can never take our eye off of why we are here.
- Time and transparency matter. Don’t hide the ball or handle the audience. Be direct, honest, and transparent. Also, allow the Board and community time to make meaning of and discuss proposals.
- Seek input and avoid one size fits all solutions. Always present multiple scenarios that reflect the input of educators and community. This District will be as strong as the community, and bringing a variety of perspectives together will create a better solution.
- Doing the right thing must be done the right way. Communication and implementation matter. Trying to do the right thing cannot justify cutting corners in engagement of key stakeholders and clear communication to the entire community.
As the budget issue has evolved, we offer thanks to educators and community members for sharing thoughts and concerns, Board members for pushing to further protect school sites and asking for a more transparent process, and District leaders for preparing a second proposal and for the work to unfold in the coming months.
While the Board has created some direction for the short-term, most of the bigger underlying issues remain to be fully addressed and resolved as a community, such as the financial challenges of many schools, the increasing costs of special education, and our plan for sustainability in a world where the foreseeable future includes flat revenue and gradually increasing costs. As a community, we must find ways to take this incredibly hard work on in earnest in the weeks, months, and even years to come.
Again, we invite you to join for our OUSD Budget Webinar on February 15th to engage further.