GO Board Watch: June 27, 2018

Welcome to GO’s School Board Watch for the meeting on Wednesday, June 27, 2018.

Wednesday’s meeting will be the last regularly scheduled Board meeting of the 2017-18 school year. As the Board has a very full agenda of business to conclude before the end of the year, it is expected that Wednesday’s meeting will go until 12am and will resume on Thursday at 5pm to address remaining agenda items.

This week’s agenda includes the following key items:

  • Confirming Oakland Unified School District’s Commitment to Fiscal Solvency
  • 2018-19 and 2019-20 Budget Reductions
  • 2018-19 Fiscal Year Budget
  • Blueprint for Quality Schools Action Plan
  • The Community of Schools (formerly System of Schools) Policy

Check out the full agenda.

Budget

Confirming Oakland Unified School District’s Commitment to Fiscal Solvency

The Board will consider a resolution that states that according to current projections, OUSD will not meet the state-mandated financial reserve of 2% in 2019-20 and 2020-21, with a projected ending fund balance of negative $20.3 million and negative $59 million, respectively. The resolution cites declining enrollment and increasing STRS/PERS contributions as factors in the projected budget shortfall. In order to avoid “draconian” cuts beginning in 2019-20, the resolution commits the District to reducing budget expenditures in all areas, including: “salaries, employee benefits, services and operating expenses, capital outlay, other outgoing and other financing sources.”

Fiscal Year 2018-19 and 2019-20 Budget Reductions

In December 2017, the Board directed the Superintendent to make $9 million in mid-year budget reductions in order to maintain fiscal solvency. As of May 7, 2018, the District was $2.08 million short of reaching the $9 million in budget reductions. This puts the District at risk of falling below the state-mandated 2% financial reserve for the third year in a row. “According to a presentation to the Board at the May 7 Budget Study Session, the combined unanticipated and anticipated expenditures increased by $7.4 million from the 2017-18 adopted budget which does not account for the fluctuations generally seen between third interim and closing of the books.”

The proposed resolution directs the Superintendent to, among other things:

  • Identify the target number to be reduced in 2018-19 and 2019-20 to restore the reserve to at least 2.5%, restore the self-insurance fund, and make other timely, critical investments such as textbooks and curriculum;
  • Present to the Board multiple options for meeting the goals of the December 2017 resolution;
  • Implement a hiring freeze on central department vacancies being funded through unrestricted general fund (with the exception of the Chief Financial Officer and other critical positions);
  • Present to the Board by October 2018 options for cost efficiencies and savings in Transportation, Food Services, and Programs for Exception Children.

2018-19 Fiscal Year Budget

The Board will vote on a final 2018-19 budget that includes $23 million in budget reductions from the 2017-18 budget. The District projects that these cuts would allow it to end the 2018-19 school year with a financial reserve of 2.61%.

GO’s Perspective

This has been a year of progress and of pain in OUSD’s fiscal story. Many important financial practice policies were passed to help right the ship, while school sites and departments endured another year of midyear budget cuts and the recent FCMAT report laid out serious concerns about the financial practices in the central office. We are not yet where we need to be. In the face of rising costs, OUSD will need to make the significant cuts outlined in the Confirmation of Commitment To Fiscal Solvency resolution to stay solvent. Stay tuned to GO’s Budget Matters email list for more analysis on the district’s adopted FY18-19 budget.

Schools

Blueprint for Quality Schools Action Plan

The Board will hear a second reading of the Blueprint for Quality Schools Action Plan (Blueprint). The Blueprint seeks to address the District’s significant and pervasive budget troubles, as well as significant achievement challenges (with only 16 of 87 schools rated successful on state accountability matrices). A recent analysis found 12,414 empty seats across the district and significant variation across communities that coincide with patterns of racial discrimination and systemic community disinvestment.

The Blueprint will be an iterative process with staggered cohorts of schools engaging in a three-phrase process of selection, planning, and implementation. The Board will consider a resolution which defines the criteria for school selections, as well as a proposed first cohort of schools for the Blueprint process.

The proposed first cohort being considered would 1) Merge Futures Academy and Community United for Success, 2) Merge Elmhurst Community Preparatory School and Alliance Academy; and 3) Explore expansion of Metwest. The data that drove these selection decisions, can be found in the appendix to the Blueprint Plan of Action presentation.

Community of Schools (formerly “System of Schools”)

The Board is expected to vote on the Community of Schools board policy on the 28th, as there will likely not be time to discuss and vote on the policy on the 27th. The policy has gone through extensive revisions since its first reading in February. The latest iteration more clearly defines the issues that the Superintendent would be directed to address through a city-wide plan that includes all Oakland public schools – district, OUSD-authorized charters, and Alameda County-authorized charters. These include, but are not limited to: facilities, enrollment, authorization, sharing best practices, and defined autonomies. The policy would require that the Superintendent to present a plan to the Board by October 1, 2018 that would be voted on in January 2019.

GO’s Perspective

We appreciate Board Chair Eng’s leadership in gathering feedback from the Board and our community, detailing the work our Superintendent needs to do to execute its vision, and in finalizing this historic policy.

We urge our board to vote YES on the Community of Schools policy now because this is the last time the Board has the opportunity to approve Policy 6006 before the close of the academic year allowing OUSD Superintendent Johnson-Trammell and her team to begin the planning and actual work coming as a result of this decision.

 

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