GO Board Watch: January 2019

Read on for 2 BIG THINGS about the OUSD Board Meeting

Two big things on the agenda for this week’s Oakland School Board are:

  1. OUSD Budget Cuts update –  $17.3M to $30.2M in budget cuts for next year
  2. The “Opportunity Ticket” – OUSD enrollment policy for students of closed schools

For more than just two big things, click here for the full Agenda.

1st BIG THING: OUSD Budget Cuts Update (item # 18-2727)

On January 30th, the OUSD school board will approve millions in budget reduction for the 2019-2020 school year. At this meeting, district staff will present the board with the latest draft of the plans to make OUSD more financially stable. We know that there are $3M in budget cuts planned for school discretionary funds. School communities can calculate their projected reductions using the following formula:

Slide 22 of OUSD’s Presentation on 2019-2020 District Budget Reduction Proposal

One decision that has not been made is the amount of money that will be cut from the central office. The proposal includes three scenarios for central office reductions that range from $14.3M to $25.1M in cuts to the central office.  

GO’s Perspective: This budget presentation is the most thorough explanation of OUSD’s approach so far this year. Some questions we hope are answered during the board meeting include:

  • Can OUSD avoid school budget cuts? If there are proposals that look at central cuts ranging from $14.3M to $25.1M, then why is $3M in school site reductions necessary?
  • Will school budget cuts be truly equitable? If school site reductions are absolutely necessary, what will the exact reduction amount be for each school site and what impact will that have for schools with the largest cuts?
  • What central departments are having the greatest impact on students and will those be safe from cuts? Are there departments that are not demonstrating impact and should be cut completely rather than just reduced? It can seem more politically neutral to call for across-the-board cuts, but being truly student-centered requires us to make difficult decisions that prioritize the programs making the most positive impact for children.

2nd BIG THING: The “Opportunity Ticket” (item # 18-2725)

There will be a first read of a policy about what will happen to the students of closing OUSD schools. The policy states, “We know we need to provide these most impacted families with an opportunity that prioritizes their placement at the schools they deem most suitable for their children.”

The specifics of this plan include the OUSD enrollment team taking three steps:

  1. Establish a new enrollment priority called “Opportunity Ticket” as a part of BP 5116.1 “Open Enrollment”.
  2. Set aside a percentage of seats to accommodate the impacted students with Opportunity Ticket priority across all schools at the appropriate grade levels.
  3. Set up pre-enrollment activities for impacted families, including counseling on school selection, expedited completion of required documents, and personalized communication of lottery results.

A thorough look at the entire plan and details included on pgs. 3-10 here.

GO’s Perspective: We know that school closures and consolidations can cause trauma and pain for entire school communities. GO believes it is important that OUSD prioritize access to quality schools for students coming from closing schools. According to the Stanford Credo study in 2017, “[Students whose schools were closed] who attended better schools tended to make greater academic gains than did their peers from not-closed low-performing schools in the same sector, while those ending up in worse or equivalent schools had weaker academic growth than their peers in comparable low-performing settings.” The approach to schools closures should must ensure that ALL students whose schools are closing have access to higher-quality schools and that closures are seen through an equity lens rather than a fiscal one. 

To learn more about the community advocacy in favor of the opportunity ticket, get to know the parents of The Oakland Reach.3

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