Board Watch: April 24, 2019

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

  1. The teacher strike is over, but the new contract is not yet approved  – The board will vote on the contract agreement
    Millions were cut from the central office; now it is time for a re-design – There are emerging plans for a new way to organize the central office
    OUSD’s state-level advocacy defined – You can review where OUSD stands on the major issues

For more than just three big things, click here for the full agenda

1st BIG THING: The teacher strike is over, but the new contract has not yet been approved (item #19-0729)

The Oakland school board has not yet voted to approve the new contract with the Oakland Education Association. That is because the Alameda County Office of Education is required to review and comment on OUSD’s tentative contract agreement. Two major takeaways from the county’s review of the contact:

  1. If the raise is just for OEA members, the district can afford it.
  2. The district cannot afford to extend this same raise to all seven OUSD bargaining units (like principals, custodians, food service employees, etc), which is sometimes referred to as a “me-too” clause. To afford to extend the raise to all bargaining units OUSD would need to make additional budget cuts.

Read the letter written to the board by Alameda County Office of Education Superintendent L. Karen Monroe (pg. 154-155)

GO’s Perspective

Oakland teachers deserve a raise and the only way the district could afford it was to make budget cuts. The good news is that the county has looked at OUSD’s finances over the next three years and confirmed that the district can afford to give the raise it promised. The bad news is that all indications are that, to sustain this raise and other growing expenses, the district will likely need to make budget cuts again in 2-3 years.

At GO, we believe that OUSD’s constant fiscal crisis takes too much attention away from improving school quality and best serving all students. We are encouraging our network to get involved in two ways:

  1. GO recently endorsed Prop 13 reform to close corporate loopholes and increasing funding for California schools.
  2. Regardless of how much money is brought into OUSD, the district needs to adopt national best practices for district spending with a focus on Smarter Spending.

2nd BIG THING: Millions were cut from the central office, it is time for a re-design (item # 19-0727)

Over the last two years, more than $20 million dollars have been cut from OUSD’s central office. This provides the district with the challenge and opportunity to re-think their theory of action for how a central office acts in service of its schools and students. Here is their first presentation update to the board on this important process.

GO’s Perspective

District budgeting best practices would call for OUSD to completely clear out the central office and re-build it from scratch. If you were tasked with that work, where would you start?

At GO we have been advocating for a lean central office that is in service of schools. That means starting by asking the question:

  • What do schools need a central office to do?
  • How can we maximize resources to schools?

We also believe all central office expenses should have clear and regularly measured goals as a way of justifying the value of those dollars that are not spent at school sites.

3rd BIG THING: OUSD’s state-level advocacy defined (item# 19-0879)

What happens at the state level directly impacts education for all students throughout California. In this agenda item, the school board provides a summary of some key legislation that is being discussed in Sacramento and states OUSD’s position on specific pending bills.

GO’s Perspective

GO will continue to advocate for smart policy approaches and solutions, and we encourage our board to keep students and quality at the center over political ideology. Some parts of this long list of recommendations feel very aligned to that and others less so. We are committed to helping our network to stay informed and continue to follow how state-level decisions will impact Oakland education.

Thanks for reading and please let me know how I can keep improving GO’s Board Watch to make it a must-read for you every two weeks.

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