Board Watch: June 12, 2019

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

  1. OUSD’s 19-20 student goals and strategies – a review of OUSD will spend resources to meet their goals next year.
  2. A long-term lease renewal for Leadership Public Schools – a look at how a district and charter high school are sharing space and resources to support all students.
  3. Appealing OUSD’s budget rating – OUSD and the Alameda County Office of Education aren’t seeing eye to eye.

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

1st BIG THING: OUSD’s 19-20 student goals and strategies  (item #19-1167)

The Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP) is a document that describes how school districts will apply additional funds to improve student outcomes. This year’s LCAP emphasizes themes of district-wide alignment of academic priorities, actions, and services and systems for monitoring implementation and progress – from the central leadership to schools. The LCAP includes details on six key goal areas, which include making sure graduates are college and career ready, academic standards, English learners are reaching English fluency, and ensuring students, parents, and families are engaged.

GO’s Perspective

GO believes that OUSD should be using an Academic Return on Investmentapproach to budgeting, asking how impactful their investments are toward improving student achievement. This year’s LCAP summary is an important step in that direction. The summary includes details on how individual strategies are contributing to progress that the district is making, as well as theories about how new strategies will impact areas where the district continues to lag behind. We are excited about this direction for OUSD and hope that they continue to invest in impact-driven decision-making throughout their budgeting process.

2nd BIG THING: A long-term lease renewal for Leadership Public Schools (item#19-1274)

The Board is considering a long-term charter lease for Leadership Public Schools to use of portions of the Castlemont High School Campus through June 30, 2039, with revenue going to the district. 

A long term lease is being explored as a win-win for both the district and the charter school. Specifically, under Proposition 51, Leadership Public Schools received $28 million in funding and plans to use the funds to build an independent classroom building and create an Early College Center to be used by both Castlemont and Leadership Public Schools students.

This slide references a rubric used to determine which charter schools qualify for long term leases, and indicates Leadership Public Schools scored 90% on this rating scale from the Charter School Facilities Agreement – Leadership Public Schools @ Castlemont High School – Office of Charter Schools

GO’s Perspective

GO’s 1Oakland Campaign believes that offering long-term leases of unused or underutilized OUSD buildings to charter public school programs that are successfully serving our students, especially those who are historically most underserved, is a key strategy that can ensure safe, beautiful, and healthy learning environments.

It is clear from tonight’s presentation that Leadership Public Schools on the Castlemont Campus is exactly the type of school we had in mind when wrote our recommendations. LPS is making a concerted effort to not just think of their own students, but students at both schools by planning to build the Early College Center and agreeing to cap their enrollment at its current agreed upon number. Additionally, and most importantly, they are making clear efforts to serve students from marginalized communities and their students are showing better-than-average academic growth when compared to students with similar characteristics (see more on the CORE Growth model here.)

3rd BIG THING: Appealing OUSD’s budget rating (item # 19-1386)

Every year OUSD submits three “interim budget” reports to the Alameda County Office of Education for review. These “interim budgets” offer a snap-shot of the district’s current year spending and projects what their future budgets will look like. If the district receives a rating of “positive” from the County, that means that the district will definitely meet its fiscal obligations for the next two school years. A  “qualified,” rating means there’s a chance they won’t meet their fiscal obligations, and a “negative” rating indicates the district will not meet their obligations based on current projections. In March, OUSD self-rated their second interim report “positive” but the Alameda County Office of Education came back and stated the district is actually only rated “qualified” for two reasons:

  1. Alameda County believes that OUSD is overestimating its enrollment for next year, and projects that this will result in $5.3 million less in revenue next year.
  2. Alameda County found that OUSD failed to account for the vacation time it had to pay out to the employees that it cut earlier this year, which will cost them $1.3 million.

OUSD is contesting that “qualified” rating, claiming that these developments were outside the second interim report timeline, which ends January 31st. Last month, OUSD did report a reduction in revenue in their third interim budget report.  

GO’s Perspective

In late March, Oakland Unified and the Alameda County Office of Education announced a much closer working relationship, which covers 20 “focus areas” in which the district will receive intensive support. Their new closer working relationship should improve communications between OUSD and the county and reduce the confusion that’s on display here. We hope to see evidence of those improvements in the near future – the sooner that OUSD and the county office of education collectively meet the district’s fiscal vitality goals, the better off our students will be.

GO will continue advocating for smarter spending that maximizes the impact of every dollar spent in service of Oakland students.

Join the conversation about this school board meeting on Twitter using the hashtag #oaksbmtg.

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