BOARD WATCH: School Closures, Supt. and CBO Contracts, and Facilities Master Plan Updates

For more, click here for the full agenda and read about a few more items below. 

Note: Pursuant to the Governor’s Executive Order Nos. N-25-20 and N-29-20, members of the Board of Education, as well as the Superintendent or designee and other designated staff, will join the meeting via phone/video conference and no teleconference locations need be posted. You can watch the meeting as usual here, but you can also join the video call by clicking on this link at the scheduled meeting time or To calling (669) 900-9128, then entering the Webinar ID 647-421-930, then press “#”.  See further details on pages 3 and 4 in the agenda.

Click here to watch a livestream of the meeting tonight at 6pm

Item #20-0805

On March 13, 2020, OUSD announced the closure of schools and cease of in-class instruction starting through at least April 5, 2020 given the COVID-19 pandemic. On April 1st, Superintendent Johnson-Trammell announced that District schools would be closed for in-person instruction through the remainder of the school year. Tonight the Board will be affirming this decision. Distance learning is continuing during this time. Click here for  summary of what parents can expect.

We know that the new reality of distance learning will be challenging and will only widen the opportunity gap for many of our most underserved communities– low income, students of color, students with special needs, and english learners. We are grateful to see the district is working towards ensuring these students have their basic needs met, increasing access to technology and the internet, and ensuring students still have access to school meals that so many students rely on. The district is also beginning to implement distance learning plans. As these are being implemented student learning experiences will vary by student and school. So we must begin to think ahead, even if we don’t have all the answers yet. How are families experiencing distance learning? What are additional needs? How will we identify which students need more support? What steps will the district take this summer and next fall to mitigate learning loss? 

Item #20-0703 

Dr. Kyla Johnson-Trammell has served as Superintendent of the Oakland Unified School District for almost 3 years (since July 1, 2017). Her current 4-year contract would expire on June 20, 2021. Tonight, the Board will vote on an updated contract to extend her time with OUSD at least through 2022-23.

The Superintendent is the chief executive officer and educational leader of the District and is responsible for carrying out the educational, managerial and administrative responsibilities for the care and maintenance of the District. The Superintendent shall administer the District in accordance with the Board’s policies and state and federal laws.

Leadership stability matters now more than ever. If this extension is approved, this will be the first time in decades we will have a Superintendent stay longer than 4 years. Over the past 20 years, Oakland has had 10 Superintendents, including interims and those appointed by the state. The district more than ever needs to ensure leadership stability during this massive crisis to ensure continuity and cohesion as much as possible. In fact, the Learning Policy Institute research found that stable district leadership is an essential ingredient for effective school reform and plays a critical role in stable school leadership, which improves teacher retention and quality which, in turn, improves student learning. In addition, Superintendent searches can be costly and can take many months to hire the right fit. The last thing Oakland needs as we grapple with this public health crisis and the budgetary implications is the uncertainty of leadership. 

Item #20-0760

The Board also will vote on a contract for a new Chief Business Officer (CBO), a position that has been empty for about a year. As we gear up for what will surely be an unprecedented year in which the district will face new operational challenges related to the recovery from these closures, having stable leadership in this role and other critical roles like the Chief Financial Officer (CFO), and Superintendent should be a top priority for the district.

The role has been offered to Lisa Grant-Dawson for the term April 27, 2020 to June 30, 2022. The role of the CBO is to provide leadership in planning, supervising and directing the business and operations of the District and will function in an advisory role to the other support programs of the District. This includes the formulation of District policies, plans regarding non instructional operations and resources, and reviewing and long-term planning all financial aspects of the District to ensure fiscal solvency with the CFO. The CBO serves as the principal advisor to the Board of Education and the Superintendent in matters related to non-instructional areas of the District. 

Ms. Grant-Dawson has had a long work history in school district finance. Most recently, she served as the CBO at Stockton Unified School District and has been in that role for almost five years. She has also served as CBO for three of the most challenged school districts in California, providing opportunities for her to help those districts improve their fiscal health, develop strategies to move stalled initiatives and projects forward, improve relationships with labor, update and revise policies to operationalize best practices, and develop progressive partnerships with inter-agency groups, business leaders, and community organizations.

Item #19-2517

The master plan is a key planning document that identifies the needs in the many buildings and properties OUSD owns for the next ten years. The 2020 Facilities Master Plan identified over $3 billion required to fully address facilities, grounds, and system-related upgrades to accommodate OUSD existing and projected program needs to ensure safe and adequate learning environments for students. Since the initial proposal of the masterplan, various stakeholders have been engaged to gather input via community meetings and online participation. In late March, the district met to discuss the range of scenarios on how they would pay for those projects. 

Tonight, the District will present an updated plan that incorporates specific feedback from previous Board meetings, work from previous data sources, numerous initiatives and engagements that have been pursued as part of the Citywide Plan and carry forward those facets of the Plan that have a facility component. The district will also elevate how some of the proposed scenarios to pay for these facilities projects may be impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. 

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