BOARD WATCH: Defunding the district police, budget updates, and November bond

Today’s big items are:

For more, click here for the full agenda.

Note: You can watch the Zoom meeting by clicking on this link at 5:30pm, by calling (669) 900-9128, then entering the Webinar ID 853 4514 3077, then pressing “#”, or by watching it on live tv on KDOL-TV (Cable Channel 27).  To learn more on how you can participate at these meetings and make a public comment click here.

Click here to watch a livestream of the meeting tonight at 5:30pm

Item #20-1335

The first item up for discussion tonight is the resolution that proposes that the District defunds its police department, allocates those funds toward student support positions (i.e. school-based social workers, psychologists, restorative justice practitioners), and directs the superintendent to launch a community-inclusive process to make a plan to reimagine school safety. This resolution will be voted on tonight.

Currently, OUSD school police has seven sworn officers, two sergeants, and a chief. They respond to calls for assistance from school sites and other district locations. The George Floyd Resolution to Eliminate the Oakland Schools Police Department, was brought forward by Board directors Shanthi Gonzales and Roseann Torres at the last board meeting after the immediate urgency to address the systematic racism and violence towards our community, especially black men and boys, after the murder of George Floyd. This resolution is in support of the Black Organizing Project’s (BOP) People’s Plan for Police-Free Schools.

Superintendent Kyla Johnson-Trammell has remained committed to reimagining our District without a police force and to developing the alternative schools safety plan.

Check out this piece from Oaklandside to learn more about the history of the District’s school police force. 

GO’s Perspective

We believe now is the moment to make radical changes in service of our students’ safety and mental health that are foundational to a healthy and equitable learning environment that will prepare them for the future ahead. We appreciate the decade of hard work and advocacy from the Black Organizing Project and we fully support the growing calls to defund the District’s police department. We believe, defunding the school police is a critical step in the larger struggle to eliminate racism and anti-blackness in our schools and community. Reimagining a new way of ensuring the safety of our students will be hard work and require deep community involvement. 

The Superintendent must ensure the new safety plan avoids the intervention of the Oakland Police Department when assistance is needed, given their track record of harming the black and brown community in our schools and beyond. We cannot replace one form of police with another. This conversation needs to be tied with the larger citywide discussion to divert resources from the Oakland city police and invest in mental health, education, social services, housing, economic opportunities, and community safety. The District must work to root out racism and anti-blackness, wherever it exists, not just in its police force, but in it’s teaching workforce, administrative staff, curriculum, policies, budget priorities, and systems. Director Hinton-Hodge wrote about this topic recently, offering her perspective on how critical it is to “eliminate underlying historical behaviors and practices that harm black children.” 

Item#20-1337

Every year, by June 30th, the District must bring forward and vote on a proposal for next school year’s budget that is based on current financial assumptions. Tonight, the Board will be voting to adopt the budget for the 2020-21 school year. It’s important to note that this year, in light of the pandemic and the economic uncertainty at the state level, the OUSD budget proposal for next year is less accurate and will continue to change through the summer as the state finalizes its budget. If the final state budget does not increase, based on the most recent “May Revise” state budget, the District will need to be prepared to make an additional $16.5M in reductions in 2020-21 to ensure fiscal sustainability. The proposed budget currently totals to $711,881,481 in revenue and $788,931,165 in expenditures. You can find additional details on the proposed budget here

Item #20-2090

The District has identified over $3 billion in estimated costs in order to fully address facilities, grounds, and system-related upgrades to accommodate OUSD’s existing and projected program needs that can ensure a safe and adequate learning environment for students. The recently approved 2020 Facilities Master Plan includes work categories, improvement projects, and investments to prioritize in the coming years. However, a potential city-wide bond is needed to pay for these projects. The Bond committee has been meeting over the course of the year to further define and propose what this bond could look like. Tonight, the District will be presenting high-level themes from voter surveys, a list of the projects, and a timeline to determine whether the bond will be included on the November ballot. See timeline below. 

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