BOARD WATCH: Will OUSD need to make budget cuts next school year?

For more, click here for the full agenda.

You can watch the Zoom meeting by clicking on this link at 5:30pm or by calling (669) 900-9128, then entering the Webinar ID 892 8142 0610, then pressing “#”.

Items #21-0497 

Tonight, the District will be presenting their Budget Reduction Option and Bridge Plan, a short-term, one-year solution that would allow the district to avoid anticipated $16M in cuts from next school year’s budget. In this plan you will see that they were able to reduce the 2021-22 budget by a total of $20.8M. This money comes from two one-time sources:

  1. Total of $4.8M in Budget Reductions – The District identified $1.4M in revenue due to Assistant Principals & Classified Staff reductions in 2020-21, $1.6M by eliminating the historical contributions to Nutrition Services, and $1.8M central office reductions from the reorganization of Police Services (with full deployment of the George Floyd Resolution).
  2. Total of $16M One-Time Funds – In January, the District received an additional $11M in funds as part of the federal Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act which aims to address the impact of COVID-19. In addition, they will be receiving $5M from the Assembly Bill 1840 adopted in the Governor’s 2020-21 budget.

It is important to note that while these one-time funds prevented cuts from next year’s budget, the District will need to continue to strategize and plan how they organize their budget in future school years, given the structural deficit. Therefore the District is proposing that by December 2021, they:

  1. Realign the General Fund Base, Supplemental, and Other Grant Funded/Restricted positions and expenditures to align salaries with affordability and determine what areas of adjustment we need to recommend for reduction for the 2022-23 year to ensure the District can continue to afford small community schools, class sizes, and support at the levels it seeks and secure the desired outcomes academically and financially.
  2. Initiate a District analysis on administrative/central re-organization and recommend a plan to align support services needed and clarify departmental priorities, roles, and goals. In the past central office reductions have led to operational gaps because of the lack of clarity and priorities of specific departments, so it is important for the District to analyze and get clarity on those before making decisions.
  3. Develop an Early Retirement Incentive.

If the Board does not approve of this plan, an alternative plan to make a total of $16M in budget reductions must be included in the Second Interim Financial Report (scheduled for March 10th).

Item #21-0194

At the last school board meeting, Board Directors Thompson, Hutchinson and Williams introduced the Reparations for Black Students resolution that directs the Superintendent to take all steps necessary to eliminate the Black student opportunity gaps across all schools by 2025. The first read of the policy called on a list of emergency actions to take due to the impact of the pandemic and a list of 17 additional actions to complete by 2025. 

Here are a few quotes that stood out from the previous discussion:

Director Williams (in response to questions about cost analysis for this policy): Our budget reflects our values and priorities… The actual budget numbers are not built into this… It’s really about the concept of us as a District to support our students. Once we come to the agreement, we can think about the numbers. 

Superintendent Kyla Johnson-Trammel supported the overall goal but cautioned against constantly shifting priorities without building momentum for sustained change: “Accelerate the outcome for our Black Students is what we [the district] should be doing… Policy and the implementation should be aligned and sustained even beyond the people that are in these roles so that we aren’t changing direction every 2 years…thinking about the outcomes we are after is extremely important. I ask the Board to think about the power of it being connected to the Strategic Plan.”

Board President Shanthi expressed her “full support for the idea of a Task Force”, however was hesitant to approve of the entire plan as written: “what makes a lot of sense is to launch the Task Force and for the Task Force to have those exploratory conversations… specifically around understanding the specific outcomes we are seeking… because we have a lot of investments for African American students, maybe they are not working.”

Director Yee expressed concern around specific points made in the policy around the impact of school closures and charter co-locations: “The point that is the hardest for me, is that the Citywide Plan and the Blueprint is explicitly unwound in some of the bullet points… If the board decides that it wants to unwind the process and lay the onus of failure of African American students on charter and school closures, then that’s something we’ll vote on. If we can decouple that from the discussion about reparations, I could be a very eager supporter. Director Hutchinson responded that the “will of the community” is what is being reflected on this resolution, which Director Yee responded with “the community is a bigger than the people you are trying to represent”.

Overall, the Board agreed on the overall urgent need to invest in our Black students and the discussion ended with the commitment to bring forth a revised version that considers Board Director feedback and that focuses on the creation of the Task Force. The revised version of the Reparations for Black Students policy will be up for discussion today. The policy action items are now categorized in the following buckets: 1) Addressing the impact of COVID-19 2) Establishment of a Task Force 3) Revenue Allocation 4) School Closures and Charter Co-locations Impact 5) Additional Actions.  

Check out this perspective from Great School Voices that highlights flaws in the policy and underscores the need to include: All Black Children Matter: How We Can Fix the OUSD Reparations Policy to Include Every Black Child – Great School Voices

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