The Citywide Plan is a multi-year plan to tackle the historical vicious cycle that has increased inequities and led to a decrease in school quality due to things like spreading resources too thin, a decline in state funding, and high staff turnover. This plan will ensure success for all students by equitably distributing resources to schools so that students and families access more sustainable, well-resourced schools that are intentionally designed to serve our students and communities.
In December, the Board passed a resolution to continue advancing the Citywide Plan. This resolution directed the Superintendent to present an analysis of the quality and fiscal impact of Cohorts 1 and 2 (in April 2021) and present the Board with a list of proposed schools to expand, redesign, merge and/or close beginning fall 2022 (in June 2021). The Board was scheduled to vote on each proposed expansion, redesign, merger, or closure, by fall 2022 (in September 2021) and the expansions, redesign, mergers, and/or school closures would take effect in fall 2022.
Today, OUSD will share an update on advancing this plan. These updates include the process for reviewing and evaluating school sites against the driving metrics (quality, equity, and sustainability):
The list of Cohort 3 schools will not be proposed at this time, OUSD is proposing to extend the deadline to present that list from June 2021 to September 2021. See timeline below:
Strong and consistent leadership matters. Under Superintendent Kyla Johnson-Trammell’s leadership, OUSD has continued to make strides towards the Community of Schools workplan launched in 2018. OUSD continues the hard, yet important high-stakes work, to ensure that we have equitable, high quality, and sustainable schools for all students.
We applaud the district for publicly sharing the metrics that will be used to select Cohort 3 schools. It is an important step towards transparency. However, we would like to learn more about the next steps: How will they go from a roll-up of scores into making recommendations on what school changes should happen (closures, mergers, expansions)? How will the community be engaged? How will schools be supported in the design and implementation?
We hope that the district continues to learn from past challenges that arose during previous cohort decisions. We have learned from school teams that have already merged that it takes significant time and support to plan, design, and build culture across staff, campuses, and cultures. Any further delay in this timeline means less time for design teams to communicate authentically, build community, and plan for the implementation of the school redesign.
Two weeks ago, Board Vice President Sam Davis and Board Director Mike Hutchinson introduced a resolution that directs the Superintendent or designee to create a “Repayment Plan” to finish paying off the $100M state loan by January 2023 (initially scheduled to be paid off by 2026). When Director Hutchinson introduced the matter he shared that the intent of this resolution is for OUSD staff to come back in the fall with a few options of how the district may be able to pay off the loan. Tonight, the Board will be discussing this matter.
OUSD needs bold leadership from the Board to dramatically shift its fiscal outlook in the years ahead. Paying off the debt might be a smart way to generate a small amount of savings but it would only represent a mere drop in the bucket. If OUSD pays off the loan early, it would save the district ~$217,000, which is less than 1% of the ~$56M in cuts they need to make for the 2022-23 school year, alone. While any amount of savings matters, this is no substitute for the truly bold, long-term changes necessary to ensure that the district operates within its means. Even if the loan is paid off, the Board must follow through on their commitment to balance the budget and identify long-term solutions that will address the historical structural deficit.
It is also important to note that paying off the state loan will not fully eliminate state and county authority. According to state legislation, the Alameda County Superintendent, Karen Monroe, and the state board president will determine whether or not OUSD has adequate fiscal systems and controls in place. Until then, the state trustee retains financial oversight for OUSD whether or not OUSD’s loan is paid off.