BOARD WATCH: Student Vaccine Requirement, Measure N, Budget Reductions in lieu of School Consolidations
For more, click here for the full agenda.
You can join the meeting through the Zoom meeting by clicking on this link at 5:30pm or by calling (669) 900-9128, then entering the Webinar ID 848 1473 6159, then pressing “#”.
On September 22, 2021, OUSD became the first Bay Area school district to mandate that students 12 and over must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
The mandate permits medical exemptions, personal belief exemptions, and other exemptions as required by law. Under the Resolution, the Superintendent was directed to develop recommendations for implementation of the vaccination requirement, and to report on such recommendations to the Board no later than October.
Tonight, the Board will discuss the following three options for enforcement of this requirement:
Option 1. Any non-exempt, unvaccinated student would be offered a transfer to Sojourner Truth, the District’s long-term independent study school. If that student chooses not to transfer, the student would be unenrolled from the District after having been provided with sufficient information and opportunities to access the COVID-19 vaccine as well as progressive warnings.
Option 2. A non-exempt, unvaccinated student would not be able to participate in certain activities such as sports, prom, field trips, or in-person graduation ceremonies (as a participant).
Option 3. Enforcement of the requirement would be through the State’s emergency regulations when they are adopted. (No enforcement section need be included in BP 5141.29 if this option is chosen.)
The Resolution also directs the Superintendent “to develop a process to determine and track which OUSD students are partially or fully vaccinated”:
On September 22, there was not a board majority in support of consolidating schools as part of Cohort 3. The estimated savings from Cohort 3 would have been $2 million. This means the board needs to find a way to make up the shortfall.
Tonight, the board will discuss three options to reduce ongoing expenses by $2 million starting in 2022-23.
Option 1. Reduce the budgeted amount for Deferred Maintenance from the current $5 million to $3 million. This option reduces a recently restored investment that in the long term could prove to be more costly to the District due to the need for earlier, more expensive facility replacement costs.
Option 2. Eliminate $2 million in ongoing vacancies in the Unrestricted General Fund. There are an estimated $7 million in vacancies as of September 21, 2021. This option would direct staff to determine which vacancies have been historic and to eliminate those vacancies, removing the possibility of actually filling those positions at some point in the future. Given this, the eliminated positions are more likely to be central office rather than school site positions. However, this option is not aligned to the “Why” of the reductions ( the need for the District to operate fewer, better-resourced schools).
Option 3. Reduce the annual site-based supplemental allocation by approximately $65 per student. This option aligns the reductions to the fact that keeping the current number of schools makes it harder to fully support that number of schools. However, by definition, it would have a direct impact (next year) on school sites.
With rising costs and declining enrollment, OUSD is facing a structural deficit which requires difficult budget cuts each year. This year, OUSD is facing a $16 million deficit and continued declines in enrollment exacerbated by the pandemic. Just during the past two pandemic years alone, OUSD’s enrollment has declined by 1,800 students on top of previous declines. That’s over a 4% decrease – or the equivalent of losing the student body of 4 average-sized schools.While the decision to reduce $ 2 million in ongoing expenses may help in the short-term, it’s not enough to get OUSD out of the vicious cycle of annual budget cuts. A letter from the Alameda County of Education has required the board to determine an “ongoing budget- balancing solution” by December 15, 2021. How can we expect to offer much needed compensation increases to our certificated and classified staff without a plan in place to address the budget gap? In addition to considering these short-term ways to close this year’s gap and balance this year’s budget, we urge the board to continue with the Citywide Plan with a focus on addressing the structural deficit.
Measure N, also known as the “Oakland College and Career Readiness For All Act,” was approved by Oakland voters in 2014 bringing in over $10 million a year to Oakland schools.
The purpose of Measure N is to implement a comprehensive approach to high school education in Oakland that integrates academics with career-based learning and real-world work experience. Also, to create small learning communities of career-oriented pathways, and offer intensive, individualized support to create the conditions for all students to graduate high school prepared to succeed in college and career.
GO saw the huge benefit of Measure N to our schools and community and proudly supported the YES on N campaign in 2014.
The Measure has five goals:
- Decrease the high school drop-out rate,
- Increase the high school graduation rate,
- Increase high school students’ readiness to succeed in college and career,
- Increase middle school students’ successful transition to high school
- Reduce disparities in student achievement and student access to career pathways based on race, ethnicity, gender, socio-economic status, English Learner-status, special needs-status, and residency.
Tonight, the Board will discuss its intent to place a parcel tax on the 2022 or 2024 General Election ballot that would continue to fund the initiatives currently financed by Measure N dollars.
The Resolution would direct the Superintendent or designee to bring forward a recommendation to the Board by April 2022 regarding whether such a parcel tax should be placed on the 2022 or 2024 General Election ballot.
We strongly support the reauthorization of Measure N. Since its implementation, Measure N has been a major force behind the improvement of high school outcomes, demonstrating how it’s possible to have a parcel tax with high accountability and high support producing positive outcomes for students.