Welcome to GO’s School Board Watch for the meeting on Wednesday, May 23, 2018.
This week’s agenda includes the following key items:
- Third Interim Financial Report
- Prospective Budget for 2018-19
- Opposing the Sale of the Derby Parcel
- Sunshining Contracts with CSEA and SEIU
The board will hear a presentation on the Third Interim Financial Report, which is a financial snapshot as of April 30th. Based on this information and improved forecasting, the District is projecting that at the close of books in September, they will have a reserve for economic uncertainty–essentially the district’s emergency fund–of only 1.57%. This is below both the state-mandated 2% and the Oakland Unified board policy calling for a 3% reserve. If the district’s reserve is too low and they encounter a fiscal emergency, they could run out of cash-on-hand, which would trigger state receivership.
The board will hear a presentation on the prospective budget for 2018-19. While still incomplete, the current version of the 2018-19 budget would reduce the Unrestricted General Fund budget by $4.7 million. This would restore the financial reserve to 2.48%. Considerations for budget reductions include reductions in central office administrators and modifying the 1000 Broadway lease. The final 2018-19 budget is expected to be approved by a board resolution on June 6.
The board will discuss a proposed resolution directing district staff to take a series of important actions to improve the district’s fiscal outlook and avoid mid-year cuts during the 2018-19 school year. These actions include implementing a central office hiring freeze, starting the budget process earlier next year, and presenting cost-cutting measures to the board in departments that regularly overspend their budgets. But most immediately, the resolution would direct district staff to present multiple options to cut the district budgets for the next two school years to help meet the district’s fiscal solvency goals, with the 2018-19 budget being cut by a minimum of $10 million. The resolution specifies that the staff proposals about how to make these cuts should minimize the impact of those cuts on school sites.
The City of Oakland is currently considering a sale of the Derby Avenue Parcel to Aspire Public Schools, but has delayed the sale in order to receive input from the OUSD School Board. The parcel of land would be used to build a modern, quality facility for Aspire ERES that could accommodate up to 620 students (triple its current enrollment). Aspire has secured a $30 million state grant for the project. The proposed resolution expresses opposition to the sale, noting that the new school facility would be within one mile of 18 existing schools and could have significant negative impacts on enrollment in those schools, potentially jeopardizing their viability.
GO’s 1Oakland campaign envisions a citywide system of Oakland public schools that intentionally and routinely aligns resources, including facilities, to student need. The current tension in the sale of city land to Aspire Public Schools reflects a need for a system of schools in which charter schools are included in OUSD’s facilities master plan, or given an appropriate placement through Prop 39 or Prop 51. ERES has been applying to OUSD for an alternative to its substandard facility for multiple years. Similarly, OUSD has expanded schools and opened schools without communication or collaboration with the neighboring district-run and charter schools.
Without inclusion in a district master facilities plan, schools like ERES who independently pursue a quality facility for Oakland students, unintentionally disrupt other Oakland public school communities, as we are seeing now.
These tensions and problems will likely increase as student populations shift, and properties become more expensive and scarce. Our district, charter, and city leaders need to govern our full system of schools and redirect and align resources to meet the needs of current and future families. GO and our 1Oakland campaign continue to advocate for a coherent system of schools where OUSD leaders are proactive in establishing a vision for all public schools and the charter community is sitting at the table as partners. We believe in coming together as 1Oakland for students.