Welcome to GO’s School Board Watch for the meeting on Wednesday, June 6, 2018.
This week’s agenda includes the following key items:
- System of Schools Policy
- 2018-19 and 2019-20 Budget Reductions
- Opposing the Sale of the Derby Parcel
- Policies on Charter School Authorization, Oversight, and Accountability
System of Schools Policy
The Board will hear a second reading of a policy that seeks to address the inefficiencies and inequities that result from having multiple, uncoordinated school governance systems within the same district.
The policy declares and iterates the Board’s responsibility to:
- a quality education for all students in Oakland, whether they attend district-run or charter schools;
- ensure equitable allocation of funds and assets within their purview; and
- work to modify state law so the Board may gain greater control of the district’s ecosystem.
The policy begins with this declaration:
“All means all. The Board of Education no longer leaves in doubt how we will increase access to high quality schools or our role as a governing body as it relates to our school district’s system of schools. The Board of Education takes seriously our responsibility for all Oakland students, no matter if they attend a district or charter school. Given that we have oversight over all Oakland public schools we will govern in a way that ensures increasing quality, more sustainability, and effective schooling options for Oakland families.”
No other entity has the authority to design and build a system of schools. For years, leaders of our city have debated whether OUSD was responsible for the education of all Oakland students or just the Oakland students who attend district-run schools. All means all. We applaud the Board’s leadership and fulfilment of their elected duty and encourage them to vote yes.
The board will discuss a proposed resolution (originally scheduled to be discussed at the May 23 meeting) 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. 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 approximately $7.5 million. The resolution specifies that the staff proposals about how to make these cuts should minimize the impact of those cuts on school sites.
With this resolution, school sites face a third cut to their budgets over the last two school years. In GO’s Budgeting for Impact campaign, our advocacy has been focused on OUSD adopting national district budgeting best practices and acknowledging that the district must prioritize spending by investing in areas that have the greatest impact on student outcomes. As OUSD is working towards financial stability, the need for this resolution does raise the important question of why school sites were given budgets in January that did not accurately account for the district’s repeated overspending.
Facilities – Derby Parcel
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.
Policies on Charter School Authorization, Oversight, and Accountability
Directors Hodge and Gonzales have authored policies that speak to the role of the school board as a charter school authorizer. Tomorrow night’s meeting will include a first reading of both policies.
- Best Practices As Charter School Authorizer – Philosophy, Goals and Objectives
- Charter Schools Oversight and Accountability – Philosophy, Goals and Objectives
Our 1Oakland campaign envisions a city where our district school board and nonprofit charter boards collectively ensure excellence and equity across all public schools. This requires leadership from our OUSD board to function as a strong authorizer, and we welcome the board’s conversation about what could improve about current authorizing practices.