From the News Wires
By Ken Epstein
The Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) released a report this week announcing plans to cut an additional $14.2 million in spending to guarantee the district remains solvent in the current school year. With this new round of cuts – on top of the $32.5 million already cut since former Supt. Antwan Wilson left at the end of January – the district will be trimming a total $46.7 million from its budget.
In comparison, OUSD faced a deficit of $37 million in 2003 when the state forced the district into receivership, requiring it to accept a $100 million loan and appointing a trustee with the powers of both the school board and superintendent.
Superintendent Kyla Johnson-Trammell says she will propose a plan for implementing the cuts at the Oct. 25 school board meeting.
“Our goal is to stay as far away from the classroom as possible,” she said. “But we cannot guarantee that there will not be an impact.”
Johnson-Trammell responded to rumors about budget freezes at school sites.
“Food, out of state travel and conferences are the only freezes at this time,” she said, adding that there is already a hiring freeze on new central office staff. The plan is to always have communication,” she said.
Additional cuts were necessary because the district discovered $6.2 in unaccounted expenses since the 2017-2018 budget was adopted in June, eroding the financial cushion necessary to ensure solvency, according to the report.
The unaccounted expenses included $1 million for unanticipated special education transportation costs, $700,000 for Beginning Teacher Support, $1.1 million in Human Resources contracts and school staffing errors and $420,000 for a teachers’ union arbitration decision.
The district also decided it needed additional funds for budget projections that were too low for teacher long-term substitutes ($339,474), temporary staffing ($300,000) and non-teacher long-term substitutes ($220,000).
On the positive side, OUSD enrollment increased 549 students above what was projected in the adopted budget, meaning an additional income of $3.1 million from the state.
Of the $14.2 million in cuts, the district will use $1.2 to restore the 2 percent minimum state-required financial reserve and $13 million as a cushion to absorb unforeseen expenditures “or adjustments to existing projections,” the report said.
In a video report to the community posted this week on the school district’s website (www.ousd.org), Supt. Johnson-Trammell discussed the district’s financial condition.
Emphasizing transparency, she said, “I am committed to being clear about where we stand with our finances,” she said.
“OUSD continues to face a challenging budget situation,” she said. “Last year we made difficult budget decisions to ensure we avoided staff receivership. However, more work remains to ensure we regain our financial health. “
Published October 14, 2017, courtesy of the Oakland Post
The post School District Will Cut Additional $14.2 Million – A Total of $46.7 Million Since January appeared first on Ken A. Epstein.
By Ken Epstein
Meetings of Peralta Community College District’s Board of Trustees are generally sparsely attended, but this week an overflow crowd filled seats and folding chairs and stood along the walls at the district headquarters near Laney College to speak out for and against the 35,000-seat stadium that the Oakland A’s want to build on the site.
At one point during the meeting on Tuesday evening, opponents of the stadium began chanting, “Ain’t no power like the power of the people because the power of the people don’t stop!” A’s supporters tried to drown them out with “Let’s go, Oakland!” – a chant that is popular at A’s games.
Supporters of building the A’s stadium in downtown Oakland on 8th Street and 5th Avenue next to Laney College and Chinatown included A’s fans from Oakland and around the Bay Area, business owners who argued that the increased foot traffic and development would be a shot in the arm for the downtown economy, building trades unions, the Chinatown Chamber of Commerce and the African American Chamber of Commerce.
Opponents included senior citizens, high school students, organized by groups in the Oakland Chinatown Coalition, students and instructors in the Save Laney Land for Students Coalition, members of Eastlake United for Justice, 5th Avenue Waterfront Community Alliance, Coalition of Advocates for Lake Merritt and Causa Justa; Just Cause.
They say they want the team to stay in Oakland but not at Lake Merritt, where the stadium and associated development projects would swamp low-income neighborhoods, jeopardize the future of Laney College and destroy natural habitats.
The administration and board of Peralta are planning for an inclusive process to discuss the proposal, which the A’s organization initially sent to Peralta on Sept. 12.
“The board has not had any time (so far) to consider this issue,” said Peralta Chancellor Dr. Jowel Laguerre.
Sharon Cornu, a consultant who is working with Peralta to lead the community discussion, emphasized that the process is just beginning. “Let’s begin with where we are today,” she said. “There is no commitment, there is no decision, and there is no deal. “
“We’re here to start the process of community benefits and engagement so the trustees can make a decision in the best interests of the Peralta Colleges’ community,” she said.
Speakers in favor of the proposal included Carl Chan of the Chinatown Chamber of Commerce.
“This is going to be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” he said, arguing that the stadium would be good for public safety, jobs, business opportunities and workforce housing.
Alice Lai-Bitker, business owner and former county supervisor, said, “I’m really optimistic about the A’s proposal. I am hoping it will benefit Laney students and businesses and residents nearby in Chinatown and Eastlake. ”
Among the speakers opposed to the stadium was Jing Jing He, who said Chinatown residents, including senior citizens, came to Tuesday’s meeting to “fight for the life of their community.”
“The A’s team has tried to leave Oakland in the past few years,” she said. “They only stayed because San Jose denied their move, and now they say they’re all for Oakland.”
Focusing on environmental impacts, Cindy Margulis, executive director of the Golden Gate Audubon Society, said, “We understand the A’s want to be downtown, but this particular site is a catastrophe for the (wildlife) refuge at Lake Merritt.”
James Vann, a member of the Stay the Right Way Coalition, said the project would not be good for Oakland. “The impacts are monumental. There will never be a way to mitigate the impacts on the channel, on traffic, on the neighborhoods, on freeways, on the college.”
Alvina Wong of the Asian Pacific Environmental Network (APEN) handed the board a petition opposing the project signed by 1,700 Chinatown residents.
“We’re here, and we’re living here every single day. We don’t get a choice to go somewhere else,” she said. Local residents would be crowded by tens of thousands of A’s fans “who are coming here for one single purpose,”
While her organization has brought people to the meeting and hired translators, the A’s corporation has not done anything yet to reach out to the community.
“I don’t know how we can keep trusting this process,” said Wong.
Published October 13, 2017, courtesy of the Oakland Post