April 6: For all of the people who tried to attend the Oakland school board's special budget meeting and anyone else who missed it, here's the upshot:
The Oakland school district is bracing for a 16 percent cut in state general purpose funding for 2011-12. That amounts to $844 per student, or $30.5 million, rather than $349 per student, or $12.6 million, as previously thought.
Not a small difference. But the district's staff's "best thinking" for making ends meet under that scenario does not call for additional cuts at schools, school closures or furloughs.
What it does entail is a whole lot of one-time funds taken from the state loan, adult education programs and additional reserves. And, as a result, a much larger structural deficit -- $22 million, rather than $7 million -- which would likely mean more cuts in the future.
On layoffs: As many of you know well, OUSD sent 657 teachers (in 538 full-time positions) notices that their jobs were at risk. But the data from the school-based budgeting process just came in, and a total of 137 teaching positions have been eliminated.
Then you have the 106 early retirees and the 16
I'm no HR specialist, but it seems to me that final layoff notices for permanent, k-12 teachers should be few and far between. Staff said the decisions would likely be made by April 15.
Board member Jody London said it was important to inform pink-slipped teachers as soon as possible if their jobs are safe, even if the district notifies them in stages, starting with the most senior. "If we know now that we're not going to be issuing as many layoffs "... I would like to see us move much sooner, rather than later, to let those people know," she said.
Brett "Opus" Wilson, an ASCEND Elementary School teacher, read a statement from his principal, Larissa Adam, to that effect: "Her recommendation to the board is that you immediately rescind all unnecessary layoffs and recognize that the best teachers in their fourth and fifth years are being offered jobs right now. We cannot wait until May 15. The numbers are clear. We don't need to lay them off."
Layoffs of classified staff -- school security officers, clerks and custodians -- are expected to come at the end of the month.
April 6: They call themselves Oakland Teachers for Innovative and Equitable Schooling, or Oakland TIES. Their platform calls for a more representative union, better teacher retention, greater teacher control over working conditions, needs-based funding allocations and union involvement in revamping teacher evaluations.
The group, which has about five core members, has encouraged like-minded candidates to run for a seat on the Oakland Education Association's executive board in May.
Emily Sacks, a special-education teacher at Redwood Heights Elementary and Manzanita Community School, said TIES is not a splinter group, despite fears to the contrary, and that it's not affiliated with any outside organizations.
"Really, it was about how we strengthen the union by getting more voices into the mix," she said.
More details, including the full platform, are posted on the blog. Do you think the union's agenda needs to be revamped, refocused, or more clearly communicated?