State Administrator Kimberly Statham confirmed Thursday evening Javetta Robinson, the district's second-in-command, was leaving. She said she could not say why.
"Ms. Robinson will be moving on," she said.
School board member Noel Gallo said Statham asked Robinson to leave. He said he believed the decision was based on differences over budget control and the direction of the school district.
"She said it was something she needed to do," Gallo said. "I support her decision, although I might question the timing."
Robinson, who has led the district's fiscal recovery effortssince the middle of the 2004-05 school year, said she wanted to wait until Monday to discuss the matter.
"I'd rather not say at this point. I'm not sure I'm leaving," she said late Thursday morning. But, she added, "It's a possibility."
Robinson is known to have a conservative approach to finances. She brought a "healthy tension" to discussions about the fiscal impact of various school reforms, said board president David Kakishiba.
"I'm not pleased to see Javetta Robinson leave this school district," Kakishiba said. "Her job is to safeguard the financial health of the district. Her job is to raise the hard questions about the financial viability of anything that we do."
During Robinson's tenure, the budget has closed with a surplus each year, and the reserves have grown. But the financial situation remains delicate. The district still owes about $108 million in long-term debt, including about $86 million to the state. And with drastically declining enrollment a trend that is projected to continue for at least the next four years the Oakland school system faces a shrinking budget.
Robinson's imminent departure is the latest in a lengthy list of retirements and resignations among top district management. Instability caused by a void at the CFO post could be exacerbated by other vacancies. The district, for example, has yet to hire a new budget director months after Barak Ben-Gal left for a job at Yahoo.
Statham, who worked alongside Robinson as a chief academic officer before she was appointed state administrator last year, promised a "seamless transition." Filling the financial services positions was a priority, she said.
She added, "I take full responsibility for making sure the district is headed in the right path in terms of financial health."
Kakishiba said he didn't know whether Robinson's differing opinions cost her the job. He said he hoped not. Few school officials raised concerns before the 2003 crisis that led to the state takeover, he said.
"We did not have that dissent before the state takeover, and that was the downfall of the district."