The Oakland Unified School District board voted 6-1 to cut the budget by $9 million mid-school year. The district is facing a budget shortfall that would leave it without an adequate reserve, which could in turn force state receivership of the district.
Parents, students, teachers and staff rallied at Lake Merritt before marching to the board meeting held at La Escuelita Elementary.
“The bottom line is the administration’s finances have been so messed up for so long and nobody is having any accountability for it,” said Karen Chorury, parent of an OUSD student.
Protesters circled the room with picket signs calling for cuts from the top before the board meeting started.
“We do not have a reserve as a district,” said Superintendent Kyla Johnson-Trammel as she presented where to cut the budget.
Tonight she proposed the board cut $9 million from the budget. That’s down from an initial $15.1 million the board discussed last week.
From the $9 Mil total: $5.2 million would come from the central office says OUSD Spokesman John Sasaki.
“Right now there are a number of layoffs proposed, dozens of layoffs proposed within central office,” said Sasaki. When asked how many would be administrators he replied, “The majority of those cuts are managers, yes.”
The teacher’s association fears classified staff members may also be laid-off. Those could be custodians and food services employees.
“We’re meeting with the unions tomorrow and we are going to put a united front against these cuts of the lowest paid workers in the district,” said Trish Gorham, Oakland Education Association President.
Another $3.8 million could be cut from school sites.
“Those are not totally clear at this point because those cuts at the school sites have been left up to those administrations,” said Sasaki.
Principals will be tasked with making the cuts.
“All the stuff that, you know, was really great about this district and attracted me to it no might be on the chopping block and it could just be like some of the places I left to come here,” said new teacher Paul Antony-Levine.
Sasaki says the district is trying to preserve as many programs as possible and the African American Male Achievement program is not slated to be cut.