SCHOOL CLOSURES PARENT NEWSLETTER
Mon, Sep 19 2:12pm

IN THIS WEEK’S NEWSLETTER

  • Hillcrest Parent Plan for OUSD Board Meeting Attendance
  • Event: Community Against School Closures This Sunday!
  • Preview: Upcoming Newsletter Content
  • Takeaways from Last Week’s Board Meeting
  • In the Media: Oaklandside, The Washington Post

 

HILLCREST PARENT PLAN: BOARD MEETING ATTENDANCE

District Board Meetings. Nobody’s favorite way to spend Wednesday Night. 

But…this is where decisions that impact our kids are made and where information is released. This is also the *most visible* way for the Hillcrest parent community to be heard on district issues.

 

Show Up for Hillcrest and Our Larger Oakland Community

There are ~6 more board meetings left in 2022. We need Hillcrest Parents at each meeting. We’re great at showing up, getting engaged and building community. We’ll take a stand and (try to) enjoy doing it.

 

Pick a Board Meeting Date & Sign Up in Konstella NOW!

Many hands make light work. Can you spare 2 hours once a year? Sign up for one Board Meeting date.  There will be a group of Hillcrest Parents attending each Board Meeting through the end of this year. The next meeting is a week from this Wednesday.

 

Board Meeting FAQ

  • How much time will it take? Board Meetings start at 6p but we recommend attending from 7p-8:30p to make the most efficient use of your time. Public Comments happen after the Superintendent’s report, during this time-frame.
  • Where is it? La Escuelita
  • What if I don’t know where to go? I don’t want to go by myself! We got you! Parents will be caravanning from Hillcrest.
  • How long can I talk for and what do I say? Public Comments are limited to 1 minute. Prepare your own or we can prep you with talking points.
  • Can I watch and make a public comment from Zoom? Yes! In-person is best but if you can’t make it, please attend at least one meeting via zoom. More Info

 

EVENT! GRASSROOTS COMMUNITY MEETING IN THE HILLCREST NATURE AREA THIS SUNDAY 9/25 @11am

The agenda will be shared later this week but we expect several guest speakers including district expert Kim Davis, Founder of Parents United for Public Schools. We welcome Hillcrest parents, neighbors and friends from the larger Oakland community.

 

PREVIEW OF UPCOMING WEEKLY NEWSLETTER CONTENT

In the coming weeks we will be providing:  a list of Board candidates in Districts 2, 4 and 6 who are on the record as being anti-closure; updates on community events; specific ways to help rally support for anti-closure candidates; registration and voting information; continued take-aways from OUSD Board Meetings.

 

TAKEAWAYS FROM LAST WEEK’S BOARD MEETING

Thank you to parents Meghan Langston and Oliver Brennan who attended last week’s Board Meeting on behalf of the Hillcrest Parent Community.

  • Most of the Public Comments were specific to school closures, including how it affects black and brown neighborhoods and questioning what programs are being invested in to serve all underserved youth. 
  • A Budget Deck was presented and was a bit hard to digest, so we’re sharing District 4 Board Candidate Pecolia Manigo's tweet: @OUSDNews report that they ended the fiscal year in June 2022 with $28 million beyond projections. In other words, they balanced the budget without any savings from closing schools.
  • Bill AB1912 passed at state level, restricting future school boards from closing schools as a first resort to cutting costs while in receivership, and forcing the board to go through rigorous steps with transparency to recommend closures. This bill was authored by two Bay Area assemblywomen in response to OUSD’s negligent closure process. Unfortunately, this bill isn’t retroactive but it does imply wrongdoing on the part of the current board’s decision.
  • Other issues discussed were:
    • Safety, surfaced by student directors in the wake of the shooting at Madison Park Academy
    • Staffing and payment for essential workers
  • Current *unofficial* district wide enrollment numbers show enrollment down 666 students (Hillcrest K-8 attrition made up roughly 10% of this). The district-wide decline is not significant or unexpected, and is less than what they saw during pandemic. [Note, as shared in last week’s newsletter, OUSD saw materially more decline in student populations where schools were closed or have upcoming closures, including Hillcrest K-8]. There remain open questions as to if these numbers include those online learning still with Sojourner Truth School.

IN THE MEDIA

  • OAKLANDSIDE: Budgets, enrollment, closures: What’s at stake in the OUSD school board election (9/12/22)
    • …under the leadership of chief business officer Lisa Grant-Dawson, who was hired in 2020, OUSD was able to shed its lack of going concern status, and is currently on track to pay off its loan within the next year. 
    • At the same time, OUSD has received tens of millions in additional funding from COVID-relief bills, which the district has put towards safety precautions, technology, tutors, summer learning, mental health supports, and more. The latest state budget will also flood the district’s coffers with millions more in Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) dollars this year, along with grants to expand the district’s community schools, which school board directors will have a say in how to spend.
  • THE WASHINGTON POST: In Oakland, closing schools opens questions about a city’s soul (9/18/22) - also attached as a PDF
    • “This school [Parker Elementary] didn’t have to close because of enrollment problems,” [Pecolia] Manigo said. “This was done by the district’s approach to charters.”
    • Oakland allows parents to pick their district schools provided there is space on campuses outside their assigned enrollment area. But the district does not provide bus service to students, making it nearly impossible for working parents to pick schools far from home.
    • Late last month, 9-year-old Black student Juanaeh Newton, 4-foot-7 and 100 pounds, got lost on his way home from his new school after years at Parker Elementary. He was disoriented, then flustered.

 

 

QUESTIONS? Reach out to some of our parent volunteers via Konstella.

  • Konstella Weekly Newsletter: Holly Smith (parent 4th, 6th grades)
  • Anti-Closure Litigation: Erin Bernstein (parent 2nd, 7th grades)
  • General Anti-Closure Efforts: Oliver Brennan (parent 1st grade and future Kindergartner)
  • Hillcrest Parent Events, Anti-Closure Facebook Group & Email Newsletter Sign-Ups: Meghan Langston (parent 5th grade, Hillcrest MS grad)