Oakland schools facing more cuts

September 29, 2008 6:58:07 PM PDT
Oakland Unified School District still owes the state $86 million for its 2003 emergency bailout. The district continues to see where they can make cuts and the school board is now looking at Oakland's small schools and whether they are worth investing in and if keeping them makes financial sense.

Smalls schools are typically those with less than 300 students. In the classrooms there may be as little as 22 kids. Oakland Unified has 32 small schools leading the small school reform effort in the Bay Area since 2000. Most education advocates will say these schools have seen remarkable gains.

"The test scores, the graduation rates, the retention rates of our young people in our schools right?"

For years, the attendance rate at the life academy has been higher than the district-wide high school average.

"For the fourth year in a row, this district has been one of the most improved of urban districts in the state of California, " says Lashawn Route-Chatmon.

Lashawn Route-Chatmon is the director of "Bayces", an organization helping to improve the level of education in underserved communities.

The district has been trying to reach out to the community by holding public meetings in the past two weeks. There are still two more parents can attend, tonight and tomorrow night from

The board must now decide if they are financially viable.

"There is a question of whether we can keep all our schools at their current size if we are to keep the district financially stable long term," says Troy Flint, Oakland Unified School District.

Noel Gallo is a school board member. He doesn't want to see these small schools close.

"We have to financially take a look at all the facilities to make sure that they pay for themselves. We can do that, but the bottom line is we should be more concerned about the academic progress."

The district has been trying to reach out to the community by holding public meetings in the past two weeks. There are still two more meetings parents can attend, tonight and tomorrow night from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm. Then on Wednesday, the board will begin evaluating each of these small schools.

"We're looking at the school size whether there are too many schools with tiny enrollments that cost a lot to maintain. We are also looking a the ethnic and socio-economic diversity of the school make sure we are not closing schools in neighborhoods that have suffered closures in recent years," says Gallo.


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