Oakland considers closing 8 schools

September 20, 2011 11:52:29 PM PDT
Right now there are more than 100 schools in Oakland, but the district says budget constraints will force the closure of 30 of them in the next three years. The first eight schools being considered for closure have been named.

Kaiser Elementary is a model school, with some of the highest API scores for African-American students. It's also a haven for students who have gay or lesbian parents.

"We knew that the community at Kaiser was one that our family would fit into and our daughter would be able to thrive in," said parent Kirsten Foley.

"Kaiser is not a place where it's not being tolerated, it's being accepted," said parent Stephanie Montgomery.

Kaiser is on a list of schools being considered for closure including Santa Fe, Marshall, Maxwell Park, Sobrante Park, Lakeview, Burckhalter and Lazear.

"My community doesn't have thriving students. So I found a community. We made a community at Kaiser. I drive over from Market Street every morning," said parent Cindi Simpson.

Ninety percent of the students travel to the school in the hills because their parents gave up on the schools in their own communities, but that's why Kaiser could be shut down. The district wants schools supported by neighborhood kids; its API test scores will not be part of the criteria.

"Because if we used API then all the schools in the flatlands would close and most of the schools in the hills would stay open," said school board member Alice Spearman.

To avoid being closed down and absorbed into other schools, the parents at Lazear Elementary are thinking about converting into a charter school instead.

"So now public education has competition," said school board member Noel Gallo.

Strong attendance and API test scores bring in more funding and Gallo says excluding them from the criteria could cause an exodus of students and funding.

"The reality is I need the average daily attendance, the ADA, and I also need the API students. Kids who are testing well and showing up to school every day and that's what Kaiser has," said Gallo.

The school board will decide how many of these schools will be closed on Oct. 26th.


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