Facing $23 million budget deficit, OUSD tries figuring out how to balance books for next school year

ByTim Johns KGO logo
Thursday, February 15, 2024
OUSD faces $23M budget deficit next school year
Oakland Unified School District is facing a budget deficit of at least $23 million for the upcoming 2024-2025 school year.

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- Oakland Unified School District is facing a budget deficit of at least $23 million for the upcoming 2024-2025 school year.

Given the expected shortfall, OUSD leaders are now working to take steps to try to cut costs and balance the budget.

The OUSD school board discussed the monetary issues at its meeting Wednesday.

At that meeting, the district's superintendent spoke about OUSD's commitment to balancing its budget.

MORE: Oakland Unified faces tough budget decisions for future school years with $33 million shortfall

Specifically, she spoke about the need for fiscal responsibility, while also keeping up learning standards for students.

"The attachment and recommendations are focused on maintaining fiscal solvency, which is always a non-negotiable for any organization. And freeing up resources to invest in quality, staff retention and deeper school investments," said OUSD Superintendent Kyla Johnson-Trammell.

The district says a significant pay raise to teachers, declining enrollment, as well as the rising costs of transportation, healthcare and pensions have all contributed to the current financial situation.

In order to the balance the budget, OUSD is considering several options that they say could potentially save tens of millions of dollars.

Some of those include moving and eventually getting rid of some school staff positions, reorganizing and consolidating certain departments within the district and reducing discretionary spending.

MORE: SFUSD faces $421 million deficit; district could cut more than 900 vacant jobs

These proposals are ones that don't sit well with many in the local teachers' union -- especially discussion of school closures in recent years.

They say they any cuts would impact students the most, and that they believe OUSD does have the money.

"We're well aware that this is a constant sort of theme from the district. They always claim doom and gloom but for the past few years they've always ended the year with very healthy reserves," said Vilma Serrano of the Oakland Education Association.

While the budget situations and potential proposals were discussed at Wednesday's school board meeting, they won't actually be voted on until Feb. 28.

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