New Year Brings Changes to OUSD

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

With the New Year, there has been a lot going on in the Oakland Unified School District (OUSD). As the District 1 Board Director serving North Oakland, I want to share recent developments.

Three New Board Directors: We have new directors for District 2 (Aimee Eng), District 4 (Nina Senn) and District 6 (Shanthi Gonzales), and the same commitment to building a full-service community school district. I'm excited to work with these new leaders, and impressed with their ability to get to work on our pressing issues.

Big Investment in Early Childhood Education: We are grateful for the big investment in early education by the Rainin and Packard Foundations. Oakland is at the forefront of this work. You may have seen the Talk, Read, Sing billboards around town, or heard about Hillary Clinton's visit to Fairyland last fall to promote early childhood education. We are also excited about the addition of Ray Mondragon as our school district's first Chief of Early Learning.

Solar Power Investment at 16 Schools: Thanks to voters for their approval in 2012 of Measure J which allowed financing 3.6 megawatt panels at 16 schools, including Oakland Tech, Oakland International, and Sankofa. With full operation, we expect savings of $1.5 million per year.

AAMA Leader Receives National Recognition: Chris Chatmon, Director of our African American Male Achievement office (the first of its kind in the country), was recognized by a national education journal as one of 15 Leaders to Learn From. Chatmon will be honored at the White House on March 18.

Strategic Regional Analysis: This is a new way of looking at every part of Oakland for where we do and do not have quality schools, and how we serve our 48,000 students in district and charter schools. A preliminary analysis is being presented to community groups around the district.

Reaching a Multi-Year Contract with our Teachers' Union: Negotiations have been ongoing. The District has offered to increase compensation and reduce class sizes in early and special education. We are mindful that 80 percent of our general fund revenue comes from the State (and California is 46th in the country in per-pupil funding).

Providing Support to Schools: Oakland is engaged in the Intensive Support School Initiative at five schools (Brookfield Elementary, Castlemont, Fremont and McClymonds High Schools, Frick Elementary). The initiative provides specific resources that will assist school communities with finding long-term solutions to raising the quality of education for their students.

Any one of these topics would take up a full column. You can learn more under the Hot Topics and Initiatives tabs at and reach me via email at

If your group or organization is interested in learning more about our work to create a school district that holds itself accountable for superior outcomes for all students, please email me to schedule a small group discussion.