What’s Happening in Oakland Education, December 2021 edition

Welcome to What’s Happening in Oakland Education? volume 7, a newsletter to keep the community informed. We know how busy families and educators are. The typical OUSD board meeting stretches past midnight and few parents or teachers can tune in as they juggle so many responsibilities. 

Here’s what’s happening as we head into the end of the year:

Vaccine Mandate Update

On September 22, 2021, the OUSD Board voted to require all students aged 12 and over to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as of January 1, 2022 to attend in-person school, unless exempted. 

According to the district, all families with  a student who is affected by this policy have been contacted with information about how to: get vaccinated, share their child’s vaccination information, qualify for an exemption, and request a transfer to Sojourner Truth Independent Study (the district’s online distance learning alternative to in-person instruction). Families without a record on file should have received a paper filing in their home language.

All families who do not have a vaccination record on file are being:

  1. called centrally to share information about the resolution and exemption process. More than 4,700 families have been called thus far.
  2. contacted by mail with hard copies of information in native language about the Board Policy, exemption process (with forms), and the enrollment process for SJT.

Oakland Unified Budget Updates

This time every year, the District updates its financial projections for the current school year and the upcoming two years (2022-23 and 2023-24). At last night’s board meeting, the district shared these updates in its “First Interim Report.” Here are the highlights: 

  • Some positive news in the short-term: The district anticipates a $17M increase to this year’s budget projections.  
  • Severe long-term budget challenges remain: Based on current budget assumptions, OUSD is anticipating the need for significant budget cuts between $40 Million and $50 Million from next year’s budget.
  • District revenue remains flat: One-time COVID funding delayed some difficult budget cuts but district revenue has remained flat. With a loss of over 1500 students during the pandemic alone, declining enrollment will have major impacts on the district’s revenue. 
  • Costs continue to rise: OUSD must raise teacher salaries in order to remain competitive and attract a high-quality workforce – a commitment that will drive costs even higher in the years ahead.

These rising costs and declining enrollment means the district is continuing to operate beyond its means. Limited resources are spread thin across too many under-enrolled schools, leaving each school to make difficult trade-offs between resources that all students should have. By operating fewer, better resourced schools, OUSD can provide families with more quality options and achieve financial sustainability, but the Board must act.  

Literacy Updates

Mid-year iReady Tests are Being Administered in Grades K-5

As we approach the half-way point in the school year, it’s important for teachers and parents to get on the same page about student progress to grade-level expectations. That’s why Oakland students are taking iReady assessment tests as we speak. The last day to take the test is Friday, December 17th. Results will be available to parents in January via iReady parent reports. In the new year, ask to discuss your student’s strengths and growth areas with your teacher and make a plan for working together – at home and at school – to support your child. 97% of students took the assessment at the beginning of the year. This demonstrates the district’s commitment to keeping the focus on early literacy! This new midyear data will allow teachers, students, and families to measure how quickly schools are supporting students to get back on track after two years of pandemic disruptions to in-person learning. 

We’d love to hear your thoughts on What’s Happening in Oakland Education?. Let us know what you liked and what you’d like to see in future editions.  

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