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School board at Tech tonight to make room for all

on October 7, 2008


Oct. 8—Money is the focus of this evening’s Board of Education (BOE) meeting—both how to save it and how to spend it. While the District looks for ways to secure its financial future through cuts and possible school closures, it must also approve current funding needs for student programs and teacher training. From the looks of the published agenda, which includes both objectives, the upcoming meeting is shaping up to be contentious and long.

Hoping to avoid the overcrowding of last week’s special BOE meeting, held in the District boardroom, the Board is moving tonight’s meeting to the auditorium of Oakland Technical High School in North Oakland. In an effort to streamline the anticipated high number of public comments, the board has asked any attendees wishing to speak during the public comments section to submit a Speaker Request Card early in the meeting. The cards will be readily available near the auditorium entrance, said OUSD spokesperson Troy Flint.

The time allotted for public comment will also be limited to 30 minutes in all, and “individually for three minutes or less, depending on the number of speakers,” according to the published agenda. Individuals addressing the Board should also be aware that minutes are not transferable from speaker to speaker.

Among the items the Board will be voting to approve are Special Education, college and career readiness, and autism programs, along with specialized programs like Oakland Tech’s Conflict Mediation Program. Also up for approval are contracts for companies to provide organized sports, games and recreation activities during recess. As published on the agenda, another of the service contracts is designed to help “counselors and principals at all 24 of the District high schools and 10 of the middle schools prepare students for college.”

Math coaches, assistance with lesson planning, formalized assessment training and help with classroom strategies highlight the list of teacher training funding to be approved.

However prominent and immediate the items for funding are, the item most relevant to the concern over school closures appears in the second half of the agenda. As the District continues to look at its long-term financial stability, the question of where and what to cut remains. At the September 22 Community Engagement Meeting, held at Claremont Middle School, State Administrator Vincent Matthews told attendees that their views would be included as the board decides how to proceed with the question of closing some smaller schools. Spokesperson Flint confirmed Matthews’ promise, and added, “closing schools is a last resort.”

“We advocate for pulling back and looking at the multi-year strategy and how to make cuts and increase revenue,” said Flint. “The Board will review the process to date and decide how to move forward.”

The Board will also be addressing the District Dress Code. “The policy has been in place, but not enforced,” said Flint. Revamped language specific to uniforms will be presented.

Continued talks with labor negotiators will be discussed in closed session early in the meeting.

Routine school maintenance and modernization are also on the agenda. Design services in preparation for the asphalt replacement project at Grass Valley Elementary, portable storage containers for various sites in anticipation of modernization projects, as well as contracts for the portable replacement project at Chabot Elementary will also be presented.

The Oct. 8 meeting begins at 4:00. Translation services for Spanish and Chinese will be available.||||||||||||||||||||

1 Comment

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