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Oakland school board reflects on Measure L defeat

on November 18, 2010

In their first meeting since the November election, Oakland’s school board members reflected somberly on the near-passage of Measure L, the $195 property tax that would have raised $20 million per year for ten years, increasing salaries for school employees.

“I wish people had understood that Measure L was going to support all the people who operate a school, not just teachers,” said board member Alice Spearman during Wednesday night’s meeting. Spearman suggested that more people would have voted yes on the measure if it had been clear that the funds would have also gone to school staff, such as librarians and food service workers.

Measure L, was approved by about 106,000 voters, leaving it less than one percentage point (about 800 votes) away from the two-thirds majority required for it to pass.

“I think it’s a monumental achievement [that so many people voted yes on Measure L] at this time period given this economic situation,” said representative David Kakishiba, thanking the voters who supported the measure. “But in the end there’s no cigar.”

Earlier in the meeting, board members praised the achievements of Lincoln Elementary, which is located near Oakland’s Chinatown neighborhood and recently won a 2010 National Blue Ribbon Award. Since 2001, Lincoln has increased by nearly 200 points in the Academic Performance Index, an scale that measures a school’s math and language arts proficiency, and is currently tied with Hillcrest Elementary School for the district’s highest standardized testing scores in math.

The school has a high population of English learners and low-income families, and is one of the larger elementary schools in the district. “It really makes you proud when you’re from Oakland to see one of your schools consistently do so well,” said Spearman.

Other meeting highlights included a board decision to make November Family Literacy month in the district, and the adoption of a recquest to AC Transit to extend the youth fare discount to all students in the district, regardless of their age. The discount, which reduces the adult fare of $80 to $15 for a 31-day pass, currently applies only to students who are 18 years or younger.

Approximately 700 high school students in the district will turn 19 during this school year, said representative Jody London during the meeting. “That [discount] can make the difference between a student making it to school or not,” she said. “This is an important issue for our district.”

Check out all of our Oakland elections coverage on our Campaign 2010 page.

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  1. livegreen on November 19, 2010 at 11:32 am

    In a budget crisis, is it REALLY necessary for the OFCY POC to have a “End of Year Celebration” Gala? WITH City Staff from the Dept. of Human Services?

    Couldn’t money go instead to the programs that have been cut? I mean, if not the City budget, then at least the Schools & Children OFCY is supposed to benefit?

  2. Lauren "Gail" Govain-Eastman on November 19, 2010 at 2:15 pm

    Boy & Girls!!Male & Women!! Elementary and College!! A gang,rob,!! 1st Amendment?

  3. OakGrrl on November 20, 2010 at 3:11 pm

    Someone should inform Ms. Spearman that it is not about who will be paid. The ballot measure was poorly written. Specifically, the measure left the impression that effective teachers would be rewarded with additional compensation and ineffective teachers would get bupkiss. I agree with this approach; however, the measure did not define effective teacher. Absent this information, this voter was left with the impression that everyone and their cousin would receive a raise in a recession; there was no way in heck that I would agree to that approach. Thank you Ms. Spearman for confirming my no vote.

    • len raphael on November 22, 2010 at 9:08 am

      That was the last and best chance OUSD had to get more parcel taxes out of oakland home owners. The teacher’s union blew it by refusing to support it because they are charter school haters.

      For the next decade OUSD will be competing with the city and the state for more tax increases to pay for non education basic state and city services as baby boomer employees retire to pensions and benifts that few residents of this city will ever enjoy themselves.

      Voters will realize as time passes that OUSD teachers might be paid at the bottom of the Bay Area range for teachers, but 60 to 75K/year plus excellent benefits for 10 months work of mostly 8 hour days is hecka better again than most Oakland residents earn.

      To compare teacher compensation to the rest of the Bay Area was relevant 3 years ago when the other school districts were hiring. Now for the forseeable future all of the other districts are laying off staff.

      OUSD is going to have to overcome union and parent opposition to consolidating schools; and union opposition to firing ineffective administrators and teachers. Cut central staff, cut underutilized school overhead. Use those modest cost savings if anything is left, to give very modest raises to performing teachers.

      Support staff are important but if their compensation including benefits is (as i would assume) much higher than private industry comparable positions (dont compare to other broke school districts) than no raises are needed.

      -len raphael, temescal

      • OakGrrl on November 26, 2010 at 1:19 am

        I would like to see some of the Baltimore changes take place in Oakland. I would also like to see the end of the small school craze. Small schools means more teachers and more overhead. The taxpayer pot is not growing. So, if teachers want smaller classrooms, then they will need to forego pay.

  4. len raphael on November 25, 2010 at 10:49 am

    Before OUSD asks residents to give more money for higher wages, we need to know the benefits as well as the salaries that OUSD employees currently get.

    Based on a discussion I had with a retired OUSD financial analyst yesterday, the benefits for current and retired employees are excellent, and far better than those that most residents will ever get.

    -len raphael, temescal

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