Parents drop off their kids to Piedmont Elementary in Oakland during the first week of school.

Zarina Ahmad, principal of Piedmont Avenue Elementary in Oakland, put extra effort this year into creating a bright first day of school. She and her staff pasted a class list to the outside wall, with a photo of each teacher. Big orange cones separated children by their grades. Teachers ran a short pep rally, called the “Line Up to Learn.” Uniformed Oakland firemen welcomed kids into the school.

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During a closed meeting on Wednesday, the Alameda Central Labor Council—an organization that represents over 100 workers’ unions and helps employers bargain to improve their workplaces—decided against a motion to sanction a workers’ picket line in front of Lakeview Elementary School which would have prevented unionized workers employed by the district from helping to develop the site into administrative offices.

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A month after the Oakland Unified School District board voted to close five elementary schools, members voted Wednesday night to allow Life Academy, a small health and sciences high school in East Oakland, to expand to offer middle school classes as well. At a packed meeting that mostly focused on the district’s financial issues, board members also discussed the most recent state audit as well as a report on teacher and staff retention.

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