The Alameda County Grand Jury report on the Oakland school district demonstrates just how important leadership is—at both the senior staff and board level. The report pointed out that the district has run between $20 million and $30 million in debt for the past 15 years. The report also pointed to high turnover for both teaching staff and superintendents (five in nine years).
The most telling number is district enrollment has plummeted from 54,000 to 37,000 over the last 15 years. State funding is based on enrollment so there was an obvious need to close schools—instead the district opened two new specialty schools in the prior school year.
Oakland is running 87 schools with an average student population of 412 (remember, this includes high schools and middle schools). By contrast, Fremont, which has a similar student population at 35,000 operates 42 schools.
It isn’t rocket science.
Incidentally, the governor’s last budget allocates $78 billion for public schools-- $11,600 per student, up by $4,600 since Gov. Brown’s first budget. Those have been real healthy increases, but some has been swallowed up by the steadily increasing employer contribution to the under-funded State Teachers Retirement System. That will be a continuing burden on local district budgets as well as on cities that face a similar situation with the state’s public employees’ system.
The good news for his successor is he maintained a $14 billion reserve to hand-off.
Another budget note how the Democrats in Sacramento have embraced illegal immigrants. The budget contains $78 million for legal services for immigrants, including legal defense, naturalization services and help for children who entered the country illegally with their undocumented parents.
It hard not to feel sorry for the folks running the Alameda County Fair. Nasty high temperatures have hit on the middle two Saturdays of the event, two days when strong crowds would be expected. The Sundays cooled and there was great weather during the middle of both weeks. A similar pattern is shaping up this week.
Of course, they know, as do we all, that we cannot control the weather.
Happy Fourth of July.