Many of the Oakland schools that were ordered to close last year will now remain open, thanks to the new school board’s reversal of that decision, though the few schools already closed will remain shuttered.
There is still definitely unresolved drama with the Oakland school board, considering there’s an election recount on that could unseat one board member who’s already been sworn in. But the new board, with three new members seated, held its first meeting Wednesday night. And KTVU reports the board voted 6-1 to reverse an earlier decision to close several Oakland schools, undoing a wildly controversial February 2022 decision that brought community outrage, hunger strikes, student walkouts, and activists occupying a shuttered school, and even a state Department of Justice investigation.
🎉 AIN'T NO POWER LIKE THE POWER OF THE PEOPLE! https://t.co/tZjCMlhhDe— Oakland Education Association (@OaklandEA) January 12, 2023
The above tweet quotes the reporting of The Oaklandside’s Ashley McBride, who notes that the slated-to-close Oakland schools that will remain open are Brookfield Elementary, Carl B. Munck Elementary, Grass Valley Elementary, Horace Mann Elementary, and Korematsu Discovery Academy. The Oaklandside additionally reports that “Hillcrest K-8, which would have lost its middle school, will remain intact.”
The decision does not reverse all of the school closures, as those schools which have already closed will remain shuttered. East Oakland's Parker Elementary, which parents and students had occupied for several months, will still stay closed. Same goes for Community Day School, and La Escuelita is still losing its middle school.
The reversal likely indicates a shift in the newly elected board, but that too is in some degree of doubt. Newly elected member Nick Resnick abstained on the vote, as the seat Resnick occupies is being challenged in the recount. That's because the Alameda County Registrar of Voters is now saying Resnick did not actually win the seat, and there was a tabulation error in ranked-choice votes. Resnick is already sworn in, so how that gets resolved is still anybody’s guess, and possibly to be solved by a court.
And Oakland Unified School District’s number-crunchers still feel the schools should be closed. According to KPIX, “The OUSD chief budget officer pointed out that this district has about 80 schools serving 33,000 students. Fremont Unified has 42 schools and 34,000 students. San Jose Unified has 41 schools and 30,000 students. Stockton has 48 schools serving 35,000 students.”
But the district itself is in far better shape financially than it was when it voted on the closures. Its current budget got a “positive certification” from Alameda County, a designation it has not received in 20 years, and the district expects to pay off a state loan this year that will free it of a county-appointed trustee that has veto power over its decisions.
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