You would think that a district on the verge of bankruptcy, that is asking for another bailout, that has hundreds of millions in facility needs, and also cutting current projects, would not squander a hundred and seventy five million dollar state facility bond. But you might be wrong in Oakland.
OUSD applied for and received roughly $175 million in bond money under Prop 51, this is money for public schools students in OUSD owned facilities. Most of the money is for rehabbing old buildings. And lord knows we need to fix some of these facilities, not only for modernization, but also for basic seismic safety.
So what could be the holdup?
The buildings are occupied by charter school students.
Another instance of elephants fighting and the grass being trampled.
The Price of Non-Cooperation
Unless the district collaborates with charters on longer term leases, the money goes away. So rather than improve their own school buildings, that the charters rent, and ultimately give a safer and better facility for students, the district would prefer to give the money back. Or give it to San Francisco or whoever is next on the list.
And it’s a pretty strange ask to come to voters for a facility bond or to go to Sacramento with hat in hand when you are refusing over a hundred million dollars, whether it is out of spite or negligence.
Who Pays for inaction?
I don’t know all the schools on the list but I know Lazear well. It has to be the worst OUSD campus in Oakland. I have told the story before. How the school burned down and the district kept the insurance money. How they threw up old, smelly, and cramped portable classrooms, scattered across a parking lot. They abandoned that community. Prop 51 will help to build a real school. Thankfully, that site does have a long term lease, and can draw down funding. Others are not so fortunate.
I challenge any OUSD staff or trustee to visit the campuses affected and explain to our families how and why this money is being left on the table. And why their kids don’t deserve better.
Our families DO deserve better.
Both in terms of facilities and leadership.