Setting the Record Straight on School Closures- A Message from the Superintendent

Dear Oakland Unified Community:I am writing to address some misinformation that has been swirling around the Blueprint for Quality Schools process and most likely will turn up at tonight’s Board of Education Meeting. This often repeated misinformation is that OUSD is going to close 24 schools. We are not going to — nor have we ever planned to — close 24 schools. Unfortunately, I continue to hear this from the media and from some people who want to advance an inaccurate narrative in our community.  The goal of the Blueprint for Quality Schools is to ensure we have the right number of high quality schools in the locations where Oakland’s students and families need them. This will allow us to maximize our resources so we can provide more of the services our students deserve.The number 24 came from one presentation in which we looked at just the numbers: the number of schools, the number of students, and the number of empty seats across the District. Based on those numbers, our staff found that the District COULD close 24 schools, NOT that we were going to close 24 schools, nor that it was advisable.Although we presented the numerical facts about our District, we are not closing 24 schools. Through two cohorts, a total of 13 schools have been, or are being, impacted. But it’s important to note the breakdown: 
8 schools merging into 4
3 school expansions
1 school redesign
1 school closure

We are two years into the Blueprint process, and we have had one closure. Now, I understand that some community members argue that there have been more closures. However, there are some important distinctions.Two of the mergers will require students to move to a new campus. For example, some view the merging of Kaiser Elementary and Sankofa Elementary as actually just a closure of Kaiser. But it is not a closure like Roots International Academy because the major aspects of the successful Kaiser program, the school principal, and many of its students will move together to the Sankofa site. Important aspects of Kaiser will continue, just in a new home. The same is true of the merger between Oakland School of Language (SOL) and Frick Impact Academy. We are moving the entire SOL program to Frick. I know that it’s not the buildings or facilities that make our schools great; it’s our programs and the people (our teachers and staff, our students, and our families). The other two school mergers were co-located schools (Alliance/Elmhurst and CUES/Futures). Students who attend these merged schools will remain on the same campus. In the case of Alliance Academy and Elmhurst Community Prep, all students are on the same campus (now called Elmhurst United) with additional resources, supports and electives.With guidance from the Board of Education, my team and I are transforming Oakland Unified School District into one in which all Oakland’s young people receive a quality education. We will not rest until all schools have the resources they need and all students and families get the support they deserve, ensuring each young person is prepared for college, career and community success.

 Dr. Kyla Johnson-Trammell
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