OUSD Board of Education Makes Two Major Moves, Signing Superintendent Kyla Johnson-Trammell to New Contract and Officially Hiring District’s New Chief Business Officer

OUSD Press release, Thursday, April 23, 2020Contact: John SasakiCommunications Director 510-214-2080[email protected]

Oakland, CA — On Wednesday evening, April 22, the OUSD Board of Education held its regularly scheduled meeting in which the Directors made two significant decisions involving the leadership of the District. The Board voted unanimously to give Superintendent Kyla Johnson-Trammell a new three year contract. The Board also voted unanimously to approve the contract of the new Chief Business Officer (CBO), Lisa Grant-Dawson.
Superintendent Kyla Johnson-Trammell working with a student.Superintendent Johnson-Trammell, who assumed her role on July 1, 2017, has already served longer than six of the last seven OUSD superintendents. During her tenure, she pulled the District through financial challenges that could have led once again to state receivership, she led the District through labor negotiations that ended a teachers’ strike, and now she continues to lead through the unprecedented coronavirus pandemic.

Johnson-Trammell was raised in Oakland and attended Montclair Elementary School and Montera Middle School, before attending high school in Marin County. She received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania and her Doctorate in Education at U.C. Berkeley. Professionally, she has spent all but two of her 23 years in education in Oakland Unified.

“I always wanted to work in my hometown, and it’s been my greatest honor to lead OUSD. I went to school here with some of our parents, and now I’m raising my children in our schools,” said Johnson-Trammell. “Seeing the District first as a student, then as a teacher and principal, as a parent, and now as Superintendent, I know well the challenges that Oakland residents face. That’s what motivates me everyday to work to improve the educational outcomes of our children, the support we give to our families and the working conditions of our staff. All of us are focused on building a more prosperous and peaceful Oakland, and we do that by building brilliant scholars in every classroom in every school. I thank the Board of Education for giving me the opportunity to continue to lead the District as we face new challenges brought on by the coronavirus. I know that no matter what obstacles we encounter, we will succeed, together.”

Board President Jody London says renewing Johnson-Trammell’s contract is the best possible outcome for the District. “The number one action we can take to ensure the long-term success of this school district is to provide continuity in leadership, starting with the Superintendent. Dr. Johnson-Trammell has held nearly every role one can in Oakland: student, teacher, principal, district leader, parent. She is smart, compassionate, and committed to improving educational opportunities and outcomes for all students in our city. I am delighted that she will continue as Superintendent.”

Johnson-Trammell’s contract now runs through June of 2023. This endorsement of her continued leadership constitutes an overall six year commitment, longer than any other Superintendent has served OUSD in the past half century. Stuart S. Phillips ended his eight year term as superintendent in 1970.
New CBO Lisa Grant-Dawson.The Board of Education also voted to approve the contract of the new Chief Business Officer (CBO), Lisa Grant-Dawson, who has had a long distinguished career in school district finance. Most recently, she served as the Chief Business Officer at Stockton Unified School District for almost five years. Including Stockton, Grant-Dawson served as CBO for three of the most challenged urban school districts in California.

“Ms. Grant-Dawson’s credentials and track record are outstanding. She will bring fresh eyes with an enormous amount of experience to the historic challenges that OUSD faces,” said Superintendent Johnson-Trammell. “Especially now, as this unprecedented pandemic and shelter in place order continues, financial obstacles we will encounter will continue to grow. Ms. Grant-Dawson helped her previous districts improve their fiscal health, develop strategies to move stalled initiatives and projects forward, improve relationships with labor, update and revise policies to operationalize best practices, and develop progressive partnerships with inter-agency groups, business leaders, and community organizations. Those skills will enable her to lead the Finance Team seamlessly. I am pleased to welcome Ms. Grant-Dawson to Oakland.”

The CBO’s top priority will be to provide leadership in planning, supervising and directing the finance division. The CBO will also provide financial oversight and direction to all central departments and school sites while serving as the principal advisor to the Board of Education and the Superintendent in all finance-related matters. 

“Being chosen by OUSD, I am ready to fight for the students, families and employees of Oakland. I have helped districts achieve financial stability,” says Grant-Dawson. “I believe in telling the truth and the real story. Every District that I have been in has had their issues and I seek to make historic issues/barriers just that, history. Districts are often clear on what they don’t want anymore. My role is to work with the district and community to make such goals a reality and identify and remove the barriers to progress. I also have very intimate knowledge of the various components of funding mechanisms and the related requirements. I have a great deal of knowledge of educational and support strategies and programs. The combination of these elements has allowed me to develop unique and sustainable strategies to support financial and operational strength.”

Grant-Dawson is set to begin as CBO on Monday, April 27. “The invitation to apply to OUSD has come my way several times during my career. There was something organic and unique about this time that also attracted me. This time, I felt a unique calling. For each District I have served, this “calling” has occurred in similar ways and this time, I answered. There are so many people rooting for Oakland, as did I. I just never foresaw me being a direct partner in this work toward greatness that Superintendent Johnson-Trammell is leading. I am honored by this opportunity.”

Interim CBO Luz Cazares will remain with the District until the end of the 2019-20 fiscal year to help with the transition.
###About the Oakland Unified School DistrictIn California’s most diverse city, Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) is dedicated to creating a learning environment where “Every Student Thrives!” More than half of our students speak a non-English language at home. And each of our 83 schools is staffed with talented individuals uniting around a common set of values: Students First, Equity, Excellence, Integrity, Cultural Responsiveness and Joy. We are committed to preparing all students for college, career and community success. 

To learn more about OUSD’s Full Service Community District focused on academic achievement while serving the whole child in safe schools, please visit OUSD.org and follow us @OUSDnews.
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