News Update

Alameda County to escalate oversight over Oakland Unified

The Alameda County Office of Education plans to implement stricter oversight of Oakland Unified’s finances, over concerns that the board is not taking steps necessary to balance its budget.

As reported by Oaklandside, Alameda County Superintendent L.K. Monroe wrote in a letter to board members last week that she is concerned that the district has continued to maintain the same number of staff, despite declining enrollment. Monroe is worried the board won’t be able to make tens of millions of dollars in necessary cuts in next school year’s budget. She said the county will review the district’s finances and bring in the Fiscal Crisis and Management Assistance Team, a state agency, to examine the district’s teacher-hiring practices.

Monroe also threatened to withhold compensation from OUSD’s school board and superintendent.

The school board and district officials say it is too early to initiate an intervention and are calling on State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond to step in. Board members say they plan to develop the next budget and identify cuts for next school year before they have to approve it at the end of June.

“The District is on track to addressing its long-term fiscal challenges,” wrote OUSD’s chief governance officer, Joshua Daniels, in a letter to Thurmond.

Oakland Unified has a history of financial instability. Almost 20 years ago, a state administrator was appointed to govern the school district because it was financially insolvent. In 2009, the school board was able to take over again. But the district is still under oversight while paying off a $100 million loan to the state. A county trustee has veto power over any financial decisions district leaders make.