A Kaiser Elementary School parent urges the Oakland Unified School board not to close the school at its Aug. 28, 2019, meeting. (Photo by Theresa Harrington/EdSource)

Oakland Unified School District took one more step last week toward a very contentious plan of closing campuses to save funds that can be redirected to improve all schools.

The district’s superintendent called on the school board to show courage by closing two schools and revamping two others to improve the district’s education program “because our kids don’t have time to wait.”

Superintendent Kyla Johnson-Trammell proposed closing one small North Oakland school and merging it with another, consolidating two East Oakland middle schools, expanding an East Oakland K-8 dual immersion school and investing in a redesign of Fruitvale Elementary in East Oakland to build on its recent academic successes. The school “posted significant double-digit growth” in its Smarter Balanced statewide test scores in English and math for students in grades third through fifth in 2018-19, according to the staff report to the board.

The plan for the schools announced Wednesday would go into effect next year if it is approved by the school board. It is expected to save the district about $2 million over the next five years. The savings are based on estimates that it would save or generate revenues of about $8.2 million, but cost nearly $6.2 million.

Johnson-Trammell told the district’s school board on Aug. 25 that she wants to give the schools the current year to plan. She said the district needs to operate fewer schools and use the savings to improve the schools that remain open.