A leader in the Oakland Education Association, which represents teachers, said she is “disappointed” at the Oakland Unified School Board’s recent decision not to delay part of its plan to close seven schools and merge others.
Despite opposition to the plan from students, community members and educators, the board Friday night rejected a resolution that would have postponed closing Parker K-8 and Community Day School and changing La Escuelita from a K-8 school to a K-5 school until next year.
The decision reaffirms the plan to close Community Day School and Parker School and cut sixth to eighth grade classes at La Escuelita and Hillcrest. Rise Community School and New Highland Academy will be merged. School district officials plan to close five more schools in 2023 due to what they describe as an expected budget deficit.
“We are extremely disappointed in the vote that was taken last night,” Olivia Udovic, a leader with the education association and an Oakland Unified School District kindergarten teacher at Manzanita FEED, said Saturday.
“This fight is not over. Our union is exploring new actions to ensure that the district moves forward in a way that is centered on the needs of students and in the interest of our community.”Olivia Udovic, Oakland Education Association
“We’re disappointed with the way the community has been treated throughout this whole process by the elected members of the school board to abruptly close schools mid-year,” Udovic said.
Udovic said families are scrambling to find new placements for their children and teachers are scrambling to find jobs.
Udovic described the impact as a disparity for black and brown students. “One out of every two students impacted by the closures is a black student and this is disproportionate to the number of black students in the district,” the teacher said.
Opposition to the plan included a walkout by students at Oakland Technical High School on Feb. 11 and a hunger strike by two educators that began Feb. 1 and ended Friday. On Monday, parents of students at Parker Elementary School protested at the intersection of Ritchie Street and MacArthur Boulevard, adjacent to the school.
“This fight is not over. Our union is exploring new actions to ensure that the district moves forward in a way that is centered on the needs of students and in the interest of our community,” Udovic said.
In a brief, two-sentence response Saturday, an OUSD spokesman released a statement that read, in its entirety: “On Friday night, Feb. 18, the OUSD Board of Education upheld their previous decision from the meeting on Feb. 8. The District is focused on ensuring all impacted students have as smooth and easy a transition as possible.”