This Thursday, Great Oakland Public Schools will be hosting a conversation about how the Oakland Unified School District should deal with declining enrollment (rescheduled from last month).
Here’s the event info, via GO Public Schools:
Oakland’s Changing Demographics: OUSD’s Hard Decisions
How many schools does Oakland Unified need in its portfolio? How many students should our district aim to serve? What data will be reviewed to make these decisions?
Featuring data and analysis from partner MK Think, GO Public Schools invites you to Oakland’s Changing Demographics: OUSD’s Hard Decisions, a community convening to discuss the capacity, enrollment and demographic data being used for OUSD strategic planning. Click here (PDF) to view a 2009 MK Think presentation that outlines the facilities and assets of OUSD.
Please join us on Thursday, March 3, from 5:30-8:00pm at the Jack London Aquatic Center to discuss these important issues. Refreshments and child care will be provided.
If you’re planning on attending (or even if you aren’t, but have an interest in OUSD’s sustainability), it is definitely worth downloading the MK Think presentation (PDF), which does a good job outlining the types of decisions facing the District.
It also includes some pretty sobering charts illustrating just what a poor job OUSD is doing of capturing Oakland’s school age population.
Their study finds that the Oakland Unified School District, with nearly 6 million square feet of property throughout the city, has 900 more classrooms than it needs. In fact, it has more classrooms than required to meet the needs of its peak enrollment year, 1999.
The costs associated with managing too many facilities are very real. OUSD certainly isn’t the only agency that struggles with it. Any agency providing government services has to find a way to balance the desires of the people they serve, who generally all want services immediately in their neighborhood, and the increased administrative needs created by having more sites.
So how do you deal with that? In a district as cash-strapped as OUSD, does it make sense to have all this unneeded space? Should the District stop operating so many campuses, find alternate (and hopefully, income-producing) uses for unused space that may be needed in the future, and sell off properties that aren’t part of long term need projections? Or, if the District is going to keep using all of its campuses, what do you do with the extra space?
I think it should be a really interesting discussion, and I’ve been tremendously impressed with every GO Public Schools event I’ve attended so far. If you’re planning on going, I think they would appreciate it if you could RSVP online so they have an idea of how many people to expect. But if you don’t get around to that and find yourself with some free time on Thursday night, go check it out.