The November 3rd election will have many measures that could impact Oakland students, but the one I will discuss in this post is Measure Y. I am supporting Measure Y because (if approved by voters) it would provide $735M in new funding for us to make basic repairs and upgrades to Oakland schools. Some of the projects on the list in District 6 are:
- Melrose Leadership Academy (upgrading the building systems and expanding the Maxwell Park site to allow all students be reunited on one site).
- Coliseum College Prep Academy (expanding the Havenscourt site to serve more students and improving the athletic facilities to expand athletic offerings and ensuring year-round access to field space).
- Skyline High School (seismic upgrades, bathroom renovations and more).
There are another half dozen schools on the list as well as $200M that is designated for Districtwide Initiatives (upgrades that all schools are eligible for). This bucket of money is how we can also expand our Living Schoolyards work, which allows us to convert blacktops at school sites to green spaces as we have done at Markham Elementary and Melrose Leadership Academy.
With parents from Melrose Leadership Academy at a work day with Trust for Public Land, to begin the Living Schoolyard work at the MLA campus. (Note: this was taken before the pandemic, hence no masks!)
I also want to share some of the measures the board has taken to strengthen our oversight of OUSD's bond program. With four new members joining the board in November, now is the moment for us to build strong systems to improve stewardship of our bond dollars.
1. We have restored board committees, including our Facilities Committee. When I joined the board, there were no board committees. I think getting rid of board committees was a huge mistake on the part of the previous board, because board committees are how board members can really build our expertise on specific topics, dig deeper on questions and have more interaction with community members and staff. Bringing back the Facilities Committee is giving us more time to focus on our facilities projects and allowing better oversight for the board and the community. This committee will be an important way for new board members to build their familiarity and expertise with our bond projects and play a strong oversight role.
2. We have expanded the oversight role of the Citizen Bond Oversight Committee (CBOC). In the past, the role of the CBOC was to retrospectively report to the board on the expenditure of bond funds, after funds were spent. We have approved changes to the process so that going forward, the CBOC will come forward to the board with recommendations on proposed project budget changes or reprioritization of the bond project list and other major changes, prior to the expenditure of bond funds. Real oversight rather than hindsight, as parent (and School Board Candidate) Sam Davis says. Members of the CBOC also now have a seat at the table when it comes to hiring Facilities Directors and selecting the bond audit firm.
3. We are planning a very robust orientation and training program for the new board, starting soon after the November election. I didn't receive much by way of orientation when I joined the board, and I wish that I had. I am charged with designing the orientation program for our new board, and am planning a whole day focused on our bond program. This day will cover the restricted funding we can use for facilities projects, the bond project list, project budgets and will also introduce new board members to the members of the CBOC. This will allow our new board members to hit the ground running when it comes to overseeing our bond program.
4. We are now planning for facilities updates at least once per quarter for the whole board, to cover project status (budget, timeline, obstacles, etc). This is a big change from the previous practice, which was very seldom status updates. Without a Facilities Committee, this practice did not serve us well in terms of being able to provide strong, consistent oversight.
I believe these changes will better support the board to provide meaningful oversight for our facilities program and as an Oakland homeowner, I will be voting yes to tax myself so that we can create safer and more modern schools for Oakland students. Please join me and vote Yes on Measure Y!
Another important way to help is to contribute to the campaign to help us buy lawn signs, educate voters via mail, hire a Campaign Manager and more.