By Shaless Peoples
Thank you Supt. Antwan Wilson for your invitation to hear feedback on this matter. I’d like to respond to two key points you brought up in your March 31 Op-Ed published on the Post News Group website, “America Needs Oakland to Succeed”.
To the understanding of many OUSD parents, community members, and stakeholders, there are discrepancies in your statement because:
Teachers have had just a 3.25 percent raise over the past 10 years, which should be considered;
1.5 percent of this raise is dependent on some teachers paying more for their health care, presumably resulting in less money to the teachers net and more money to the district in terms of cost savings;
1.5 percent of this raise is dependent on longer working hours;
Only 3 percent for the first year is guaranteed, the remaining 7.5% is contingent on revenue;
Until the District closes the gap between current salaries in our district and current salaries in surrounding districts, we will continue to lose excellent teachers. OUSD is 7.6 percent to 15 percent below average (per GO Public Schools). So our district must make up that difference AND keep up with ongoing raises offered by neighboring districts.
Unless the district can prove otherwise, I’m sure you can see how while 13.5 percent over 18 months sounds marvelous and wonderful, it really doesn’t amount to any viable progress towards your efforts of improving OUSD “starting with our people.”
California/OUSD Low Funding:
Yes, funding should be increased for the education sector.
That said, let’s be clear here: OUSD has received an additional $42 million in unrestricted funds in 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 and the governor’s proposed budget will provide $24 million more in 2015-2016. That is an increase of $66 million in funding for OUSD.
Salary of Superintendent of Schools: $280,000/per year.
Salary of Chief of Schools (a brand new position/title that you created): $175,000/per year. Allan Smith, a colleague of yours from Denver Public Schools, currently holds this position.
Salary of Chief of Organizational Effectiveness and Culture (a brand new position/title you created): $155,000/per year. Yana Smith, the spouse of Allan Smith currently holds this position.
Salary of (Interim) Head of Facilities & Management: $360,000/per year.
Unless the district can prove otherwise, I’m sure you can see what clearly is a profound discrepancy, and how pontificating “Low Coffers!” is just simply inadequate at best, and a major insult to the intelligence of everyone involved in this process at worst.
Recently, a parent, who also happened to be a teacher, suggested that we as community need to push our state for more funding.
I agree with this opinion.
I also believe that the first step to pushing the state, is to demonstrate that we are capable of being fiscally responsible with what we have. I liken this point to allowance for my child: If I observe that my son is losing his money, not saving some of it, and spending frivolously, do you think I am going to respond to his request for an increase in his allowance with yes?
The same notion applies to the relationship between OUSD and state leadership.
The process of ensuring that our actions are indeed fiscally sound involves having productive and transparent dialogue with district leadership so that we are all confident that any action being taken are ethical, legal, and just.
As a parent of an OUSD student, and a product of a family of educators, I for one, Superintendent Wilson, fully intend on giving you feedback and pushing back on a district level until I am confident that all of the decisions and actions coming out of the district truly do place our people first.
Shaless Peoples is a resident and parent in Oakland, where she volunteers at her son’s school.