Consulting Firm Will Make Recommendation to OUSD on School Closings
Nov 13, 2017
By Ken Epstein
The Oakland Unified School District, near the end of the former Superintendent Antwan Wilson’s administration, paid $2.3 million to a multinational company, headquartered in Dallas, Texas, to develop a new facilities master plan, which would include proposals or “options” for closing or moving schools in different parts of Oakland.
The company, which has an office in Oakland has operations in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Central and South America, in addition to North America, according to Jacobs’ website.
Under the contract with Jacobs, hired on Jan. 11, the company will issue a final report to the school board next year in January.
Jacobs was originally hired by Supt. Wilson because he wanted updated facilities information and construction costs for a school construction bond measure he hoped to place on the ballot in 2018.
The current process – which has been named Blueprint for Quality Schools – includes the involvement of a 54-member advisory that includes parents, teachers, school administrators and some representatives of charter school organizations based in the city.
It is not clear how much influence the advisory group, which was scheduled to meet five times, will have on Jacobs’ final report to the school board.
A number of the people in the advisory group told they feel the process was flawed from the beginning – the discussion of a “blueprint for quality schools” should be based on the values of the community and the needs of students – not on the work of a group of engineers who study facilities and enrollment trends, regardless of how valuable that information may be.
At this point, the process has produced a series of options, which are available on the website:
Some of the options related involve “consolidation” or closing schools:
- “Consolidate (central district) elementary schools from seven down to six campuses.’
- “Consolidate Castlemont-area elementary schools from 10 down to 7-8 campuses.”
- “Move Melrose out of an over-crowded facility and into one of the larger area elementary schools.”
- “Consolidate Northeast (area) elementary schools from seven down to five-six campuses.”
The campuses of the school sites that would be vacated under this plan would be “repurposed” “high school career instruction, a pre-kindergarten (PK) center, teacher housing, administration, or another high-need priority.”