KCBS In Depth: Oakland Unified School District

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Melrose Elementary School in Oakland (School website)

Melrose Elementary School in Oakland (School website)

OAKLAND (KCBS) – It has been a long climb, but the Oakland Unified School District is finally getting its financial footing back on the right track.

Oakland Unified School District Superintendent Anthony Smith took over the reins in 2009 and said the district is doing much better financially.

“We’ve had to cut more than $60 million each year that I’ve been here and it’s been a struggle. However, when we got the district back from state control, there was a $40 million structural deficit, which meant that the expenditures were $40 million more than the revenues,” said Smith. “Going into this budget cycle, we will have eliminated that. So we will actually be structurally sound as an organization and able to focus on high quality academics and services for kids.”

This time of the year normally is when teachers are notified about possible layoffs. Smith said the large numbers that have been seen in other cities is not necessarily the case in Oakland. “We are actually in a position where we’re much more targeted and strategic and won’t do mass notices this year.”

KCBS Interviews Oakland Unified School District Superintendent Anthony Smith:

Smith said that the community has had a lot of input on goings on in the district. And one of the toughest decisions he had to make was announcing the closure of five schools late last year.

“When I came in and started in 2009 to when we open school next year, there will actually be 16 fewer schools. That has to do with the enrollment and the way it has fallen. So we had to figure out a better way to match the number of schools with the number of kids,” said Smith. “It was really hard. But part of that eliminating the structural deficit comes because we did make those decisions.”

Smith said that right now, the district’s commitment is to keep as many schools open as possible but he can’t guarantee closures in the future.

You can hear KCBS In Depth, a weekly half-hour news interview, Saturdays at 5:30a.m. and Sundays at 8:30 a.m. and 8:30 p.m. on KCBS All News 740AM and 106.9FM.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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