OAKLAND (KPIX 5) — Oakland students said they shouldn’t have to suffer because the school district can’t manage money at an Oakland Unified School Board meeting on Wednesday evening.
Board members were reviewing a controversial plan to cut millions in funding from Oakland Schools. The board already voted to shut down Roots International Academy in East Oakland. Other schools, such as Kaiser Elementary, are also on the chopping block.
Superintendent Kyla Johnson Trammell explained that the cuts are painful, but necessary.
“We must engage in the tough and painful work of both rightsizing our school district, getting to fewer schools of a sustainable size with more resources while re-imagining the type of school programs we offer,” she said.
The district plans to save about $20 million by closing and consolidating schools, laying off central office staff and making cuts to school programs, such as restorative justice.
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The board faced the wrath of students who will be hit hardest by the proposed budget cuts.
“We should not have to suffer because of your inability to manage money. If you bothered to listen to what students wanted, we wouldn’t be here right now,” said one student.
Younger students from Kaiser Elementary climbed atop chairs to have their voices heard.
“When you close our schools, you destroy them,” said one.
“I am here to demand that you leave my school alone,” said another.
At least one board member openly opposed the budget cuts.
“I don’t stand with this decision,” said board member James Harris. “I will continue to advocate that we exhaust all possibilities and that we bring forward a plan before making reductions in this nature.”
District officials are scheduled to meet with teachers next Friday. The next few weeks will determine whether or not teachers will go on a strike.