OAKLAND (KPIX 5) — With a possible strike authorized by teachers in Oakland looming later this month, the head of the East Bay school district spoke on Wednesday morning about how officials are getting ready.
The Oakland teachers union announced Monday that a strike had been authorized by an overwhelming majority of the membership’s vote. It could happen in two weeks.
The superintendent at Oakland Unified Dr. Kyla Johnson-Trammell is scrambling to make plans in the event of a strike in addition to the $30 million budget shortfall the district was already facing.
“The bottom line is that Oakland Unified School district has too many schools for the number of students we serve,” said Johnson-Trammell.
Johnson-Trammell is working on a citywide plan for school closures to get its budget in line. Though the numbers and names haven’t yet been released, she says the district has no choice.
“Our students are not currently receiving the quality education they need,” said Johnson-Trammell.
In the meantime, negotiations continue between the district and the teachers union. Teachers are demanding more pay, smaller class sizes, and more nurses and counselors on staff.
Tuesday night, the Oakland City Council passed a resolution supporting Oakland teachers as a large group of educators rallied outside.
The superintendent said Wednesday morning that if a strike happens, officials plan to keep the schools open.
“We’re going to be bringing in lots of different individuals; some may be subs, some may be people that are here in central office,” explained Johnson-Trammell. “So the plans will look differently based on our various elementary, middle and high schools.”
Oakland Unified students have called for a sick out on Friday in support of their teachers. Instead, they will all gather at Oakland tech high school at 9 a.m. to march to the district office on teachers behalf
OUSD parent Yavenelly Lara, who was picking up her daughter after school Wednesday, told KPIX 5 she will keep her daughter out of school if teachers go on strike.
“The way to support the teachers is to keep children home,” said Lara.
A district employee who works as a security guard at one of the elementary schools told KPIX 5 she feels stuck in the middle. She is uncertain what she will do.
“I don’t know…gosh! But I need to get some answers,” she said.
The district is holding an open meeting to talk about their proposed budget cuts at 6 p.m. Wednesday night at La Escuelita Elementary.
Oakland teachers have distributed a guide to parents on how to prepare for a possible strike. Some ideas include setting up parent-organized “solidarity schools” at local rec centers, libraries and churches.