Oakland Unified School District's financial troubles: 'You could call it a crisis'

- The Oakland Unified School District says it has financial troubles.
    
"You could call it a crisis," said James Harris, president of the OUSD Board of Education.
    
Harris says the district has a $15.1 million deficit and that cuts are coming. The financial problems are so severe even some administrators have been giving back part of their paychecks
    
"You will see about 60-70 percent cuts from the central office and probably 30-40 percent from school sites – those will be people," said Harris.
         
Teachers protested Wednesday saying no cuts should come from the classrooms. But the cuts won't end this year. The district will likely need to slash another $12 million next year. 
        
District officials say another state takeover over of the district is a possibility but is not imminent. School closures could happen in a few years. The district says there had been some red flags and that the district was living beyond its means for the past few years, as it dug into its reserve funds.
          
"There were decisions that could have been made especially when we realized we don't have the enrollment we thought we would have. We should have let go of those people who were there to support those children. We made the decision to not let those people go. That put a $4 million burden on us," said Harris.
    
Some of the problems include rising pension and retirement costs. But Harris says parents and students should not lose heart.
    
"Parents need not worry their children won't have a safe place to learn and a high quality education," he said.
    
School administrators are expected to present recommendations to the school board on November 27 on how it should make those $15 million in cuts.

"I am committed to putting us on the right path to fiscal stability," said superintendent Kyla Johnson Trammell in a statement.
 

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