As pressure builds, Oakland school district now considering delaying campus closures

Some Oakland school buildings that were slated to shut down this year may stick around – for at least another year.

The Oakland Unified School board is hosting a special meeting Friday night to possibly reverse course and delay plans that they voted on last week. 

Specifically, the board is considering pushing back closures for Community Day and Parker elementary schools and delay the changes to La Escuelita, which could lose its 6th and 8th grades, by a year. The board is now proposing to delay these moves to the 2022-2023 year. 

"They're taking one of the most needed schools away from the community and the district," said Trey Keeve, an English and Histroy teacher at Community Day School.

"Even a year from now, I'm still worried about them taking this place. Students, expelled students, will still exist. They won't have this space. 

This vote to possibly delay comes just a week after board members voted to close down five schools next year and consolidate or merge six more over the next two years. 

In it's amendment to the resolution, the district is expected to receive $10million in funding from AB1840, which would go toward the students going to the welcoming and consolidated schools.

"We ended the last school year with a $43.9 million surplus and an ending balance of $11.3 million," said OUSD district 5 director Mike Hutchinson. "So we don't need to do anything in order to get other potential money from the state through Assembly Bill 1840."

But pressure had been building from critics of the plan. 

SEE ALSO: State bill aims to give OUSD $10M without required obligation to close schools

Earlier this week, the Oakland City Council adopted a resolution asking the state to intervene to prevent any school closures from happening.

Oakland City Council Vice President Rebecca Kaplan explained that years ago, the state took over control of the public schools and "racked up more debt, and now schools are threatened with closures, to pay off debt that the state ran up."

However, what has grabbed many people's attention is the two Oakland teachers at Westlake Middle School who have been on a hunger strike now for 18 days. 

SEE ALSO: Starving for a cause: Oakland educators on day 8 of hunger strike to oppose school closures

Westlake was on the original list of closures but was spared after the final school board vote.

However, Maurice Andre San-Chez, a choir teacher, and Moses Omolade, a program manager at the school, haven't eaten anyway, citing a solidarity with the other school communities facing closure.

Still, they said this latest change of course could make them consider ending the strike.