Oakland Unified Schools: 'We do not want a strike'

Teachers and supporters march against school closures and budget cuts in Oakland. 

On the heels of this week’s emotional school board meeting where Oakland Unified School District’s board voted to close Roots International Academy, the cash-strapped district is saying they do not want a teacher strike and are seeking an agreement that is “financially responsible.” 

Facing a $30 million budget deficit, district Superintendent Dr. Kyla Johnson-Trammell explained in a letter on Wednesday that OUSD is “working diligently” to support teachers and has compiled a frequently asked questions document to make the fact-finding stage of teacher and budget negotiations transparent. 

“In this stage of negotiations, a three-member panel listens to the Oakland Education Association (OEA) [the teachers’ union] and the District. The panel will submit an advisory report, which will include a recommendation for settlement. The non-binding report will be made public within 10 days of finalization,” Dr. Johnson-Trammell wrote. %INLINE%

The panel was selected earlier this month. They will listen to both parties involved January 31 and February 1. 

With the school board considering reduced services and staff layoffs; cuts were initially scheduled for a Wednesday night vote, but have been postponed to allow for more preparation. 

The closure of Roots Academy marks the first of a possible two-dozen schools to close in the coming years. 

On January 18, hundreds of teachers and their supporters held a “non-sanctioned” sick-out, where they rallied and marched. Their main reasons for that action, which "disappointed" the district, was a 12 percent pay raise over three years they are seeking, along with class-size reduction and hours of work. 

According to data from the union, Oakland teachers are the lowest paid of any teacher in the East Bay.

The district is offering teachers a five percent increase over three years. 

Dr. Johnson-Trammell is a former teacher herself and a parent of students within the district. 

“I want all teachers to know how much they are valued and appreciated,” she wrote. 

According to the district, if there is a strike, they expect it sometime mid-February once the fact-finding report is released on February 15.