Education in Oakland

The Education Complex

Posted by novometro on February 28, 2007

Now that a deal to sell 10 acres of school district property for $60 million has collapsed, some members of Oakland’s school board want to lock up the land for good by building what they call “a state of the art educational complex” on the site.

A flier announcing a Thursday rally in support of the “educational complex,” bears a drawing of an old-fashioned public schoolhouse being squeezed by a menacing skyline of lofts, condos, convention centers, and hotels.

It’s an odd time to be talking about building new state-of-the-art schools while simultaneously decrying new residents to the city. At a school board meeting tomorrow, the state administrator is expected to approve the closing of four schools. This isn’t a surprise. For the past several years, Oakland Unified School District has been shrinking at a rate of 2,000 students a year.

OUSD owes the state $100 million. Its barely balanced budget came at a steep price for every student and employee in the district. There’s scarcely enough cash to keep the schools it has open now in a clean and orderly condition. Where the money for this new educational complex will come from is not clear.

There’s $21 million in bond money to build a new building for La Escuelita Elementary, one of the schools that’s supposed to be part of the complex. While the 239 (and shrinking) students at La Escuelita deserve the school they have been promised, a state-of-the-art educational complex will cost more than that. Dewey, another of the five schools slated for inclusion in the new complex, was rebuilt four years ago across the street from OUSD HQ at a cost of a $6.2 million.

This educational complex will never be built. However, something close to it might have been erected had the developer that wanted to buy the property moved forward. When the deal was hitting local opposition last summer, the developer agreed to build a new multi-story building housing two schools on the property. The forces lined up against the deal never took that idea seriously. They might wish they had — as their dreams for an “educational complex” encounter the reality of OUSD’s shrinking enrollment.


One Response to “The Education Complex”

  1. […] and notes that the Express is “corporate.” Mr. Allen-Taylor does not reply to NovoMetro’s editorial favoring the land sale, and claims that Oakland could regain self-governance without paying back […]

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