Our annual walkathon is approaching, and while there has been a lot of encouragement to participate and to help raise money, I want to take the opportunity in this edition of The Pink Panther to talk about why this is so important.
Education funding in California
In my lifetime, California has plummeted from the top five states in per pupil spending to the bottom 10. If you want to know more about this, check out this Ed100 lesson: https://ed100.org/lessons/californiaskimps
OUSD financial crisis
Although there are varying perspectives on the amount of debt our district has or where to point the finger of blame, the fact is that OUSD made over $22 million of cuts in the past academic year and will need to make millions more in order to avoid “state receivership”, something all agree is not good for Oakland schools. (We are still paying off debt from being in receivership from 2003 – 2009.)
Kaiser Elementary’s financial realities
We have several strikes against us when it comes to funding for Kaiser Elementary:
- Our strength is our weakness: We love Kaiser because it is a small learning community, but since our budget is based on student enrollment, we get dinged. Our enrollment has crept upward over the past two years, but at 275 students, we are at capacity and still considerably smaller than most other elementary schools.
- A significant source of funding for most Oakland schools is Title One funding. Although Kaiser is diverse in every way, including socio economically, we do not meet the threshold of need to qualify for Title One.
- Only about 25% of Kaiser students qualify for LCFF (Local Control Funding Formula) funds. This modest percentage, along with our small school size, results in fewer funds.
After the district pays for our facility costs and payroll for classroom teachers, custodians, food service, special education, and a small office team, the “discretionary funds” that we are left with are very small. With these, we pay for Ms. Jackson’s contract and our STIP sub position. There is a very modest stipend for 3 teachers to do instructional leadership, and we have a small supplies and operations budget. That is it… nothing more.
This is why our PTA supported activities, including our walkathon, are critical… and your support for them is essential. When you and your children participate in the walkathon, you help to support our arts and music programs (Ms. Leonardo, Mr. Diana, Ms. Candy); computer (Mr. O); Academic mentors (Oscar, Krista & Nathalie); and safety, supervision, and conflict resolution (Issere & Samantha). You also make possible field trips, assemblies, class funds, and more. Imagine Kaiser without these people, services, and activities: It would not be the same.
While we realize that due to time and financial realities, not everyone will be able to contribute to the PTA in the same way. However, there is a way for every family to be involved. Considering this, it sure would be great to see 100% participation in this year’s walkathon!
Dennis Guikema, Principal