District Hires new Interim Head of the Division of Facilities and Management Department at a substantial increase in cost


Jackson gets $30,000 a Month to Replace White’s $13,000 Jackson Not Implicated in West Contra Costa Investigation, Says OUSD

By Ken Epstein

The Oakland Unified School District has hired Lance Jackson as the interim head of the Division of Facilities and Management Department at the cost of $30,000 a month.

Depending on how long the district takes to conduct a national search for a new administrator to oversee OUSD’s school bond-financed construction programs and repairs, maintenance and custodial services, the cost would total $360,000 a year – more than the $280,0000 a year earned by Supt. Antwan Wilson.

Tim White, who was forced out of his position in February, earned about $13,000 a month when he left the district, roughly $156,000 a year.

“Lance is earning $30,000 per month, which equates to $360,000 annually, although it’s unlikely he’ll remain in the position for that long and the contract was not designed with the idea that Lance will remain as interim head of facilities for a full year,” said district spokesman Troy Flint in an email to the Post.

“This high rate of pay is due to a number of considerations, but most importantly that Lance was the only person well-positioned to take over the facilities department after Tim’s departure.”

“Lance is the only person who satisfies all the (necessary experience and qualifications), and for someone with that level of expertise working on a consultant basis, the price tag is significant– but if that means sound management of the $435 million in taxpayer bond money at stake, it’s an investment that will pay dividends for OUSD and our constituents. There’s too much at risk to entrust projects with this level of complexity and this much money involved to someone who may not be prepared to carry the work forward.”

In addition, the Post has learned that Jackson and his company Seville Group Inc. (SGI) are responsible for planning and design management of the $1.6 billion dollar construction program currently underway at West Contra Costa Unified School District, which has come under intense public criticism for mismanagement by the district’s administration.

According to Oakland Unified, as Chief Operating Officer of Seville, Jackson is ultimately responsible for the company’s work in West Contra Costa. But the company is not implicated in the investigation of mismanagement, and Jackson has not been involved for five years in day-to-day oversight of construction in that district, according to OUSD.

On Feb. 17, Supt. Wilson announced White’s replacement in an email to employees: “OUSD is pleased to announce that Lance Jackson, Chief Operating Officer of the Seville Group, Inc. (SGI), has agreed to become interim leader of the Oakland Unified School District’s Facilities Planning and Management Department. Jackson will serve in this role pending the search and selection of a new Deputy Chief for Facilities Planning and Management.”

Jackson and his company have had consulting contracts with OUSD for a number of years.

In the 14 years that Tim White worked for the school district, he was in charge of expenditures for school bond Measure J, $475 million; Measure B, $35 million; Measure A, $330 million; and before that Measure C, $169 million. He also brought in $300 million in state matching funds.

Seville Group, Inc., founded in 1994, provides program, project, and construction management services for public agencies in California. Its projects include facilities, such as K-12, higher education and municipal facilities; infrastructure projects, including water, wastewater, power, and highway projects; and transportation projects.

According to the company’s website, Jackson has over 20 years of program and project management experience. As COO of the Seville Group, “He is responsible for facilitating the best practices for all programs and projects to strengthen the quality of services provided.”

“He is responsible for planning and design management of the billion dollar construction program currently underway at West Contra Costa Unified School District and is also providing executive oversight for the East Side Union High School District’s new construction and modernization programs and the Oakland Unified School Districts Measure B Bond Program and Capital project,” according to the website.

In a strongly worded editorial last Sunday, the Oakland Tribune called on the West Contra Costa’s Board of Education to fire Supt. Bruce Harter for mismanagement of the district’s $1.6 billion school construction bond program.

Harter should resign, and if he does not, the board should fire him, according to the Tribune.

What became clear after six school bonds, the Tribune wrote, was that “There’s not enough money to finish all the construction promised. Criteria are needed for selecting the schools that will get the remaining funds.”

“Harter had a professional responsibility to mind the purse, to provide the school board, the bond oversight committee and the public with meaningful analyses of the spending,” the Tribune said. “Instead, Harter and his staff stonewalled.”

Obtaining “basic information such as square footage construction costs is nearly impossible. A 2013 audit dinged the district for disproportionately spending on architectural, engineering and management costs rather than direct construction,” the editorial said.

For the full Oakland Tribune editorial, go to www.contracostatimes.com/news/ci_27697711/contra-costa-times-editorial-fire-west-contra-costa

In response to questions from the Post, OUSD spokesman Flint wrote in an email: “To my understanding, the investigation in Contra Costa is centered on district management and one trustee who took an unusually active interest in how the funds were allocated– not on SGI. As SGI’s COO, Lance has ultimate responsibility for many of SGI’s projects, but he hasn’t been involved with day-to-day project management in West Contra Costa for more than five years.”

March for Schools Oakland Students Deserve is just 2 Days away!

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The March for Schools Oakland Students Deserve is on TUESDAY March 31st! Join a coalition of Teachers, Parents, Students and Community members at San Antonio Park at 3pm on Tuesday for family friendly activities and speakers. Slated to speak are Federico Chavez, Administrative Judge and nephew of Cesar Chavez, and noted Civil Rights Attorney Dan Siegel, plus Teachers, Parents and Students from across our District. We will then march at 4:30 to the Downtown offices of OUSD at 1000 Broadway. Invite friends, family, neighbors and co-workers to this Event and join the movement!

Black and Brown Unity Showcase this Friday at MetWest High

Join us on Friday March 27th @ MetWest High School for an evening of spoken word, youth produced Black and Brown Unity art, elders, young-stars and great food!!!

As we mourn and organize around the unjust killings of Alex Nieto and Alan Blueford here in the Bay Area, so many more of our Black and Brown relatives across the nation echo our cries for justice for all who have lost their lives to the violence of the Police, Border Patrol and the state. At 67 Sueños we have dedicated a year’s worth of Art, Poetry and action to the power of Black Brown Unity as a response. Our poems, art and love must overcome their guns, tasers and hate!

We invite our community of Black and Brown beautiful people and our staunch allies to come celebrate Black and Brown Unity, honor some of our elders, celebrate and nurture our next generation of leaders and raise the funds for 67 Sueños next summer mural project in Oakland.

We need you to nurture and water the seeds that will grow to transform this hateful violent society into a place of love where Black and Brown lives don’t only matter, they are deemed precious!

P.S. We will have some of the most amazing Auction and Raffle items available to help you help us. So bring your checkbook, bring a friend and bring the LOVE cuz this is our 5th generation of 67 Sueños young-stars coming of age before your very eyes on stage!

$5.00 Donations will be taken at the door but absolutely no one turned away for lack of funds or $12.00 donation which includes a meal ticket.

If you wish to donate an item for our silent auction please email us at 67suenos@gmail.orgBlack brown unity showcase

Experience Matters! Great article about the importance have retaining experienced teachers.

This is especially important to read in the context of the assault on Article 12 protections for veteran teachers.


Published Online: March 24, 2015
Published in Print: March 25, 2015, as Experience Seen as Boost for Teachers

New Studies Find That, for Teachers, Experience Really Does Matter

Studies Cite Gains by Veterans

The notion that teachers improve over their first three or so years in the classroom and plateau thereafter is deeply ingrained in K-12 policy discussions, coming up in debate after debate about pay, professional development, and teacher seniority, among other topics.

But findings from a handful of recently released studies are raising questions about that proposition. In fact, they suggest the average teacher’s ability to boost student achievement increases for at least the first decade of his or her career—and likely longer.

Moreover, teachers’ deepening experience appears to translate into other student benefits as well. One of the new studies, for example, links years on the job to declining rates of student absenteeism.

Although the studies raise numerous questions for follow-up, the researchers say it may be time to retire the received—and somewhat counterintuitive—wisdom that teachers can’t or don’t improve much after their first few years on the job.

“For some reason, you hear this all the time, from all sorts of people, Bill Gates on down,” said John P. Papay, an assistant professor of education and economics at Brown University, in Providence, R.I. He is the co-author of one of two new studies on the topic. “But teacher quality is not something that’s fixed. It does develop, and if you’re making a decision about a teacher’s career, you should be looking at that dynamic.”

Better With Age

Investigating the connection between a teacher’s experience and his or her teaching quality has long proved methodologically challenging, largely because of the difficulty in comparing cohorts of students taught by teachers of varied experience levels with different training and backgrounds. Studies based on such cross-sectional comparisons have tended to find few performance differences between early- and later-career teachers.

Beginning in the early 2000s, scholars began to track the same teachers over time, linking them to their students’ test scores. But there are pitfalls to that type of statistical modeling, too. For one, it requires researchers to make assumptions about a typical teacher’s growth trajectory over time in order to disentangle the effects of each year of experience from other possible influences, such as a change in class size or curriculum that might have occurred.

In their new study, Mr. Papay and his co-author, Matthew A. Kraft, also of Brown University, show that some assumptions in prior research have had a tendency to depress the effect of teachers’ experience on student achievement.

For their study, forthcoming in the Journal of Public Economics, the researchers looked at a set of some 200,000 student test scores linked to about 3,500 different teachers from an unnamed urban district. They analyzed those data using three different methods, each of which relies on different baseline assumptions about how to capture growth in teacher effectiveness as teachers gain experience.

Under all three of the models studied, the researchers found teachers’ ability to improve student achievement persisted well beyond the three- to five-year mark. While the teachers did make the most progress during their first few years in the classroom, teachers improved their ability to boost student test scores on average by 40 percent between their 10th and their 30th year on the job, the study shows.

The improvements were seen in both reading and math teachers, but were stronger in mathematics.

Beyond Test Scores

What’s more, teachers with more years of experience are better equipped to boost more than just test scores, according to a second new study, released as a working paper by the Washington-based National Center for Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research.

Researchers Helen F. Ladd and Lucy C. Sorenson, both of Duke University, in Durham, N.C., analyzed records from about 1.2 million middle school students in North Carolina from 2007 to 2011, including absences, reported disciplinary offenses, and test scores. The data also contain responses from 6th through 8th graders about time spent on homework and their reading habits.

Using a value-added method similar to that of the Brown University scholars, Ms. Ladd and Ms. Sorenson similarly found that, on average, the students’ teachers continued to improve their effectiveness in boosting academic outcomes for at least 12 years.

Long-Term Gains

Regarding nontest outcomes, the data show that as teachers gained experience, they were linked to lower rates of student absenteeism. The researchers postulate that more experienced teachers got better at motivating students and in classroom management, resulting in better attendance and fewer infractions.

The study also found suggestive evidence of benefits to time spent on reading and homework completion. But because of statistical “noise” surrounding those findings, they are not as precise.

The nontest findings were most marked for reading teachers rather than for math teachers, in contrast to the student-achievement findings, which were stronger for the math teachers.

Unions Respond

In all, the new studies paint teacher quality as a mutable characteristic that can be developed, rather than a static one that’s formed in the first few years on the job.

That’s a welcome change for the 3 million-member National Education Association, which has long maintained that teacher experience matters and should be considered in determining pay and promotions.

“These are incredibly important studies, and I think we’d make a big mistake if we didn’t look at them carefully and re-examine some assumptions,” said Segun Eubanks, the director of teacher quality for the NEA. “The idea of teachers maxing out in five years was so contradictory to what we know about other professions.”

Mr. Eubanks said that the findings suggest policymakers redouble efforts to improve teacher retention and evaluating teachers on factors beyond test scores.

“It isn’t that you scrap all reforms and go back to the good old days, but it’s time to look at a third way—career ladders, shortened salary schedules, hybrid teaching roles,” he said.

Both sets of researchers stressed that their findings concern the average teacher’s rate of improvement over his or her career. They shouldn’t be interpreted to mean that experienced teachers are always better than novices.

The studies also dovetail with a small but growing body of research suggesting that high-quality coaching and professional development can improve teacher effectiveness.

“My policy conclusion from this is that we have to help teachers grow. They have the potential,” said Ms. Ladd, a professor of economics. “You want to get high-quality teachers in the first place and then you want to stick with them.”

Vol. 34, Issue 25, Pages 1,10

OUSD Parents United’s Response to OUSD’s post on our facebook page

OUSD posted on our Facebook page a “polite invitation” to our members to check out their salary offer to OEA teachers: “Good afternoon, OUSD Parents United. We politely invite your members to read more about OUSD’s current 13.5% salary increase offer to teachers — the largest salary increase offer to teachers in a decade. It’s also the largest increase being proposed anywhere else in Alameda County.” 
This is our response:

Oakland Unified School District it seems inappropriate for you to be posting about this proposed raise on a third party site while you are having confidential and purportedly good faith negotiations with OEA. Further, the information you posted is misleading and clearly intended not to inform but to turn support away from your teachers and toward your proposal. Isaac Kos-Read, public information officer for OUSD, explained some of the nearly $1 million in increased spending in the top tier of the Central Office this year alone by telling me that some of the positions were given an increased work load and therefore the increased salary was not a raise but merely compensating for the increased workload. In turn, Mr Kos-Read, you must agree that if a “raise” is for an increase in hours required under the contract, then it is not a raise but compensation for additional work and should not be counted as part of the “raise” you cite. In addition, the remaining 1.5% “raise” being touted here would result in a decrease in the overall benefits package, which you have repeatedly held up as being one of the best in the county (although GO Publlic Schools recently pointed out that it is below average when compared to Districts across the State with similar enrollment and complexity). So when you remove the compensation for additional work and net out the decrease in overall benefits from the “13.5%” contingent raise, it is still a 10.5% contingent raise being offered. In addition Oakland Unified School District, the reason that the raise is both the largest proposed in a decade and the largest (you say) being offered in Alameda County is because our teachers are and have been underpaid for many years, and in order to try to close the gap, you need to consistently outraise surrounding districts for some time to come. According to GO Public Schools, OUSD is between 7.6% and 15% below Alameda County average at this point in time (and 10 to 22% below similar districts across the state) which means that you need to offer that just to get even with other Districts and then keep pace with their offers year after year to stay even. I would appreciate if in future you wish to post on OUSD Parents United that you do so in a way that is truthful and not intended to mislead.

Oakland Tech teachers stage “Grade In” on Friday, March 27 at 3:45, come show your support

Join Oakland Tech Teachers on the front lawn of beautiful Oakland Tech high school as they stage a “grade in” to highlight some of the many tasks that they perform outside of contractually required hours. Bring a sign or grab one there and show support for the teachers while raising awareness that they need a fair contract. While you are there, take a moment to sign a postcard to Mr Wilson or the Board letting them know that you support the teachers. The post cards will be delivered at the end of the March for Schools Oakland Students Deserve on March 31st! Meet at San Antonio park at 3 pm for family friendly fun before marching to the District offices.

Thirty Schools signed on to March for Schools Oakland Students Deserve on March 31!

Thirty schools and counting are planning to March for Schools Oakland Students Deserve on March 31st! Meet at San Antonio Park at 3pm for a family friendly rally before the 4:30 march to the OUSD Offices at 1000 Broadway (then take the 14 or the 40 AC Transit buses back to the park with other families and teachers).

RSVP at https://www.facebook.com/events/859143810811886/permalink/864919633567637/

Antwan Wilson: Why are you ignoring parents of the kids whose futures you are charged with shaping?

Mr Wilson, these parents are important to the future of OUSD, you should be reaching out to them and NOT ignoring them!! Thank you Cleveland Elementary parents for supporting our kids and our teachers!

'3/17/2015 Cleveland parents, wearing OEA green, greeted Superintendent Wilson. He neither greeted them or acknowledged their presence. "Although Mr. Wilson would not acknowledge us,we did get waves and even a "thumbs up" from his entourage. The fact he did not look, let us know that he was aware of our presence. We were a strong army of 5 when he passed by twice."'

3/17/2015 Cleveland parents, wearing OEA green, greeted Superintendent Wilson. He neither greeted them or acknowledged their presence. “Although Mr. Wilson would not acknowledge us,we did get waves and even a “thumbs up” from his entourage. The fact he did not look, let us know that he was aware of our presence. We were a strong army of 5 when he passed by twice.”