Did you know that Oakland spends $6M a year on debt payments to the state? This is money that could be used to stabilize the district and put needed fiscal infrastructure in place. Parents United has been working with the Free2Learn Committee — an ad hoc, grassroots, parent-led coalition working in partnership with community-based organizations — to ask our legislators to stand with Oakland. We ask that instead of continuing to take these funds out of Oakland, the state instead allow Oakland to invest these funds in specific ways that will improve fiscal accountability—and accountability to students, parents and community.
The Fiscal Crisis and Management Assistance Team (FCMAT) has pointed to key vulnerabilities in OUSD’s fiscal health and accountability. We believe that our new superintendent and staff are working on addressing the issues raised—but this has resulted in deep cuts that are only hurting the district more. Instead, our current loan payments of $6 million a year could be used to support long-term fiscal stability. The Free2Learn Committee is setting up meetings with key legislators to discuss this strategy — but they need to know there is broad community support. Our hope is that parents, community groups, district staff and legislative partners can use a small amount of the state’s current surplus to erase OUSD’s debt.
You can help by writing or calling your legislators today:
- Assembly member Rob Bonta: firstname.lastname@example.org; 916-552-6887
- Assembly member Tony Thurmond: email@example.com; (510) 286-1400
- Senator Nancy Skinner: http://sd09.senate.ca.gov/contact; (510) 286-1333
Tell them you want to stand with Oakland to ask that crippling debt payments be directed instead to key investments in fiscal accountability, and accountability to Oakland students, parents and community.
The suggested e-mail text is below:
Dear [Legislator Name],
During a time of state surplus, we respectfully ask you to stand with Oakland Parents to remove barriers that remain in our path towards fiscal vitality required for all students to succeed in Oakland! We need support from the State through debt cancellation to fully implement the district’s Financial Stability Plan and Budget – which goes beyond the concerns outlined in the FCMAT report and are focused creating a culture of fiscal transparency and accountability.
I am writing to you as an Oakland parent who has seen first-hand the impact the crippling state debt and massive school cuts have had on my child and all vulnerable children in Oakland as schools report running out of paper, losing literacy coaches and other essential staff. We need to be able to protect and prioritize our kids from these draconian cuts.
Over the past year hundreds of parents have organized to demand financial accountability in the district and we’ve made incredible progress towards that end. I recognize that past OUSD leaders failed to ensure OUSD’s financial health with disastrous consequences – but we’ve turned over a new leaf, winning a new home-grown Superintendent with the demonstrated fiscal leadership needed to get us solvent once and for all.
Our new leaders are committed to and understand – putting a solid fiscal infrastructure in place – is the only way to permanently exit the cycle of mismanagement, crisis, and painful school site cuts that prevents funds from getting to the most vulnerable children who need those resources to learn and grow.
You can find more information about the #Free2Learn campaign here.