Dr. Kyla Johnson-Trammell Wants to Share With You Their Plans for Supporting Students and Families In Wake Of School Closure Vote
|OFFICE OF THE SUPERINTENDENT|
Friday, February 11, 2022
Dear Oakland Unified Families,
This has been a difficult week for many people across the District, especially at schools that are being impacted by planned consolidation. The Board of Education voted at Tuesday night’s meeting to close seven schools, merge two others, and eliminate grades 6-8 at two K-8 schools. This is set to happen in two phases. Phase one will be enacted for the 2022-23 school year and includes two school closures, merger of two co-located schools on their shared campus, and one truncated 6-8 grade program. The remaining closures will take place prior to the 2023-24 school year, after a year of planning.
I know these changes for our school communities are challenging, painful, and emotional. I understand the opposition and the strong feelings resulting from this difficult decision. I also take my responsibilities as Superintendent seriously, and I am committed to doing our absolute best for our students and families during these transitions – for both closing and welcoming school communities.
As someone who grew up in Oakland and OUSD schools, and as an educator who has spent more than two decades supporting the students and families of Oakland, the well-being and success of our students is always my number one priority. Given the timeline for phase one, we must work now to support our students through this change. So, in this message, I want to share with you all that we are prepared – and preparing – to do to support affected students and families.
To help our schools that will be closing at the end of the 2021-22 year, we have mapped out a timeline of next steps and supports that will be made available between now and the first day of school in August 2022.
This year and next, we must be intentional and committed to ensuring that students at Parker, La Escuelita, and Community Day School and their families have what they need to transition to new OUSD schools and other programs. Although the students at Rise Community School and New Highland Academy are on the same campus, the merging of those two schools will also be supported by our team to ensure a smooth transition for all involved.
Here are some of the things our team is focused on implementing for our students and families:
Our goal is for families to have a personalized, warm, welcoming experience with the OUSD enrollment process and for all students to have placements for 2022-23 on March 10, the same notification date as all other families who are applying through the enrollment process to new schools for next year. Additionally, impacted students will receive the “Opportunity Ticket” enrollment preference, which gives them a higher likelihood of getting an offer to a school of their choice.
Special Day Class (SDC) students will also access the Opportunity Ticket through a facilitated process supported by the Special Education Department. Each SDC student will be supported to choose a placement based on the services specified in the student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP). Placement will take into consideration where students live so transportation time on special education buses is kept to a minimum, and will come from a collection of schools that offer more specialized services. The Special Education Department is contacting families directly to discuss enrollment options.
- Individualized Care Plan
We are prioritizing individual care and communication with students and families throughout this transition. Family engagement specialists from the Office of Equity and Student Welcome Center, along with partners from Behavioral Health, are responding at sites directly to provide detailed information and care for students and families affected by these school changes. Specialized one-on-one support is also offered from central office staff in our Special Education and Newcomer departments.
After the Enrollment Process is complete and we know which school each student and their family has received for the upcoming school year – also known as a Welcoming School – we will work with the school communities to determine program enhancements that the schools can provide above and beyond their regular programming. Possible areas for deeper investment include such things as arts, academic and social emotional support, extracurricular and enrichment opportunities, and enhanced family engagement.
To accommodate students at the Welcoming Schools we have mapped out the available seats and spaces in our schools. We will expand some grade levels at Welcoming Schools, increasing their enrollment. We will have classrooms ready for the incoming students. As we invest funds in Welcoming Schools, families will notice changes as we enter the 2022-23 school year. These plans include campus beautification through investment in more green spaces, improved physical play spaces, and other visual and comfort enhancements.
I know that these changes will be challenging for many students and families, which is why our team will be intentional and dedicated to ensuring that they receive the needed support and communication throughout the process. I look forward to seeing school communities wrapping their arms around their new students and families.
Dr. Kyla Johnson-Trammell