VIDEO: Possibility of massive budget cuts at Oakland schools angers parents

 

OAKLAND (KRON) — Teacher layoffs, programs slashed, special classes eliminated; all a possibility on Wednesday night as the Oakland Unified School District faces a multi-million dollar shortfall.

Parents are so upset this might happen, and they recently stormed a school board budget meeting.

Right now, they are facing a possible $15.1 million shortfall.

Several years ago, the district came up short and the state had to come in and take over, dealing a big blow to many beloved programs.

And now, it could be happening again.

On Wednesday, KRON4 met up with district officials and parents as the district braces for the worse.

“It is heartbreaking. It’s devastating,” parent Mona Lisa Trevino said.

Olivia Udovic, who is also a teacher at one of the schools, says her child’s beloved teacher would be let go if there are budget cuts.

At Manzanita Community School in East Oakland, parents say they are reeling, trying to grasp what a multi-million dollar cut could mean for the 86 schools serving 40,000 children in the district.

Oakland officials recently revealed the enormous shortfall, and at a board meeting, some parents were so furious that they chanted for cuts to only happen at the top administrators.

“It’s a whole confluence of things. First and foremost is, kind of the underlying issue, lack of funding here in the State of California for education, and then here in Oakland, we’ve had some systemic issues. We’ve had a lot of turnover in leadership, and that causes systemic problems along the way. There hasn’t been the accountability perhaps that we’ve needed,” Oakland Unified spokesman John Sasaki said. “There’s been some overspending.”

The State of California was forced to step in and take over Oakland Unified more than a decade ago and that lead to some large broad cuts.

“The No. 1 goal, beyond helping our children, is to–we retain control of our district,” Sasaki said. “State comes in and takes over, that is very bad news for the entire district. It’s very bad news for our students and our families, and the cuts that could happen if that were to happen could be draconian.”

Sasaki says the board put the pressure on schools directly, asking them to give them lists of what to eliminate or reduce.

“Cuts to our school where I teach, where my two children attend, it’s a tragic cut,” Udovic said.

For parents at Manzanita Seed, it is all incomprehensible to think about any reductions or cuts to children.

“We can’t afford any more loss in staff,” Trevino said. “We can’t afford a loss in anything. We were actually underresourced before these cuts came down.”

The school district has a meeting next week for input, and then a final meeting on Dec. 13 where the full amount of cuts will be announced.

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