By Sara Randazzo and Christine Mai-Duc for The Wall Street Journal
Oakland education officials voted to close seven schools following a contentious debate that state officials say could be a harbinger of further cuts as California’s student enrollment declines.
The Oakland Unified School District board approved the closure plan at around 1 a.m. Wednesday after an eight-hour public meeting that followed more than a week of hunger strikes, walkouts and protests by students, teachers and community members.
Oakland Unified Superintendent Kyla Johnson-Trammell said at Tuesday’s meeting that the district faced both a “financial crisis and a quality crisis” and that the decision to close schools, while difficult, would help the district remain solvent and invest more in the recruitment and retention of teachers.
The Oakland district, which currently enrolls about 33,000 students, has lost more than 20,000 since 2000. That has reduced the district’s revenue as state funding is primarily tied to enrollment and attendance.