By Ken Epstein
As the Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) struggles to maintain financial solvency – cutting expenses and realigning spending priorities – reports are coming to light indicating that expenditures for administrators and consultants grew dramatically during the three years of Supt. Antwan Wilson’s administration and regularly exceeded the adopted budget by as much as 100 percent.
“As leader of OUSD, these are not the kind of numbers I want to see,” said Superintendent Kyla Johnson-Trammell.
“Our schools need the best leadership we can find, but we must find and keep those leaders while working within our means,” she said. “It is our duty to ensure that we are operating in as efficient and cost-effective way as possible. I am committed to putting us on the right path to fiscal stability.”
According to one of the numerous financial reports presented Monday night to the school board’s Budget and Finance Committee, total spending for classified (non-teaching) supervisors and administrators grew by 69 percent during Supt. Wilson’s administration, July 2014 – January 2017.
Classified spending was at $13.1 million in the final year of previous Supt. Tony Smith’s administration (2013-2014), and rose to $22.3 million in 2016-2017.
At the same time, the district overspent its allocated budget for classified supervisors by over 100 percent in the past two school years.
Spending for administrators and supervisors with teaching certificates grew 44 percent – from $13.9 million in 2013-2014 to $20 million last school year,
Spending in that category exceeded the approved budget by $4 million in 2015-2016 and $1 million last year.
In the category of professional and consulting services, spending grew 25 percent, from $22.7 million in 2013-2014 to $28.3 million in 2016-2017.
Last year, expenditures for consultants exceeded the budget by 32 percent.
Reversing the pattern, expenditures for books and supplies fluctuated but never reached the amounts budgeted during the three years of Wilson’s administration. In 2015-2016, $18.6 million was budgeted and only $12 million was spent.
Last school year, $20 million was budgeted and only $6.8 million was spent.
Wilson, who left Oakland at the end of January to head Washington, D.C. schools, minimized the economic dangers facing OUSD in an interview about the district’s financial condition with the Washington Post (WP)
“He said the projected shortfall is part of the annual budget process; many of the nation’s school systems, in seeking full funding, report projected shortfalls to their local governments,” according to the WP. “He said the shortfall in Oakland will materialize only if the school system keeps all programs fully funded and makes no cuts.
“That’s not what’s going to happen. That’s not what has happened any year I have been here,” Wilson told the WP. “Every year that I have been at Oakland, Oakland has balanced its budget.”
To keep from going into the red this year, the district is cutting $46.7 million from its budget, including $32.5 million last school year and an additional $14.2 million this year.
The district administration has proposed that this year’s cuts will be divided between the schools and the central office, $5.6 million or 2.2 percent of school site expenditures and $8.6 million or 11.6 percent of the central office budget.
The administration is proposing that each school community will decide what to cut.
Published November 2, 2017, courtesy of the Oakland Post