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Oakland School District to Cut Personnel to Close Big Budget Deficit

OAKLAND (KPIX) -- The Oakland Unified School District will cut about 100 positions to close a multimillion-dollar budget deficit.

The new cuts are on top of school closures that will happen at the end of the school year.

School board president, Jody London, admitted the cuts will affect the schools and students, adding the district is simply out of options.

Oakland Unified has a $20.2 million budget deficit for the upcoming fiscal year. To close that gap, the school board voted on Wednesday to dip into reserve funding and lay off roughly 100 workers beginning on July 1. Many of them include office administrators who provide support services to teachers.

Many students and parents are angry about the new cuts. The district is already shutting down and merging a few schools, including Kaiser Elementary, to save money.

"It's really frustrating and devastating. This is his third school and he's in third grade and so we've already gone through a lot of changes," said Kaiser parent Marisol Padilla, referring to her son who will have to look for a new school after the school year ends.

"I feel terrible. I think it's really wrong and I don't really think that they have an answer why they're doing it," said Naomi H., a third-grader at Kaiser Elementary School.

District officials blame declining enrollment and the state's funding formula for the deficit. The district also gave teachers a wage increase after a week-long strike.

"I'm not buying into it. I think that there's been a lot of mismanagement of funds in the past and, now, our children are paying for that," Padilla said.

Some parents demand the district get rid of its district police department but the school board estimates that would only save $1.5 million a year -- not enough to bridge the gap.

Students say the cuts will hurt the quality of their education.

"It's just like a traumatizing experience. I feel like it can be harder down the road after this," said Noah H., fifth-grader at Kaiser Elementary.

Oakland Unified will have to make even more cuts next year. They're looking at more school closures and mergers in the coming months. They're also studying the impact of closing down the district police department.


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