Kaplan asks Newsom to forgive Oakland School District’s emergency state loan

Oakland Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan

On Day Two of the Oakland teachers strike, Oakland Council President Rebecca Kaplan said she asked Gov. Gavin Newson last week to waive the remainder of the $100 million emergency loan given by the state in 2003 after the struggling Oakland Unified school District was placed in state receivership. Today, the loan balance is roughly $34 million.

Kaplan sent a letter to Newsom last week asking him to forgive the loan during a period of time when the state is experiencing a large budget surplus. The extra funding could help the district and teachers bridge the gap in negotiations, said Kaplan.

“In light of an estimated $21.5 billion surplus in the State budget, another opportunity presents itself that would complement this directive as relief from the repayment process would afford OUSD the opportunity to truly create a culture of long-term solvency,” Kaplan wrote in a letter to Newsom, dated Feb. 14.

Oakland teachers, who have been working without a new contract since 2017, are demanding a 12 percent wage increase, and oppose the possible closing of 24 public schools in Oakland. School District negotiators initially offered five percent, but last Wednesday upped the offer to seven percent over three years, along with a 1.5 percent retroactive increase.

Last fall, Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law a bill that would allocate up to $52 million in relief for struggling school districts like Oakland. The law requires Oakland Unified submit a long-term and short-term financial outlook, in addition, to budget cuts over a four-year period. The deadline for Oakland Unified to submit its plan is Mar. 1.

 

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