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Oakland Unified School District

District Partner 2007

ERS partnered with Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) in 2007 to conduct a high-level analysis of the district’s resource use and highlight opportunities for reallocation to improve student learning.

"Finding images of 'high quality' teaching is big push for me, to ensure every young person is engaged, connected, and supported to pursue their own, unique gifts and talents,and they are learning the core content. That's the ultimate."
-Tony Smith, Superintendent, Oakland Unified School District. Interview by Lillian R. Mongeau, Oakland North, March 18, 2010

District Facts


Work Focus

  • Identify central cost-cutting opportunities by comparing OUSD's central spending to other districts.
  • Explore ways to maximize the use of categorical funds.
  • Provide tools and training about research on effective resource use in schools to help inform and improve the process of creating and reviewing school budgets.

Findings and Outcomes

  • Findings showed that in very small schools, principals had greater constraint on resource use, mitigating the core intended purpose of “results-based budgeting” strategy.
  • Findings also showed that a number of very small schools had the effect of diverting resources from instruction to school operations and administration. In response, OUSD decided to develop a minimum school size policy to better manage sub-scale schools.
  • From this work ERS developed a framework for understanding the resource-related impact of enrollment decline in urban districts, which ERS shared with the broader reform community.

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