Oakland School Bill Passes

By J. Douglas Allen-Taylor
Friday August 31, 2007

Oakland Assemblymember Sandré Swanson’s AB45 Oakland school bill passed the Senate Appropriations Committee on a 10-7 vote on Thursday afternoon, bringing the Oakland Unified School District a step closer to possible return to full local control. 

Swanson’s bill, which earlier passed both the full Assembly and the Senate Education Committee, would put full discretion for return to local control of the Oakland district in the hands of the state-funded, Bakersfield-based Fiscal Crisis & Management Assistance Team (FCMAT) rather than at the discretion of State Superintendent Jack O’Connell.  

Swanson believes that this will speed up a return to local control of the Oakland schools. 

Earlier this year, two years after FCMAT recommended it and after Swanson had introduced his AB45 local control bill, O’Connell returned local control to the Oakland school board in the areas of community relations and governance.  

All other aspect of Oakland school district operations, including district control, have been in the hands of state administrators hired by O’Connell since the state seized control of OUSD in 2003. 

AB45, which is opposed by O’Connell, still has two major hurdles to cross. The first is passage in the full senate, where it is being managed by State Senate President Don Perata, the author of the originale 2003 OUSD takeover legislation that AB45 seeks to modify.  

If the bill passes the senate, it then needs the signature of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to become law. Because the bill has gotten limited Republican support during its consideration in the legislature, a two-thirds vote to overcome a possible Schwarzenegger veto is considered all but impossible. 

Earlier this year, Swanson said that he had made amendments to the bill that answered concerns raised by the governor’s office. But Schwarzenegger has not yet said whether or not he will sign AB45 as amended.