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October 10 OUSD board meeting: Special Education, text books and restructuring of Youth Ventures JPA

In School Board Watch

The Oakland Unified School District school board held a regularly-scheduled meeting on Wednesday, October 10. Video of each item will be available shortly. 
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For the second week in a row, a large number of elementary school parents and teachers, from Kaiser and Cleveland attended the board meeting to speak about consolidated teaching positions, and raise concerns about the process. 

Proposed restructuring of Youth Ventures Joint Powers Authority
The Youth Ventures Joint Powers Authority (JPA) is a partnership between OUSD, the City of Oakland and Alameda County that works to serve the needs of disadvantaged youth by creating "collaborative partnerships to leverage resources, eliminate duplication and deliver accessible services to the most disadvantaged and vulnerable populations." According to Director Jody London, OUSD pays $150,000 annually in membership dues to the JPA.

The JPA board is discussing whether to restructure, and Director Jody London (District 1), who serves on the committee along with Director Alice Spearman (District 7) brought this item to the board to discuss before the JPA board votes.

Board members had various recommendations for the JPA. Director Noel Gallo (District 5) said he thought the two OUSD director seats on the JPA should be rotated every two years. Director David Kakishiba (District 2) said he thinks the JPA needs more clarity on its goals, and just why it exists. 

Sufficiency of Textbooks and Instructional Materials for 2012-2013 school year
Board members voted to OK textbooks and instructional materials for the current school year. The current cost to the district for those materials is $1.6 million. According to Deputy Superintendent Maria Santos, "every child in Oakland has a textbook" for core academic areas for the 2012-2013 school year.

Presentation on Special Education Services and Strategic Planning
During the summer, the board hired a new director for Programs for Exceptional Children, Karen Mates. Over the past two months, Mates has been meeting with community stakeholders to craft a plan for her work, and she presented a plan to the board during the meeting.

Mates comes from Tamalpias Union High District, where she has worked for the past decade. Santos called Mates' work "innovative" and credited her with developing early intervention programs and model support programs for studetns and parents, among her accomplishments.

Mates said it's important to "bring students back home to their communities" by designing innovative programs for special needs students.

Tags: School Board Watch, Special Education