Classroom building at Fremont High School under construction.
Fremont High School in Oakland received major upgrades from Measure J, a $475 million bond for school upgrades passed in 2012. Funding from the Measure Y bond will go to similar renovations at other schools. Credit: Pete Rosos

Oakland Unified School District has several openings on its citizens’ commissions and committees for those who want to get more involved in school district business. 

The oversight committees primarily work with OUSD staff and the school board to make sure the district is a good steward of its public funding, which comes mainly from the state and federal governments, local parcel taxes, and bond measures. The committees review audits and other financial reports, visit school sites, and make recommendations to the board to improve fiscal oversight. 

The committees and commissions typically meet monthly, and members serve two-year terms up to three times. Applications for the vacancies are available online. The board president (District 4 Director Mike Hutchinson, currently) nominates individuals to the committees and the full board must vote to approve them. These are volunteer positions.

Looking for more ways to get involved in public schools? You can also volunteer in Oakland schools and attend and participate in school board meetings. The city’s ethics commission also has vacancies right now for those interested in the watchdog group.

Audit committee

Vacancies: Two

The audit committee recommends independent auditors to the board who examine the district’s financial and accounting procedures. The committee also reviews the auditors’ findings and recommendations for improving financial controls and makes regular reports to the board. This committee is essential to ensuring the district remains solvent. It’s a crucial task: OUSD must pass a fiscal systems audit in order to leave the state receivership that its been under since 2003.

The audit committee typically has seven members, and at least four of them should have expertise in auditing or management of a public school system. 

Measures B, J, and Y Independent Citizens School Facilities Bond Oversight Committee

Vacancies: Three

The bond oversight committee ensures OUSD is properly spending its bond funds on facilities projects throughout the district, like school buildings, sports fields, classrooms, labs, and district offices. This committee reviews audits, cost-saving measures, and tours school sites where bond funds are being spent. In 2020, Oakland voters approved the $735 million bond Measure Y to renovate and construct buildings across the district, including McClymonds High School and a new central office headquarters. 

The bond oversight committee typically has nine members and must include parents, business leaders, and members of senior citizens’ organizations and taxpayers’ associations. 

Measure G Parcel Tax Independent Citizens Oversight Committee

Vacancies: Two

Measure G was approved by Oakland voters in 2008 and raises more than $20 million per year to maintain school libraries, support arts and music programs, retain qualified teachers, and keep class sizes small. The oversight committee monitors the parcel tax spending and makes regular reports to the board on expenditures.

The Measure G oversight committee has seven members including parents, business leaders, community members, property owners, and those with financial expertise. 

Measure G1 District Wide Teacher Retention and Middle School Improvement Act Oversight Commission

Vacancies: One

Oakland voters approved Measure G1 in 2016, a parcel tax that raises about $12 million per year to attract and retain teachers, provide arts, music, and language classes to middle schoolers, and offer grants to improve middle school learning environments. This commission provides oversight on the parcel tax spending, reviews audits, and makes recommendations to the board to ensure proper spending.

This commission has five members with an emphasis on those who are knowledgeable about arts, music, and language education in middle school, and those who have expertise in compensation for educators. 

Ashley McBride writes about education equity for The Oaklandside. Her work covers Oakland’s public district and charter schools. Before joining The Oaklandside in 2020, Ashley was a reporter for the San Antonio Express-News and the San Francisco Chronicle as a Hearst Journalism Fellow, and has held positions at the Poynter Institute and the Palm Beach Post. Ashley earned her master’s degree in journalism from Syracuse University.