Media Academy must cut $250,000

Media College Preparatory High School is about 50 students under-enrolled and that may mean serious changes to the school.

“It could get ugly before it’s over,” said Media Academy Director Michael Jackson. “There isn’t enough money.”

Media will have to cut $250,000 from its budget because enrollment determines how much money schools get.  As of Sept. 15, the school had 305 students, which will bring in about $1.93 million.

But, the school last year budgeted for 355 students and $2.18 million.

Media Academy has no shortage of returning students, but the freshman class is smaller than usual. 

Jackson, co-founder of the academy, said the school has never had a problem getting freshmen to enroll.

“I heard someone (in Oakland Unified School District in charge of placing freshmen at Media Academy) went on a vacation, and somebody else didn’t follow the procedure,” said Jackson.

OUSD could not be reached for comment on Friday.

But Principal Benjamin Schmookler had another point of view.

 “Charter schools are partly the reason,” said Schmookler, who added “that’s why we’re 50 students down.  A lot of our students transfer to those schools.”

The district is in charge of what the school will have to do because of the $250,000 crisis, explained Schmookler.

Schmookler said one possibility is that Media Academy won’t be able to buy anything – computers, cameras, textbooks, etc.

But, teachers may have to go through some changes. Some of them may have to transfer to another school. 

Fortunately, their salaries won’t change, said Schmookler.

The budget crisis comes at a time when Media Academy is celebrating its improvement on state test scores.