School has $700K deficit after enrollment declines

Fremont High School  is in financial trouble — at least $400,000 of trouble.

The reason for the financial difficulty is that the Oakland Unified School District planned on Fremont High School having about 100 more students this year than actually enrolled. The school receives more than $4,000 per student enrolled.
Also, the district as of last week had not yet given Fremont money to pay for teachers who are working an extra month this year under the new Teachers on Special Assignment program. The extra cost of the additional month of work is about $300,000.

Lastly, when the three schools of Fremont Federation became one school this year, the district did not immediately make changes to how money is distributed to the school through various special “categorical” funds. This also has delayed funding.

In late October, Hurst said that the deficit on paper was $700,000. He was unsure what the actual deficit will be once the district funded the TSAs and took care of allocating Fremont its categorical funds.

On the 20th day of school, Fremont had 801 students, including 749 general education students and 52 students who are funded through the special education department, according to Principal Daniel Hurst.

He said the district expected Fremont to have about 900 students.
Due to the budget crisis, Hurst has started making cuts and stopped ordering supplies. One of the biggest cuts so far has been the JROTC program.

“I’ve had to cut one [JROTC] teacher,” said Hurst during a press conference with the Green & Gold on Oct. 23. “It’s like having one of your hands cut off. It’s something you know students need.”

Hurst saved about $40,000 by cutting JROTC and also has told teachers not to order any more supplies until further notice.

Some students were upset to hear that the school is in such trouble.

“The school is not doing its job, and we need more books,” said freshman Emanuel Cardio.
Hurst said he took steps ahead of the budget problem to try to make things balance this year. For example, instead of renting copy machines, the school bought five of them at the end of last year. Now, there are backups if any of the machines breaks down, saving the school money.

When asked who should be held accountable for students not having supplies and other things they need for a quality education, Hurst responded “taxpayers.” Those taxpayers need to provide more resources to make the school better, he suggested.

“If this was a better school [with more resources], more students would come,” he said. “We have good people [on staff], but it’s the tools we need, and that tool is money.”