Oakland School Board Votes to Close Middle School

The Oakland Unified School District board voted 6-1 late Monday night to close a middle school amid raucous protests from students, teachers and the community.

Roots International Academy in East Oakland was the first of what could be more than two dozen school closures in Oakland. The school is slated to shut down in June.

Monday night's meeting had to be recessed when teachers and students took it over, demanding Roots be spared.

The closure is part of a larger plan by Oakland Unified as it grapples with budget issues. The district has said there are too many schools in regards to how many students it oversees.

The district says it has enough schools for 50,000 students, and current enrollment is about 32,000.

"We know it’s disruptive, and we hate to do this, but we have to close some schools, and we hope to do it as painlessly as possible," district spokesman John Sasaki said.

More than 200 students at Roots will be relocated to other nearby middle schools, the district said.

Meanwhile, teachers in the district could be planning a strike as early as next month.

The Oakland Education Association, which is the union that represents Oakland teachers, posted a photo Monday of the ballots teachers will fill out this week to determine whether to authorize a strike.

Teachers have been working without a contract since July of 2017 and are demanding a 12 percent increase over the next three years.

A community meeting focused on the possible strike is slated to take place at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at Castlemont High School.

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