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How broke are Oakland’s schools? Even the board of education can’t agree

Oakland Unified, like many Bay Area school districts, will not be able to pay its bills at some point in the new few years unless it addresses the fact that it’s spending more money than it gets each year and has relied on unpredictable windfalls to get by .

This year, the East Bay district is fine. Next year, the city’s public schools look fiscally solid as well.

But three or four years out, when the $ 300 million the district got in federal and state pandemic recovery money runs out, there’s a big question mark over its financial stability, depending on what officials do in the interim.

Oakland Unified’s fate hangs in the balance, with an upcoming election for three school board seats, as well as a county superintendent race, likely to determine what happens next.

In recent months, district leaders have taken dramatic steps to avoid plunging off a fiscal cliff, although the superintendent and school board have acknowledged in official budget projections that they still might not be able to pay future bills.

Oakland schools have been here before, ultimately requiring a $ 100 million state bailout in 2002, which brought with it full state control of the district for several years.

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