Connect with us

Arts and Culture

Financial Consultant Luz Cazares Will Earn $32,000 Per Month to Oversee School District Finances

Published

on

The Oakland Unified School District has extended the contract of school finance consultant Luz Cazares, who will serve as the districts ’s interim Chief Financial Officer (CFO) for the rest of the school year at a cost to the district of $32,000 a month or $192,000 to the end of June.

The district has had to deal with financial instability, losing many of its key finance administrators in the past year, while at the same time facing huge parent and teacher protests over ongoing budget cuts and school closures. At present, the district is not saying how many schools it plans to close, though in the past officials estimated the number to be as high as 24. The Fiscal Crisis Management and Assistance Team (FCMAT) has urged the district to eliminate as many as 36 schools.

Cazares was originally hired for the first half of the school year, from July to December, for $176,000, according to a news report, making her total pay for the 2019-2020 school year $368,000.

“Ms. Cazares is a professional school finance consultant and is not available for hire, so we are fortunate that she has the availability to continue to serve OUSD for the remainder of the school year,” said District Spokesperson John Sasaki.

“The Board of Education has yet to approve the contract extension. The directors will vote on it next month,” he said.

Part of her salary, $120,000, will be offset “with private (philanthropic) dollars,” Sasaki said.

Cazares will lead the district’s budget, accounting, strategic reserves, payroll, procurement and accounts payable functions, according to Supt. Kyla Johnson-Trammell, in a Dec. 19 internal memo to administrators.

“Luz brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise in leading districts through deep financial challenges and developing budgets that reflect…. best budgeting practices that align to the district’s priorities,” said Johnson-Trammell.

Responding to news of Cazares’ new contract was parent advocate Mona Lisa Treviño, a member of the parent/student advisory committee of the district’s Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP) committee.

“Many of us don’t make her monthly salary in a year. Who makes this kind of money in the district off of our kids? It’s an outrage,” she said.

Treviño criticized the district for lack of fiscal transparency, saying the administration keeps changing the budget numbers it uses to justify cuts, while the public is kept in the dark about the role of outside agencies that influence decision making: the County Office of Education and the Fiscal Crisis Management and Assistance Team (FCMAT).

“Policy after policy gets passed from up top, while the public and our schools are excluded from the plans, and still there’s no stability in sight,” she said.

“The public has the right to know who is mandating these expenditures, especially at a time when our school sites have faced and continue to face harmful cuts.”

Cazares is founder of Lucid Partnerships in Alameda, a consulting firm that specializes in school budget and management services. She has worked in Chicago Public School as a financial analyst, the Massachusetts Department of Education as a fiscal management supervisor, deputy superintendent of business services in Pleasanton Unified School district and CFO in Alameda City Unified.

She was hired in July with the idea that she would work alongside a new CFO, who would be hired in September, according to reports.  However, that did not happen.

“One of the key criteria is to get operations in a place in which somebody would come in and take over and kind of lead from that place,” said OUSD Chief Systems Service Officer Preston Thomas, who signed the contract in July with Cazares on behalf of the district.

Thomas, quoted in EdSource, said Cazares would help the district make a transition to a new finance chief, avoiding the “hard, abrupt stops” that have impacted the OUSD when other top financial administrators resigned. Thomas acknowledged that there exists only a small pool qualified finance officers, and the position may be difficult to fill.

According to Thomas, the Alameda County Office of Education has provided internal fiscal support to the district, at least through December. With Cazares on board, “OUSD is now leading the overall financial improvements with technical assistance from the county on key projects,” said Sasaki,

He said the money paid to the county for these services did not come directly from OUSD but rather through AB 1840 — a state law that provides some limited extra funding to OUSD in exchange for the district’s pledge to cut program costs and reduce the number of school sites through property sales, long term leases, closures/consolidations.

Going forward, Thomas will not have budget responsibilities, according to Supt. Johnson-Tramell.

“(He) will remain supervisor and leader of Nutrition Services, Instructional Technology, Warehouse, Duplication, Risk Management and Transportation,” she said.

“Now that the financial team has stabilized …. Thomas will be focused on other critical operations such as the highly anticipated start-up of the Central Kitchen,” added Sasaki.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Arts and Culture

Berkeley’s Black Repertory Theater to Hold Fundraiser for Youth Programs

The Bay Area Jazz Society will hold a fundraiser and CD listening party to raise funds for youth programs at Berkeley’s Black Repertory Theater (BBRT), the only Black-owned-and-operated theater in the East Bay.

Published

on

Larriah Jackson from ‘The Voice” will be one of the guest artists at the fundraiser for the Berkeley Black Repertory Group. Courtesy photo.
Larriah Jackson from ‘The Voice” will be one of the guest artists at the fundraiser for the Berkeley Black Repertory Group. Courtesy photo.

By Clifford Williams
Special to The Post

The Bay Area Jazz Society will hold a fundraiser and CD listening party to raise funds for youth programs at Berkeley’s Black Repertory Theater (BBRT), the only Black-owned-and-operated theater in the East Bay.

The event will take place at the BBRT on Sunday, Oct. 8 from 5 p.m. until 9 p.m. at 3201 Adeline St., Berkeley, CA. Tickets are $25. The master of ceremonies will be KPFA’s Afrikahn Jamal Davis.

Many artists featured in “The Sounds of Oakland: Music from the Streets” compilation CD will perform with special guests including Larriah Jackson from “The Voice” Niecy ‘Living Single’ Robinson, one of the Bay Area’s most popular vocalists and Derick Hughes, who sang with Roberta Flack for many years, taking the place of Donnie Hathaway.

Other artists attending include Donnie Williams from “American Idol,” (the same year Jennifer Hudson and Latoya London appeared), and Williams’ sister, Terrill Williams. There will be live performances with food and drink for everyone, and the CD will be playing in the lobby when the performers take a break.

BBRT has had limited programming during and throughout the pandemic and is now struggling to regain continual of operations. Bay Area Jazz Society Executive Director Paul Tillman Smith, has an extensive background in theatre, starting with a stint as musical director for the Oakland Ensemble Theater’s Melvin Van Peebles play, “Ain’t Supposed to Die a Natural Death,” featuring television star Ted Lange of the “Love Boat,” as director.

Tillman Smith is also the co-producer, along with Norman Connors, Levi Seacer Jr., and Nelson Braxton for the new Bay Area CD ‘The Sounds of Oakland: Music from the Streets.” Other artists listed on the CD may be in attendance, including Lenny Williams, Derick Hughes, and Lady Bianca to meet and greet guests.

The Berkeley chapter of the NAACP will also support the fundraiser.

The first 20 individuals attending the fundraiser will receive a free copy of the CD. Thirty percent of the CD sales will go into a fund to help aging artists who don’t have a pension and, in many cases, no social security.

For more information regarding the fundraiser and how to obtain tickets, contact Paul Tilman Smith at 510. 689.3332, or Bayjazz@gmail.com.

Continue Reading

Art

Oakland Celebrates Hiero Day 2023, Commemorating the 50th Anniversary of Hip-Hop

Thousands of music fans showed up at Oscar Grant Plaza Monday, Sept. 4 to celebrate the 11th annual Hiero Day block party and commemorate the 50th anniversary of hip-hop, featuring the Souls of Mischief, Oakland native Kev Choice, Mister F.A.B. and a special guest appearance by Common.

Published

on

Common was honored on Hiero Day at by Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao and Deputy Mayor Kimberly Mayfield. Photo courtesy of Ariel Nava.
Common was honored on Hiero Day at by Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao and Deputy Mayor Kimberly Mayfield. Photo courtesy of Ariel Nava.

By Post Staff

Thousands of music fans showed up at Oscar Grant Plaza Monday, Sept. 4 to celebrate the 11th annual Hiero Day block party and commemorate the 50th anniversary of hip-hop, featuring the Souls of Mischief, Oakland native Kev Choice, Mister F.A.B. and a special guest appearance by Common.

Hosted by the City of Oakland and Mayor Sheng Thao, the free event showcased over 30 live performances on three stages, including legendary, underground and undiscovered performers of hip-hop, R&B and other genres.

Souls of Mischief is part of the rap collective Hieroglyphics, which founded Hiero Day and this year celebrated its 30th anniversary.

“HIERO DAY (is) a driving force in the music festival culture in Oakland,” according to event organizers. “The event is widely regarded as a day to celebrate independent hip-hop music and serves as a Labor Day destination being one of the largest hip-hop music gatherings in the Bay Area.”

The event was held at Jack London Square last year, but this year, it moved to the plaza in front of Oakland City Hall, reflecting its new connection with the Mayor’s Office and the City of Oakland.

“I’m so grateful to be here in Oakland,” said Common said after receiving a “heavyweight champion” belt and proclamation from Mayor Thao. “Y’all inspired us … The music, the culture — Hieroglyphics influenced me.”

Said Mayor Thao: “Oakland is the heart of the Bay Area’s music, art and culture scene, and I am so grateful for all the work our Hiero Day organizers did to celebrate it.”

The City of Oakland this year is hosting three events to commemorate the 50th anniversary of hip-hop, including the collaboration with event organizers of Hiero Day. A special event was held on Sept. 10 to honor “50 years of women rooted in hip-hop,” including Pam the Funkstress, the Conscious Daughters, Traci Bartlow, and Mystic and Black.

Continue Reading

Art

Thornton Dial: A Visionary Artist Ahead of His Time

Thornton Dial, a pioneering American artist, left an indelible mark on the art world with his expressive and monumental works. Born on Sept. 10, 1928, in Emelle, Alabama, Dial’s artistic journey began in the late 1980s when he gained prominence for his assemblages of found materials, executed on a grand scale.

Published

on

Thornton Dial. Wikimedia photo.
Thornton Dial. Wikimedia photo.

By Tamara Shiloh

 

Thornton Dial, a pioneering American artist, left an indelible mark on the art world with his expressive and monumental works. Born on Sept. 10, 1928, in Emelle, Alabama, Dial’s artistic journey began in the late 1980s when he gained prominence for his assemblages of found materials, executed on a grand scale. His works encompass a wide range of subjects, from human rights to natural disasters and current events, reflecting a deep engagement with history and social issues.

 

Growing up in poverty on a former cotton plantation, Dial was raised by his teenage mother, Mattie Bell. It was his time spent with his second cousin, Buddy Jake Dial, a farmer and sculptor, that ignited his passion for art. Dial’s early experiences of witnessing the art created from everyday objects in people’s yards during his move to Bessemer, Alabama, fascinated him and instilled in him a deep appreciation for craft and creativity.

 

For many years, Dial worked as a metalworker at the Pullman Standard Plant in Bessemer, Alabama, until its closure in 1981. It was after this that he dedicated himself to his art, creating works for his own pleasure and self-expression.

 

He encountered Lonnie Holley, an artist who introduced Dial to Atlanta collector and art historian William Arnett. Arnett played a pivotal role in bringing Dial’s work to national prominence, along with other African American vernacular artists, through his efforts as an art historian and the founder of the Souls Grown Deep Foundation.

 

Dial’s work gained recognition in major cultural institutions and exhibitions, including the 2000 Whitney Biennial. His art resonated with viewers, addressing American sociopolitical issues such as war, racism, bigotry, and homelessness.

 

Through his assemblages, Dial incorporated a wide array of found materials, creating layered and textured compositions. His use of objects like bones, rope, and scrap metal added depth and symbolism to his works, reflecting the history and struggles of the rural South.

 

The tiger motif became a prominent symbol in Dial’s art, representing survival and the struggle for civil rights in the United States. Over time, Dial’s work began to be acknowledged as “first-rate, powerful Art” by critics such as Karen Wilkin of The Wall Street Journal. Dial’s unique artistic vision and his ability to merge materials into captivating and meaningful compositions led to his recognition as a contemporary artist.

 

Dial’s work can be found in notable collections worldwide, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where ten of his works were acquired in 2014. He passed away in 2016, but his legacy lives on, inspiring artists and viewers alike to explore the transformative power of art.

Thornton Dial’s contributions to the art world, his commitment to expressing social issues, and his ability to create captivating compositions from found materials cement his position as a visionary artist ahead of his time.

 

Source:  https://www.blackpast.org/african-american-history/dial-thornton-1928-2016/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thornton_Dial

Image:

By copyright Jerry Siegel – Original publication: Garden & GunImmediate source: http://gardenandgun.com/article/thornton-dial, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=49514861

Continue Reading

Subscribe to receive news and updates from the Oakland Post

* indicates required

CHECK OUT THE LATEST ISSUE OF THE OAKLAND POST

ADVERTISEMENT

WORK FROM HOME

Home-based business with potential monthly income of $10K+ per month. A proven training system and website provided to maximize business effectiveness. Perfect job to earn side and primary income. Contact Lynne for more details: Lynne4npusa@gmail.com 800-334-0540

Facebook

Trending