Oakland, California School District Cuts 10 Sports, Including Swimming

The Oakland Unified School District in Oakland, California is cutting 10 out of 20 after-school sports at its high school districts to combat what it says are massive budget problems. The district claims that the cuts will save them half-a-million dollars, or about $1000 per student impacted.

List of sports impacted:

  • boys and girls swimming
  • boys and girls tennis
  • girls lacrosse
  • boys volleyball
  • boys and girls golf
  • wrestling
  • bowling
  • girls badminton

“These cuts we are instituting now come after years of budget cuts we have already implemented. Not to mention growth in pension liabilities, growth in transportation liabilities,” said John Sasaki, spokesman for the Oakland Unified School District.

He also said that the sports can be saved if the district receives the $500,000 in donations, saying that the district is looking toward tech companies to fill the gap. The district has partnered with major silicon valley firms like Google in the past, including implementing a program where computer science is a requirement for graduation beginning with last year’s freshman class.

The district serves over 37,000 students in the bay area across 19 high schools, including a largely low-income population that can’t necessarily afford to seek private instruction, including joining club programs, for athletics. 73% of Oakland USD students received free or reduced-price meals in 2016 (see more about what that means in terms of household income here).

In total, the district expects that it has to cut $30 million from its budget next year to remain fiscally solvent.

No teachers or staff are losing jobs with the cuts, the district says, meaning that the students are bearing the wait of growing pension loads. Programs like football, baseball, basketball, and soccer are expected to be impacted with budgets, but not eliminated.

Twice as many female students – 347 – will be impacted as male students – 183. Based on last year’s enrollment numbers, the move is expected to impact 161 swimmers – 44 boys and 117 girls. One sport impacted, boys’ volleyball, was only added by the district 3 years ago.

Update: the school district is reportedly reconsidering its cuts in light of backlash over gender equality. Click here to read more.

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Josh Swims

only 161 swimmers over 19 high schools???


That’s like, 8.47 swimmers per school according to my calculator


That you are shocked by that is a testament to the strength of US swimming’s grassroots (although events like this won’t help that continue).

Only being able to muster up a couple of competitive swimmers per (300 pupil) year group was standard in my (UK) high school

Most of the high schools that are included in those 19 are nontraditional programs that don’t have athletic teams, or even campuses in the classic sense. I think only four or five of them have sports programs, and maybe 3 have swim teams.


Oakland public school kids come from poorer backgrounds. I read an article where Segerstrom that did South Coast Plaza in Orange County help a magnet school in Santa Ana get a pool. Now, google might help them Oakland keep the sports programs.

Beyond the impact on students, what’s a huge bummer here is that Oakland High actually has a great pool on-site, which is super rare in Oakland – even among private schools. Additionally, well over 75% of OUSD students are ethnic minorities, meaning the district is cutting off access to a sport its students are unlikely, statistically speaking, to pursue otherwise.


Wow minorities screwed over by the government that’s absurd

2 Cents

I get the point and agree that access should be there for all students to play or participate in all sports (including the “country club” sports…)… but maybe if they were cutting football or basketball or track then you could play that card. I highly doubt that girls lacrosse or boys golf was also 75% minority like the school population.

I feel like I need to finish by saying I am 100% against the cuts… it just needs a better argument than diversity to go against the cuts.


I was thinking that was the case in student population.

Love to Swim

Buh bye diversity in swimming!

David Berkoff

I smell a Title IX lawsuit.


Once again, it isn’t all about the kids. The teachers and administration don’t feel any pain. They still will have their jobs and pensions, but the student-athletes will suffer.


Believe me teachers are already feeling the pain. $40,000 a year starting salary. $27,000.a year to rent an apartment.

Michelle the Economist

You can thank Oakland’s rent control laws for that! Why build, renovate or invest in rental properties in Oakland when the government is an adversary, rent controls rather than supply and demand set the standards, and marginal taxes in CA can be as high as 62%!

25 free champ

Refreshing to see someone who has a grasp of basic economics. Thank you for your comment Michelle.

Steve Nolan

So you think developers will build “affordable” housing?

Cheatin Vlad

They do in other cities, why not Oakland?

Steve Nolan

I haven’t seen much development that’s not prohibitively expensive. That’s just where the incentives are.


Hi, I work for the district as a teacher and I am a former competitive swimmer in the OUSD district. These opinions are my own.

I would like to point out a few flaws in your argument. It is all about the students, please do not cast judgement when you are not working in this district or if you are not part of the situation. Also, if we fired teachers, how would student athletes be able to swim competitively in university? Look at it this way, you cannot swim at a pac-10 school with a 6th grade education. I get you are angry, but please do not assume that us teachers are not suffering.

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder of SwimSwam.com. He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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