Oakland, CA – Tim White of Oakland Unified School District died.
People across Oakland Unified School District (OUSD), from students who got to meet him to the Board of Education who got to work with him, are stunned by the sudden and unexpected death of Deputy Chief of Facilities, Tim White. He died on Tuesday, November 26 of complications from leukemia.
“I have never in all my years, and I’ve worked for OUSD since 1982, worked with an individual who champions for his employees and for the students of Oakland as much as he did,” said Roland Broach, Executive Director of Custodial and Grounds, who worked directly under White. “He left Berkeley Unified to come back to fight for the kids of Oakland. He cared for the facilities department, and the way he handled our leadership team was just amazing to me. He had a tremendous amount of integrity, which is why the community embraced him. That’s why, when he came back, he was welcomed by the community and his staff.”
Tim White had rejoined OUSD in April of 2018. This was his second time as leader of the Facilities Department where he oversaw more than 400 employees. He left in 2015 to serve as Executive Director of Facilities for the Berkeley schools, working closely with the Superintendent, Construction Bond Oversight Committee, and School Board.
“I don’t know what to say,” said Superintendent Kyla Johnson-Trammell. “I am just heartbroken. Tim’s passing has hit all of us hard. He was a larger than life person with a booming voice and a warm hearty laugh whose dedication to the young people of Oakland was unmistakable. Tim brought such passion to his work, such commitment to improving the lives of our students. He was a leader unlike any I have ever worked with. I can’t believe he’s gone.”
Rare 2011 YouTube video of Tim White when he was Assistant Superintendent of Facilities
Tim White worked for OUSD from 2001 to 2015 as Assistant Superintendent of Facilities and later as Deputy Chief of Facilities. Here is what he said when he returned in 2018. “I am excited to come back to the place where I spent 14 years, supporting young people with outstanding educational facilities…. There are many exciting projects well underway, including the rebuilding of Glenview Elementary and the new school building at Madison Park Academy… I look forward to completing all of them as soon as possible, while ensuring that we are excellent stewards of taxpayer dollars for the voters of Oakland.”
In fact, Tim White helped lead OUSD’s efforts to secure voter bond measures over the past 15 years that have provided more than one billion dollars to build and improve District facilities. He also was a powerful advocate for hiring local workers for all District projects. “When he returned, and we announced it, employees in facilities were dancing in the hallways,” Roland Broach said truthfully. “People were happy and felt secure with his leadership.”
“He always called me ‘Lil Sis,’” said Deputy Chief of Communications and Public Affairs, Valerie Goode, although she acknowledged that he called many of his coworkers Lil Sis. But she said he always made you feel like you were the only one he said it to. She added more importantly, “He never failed to link the learning environment to student achievement. I never met a facilities leader who was so effective at connecting facilities to students and their success.”
Former Board of Education Vice President, Nina Senn shared the above photo of Tim White laying on the ground playing with a child and talking to another at Laurel Child Development Center when they visited the facility together in 2018. “He always took time to be with the kids or comfort people in distress no matter how busy he was.”
“Tim was absolutely a champion for environmental sustainability in our schools,’” said Board of Education Vice President, Jody London. “In 2009, we were the first district to receive matching grants from the state for having green-verified buildings, and that wouldn’t have happened without Tim. He was willing to try new things and approached each situation thinking about what’s best for kids. He was always about what’s best for kids. Tim had such a big heart, and he leaves behind an enormous hole for all of us. It’s just devastating for everybody.”
Tim White was 63 years old. OUSD sends its deepest condolences to White’s family, friends and coworkers.