Schools

City supports public education with Measures H and I


Berkeley High's old gym: to be replaced with Measure I funds/Photo: Tracey Taylor

As we reported last night, the results on Berkeley Unified School District’s Measures H and I proved thoroughly undramatic throughout the evening. Measure H, which approved a parcel tax to fund maintenance, required a two-thirds majority to pass. It actually surpassed 80%. Measure I, which allows for up to $210 million in bonds to be issued to fund a number of capital projects, needed a 55% majority. It received nearly 77%. Contrast those resounding results with neighboring Oakland, where the parcel tax measure, Measure L, fell just short of the necessary two-thirds vote, with 65.2%.

“It’s this great city that’s so supportive of public education,” said Superintendent Bill Huyett. “I’ve been a superintendent in districts that weren’t so supportive and it makes a big difference.”

According to Huyett the measures, as well as the BSEP funds, will “somewhat shelter” Berkeley from the inevitable pressures from the state budget. He points out that Berkeley schools have had to make cuts, even if they are less severe than in other California school districts.

Eric Weaver, a co-chair of the H & I campaign, was also delighted by the results.


“We feel gratified that the people in the city value education and particularly the public schools,” he said. “We were cautiously optimistic, but I don’t think we expected the result to be so clear.” Weaver said Measure H had faced virtually no opposition, but he had been concerned that the vocal opposition by some to Measure I “would drag both down”.

Berkeleyside also asked Huyett whether the approved funds might increase the number of students from outside the district that attend Berkeley schools — a regular complaint by our commenters.

“People pay taxes here and they want to see the benefits,” Huyett said. “We understand that. But this is an issue every place in California. We also have a lot of kids that go out of the district. I think a lot of people remember the situation about 10 years ago when the district didn’t adequately monitor the situation. We do now. We have an employee who does the monitoring and every year we send kids back to their districts if they don’t have a proper contract.”