New state budget is good news for Berkeley schools

The Berkeley Unified School District Board

The final numbers haven’t been completely crunched, and the legislature hasn’t passed the budget yet, but the fiscal situation for the Berkeley Unified School District for next year looks much better than previously thought.

Gov. Jerry Brown released his “May revise” budget on Monday and it contained an unexpected $6.6 billion in new revenues. Brown applied $3 billion of the money to K-12 education, which means BUSD won’t have to cut as much as $330-$700 per student, the numbers projected as recently as last week, according to Supt. Bill Huyett.

“We’re actually delighted with what we know so far,” said Huyett. “Overall it’s much better than we hoped.”

The news was not so good for childcare funds, which are used to pay for preschool children to stay all day at school, said Huyett. The governor cut those funds deeper than he had in his January budget.


BUSD is looking to eliminate the four remaining pre-K classrooms that offer care for as long as 9.5 hours each day. The district will now have to find additional ways to trim the budget, said Huyett, and more cuts could impact the district’s attempts to close the achievement gap. The childcare services mostly serve families of color who need full daycare so the parents can work, according to Pablo Paredes, chair of the School Governance Council for the Hopkins, King and Franklin preschools.

The district will have a better sense of the 2001-1012 budget by the end of the week, said Huyett.