Berkeley School Board primer: Decision time for board on overcrowding

BUSD is dropping effort to establish community school at the Berkeley Adult School. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
Turning the Berkeley Adult School into a new grade school is being considered as a long-term solution to overcrowding. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel

The Berkeley schools Board of Education meets tonight, Jan. 14, for a closed session at 6 p.m., followed by its regular meeting at 7:30 p.m. See the Jan. 14 agenda packet here. (It’s a large file that may take time to load.)

The board is expected to decide how to handle overcrowding in the schools in the coming three years.

Closed session

The meeting begins at 6 p.m. with a closed session to discuss recruitment for a Berkeley High principal, the superintendent’s performance evaluation and litigation. The board does not always get to all items on the closed session agenda. Public comment, up to 15 minutes, will be taken before the closed session.

Action items

The final part of a four-part discussion on enrollment and capacity is scheduled (p. 51 of the meeting packet). Berkeley schools’ enrollment is expected to increase by about 250 students in the next three years. Over the past three months the school board has considered about a dozen options to accommodate more students. Read past coverage here


After the December discussion the board and staff are considering several solutions.

In the short term, the district would turn one “flex” room at Jefferson, Rosa Parks and Emerson elementary schools into classrooms. The rooms are currently used for other purposes, such as arts classes. If more than three classrooms are needed in the fall, four classrooms at King pre-school would be taken over for Transitional Kindergarten classes, moving pre-school classes to other pre-school sites.

One long-term solution being considered is turning the Berkeley Adult School on San Pablo Avenue at Virginia Street into a grade school, costing $2-$3 million for modifications. That school would be ready in 2017-18 at the earliest. Adult education would be relocated to other school sites.

Another long-term solution would be to turn a maintenance facility at 1723 Oregon St. into a new school for about $20 million, taking about five years.

One hour is budgeted for the discussion.

Discussion items

A 10-minute presentation on the Healthy Kids Survey will be followed by a 25-minute discussion.

How to listen in

The Berkeley Unified School District Board of Education generally meets twice monthly on Wednesdays at 2020 Bonar St. The entrance to the board chambers is around the corner on Addison Street. There is a large parking lot around the corner from Addison Street, on Browning Street.


Meetings are televised live on Berkeley Community Media channel 33 and re-broadcast the following Thursday morning at 9 a.m. and the following Sunday at 2 p.m. Meetings are also recorded for radio and played after the meeting on KPFB 89.3 FM.

Board videos are posted online at Vimeo several days after the meetings.

Read more Berkeleyside coverage related to Berkeley schools.

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