Schools

Berkeley School Board primer: Budget priorities, facilities plan, sexual harassment, attendance

The Berkeley School Board, at its August meeting. Photo: Mark Coplan/BUSD
The Berkeley School Board, at its August meeting. Photo: Mark Coplan/BUSD

The Berkeley schools Board of Education meets tonight, May 6, at 7:30 p.m. See the agenda packet here. (It’s a large file that may take time to load.)

On the agenda: the school budget, sexual harassment, the latest school attendance report, the creation of a new facilities master plan, and many other items. Did you know school board members hold regular office hours? See page 6 of the agenda packet for details and contact information.

Action items

The board is set to look at the superintendent’s recommendations on spending for 2015-16. But the actual available funding won’t be known for certain until the state adopts its budget, which “may require cutting programs and services that cannot be funded within the District’s limited resources.” The district says its BSEP/Measure A funds, through 2016-17, have been “fully tapped for class size reduction, program support, and expanded course offerings (ECO) at the middle and high school levels” due to enrollment growth and negotiated salary increases. The district has projected employee-related costs to be $790,000 next year, and “another $1 million” the following year. The district is also looking at how it will cover the costs for the new Common Core standards required by the state, which is expected to direct some money to local districts for that endeavor. Funding recommendations in the report include $441,000 for the popular cooking and gardening program next year, but the report does not include the program’s current funding level. The report does note “a reduction in administrative costs associated with the program,” and says the district hopes to receive money for it in 2016-17 from Measure D’s tax on sugar-sweetened beverages. Read the budget report, beginning on page 89.

The board may also vote on whether to approve the hiring of a consultant — estimated to cost $350,000 to $500,000 — to create a facilities master plan (page 148). The district says it needs the plan to address “increasing enrollment and capacity issues.” The plan would help the district prioritize renovation needs as well as new construction. If the board votes in favor, the district will put out a request for proposals, or RFP, to choose the consultant.


Discussion items

The district has been working on its Local Control and Accountability Plan — which determines how state funding filters down to local schools (page 150). The board is set to receive a draft of that plan at its next meting. Throughout this school year, there have been many stakeholder meetings involving parents, teachers, students and administrators to come up with the plan. The state requires local districts to track goals and progress and, ostensibly, report on and justify spending “for all pupils, ethnic subgroups, and students with disabilities, and … specifically for low income students, English learners, and foster youth.” The district has asked the board to look at how it funds various supplemental programs for these students, and make recommendations about whether to continue them. The plan’s three main goals are high-quality instruction, safe and welcoming atmospheres for all, and to “End the racial predictability of academic achievement by ensuring that all systems are culturally and linguistically responsive to the needs of our students.”

Information items

The school board is set to receive a report (page 200) on its efforts thus far in responding to sexual harassment issues. Last month, the board approved an interim sexual harassment policy. Now, the board is considering whether the district should hire a full-time Title IX coordinator, with a salary of $120,000, to handle complaints, compliance and prevention efforts (page 92 and page 196). Seven district administrators are set to attend training in June to learn more about Title IX. The district described the financial impacts of its efforts related to these issues as “unknown.” Read past Berkeleyside coverage of the topic.

There’s also an information report (page 203) related to school attendance, which the district is required to submit to the state to determine funding levels. Regular enrollment was up this year by 218 students, according to the report, but “a drop in ADA percentage” at seven sites decreased overall ADA for the district by 0.06%. According to the report, BUSD “earns $63.61 per student day of attendance which equates to $8,014.40 per ADA.”

The next school board meeting is scheduled for May 20.

Meeting details

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 rebroadcast the following Thursday at 9 a.m. and 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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