Schools

Berkeley School Board primer: Berkeley Technology Academy review, council asks to move to Bonar, more

The Berkeley Unified School District Board of Education. Photo: Mark Coplan/BUSD
The Berkeley Unified School District Board of Education. Photo: Mark Coplan/BUSD

The Berkeley schools Board of Education meets tonight, Aug. 26, beginning at 6 p.m. See the agenda packet here.

There are two back-to-back board meetings Wednesday night. The first, at 6 p.m., is a training to go over the district’s new online agenda packet system.

The regular meeting is set to begin by 7:30 p.m. There’s one action item, regarding the Berkeley City Council’s request to move its meetings, on a pilot basis, to the school district’s board room on Bonar Street. There are also three discussion items, focused on a progress report for Berkeley Technology Academy (which Berkeleyside took an in-depth look at in early June); the Local Control and Accountability Plan; and a review of the district’s school naming policy. 

Action item

COUNCIL WANTS TO MOVE TO BONAR There’s one action item on the agenda, related to a request from the Berkeley City Council to move its meetings to the school district board room at 2020 Bonar St. Council’s regular meeting location, at Old City Hall on Martin Luther King Jr. Way, is seismically unsafe. Council has been looking for a new space for years but has not yet found a suitable location.


At its June 23 meeting, council passed a resolution to ask the district to use its board room on a pilot basis from Sept. 15 through Nov. 17. The city has looked into alternative meeting spots, but agreed in June that its best short-term option would be the school district’s board room.

According to the staff report, the city previously agreed to help pay for renovations on Bonar Street, at the school district’s headquarters, but never did. As per the staff report, “It appears that while the City of Berkeley was unsuccessful in locating another suitable location, they declined to partner with the District shortly after these engagements, opting to remain in the Old City Hall until they could find a suitable space. No funding was received from the City of Berkeley for this project.”

Staff recommends that the school board schedule a public meeting to inform the community of council’s request and collect public feedback.

Discussion items

BERKELEY TECHNOLOGY ACADEMY The School Board is set to receive a report about Berkeley Technology Academy (BTA), the district’s high continuation school. Berkeleyside published a report in early June that raised many questions about the school’s operations. Wednesday night’s report is set to include information regarding school enrollment, graduation and attendance rates, and staffing. Staff will also update the board on enrollment processes related to BTA, transfer policies from BHS to BTA, “programs and pathways at the school site,” and credit recovery policies and processes on campus. No action is planned.

SCHOOL NAMING POLICY The board is also looking at the district’s school naming policy. According to the staff report, “Over the past six months, the Board received a number of emails either requesting that a school or facility be renamed or inquiring about the process of renaming a school or facility.” As a result, the board is set to review its current policy to “determine whether the Board is still comfortable with it and … determine how the process to name or rename or school or facility should begin.” Under the current policy, “the Board encourages community participation in the process of selecting names (although it is the Board’s sole prerogative to name or rename a facility) by permitting the creation of a citizen advisory committee to review name suggestions and submit a recommendation for the Board’s consideration.”


LCAP GOAL PROGRESS The board also is scheduled to take a look at its Local Control and Accountability Plan, a state-mandated framework “for addressing state priorities and local goals, identifying the most effective actions and services to meet those goals, as well as accounting for the Local Control Funding Formula supplemental expenditures and the indicators for monitoring progress.” The district has identified three main priorities under the plan. As described in the staff report, these priorities are to provide high quality classroom instruction and curriculum that promote college and career readiness with academic interventions in place to eliminate barriers to student success; end the racial predictability of academic achievement by ensuring that all systems are culturally and linguistically responsive to the needs of our students; and ensure all school sites have safe, welcoming and inclusive climates for all students and their families, so that all students are in their classes ready to learn. Wednesday night, the board is slated to review “annual measurable outcomes” related to the first goal, with a second review to follow in September to look at the other two goals. See the overview of the outcomes for “goal 1” here.

According to the staff report, “Forty-two percent of the students in Berkeley Unified School District are socio-economically disadvantaged (SED) as determined by federal standards, and of those students, 35% are African-American and 35% are Latino, while 8% are students of two or more races. English Learners (EL) make up 10.8% of the K-12 student body, and of those EL students 74.5% are considered low income.” Read more about the LCAP under Item 13.1 on tonight’s agenda.

Other items

CLASSIFIED EMPLOYEES RALLY Berkeleyside also received word that the district’s classified employees are planning to rally in the board room at 7 p.m. According to rally organizers, “BUSD is refusing to increase its contribution to our health benefits as required by our contract – and refusing to pay us the 4% raise we have been owed since July 1 unless we agree!”

FULL AGENDA IS ONLINE If you don’t want to miss anything on the agenda, check out the full packet online here.

The next school board meeting is scheduled for Sept. 9. Read past Berkeleyside schools coverage.


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. They are also streamed live.

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

Read more Berkeleyside coverage related to Berkeley schools.

Related:
Berkeley School Board primer: Harold Way, admissions and enrollment, the budget (05.20.15)
Students allege BUSD refused access to federal investigators over sexual harassment (05.15.15)
School Board primer: Budget priorities, facilities plan, sexual harassment, attendance (05.06.15)
School Board primer: Decision time for board on overcrowding (01.15.15)
School Board primer: Discussion of overcrowding solutions continues (12.10.14)
School Board primer: Soda tax panel, new personnel commissioner, recess restriction (11.19.14)

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