Schools

Berkeley School Board primer: Impact fees, class sizes, intervention efforts and the achievement gap

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, Oct. 28. On the action calendar is a proposal to look at how to collect mitigation fees from developers. The discussion items will focus on an intervention program focused on K-8 students who experience learning and behavioral challenges, and the district’s efforts to narrow the achievement gap between white and African American students. There’s also an information item on class sizes.

The regular meeting is set to begin by 7:30 p.m. Public comment is limited to 30 minutes, with a 3-minute limit per speaker. Public comment takes place at the beginning and end of the meeting, rather than in response to each item. See the full agenda packet here.

Action item

IMPACT FEES The school board is set to approve an analysis of possible mitigation fees that it could require of developers in the city. The district does not currently levy impact fees, though they are allowed by the state to do so. The state Education Code “authorizes school districts to collect fees for mitigation of the impact of new development on enrollment in the District,” at a rate of $3.36 per square foot for residential development, and 54 cents per square foot for commercial or industrial development. On Oct. 14, the board discussed the merits of collecting mitigation fees, and is now set to vote on whether to proceed. If approved, the vote would allow the district to prepare the analysis needed to justify the fee rates, respond to comments regarding the report, and “assist the District in any challenges to the study from outside agencies and/or organizations.” The analysis is estimated to cost not more than $50,000, which will come from Measure AA. (See Item 12.1 for more detail.)

Discussion items

STUDENT INTERVENTION District staff will present to the board about efforts last year and this year to help K-8 students who are struggling due to learning and behavioral challenges. The program is called “Response to Instruction and Intervention” or RtI2. According to the staff report, “When students are not yet proficient, despite high-quality core instruction and positive behavior support, a team of educators comes together in a problem solving setting to identify the academic and behavioral needs of those students.” The district has staffing described as “.4 FTE at elementary sites with under 400 students, and .6 FTE for elementary sites with over 400 students. King is staffed at 1.0 FTE and Willard and Longfellow at .6 FTE.” Next steps include developing universal math screening for K-5 students and the monitoring of “secondary reading and K screeners.” (See Item 13.1 for more detail.)


REDUCING DISPROPORTIONALITY The board is set to discuss district efforts to narrow the achievement gap between white and African American students. The district has been monitoring seven indicators to keep track of the gap: enrollment trends for teachers and students; special education enrollment; school governance council membership; chronic absenteeism; suspensions overall and by type; graduation rates; and drop-out rates. According to the staff report, “Staff will be presenting the indicators with a focus on preventing Suspension Disproportionality at Berkeley High School. The Berkeley Research, Evaluation and Assessment (BREA) Department is preparing an analysis of each site’s Indicators of Progress, so Principals can help their communities monitor their progress in addressing the needs of their students.” See the data here, and see Item 13.2 for more detail.

Other items of note

There’s also a report on class sizes, which are reportedly meeting district goals except in first and second grades “where the district-wide class average is slightly over.” See Item 14.4 for more detail. The latest facilities plan, as of October, is posted in Item 14.5.

The next school board meeting is scheduled for Nov. 4. 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, and posted online after the meeting. Other BUSD-related videos are posted online at Vimeo.


Read more Berkeleyside coverage related to Berkeley schools. See the full agenda packet here.

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School Board Primer: Projects over budget at King and Willard; district priorities, finances (09.09.15)
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City Council seeks to move meetings to West Berkeley (09.02.15)
Berkeley’s 16 schools welcome students back for new year, Pasarow starts as BHS principal (09.02.15)
School Board primer: B-Tech review, council asks to move to Bonar, more (08.26.15)

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