Schools

School Board Primer: REALM lease, developer fees, religious registry policy and more

The Berkeley School Board meets Wednesday, April 12. Photo: Natalie Orenstein

The Berkeley schools Board of Education meets today, Wednesday, April 12. On the agenda: REALM Charter School’s request to continue leasing district facilities; an update on restorative justice programs in BUSD; a policy protecting students and employees from any future religious registries; and more. Read the full agenda.

Here are some of the highlights.

REALM LEASE AT WEST CAMPUS The board will consider REALM Charter School’s request to continue leasing some classroom space at the West Campus for the 2017-18 school year. Previously the board decided not to extend REALM High School’s current lease of the facility, citing planned district uses of the West Campus next year, but REALM proposed consolidating its operations into the rooms that will remain vacant. Tonight the board will consider granting the lease under the condition that REALM not ask to extend it the following year. Even if the lease is approved, the charter schools’ future remains uncertain. If REALM does not come up with a remedy for its significant structural deficit by July, the board may consider revoking its charter. See item 13.1 for details.

DEVELOPER FEES Later this spring BUSD will begin collecting fees from developers of new residential and commercial property in Berkeley, per a unanimous School Board vote in February. The idea behind the practice: new development in the city could increase enrollment at its schools, requiring the costly construction of new district facilities. Tonight the board will decide whether to exempt development where at least half of the units house low-income residents. The fees are the maximum allowed by the state at $3.48 per square foot for residential development and 56 cents per square foot for commercial. Only future projects that do not yet have building permits will be affected. BUSD has never levied developer fees before. See item 13.2 for details.


RESTORATIVE JUSTICE UPDATE The board will hear an update on the district’s restorative justice practices and other behavior intervention programs. These initiatives run the gamut from counseling to peer mediation programs. The staff presentation will also focus on the expansion of restorative justice, the “core of a District-wide effort to continue to shift from punitive, exclusionary school discipline to restorative means of correction, and to improve school climate in general,” says the agenda item. See item 12.2 for details.

RELIGIOUS REGISTRY POLICY A policy designed to keep students and staff out of government religious registries will get its first reading tonight. The policy, a reaction to Trump administration talk of a Muslim registry, would prohibit the district from tracking students’ or employees’ religious identities. District staff would also be banned from assisting in the creation of, or enforcing, a government religious or ethnic registry. See item 14.2 for details.

LCAP UPDATE Next year’s Local Control Accountability Plan — which describes the district’s goals and plans for allocating state funds — will be finalized in June. Before that, the board will pre-approve the elements that affect teacher placement next year. Tonight the board will receive an update on staff LCAP recommendations before making those decisions later this month. See item 14.1 for details.

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.

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.


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 on Youtube.

Read more Berkeleyside coverage related to Berkeley schools