Berkeley School Board primer: Ethnic studies, Berkeley Technology Academy, LCAP and more

The Berkeley School Board meets tonight. Photo: Natalie Orenstein

The Berkeley schools Board of Education meets today, Wednesday, April 26. On the agenda: a discussion and partial vote on the 2017-18 Local Control Accountability Plan; an update on Berkeley Technology Academy; a presentation on the use of student data for stronger instruction; Berkeley High’s ethnic studies curriculum; physics for freshmen; and more. Read the full agenda.

Here are some of the highlights.

LOCAL CONTROL ACCOUNTABILITY PLAN The board will discuss initial recommendations for the 2017-18 Local Control Accountability Plan and hold an early vote on certain pieces of it. The LCAP is a state-mandated description of the district’s goals for improving student achievement and how it will allocate funds to meet them. New programs under consideration for next year’s LCAP: additional math support classes, a teacher recruitment program helping classified staff become credentialed, increased restorative justice offerings and a new support program for black male students. A public comment period begins May 1 and the board will approve the final LCAP at the end of June. First, the board will vote tonight on staff positions included in the plan, so the district can hire for those positions before the summer. See items 14.2 and 15.1 for details.

BERKELEY TECHNOLOGY ACADEMY UPDATE The educational model and staffing numbers at Berkeley Technology Academy — BUSD’s alternative high school for students at risk of not graduating — were designed to serve around 150 students at a time. But enrollment has decreased, down to 98 this year from 173 in 2013. The board will hear an update on BTA’s status tonight. Staff are recommending the district introduce “new and proactive recruiting efforts” for 2017-18, which could include more mandated transfers of students with poor attendance at Berkeley High, or efforts to attract other students who could benefit from the supports offered at BTA. The agenda item lists a couple other models to consider, if enrollment does not increase and the board decides to change the BTA program or reduce staffing. One option would be to discard the college-oriented courses and focus more on simply graduating students. Otherwise, the board could consider converting BTA into a more comprehensive alternative school for more students who would thrive in a smaller environment. See item 14.1 for details.


TEACHING FROM DATA Rosa Parks Elementary School teachers will present on how they use data to improve reading achievement. The educators will explain their model for identifying and helping students who have difficulty learning to read. Tonight’s half-hour installment is the first in a forthcoming series of presentations on leveraging student data for classroom instruction. See item 13.1 for details.

ETHNIC STUDIES The board will hear an update tonight on the development of a year-long freshman ethnic studies course. Each small school already teaches some version of the class, but the district is working on plucking the best elements of each to create a universal curriculum for implementation in 2018-19. According to the staff report, “Over the term of the course, students will examine how power, privilege, ethnocentricity, systemic oppression, and cultural hegemony intersect with their own individual experiences and appear throughout recent history.” BUSD already earned approval from the UC system for a semester-long version of the class, but the district is now turning it into a year-long program as part of the proposed universal ninth grade. The board is also set to approve a new BHS science sequence tonight, which would have all freshmen taking physics. See items 18.1 and 12.3 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.


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